Best Places to Visit in Europe in Winter 2023/2024
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Top Must-Visit Winter Countries in Europe 2023/2024
Are you looking for the perfect winter getaway in Europe? Look no further! We have compiled a list of the 30 best places to visit in Europe in winter. From snow-covered cities to charming Christmas markets, there is something for everyone on this list.
Whether you're seeking adventure on the slopes or cozy nights by the fireplace, Europe has it all. Our list includes destinations such as Innsbruck, Austria, known as the "Capital of the Alps," where you can ski and snowboard to your heart's content. For those looking for a more relaxed trip, Rovaniemi, Finland, offers the chance to see the Northern Lights and visit Santa Claus Village. And of course, no winter trip to Europe would be complete without a visit to a Christmas market, such as the ones in Germany or Austria.
So pack your bags, grab your warmest coat, and get ready to explore the best of Europe in winter. With our list of the top 30 destinations, you're sure to find the perfect winter getaway.
1- Northern Lights Destinations
If you're looking for a magical winter experience, witnessing the Northern Lights is an absolute must. Here are our top Northern Lights destinations in Europe:
Iceland is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Europe. The Aurora Borealis can typically be seen between September and April, and the trick is that it must be dark enough in order to be visible. Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a great place to start your Northern Lights adventure. From there, you can take a guided tour of some of the best viewing spots in the country. Other popular locations for Northern Lights viewing in Iceland include the Golden Circle, Thingvellir National Park, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
Iceland, a Nordic island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean, has a rich and fascinating history that spans back to its settlement by Norsemen in the 9th century. In the centuries that followed, Icelanders developed a unique culture, language, and literature, which continues to thrive to this day. Today, Iceland is an important destination for travelers looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in Europe. With its stunning landscapes, natural wonders, and fascinating culture, it is no wonder that Iceland is one of the best Europe destinations to visit in winter.
When it comes to accommodation in Iceland, there are plenty of options to choose from. One of the most famous hotels in Iceland is the luxurious Blue Lagoon Spa, which offers guests the opportunity to soak in its geothermal waters and indulge in spa treatments. For those on a budget, the Kex Hostel in Reykjavik is a popular option that offers a comfortable stay at a reasonable price.
In terms of dining, Iceland has plenty to offer visitors. The country is known for its fresh seafood, including salmon, cod, and haddock. One of the most famous Icelandic dishes is the traditional fermented shark, which is an acquired taste for many. For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, Dill Restaurant in Reykjavik offers a tasting menu featuring seasonal Icelandic ingredients.
When it comes to activities, Iceland is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Visitors can witness the majestic beauty of the Northern Lights, take a dip in one of the country's many geothermal hot springs, or hike on a glacier. One of the most popular activities is the Golden Circle tour, which includes stops at the geysers at Geysir, the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park.
Prices for activities and accommodation in Iceland can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location. Visitors should expect to pay around $150-$200 per night for a mid-range hotel, while budget options can be found for around $50-$100 per night. Activities such as the Golden Circle tour can cost around $100-$150 per person, while a soak in the Blue Lagoon can cost around $60-$80.
Iceland is a unique and unforgettable destination that offers something for every type of traveler. With its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and unforgettable experiences, it is no wonder that Iceland is one of the best Europe destinations to visit in winter.
Norway is another popular destination for viewing the Northern Lights. Tromsø, also known as the "Gateway to the Arctic," is a great place to start your Northern Lights adventure in Norway. From there, you can take a guided tour of some of the best viewing spots in the country. Other popular locations for Northern Lights viewing in Norway include the Lofoten Islands, Alta, and Kirkenes.
Finland has recently become one of the most popular Northern Lights destinations in Europe. Rovaniemi, Finland is the home of Santa Claus and is also one of the most popular places for Northern Light hunters. Some of the best places for you to see the aurora borealis in Lapland are Rovaniemi and Kemi. If you visit the Aurora Sky Station, you'll get to enjoy a gourmet meal and northern lights exhibition before embarking on a guided tour.
These are just a few of the many Northern Lights destinations in Europe. Each location has its own unique charm and appeal, so it's up to you to decide which one is the best fit for your winter adventure.
