Looking for an awesome adventure and winter destinations in Europe? You see, holidays are not always meant to be spent by the Mediterranean sea chilling by the beach with cocktails in your hand, although that is nice too, sometimes we overlook the beauty of winter and always find ourselves running away from it – and I’m guilty of that!
Truthfully, you appreciate the beauty of winter in Europe when you experience it. Granted it is cold but with proper clothing, it shouldn’t be an issue at all! Plus, how awesome will it be to visit and experience some of Europe‘s winter holiday destinations? It will be epic.
Well, as I mumble along, you most probably know that there are heaps of places in Europe that offer unique winter adventure for everyone to enjoy and that said, I highly suggest you should visit at least once in your life!
Imagine a nice beautiful area with high mountains and beautiful nature all covered in thick white snow; it does remind you of some magical world, doesn’t it? Well, glad to say that’s the reality for most of these beautiful winter destinations in Europe!
I’m proud to say that this compilation of winter holiday destinations in Europe will tickle your adventure wanderlust to visit at least one of these magical winter paradise sometime in the future!
I mean, come on, I know they look fascinating from your screen but imagine how it is if you’re actually there? I live in Finland and trust me, looking out at my window right now, pure beauty.
Table of Contents
- Winter in Europe: Top 21 Winter Destinations in Europe
- Abisko, Sweden
- Lapland, Finland
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Bled, Slovenia
- Innsbruck, Austria
- Budapest, Hungary
- Vals, Switzerland
- Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
- Stockholm, Sweden
- Tallinn, Estonia
- Helsinki, Finland
- London, UK
- Venice, Italy
- Barcelona, Spain
- The Algarve, Portugal
- Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
- Kotor, Montenegro
- Cinque Terre, Italy
- Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Winter in Europe: Top 21 Winter Destinations in Europe
Abisko is the chilly northern country of Sweden is unmissable in winter. Cold-fearing folks need only remember: there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.
Traveling here during the most ‘daunting’ season offered me experiences unique to the north, where embracing the dark and snow is a necessary part of life. Plus, you’re to miss the bustling crowds that characterize the summer tourist season and experience a less-traveled land during its most beautiful time.
A winter trip to Absiko was marked by one of the most awe-inspiring experiences that a person can have: an up-close-and-personal view of the Northern Lights. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad view,’ to be fair, but the most optimal viewpoint is atop Mount Nuolja.
A chairlift across from the STF Turiststation takes you up 1169 meters to the Aurora Sky Station, where you can enjoy an unparalleled, epic view of Aurora Borealis from the Panorama Cafe deck. The cafe offers the perfect definition of a traditional meal with a view.
Who wouldn’t want to visit the official hometown of santa Claus? Even January holidays to Christmas-town will leave you feeling all of the cheer. Winter is totally embraced here, with a ton of tourist activities and unique accommodation options – my favorite is definitely the snow igloos. With awesome snow, tasty local food, huskies, reindeer, and the Northern Lights, what’s not to love?
Lapland is a winter paradise with plenty of activities (especially outdoor) to ensure a memorable trip. A guided trek down the Aurora Trail will take you out for a primetime view that is so much more rewarding on foot.
Snowmobile safaris are all the rage here, too, but for a true Lapland experience, opt for the husky or reindeer safari instead.
On a side note ladies and gents, regarding the safari, don’t forget to bring your women and men’s snowmobile gear for this activity, if you have one!
Also, if you dare, take the plunge into the four-degree water at Rovaniemi’s Koskipuisto Park.
Even in winter, there is never a dull day in Iceland’s capital city. Along with illuminating snowfall and the regular appearance of Aurora Borealis, Reykjavik has all of the urban conveniences that you need to keep comfortable.
Don’t let the smallness of the country fool you. Reykjavik’s calendar is full of winter festivities, events, and activities guaranteed to make your trip pleasant.
Make sure to experience the riveting feeling of outdoor swimming with Reykjavik’s many thermal pools as a calming source of therapy to beat any winter stiffness after hitting the slopes at Iceland’s number one ski resort, Bláfjöll.
Lake Bled in Slovenia is truly a winter wonderland. It ranks as one of the most beautiful alpine resort towns for celebrating winter in Europe, but it won’t break the bank like its equivalents in Switzerland and France.
A medieval castle sits atop the cliffs overlooking the lake, providing you with all of the character and charms that you look for in old European towns.
Head to the exhibition in Bled Castle for a quick and enticing history and culture lesson before immersing yourself in your surroundings. Bled is considered a mecca for cross-country skiing, with trails taking you through peaceful pastures and forests.
When the cold starts to bite, treat yourself to one of Bled’s many thermal spring pools, Finnish and Turkish saunas, and spa treatments.
The Gothic city of Innsbruck in Austria comes alive in winter. Traditional Christmas markets, glowing lights, and wintry attractions make this city perfectly picturesque in winter, and locals are proud to display their wealth of culture and traditions during this time. Consider the January holidays to avoid the Christmas rush.
