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Best Winter City Breaks in Europe: Cities, Charming Towns, and More!

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The most popular time to visit Europe is during the summer months, from June to August. Even the shoulder seasons, from April-May and September-October, have become super popular times to visit Europe. This creates crowds that can sometimes be overwhelming and put a damper on your visit.

To avoid crowds but still have a great time, consider visiting Europe during the winter. This list of the best winter city breaks in Europe will excite you for all the best places to visit during the winter months, from November to March.

Why Visit Winter City Breaks in Europe?

The weather in most of Europe is incredible during the summer, so why consider visiting when it’s cold during the winter? To begin, Europe can get very crowded during the summer.

The most popular attractions can often have long wait times to visit and you might end up packed into a museum like a sardine. Visiting some of these most popular European cities and attractions during winter can allow you the luxury of visiting them with smaller crowds and often at cheaper prices.

If crowds don’t bother you, the cost savings alone to visit these winter city breaks in Europe should be a great selling point. Everything you need to plan a trip, such as flights and hotels, is cheaper during winter. You can often get a 2-3x saving simply by visiting in November or March versus June or September.

Weather in Europe’s Winter City Breaks

One big concern of those considering a winter city break in Europe is the weather. The last thing you want is to spend a bunch of money to visit a bucket list destination, only for it to be so cold and rainy that you’re miserable the entire time.

If you’re concerned about the weather, look into visiting southern parts of Europe, like Portugal, Spain, and Italy, which have quite moderate weather most of the year.

Another thing you can do is visit a snowy destination, which will be a completely different experience in winter compared to summer. Most of these destinations, due to the temperature, experience snow instead of rain. This can create a winter wonderland-type experience that you’ll remember forever.

The Best Winter City Breaks in Europe

The winter season in Europe is typically defined as the beginning of November to the end of March. There are many incredible destinations in Europe to visit that are great during winter, all for different reasons.

Whether you want some winter sun, the northern lights, Christmas markets, epic skiing and snowboarding, or charming towns covered in snow, this list of the best winter city breaks in Europe will have something for everybody!

northern lights in rovaniemi finland during winter in europe

Rovaniemi, Finland

Contributed by Megan from Megan Starr

Rovaniemi is a stellar winter destination, with a plethora of exciting activities to do. One of the best wintertime activities you can do in Finnish Lapland is to chase the Northern Lights. You can head out by yourself, or choose from a variety of tours, such as one that focuses on how to photograph the aurora or offers a Lappish barbecue dinner on the tour

While there’s something special about visiting Santa Claus Village any time of the year, it’s extra magical around Christmas time. You can shop, dine, and play in the village, with activities for the whole family. Also, don’t miss out on sending a letter from the Santa Claus Village official post office, as well as taking a photo with Santa himself. 

Back in Rovaniemi, bundle up and head out for some exciting outdoor activities, such as ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating at Lordi’s Square. Another unique activity to try while visiting Rovaniemi is to take a traditional dog-sled ride!

You can drive your own team or sit as a passenger, with hot drinks and photos with the huskies afterward. If you get tired of being outside, wander around the superb Arktikum Museum, which showcases the history and science of Finnish Lapland. You can also find comfort and tasty traditional cuisine at some of the best restaurants in the city like Gustav and Nili.

To warm up, visit a traditional Finnish sauna. For a one-of-a-kind stay, book a room at an igloo hotel or a glass-domed cabin resort, where you can gaze at the starry sky and possibly see the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed! Rovaniemi offers the perfect combination of interesting outdoor activities with cozy indoor options, which makes it a fantastic winter destination!

snowy view of paris and the eiffel tower during winter

Paris, France

Contributed by Amber from Amber Everywhere

Paris is a wonderful place to visit for a European city break during the winter. The city is typically overrun with tourists in the summer, with its iconic landmarks, stunning architecture, and fabulous museums.

In the winter, however, things slow down considerably, and visitors can get more of a taste of Paris as the locals experience it. Also, the locals and hospitality workers you meet will be enjoying their off-season, so they’re likely to be a bit more friendly during this period. 

There’s plenty to do in Paris for a weekend or a full week, so you can make an itinerary based on the amount of time you have to spend in the city. On a particularly blustery or cold day, wander the extensive collections in the Louvre Museum, one of the largest museums in the world and home to the Mona Lisa. If it’s sunny and just a bit chilly, grab a hot chocolate at Angelina’s and stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries to Place de la Concorde. 

If you plan a trip to Paris around Christmas, you can’t miss the infamous department stores. These shops are exquisitely decorated for the season, and you can find gifts for anyone on your list. For any food-related gifts, head to Le Bon Marché, where you’ll find aisles of French treats, including boxes of Angelina’s hot chocolate mix and bonbons.

Finally, make sure that you visit Breizh Cafe for a savory galette, an open-faced buckwheat crepe, and a butter and sugar crepe for dessert.

empty london street under an overcast sky with classy winter lights lining the street

London, England

Contributed by Christine from Live Love Run Travel

London is one of the best places to visit in Europe in the winter. While it doesn’t get a ton of snow, London does go all out for the holidays.

If you can visit London during the early part of winter, from mid-to-late November through December, or even the first week of January, you’ll find the best Christmas lights in London scattered throughout the city. 

Some of the most famous Christmas lights can be found on Oxford Street and Regent Street where the famous Spirit of Christmas angels hang across the street. Don’t miss the holiday decor at Covent Garden where you’ll find plenty of spots to get Instagrammable photos and the magic of the London Christmas Markets.

Another special London winter experience is dining in the Coppa Club igloos along the Thames River. They decorate these igloos each year for winter, and you can enjoy a warm meal overlooking Tower Bridge.

In addition to these special winter activities, you can also enjoy some of the indoor things to do in London that are great all year long. You can escape the cold by visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and the many museums London has to offer. Make sure to stop by Buckingham Palace and Big Ben when the weather is nice or maybe even take a ride on the famous London Eye.

