Wonderful Winter Vacations In Europe & The UK

Costa_Brava_Spain

Winter is on its way, and snow is already falling in some areas. Therefore, it is an excellent time to start thinking about your winter vacations. Most of the places below are a winter wonderland or offer cooler weather than their sizzling hot summers.

I think Spain is a beautiful country to visit in the winter. For those who love snow, you can go skiing in the Pyrenees Mountains. Those that love the sunshine, but not the crowds, there are many cities and towns along the Mediterranian Sea.

Last week I posted about Winter Holidays In The Americas. Check it out if you want to go somewhere in North, Central, or South America. For those of you that love winter sun holidays, next week, I will be posting about places to visit in Asia. Then will be winter sun destinations in the Oceania region. Lastly, winter holiday destinations in Africa.

London, England

By Eniko Krix from Travel Hacker Girl. Follow Eniko on Instagram here.



As an affiliate partner of various brands and sponsored content, we may earn commission on qualifying purchases. Disclaimer | Advertise With Us

Christmas_in_LondonLondon is an excellent place for a winter getaway. There is a misconception that the city is miserably wet and cold in the winter months. It is not as cold as most other European cities, and there is a lot to do in the city during this time. Winter is considered the low season, so accommodation prices and flights are much lower.

You will also be able to enjoy all the famous landmarks without the crowds. An exception is from the middle of November until the end of December. During the Christmas season in London, the city is filled with tourists and locals who all want to experience Christmas in London. It is indeed a very magical time of the year, and London knows how to put people in the Christmas spirit.

Shop windows are decorated, and festive lights are turned on in the major London streets. Several Christmas markets open. Everyone will find one to their liking. There are zero waste markets, cute, traditional markets with food and handcrafted goods, and even big Christmas markets with lots of rides and performances. London also opens up many pop-up ice rinks all over the city. Whether you choose to go ice skating at the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, or the Tower of London Ice Rink, you will be in for an exceptional experience on your winter vacations.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

By Derek Hartman from Everything Copenhagen. Follow Derek on Facebook here.

Copenhagen

If you’re looking for a winter escape in Europe, look no farther than Copenhagen, Denmark. It may not be the obvious choice, but don’t let that deter you. It’s not the sunniest or warmest, but Copenhagen in the winter is still a lot of fun!

There are, of course, gorgeous Christmas markets through November and December. It seems as though every square in the city is a maze of Christmas market cheer. The city is decorated from top to bottom, and the beautiful lights glow even though the sun sets early in the day. Some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations are in Tivoli Gardens. It’s an old-world amusement park in Copenhagen’s city center, and their Christmas decor is next-level. They cover the grounds with artificial snow, have Christmas trees lit all over the park, and there’s nothing like Christmas in Tivoli Gardens.

Because Copenhagen is so close to the sea, the temperatures are chilly, but moderate for Scandinavia. For that reason, Copenhagen cafes, restaurants, and cocktail bars keep outside seating open for most of the winter. They supply blankets and heating lamps, which makes for a comfortable experience enjoying outside spaces in the depths of winter.

If you aren’t built for being outside in winter, there are many museums you can visit to escape the cold. One of the best is The Danish National Museum. It covers over a thousand years of Danish history – from prehistoric reindeer hunters to the Viking Age and modern Denmark.

Danes also love to enjoy a cozy atmosphere and play games. In pubs, you’ll often see locals playing dice games, and board game cafes are increasing in popularity. The best time of year for sitting inside and enjoying a drink and games with friends in winter and Copenhagen is the ideal place for it.

 

Paris, France

By Nassie Angadi from Snippets of Paris. Follow Nassie on Instagram here.

Christmas_in_ParisParis, France, is known as the City of Light! So you know that the city is going to put on a show for all your winter vacations. For Christmas, decorations and lights are festooned on street lamps in every neighborhood. The Eiffel Tower joins in the action as well, with a nightly light show that glitters every hour. If you come to Paris in December, you will also see the Marchés de Noel (Christmas markets) that are set up across Paris, with the largest one near Concorde in the center of Paris.

Even after Christmas, the festive mood remains. Living in Paris for over ten years now, I find the real joy of winter in Paris people watching. It is a pure pleasure sitting outside with family and friends on a heated terrasse (patio), with a glass of vin chaud (hot wine) after work, and watching the crowds.

But my very favorite part of winter in Paris is all the shows that come here during the colder months. Ballet companies, theatrical showings, and concerts, there is no shortage of choice of entertainment.

And then there is the food. Every Parisian waits for the official start of winter to have their first fondue or raclette of the season. Originating in the Alpes, these cheesy dishes serve as a mouthwatering reminder of that fresh mountain air that is a mere 4 hours away (by high-speed train) — skiing anyone?

