Travelling Europe in winter can imply many issues; Christmas markets, New 12 months celebrations, Valentine’s Day escapes, chasing the winter solar, and, after all, snow and ski journeys. Thus, selecting the most effective locations to go to in Europe in winter will very a lot depend upon what you’re searching for.
When you’re fed up with wrapping up, then it’s finest to move south, the place you’ll discover the warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter. When you’re chasing the aurora borealis or pistes, northern Europe is the place to be. When you’re searching for some tradition, then time your winter travels with a carnival or occasion.
After all, there’s additionally the bonus of heading to a few of Europe’s hottest locations within the winter and the low season; fewer crowds and decrease costs. It’s additionally simple to pair a few spots collectively because of Europe’s simple and fast overland connections. Simply use an app like Omio to go looking and ebook trains and buses to plan your winter journey.
Listed here are my picks of the most effective locations to go to in Europe in winter, from the warmest locations to winter wonderlands.
Greatest for sunny winter hikes and spring-time feels
Floating out within the Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese island of Madeira is nearer to Africa than its mainland. This local weather creates one of many warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter, with daytime temperatures all through the season hovering round 20°C.
In actuality, Madeira’s temperature stays fairly fixed year-round, main the island to mainly be in everlasting spring.
With sun-kissed days aplenty and flowers and verdant surroundings a continuing characteristic, it’s an awesome winter escape.
It’s additionally a spot that ticks many bins. There are seashores, starting from sometimes golden to dramatic and volcanic darkish bays – neighbouring Porto Santo boasts an unlimited stretch of heavenly sands. Then there are the mountains, the place lofty jagged peaks attain above the clouds. Linking all of it collectively are the leavada mountaineering trails, following the island’s conventional irrigation system. In Funchal, the capital, museums, wine tasting, and aged-Structure inform their very own story. Madeira is known – and when it got here time to return to my life in Lisbon after a winter month on the archipelago, you may wager I cried a tear or two.
Dresden and Saxony, Germany
Greatest for winter wonderlands, traditions, and Christmas villages
Germany is famend for its Christmas Markets, and the capital metropolis of the Saxony area, Dresden, is not any completely different. The truth is, the town boasts eleven completely different themed Christmas markets.
Past the festivities, it additionally makes an awesome metropolis break on the whole. The town is compact sufficient to discover on foot, and the grand Baroque structure makes this a worthy rival to among the different nice cities in central Europe.
What makes Saxony the most effective locations to go to in Europe in winter, although, is the locations past Dresden. This can be a land filled with traditions – particularly at Christmas – and it’s effectively price hiring a automobile to expertise them.
Within the Ore Mountains, you’ll discover the village of Seiffen – an nearly year-round Christmasy Eden. Right here, workshops create toys, candles, decorations and different festive-related objects irrespective of the month. Come December, it seems like a correct snowy wonderland. Then you may have the mountain city’s miner traditions. From deep underground carol live shows in decommissioned mines to parades and conventional feasts, a Christmas journey to Saxony goes far past the markets and glühwein.
Greatest for hotter winters, served with tradition and low season bargains
Italy’s ‘within the second’ Island – because of The White Lotus – is a surefire European winter vacation spot.
The most important island within the Mediterranean, Sicily doesn’t fail to entertain. From stunning seashores, like Cefalu, to characterful cities, corresponding to boisterous Palermo, you’ve obtained all the pieces below the solar – typically fairly actually – right here.
As one of many warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter, you may anticipate daytime temperatures to peak round 14°C in February. Nonetheless, showers could be widespread within the winter months, so don’t anticipate the climate to be like that of, say, the Canary Islands.
Fortunately, there may be a lot to entertain on a wet day. From Byzantine church buildings to spectacular Roman Villas with almost perfectly-restored mosaics, the island’s wealthy tradition is greater than only a distraction from the seashores. Even the Valley of Temples, a strip of grand Greek structure outdoors, is price braving the showers for. Having simply spent November rocking round Sicily’s 4 corners, it’s a giant thumbs up from me.
Greatest for snowboarding or snowboarding with out breaking the financial institution
Bansko in winter is a perfect place for Skiers of all talents, whether or not you need to study or simply head off with teams of mates to hit the slopes.
What makes it the most effective ski locations to go to in Europe in winter, although, is simply how reasonably priced it’s. That is significantly splendid for those who’re a first-timer and need to attempt the game earlier than shelling out a fortune to some fancy French resort.
With half-board chalet rooms coming in at round £300 and nice worth classes, it actually is among the most cost-effective locations to Ski in Europe throughout winter. One other bonus is the raise passes that may be organized by the day for these not desirous to decide to a complete week snowboarding, and even non-skiers can use the chairs to succeed in the upper après-ski factors.
Earlier than the snowboarding, which takes place a 30-minute gondola trip from the resort city, you’ll discover all you want with eating places, bars, rental retailers and different actions like ice skating. Bansko’s Previous City is gorgeous, with conventional buildings, museums, and a small however beautiful Orthodox church. You even have some scorching springs close by to discover, and after Bansko, you could possibly head to the classy metropolis of Plovdiv to go to the traditional points of interest crowd free.