While London gets cold in the winter, it’s one of those magical European cities that are beautiful all year long. Don’t miss out on London as one of your options for European city breaks in the winter!

empty bridge in prague czechia with orange roofs surrounding the frame

Prague, Czech Republic

Contributed by Ann from The Road is Life

When it comes to city breaks in Europe, Prague packs a punch no matter what time of year you choose to visit. Prague is always a fairytale city, but it’s especially beautiful during winter when the snow-covered rooftops add even more magic. Spending a weekend in Prague is the perfect amount of time to see the city’s main highlights.

During the winter months, there is no shortage of fun things to see and do in Prague. One of the most popular attractions during this time of year is the Christmas Markets, which run between November 28th and January 6th every year.

The Christmas Markets brighten up Prague’s Old Town Square with a giant Christmas tree and hundreds of colorful stalls. You can find everything from traditional food and hot drinks to handmade crafts and toys.

Another great thing to do when the weather is cold in Prague is to visit one of the many museums around the city. Prague is home to over 100 museums, with something to suit everyone. Some of the most popular museums to see are the National Museum, the Museum of Communism, the Beer Museum, the Museum of Senses, the Lobkowicz Palace Museum, and many more.

No trip to Prague is complete without a visit to Prague Castle. The best part about visiting during winter is that the lines are much shorter than in the summer! During the holiday season, you will also find a Christmas Market set up with over 70 stalls near the castle.

overcast sky above greenery in athens with small view of ancient ruins in the center

Athens, Greece

Contributed by Cristina from LooknWalk Greece

The capital of Greece, Athens, is considered the birthplace of Western civilization. And if you want to dive deep into understanding its history, there’s no better time to do it than on a winter trip to Greece!

While summer brings scorching temperatures and endless crowds, the cold season brings balmy weather and no crowds. This means you can explore the sites at your own pace, take your time, and take a ton of photos. Oh, and even better: the state-owned archeological sites are free to visit each Sunday from early November to the end of March.

Fewer visitors also mean the prices for both airfare and accommodation are affordable unless you visit during Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

While most people dream about a Greek salad eaten in a beach-side taverna, winter fare is completely different. Tomatoes are not in season so, no salad. But, you’ll get to taste authentic Greek winter food such as lahanodolmades (cabbage rolls).

Winter in Athens might be quite mild, but wet days are pretty common. Snow may make for gorgeous photos, but not many people enjoy walking in the rain. To beat any rainy days, head indoors and visit some of the museums, such as the Acropolis Museum or the National Archaeological Museum.

When the weather is sunny, head to the National Gardens and take your time to explore the gardens, with a coffee in hand. As an alternative, ride the cable car to the top of Lycabettus Hill, the tallest hill in Athens, offering spectacular views of the Attica basin.

colorful swedish buildings in stockholm neighborhood gamla stan during winter in europe

Stockholm, Sweden

Contributed by Kristin Lee from Global Travel Escapades

One city in Europe that becomes an absolute winter wonderland during the winter months is Stockholm, Sweden. Visitors can expect temperatures hovering around 28°F, which is cold, but not so cold that you won’t want to leave your hotel. And to incentivize you to get out there and explore the city, Stockholm has all kinds of winter activities to partake in.

For example, at Kungsträdgården, which is located in the middle of the city, there’s a massive ice skating rink! You’ll be able to enjoy the winter weather as well as skate underneath the twinkling lights that decorate the rink.

Or if you aren’t keen on risking the possibility of falling on your butt, head to the famous Vasa Museum. You’ll be able to both escape the cold as well as learn about the incredibly fascinating history surrounding the Vasa Ship.

And of course, no trip to Stockholm is complete without spending some time wandering around the city’s famous Gamla Stan. There, you’ll find the city’s most historic buildings as well as lots of vendors selling delicious treats. So, if you have your winter coat packed and are ready to brave the cold this winter season, be sure to check out Stockholm!

view point in lisbon with canon pushing through stone wall overlooking the city with orange rooftops next to the water

Lisbon, Portugal

Contributed by Claire Sturzaker from Tales of a Backpacker

If you’re looking for some winter sunshine on a European city break, Lisbon is an excellent choice. While December is one of the wettest months in Lisbon, the rain often falls all at once, so if one day is poor the following day is likely to be sunny again. January has even fewer rainy days, although you’ll still need a warm coat with average temperatures between 46-59°F (8-15°C).

Lisbon is an attractive city, and there are several viewpoints dotted around the city where you can take in the view of Lisbon and the River Tagus beyond. São Jorge Castle has some of the best views, and you can explore the outer walls for free or buy a ticket to head inside.

Hop on Tram 28 for a scenic journey through Lisbon in the winter, without the usual lines of people waiting to board. With a 24-hour public transport ticket (bought from a metro station), you can hop on and off throughout the journey to visit key attractions along the way, including the Basilica da Estrela, the Bairro Alto Neighborhood, and the Se Cathedral. 

One of the best things to do in Lisbon at any time of year is to sample the delicious pasteis de nata custard tarts. They are sold all over the city, so sample as many as you like to find your favorite – you can even take a class to learn how to make them!

Don’t miss a visit to Belém, the original home of the pastel de nata, where monks created the recipe. Here you’ll find the Belém Tower, and the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, as well as the Pasteis de Belem café, which many people say has the best pasteis de nata in Lisbon.

In the evening, a Fado Show is a wonderful way to keep warm and cozy, as you watch the traditional song and music performance in one of the venues tucked away in the Alfama neighborhood.

classic barcelona mosaic designs built into staircase

Barcelona, Spain

Contributed by Claire from Why Visit Barcelona

Barcelona is a fabulous destination for a city break, and even more so in winter. Barcelona has something for everyone to enjoy, but it gets extremely busy during the summer months, so coming to Barcelona in the winter is a chance to experience quieter streets and cheaper prices.

