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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December (2024)

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Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

From Christmas markets and carol concerts to polar nights and winter sunshine, December is one of the most diverse times to visit Europe. Head north and you can experience the cold chill of an Arctic winter in remote destinations like Tromso or Reykjavik , while in Finnish Lapland, a trip to Rovaniemi will bring you to the mysterious “home” of Santa Claus and his many reindeer. 

See in the New Year in style by experiencing the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay in Edinburgh , soak up the thermal waters in Budapest , and gorge on beer and frites in Bruges for a perfect December break. And if you need a little sunshine, then the Canary Islands are never too far from the Spanish mainland.

But no list of the best places to visit in Europe in December is ever complete without plenty of festive market recommendations. We’ve got you sorted, with historic German Advent markets in Dresden and Nuremberg , and lesser-known markets in Zagreb and Strasbourg . 

With so many places to travel in Europe in December, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best European winter destinations for you. Stick to these fun and unique European getaways, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this beautiful part of the world. 

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

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The 15 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

1. reykjavik, iceland .

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is a land of extremes, and in winter, the days are incredibly short, the weather is freezing cold, and the landscapes are frozen solid. But don’t let that put you off. In fact, embrace the Icelandic extremes in December, and you’ll have an incredible time exploring this island nation at the “wrong” time of year.

We recommend basing yourself in Reykjavik , where the city very much continues to function, even with temperatures regularly dropping below freezing and no more than five hours of daylight on the longest day of the month. You’ll see a side of Iceland that’s far removed from those long summer days, which are by now a distant memory. 

Things to do in Europe in December: Reykjavik, Iceland

December is the best time of year to see the Northern Lights, and you can join a tour out into the icy tundra around the Icelandic capital in search of this natural phenomenon. Icelanders are equipped with heavy-duty vehicles to beat the snow, and you can tour through the Golden Circle around Reykjavik, seeing the steaming geysers bursting from the ground and being awed by the frozen waters of Gullfoss. 

And if the cold starts to beat you, there’s nothing better than a dip in thermal waters. Reykjavik’s most famous spa is the Blue Lagoon , and while it’s certainly spectacular, it’s also very touristy. For a fraction of the price, you can visit the local public pools in Reykjavik, which are also all heated by geothermal energy. 

2. Nuremberg, Germany 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg is one of the most classic places to visit in Europe in December, and although its Christmas market is one of the busiest in Europe, it’s easily one of our favorite festive experiences. 

Nuremberg is home to gorgeous medieval architecture, and throughout the Advent Season (from late November until Christmas Eve), the Old Town plays host to the centuries-old Christkindlesmarkt . Wooden stalls, carol singers, Christmas lights, and copious quantities of Gluhwein can be found in the Hauptmarkt, and the surrounding streets and squares, as Nurembergers embrace the festive spirit with due aplomb.

Europe in December: Nuremberg, Germany

You’ll be visiting one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world, with a recorded history dating back to at least the 17th century, and possibly even earlier. There are some unusual traditions at the Christkindlesmarkt, the name of which translates into English as the “Christ Child Market.” 

Local women compete in the run-up to Advent to be selected as the Christ Child, a role which sees them dressed as a white angel in the market’s opening ceremony before making various other appearances throughout Advent. 

Once the market is opened, you can gorge on local dishes like the famous Nurnberger Rostbratwurst (grilled sausages) and lebkuchen (a type of local gingerbread) as you soak up the Christmas festivities in Germany.

3. Edinburgh, United Kingdom 

Things to do in Europe in December: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

One of the best places to travel in Europe in December is Edinburgh , a magnificent city that’s gearing up for its Christmas and New Year extravaganzas. 

The Scottish weather is notoriously bleak, and you’ll have to endure low temperatures and regular downpours as you explore the city’s best sights. Luckily, there’s always a cozy pub for you to jump into (try The World’s End ), while Edinburgh’s traditional food is very much geared up for winter (try the haggis, of course). 

Europe in December: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Edinburgh has a wealth of indoor attractions to see. Edinburgh Castle ‘s ramparts might be windy, but the museums inside offer a fantastic insight into Scottish history. The National Museum of Scotland is an even deeper dive into the past, while Holyrood Palace and its stately rooms are an excellent place to learn more about the British Royal Family. 

Then there’s the Scottish Parliament , the Museum of Edinburgh , and of course, who can miss out on a visit to The Scotch Whisky Experience ? Throughout December, Christmas markets pop up all over the city, including at the popular East Princes Street Gardens. Stay on for New Year’s and you can immerse yourself in Hogmanay, the traditional Scottish way to round off the old and see in the new. 