2- Ski Resorts
When it comes to winter in Europe, skiing is one of the most popular activities. With so many world-class ski resorts to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go. Here are some of our top picks for ski resorts in Europe.
Austria is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world, with a wide range of slopes to suit all levels of skiers. Some of the most popular ski resorts in Austria include:
- St. Anton am Arlberg: Known for its challenging slopes and vibrant nightlife, St. Anton is a favorite among advanced skiers.
- Kitzbühel: This picturesque resort town is famous for its Hahnenkamm downhill race, but it also has plenty of runs for all levels of skiers.
- Ischgl: With over 200 kilometers of slopes, Ischgl is one of the largest ski resorts in Austria.
Switzerland is another popular destination for skiing, with some of the most stunning mountain scenery in Europe. Here are some of the top ski resorts in Switzerland:
- Verbier: This chic resort town is known for its challenging off-piste terrain and lively après-ski scene.
- Zermatt: With views of the iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a favorite among intermediate and advanced skiers.
- St. Moritz: One of the most glamorous ski resorts in the world, St. Moritz is known for its luxury hotels and high-end shopping.
France is home to some of the largest and most diverse ski areas in Europe, with plenty of options for skiers of all levels. Here are some of the best ski resorts in France:
- Val d'Isère: One of the most famous ski resorts in the world, Val d'Isère is known for its challenging terrain and long ski season.
- Courchevel: With over 600 kilometers of slopes, Courchevel is one of the largest ski areas in the world.
- Chamonix: Home to the famous Mont Blanc, Chamonix is a favorite among advanced skiers and mountaineers.
No matter which ski resort you choose, you're sure to have an unforgettable winter vacation in Europe.
Video for Best Winter Destinations in Europe
Check this video for the 10 Best Winter Destinations In Europe created by the GAFFL Youtube channel
What are some of the best winter destinations in Europe?
There are many great winter destinations in Europe, depending on what you're interested in. Here are some of the best options:
1. Swiss Alps, Switzerland: Home to some of the most famous ski resorts in the world, the Swiss Alps offer spectacular views, world-class skiing, and charming mountain villages.
2. Lapland, Finland: Known for its magical winter wonderland, Lapland is a great destination for seeing the Northern Lights, going dog-sledding, and staying in cozy igloos.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland's capital city is a great base for exploring the country's beautiful winter landscapes, including glaciers, hot springs, and waterfalls.
4. Salzburg, Austria: This charming city is a popular destination for Christmas markets, music festivals, and winter sports.
5. Tromso, Norway: Another great destination for seeing the Northern Lights, Tromso is also home to a unique ice hotel and opportunities for dog-sledding and snowmobiling.
6. Prague, Czech Republic: With its picturesque architecture, beautiful Christmas markets, and cozy cafes, Prague is a great destination for a winter city break.
7. Barcelona, Spain: While not traditionally considered a winter destination, Barcelona's mild Mediterranean climate makes it a great option for escaping the cold and enjoying the city's art, architecture, and cuisine.
8. Budapest, Hungary: This beautiful city is home to some of the most impressive thermal baths in Europe, making it a great destination for a relaxing winter getaway.
9. Zermatt, Switzerland: Another popular ski resort town in the Swiss Alps, Zermatt is known for its excellent skiing and stunning views of the Matterhorn.
10. Banff, Canada (technically not in Europe, but still a great winter destination): Located in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is a winter wonderland with opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, and soaking in hot springs.
What are the most popular winter activities in Europe?
There are many popular winter activities in Europe, depending on the destination and the interests of the traveler. Here are some of the most popular activities:
1. Skiing and snowboarding: Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports in Europe, with many world-class ski resorts in the Alps and other mountain ranges.
2. Ice skating: Many European cities set up ice skating rinks during the winter months, offering a fun and festive activity for visitors of all ages.
3. Northern Lights viewing: The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon that can be seen in many northern regions of Europe during the winter months, making it a popular activity for those seeking natural beauty.
4. Christmas markets: Christmas markets are a popular winter activity throughout Europe, offering a chance to shop for gifts, taste traditional food and drink, and experience local traditions.
5. Winter festivals: Many European cities and towns host winter festivals with music, food, and other entertainment.
6. Thermal baths: Some European countries have a tradition of thermal baths and hot springs, offering a relaxing and rejuvenating experience during the cold winter months.
7. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing: For those looking for a less extreme winter activity, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular options that allow visitors to explore the winter landscape at a slower pace.
8. Dog-sledding: Dog-sledding is a unique and exciting winter activity that can be experienced in many northern regions of Europe.
9. Snowmobiling: For those seeking a more adrenaline-fueled winter activity, snowmobiling is a popular option that allows visitors to explore the winter landscape at high speeds.
10. Winter hiking: Many European regions offer hiking trails that can be enjoyed in the winter, offering a chance to experience the natural beauty of the landscape in a unique way.
What are the top ski resorts in Europe?
Europe is home to some of the world's best ski resorts, offering a wide range of skiing and snowboarding opportunities for all skill levels. Here are some of the top ski resorts in Europe:
1. Val d'Isere, France: Val d'Isere is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world, with over 300 kilometers of ski runs and a reputation for challenging terrain.
2. Verbier, Switzerland: Verbier is known for its challenging off-piste skiing and vibrant après-ski scene, with numerous bars and restaurants to choose from.
3. St. Anton, Austria: St. Anton is a popular ski resort in the Austrian Alps, offering over 300 kilometers of ski runs and a lively atmosphere both on and off the slopes.
4. Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy: Cortina d'Ampezzo is a picturesque ski resort in the Dolomite Mountains, with over 120 kilometers of ski runs and a reputation for excellent food and wine.
5. Zermatt, Switzerland: Zermatt is known for its stunning views of the Matterhorn and extensive ski terrain, with over 360 kilometers of ski runs and a wide range of off-piste opportunities.
6. Chamonix, France: Chamonix is a legendary ski resort in the French Alps, offering a variety of skiing and snowboarding opportunities along with spectacular views of Mont Blanc.
7. Kitzbuhel, Austria: Kitzbuhel is a popular ski resort in the Austrian Alps, with over 170 kilometers of ski runs and a charming medieval town to explore.
8. Courchevel, France: Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort in the French Alps, known for its upscale hotels and restaurants along with over 150 kilometers of ski runs.
9. Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria: Saalbach-Hinterglemm is a popular ski resort in Austria, offering over 270 kilometers of ski runs and a lively après-ski scene.
10. Livigno, Italy: Livigno is a budget-friendly ski resort in the Italian Alps, offering over 115 kilometers of ski runs and duty-free shopping.
What are some of the best destinations for seeing the Northern Lights in Europe?
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a natural phenomenon that can be seen in many northern regions of Europe during the winter months. Here are some of the best destinations for seeing the Northern Lights in Europe:
1. Tromso, Norway: Tromso is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, with a high probability of sightings due to its location inside the Arctic Circle.
2. Abisko National Park, Sweden: Abisko National Park is located in a remote area of northern Sweden, with clear skies and minimal light pollution making it an ideal destination for Northern Lights viewing.
3. Reykjavik, Iceland: Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and a popular base for Northern Lights tours, with many opportunities to see the lights in the surrounding countryside.
4. Lapland, Finland: Lapland is located in the northernmost part of Finland and offers a range of Northern Lights viewing experiences, from dog-sledding tours to glass igloos with panoramic views of the sky.
5. Lofoten Islands, Norway: The Lofoten Islands are located off the coast of northern Norway and offer stunning views of the Northern Lights above the dramatic landscape of the islands.
6. Kiruna, Sweden: Kiruna is a town in northern Sweden that offers Northern Lights viewing opportunities along with a range of winter activities, from skiing to dog-sledding.
7. Svalbard, Norway: Svalbard is a remote archipelago located in the Arctic Ocean and offers a unique Northern Lights viewing experience along with opportunities to see polar bears and other Arctic wildlife.
8. Rovaniemi, Finland: Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and offers a range of Northern Lights tours, along with visits to Santa Claus Village and other winter activities.
9. Faroe Islands, Denmark: The Faroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Norway and offer a unique Northern Lights viewing experience above the dramatic landscapes of the islands.
10. Isle of Skye, Scotland: While not as reliable as some of the other destinations on this list, the Isle of Skye in Scotland offers a chance to see the Northern Lights above its rugged coastline and mountains.