If you’re looking for Christmas cheer, Barcelona gets into the festive spirit from the end of November, with decorations and street lights all over the city. 

Christmas Markets begin opening then too, selling souvenirs, intricate nativity scenes, and traditional Catalan decorations like the caganer (a figure of a pooping man which is placed in the Nativity Scene), and Caga Tio (Uncle Crapper), a wooden log with a smiling face and jaunty hat, which is filled with sweets for the kids to hit with sticks until he “poops” out the treats.

The usual attractions in Barcelona are open all year round with the best things to do in Barcelona, such as visiting Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral and Park Guell with its colorful mosaic terrace essential spots at any time of year. Be sure to book tickets in advance for these, as even in winter there can be long lines!

While it can rain in Barcelona, you’re more likely to get sunshine. Average temperatures are between 28-59°F (9-15°C) in December, so while it’s not quite sunbathing weather, a walk along the beach on a sunny day is still bliss – especially if it’s cold and wet back home!

For wonderful views of Barcelona, head up to the Bunkers at El Carmel, or if the weather is poor then make the most of Barcelona’s splendid museums like the Picasso Museum, the excellent Maritime Museum, or the Barcelona Aquarium.

moody winter city break in europe in amsterdam with dimly lit canals surrounding by bustling streets

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Contributed by Penny at Globe Trove

Amsterdam is a year-round destination, so it makes for an incredible winter city break in Europe. This city offers so many things to do in winter. Amsterdam itself doesn’t really quiet down since the locals don’t let cold weather get in the way of their plans. Despite cold temperatures, you’ll find everyone out walking and cycling around the city.

There are a plethora of incredible museums in Amsterdam that you can visit to warm up during a cold winter day. One of the most highly recommended museums in Amsterdam is the Anne Frank House. Here you can see how she lived during World War II and view her original diary.

Another great thing about Amsterdam is its central location and its connectivity to other places in Europe and the Netherlands. You can easily take some weekend trips from Amsterdam without breaking the bank. It’s certainly worth getting out of the capital city to explore the Dutch landscape. 

Last but not the least, Amsterdam is a foodie’s paradise and you can catch a bite to eat at one of the numerous cafes and restaurants in the city. The city’s restaurant scene includes food from all across the world, so you can taste and enjoy anything you want.

decorated christmas tree in the center of st mark's square in venice italy with blue skies

Venice, Italy

Contributed by Lyndsay from The Purposely Lost

Venice is beautiful any time of the year, but it’s easily one of the best Europe city breaks in winter.  Throughout the holiday season, the city is decorated with twinkling lights, adding to the festive atmosphere as you pop in and out of stores to buy gifts for friends and family members.

You can see the Christmas tree in the world-famous Piazza di San Marco or visit Campo San Polo to go for a spin at the temporary outdoor rink. Right around the corner from the Rialto Bridge, you can find Venice’s annual Christmas Market in Campo Santo Stefano.

The Museum of Music hosts Christmas concerts every year, featuring Baroque classical music played by the Interpreti Veneziana Quartet.

However, Venice in winter doesn’t just end with the holiday season! Carnevale is a world-renowned festival that takes place every year in the lagoon city right before the Catholic season of Lent.

It’s also a great time to explore museums and head inside some of the city’s most famous landmarks since there will be significantly fewer tourists than in the busy summer season.

Since it’s on a lagoon, it’s very cold in Venice during the winter months. Make sure to bundle up and wear layers of thermal clothing to keep yourself warm while you’re spending all day sightseeing.

Vienna, Austria

Contributed by PlacesofJuma

Vienna is always worth a trip, but winter in Austria is an especially beautiful time to visit. If you are lucky, you might visit when it’s snowy, and get to experience the Austrian capital at its most special.

A really incredible time to visit Vienna is during the time leading up to Christmas, from late November to late December. During this time, the city features numerous Christmas markets where you can stroll around, shop for Christmas trinkets, and drink mulled wine.

If you’re visiting outside of this season, there are plenty of other really cool things to do in Vienna. A visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna is a must. While the cathedral is really impressive from the inside, you must make time to climb the 343 steps to the top of the cathedral. From the viewing platforms, you get the most brilliant view over wintery Vienna!

Another Vienna highlight is the famous Schönbrunn Palace. This fairytale castle is surrounded by a magnificent park, which is a great place to visit during the winter season.

If you get cold, take a break indoors by visiting one of Vienna’s incredible museums, such as the Museum of Art History, the Museum of Natural History, or the Technical Museum. As an insider tip, check out the Imperial Crypt, the last resting place of the Habsburgs.

No stay in Vienna is complete without visiting a typical coffee house at least once. These Viennese coffee houses are the perfect way to relax during your city trip with coffee, tea, and cake.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Contributed by Sam from Find Love and Travel 

If you want to experience a winter wonderland city break in Europe, Reykjavik, Iceland is the perfect place for you! From unique experiences and day trips to cozying up in the quirky capital of Iceland, there is something here for everyone. 

One of the most unique experiences during the winter in Reykjavik is the opportunity to see the Northern Lights. Some Iceland travel tips to keep in mind when looking for the Northern lights are to visit from November until March (when they are most active), check the Iceland Northern Lights weather app, and adjust your eyes to complete darkness to help you better see them! 

Top highlights to explore around the city include the Hallrimaskirja Church, the Sun Voyager sculpture, and the Harpa Concert Hall. There are also a handful of museums to warm up indoors.

Reykjavik is also an excellent city for day trips around Iceland. Some of the best tours to take include exploring glacier tunnels, visiting the famous Blue Lagoon, snowmobiling, walking on the black sand beach in Vik, and seeing waterfalls along the Golden Circle! 