4. Bruges, Belgium

Europe in December: Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a fairytale European destination, and if you’re lucky with the winter weather, you may even get to see this Belgian city covered in layers of snow. In particularly cold winters, the city’s canals have even been known to freeze solid, adding to the wintry allure you’re searching for.

Throw tall Christmas trees, carol singers, and Advent light shows into the mix, and you’ve got yourself one of the best places to visit in Europe in December. Market Square in the center of Brugge is thrown over to traditional Christmas market stalls, and you can browse for gifts and souvenirs as you enjoy a warm mug of mulled wine.

Things to do in Europe in December: Bruges, Belgium

There’s a smaller market at Stevinplein, too, while a trip to the Minnewater ice rink has long been a favored Christmas excursion. Bruges is famed for its beers and frites, and in December, you’ll love snuggling up on a heated terrace or in front of a roaring fire as you sample the best brews in the city. For frites, head to the quirky Fritemuseum , where you can learn all about the history of this classic Belgian take on French fries. 

5. Ljubljana, Slovenia 

Europe in December: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana , with its dragon bridges and turquoise river, is one of our favorite European cities, and December is a surprisingly fun time to visit. Although temperatures can drop below freezing, you’ll love the crisp winter air as you stroll along the tall river banks or take a cruise along the Ljubljanica River.

Ride the funicular to Ljubljana Castle , where you’ll have spectacular views over the red roofs of the city. If it’s raining, pop into the National Museum of Contemporary History or the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, and if the rain holds off, then explore the street art and galleries of the Metelkova District, a former military district that’s been transformed into a quirky base for artists, activists, and musicians. 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana throws itself wholeheartedly into the Christmas spirit, and you can visit the festive markets at Preseren Square, where you can try seasonal Slovenian treats like potica (a sweet, festive bread) while warming up with a hot mug of mulled wine. Slovenian cuisine is hearty and wholesome, too, and you’ll love digging into a big bowl of jota (a stew) or a steaming plate of Štruklji (dumplings) in the cold evenings. 

You can even take a day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, which is just an hour’s drive north of the Slovenian capital. Hidden away in the Julian Alps, this alpine lake is glorious in the winter, when its mountain peaks are capped with snow. 

6. Dresden, Germany 

Europe in December: Dresden, Germany

Dresden is home to one of the best Christmas market experiences in Europe. This historic German town has hosted its Striezelmarkt since 1434, making this the oldest Christmas market in the world.

Back then, the Striezelmarkt was a simpler one-day market held at some point in the week leading up to Christmas. The market was named after the struzel that was sold here, a specific type of stollen cake that’s eaten in Dresden at Christmas time. 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Dresden, Germany

Today, the Striezelmarkt has expanded over nearly six centuries into a festive market that hosts upwards of 200 stalls in and around the Altmarkt, in Dresden’s old town, for the entire Advent period. It’s busy, it’s historic, it’s fun, and you can enjoy traditional struzel alongside a hot mug of Gluhwein! 

7. Tromso, Norway 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Tromso, Norway

For a seriously unique December experience, why not catch a flight to the Arctic Circle? That might sound just a little crazy, but the winter season is one of the most impressive times to visit Tromso , Norway’s Arctic capital.

Located deep within the Arctic Circle, it’s a 2-hour flight from Oslo to Tromso. Oslo will seem positively tropical in comparison to Tromso, but you’ll quickly fall in love with the unusual way of life eked out this far north.

Europe in December: Tromso, Norway

Daylight is almost nonexistent this time of year, but you’ll come to appreciate the almost ephemeral glow that accompanies the sun’s ragged attempts to rise above the horizon. The city, home to some 65,000 people even in the winter, is surrounded by ice-free fjords, which are spectacular in December. Take a boat cruise in search of the Northern Lights (there’s no better time to see them!) and warm up later with a trip to the sauna. 

Tromso is very much a winter sports playground in December, with ample opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. You can also visit the local Sami people, many of whom still herd reindeer across the tundra. Join a Sami experience to learn about their distinct way of life, their language, and history while meeting the reindeer and enjoying Arctic activities like dogsledding. 

8. Zagreb, Croatia 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb , the understated Croatian capital, is one of the best places to travel in Europe in December. Zagreb might sit at the crossroads of Central and Southern Europe, but despite having a colorful history that’s been shaped by the Romans, Slavs, Habsburgs, and Yugoslavians, the city is almost always overlooked in the summer months.