Budapest, Hungary

By Kata Németh from Budapest Connection. Follow Kata on Facebook here.

Budapest_Royal_PalaceIf you are looking for a friendly and affordable city that has many attractions and offers a wide selection of programs, consider visiting Budapest, the capital of the Central-European country, Hungary.

Budapest has a long history, and it doesn’t seem afraid to show the marks left by the past centuries. Anywhere you go, remnants of our past uncovers.

The Castle District is full of world-class attractions such as the Palace, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s bastion. The little historical gems are only visible for those who pay attention and know where to turn to find them.

The Jewish Quarter with its narrow streets and synagogues turned to be the most gentrified area of Budapest. Today the old buildings that witnessed the harsh history live together with design shops, food courts, and quirky ruin bars.

Budapest was occupied by the Ottomans for about 150 years. This period had a significant impact on the whole country and contributed to the shaping of today’s Hungary. There are some positive consequences, though. The first thermal baths were built during the occupation. These are still in use today. Visit Király baths to have a glimpse at an original Turkish bath. At the turn of the 20th century, more thermal baths were built. Gellért Bath is famous for its beautiful interior, while Széchenyi Bath is the largest one of all and has several outdoor pools.

If you are planning to visit Budapest in winter, do not leave your swimsuits at home! Visit Széchenyi Bath instead and immerse in the warm water of one of the outdoor pools. There is something very unique and memorable in sitting outside in a pool with snow falling. If you happen to be there during the late afternoon, the snowflakes lit by the lamps, which is a truly magical sight.

Budapest is also famous for its Christmas markets. They open in late November. The two most notable are right in the middle of downtown. The market in Vörösmarty square near the Danube river is the largest market with about 100 stalls. The other market that should not be missed is held right before St. Stephen’s Basilica. It has a skating rink in its middle and a light show projected on the walls of the Basilica.

Both markets offer a vast range of Hungarian dishes such as stuffed cabbage, all kinds of sausages, meats, and the famous goulash (often served in a loaf). The most iconic sweets are also available. Taste “beigli,” a folded pastry that is stuffed with poppy seeds or walnuts (best with milk). “Szaloncukor,” a chocolate-coated candy that is wrapped in beautiful paper and hanged on Hungarian Christmas trees as decoration. Additionally, Chimney cake and richly decorated gingerbreads are available.

Because winters in Budapest are rather cold, I recommend visiting some of the coffee houses during sightseeing. We have historical cafés with precious ornaments and also modern ones in a minimalist style. The choice is yours! I am sure that after visiting Budapest during the winter season, you will start daydreaming about coming back to us during summer!

 

St.Johann in Tirol, Austria

By Helene D’Souza from Masala Herb.  Follow Helene on Instagram here.

St_Johann_Skiing_AustriaSt.Johann in Tirol and Kitzbühel are located in the Austrian alps near the Bavarian German border. St.Johann is a town situated in a broad valley surrounded by high peaks. It’s a popular summer and winter vacation hangout for families around the world.

Kitzbühel is located right next to St.Johann and is known to be the jet setters favorite holiday destination in Austria.

Both towns are quaint, and they are unique in their own right. You are offered a glamorous world in Kitzbúhel, yet St.Johann will bring you closer to the land and its people. Kitzbühel hosts the annual Hahnenkamm ski race in January.

Celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger can be spotted during this time in Kitzbühel. The atmosphere in Kitzbühel is always on a luxurious note. People from around the world come to discover the small town in the alps. Don’t miss out on the Christmas market in St.Johann in Tirol during the Advent period as it offers a charming atmosphere for the whole family.

Both ski resorts are massive and have lots to offer for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Winter sports are highly valued in the area. You can go cross country skiing, ski touring, snowshoe hiking, ice skating, and paragliding, amongst other activities.

I bet a balloon ride above the beautiful alps will take your breath away. Relax at the sauna and hot tub after an active day in the Austrian mountains and enjoy a special holiday away from your busy world.

Valletta, Malta

By Tara Whelan from Tara’s Travels. Follow Tara on Instagram here.

Valletta_Cannons_MaltaValletta is the perfect winter getaway destination. It is only a short flight from major European airports yet feels like a whole other era. Malta’s capital city is a feast for the eyes, with a mixture of western architecture and Arabic influence, has the history to back it up, and is covered in sunshine year-round. Winter among the islands is also less busy and more green which makes it the perfect time to visit.

The entire city of Valletta was built by knights and now boasts tunnels, fortresses, and museums to showcase its magnificent past. Its pedestrian streets are lined with baroque buildings and traditional shops and restaurants that haven’t changed over the centuries. The city is the perfect size to wander around on foot, with lovely lookout points in parks and squares towards the natural harbors.