Additionally, if you plan to visit Reykjavik during the holiday season, Reykjavik gets decked out in Christmas lights. Throughout December, the city has festivities and holiday markets. If you’re looking for a white Christmas with the chance of the Northern Lights, Reykjavik is the place to be! 

empty beach in cadiz spain during the winter

Cadiz, Spain

Contributed by Joanna from Andalusia in My Pocket

Cadiz is a fantastic city for a European winter city break in the sun. The city receives over 300 days of sunshine every year, and even in winter, there is very little rainfall. There are plenty of things to do in Cadiz in winter when the number is tourists is much lower than during the peak summer months.

Cadiz is very easy to get to, with the nearest airports being in Jerez de la Frontera or in Gibraltar. You can also fly to Malaga or Seville, and travel to Cadiz in less than two hours.

The biggest event of the winter in Cadiz, besides the winter holidays, is the Carnival. This is one of the biggest carnivals in the world and takes place in February. If you plan to visit, make sure to book your accommodation far in advance, as this is a very popular event. The city celebrates for an entire week with parades and many events all day long.

Another great thing to do in Cadiz in winter is to visit the fish market. This is a very social place, where you can buy the freshest fish in the morning, or have it cooked by one of the restaurants alongside the market at lunchtime. The market is very popular with locals.

Winter is the surf season on Costa de la Luz. During the winter months, beaches around Cadiz welcome surfers and tourists who want to learn how to surf. The waves are perfect for beginners, especially during the morning hours.

wintery view of the classic spot in hallstatt austria, surrounded by mountains and the water, one of the best winter city breaks in europe

Hallstatt, Austria

Contributed by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

Hallstatt, tucked away in the Austrian Alps, looks like a fairytale village all year round. When the colder months roll around, however, snow frequently blankets the colorful buildings and the surrounding mountains, turning this already stunning village into a winter wonderland. 

December is a particularly wonderful time to visit Hallstatt. For example, there’s an annual Christmas market here on December 8th, complete with a life-sized wooden Nativity scene carved by a local carpentry school.

At this Christmas market, stalls sell handmade toys and there’s plenty of gluhwein to warm your hands against the blustery cold. The historic homes in Hallstatt’s Old Town look particularly festive at this time of year, with icicles and twinkling lights hanging from their rafters.

If you’re visiting with kinder, try to time your visit for the first weekend of the Advent, when the children of the neighboring town of Obertraun stand waiting along the banks of Lake Hallstatt for Saint Nicholas to arrive. He’ll sail in on a wooden boat, hand out small gifts to the waiting children, and slip back into the darkness of night, only to return the following Christmas season.

If your winter visit falls outside of December, there are still plenty of things to do in Hallstatt in the wintertime. Try skiing or snowshoeing at Dachstein Krippenstein, an adventure park perched in the Alps, or snowboarding in the nearby town of Altaussee. At night, head back to one of the cozy inns overlooking Lake Hallstatt and take in the views of the jaw-dropping scenery around you.

calm canal in strausbourg france with lots of colorful buildings lining the water

Strasbourg, France

Contributed by Esther from The Adventurous Feet

While the first city that comes to mind when you think of a winter vacation in France is Paris, Strasbourg is a lesser-known, but incredible city to visit during winter.

A proclaimed capital of Christmas, winter in Strasbourg is synonymous with the Christmas season. Starting at the end of November, you’ll find various Christmas markets and Christmas lights brightening up the city like no other time of the year.

Bundle up in warm clothes and stroll around Christmas markets to pick up artisanal products, taste various traditional Alsatian foods, or simply warm up with Vin Chaud (mulled wine).

When you’re done, explore Place Kléber to see its gigantic Christmas tree that brings out the true festive feel. You might be lucky enough to find a band playing Christmas songs in the square. Continue strolling around the quaint streets of Strasbourg and you’ll uncover various beautifully decorated houses and lights that make Strasbourg a true Christmas wonderland.

However, winter in Strasbourg is not just Christmas! Even though the trees have dried, Petite France will still look like a village plucked out of a fairytale with its colorful half-timbered houses lining the canal, and a stroll around it will prove it.

When it gets too cold to explore the outside, head to Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg to admire its architectural beauty and its unique astronomical clock. Or, better yet, climb to the top for stunning views of the city.

You can also head to the nearby Palace Rohan to admire art in the various museums it houses, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Decorative Arts, and Archaeological Museum. Other landmarks not to miss while in Strasbourg include Ponts Couverts, St. Paul’s Church of Strasbourg, and many others.

Whether you spend your time visiting one Christmas market after another or venture into other equally interesting activities, Strasbourg is no doubt one of the best cities to visit in Europe in winter.

view point in valletta malta of the tan colored old buildings and the blue ocean

Valletta, Malta

Contributed by Moumita & Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Malta is a small island country in Europe, famous for stunning pristine beaches, warm Mediterranean climate, prehistoric sites, and delicious regional delicacies.

The weather in Malta is considerably warmer than in the rest of the European countries. During the winter months, you can expect sunny days and mostly clear blue skies. There are plenty of amazing things to do in Malta for a perfect European city break in winter. 

Start your Maltese adventure with a visit to the fortified city of Valletta. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and the capital city of Malta. Wander around the winding streets of this historic city to marvel at the lovely photogenic architecture.

A visit to St. John’s Co-Cathedral is an absolute must in the city. Founded in the 16th century, the incredibly ornate interior of the cathedral is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Europe.

Afterward, admire the breathtaking panoramic view of the picturesque Grand Harbour and the Three Cities from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Visitors gather here to watch the ceremonial gunfire that takes place daily at noon.

Also, take a day trip from Valletta to explore the atmospheric ancient walled city of Mdina, known as the silent city, and the neighboring historic town of Rabat.

Head towards Blue Lagoon on Comino Island or the Golden Sand Bay on the mainland – both beaches are fantastic spots for taking a swim or simply soaking in the sun lying on the beach. While the water in winter is a bit cold for water sports, you can take a hike around the island. After a busy day, enjoy the vibrant nightlife at St. Julian.

winter scenery of the river in salzburg austria in Europe, with a bridge in the distance and lots of classic buildings

Salzburg, Austria

Contributed by Jenn from ThoseJohnsonBoys

If you’re looking for a beautiful European winter wonderland to escape to, look no further than Salzburg, Austria.