Tourists prefer the beaches and islands of Croatia’s Adriatic coastline and ancient walled cities like Split and Dubrovnik. But in the winter, Zagreb really comes into its own, as the city’s squares are filled with festive markets and Christmas cheer (head to Ban Josipa Jelačića Square and King Tomislav Square).

Europe in December: Zagreb, Croatia

Have your fill of mulled wine and seasonal Croatian treats like fritule (a type of sugary donut), then escape the chill as you tour through Zagreb’s best museums. Start with the curious Museum of Broken Relationships , get nostalgic at the Zagreb ‘80s museum, and explore Yugoslavian art at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art . 

9. Rovaniemi, Finland 

Europe in December: Rovaniemi, Finland

Ask the Finns, and without hesitation, they’ll tell you that, yes, Santa Claus does exist. And how can they be so sure? Well, Finnish people know that Santa Claus lives in Lapland, where there’s an entire city dedicated to Christmas. 

With savvy marketing, Finnish Lapland cornered the Christmas tourist market when they built the Santa Claus Village in 1985. Located just outside of Rovaniemi, a remote city in northern Finland , you can meet Santa, meet the reindeer, and cross the Arctic Circle, which runs through the center of the village.

Things to do in Europe in December: Rovaniemi, Finland

It’s the perfect place to find that Christmas cheer, and given how close you are to the Arctic Circle, it’s a guaranteed white December. Rovaniemi has become a trendy winter break destination in recent years, and in addition to visiting Santa Claus Village, you can meet reindeer herders, learn about the Sami way of life, ride snowmobiles, and learn how to dog sled, too!

10. Budapest, Hungary

Europe in December: Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a fantastic city to visit no matter the season, but we particularly enjoy the Hungarian capital in December. 

We love the festive hubbub in the city’s Christmas markets, where huge portions of hot goulash are served in enormous, hollowed-out bread bowls. There’s pork knuckle, kolbasz sausages, and chimney cakes, while the mulled wine and palinka (a local type of schnapps) are free-flowing in the winter air.

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Budapest, Hungary

Wrap up warm and you can spend your getaway bouncing from one market to the next. Start in Vorosmarty Square, where you can find the biggest market in Budapest, stroll along to St. Stephen’s Basilica, where carol singers liven the streets, and then cross the Danube to Buda, where traditional Hungarian gifts are sold on the hill from wooden market stalls. 

Budapest can get cold in December, with temperatures frequently dropping to lows of 0°C. That makes the city’s famous thermal baths all the more welcome, and you’ll love dipping into the warm waters of the Gellert Thermal Bath or enjoying the delightful contrast of the heated outdoor pools at the Széchenyi Baths , which are the largest in Budapest.

11. Canary Islands, Spain

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Canary Islands, Spain

So far, we’ve focused on the classic wintery experiences you can enjoy in Europe, but we know that not everyone enjoys the cold. In fact, some people just want to escape the colder climes of northern Europe and find themselves a little winter sun in December.

If that’s you, then you’ll want to book yourself a flight to the Canary Islands . Although they’re part of Spain, the Canary Islands are located a good two-hour flight south of Madrid, and they’re closer to Africa than they are to mainland Europe. The islands – of which there are eight, including Gran Canaria , Tenerife , and La Gomera – are very much Spanish in character, having been ruled by Spain since the 15th century. 

Europe in December: Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands are positively warm in December, with temperatures reaching highs of 21°C or 70°F (compare that to Iceland, Norway, or Finland, where temperatures rarely rise above freezing!). You can score great deals on flights and resorts, which are much quieter in the low season, and you might even find it warm enough to take a dip in the sea. 

12. Zermatt, Switzerland 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Zermatt, Switzerland

If you love snowcapped mountains and winter scenes, Zermatt is one of the coolest places to visit in Europe in December. This is one of Switzerland ‘s most iconic mountain getaways, and the small town of some 6,000 people sits at an altitude of 1,620 meters (5,315 feet) above sea level.

This means that in December, you can expect Zermatt to already have a smattering of snow. The town sits in the shadow of the famed Matterhorn, a distinctive mountain peak that rises to a height of 4,478 meters (14,692 feet). 

Europe in December: Zermatt, Switzerland

Although the Matterhorn is Switzerland’s most recognizable mountain, Zermatt is, in fact, surrounded by other, higher mountains, too, including Monte Rosa, which at 4,634 meters (15,203 feet) is the highest mountain in the country.

