Are you looking for a city break?
Visiting Europe during the winter is a different kind of experience. Not only is it the off-peak season for many countries, making it ideal for people who want a quieter getaway, but you’ll get to see a different side to many of the popular holiday destinations on the continent. Winter is a great time to visit the grand cities and quaint villages of Europe, with fewer queues and crowds allowing you to pack more into your itinerary, and off-season prices making it even more budget-friendly to visit Europe throughout the colder months. Thanks to the extensive train network across the continent, it is easy to explore the different countries at your leisure and enjoy a quieter, slower pace compared to the often-frantic tourist season in the summer. So, where should you visit in Europe in the winter?
Best Winter City Breaks in Europe
With much of the continent celebrating Christmas in November and December, Europe is the perfect place to find a winter city break. Whether you’re looking to do a different kind of Christmas shopping or explore some of the best cities on the continent when they are kissed by the ice and snow, here are some of the best cities to visit during the winter in Europe.
City Breaks in December in Europe – Berlin, and Vienna:
If you want to make sure that you get the full festive experience while visiting Europe during the month of December, you can’t go wrong with Berlin, Germany, or Vienna, Austria, where you can find some of the best Christmas markets on the continent. Of course, it’s not just the big cities where you will find them, as many of the smaller cities and towns in both Germany and Austria will see romantic, historic, and festive markets pop up. Stalls will sell everything from gingerbread men to sleigh bells, and there’s plenty of beer and mulled wine to enjoy.
European City Breaks in January – Stockholm, Sweden:
Head to Stockholm for the shopping and city attractions, before moving on to Abisko. Located almost as far north as you can possibly get in Europe by train, Abisko is located in Lapland and offers the perfect break for those who seriously love the winter. Throughout the months of December and January, the sun does not rise for several weeks, creating a darkness that makes this area one of the best places in the world to catch sight of the magnificent northern lights or Aurora Borealis. There are plenty of fantastic winter sports to take part in from husky mushing to skiing along national park trails. At nearby Kiruna, you can see the famous Icehotel.
Best European City Breaks in February – Athens, Greece:
As we get to the end of the winter and Christmas cheer is a thing of the past, Athens makes the ideal option for tourists who are looking for a winter city break. While Greece is commonly associated with travel during the summer, Athens is a great place to visit all year round – and unlike during the summer months, February sees milder weather, making exploring all the amazing, ancient sites of this city much easier. Whether you want to see the Acropolis, wonder at the Parthenon, or spend some time experiencing the local heritage and culture, visiting Athens earlier in the year means that you get to avoid all the stress of the summer crowds, intense heat, queues, and tourism price hikes.
More Best February City breaks in Europe:
If Greece isn’t your thing, there are plenty of great European city destinations that are perfect for visiting in February. Budapest is an ideal place to visit all year round. During the winter months, Budapest is home to a huge outdoor ice rink in the stunning central park, and the ornate thermal baths are the ideal place to relax and warm up no matter how cold the weather gets.
Jasna in Slovakia is another ideal destination to visit throughout the winter if you enjoy skiing. With high-quality skiing experiences at affordable prices, along with reasonably-priced food and accommodation, Jasna is an ideal resort for those who are looking for a friendly, laid-back skiing experience.
Finally, if you’re looking to head to a city in February that will offer warmer temperatures to what you’re experiencing at home, Andalucía in Spain is an ideal choice. Some parts of Andalucía are actually located further south than the North African coast, making it one of the best European destinations for those who are looking for some winter sun. The area is home to several great cities including Granada and Seville, where you can enjoy the attractions minus the huge summer queues.
Best City Breaks in Europe in March – Venice, Italy:
Venice is certainly one of the most visited cities in Italy. The unique city on the water attracts millions of visitors each year. If you want to avoid the crowds and queues and take in the stunning beauty of Venice at a quieter time of the year, March is the ideal month to visit. Or head there a little earlier in the year to catch the Carnevale, which is held in February. This European highlight features unique masks and elaborate costumes that bring the canal city to life with colourful and interesting history. There are tons of free events for visitors to take part in, but it can get very crowded. If you’d prefer a laid-back visit where you can easily find a gondola to explore the canals in and avoid huge queues at some of the main attractions, March is a great month – and the weather is milder compared to November-January as spring begins to bloom in Italy.
What are the Benefits of Visiting Europe in the Winter?
While most people think of the summer months when booking a trip overseas, there are plenty of great reasons to consider a winter city break in many European destinations. Europe is a truly diverse continent with a huge range of different cultures to explore, whether you are looking for skiing, shopping, cultural experiences, or gastronomic delights, you can find it all on offer here. Some of the main benefits of booking your European city break for during the winter include:
By travelling during the winter, you can take advantage of cheaper prices due to the lower demand for travel. Summer is the high season for the majority of European countries, and you will often find that flights, hotels, and tourist attractions are much cheaper throughout the winter month due to the fact that this is the off-season and simply not that popular with tourists. If you’re looking for a budget break, a European city break in the winter can be the best option.
While visiting European cities in the summer might be warmer, you will also have to deal with crowds of tourists, huge queues, and packed public transport. If you’d prefer to take a break that is quieter, more laid back, and have more space to yourself while exploring your destination, visiting European cities throughout the winter months is a great idea. With most tourists waiting until the warmer weather before they book a trip, you’ll benefit from faster entry into attractions, find it easier to get seated at restaurants, and even find a place to sit on the bus or train.
Winter breaks in Europe are not all about the snow and ice. In fact, there are many areas of Europe where the weather can be very mild and pleasant in the winter. If you are looking for some winter sun, Spain and Portugal make excellent choices with temperatures fairly high all year round compared to the rest of the continent. If you’re craving a beach holiday rather than a city break, there are options for sun-lovers too – the Canary Islands, for example, are well-known for being sunny all year around. However, bear in mind that this often puts them in very high demand for the winter months, so prices might be hiked here compared to other areas in Europe.
A Different Experience:
Visiting European cities during the winter allows you to get a very different experience compared to visiting during the spring or summer. Throughout December, for example, you will find lots of Central European countries offer a lot of festive celebrations, which can be ideal if you want to do something different for Christmas and explore how other cultures celebrate the festive season. You can find unique, seasonal options like the Christmas markets in Germany at this time of the year. Bargain-hunters will love visiting the major fashion and shopping cities like Paris and Milan during January to take advantage of the beginning-of-year sales.
Most people plan their holidays for the summer, but there are plenty of great reasons to consider visiting many European destinations during the winter. Whether you’re looking for a festive experience, want a ski break, or are looking for some winter warmth while avoiding the crowds and queues of the summer, there are tons of awesome European destinations to consider during the colder months.