Situated near the Austrian Alps, the quaint city of Salzburg is full of history and beautiful architecture.  Since the sights are close together, the city is easily walkable, which allows you to be able to take in the city’s ambiance.

Make your way over to Hohensalzburg Fortress, where you can take a funicular up to explore the fortress and museums. Once you’re ready to get out of the cold, stop by Café Tomaselli for a cup of hot chocolate. Then make your way down the street to see the birthplace of Mozart.

If you visit Salzburg in December, you’ll find that the magic of Christmas really comes alive here. While wandering around the city, you can’t miss the many Christmas markets complete with twinkling lights, music, and of course, mulled wine. In fact, Salzburg is home to one of the world’s oldest Christmas markets, Salzburg Christkindlmarkt.

Salzburg is the perfect place for a short city break or as an addition to a longer trip, as it’s easily accessible by train. While you’re there, you can expect the weather to be cold, so make sure to bundle up. There may even be a chance for snow during your visit.

view of the sign spelling out Malaga in front of an ancient building surrounded by green trees

Malaga, Spain

Contributed by Cristina from My Little World of Travelling

Malaga, located in the south of Spain, is a fantastic city to visit during winter. Despite being a popular destination in the summer, Malaga has plenty to offer all year round.

One of the main reasons to choose to visit Malaga during winter is the weather. The city is perfect for those who want to escape the cold and dark winter days. The average temperature during winter is around 65°F (18°C), with highs of 70°F (21°C) and lows of 59°F (15°C).

Some of the best things to do in Malaga in winter are sightseeing and going on hiking trails. In the summer, it can be complicated to do these activities because of the high temperatures.

When sightseeing in Malaga, don’t miss the Alcazaba, a beautiful Moorish fortress palace with incredible views of the city, and the Cathedral of Malaga, another emblematic building with plenty of history behind it.

If you visit the city anytime between the end of November and the beginning of January, you can enjoy the magical Christmas atmosphere too. The Christmas Light Show, which takes place in Calle Larios, is spectacular, and the Christmas markets have many unique gifts. 

During your time in Malaga, it is also worth visiting towns near Malaga like Benalmadena, Mijas Pueblo, and Marbella. Each of these towns has great attractions, beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and picturesque streets to wander.

christmas market stalls set up in old square in krakow poland with people browsing and walking around

Krakow, Poland

Contributed by Lowri from Many Other Roads

Krakow is one of the best cities to visit in Europe during the winter months. The city is full of festive cheer, with beautiful Christmas markets and twinkling lights everywhere you look.

There are also plenty of things to do, from visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mine to exploring the atmospheric Old Town. And of course, no trip to Krakow would be complete without tasting some traditional Polish cuisine.

If you’re looking for a winter wonderland destination that won’t break the bank, Krakow is the perfect place. For those wanting a festive atmosphere, you can check out the Christmas markets or go ice skating in the main square.

If you’re looking for some culture, you can visit one of the many museums or take a walking tour of the old town. One of the best museums to visit in Krakow is Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory.

And, of course, no trip to Krakow would be complete without sampling some of the local food. From hearty stews to delicious pastries, there’s something to warm everyone up on a cold winter day. If there is one thing you have to try on your trip to Poland, it’s a delicious Pierogi.

What makes Krakow one of the best Europe city breaks in winter is that you can find excellent hotels for all types of budgets. So if you want a city break in the winter that has so much to do and will not cost you a fortune, Krakow is the place for you!

ancient building surrounded by water and palm trees

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Contributed by Katerina from It’s All Trip To Me

Undoubtedly, Palma de Mallorca is the perfect destination for a summer break. However, considering that winter in Palma brings mild temperatures with many sunny days compared to other European cities, a trip to Palma de Mallorca is one of the best European city breaks in winter.

Sunny winter days are ideal for long beachside walks and even for a swim in Palma’s crystal clear waters. Another reason that makes Palma de Mallorca the perfect Europe city break in winter is that you can enjoy the city’s sites with fewer crowds.

This means that you can make the most of Palma’s highlights at your own pace and appreciate the beauty of this Mediterranean city.

One of the top places to visit in Palma is the city’s spectacular Cathedral. Built in Gothic style, the imposing Cathedral stands in front of the Park de la Mar, a relaxing place where you can sit and relax under the sun. The Cathedral’s interior is very impressive and it’s worth a visit for the stunning baldachin designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Apart from wandering around the maze-like Old Town, look out for the Art Nouveau-style buildings that are scattered everywhere in the city. Some examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Palma de Mallorca are the Gran Hotel, the Casasayas, and the Pension Menorquina buildings. 

Winter is also the ideal time to plan easy day trips from Palma to the island’s most gorgeous villages. Pollenca and Valldemossa are two picturesque villages you can explore without the hordes of tourists that visit them during the summer. 

Last but not least, Palma de Mallorca is the perfect European city for anyone looking to celebrate Christmas in a festive yet laid-back destination that has no shortage of sparkling Christmas lights but doesn’t attract the crowds that some northern European cities attract during the holidays.

wintery view of belgrade serbia, with a light covering of snow, surrounded by water on one side

Belgrade, Serbia

Contributed by Marya from The Beau Traveler

Belgrade is one of the best destinations for a city break during the winter in Europe for many reasons. 

You can easily visit Belgrade from some countries in the Balkans, while there are many options to travel to Belgrade from other cities in Europe too. The capital city of Serbia, Belgrade is a popular destination for a Schengen visa run as it’s located outside the European Union zone. 

The city is rich with culture and history, but during the winter, it’s an especially great place to visit as it can be an alternative for an affordable winter destination compared to its other European counterparts. 

Belgrade has numerous city parks that you can visit for a winter walk or have fun by building a snowman when it snows outside, offering some free activities during the winter. Head over to Kalemegdan Park, and don’t forget to visit the Belgrade fortress to oversee the city from the top while enjoying a stroll in the most historical spot in the capital city. 