You can learn about the history of Zermatt and its association with mountaineering at the Matterhorn Museum before taking the cable car to Klein Matterhorn, which sits at an altitude of 3,883 meters (12,740 feet). In December, the ski season might just be starting, in which case you can rent a chalet and hit the slopes of the Swiss Alps. 

Zermatt really is an adventure playground, and you can try your hand at everything from mountaineering to tobogganing. The town is also located at the end of the Glacier Express, one of the most spectacular mountain train rides in Europe. 

13. Vienna, Austria

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Vienna, Austria

Vienna is a dream in winter, which is why the Austrian capital is one of the best places to go in Europe in December. 

Vienna’s festive season is already in full swing, as the city’s Christmas markets will already have opened to great fanfare at the end of November. The Advent Season in Austria is long but eventful, and the build-up to Christmas sees Vienna’s public squares packed out daily with market stalls and carol singers.

Europe in December: Vienna, Austria

Head to the Rathausplatz, Vienna’s main square, and you can indulge in Gluhwein in front of the city’s historic town hall. Ice skating is a particularly popular winter pastime in Vienna, and the Rathausplatz is also home to one of the best outdoor ice rinks during the Christmas season. 

Special Advent concerts are held within St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where you’ll enjoy not only a celebration of all things Christmas but a celebration of Europe’s classical composers, including the likes of Mozart and Bach.

And of course, there are countless historical and cultural attractions you can also visit in Vienna in December. The Schoenbrunn Palace hosts its own festivities, for example, while Belvedere Palace , the Sigmund Freud Museum , and the Leopold Museum are must-visits. As you explore Vienna, you might even run into a Krampus, the terrifying anti-Santa from European folklore that runs riot during Advent! 

14. Copenhagen, Denmark

Europe in December: Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark ‘s cozy hygge concept comes into its own in the long winter months, and once you’ve embraced the lifestyle, you’ll quickly see why this is one of the best places to go in Europe in December. 

In Copenhagen , it’s not only the festive season, but the “hygge season,” as Danes wrap themselves up in woolen jumpers, hats, scarves, and socks before warming up next to a roaring fire. 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Copenhagen, Denmark

Wrap up warm yourself and you can brave the chill temperatures to explore the Danish capital’s Christmas markets, while Tivoli World is transformed into a veritable winter wonderland in December. The canals of Nyhavn occasionally freeze over, while ice skating rinks, winter saunas, and festive food markets are plentiful all over Copenhagen. 

15. Strasbourg, France 

Things to do in Europe in December: Strasbourg, France

One of our top places to visit in Europe in December is Strasbourg , a French city by the German border that’s home to the European Parliament. 

But while you can take a tour through the parliament buildings and learn all about Strasbourg’s cross-border history (the city changed hands between France and Germany countless times in centuries past), in December, you’re really here for the Christmas market. 

Places to Visit in Europe in December: Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg’s Germanic influences (the city sits on the banks of the River Rhine, which is the border with Germany) ensure that the Christmas market tradition is strong here. The city has hosted a market since 1570, and it’s now one of the oldest in France, if not one of the oldest in all of Europe.

Different markets sprawl across the city these days, but the most traditional are focused around Cathedral Square, where you’ll find countless wooden stalls offering everything from mulled wine to Christmas tree decorations.

There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in Europe in December. What’s your favorite European destination to visit in December?

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Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities. Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot). When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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Boundless Roads

The 31 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

hallstatt

Looking for a cool European destination for your next winter vacation? In this post, I am sharing some of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

I am sure you will find some inspiration for your next trip.

Whether you are looking for a warm winter escape in the coldest months of the year or the best Christmas Market, you want to see the Aurora Borealis or take long walks by the beach, we have got you covered.

Read on and find out what travelers share about their favorite destination to visit in Europe in December.

The header picture is courtesy of Charu from Travel with CG

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links, I may earn a commission at zero cost for you. Please see my  disclaimer policy  here and my privacy policy here.

The Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

1. dublin in december.

One of the best places to visit in Europe in December is Dublin, Ireland. I studied abroad in this city in 2019, and I’m still in awe of it.

This beautiful city is highly underrated, and it’s filled with kind people, lots of history, and incredible culture.

Most people opt to visit Ireland in the summer months, but the winter is magical because there are barely any tourists, the weather is superb, and there are many fun festivals.

When visiting in winter, one of the absolute best things to do is to attend the beautiful Christmas markets.

Dublin hosts these during December, and it’s a great time to get super excited about the holiday season.