The Algarve, Portugal
Greatest for low season offers and (normally) sunny days
In case your price range doesn’t stretch to a luxurious island escape in far-flung lands, then you definitely’ll be on the lookout for your solar somewhat nearer to dwelling.
The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost area, is among the warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter, and being the low season, there are normally loads of offers available.
Famend for its 300 days of annual sunshine, it isn’t a assured sunshine vacation spot, although it’s undoubtedly going to be a lot hotter than in England.
Having lived right here for fairly just a few years now, usually, I’ve discovered December to have fairly good days – Christmas is usually outdoors – after which showers begin coming a bit later in winter. That mentioned, it’s unpredictable, so pack an umbrella and plan for some emergency Algarve rainy-day actions. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, additionally makes for a superb winter metropolis break, with the climate normally just a bit chiller than within the south.
Greatest for Christmas and New 12 months’s Eve celebrations
Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a deal with any time of yr. What makes it one of many locations to go to in Europe in winter, although, is the Scottish Hogmanay celebrations which take over the town.
Hogmanay is the Scottish phrase for the ultimate day of the yr, and boy, do they know find out how to occasion. This might be no huge shock for anybody who is aware of about Edinburgh’s 11 festivals all year long.
Over as of late, enormous live shows, a torch-baring parade, creative occasions, firework shows, and even a cold AF swim happen. The town is packed, the power ranges are excessive, and it’s an epic strategy to see within the New 12 months. The lead-up to Christmas can be nice in Edinburgh. Whether or not you’re sipping mulled wine on the Christmas Markets, warming your self by a pub hearth, or escaping the rain within the metropolis’s wonderful museums, a winter journey to Edinburgh is a winner.
Greatest for low season visits, carnival and Valentine’s Day getaways
Whereas it’s not one of many warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter – you’ll want to move additional south in Italy for just a few extra levels – it’s definitely some of the romantic, making Venice a agency Valentine’s Day favorite.
However that’s not even the most effective purpose to go to the canal-lined metropolis throughout the second month of the yr.
No, it’s Venice Carnival, a practice since 1162 which makes this masterpiece of a metropolis the most effective locations to go to in Europe in winter.
When you’ll at all times discover crowds in Venice, I used to be truly fairly shocked the way it wasn’t busier once I visited the carnival. Maybe the much less beneficial climate and the low season does put some individuals off. Regardless of the purpose, you’ll possible discover Venice shrouded in most, including to the spectacle of the masked faces and costumed our bodies strolling across the metropolis like Saint Mark’s Sq. is a grand ball. When you desire your grand balls inside, there are additionally loads of these, too – although you’ll possible must dig deep to safe a ticket.
Greatest for winter solar and an island escape
With highs of 14°C in February, Malta is among the warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter.
Whereas it won’t be the most effective time to dive into the ocean – belief me, I did my advance PADI course right here throughout winter – the usually sunny days are a welcome change to the grim winters in Northern Europe.
Fortunately, the ocean nonetheless sparkles even when it’s not calling your title, and afternoons topping up your tan aren’t inconceivable. With loads of cultural points of interest to entertain, too, even wet days aren’t wasted.
Wander the historic streets of Valletta – a grand, UNESO-listed metropolis relationship again to 1566. Older nonetheless is Mdina, an historic fortified metropolis and the nation’s founding capital. Taking it again even additional is the mind-blowing archaeological web site of Ghar Dalam. With among the prehistoric wonders dated hundreds of years BCE, you may relaxation assured that Malta has heritage aplenty alongside her breathtaking bays.
Greatest for winter sports activities and snowboarding with a aspect of tradition
Full disclosure, I haven’t made it to Leogang in winter. As an alternative, I ventured right here in summer season – which could sound unusual for an awarded ski vacation spot.
The first calling was The Asitz mountain, which is reworked in the summertime right into a cultural hub with live shows, artwork shows, and lots extra occurring.
Come winter, when the thick overlaying of snow arrives, it’s very a lot a special story. With some 270km of pistes, it attracts in crowds. Snowboarders are additionally well-catered for on the Nitro Snowpark.
Down from the mountains and simply reached by prepare, Salzburg can be a enjoyment of winter. So, including on a go to after the slopes is rarely a nasty thought. Seeing the town’s spires coated in snow and the UNESCO-listed Previous City decked out in festive cheer is an absolute delight. Being a musically-charged metropolis, it gained’t be a shock that the music Silent Night time hails from Salzburg, and there’s even a church devoted to the carol on the town’s fringes.
Greatest for some sunny days and a cruise-free metropolis
Whereas showers can come, and temperatures solely peak round 13°C, Dubrovnik continues to be one of many warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter.
Nevertheless, heat isn’t the principle purpose to move to Croatia’s separated and most southern metropolis within the winter months.
