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If you are a frequent traveler, it is quite unbelievable if you do not have listed Europe in your bucket list yet. It is a destination with an almost endless range of best places to visit in Europe in December.
From a huge range of winter-friendly places to go in Europe in December, we have listed some of the most trending places you should visit. Millions of travelers visit Europe in December for some new experiences to admire, visit, and explore. Europe has not just lived up but exceeded the expectations of tourists searching for a new vacation all the time.
What is the weather in Europe in December?
Generally, the whole continent of Europe is capped in a thick snow blanket in winter. But it still doesn’t affect the excitement of tourists in any way, as they visit the best places in Europe in December.
Winter comes in many forms in Europe. There is severe snow in the polar north and weeks without sun, while you find mild sunshine in the Mediterranean, and fabulous Christmas vibes and café culture in the center.
It is quite amazing to visit some of the big cities and villages, with only a few queues to add to your itinerary. And European travel becomes pocket-friendly with off-season accommodation in November, December, January, and February.
You can explore the different side of Europe in December through its train network while meeting the locals commuting to their business or work daily.
When it comes to temperature, it remains below freezing in December in many places, i.e., around -3°C and maximum. Temperature does not even climb above freezing also, i.e., around just -1°C. It is surely the time to dress for chilling weather in Europe in December. Be sure to carry a warm winter coat when getting there.
Some of the amazing things you can do in Europe around this time of the year:
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Table of Contents
Places to visit Europe in November
There is no other city like Tallinn for an authentic feel in its Christmas market. Well, it is not the only reason why it is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December. Snow falls in its Town Hall Square.
And a blonde woman in warm coat sits at its dinky Christmas market under a food stand, tucking into fried potatoes and black pudding. The White Christmas by Dean Martin echoes over the wooden chalets, and there is also a queue for rum-based, hot Vana Tallinn liqueur at the grog.
Located in Northern Europe, Tallinn in Estonia is one of the oldest capitals in northern Europe and one of the best places in Europe in December. And one of the well-preserved historic town centers in the world.
Even the pharmacy in Town Hall is well decorated. It was opened low ceilinged and wood-beamed in 1422 and has lots of traditional medicine bottles and dispensary drawers.
The pharmacy’s history is charted in the bell jars in a nearby room and an eerie preparation collection including dried deer penises and woodlouse infusions. You can also enjoy free stuff here.
The guided walk tour is also available every day here by the tourist office. It gives a serene view of the capital in the north of Town Hall Square. The skyline will amaze you with Soviet apartments and onion-domed churches.
Like in several Italian cities, the Christmas environs make it one of the best places to go in Europe in December. Storekeepers start decorating their shop windows during the beginning of the month inspired by Christmas theme, and staff of Florence municipality starts placing the typical decorative lighting around the streets.
Generally, December and January are the coldest months here. Here, you can practice some of the usual winter sports; however, the mountains are not so close.
In Italy, December 8 is a National holiday paying tribute to the Immaculate Conception. This big festive day starts the celebration of Christmas as many families set up, decorate a Christmas tree at their home on this day, and make a great Nativity scene.
The giant Christmas tree is also set up in its historic center on December 8 in the serene setting of Piazza del Duomo.
The Christmas tree is lighted up, and a public ceremony is held in the presence of Florence’s Mayor, along with other events like entertainment and concerts for all.
You can also spot the Nativity scene in Piazza del Duomo, on the left and front of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. There are giant statues made in terracotta by Impruneta artisans in the Nativity.
Related read: Day trips from Florence and castles in Italy
Germany is the origin of several festive traditions, including carols, Christmas trees, and advent calendars, so it seems to be one of the best places to travel in Europe in December. If you are behind a short festive break without going too far from home.
Munich is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December among several big cities in Germany. It is well regarded for hearty food, Christmas markets, drinks, and fairy tale vibes. You may visit Munich if you are up for the last-moment Christmas break.
When it comes to eating, Munich is incomplete without sausages and beer. The list of sausages is virtually endless, including Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Bockwurst, Knackwurst, etc. As a snack, it will keep you going in the evening. So, give one of them a try at least when going to Munich.
You should also try some German specialties like Schnitzel, Gulasch, Bratkartoffeln, and others in several restaurants in the city. You will enjoy being in Munich.
You can also get back some Christmas gifts for the whole family at the Christmas markets in Munich. If you are up for something flashier, the city center in Munich has a lot of high-street stores, shopping malls, and designer boutiques to choose from.
Usually, Helsinki welcomes the first snow during Christmas, when the city is capped in white snow and creates truly a great festive ambiance.
On the main streets of the town at Aleksanterinkatu, the Christmas lights and the bustles of shoppers in the Christmas market exude true warmth of the festival.