They also host a New Year’s Festival that starts at the very tail end of December. Other fun things to do in Dublin this time of year include exploring Temple Bar (it’s touristy, but it’s a must), walking along the River Liffey, and touring the  Guinness Storehouse . 

Many of the restaurants in Dublin can be somewhat touristy, but don’t worry; there are places you can go to catch up with locals, too.

The Temple Bar Pub is always overrun by tourists, so instead, go right across the street to The Old Mill. It’s almost always got open seats, and the interior is a lot more quaint and charming.

It still has that classic pub feel, and the food is impeccable. For breakfast, head to Queen of Tarts Cafe which has two city locations!

Try to stay downtown to easily access Dublin’s best attractions; the Fitzsimons Temple Bar is super central and within walking distance from The Old Mill, River Liffey, Temple Bar, and Queen of Tarts!

Contributed by Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages

2. Reykjavik in December

Reykjavik in december - best places to visit in Europe in December

Reykjavik, Iceland is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December. After all, you can enjoy seeing the vibrant northern lights dancing through the air. 

Or, book a Northern Lights Adventure Tour and see this incredible natural phenomenon from another part of the country.  

Next, warm yourself up after a day spent in the cold at Iceland’s newest geothermal pool, Sky Lagoon. 

Alternatively, you could always go for a refreshing dip in one of the area’s many hot springs, like Hrunalaug, Reykjadalur, or the iconic Blue Lagoon. 

Then, when you’re ready to enjoy some seasonal activities one of the best things to do In Reykjavik is to join the locals and go on a hunt for Santa Clause. 

So, head downtown and see if you can spot one of the 13 holograms of Santa Clause hidden among various buildings. This event usually takes place on December 23rd since Christmas is typically celebrated on December 24th. 

Afterward, enjoy some hearty seasonal cuisine during s 3-hour, Reykjavik Food Walk. Just be sure to book your spot well in advance since tickets sell out fast. 

Finally, prepare to party it up on New Year’s Eve in this incredible city. Not only is it the biggest party night of the year but a ban on fireworks is lifted for one week. 

Therefore, you’ll see a ton of wonderful fireworks displays go off at this time of year.

Contributed by Victoria from Iceland Trippers

3. Berlin in December

Berlin Charlottenburg Palace Christmas market

Berlin can get quite cold and dark in the winter, but the Christmas markets make it all worthwhile. I look forward to December every year, despite the weather, because it’s such a festive time of year.

With so many great  Christmas markets in Berlin , you’ll never run out of places to soak up the holiday cheer.

One of my favorite markets is the one at Charlottenburg Palace. The palace is such a gorgeous setting, and the stalls are a good mix of food, drinks, and gifts.

And don’t forget to climb the stairs to the top level of the Hungarian food hut, which will give you some nice views of the palace and the market.

Another local favorite is the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market. There’s a 1 euro entry fee, but it’s a small price to pay for such a pretty market.

This is one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, and the market has a bit of an upscale feel to it while still keeping with traditions. 

Berlin has lots of non-traditional Christmas markets too. There’s a Nordic-themed market at Kulturbrauerei, one of my personal favorites.

You can also find a vegan market, markets that are more focused on arts and shopping, and many other types. With over 50 markets in the city, there’s something for everyone. 

It’s easy to eat dinner at most Christmas markets, but if you’d rather eat inside, try Gaststätte Sophieneck for some German food in a tavern atmosphere.

For delicious pastries, look for Zeit für Brot, they have several locations. And for a hotel with an amazing view of the Berlin Zoo and Tiergarten park, book a “jungle” room at the 25Hours Hotel.

Contributed by Ali from Berlin Travel Tips.

4. Milan in December

The Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan where the painting "The Last Supper" by the Da Vinci is on display. One of the many famous things to see when deciding which of these two is your next vacation - Madrid vs Milan.

The winter season in Milan is beautiful, especially at Christmas. The festive atmosphere makes the cold weather even more enjoyable. You will find all the most beautiful shops competing for the best Christmas decorations.

The Christmas tree in Piazza Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is packed with people and their colorful shopping bags, but most of all I love Piazza Gae Aulenti.

The modern square is surrounded by contemporary skyscrapers including the famous building Il Bosco Verticale one of the most exclusive condos in Milan , and a pair of residential towers in the Porta Nuova district of Milan that contain more than 900 trees.

In this futuristic atmosphere, you can enjoy walking around the Christmas market and trying local delicacies, such as different chocolates, cheeses, and curated meat among others.