The very best purpose to go to Dubrovnik in winter is to keep away from crowds. In season, the day trippers and a number of cruise ships could make the heaving streets insufferable. In winter, sailings are uncommon, and also you’ll discover this European gem in a way more ‘genuine’ state.
Stroll the imposing metropolis partitions with out jostling for house. Individuals watch – in an satisfying manner – on Stradun. Marvel on the Assumption Cathedral with out feeling rushed. Then, head up into the hills by cable automobile to survey the environment. When you’re fortunate, you would possibly get your towel down for just a few hours on the seaside. If not, you’ll have witnessed Dubrovnik how I bear in mind it from 10 years again – blissful.
Greatest for a Christmas market or Valentine’s Day metropolis break
In relation to Christmas markets, attractive Tallinn doesn’t disappoint.
Throughout the remainder of the chilly season, I wouldn’t rely it as one of many locations to go to in Europe in winter – it’s a summer season hit for me – nevertheless, the festive season is a winner.
Taking on the entire of City Corridor Sq., the market, which runs from late November till early January, is a dream. With snow-capped spires throughout, heat mulled wine flowing freely, and window cabins adorned in twinkling lights shelling out native treats, that is the literal definition of a winter wonderland.
Away from the festive cheer, Tallinn delivers sufficient to entertain. Whether or not you’d desire to hang around within the hipster-cool neighbourhood of Kalamaja purchasing impartial handicrafts and sipping craft beers or discover the well-preserved medieval core’s museums, you’ll discover a winter metropolis break to Tallinn is mainly a present from Santa himself.
Greatest for a winter metropolis break in Spain’s hottest metropolis
Andalusia’s heart-thumping, feet-stomping, and castanet-clapping capital of Seville is a metropolis of fiery ardour. It additionally has the warmest year-round common temperature of any Spanish metropolis.
Whereas this implies the warmth can nearly be insufferable to sightsee in summer season, its declare as one of many warmest locations to go to in Europe in winter – temperatures can attain 18°C in February – make a winter journey rather more nice.
Be sure you watch a Flamenco present. Go to the hulking Gothic Cathedral and climb the La Giralda tower. Chill out amongst the leafy gardens and inexperienced areas. Discover time to admire the tilework of Plaza de España and tour the Seville Museum of Tremendous Arts. Then, devour all of the tapas earlier than sipping beers into the early hours. The town’s student-heavy inhabitants retains the nights lengthy throughout time period time.
Greatest for a snowy metropolis break and northern lights gateway
Bergen is certainly one of my favorite locations to go to in Europe in winter. Even the prepare to reach from Oslo – battering by snow storms – was a deal with.
The second–largest metropolis in Norway, it will get into the festive spirit with a decent-sized Christmas market. With the wood huts in Bryggen, the reconstructed medieval wharf, twinkling and snow adorning the entrances to museums, it’s a wrap-up heat and snuggle-by-the-hearth type of place.
When you’ve had your repair of this putting metropolis, it’s time for the Northern Lights. Bergen, sadly, isn’t the most effective place to identify them. Heading north is the best way to go, although you could possibly be taking a look at a full days drive to succeed in the most effective views. This, though not environmentally pleasant, a home flight could also be wanted – particularly if you wish to go to the Lofoten archipelago, dwelling to among the finest islands to see on the earth.
Greatest for winter sports activities in opposition to a shocking backdrop
There actually is not any mistaken time of yr to go to Trentino, Italy’s northern area that feels nearly Austrian in its look and vibes.
Most well-known for the Dolomites, Europe’s poster-child mountains, it’s no shock all these jagged peaks result in loads of close by snow actions.
Among the best locations to go to in Europe in winter for snowboarding is Madonna di Campiglio. For mid-level skiers, I’ve been advised it’s a dream. Wonderful snow, diversified pistes, and all these breathtaking peaks as a backdrop. Add Italy’s notorious delicacies – typically with a mountain twist right here – and Aperol-fuelled après-ski periods into the combo, and actually, what may very well be higher? For a little bit of tradition, plan an evening or two in Trento, the area’s verdant and welcoming capital metropolis.
Greatest for a wild New 12 months’s Eve and a land of snow and ice
Lots of people warned me in opposition to travelling to Iceland in winter, and though it didn’t go completely, the cash saved and the snowy-covered experiences have been price it.
The primary purpose I wished to go to Iceland presently of yr was for the New 12 months’s Eve celebrations. Right here, it’s a free for all. There’s no official occasion, and everybody simply goes loopy for just a few days. Bonfires burn into the night time, fireworks go off in all instructions, and revelry takes over the road. An precise land of fireside and ice.
Whereas visiting in winter was cool, particularly seeing such deep snow in all places, it isn’t with out its difficulties. Roads could also be shut, the Northern Lights could also be hidden behind heavy cloud cowl, and excursions may very well be cancelled. Nonetheless, I beloved it. I even managed to go snorkelling between the tectonic plates – baltic!
Simply do your analysis earlier than visiting Iceland at nighttime depths of restricted daylight in December. This isn’t going to be everybody’s favorite place to go to in Europe in winter.