As the party capital of Europe, winter won’t stop you from partying hard in Belgrade. Stop by the nearest kafana to have a local experience and sip on rakija to warm up your body during winter. You can socialize with people, blend in with this Serbian social custom, and make the most of your wintertime in Belgrade.

night time colorful view of seville spain near the water

Seville, Spain

Contributed by Paulina from Visit Southern Spain

If you’re planning to go out on a city break in Europe in winter, Seville is the right place for you. The atmosphere of Seville is amazing during the winter season with the blazing flamenco and skyline.

The weather in Seville during the months of October to January is wet and cold. If you visit during December, you can expect the sun to be out for 5 hours and occasional sudden rainfalls. It’s best to visit Seville during the winter as you can enjoy the city break without snow and sip beer in the sun. The days are hot and the nights are cold.

One of the most preferred things to do in Seville during cold months is try grilled chestnuts. These chestnuts are warm and perfect to comfort you on a cold day. You can find a number of chestnut stalls all around the town, especially around Plaza de Espana and the cathedral.

Check out the Christmas markets in Plaza de Nueva and Avenida de la Constitucion and explore the festive stalls. The markets spread across the city in December and are the best places to find homemade ornaments and to see nativity scenes.

Stroll through Maria Louisa Park, as the weather is perfect for sightseeing. The park is situated next to Plaza de Espana and you will be able to explore Roman statues, old fountains, and Moorish remains.

If you are wondering where to stay in Seville, you can consider Hotel Alfonso XIII as many visitors have given it great reviews.  

colorful sunset overlooking luxembourg city luxembourg, one of the best winter city breaks in europe, with lots of classic european buildings lining the streets

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on the Road

Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe and Luxembourg city is its capital. Its beauty is often overlooked but it is one of the most beautiful winter city breaks in Europe. It is comparatively small and easy to explore.

With its small size, you might think that the city has less to explore, but it gets very exciting during the winter. Visiting Luxembourg city in the winter season is worth it because the temperatures are moderate, ranging between 30-45°F (-1-8°C).

During your visit, you can witness the old quarters and forts of Luxembourg City. These are the center of attraction of the city and were also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1994. Exploring these parts of the city is especially wonderful when everything around is covered in white snow.

For more dreamy and snowy spots, you should explore Vianden Castle in the north. After that, explore the Luxembourg City Christmas Market which is all blingy and aromatic. At the end of November, the city starts its Christmas celebrations and becomes the perfect place to shop around and explore with your friends and family.

One of the best things about visiting Luxembourg in winter is the smaller crowds. You can conveniently explore major locations like Grand Ducal Palace or Notre Dame Cathedral. Do not miss out on the Knuedler On Ice skating rink in the city center in Place Guillaume II in front of the city hall. Lastly, visitors wondering where to stay in Luxembourg, choose Mama Shelter.

far away shot of the duomo in florence, with trees slightly obstructing the image, and the orange roofs surrounded the duomo

Florence, Italy

Contributed by Paul from Anywhere We Roam

With a greedy stash of art, a buzzing café scene, and a charm that many cities would lust after, Florence is an ideal city break in winter.

Some of the best things to do in Florence get even more atmospheric outside the summer months. Spend your days walking frosted laneways lined with handsome Renaissance buildings before warming up in a local wine bar, humming with old-school style, and feasting on freshly prepared pasta.

Hide out in the Uffizi Gallery to witness the progression from early medieval works to renaissance masterpieces and be enchanted by the brush strokes of Botticelli. Witness 2 of the 20 surviving Leonardo da Vinci pieces and the only panel painting completed by Michelangelo.

After collecting your fill of impressive artwork, head up to the dome of the cathedral, ingeniously designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. From the top, take in the spectacle of Florence, bathed in soft winter light.   

Another unmissable Florence attraction that’s perfect to see in winter when the crowds are fewer is the statue of David which Michelangelo completed when he was just 26 years old.

Stroll over the Ponte Vecchio bridge – the iconic symbol of Florence – which is beautiful in winter. Follow the footpath through the backstreets up to Piazzale Michelangelo – an under-visited square with one of the best views of the Florence skyline.

crowded beach in alicante spain with ancient ruins on the hill in the backdrop and colorful buildings lining the street

Alicante, Spain

Contributed by John-Paul from Escape the Stanway

Alicante is the capital of the Costa Blanca, an area located in the Southeast of Spain. It’s an extremely popular destination through the summer months, but still very much an untouched gem during the winter, making it the perfect European winter city break.

Although temperatures drop through the night, the sun still beams through the day, with highs of up to 20 degrees. This means everything you can do in the summer, you can also do in the winter! 

The list of things to do is endless, like watching the sunset from Santa Barbara Castle, walking along the colorful “Explanada de España,” visiting the Archaeological Museum, shopping on Mushroom Street, and having a “cafe con leche” in the Old Town.

The ultimate appeal of visiting Alicante during winter is that you get will get to experience all these attractions with fewer people, and for cheaper prices. Instead of battling your way through some of Europe’s major cities stuffed with surplus prices and a mass amount of tourists, you are sure to find that visiting Alicante in the winter will be a refreshing change.

Cheap flights from destinations all over Europe, cheap eats through Spanish Tapas and the Menu Del Dia, and potentially still being able to walk along the beach in your shorts and t-shirt. What more could you want from a European city break this winter? 

overhead shot of a bridge along the danube river in budapest, with old buildings along the river

Budapest, Hungary

Contributed by Alex & Leah from Alex And Leah On Tour

If you’re looking for a European city to visit during winter, look no further than Budapest! Budapest is awash with tons of fun activities no matter who you’re traveling with.

Situated in Hungary, itself located in Eastern Europe, Budapest is an incredibly easy city to visit. Pretty much every European city has a direct flight to Budapest and the train and bus network is second to none, no matter where you are in Europe. If you’re from further away, flights are very easy to find. 

