The old continent offers countless cultural, taste, and architectural experiences. Winter is one of the ideal seasons to explore these European cities. To unravel your options, we’ve put together our top 10 cities in Europe to visit in winter for you.
The Austrian capital is undoubtedly a European city to visit in winter. Snow lovers will not be disappointed by Eistraum, the giant ice rink opposite the Town Hall, open from October to March. After that, you can warm up in a traditional Viennese café, ideally Café Central or Café Sacher. Art lovers can enjoy Klimt’s Kiss at the Belvedere Museum or Egon Schiele’s works at Leopold. Vienna can be reached by train in under 3.5 hours from Budapest, 4.5 hours from Prague, while the Bratislava-Vienna train journey takes just an hour.
Less than 2 hours from Brussels, the “Venice of the North” turns into a picture-postcard landscape in winter, especially when covered with a white blanket of snow. Here you can enjoy a riverboat ride on the canals or visit the Anne Frank House. In addition, from November to January, the annual Amsterdam Light Festival lights up the streets and canals. You will also have the option of enjoying a herring sandwich or the famous apfelstrudel (Dutch apple pie) at the Albert Cuyp Markt, Amsterdam’s largest market. At nightfall, you can enjoy the many beer bars in the city.
London, United Kingdom
With the arrival of the new year, London is adorned with a thousand lights. Reach the capital of the United Kingdom in no time: a 2-hour journey from Paris to London. At this time of year, the famous Hyde Park is a real delight: the Christmas market, attractions, Ferris wheel, and all kinds of entertainment delight young and old. The illuminations transform the British capital and its windows into a fairy tale. You can skate on the Eyeskate, the ice rink near the London Eye, admire the huge Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square or visit the Tate Modern. Finally, do not miss the opportunity to warm up for a “tea time” at the famous royal supplier Fortnum & Mason.
Prague, Czech Republic
It is in winter that Prague expresses all its charm. Its architectural richness and its illuminations, when covered with a white coat, transform it into a magical landscape. Some of the must-sees in the Czech capital include the Charles Bridge, the 15th-century Astronomical Clock, the Castle on Petrin Hill, and the Strahov Monastery Library. You can also explore the Jewish quarter of Josefov or make yourself comfortable in one of the city’s many pubs. From Leipzig to Prague, count 5 hours of journey, and half an hour less from Vienna.
The capital of Denmark is a young and dynamic city. The train journey from Hamburg to Copenhagen takes 5 hours by train and only 3 hours from Gothenburg. On-site, visitors will quickly be won over by the concept of “hygge”, the Danish leitmotif. The “hygge” is cozy and warm interiors, candles, a fire in the fireplace. An ideal state of mind to discover a city in northern Europe in the middle of winter. Discover the Christiana district, founded in 1971 by a hippie community and still with a free and alternative spirit. Don’t miss one of Copenhagen’s greatest charms, Nyhavn Harbor. Multicolored facades are lined up along the quays where old sailing coasters are still anchored.
Winter is surely one of the best seasons to discover the Hungarian capital. It is easily reached by train from Austria and Slovakia. From Bratislava to Budapest it’s only a 2.5-hour bus ride to Europe’s largest outdoor ice rink, Városliget. Winter is also a pleasant season to admire the Parliament, the Great Synagogue, and its many museums. Budapest is also famous for its thermal tradition: the Kiraly thermal baths are the oldest in the capital. Finally, at the end of the year, the Christmas markets, snow-covered bell towers, and illuminations will make your stay unforgettable.
Just 4 hours by train from Vienna, the capital of the Tyrol region is a charming little town in the heart of the mountains. Bordered by Germany to the north and Italy to the south, it captivates with its human size. Famous for hosting the Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976, Innsbruck still offers its then infrastructure. Thus, its access to the ski slopes and giant springboards are still served by buses directly from its station. From Zurich to Innsbruck, it takes just 4.5 hours to get to the slopes and 2 hours from Munich and Salzburg.
Give yourself a chance to experience Venice without its tourist crowds. With the exception of the shimmering carnival in February, you will have the opportunity to navigate the city easily. You can enjoy a cappuccino in Saint Mark’s Square, visit its Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and its famous Bridge of Sighs, or admire modern works at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Do not miss the Rialto Bridge and a gondola ride. In winter, the quiet streets associated with the humid air and the winter light give an almost mystical aspect to the Serenissima. From Milan, allow a 2-hour journey to reach Venice. Even shorter, the Bologna – Venice journey takes just one hour.
The Greek capital is a great option in winter because you won’t have to deal with the crowds, heat, and prohibitive prices. From Thessaloniki to Athens, allow 5 hours by train to reach your destination and discover wonderful archaeological sites, including the Acropolis. The city also offers different views of the surroundings such as the Pnyx or Lycabettus Hill, accessible by funicular. You can stroll through Plaka, the oldest district of Athens, or taste the delicious Greek cuisine. In the evening, let yourself be lulled by traditional sirtaki music.
Direction Granada in Andalusia, quickly reachable from Seville or Malaga. In winter, it is appreciated even better because it is less crowded. Explore the snow-capped Sierra Nevada from the San Nicolas viewpoint and the Alhambra on Sabika Hill. From Seville to Granada, only 4 hours separate you from the Royal Chapel next to the cathedral where rests, among others, Isabella the Catholic. In Granada, winter temperatures are cool but still relatively mild. Don’t hesitate to stop by the tapas bars of the city to taste the delicious “olla de San Antón”, the local stew.
Whichever destination you choose, you won’t be disappointed with our selection of European cities to visit in winter. Don’t wait any longer to jump on the next train and let yourself be carried away by the passing landscapes: the journey is just as important as the destination!