The sun may not rise as winter starts gripping the Finnish capital, but the aroma of glögi, mulled wine, and shop decorations truly warm up the soul as Christmas comes.
Usually, Christmas is a calm and secluded family celebration, so people can make the most of ‘pikkujoulu’ or ‘pre-Christmas party’, during which they party hard in restaurants (where you can experience and taste amazing Finnish food) and bars. The mercury may sink below -10C, but the mood is still warm.
Even though the temperatures plunge, restaurants and shops exude a greeting glow, and Finnish complexes are well equipped to expel even the hardest frost.
Along with the mix of carol recitals in churches, it is not easy to believe that Helsinki was not founded actually for celebrating Christmas.
It is no guarantee that you can see White Christmases, but you can have a better chance of them in the north of Finland. The snow arrives early and almost always falls around the festive season over the recent years.
December 21 comes with the first day of winter. It is supposed to rain a bit less in December as compared to November and days can be sunny, clear, and crisp and, short as well.
The shortest day of the year, the winter solstice falls on December 21 or 22, so it does have some short days. The sun remains low by 4 pm and sets by 4:45 pm in December.
So, expect it to be quite cold in Rome with some rainfall in December. It usually remains un-crowded in December, leaves festive season like Christmas and New Year aside.
December is the best time to spend holidays in Rome as it starts lighting up with festive feel and decorations.
Related read: Day trips from Rome
Belgium is well known as the melting pot of sorts. From the blend of various languages spoken in Belgium to the grand historic architecture and old towns melding with modern designs. There is a lot of things to enjoy at Brussels and is also known for delicious waffles, beer, chocolates, mussels, and fries.
Well, winter is not the height of tourist season in Europe. Along with the Christmas cruises on the Rhine, which are very touristy, there’s something you can enjoy. In many parts of Europe, winter is not as bad as you can think of.
It is especially true in Europe when comparing to some regions of the US and Canada. For example, Brussels was cold in early December in 2016 but was still above freezing in the daytime, ranging from 4 to 12 degrees Celsius.
The central square of Brussels, the Grand Place is where you can explore some of the impressive architecture, including the guided houses and the city hall. You cannot just see the square until you are at it, and there are so many streets covering it.
You should visit it during the day and night when it illuminates. The cobblestones turned into a piece of art with a vast flower carpet, and the flower market is held on Monday, Friday, and Wednesday.
When having a Europe tour in winter, Paris is always the best place. It is a great idea to get there in winter, especially when Parisians celebrate the snow day. If it gets cold, wear your warm winter coat.
Also known as the City of Light, Paris goes, even more, dazzling with its twinkling lights on the Christmas displays and Champs-Elysees at Galeries Lafayette. The mighty Eiffel Tower and the lines into Notre-Dame shrink to a part of their lengths.
Bologna is full of fun and holiday lights in winter. December 8 marks the beginning of festivals, with the immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.
On December 13th, it keeps with Santa Lucia. This saint traditionally brings gifts for children as Santa on the nights from 12th to 13th.
Christmas Eve is celebrated widely, and families enjoy no meat meal. After Christmas day, there is Santo Stefano on the 26th.
The last day of the year, December 31st is celebrated with a great meal which has a lot of dishes per course, ending obviously with spumante, the local bubbly or champagne.
Finally, la Bafana, the old witch, brings candy for children who have been kind and gentle and coal to the bad ones on January 6th. Some kids usually get candy coal, instead of the real one.
If you’re interested in visiting other places during your holiday, visit some of the places not far from Bologna – read the top day trips from Bologna.
Winter is the best time to explore Budapest at its best. You may want to explore the Hungarian Parliament on the Danube covered by the ice drifts to make even the toughest bums embrace the chill on the beach.
You can find all the grand cafes, thermal baths, and museums surprisingly more heartwarming after enjoying a few chilly hours to visit the city.
Related read: Places to visit in Hungary
The Carnival of Venice is, hands down, one of the best tourist destinations in Europe in winter. It is exciting, serene, and undoubtedly a bit incredible. From February to March, Venice’s celebration is something you shouldn’t miss.
But keep in mind that the costumed events can cost you a lot. If you are on a shoestring budget, it is best to enjoy some free events across the city to get the complete experience of a festival.
Along with Carnival, Venice is known for its slower pace and culture for the visitors to experience it to the fullest. The unique architecture, canals, and old-world atmosphere turn magical in winter, and it has a lack of crowds.
In a colder month, a visit to Venice is a definite highlight in Europe, and it is one of the best cities in Europe to visit in winter.
Also, there are a lot of amazing places to visit outside of Venice you can explore for a day, check it out!
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.