No matter what you enjoy, Budapest has it all. If you enjoy a social around some alcoholic beverages, then Szimpla Kert (more commonly known as the Ruin Bars) is a place you must visit. While some seating is outside, heaters are readily available, as is the gluhwein to keep you warm. Here you can socialize to your heart’s content and soak up the amazing Hungarian culture! 

During the day, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths are the place to go. These heated outdoor and indoor pools are an absolute must visit and provide a perfect place to relax. This is an ideal location to spend a few hours if you’re traveling with your partner. When visiting in winter, make sure to be swift when getting out of the outdoor pools and inside, it can get very nippy! 

Finally, the other must do activity is a visit to Buda Castle. Here you can gaze over the Danube River and the eastern part of the city, which is beautifully lit up. If you love a bit of history, make sure to visit the 2nd floor of the museum where you can learn all about the city and its journey over the past 3,000 years! 

You really will not regret visiting Budapest during winter. It has such a great atmosphere and the weather is nicely crisp so you have that nostalgic winter feel.

moody overcast skies over the river with a bridge in rome italy

Rome, Italy

Contributed by Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers

If you are looking for the perfect Europe city break in winter, look no further than Rome. Italy’s capital city has it all – ancient Roman ruins for you to explore for days, museums to escape rainy days, underground excavations, and altogether an incredible vibe.

Rome in winter is a wonderful time of the year to walk around its ancient streets. Not only is it the low season, though there are always people crowding this popular city, but the Christmas lights adorning the cobblestoned streets and pastel-colored houses makes it extra cozy.

Make sure you see all the main sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Saint Peter’s Church if it is your first visit to this grand city. But if you have been before, there are still endless sites you probably have not been able to visit yet. Like the Bone Chapel, the minor basilicas, and the Circo Massimo.

Rome is also blessed with mostly mild winters, so you can easily enjoy a pizza and a glass of wine outdoors to fuel up for more sightseeing. The early nights add to the charm as Rome turns into a love story with warm streetlights wrapping you in those narrow cobblestoned streets of Trastevere, the tranquil Tevere river floating past as you admire the beautifully lit up Castell Sant’Angelo, or warming up with a cocktail in a tiny bar.

Faro, Portugal

Contributed by Alya from The Algarve Family

Faro is a city in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. It’s a great place to come for a sunny winter city break in Europe. Due to its geographical location, Faro has more than 300 sunny days a year. Even during the winter months, it’s warm and sunny during the day.

Faro is situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. You can find many spectacular sandy beaches in and around the city. You can even enjoy a nice day on the beach during winter and a quick swim in the ocean.

Winter is the low season in the Algarve, meaning fewer tourists and lower prices. Faro is a student town and unlike most vacation destinations, it’s lively and busy, even during the offseason. Most bars and restaurants stay open all year. 

Winter is a great time for outdoor activities in Faro from hiking and cycling to catamaran and dolphin-watching tours. Ria Formosa Natural Park, just outside the city, is a unique place for birdwatching in Europe.

Doing a catamaran tour of Ria Formosa is a great way to explore the area. The Ludo Trail and Loule boardwalk are great hiking and cycling routes. You can explore more of the Algarve by doing day trips from Faro to Albufeira or Carvoeiro. It’s easy to get around using trains and buses or by renting a car. 

black and white classic buildings in chester england with christmas lights and decorations

Chester, England

Contributed by Paulina from the UK Every Day

One of the best places to visit in winter is a charming city in northwest England – Chester. Each year, Chester Winter Watch Parade takes place in this beautiful cathedral city. The narrow streets are filled with angels, demons, and many other creatures to continue the long tradition from the XIV century.

The festive season in this city offers an unforgettable experience and Christmas decorations are truly beautiful. Visit medieval Chester Cathedral to see the lights hanging on the trees and huge Christmas stars in front of the Grade I listed building.

Wander between the black and white structures that Chester is famous for. Inside those Victorian buildings, you will find unique local shops where you can buy Christmas presents for your friends and family. Grosvenor Shopping Centre is an impressive combination of contemporary design with Edwardian style so this place should not be missed during your visit to Chester.

Located just a short drive from Snowdonia National Park and Liverpool, the city also offers many day trip ideas. So, book your flight to Liverpool and drive less than 1 hour to Chester, which is set in the beautiful scenery by the Welsh border. During this winter city break in Europe, you will tick off not only Chester, but also get a chance to explore other amazing cities nearby. 

colorful flags lined across buildings in a street in albufeira portugal

Albufeira, Portugal

Contributed by Linn Haglund from Amused by Algarve

One of the best spots for a sunny winter break in Europe is the quaint city of Albufeira in southern Portugal. Albufeira is a place where you can enjoy the beach on a sunny day, go surfing, and enjoy some drinks in the sun, even during winter.

Winter in Albufeira offers so many outdoor activities with an average temperature of 59-63°F (15-17°C) in the daytime. When you encounter the occasional wintery days of rain, you’ll get the opportunity to cuddle up inside with a hot chocolate or browse the museums.

However, the most popular Albufeira winter activities include boat trips to explore the caves, dolphin safaris, 4WD tours to explore the countryside, and, of course, hiking.

Winter is especially perfect for hiking the rugged sun-kissed coastline when it’s not too hot to walk. Among the best hikes you can take is the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail which takes you between the Algar Seco rock formations in Carvoeiro to the award-winning beach, Praia da Marinha.

Even if you prefer staying in Albufeira and walking around the Old Town with ice cream, going shopping for Christmas presents, or just eating your heart out at one of the many restaurants offering international food or traditional Portuguese delicacies, you will have a lovely city break in what is called the adventure capital of the Algarve.

distant view of the coastline in split croatia from the blue ocean

Split, Croatia

Contributed by Disha from Disha Discovers

Split, Croatia is a winter European city break with everything from delicious food to amazing architecture to jaw-dropping views. Split is an excellent choice for a winter city break for several reasons.

