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Across Europe,  Destinations

Best places to visit in Europe in winter (2023/2024)

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Best places to visit in Europe in winter. At the first thought, winter can be considered a bad time to travel. It’s dark, gloomy, wet, and cold. Well, it is; we will not change the weather. But it’s still a good time to travel; there is no need to be stuck at home for months. Firstly, Europe is a great place to visit, regardless of the season. Some places can even be more interesting during the winter. Secondly, there are a few activities that you can only do in autumn and winter.

In this post, I describe the best places to visit in Europe in the winter.

We will look at visiting cities, at Christmas Markets, at snowy mountain peaks, and winter sports, and Aurora Borealis hunting. And, at warm and sunny places, which you can find in Europe even in the winter months!

Quick links to organise your trip to Europe in winter:


Check here for flights.

Here for private transfers and guided tours.

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: City Breaks

Many cities are great to visit all year. Few European cities are even better during the winter; they gain a special feeling. Which cities should you consider visiting during the winter time? Which ones are the perfect destinations for the best winter city breaks?


London. Whatever I write about London, it will not give a full picture of the city. There is always so much to do, see, and eat in the city. Whenever you go, you will not be bored. London also has many seasonal attractions, like, for example, Winter Wonderland. I wrote the whole post about the Christmas atmosphere in London. Check it out if you are travelling to London between November and January.

Here, you can search for accommodation in London.


A few hours train ride (or short flight) away is the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. City, which I’m totally in love with. Similar to London, Edinburgh is an all-year-round city. Beautiful and vibrant in summer and magical in winter. Fog and a gloomy atmosphere give Edinburgh this additional magical touch. For some people, it probably resembles a Harry Potter vibe. Snow is not that frequent in Scotland, but if you are lucky to see Edinburgh covered in snow, it’s even more like a fairy tale view.

Edinburgh also has a great Christmas Market. And the city looks incredible with all the Christmas decorations.

What else, it’s a very interesting idea for New Year’s Eve, called Hogmanay.

Obviously, you have higher chances for rain and coldness if visiting Edinburgh in winter, but there are many cafes to sit and warm up. Add Edinburgh to your winter trip to the UK or Europe in general; you will not regret it. Hotels in Edinburgh here.


Another city that has a very special vibe in the winter is Stockholm. I’ve visited Stockholm 3 times in winter time. Yes, it’s cold and grey, and the colourful houses in the Old Town look better in the sun. But there is again something magical about the lights and candles that are up. There are many cafes with big windows, a coffee smell, a cosy interior, and atmosphere inside.

There is a beautiful public library building, a good place to visit and hide from potential rain.

Stockholm is a city on the water, so views with fog also have this special vibe. A bit like famous Swedish thrillers.

Look for accommodations here.

Copenhagen and other Nordic cities

Similar atmosphere as in Stockholm, you will also feel in other Nordic places, other Swedish or Norwegian cities. Especially the Danish capital, Copenhagen, is a great idea for the winter.

Even if again, colourful houses at Nyhavn for sure look better in pictures in the sun. But you can get sunny days in the winter too! It’s not always grey and gloomy.

Here, you can search for hotels in Copenhagen.


Kraków, with its amazing Old Town, is a great destination at any time of the year. And it’s always busy with tourists. Additionally, in December, there are Christmas lights and Christmas Markets.

The most comfortable and nicest will be if you stay in city centre, around Old Market square or in Kazimierz. Check for accommodation here.

You can also visit Wawel Hill and the nearby Kraków Wieliczka Salt Mine and Auschwitz. Both sites are open all year, and both are exceptional in the world.


Budapest is one of my favourite capitals in Europe. Somehow, it has this cosy feeling in the winter. Maybe because there are many cafes that you should visit? Especially those that have been opened since the 19th century. Or maybe it’s because of Hungarian cuisine, which can be quite warming? Hot gulash or langos after a long walk in the cold is something to look for.

Budapest has one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.

And if you are looking at visiting Budapest, here you will find a lot of Budapest Travel Tips including accommodation recommendation.


I can’t not to add the Czech capital, Prague, to the list. Beautiful old town, Prague Castle, which gives a ‘magical’ feeling, a cosy feeling, and warming cuisine. And a great Christmas Market, too!

Hotels in Prague.

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: Christmas Markets

The Christmas Markets season takes place in November and December. Most cities in Europe open Christmas Markets and switch on Christmas lights and decorations in late November. And they last until the end of December or early January.

The most famous and traditional Christmas Markets in Europe are in German cities, in Vienna, and in Prague. But Christmas decorations and Christmas Markets traditions are widespread in Europe, and you can find them in many cities. Even those that you don’t consider as winter places like Spanish or Italian cities.

In past years, Best Christmas Markets in Europe competition was won by Budapest, Tallinn and Zagreb. More about the competition, the cities with the best markets, and the dates for Christmas Markets in 2023, you can read in the article talking about the Best Christmas Markets in Europe in 2023.

Have you thought about the Christmas Market Trip Itinerary? Circuit trip with visits to more than one city.

Many cities are close to each other, and it’s easy to travel between them, especially with the train. Here at Omio, you can check schedules and buy tickets for trains in Europe.

Look at connecting visits in cities like Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Zagreb, or Ljubljana. They all have beautiful Christmas Markets.

You will probably not manage to visit all of them, but connecting around three cities is doable during a 7-10 days trip.

Winter sports and mountains

Do you like winter sports? Cross-country, skiing, skating? In Europe, in the winter, you will find many places to enjoy them.