The Maltese archipelago is actually very small. After spending a few days in the capital of Valletta, spend some time on the beaches and go for coastal walks. Remember there are also megalithic structures ready for exploring. Winter temperatures rarely drop below 12 degrees and there are lots of outdoor activities to get rid of your cabin fever. The islands of Comino and Gozo are just a short ferry ride away or you can take a boat tour that shows you around both in a day. The best part is returning from a day at sea and being rewarded with the fresh and plentiful Maltese cuisine.

Whatever you are looking for in your winter vacations, be it nature, history, architecture, or food, Valletta has it all, with sunshine on top.

Noumea, New Caledonia

Written by Delilah Hart from Our Travel Mix. Follow Delilah on Instagram here.

Anse_Vata_Beach_Noumea

New Caledonia is a French-speaking island located in the South Pacific. As it’s near the equator in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is one of the best times to visit New Caledonia to escape the cold on the northern side of the globe.

Noumea is the capital and is the perfect place to set up base. You can find a cute AirBnB in Baies Des Citrons or a luxury hotel along Anse Vata. Both have beaches that are lined with shops, bars, and eateries.

The cuisine in New Caledonia is amongst the best you will find on an island in the South Pacific. Pertaining to its significant French population, the food here predominantly originates from France. Expect to find delicious pastries and French baking around every corner, as well as delicious crepes, French cheeses, and great wine.

Aside from great food, New Caledonia is home to some fantastic beaches, islands, and marine life. You can take a 30-minute boat ride from Noumea to some small islands just off the coast – Duck Island and Ilot Maitre. If you are on the hunt for some of the best beaches in the world, then you will need to book a ferry or take a flight to the Isle of Pines or one of the Loyalty Islands.

The Loyalty Islands comprise of Maré, Lifou, and Ouvéa and are mostly untouched by tourism. Here you can expect to find serene beaches frequented only by the few locals who live on the islands.

Exploring the islands of New Caledonia is one of the best ways to escape the winter (and the crowds).

Lisbon, Portugal

By Ann Kelly from The Road Is Life. Follow Ann on Instagram here.

View_of_LisbonLisbon, Portugal is the perfect European destination for those seeking some winter sun. While you won’t find hot summer-like temperatures in the winter, the Portuguese capital is still one of the warmest cities in Europe during that time of year. You can expect to find highs of 18°C and lows of 8/9°C with plenty of sunny days. When visiting Lisbon last winter, I was pleased to have nothing but perfect sightseeing weather for the duration of my stay.

Get the best of both worlds by traveling to Lisbon during the winter months with fewer crowds and pleasant weather. Another bonus is that accommodation prices are typically lowered in the winter months to attract more visitors making off-season a much cheaper time to travel!

On your visit to Lisbon, make sure to add these highlights to your itinerary:

  • Get lost in the cobbled streets of the ancient Alfama district, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood. Admire the traditional architecture of the pastel-colored, beautifully tiled buildings.
  • Take a ride on the historic Tram 28, the most iconic symbol of Lisbon. These yellow trams ride up and down the Alfama district’s steep streets.
  • A visit to Lisbon isn’t complete without a journey out to the Belém district, located about 6km west of the city center. Make sure to stop at the incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Belém Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery.
  • Try the traditional Portuguese cuisine! You can find the famous pastel de nata (custard tarts) sold in bakeries on pretty much every street corner around the city. Bacalhau is another popular Portuguese dish that you shouldn’t miss, which consists of salted cod, onions, and potatoes.

Lapland, Finland

By Diana from The Elusive Family.  Follow Diana on Facebook here.

Rovaniemi_LaplandOne of the best and most magical places to escape during the winter is none other than Lapland, Finland. Lapland is a region in northern Finland that sees an abundance of snow and fascinating winter activities travelers can experience. Our Lapland with kids adventure was one of the most amazing for many reasons.

Being pulled by huskies is one of the most popular and well-known activities in Lapland, as Alaskan Malamutes as Siberian Huskies pull sleighs through the winter forests and deep snow. The frozen lakes of Lapland are also great places to do an ice fishing activity or even snowmobiling.

Reindeer rides are one of the most exciting experiences as reindeer are native to the northernmost parts of the world. There are hundreds of reindeer in Finland, and reindeer pulling sleighs is a fantastic experience. Lapland also has a well-known Arctic zoo, Ranua Zoo that is especially fun to visit when there is snow on the ground as the animals such as the arctic fox, enjoy the outdoors more during the colder winter months.

