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18 BEST European Winter Destinations 2023

These European winter destinations are some of the best places you can go during the colder months of the year. There are plenty of places to visit in Europe in winter, so you are spoilt for choice!

From winter wonderlands such as Innsbruck and Budapest to warmer destinations such as Lisbon and Sevilla where you can get some winter sun, there’s a wide range of places to go.

Whether you want a winter getaway in a cultural city such as Cologne, you want to head to an interesting capital city such as Copenhagen, or you want to try out a lesser-known destination such as Tirana in Albania, this list has something for everyone!

Below are my recommendations for the best winter destinations in Europe that you should visit!

Best European Winter Destinations

I’ve included a range of places on this list to suit the needs of different people. Some of you may want to get some winter sun, while others will want to see the northern lights.

I’ve been to several of these places during the winter and confirm they are fantastic. Liverpool is great if you want to do cultural stuff, San Sebastian is a nice quiet spot to check out and Prague and Vienna are both beautiful under the lights.

So whether it’s beautiful Christmas markets, snowy landscapes or a few weeks of winter sun, you should find somewhere on this list that appeals to you!


View of Innsbruck

Innsbruck is known as the ‘capital of the Alps’ and it’s a fabulous place to visit during the winter months in Europe.

The snow capped mountains of the Alps provide some incredible landscapes for you to admire as you navigate your way around Innsbruck’s winding streets.

Walking around the Old Town is a necessity while you’re in Innsbruck. The Imperial Palace is an impressive building that you have to check out too.

Both locations are beautiful and exemplify Austrian architecture. They also look brilliant under the lights while strolling around at night during the festive season!

Another reason to visit Innsbruck in winter is to see the Christmas markets. They are fantastic and it feels like you’re in a winter wonderland when you’re making your way through the market!



Copenhagen is one of the nicest cities and one of the best to visit during the winter season. 3 days in Copenhagen is one of the best Europe winter trips for a long weekend.

You will need to wrap up warm, however, as the low average temperatures and the frequent winds make it a cold destination at this time of the year. Despite this, there are still plenty of things to do to keep you warm.

You can visit the numerous museums in the city, brave the weather and visit the 19th century Tivoli Amusement Park and visit the world-famous sculpture of the Little Mermaid.

Copenhagen is one of the best European cities to visit at any time of the year, never mind winter. The free-spirited neighbourhood of Christiania and the friendly locals make it a brilliant place to visit!

San Sebastian

La Concha Bay

San Sebastian is one of my favourite cities in all of Europe and somewhere I enjoyed visiting while I was travelling around Spain.

I visited the city in December and was shocked to find temperatures over 20 degrees! This probably isn’t normal, but it made my trip all the more enjoyable. I was able to walk around the city, walk to the top of Monte Igeldo and get a great view of the city below!

San Sebastian is arguably the most beautiful city in Spain and there are fewer crowds in winter than during the summer when La Concha Bay is jampacked with tourists. During winter, you can amble around and experience the city at your leisure.

trip to San Sebastian is a brilliant idea if you want to visit a European city in winter that’s fun and on the quieter side!


parliament building

Budapest is one of my favourite cities in Europe and it is a great place to go for Europe winter holidays despite the cold weather.

There’s a high likelihood that you will encounter snow if you travel to Budapest in winter, but it gives the city a beautiful feel.

There’s something about European cities when they are covered in snow that makes them magical places!

One of the best things to do in Budapest is to head to Szechenyi Baths. It’s a great way to warm up in cold weather.

The hot baths are excellent and you can go to a sauna and steam room too. I highly recommend it whether you spend  3 days in Budapest or a shorter length of time.

There’s so much to see and do in Budapest that it is an ideal place to go on a winter break in Europe!


Me in Lisbon standing in front a backdrop of builidngs
Me in Lisbon

If you want to get some warm weather during winter in Europe, Lisbon is one of the best cities to visit. Lisbon receives 3,023 hours of sunshine per year! While the majority of this will be during the summer, it’s still warm during winter.

The good news is that there are plenty of things to do in Lisbon, so you can make the most of the good weather during a 3 day Lisbon itinerary for example.

The Belem Tower is a must-see, and you can also check out the numerous awesome cafes and restaurants in the city.

If you have a few days to spare, Lisbon is a good place to use as a base to explore the surrounding area. You can head to Nazare, which is on the coast and check out the beach.