What are the most beautiful Christmas markets to visit in Europe?
Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Europe, with cities and towns across the continent decorating their streets with lights and festive decorations during the holiday season. Here are some of the most beautiful Christmas markets to visit in Europe:
1. Strasbourg, France: The Strasbourg Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest in Europe, with over 300 chalets selling crafts, gifts, and local food and wine.
2. Vienna, Austria: The Christmas markets in Vienna are known for their festive atmosphere and traditional handicrafts, with the market at the Rathausplatz being one of the most popular.
3. Dresden, Germany: The Dresden Christmas market is one of the oldest in Germany, dating back to the 15th century, and is known for its traditional crafts and famous fruitcake, Stollen.
4. Prague, Czech Republic: The Christmas markets in Prague are located in the historic Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, with vendors selling traditional Czech food and crafts.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark: The Tivoli Gardens Christmas market in Copenhagen is known for its festive lights and decorations, along with its ice skating rink and traditional Danish holiday treats.
6. Bruges, Belgium: The Bruges Christmas market is held in the historic Grote Markt square and is known for its festive atmosphere, with over 150 chalets selling gifts, food, and drinks.
7. Salzburg, Austria: The Christmas market in Salzburg is held in the historic Cathedral Square and is known for its traditional Austrian handicrafts and mulled wine.
8. Cologne, Germany: The Cologne Christmas markets are spread throughout the city, with the market at the Cathedral being the largest and most popular, offering a range of crafts, food, and drinks.
9. Tallinn, Estonia: The Christmas market in Tallinn is held in the historic Town Hall Square and is known for its festive atmosphere, with vendors selling traditional Estonian handicrafts and treats.
10. Basel, Switzerland: The Christmas market in Basel is held in the city's historic old town and is known for its range of artisanal crafts and traditional Swiss holiday treats.
What are the best places in Europe to go ice-skating or sledding?
Ice-skating and sledding are popular winter activities in Europe, with many cities and regions offering opportunities to enjoy these pastimes. Here are some of the best places in Europe to go ice-skating or sledding:
1. Vienna, Austria: Vienna has several outdoor ice-skating rinks, including the popular Wiener Eistraum, located in front of the City Hall.
2. Stockholm, Sweden: The Kungsträdgården ice-skating rink in Stockholm is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, with skate rentals available on site.
3. Davos, Switzerland: Davos is a popular ski resort town that also offers a variety of winter activities, including ice-skating on the town's outdoor rink.
4. Munich, Germany: The ice-skating rink at the Olympiapark in Munich is a popular destination for locals and visitors, with skate rentals available on site.
5. Oslo, Norway: The Spikersuppa ice-skating rink in Oslo is located in the heart of the city and offers skate rentals and a festive atmosphere during the holiday season.
6. Riga, Latvia: Riga has several outdoor ice-skating rinks during the winter months, including the popular Riga Central Market rink, which offers skate rentals and a range of food and drinks.
7. Zakopane, Poland: Zakopane is a popular ski resort town that also offers a range of winter activities, including sledding on the town's many hills.
8. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany: Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a popular ski resort town that also offers sledding on the town's many hills and a range of other winter activities.
9. Zermatt, Switzerland: Zermatt is a picturesque ski resort town that also offers sledding on the town's many hills, along with ice-skating and other winter activities.
10. Lapland, Finland: Lapland is a remote region in northern Finland that offers a range of winter activities, including ice-skating, sledding, and snowmobiling.
What are some lesser-known winter destinations in Europe that are worth visiting?
While the popular winter destinations in Europe are certainly worth visiting, there are also many lesser-known destinations that offer unique winter experiences. Here are some lesser-known winter destinations in Europe that are worth visiting:
1. Lillehammer, Norway: Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics and offers a range of winter sports activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating.
2. Zakynthos, Greece: While known as a summer destination, Zakynthos offers mild winter temperatures and a quieter atmosphere, with beautiful scenery and unique winter activities like olive harvesting and wine tasting.
3. Innsbruck, Austria: Innsbruck is known for its beautiful alpine scenery and winter sports activities, but also offers cultural attractions like the Swarovski Crystal Worlds and the Ambras Castle.
4. Tromso, Norway: Tromso is located in the Arctic Circle and offers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, along with dog sledding and snowmobiling.