A visit to Lapland is not complete without a visit to Rovaniemi, Finland, the official hometown of Santa Claus. In Rovaniemi, you can visit Santa Claus Village and meet Santa. Santa Park, an underground amusement park, has activities for families as well as couples as the magic of the park amazes all tourists who visit.

Alpbach, Austria

By Linda de Beer from Travel Tyrol. Follow Linda on Facebook here.

Alpbach_in_winterIf embedding yourself in an Alpine village is your idea of a winter escape, then there’s no better place than Alpbach in the Austrian Tyrol. Not only has the little town been named Austria’s prettiest on more than one occasion, but it also knows how to look after its guests in winter.

The homes, shops, and hotels in Alpbach are all constructed in the same stone and wood architectural style required by a municipal bylaw. They surround a beautiful old church and cemetery in the center of town.

When visiting Alpbach in winter, you can take it easy and enjoy the quaintness, marveling at the snow-capped mountains around you. However, you’d more than likely want to be active. The Ski Jewel Alpbachtal Wildschönau is a combined ski area totaling 109 piste kilometers.

Reaching the slopes is comfortable with a free ski bus taking you from the village to the gondola stations. Even if you don’t ski, there are fun toboggan runs and rustic mountain restaurants to be reached via the gondolas. Alternatively, you can join a snowshoe hike or lantern walk organized by the local tourism authority.

After an action-packed day, you can join the festive aprés ski atmosphere in Alpbach before sitting down for a hearty schnitzel or dumpling soup.

Alpbach is easily reached from Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tyrol, which is around 60 km away.

Turkey

By Nabiha Khan from Verses by a Voyager. Follow Nabiha on Instagram here.

TurkeyTurkey, connecting the continents of Europe and Asia, is a great destination to visit in winter. It is a very versatile and diverse land and offers every kind of landscape, making it a perfect holiday destination.

Turkey has a cold climate but is moderate at the same time, instead of being extreme like many of the neighboring countries. During the winter months, the weather isn’t very harsh in Turkey, and it rarely rains, which makes it ideal for visitors. There are some cities like Cappadocia where it snows often, but many other cities do not experience snowfall making Turkey an excellent place to escape the winter.

The mountainous landscape of cities like Cappadocia becomes even prettier during the chilly winter months while the beautiful architecture of Istanbul can be best enjoyed when the climate is neither too hot nor too cold. Much of the landscape of Turkey, along with their culture, resembles Europe. During the winter months, most of Europe is too cold to visit, making it challenging to enjoy the outdoor places. However, Turkey can be enjoyed as an alternative to European countries during the winter months. Not only it’s an escape from the harsh weather, but it offers various kinds of activities, making it a fantastic destination for every traveler.

Pin This:

 


Get a customized activity plan for your trip:

Similar Posts

18 Comments

  1. Olya AMANOVA says:

    It would be lovely to follow your steps and create our own memories in the UK. I will make sure to go back to your post when we are there.

  2. Ooooo so many awesome places to visit!! France is on our travel bucket list for next year!!! Can’t wait to start planning

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      Yes, there are so many great places. I know you will love France.

  3. I love how you included a little bit of everything for those different travelers who want a different European winter experience. I would love to go to New Caledonia because I love to go to the beach!

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      Everyone likes something different, so I try to include something for everyone.

  4. These all sound wonderful! I want to go to London so bad, it looks beautiful! But any of these would be amazing!

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      Yes, there are many great places to visit in the wintertime. London is beautiful at Christmas time.

  5. There are so many great places to go over winter. I like the starkness of some of the cities with great architecture like London, Paris and Lisbon

  6. I love to travel in the winter to get away from the weather here and even if it’s the same weather where I am going it’s worth it. You’ve mentioned some awesome places, Austria would be my top choice.

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      I was in Austria a few years ago in December. It was a beautiful city to visit and I loved the Christmas markets.

  7. It doesn’t snow where I live so I like to travel to places that have lots of snow. This is a great list!

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      I usually escape the snow, but I have friends that love it.

  8. I’ve been to London and Paris, but both were in the late summer/early fall. I would love to visit in winter and see just how different everything is at that time of the year.

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      Both cities are beautiful in the winter when they are lightly dusted with snow.

  9. We usually hibernate during the winter but you made me want to explore all these places despite the weather! I forget that winter is beautiful (and not just brutally cold lol).

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      I like to escape the winter and find a hot destination with lots of sun and beaches when it is winter.

  10. Loved all the suggestions on your list but particularly liked reading about Valletta. I’ve wanted to go for years but didn’t think about it for a winter destination! I’m drawn to the history and the traditional food.

    1. Sally Pederson says:

      Maybe now is the time to think about planning a winter getaway there. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.