Best Places to Visit in Europe in December – Top Winter Destinations Revealed

Travelling to Europe in December offers diverse experiences for every kind of tourist.

From the twinkling lights of iconic Christmas markets to the awe-inspiring vistas of winter wonderlands, the continent transforms into a picturesque palette of holiday joy and cultural richness. European cities beckon with charming capitals steeped in history, where the festive atmosphere is palpable.

December is not solely about the Christmas festivities, though they are a significant lure. This month is an excellent time to explore cultural experiences in charming capitals packed with history and beauty, which take on a special glow in the winter light. Southern regions offer milder weather for those looking to escape colder climes, making them perfect for a winter vacation that doesn’t require bundling up against the snow.

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December – Key Takeaways

  • Europe in December is ideal for a winter vacation featuring Christmas markets and cultural festivities.
  • Visiting charming European capitals can provide enriching historical and cultural experiences.
  • Milder climate options are available for tourists who prefer warmer winter destinations.

Iconic European Christmas Markets

During December, Europe transforms into a winter wonderland, with its Christmas markets offering a quintessential festive experience. These markets are a seasonal highlight with twinkling lights, aromatic mulled wine, and traditional crafts,

Germany’s Festive Charm

In Germany, locally known as ‘Weihnachtsmärkte’, Christmas markets body the yuletide spirit with their festive ambience and rich traditions. Here are some features you can expect:

  • Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt: One of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world, it captivates visitors with its unique blend of history, tradition, and rows of red-and-white booths.
    • Must-try: Nuremberg’s famous Lebkuchen (gingerbread) and Glühwein (mulled wine).

Austrian Traditions in Vienna

The allure of Vienna during Christmas is undeniable, with multiple markets that accentuate the city’s imperial architecture.

  • Viennese Dream Christmas Market: Set before the neo-Gothic Town Hall, this market is the centrepiece of Vienna’s Christmas celebrations.
    • Highlights: Indulge in Austrian sweets like Sachertorte and warm yourself with a cup of traditional Glühwein.

French Fairy-Tale in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, known as the ‘Capital of Christmas’, offers a market experience renowned across Europe, blending French and German holiday customs.

  • Strasbourg Christmas Market: This market runs through multiple city squares, encompassing hundreds of stalls.
    • What to look for: Unique pottery, handcrafted ornaments, and the Alsatianspeciaspecialityecialitye.

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Europe offers some of the most magical winter experiences, from the awe of Scandinavia’s aurora borealis to the Swiss Alps’ snow-clad peaks and the enchanting Santa Claus Village in Lapland. These destinations promise a blend of adventure and fairy-tale charm you won’t want to miss.

The Northern Lights of Scandinavia

  • Location: Arctic Circle, Scandinavia
  • Highlights:
    • Breathtaking aurora borealis displays
    • Unique Arctic wilderness

Travelling to Scandinavia during winter, you are under the expansive Arctic skies, perfect for viewing the mesmerising Northern Lights. Destinations like Abisko in Sweden offer some of the most precise conditions to witness the vibrant colours of the aurora borealis.

Swiss Alps Adventures

  • Location: Switzerland
  • Activities:
    • Skiing and snowboarding
    • Luxurious alpine resorts

The Swiss Alps become a hub for winter sports enthusiasts from December onwards, providing ample snowfall for skiing and snowboarding. Towns like Zermatt let you enjoy the slopes with the iconic Matterhorn in view, making it an unmissable destination for your winter getaway.

Lapland’s Santa Claus Village

  • Location: Rovaniemi, Finland
  • Features:
    • Santa Claus’s official hometown
    • A variety of winter activities

Lapland draws smiles with its Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi. Experience the magic of Christmas all season long and explore a snowy landscape that’s the stuff of legends, perfect for families and winter wonder seekers alike.

Cultural Experiences in Charming Capitals

December in Europe offers a treasure trove of cultural experiences set against the festive backdrop of its charming capitals. From the traditional to the contemporary, the continent’s iconic cities provide a rich tapestry of cultural delights that promise to make your visit memorable.

Historical Revelry in Prague and Budapest

Prague, the capital of Czechia, is a city where history whispers from every corner. A stroll through the Old Town is a journey back in time, with highlights being:

  • Prague Castle: Wandering through this sprawling complex offers a glimpse into the past and stunning views over the city.
  • Cafés: Warm up with traditional Czech treats in the historic cafés dotting the city.

In Budapest, Hungary’s heart, the Danube riverbank lights up with festive cheer and stunning architecture:

  • Museums: Explore the rich history and art within Budapest’s world-class museums.
  • Cathedrals: The grand St. Stephen’s Basilica hosts festive concerts that blend spiritual and cultural experiences.

Artistic Flair in Paris and Florence

Paris shines with an artistic spirit, especially in the colder months. Here’s what you can explore:

  • Museums: Paris is synonymous with art; don’t miss the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay for your dose of culture.
  • Cathedral: Even as it recovers, the Notre Dame Cathedral remains a symbol of Parisian resilience and history.

Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance in Italy, beckons with its artistic wonders:

  • Old Town: Florence’s UNESCO-listed historic centre is a testament to its artistic heritage.
  • Museums: The Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia display works by masters like Botticelli and Michelangelo.

Mild Climate Escapes

In December, Europe is often associated with chilly temperatures, but destinations offer milder climates if you’re looking to avoid the winter cold. In this section, we’ll explore coastal retreats in Spain and picturesque landscapes in Portugal that provide you with pleasantly temperate weather and an array of stunning beaches and sunny days.

Spain’s Coastal Retreats

Canary Islands: An archipelago off the coast of Africa, the Canary Islands are a Spanish territory famed for their perpetual spring-like climate. Here are a couple of highlights:

  • Lanzarote: This island is renowned for its unique volcanic landscapes and beautiful beaches. With sunny weather throughout December, it’s a perfect retreat for sun-seekers.
  • Gran Canaria: Offering diverse landscapes and a vibrant cultural scene, Gran Canaria maintains warm temperatures, ideal for beach visits even in the winter months.

Mainland Spain:

  • Barcelona: While more relaxed than the Canary Islands, Barcelona still offers a mild, more comfortable winter climate than much of Europe. The city’s architectural marvels and historical sites remain accessible all year round.

Portugal’s Picturesque Landscapes

Madeira: This Atlantic island has a subtropical climate, resulting in warm winters perfect for exploring its rugged mountain terrain and enjoying its scenic coastline.

Mainland Portugal:

  • Lisbon: Portugal’s capital city promises a mild winter with plenty of sunshine, allowing you to experience its rich history, colourful tiles, and vibrant nightlife without the summer crowds.
  • Algarve: In the southernmost region of Portugal, the Algarve boasts some of Europe’s most stunning beaches and is a haven for golfers, beachgoers, and nature lovers in December.

Similar Posts