Cross-country skiing is a very popular sport in the Nordic countries. Look at Sweden, Norway, or Finland if you fancy going to a place with well-prepared cross-country tracks.

Of course, you can find such places in other countries as well, but the Nordics are top destinations for cross-country travel. It’s a very popular sport in these countries, not only for professional athletes, but for everyone.

If you want to ice skate, you will find ice rinks in many cities. Actually, quite often they are part of Christmas Markets in city centres. But if you want to be in a place where ice skating is very popular, visit the Netherlands.

When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, you have a lot of choices.

First of all, all the Alps regions. In France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Andorra is interesting and growing popularity. Think about Slovenia. Also, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland have high mountains (especially the Tatra in Slovakia and Poland) with skiing infrastructure. An interesting idea is the Balkan region. In Serbia, there is a famous winter sports centre, Kopaonik. There is skiing infrastructure and ski resorts also in Bosnia and Montenegro. These destinations are still quite alternative when it comes to winter sports in Europe, but they are worth thinking about

Santa Claus’s Visit

Around November and December, there is one special place in Europe that gets a lot of attention. It’s Rovaniemi in Finland. It’s where Santa Claus Village is!

The village is not the only attraction in Rovaniemi; there are many more. Dog sledding, learning about Sami culture, and aurora hunting (more about it in the next chapter), but you have to visit Santa Claus if you are around, especially around Christmas time.

There are many attractions in the village, like the Santa Office or the Main Post Office. All the details regarding the village you can find here.

There is an airport in Rovaniemi, so it’s easy to get there. Most often, you will fly there with a change in Helsinki, but there are also direct flights from other European cities. For example, KLM from Amsterdam, or Ryanair or Easyjet from London.

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: Northern Lights

If you ask me about one thing that is the most special and the biggest ‘must’ in Europe during winter time, it’s to visit regions where you can see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). You can see it not only in winter; the season for Aurora is between the end of September and March.

There are a few regions where you have a big chance to see the aurora.

It’s in Finnish Lapland (e.g., mentioned Rovaniemi), Swedish Lapland, Iceland and the north of Norway. In Norway, tourists usually look at the Lofoten Islands and Tromso, which are the easiest to reach and the perfect place for this unique experience.

More information about Tromso (what to see, how to get there, where to stay) you can find here.

Not everyone remembers that the Northern Lights can also be observed in Scotland, especially in the north. However, I would not treat it as a main Northern Lights destination. The weather in Scotland is often cloudy, and this disturbs in seeing the Lights.

When aurora activity is strong, lights can also be seen in the southern parts of the Nordic countries, in the Baltic countries, especially Estonia, or even at the Polish seaside. But this doesn’t happen too often. So if you dream about seeing the Northern Lights, choose more northern regions. Generally, the closer to the Arctic Circle, the better. Look also at aurora-chasing trips. You have bigger chances for success in hunting than alone, as guides will know the region, exact weather and will drive you on a real hunt. Last year in Tromso, I took this trip, and it was one of the best travel memories of my entire life.

More about the Northern Lights in Europe and about how Norther Lights ‘work’ is available in this post.

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: Countries

We talked about the most magical cities; now shortly, we will talk about countries. Again, there are so many destinations you could think about. But I would like to bring 3 countries as the best winter destinations to your attention.

Switzerland: plan it especially if you like travelling by train. You can visit all of the country by train, with amazing views through big windows.

Slovenia: small country that looks like from fairy tale. In summer, it’s very green. And with snow, it’s so winter magical feeling, especially if you look at pictures of Lake Bled or Triglav National Park.

Norway: because of views.

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: Where it’s warm and sunny?

Are there any places in Europe where even in winter it’s warm and sunny? Until now, we talked about gloomy days, snow, and very wintery feeling. But yes, there are warm and sunny places in Europe, even during the winter. It’s not going to be hot like in the summer months, but it’s very likely you will get a decent 20 degrees. At which destinations should you look in this context?

Best places to visit in Europe in winter: Canary Islands

Geographically a bit far away from the continent, the Canary Islands are still in Spain, Europe, and the EU. And with the average temperatures of around 20-22 Celsius (68-72 F) degrees in January, you can still use the beautiful beaches of Fuerteventura or Gran Canaria islands.

From one side, all the Canary Islands are similar to each other; from the other side, they differ. So you can visit the islands many times or just stay longer and change the destination.


The second place that can be pretty nice and sunny during the winter months is Andalusia, so again, Spain. It’s not only a place with beaches and sea, but also with a great culture and so many monuments to visit. Look at Sevilla and Malaga, but also smaller towns.


Madeira, a Portuguese island, is often named ‘the island of forever spring’. It has more rain, but also beautiful green views.

Faro and Algarve

Another Portuguese region with winter temperatures around 15-20 degrees Celsius (59-68 F), and more sun than in northern Europe is region around Faro. And of course, with amazing views and beaches.


Totally different direction, but also worth mentioning. Evenings can be chilly, so you should take a jumper and jacket, but days should be mild and sunny. And it’s an interesting island and country.

You can also think about Sicily and Malta as other examples of the warmest places.

Just a small remark here. Be careful with travel to all South European regions in the winter. It happens quite often that places in Croatia, Italy, and Portugal do not have heating. And because of humidity, the feeling of coldness can be tiring. So if you visit, look at the accommodation with the heating.

However, as mentioned in the article, places should be warm enough, at least in the Canary Islands.

It’s not really easy to describe all European places in one article. But hopefully it showed you it’s worth visiting Europe in winter, regardless of whether you want to enjoy winter, ski, or drink coffee in the sun. In my opinion, these are must-see places for a winter visit.

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