Spend a few hours marveling at the views offered at the Seegrube ski station. Situated 2200 meters above sea level, a funicular and cable car ride lift you up to offer panoramic views of the surrounding city and landscape. Plus, the ski down is pretty spectacular.
I found the historic Old Town to be a rewarding place for a bite and a well-deserved pint after a long day in the mountain air. Culture seekers can head to the Kristallwelten Museum, named in honor of Daniel Swarovski.
The tradition of hearty food is also best experienced in winter when the body and soul crave warmth the most.
In addition to the plethora of museum options, the city offers a few outdoor winter activities, as well. Ice skating on the frozen Városligeti Tó, behind Heroes’ Square, and sledding at Normafa let you actively enjoy the crisp air rather than chilling to the bone.
A winter trip to Budapest wouldn’t be complete with a soak in one of the public baths. In fact, the heat of the natural water makes it even more pleasant during winter months, acting as a wonderful contrast to the cold open air.
As a winter-lover, what more could I want than a white vacation in the snowy Alps? The Swiss know how to celebrate winter in Europe, and seasonal tourism is truly done right here.
Traditional Alpine music plays in restaurants and pubs; folks skate on natural ice, and people are always up for a (well-clothed) snowy trek.
Ski enthusiasts will not be disappointed with a trip to this Alpine resort town. Beautiful thermal baths once again offer the perfect apres-ski, and the local town has plenty of food and drinks venues to keep you toasty and full in the cold month.
Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
If you are an adventure addict and want to experience the best of snowboarding and skiing, these mountain valleys of Sarajevo are the perfect ones as well as the stunning ice skating rink in the city area near Zetra Olympic Complex.
Sarajevo also offers amazing lip-smacking Bosnian cuisines to the visitors and a series of coffee shops and organic tea stalls to have a comfortable winter Europe trip for the visitors. Sarajevo should be a must inclusion for every traveler while visiting Europe in winter.
Stockholm is nothing less than a wonderland during the winter season. Being resting on the 14 islands, the city of Stockholm gets a stunning makeover during the winter.
Be it exploring the Christmas Market of Old Town having vibrant collections of Christmas props, caps, decorative items. And Christmas trees, exploring the grand Vasa museum, and endless skiing through the thick snow wrapped valleys of Hammarbybacken Ski resort or visiting open-air museum Skansen.
Stockholm caters to all your winter traveling desires perfectly. The city looks breathtaking during the Christmas time and New Year lit with thousands of brilliant fireworks.
If you are browsing through the list of best winter city breaks, best winter holiday destinations in Europe, and most importantly best winter vacations, Stockholm should be in your top 5 positions in the travel bucket list.
Tallinn is among the best places in Europe to visit in winter that looks like a fairyland covered with thick layers of snow on the roofs, streets, trees, balconies as if the angels have cast a magic spell everywhere turning everything into the snow. Tallinn is full of attractive tourist destinations to make your winter city breaks in Europe amazing.
You can start by visiting the charming Christmas market, which is much like a painted scene from an animated movie in the Tallinn Old Town. In the daylight, you can go for skiing riding the sled by a group of huskies, or exploring the ice skating rink of Harju Street.
Enjoy delicious Christmas food in the Tallinn old town dotted by numerous cozy cafes. Have fun dipping in the snow creating snow angels, enjoy ice fishing on frozen lakes, explore the breathtaking massive frozen Jagala waterfall, build a snowman, or enjoy the traditional Estonian food.
Visiting Europe in winter is incomplete without visiting Tallinn in Estonia and trying out the endless fun activities there.
Talking about the winter gateways in Europe, Helsinki ranks in one of the top coldest European cities in winter. The city is rich in architectural beauty has a breathtaking charm during the winter season, turning dark quickly as it receives only 5 hours of sunlight during this time.
One of the must activities for all tourists in Helsinki during winter is to try out the traditional Finnish sauna, which is an ultimate way to rejuvenate in the country of Finland. Adventure enthusiasts can go for Ice swimming after the vigorously heating experience of the sauna, explore the sea fortress Suomenlinna in a ferry, stroll on the frozen bay of Helsinki.
Visit the Sibelius monument, walk around the wooden Kamppi Chapel, devote yourself to the Rock Church of Helsinki. Spend some quality time offering prayers in the gorgeous Helsinki Cathedral which looks like a snow-covered white palace in winter, enjoy the delicious Finnish food in the series of restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs in the city, and finally do some shopping in the indoor and outdoor market areas of Helsinki.
London in the UK is the favorite European destination for all travelers irrespective of the season. But if you are looking for the best European cities to visit in winter or best winter destinations in Europe, London is the first choice. Europe in winter gets the most comfortable shape in London having pleasant temperatures. It has the most beautiful Christmas in entire Europe.
The streets have the sweetest snow allowing you to explore all the local sightseeing areas, the Christmas markets with attractive items, alluring Christmas windows.
Take casual walks through the Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park which is nothing less than a wonderland in winters, Kew Garden to see some amazing lighting celebrating Christmas. And have fun in the ice skating rinks of the city.
