Europe’s fairytale cities suit every season, but there’s something about winter that makes the magic of visiting Europe even more exciting. Soft, glowing lights at dusk, festive Christmas markets and the warming sight of a fireplace lit inside a pub - is there anything more satisfying? We’ve rounded up the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe during the winter...
The City of Light sparkles in every season, but during the winter it’s more romantic than ever. Wrap up warm, get lost in the quaint, quieter streets and get all your festive feels from Paris in winter this year. The Champs-Elysees will be decked out with stunning Christmas lights and Christmas markets pop up throughout the city. Sip on a delightful cup of vin chaud (hot wine) while you mooch around the French stalls and burn off your crepes and galettes with a glide around an ice rink. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city for a snowfall, you’ll see just how simply perfect Parisian winters can get!
Our favourite things to do in Paris in winter
Vin chaud (mulled wine) at a Christmas market The lights on the Champs-Elysees Celebrate the New Year at the Eiffel Tower Drink one of the (at Angelina) Window shopping in the Covered Galleries French crepes in the restaurant next to the Notre Dame
Need a hostel in Paris?
It doesn’t really matter what time of year you choose to visit Prague, however winter is something extra special. Prague Castle when the snow has settled is like Hogwarts at Christmas. With far fewer crowds in Prague during the winter period, it’s the perfect time to visit where crowds will be nonexistent and the city can be enjoyed in a much more relaxed way. Not to mention, in December the Czech capital’s hearty comfort food is most enjoyed where you can get a taste of warm roasts, soups, dumplings, meats and more. If snow has settled, you simply must head to the top of the Prague Castle to get an amazing view of the snow-topped city rooftops.
Our favourite things to do in Prague in winter
Drink mulled wine and famous Czech beer Christmas market on Old Town Square Ice rinks Get the views at Old Town Hall or Prague Castle Eat some trdelník, a traditional Czech pastry St Vitus Cathedral
Need a hostel in Prague?
This fairytale medieval town comes to life during winter and people from all over the world come to experience the magic of Bruges for the festive season. In December, lines of gingerbread-eque houses light up, the famous Christmas markets come to life and horses pulling carriages clop down the streets. Smell the aroma of Christmas spices and mulled wine (gluhwein), enjoy hot Belgian waffles and buy a Christmas gift of two. If you’re lucky enough. a blanket of snow may fall covering the small bridges, cobbled streets and Belgian rooftops making for an even more beautiful sight. Head to the top of the medieval Belfry tower for amazing views of Markt Square below, looking better than ever during December.
Our favourite things to do in Bruges in winter
The Old Chocolate House (for a cup of hot chocolate) Walk around Burg Square Christmas market on Markt Square Ice skating De Halve Maan brewery for a beer Horse carriage ride Explore the chocolate shops Try frites and mayonnaise
Need a hostel in Bruges?
Head to Copenhagen this winter for a true ‘hygge’ experience. Hygge is the Danish and Norwegian word for the overall feeling of comfort, cosiness and general contentment that is often used during the Christmas season to describe the incredible festive vibe in the city and how it makes you feel. In Copenhagen, the Christmas markets open up, the city’s famous streets illuminate with lights and big Christmas lunches are eaten throughout the whole of December in the lead up to Christmas. One of the best places to experience the festive cheer is in the electric Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe’s oldest theme parks. Tivoli Gardens transforms into a magical winter wonderland that you simply can’t miss. Get a taste of Danish Christmas delicacies and escape the cold and find sanctuary in a cosy pub. Fairytale castles, hot saunas and an unbeatable festive atmosphere is what you’ll get in Copenhagen, but note that it gets cold so wrap up warm and wear your layers.
Our favourite things to do in Copenhagen in winter
Tivoli Gardens theme park The ice rink at Frederiksberg Runddel Taste Christmas food, Julefrokost, gløgg, and smørrebrød Walk down the lit up Nyhavn Traditional Christmas lunch as Restaurant Kronborg Visit the historic castles Christmas markets (Nyhavn market and Hans Christian Andersen market)
Need a hostel in Copenhagen?
London during the winter is always a fantastic time to visit. Christmas festivities take over the city, with stunning light displays, Christmas markets and events happening all season long. You can’t visit London in winter and not take part in the classic winter activity of ice skating at Somerset House. But it’s not just the buzz of Christmas that makes London a popular stop on winter travellers’ itineraries, one of the best things about the city in winter is you can take long, fresh walks and there will always be plenty of snug pubs with open fires to pit stop at along the way. Sunday roasts with all the trimmings, hot mulled cider at the food markets… Good, British comfort food cannot be beaten.
Our favourite things to do in London in winter
Ice skate at Somerset house or the Natural History Museum Winter Wonderland Mulled wine at Christmas markets See the Christmas lights on Carnaby Street Cosy pub for a Sunday Roast Christmas shopping on Oxford Street or Regents Street Lumiere festival in January Hogwarts in the Snow
Need a hostel in London?
Take a trip to the Scottish capital this winter to experience the cosier months, the Scottish way. From Christmas markets and festivities in December, to huge Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) celebrations and Burns Night in January, Edinburgh is packed with winter traditions. Get up in the morning and head out for a frosty stroll through the dewy Princes Street Gardens, or take the hike up to Arthur’s Seat on a clear afternoon to see if you can catch one of the incredible sunsets over the city. When the snow falls, Edinburgh becomes even more picture perfect than it already is; nothing makes Edinburgh Castle look more stunning than a blanket of snow. Edinburgh’s pubs are the perfect place to end a chilly, busy day so pull up a chair, grab a pint and a plate of the local delicacy haggis, neeps and tatties and you’re set up for the cosiest winter break ever.
Our favourite things to do in Edinburgh in winter
New Year’s Eve Hogmanay celebrations Burns Night in January Edinburgh Christmas Market Visit Edinburgh Castle Climb Arthur’s Seat for sunset on a clear day Stroll through Princes Street Gardens Go shopping on the Royal Mile
Need a hostel in Edinburgh?
Whilst winter is Interlaken’s coldest season it’s the perfect time to ski or snowboard. This is such a picturesque city located on the foot of the Jungfrau Mountain rage, where everywhere you look resembles a picture perfect postcard, especially if you get high up for some insane panoramic views. This is the place to come to be at one with nature and in winter it looks like a winter wonderland. If you’re not into snow sports, there are plenty of other fun things to do in winter such as cheese fondue nights, chocolate making classes, night sledding, hiking and admiring the vast blue lakes that are some of the most beautiful in the world such as Lake Brienz. The city is surrounded my mountains, alpine meadows and deep, rich forests.
Our favourite things to do in Interlaken in winter
Winter sports - snowboarding/skiing Chocolate making workshops Cheese fondue nights at Balmer’s Night sledding Walk around the turquoise lakes Skydiving See the Glacier canyon Winter hot tub
Looking for a hostel in Interlaken? Check out Balmer's