First, the weather is milder than in most other parts of Europe during winter, so you can enjoy all the city offers without braving the cold. Second, Split is relatively uncrowded during winter, so you can enjoy the sights without fighting crowds of tourists. And finally, hotel rates are typically lower during winter, so you can save money on accommodation while still getting to experience all that Split has to offer.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Split is Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the fourth century. It’s one of the best-preserved ancient ruins in Europe. Today, it’s home to shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring.

Marjan Park is another great spot to visit during your time in Split. The park covers many acres and is filled with hiking and biking trails and scenic lookouts with views of the city and the Adriatic Sea.

Although the water will be cold for swimming, the beaches in Split are still worth a visit. Take a walk along Bačvice Beach, people-watch at Žnjan Beach, or relax in one of the many beach bars.

Riva Promenade, Klis Fortress, the Archaeological Museum in Split, Split City Museum, and People’s Square are more things to add to your 2+ days in Split city break getaway. Whether you’re looking to explore the history, enjoy local cuisine, or take in the beautiful scenery, Split is the perfect destination for your winter city break.

wintery and snowy mountain view of chamonix france, one of the best winter city breaks in Europe

Chamonix, France

Contributed by Mike from Live Travel Teach

Chamonix is the perfect winter getaway from Lyon, Paris, or any other city in Europe. This mountain town has six ski resorts with delicious restaurants and charming hotels throughout.

Home to the world-famous Mont Blanc, Chamonix boasts some of the best winter sports in the world and there’s plenty to do for less adventurous travelers too. With an average annual snowfall of 35+ feet, you can build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or cozy up with a mug of hot cocoa when you’re not on the slopes. There are frequent festivals and plenty of shopping in Chamonix too.  

One of Chamonix’s main attractions is the Aiguille du midi cable car, the tallest vertical ascent of any cable car on the planet. You can visit the top of the mountain and take in all the breathtaking views of this picturesque valley.

Go on your first day and catch a glimpse of the runs you’ll be skiing or snowboarding down later, or perhaps you’d take the cable car up while your family hits the slopes. Many of the smaller gondolas lead to lodges with restaurants and warm fires.

In the summer there are countless hiking trails taking you on the Tour du Mont Blanc. Some visitors bike the road following the famous Tour du France routes dating as far back as 1911. However you decide to enjoy your getaway, Chamonix should definitely be on your shortlist of European cities to visit! 

empty square in warsaw poland, with a christmas tree and colorful buildings

Warsaw, Poland

Contributed by Bec from Poland Travel Expert

For the perfect winter weekend getaway, look no further than Warsaw, Poland. This amazing country full of beauty, sad history, gorgeous scenery, and amazing food is an emerging tourist hotspot. Not many people have considered a visit to Poland, but now people can’t get enough of it!

A visit to Warsaw over a winter weekend is the perfect way to get a taste of what Poland is about. While Warsaw is beautiful in any season, you will find in winter the city comes alive, especially before Christmas. The city has small traditional Christmas markets dotted throughout the old town area. These little wooden stalls sell everything from Polish vodka to Kielbasa and there is always a local happy to help you pick out something yummy to eat.

Along the main streets and hung in the Old Town is the famous Warsaw lights display. For years, the city tourism board designed new and exciting light displays all the way from twinkle lights to bright and colorful peacocks. You’ll even find Santa in a small specially built village for you to visit. Families are able to wander the displays easily and you will see many of them out enjoying the displays and the markets.

But what is there to do in Warsaw when the markets are over or haven’t started yet? There is plenty! You can learn about World War II at the Uprising Museum or the Polin museum. While you are in that area of town you can visit the Palace of Science and Culture for amazing views of the city. In the Basement is a traditional ‘Milkbar,’ which is a type of restaurant that was popular in the Soviet Era. Here you will get good, homemade, traditional Polish food at a very cheap price.

You can also get a free walking tour with Orange Umbrellas or you can wander the Old Town yourself. A local will take you through the Old Town area and take you on a journey in the city of Warsaw. They usually meet under Sigismund’s Column, right across from The Plac Zamkowy (The Royal Palace), and on the walk, you will see the Barbican, The Little Insurgent (Maly Powstaniec), The Rynek Starego Miasta and learn about who Warsaw was rebuilt.

You can also book a Chopin concert or take a half-day trip out to the Palace at Wilanow. While you are wandering the Old Town, don’t forget to sample some Zapiakanka (a Polish Sub), some Pierogi, or some Grzane Piwo (mulled beer). While it is not guaranteed to snow in Warsaw in winter, you may get lucky enough to experience the city as a winter wonderland!

snow covered view of the city of cesky krumlov, with orange roofs and a small river going throughout the city

Český Krumlov, Czechia

Contributed by Cosette from KarsTravels

Český Krumlov is a city in South Bohemia in the Western part of Czechia. It has a medieval street plan with over 300 historical buildings. The buildings are in Renaissance, Baroque, and Gothic architecture styles. Because of this, the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Český Krumlov has the second largest castle in Czechia. The city was founded in the 13th century and the heart of it is the river Vltava. This alone is already enough reason to visit Český Krumlov. Most people visit in the Summer, however the city is magical during winter, as it’s covered with a layer of snow.

The city is very tiny, with cobblestone streets, so it can get quite crowded during summer. Český Krumlov in winter is less crowded, so it makes for the perfect time to visit. Crowds are usually smaller and only pop up a bit during lunchtime.

During November and December, there’s a Christmas market in the city, providing extra magic to an already magical city. Throughout winter you can wander around the city to admire the medieval street plan or sit down in one of the many restaurants to warm up and taste a traditional Czech dish.

Make sure to climb up the tower of the castle for perfect views. The castle itself is closed in wintertime, but you can wander around its walls. Lastly, visit one of the museums the city has to offer, such as the torture museum or the Egon Schiele Museum. 

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