The aura of the Christmas is beyond description in London that leaves imprints on your heart forever.
If you have more time, make sure to also visit the outskirts of London on a day trip.
Venice is like a little heaven floating on water in the country of Italy, which turns into an incredibly romantic destination being less crowded by tourists. Venice is one of those bitingly cold places that enjoy the beautiful winter sun in Europe. Instead of being entirely wrapped in the snow, the location has a lively atmosphere with the flowing water streams as well as the ice skating rinks.
The biggest attraction of Venice in winter is the Carnevale festival from January 23rd to February 9th. It is a very colorful festival hosting varieties of events every day starting from boat parades to masquerade ball.
Barcelona in Spain is one of the cheap winter destinations in Europe as it has the tourist crowd during the summer season. Barcelona is among the best places to travel in Europe in winter due to its pleasant cool weather and being extremely budget-friendly.
You have full benefit during this time in enjoying the fun activities of this beautiful city like Santa Eulalia festival, in February, enjoy delicious mushrooms and hot chocolate, visit the Gothic quarter, skiing in the areas of la Molina and la maselia, glance through the exhibitions in art galleries and lots more.
The Algarve, Portugal
Algarve is a breathtaking tourist destination of Portugal that is an ideal location for winter breaks in Europe with plenty of tourist attractions having picturesque scenic beauty. It offers spine thrilling adventure opportunities like Kayaking, Mountain Biking for the adventure addicts accompanied by endless fun in its sun-soaked warm beaches.
The offseason in winter is excellent to undertake activities like Dolphin ride in the sea, visiting Zoo de Lagos, surfing in Segres, hiking in Lagos trails. Visit the dramatic Praia de Marinha and many more. It ensures the best winter trips in Europe being extremely cost affordable.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Edinburg is the capital city of Scotland, is an epitome of beauty having bright sunshine reflected in the snow gracing the entire town during winters. The town looks like a painted old picture from the beautiful gothic structures, complexes, and buildings acing its beauty.
It is famous for the grand New Year festival Hogmanay that conducts three days of continuous fireworks with various music events.
November to January is the most happening time in Edinburg to feel the winter vibes with glamorous parties like Hogmanay, Burns Night, and many more.
The other breathtaking attractions cover 900 years old Edinburg castle, walk through the fantastic gardens, explore the Christmas market and gems of Edinburg, dance with lights on George streets or have a sumptuous Christmas Dinner in the restaurant festivals of Edinburg.
Related read: Islands in Scotland
Kotor is popular among the tourists as a summer destination, which is a coastal area of Montenegro, but the winters in Kotor have different vibes being extremely calm, beautiful, and mysterious.
If you want to celebrate Christmas quietly away from the bustling crowds of the city, Kotor makes the best winter Europe trip.
Be it wandering in the narrow streets of the old town, or having a cup of coffee with your dear ones, enjoying delicious cuisines or traveling through the old forts Kotor satisfies you artistically beating out the chilly weather in the mysterious backdrop.
It is also famous for its winter carnival in February where the coastal town has a colorful ambiance with concerts, events, food, and parades. Kotor is perfect for nature lovers and quiet people.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cinque Terre is one of the beautiful locations in Italy comprising of 5 towns that are popular for the eye-popping candy-colored houses, the gorgeous Ligurian Sea, lemon groves, and the terraced vineyards.
It is a location where every traveler wants to spend some quiet time in winter dipped in the flavor of romance.
The winter sees the minimum tourist crowd, and hence, it makes a wonderful time to explore the five towns of Cinque Terre and experience the warm golden sun reflected in the colorful city.
Malta is one of the beautiful winter sun destinations in Europe having a warm temperature of 27 degrees. It the best place to escape the shivering winters of Europe being extremely warm and comfortable.
It is the perfect warm winter destinations in Europe where the travelers experience a lot of sun and lovely beaches. Also, the accommodations are cheaper during this time with fewer crowds.
It was perfect weather for adventure activities, museum explorations, and visiting the local sightseeing areas like Barakka Gardens, Valletta waterfront, Grandmasters palace, and many more.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia that has the most festive vibes during the winter season. It celebrates Christmas with unique decorations based on various themes that are an eye treat for all visitors. The beautiful lighting works are beyond impressive, giving the city a million-dollar look.
You can spend some fantastic time here joining the Christmas celebrations, having some best wines. Ice skating in the Trivoli’s hall, boat riding, hike to St. Katarina, explore the Ljubljana castle, St. Nicholas Church, etc. and most importantly taste some delicious puffy pancakes and roasted chestnuts.
Croatia is famous for two types of winter being extremely cold and snowy in the continental part while mildly cold in the Adriatic coastal area.
Split is a beautiful town in Croatia having mild winters and offers a lot of exciting stuff for visitors like enjoying the New Year celebration in the areas of Diocletian palace and exploring it.
Enjoy St. Nicholas day and wonder Christmas accompanied by ten days Split carnival, which is a colorful experience in the beautiful city. It gives travelers an awesome enjoyable and comfortable winter vacation with its local attractions and festive occasions.
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