The waves here are ferocious, and the beach holds the distinction of the highest wave ever surfed!

Lisbon is an interesting city and one of the best European vacations in December if you want to go somewhere where you don’t have to be wrapped up in your winter jacket for the duration of the trip!


View of Plaza de Espana

Seville is one of the best places to visit in Europe during winter if you want to go somewhere that has sunny weather. Whether you spend 3 days in Seville or longer, it’s a fantastic winter destination in southern Europe!

The city is in southern Spain, which maintains a temperate climate during the winter months.

This means it is a lot warmer than other countries in Western Europe and is a good alternative if you don’t want to go somewhere that involves cold or snow!

Visiting Seville during winter isn’t the worst idea because the weather there during the summer months can be intolerable. It often reaches over 40 degrees during these months, which is very very hot!

A visit to Seville could coincide with a road trip in Andalucia and seeing the other sights in the region. Going to Seville and Andalucia at this time of the year will mean a lot fewer tourists and cheaper prices too!


3 days in Bruges

Bruges is one of the most beautiful cities that I have visited and that beauty is even more evident when you make a winter visit.

If you have seen the film In Bruges, then you will have an idea of what the city looks like during the colder months of the year. The combination of cobbled streets, canals and medieval buildings gives it a beautiful feel. 

It can feel like you have been transported back in time when you are walking around. Nighttime in the city is a special time as the darkness and limited light give the city a real fairytale quality, especially in the main town square.

It does feel like you have stepped onto the set of a Disney movie at times!

weekend in Bruges is an ideal trip if you want to be romantic and spoil your significant other! 


Cologne Cathedral

If you want to visit a city with an excellent Christmas market, Cologne is the place to go. The city looks magical during the winter and the markets add to this feel.

Christmas markets are popular in Germany and Cologne’s are among the best in Europe. It’s great fun to walk around all the various stalls and check out what they are selling and sample the local German delicacies.

There are plenty of other things to do during a trip to Cologne as well, such as visiting the impressive cathedral, checking out Hohenzollern Bridge and going to one of the many brewhouses (Brauhaus) in the city!

Cologne is beautiful during the winter and the fact it is easy to get to and not overly expensive makes it one of the must-see places in Europe in winter!


view of Liverpool

Liverpool is an underrated destination to visit in Europe at the best of times, never mind going during winter. the city is vibrant and there are plenty of things to do there as well.

One of the main attractions in Liverpool is The Beatles Museum. They are arguably the most famous band in the world and the museum is a great place to learn more about the history of the fab four!

You can also visit Anfield, the home of Liverpool F.C. one of the most successful teams in the world, check out the impressive Anglican and Catholic cathedrals and wander around the brilliant Liverpool One shopping centre.

Liverpool is a beautiful city during winter, especially when the Christmas lights are up! There’s something magical about visiting England during the build-up to Christmas and Liverpool is one of the best places in the country during this time of the year!


View of Munich from above

Germany is an essential part of any winter Europe itinerary and Munich is one of the best cities in the country to visit at this time.

The city receives a lot of snow during winter, so it will be cold. However, it is also beautiful at this time. The English Garden looks magical during winter and visiting the Nymphenburg Palace is amazing as well.

It’s one of the best places to go to in Europe for a winter city break because of what you can do.

The Christmas markets will be on at this time of the year, you can head out to Dachau Concentration Camp, which is a sobering visit and you can catch a Bayern Munich match if you’re lucky too!

With so many things to do, spending 3 days in Munichduring winter is something you should consider.


View of Krakow

Krakow is one of my favourite cities in Europe and a great place to visit during the winter.

There are plenty of things to do in Krakow, such as checking out the beautiful Main Square with its numerous impressive buildings.

You can also take a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. It’s not the nicest place to visit, but it’s an important one nonetheless. The camp is a testament to the worst of humanity and serves as a reminder to never let anything like this happen again.

Krakow is a cold, but beautiful place during the winter and it’s a great destination if you’re looking for a weekend away in Europe during the winter.


Skanderbeg Square

Some of you may be thinking, ‘where the hell is Tirana?’ Well, it’s the capital of Albania and a very interesting city. Plus, it’s a good place to visit in the winter for several reasons.

There are a lot of things to do in Tirana and as the weather is a lot cooler at this time of the year than during summer, it’s easier to see everything and get around. It being winter will mean there are fewer tourists to contend with as well.