5. Salzburg, Austria: Salzburg is known for its beautiful architecture and cultural attractions, but also offers winter activities like ice-skating and skiing.
6. Rovaniemi, Finland: Rovaniemi is located in Lapland and offers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, along with unique winter activities like reindeer sleigh rides and ice fishing.
7. Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn's historic old town is beautiful in the winter, with Christmas markets and traditional Estonian winter activities like ice-skating and saunas.
8. Gdansk, Poland: Gdansk's historic old town is also beautiful in the winter, with Christmas markets and unique winter activities like snow kiting and ice fishing.
9. Granada, Spain: While known for its warm weather, Granada also offers skiing and snowboarding in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter months.
10. Kitzbuhel, Austria: Kitzbuhel is a picturesque town known for its skiing and snowboarding, but also offers winter activities like sleigh rides and snowshoeing.
What are some budget-friendly winter destinations in Europe?
There are several budget-friendly winter destinations in Europe that offer charming winter landscapes, unique cultural experiences, and affordable prices. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Budapest, Hungary: Budapest offers beautiful Christmas markets, thermal baths, and affordable accommodation and dining options.
2. Krakow, Poland: The charming medieval city of Krakow offers picturesque winter scenery, rich history, and affordable prices.
3. Sofia, Bulgaria: Sofia offers winter sports, cultural attractions, and affordable accommodation and dining options.
4. Bratislava, Slovakia: Bratislava offers a cozy winter atmosphere, Christmas markets, and affordable prices.
5. Riga, Latvia: Riga offers a charming old town, Christmas markets, and affordable accommodation and dining options.
6. Bucharest, Romania: Bucharest offers winter sports, cultural attractions, and affordable prices.
7. Vilnius, Lithuania: Vilnius offers a cozy winter atmosphere, Christmas markets, and affordable prices.
These destinations offer a unique winter experience that won't break the bank.
What are some must-see winter festivals in Europe?
There are many winter festivals throughout Europe that offer unique cultural experiences, delicious food, and festive atmosphere. Here are some must-see winter festivals in Europe:
1. Carnival of Venice, Italy: This festival takes place in February and is known for its elaborate masks and costumes, as well as traditional Venetian food.
2. Christmas Markets in Germany: Germany is known for its Christmas markets, which can be found in cities such as Berlin, Cologne, and Munich. These markets offer festive decorations, traditional food, and unique gifts.
3. Hogmanay, Edinburgh, Scotland: Hogmanay is Scotland's New Year's Eve celebration, which features a torchlight procession, live music, and fireworks over Edinburgh Castle.
4. Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan: This festival takes place in February and features large snow sculptures, ice-skating, and traditional Japanese food.
5. Northern Lights Festival, Tromsø, Norway: This festival takes place in January and offers concerts, cultural events, and the chance to see the Northern Lights.
6. Carnival of Nice, France: This festival takes place in February and features parades, music, and fireworks. The carnival is known for its colorful floats and costumes.
7. Winterlude, Ottawa, Canada: Although not in Europe, Winterlude is a popular winter festival in Canada's capital city, featuring ice skating, ice sculptures, and hot chocolate.
These winter festivals offer a unique and memorable experience that should not be missed.
What are some tips for traveling to Europe in the winter?
Traveling to Europe in the winter can be a unique and memorable experience, but it also requires some preparation. Here are three important tips for traveling to Europe in the winter:
1. Pack appropriately: Winter weather in Europe can be cold, snowy, and wet. It's important to pack warm clothing, waterproof boots, and a good quality jacket. Layers are also key, as temperatures can vary widely throughout the day. Additionally, don't forget to pack a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
2. Plan for shorter daylight hours: In the winter, daylight hours in Europe are shorter than during other times of the year. This means that sightseeing opportunities may be limited, and it's important to plan your activities accordingly. It's also important to be mindful of safety when traveling in the dark, especially in unfamiliar places.
3. Consider shoulder season travel: Traveling during the shoulder season (the period between peak and off-peak travel times) can offer the best of both worlds: smaller crowds, lower prices, and milder weather. Additionally, some winter festivals and markets take place during the shoulder season, providing a unique and festive atmosphere without the crowds of peak season.