Tirana is a cheap place to visit, so you will be able to see everything with no trouble and sample some of the great Albanian cuisines. You might be concerned with the question, is Albania safe?

Well, the short answer is yes. The country is much safer than its unfair reputation suggests.

One of the main reasons for including Tirana on this list is because it is very different from other places you will find on the list. The country was a closed-off communist state until 1991. There are a lot of reminders of the past, but modernism is catching up at a rapid pace.

If you want to visit somewhere a little different during winter in Europe and discover one of the continent’s hidden gems, Tirana is a good place to check out!


Barcelona from Parc Guell

I lived in Barcelona for two years. Yes, it does get cold during winter, but it’s still one of the best places to visit in Europe during December and January.

You won’t be able to bathe at the beach, but La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell and the Gothic Quarter are still there. They also have a more charming feel to them during this time of the year.

An added benefit of visiting Barcelona in winter is that the city is a lot quieter at this time of the year. During peak season in summer, you can be jostling with tourists all across the city, whereas it is much more relaxed during the winter months.

Barcelona is also well-connected with many cities around Europe. Flying there is easy from most places, making it a quick and easy getaway for a winter weekend away in Europe!

So whether you spend 3 days in Barcelona or a bit longer, you know you’re still going to find lots to do despite the time of year!


Prague Old Town

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and this is even truer if you visit during winter!

The city in central Europe is beautiful under the winter lights during the holiday season. The winding cobbled streets lined with medieval buildings make for a lovely backdrop.

It’s easy to feel as if you have been transported back in time when navigating the city at night. The beautiful Christmas market in Prague is also a must-visit if you go during December.

The Charles Bridge is majestic during winter and offers beautiful views of Prague’s surroundings. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to huddle in once the cold nights creep in!

whether you spend 3 days in Prague or more, it’s one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. It’s an ideal place to go if you’re looking for a romantic getaway in Europe!



Bergen is a beautiful city on the northwest coast of Norway that’s an ideal place for a winter break in Europe. It’s a place you have to visit during a trip to Norway!

There are plenty of things to do in the city, one of which is to take the funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen.

From the start of the funicular in the city centre, you snake up the mountain to be presented with beautiful views across the city and beyond! The snow only adds to the majesty of the view! If you’re lucky you might get to see the northern lights too!

If you’re in Bergen for a few days, you can head to nearby Voss and go skiing there. You can also go sledging around the city, making it an ideal place to visit for winter sports enthusiasts!

You can buy a sledging pass from the Fløibanen funicular and use the paths and roads down from Mount Fløyen to go sledging!

Bergen is a lesser thought of place to visit during winter, but if you like being active, it’s an ideal place to go!


Old Town in Tallinn

Tallinn is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets! The capital of Estonia is a charming city and is a beautiful place to visit in Europe during winter.

The city looks magical under the darkness of winter. Walking around the old town amongst the towering medieval buildings, city walls and shining lights, makes you feel as if you have gone back in time.

It’s one of the quieter places on the list. Going during the winter will see you have to contend with snow, but fewer tourists. It’s one of the best places to visit in Estonia due to its past.

Tallinn has an interesting history and the range of medieval, Soviet and modern buildings and museums makes it an intriguing place to go if you’re visiting Europe in winter!


winter in Rovaniemi

If you want to visit the perfect winter destination in Europe, Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle in Finland is a place you should consider visiting.

It’s located in Lapland in the north of Finland and is considered to be the home of Santa Claus and is a true winter wonderland. So if you want to give your children an extra special experience of visiting Santa Claus Village, this is the place to go!

There are plenty of other things you can do in Rovaniemi, which is why it’s one of the best places to see in Finland. Dog sledding is one activity, that’s a lot of fun, while you can do some ice skating and winter hiking too!

The idyllic landscapes of the Arctic Circle are a fascinating place to visit and that’s why Rovaniemi is one of the best European destinations during winter.


Mozart in Vienna

Vienna is one of the most beautiful European cities and a fantastic place to visit during winter.

The Christmas market here is one of the best on the continent, and it’s perfect for strolling around in the twinkling lights with some hot chocolate.

Winter is also ball season in Vienna. So if you’re a fan of getting dressed and the opera, it’s worth visiting around this time to experience it for yourself.

You can visit Vienna in 3 days and experience one of the best city breaks in Europe. It’s another city that’s amazing under the winter lights with lots to do such as visiting the numerous palaces and museums!

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Best European Winter Destinations

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