But you will also find handcrafted goods and accessories for some Christmas gift ideas.

If you are visiting at this time of the year the best area to stay in Milan is definitely Brera, in the heart of Milan, where you can live the Christmas atmosphere fully.

5. Florence in December

Florence view from the Cupola

If you want to combine art and culture with great food and wine and a Christmassy atmosphere, you should definitely visit Florence in Italy at this time of the year.

The thriving city can be safely considered the cultural capital of Italy, the cradle of the renaissance where you can immerse yourself in the most precious works of art that have ever been created.

Visit the famous Uffizi, climb the Brunelleschi’s Dome in Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence walk along the Ponte Vecchio look at the spectacular views from Michelangelo square, visit the manicured Boboli Gardens and eat in the Gourmet Market food stalls.

There is so much to do in Florence and its surroundings that you should at least spend a week there to enjoy it fully.

At Chrismas, the city becomes even more alive with Christmas music and decorations all over the city and a cheerful atmosphere.

If you don’t know where to stay in Florence I have got you covered with this thorough guide to the best areas and hotels for every budget.

6. Lugano in December

Lugano Switzerland

For a stunning and festive location to visit in December in Europe, Lugano in Switzerland is the place to be! Located in the Italian region of Switzerland, Lugano is easy to reach with a short train ride from Milan, Italy.

Lugano is not a popular destination for non-Swiss residents in winter, making it a great but very unique destination from abroad.

As a Swiss winter location, it can of course have a sprinkle of snow and low temperatures, so you need to be prepared with warm clothing.

But don’t let that put you off, as the warm winter festivities are enjoyable for all ages. Lugano hosts a Christmas market in the city that has numerous stands selling local treats, festive drinks, and wintery decorations/souvenirs.

Many cafes and restaurants provide blankets and heaters to keep you warm while visiting if you wish to sit outside.

Despite the colder weather, Lugano is very highly suggested to still visit with lots of things to do.

For example, when not visiting the Christmas markets and city, you can enjoy an easy Lugano   Lugano walking day trip around the neighborhoods.

Exploring also sub-neighborhoods such as Gandria or Morcote is pretty to see if you have the time. Else head to the top of Monte Brè or Mount San Salvatore for some wintery scenery from above.

Alternatively, book a visit to a local spa for some thermal massage and relaxation.

If you stay at The View Lugano hotel, their sauna is perfect for relaxing after a long day out. They also have the best service and a gorgeous dining area for a night in. 

Contributed by Zoe from Together In Switzerland

7. Malta in December

Malta

If you are looking for someplace in Europe with warm weather in winter, Malta is the perfect place for you. 

An island country in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is one of the warmest places in Europe in December. Due to the Mediterranean climate, the weather in Malta remains relatively warm and dry in December, with an average temperature of around 15°C. 

There are plenty of amazing historical and cultural fun  things to do in Malta  to make your holiday memorable.

Start your Maltese adventure by visiting the capital city, Valletta. The walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the capital of Malta. Wander around the streets of Valletta to marvel at the gorgeous architecture of this historic city.

A visit to the 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.

From the nearby Upper Barrakka Gardens, admire the breathtaking panoramic view out to the picturesque Grand Harbour and the Three Cities of Malta.

Visitors gather here to watch the ceremonial gunfire that takes place daily at noon and 4 pm. Enjoy a delicious dinner with some hearty traditional Maltese food and drink in Nenu, The Artisan Baker.

Take a day trip to visit the stunning Blue Lagoons – a tropical beach paradise on the island of Comino. Also, explore the atmospheric Mdina, known as the silent city.

There are plenty of luxury and budget hotels dotted around Malta. We would recommend staying at La Falconeria Hotel, which lies very close to the Valletta city center.

Contributed by Moumita from Chasing the Long Road

8. Riquewihr in December

Riquewihr

With its cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered houses, Riquewihr is argued to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, and it’s easy to understand why.

This little town is located in the French Alsace Region, 12 km from Colmar, and it’s one of these destinations that truly come to life around Christmas.

Together with the neighboring town of Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr was the inspiration for the village in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

So, it’s no wonder that exploring its little alleys makes you fill as if you were walking through a fairy tale.

Starting from the end of November, Riquewihr will be decorated with plenty of lights, huge teddy bears, giant Alsatian gingerbread men, and more beautiful decorations.

It’s the perfect place to visit Christmas markets, shop for gifts, drink Glühwein, and enjoy the town’s cozy atmosphere.

One of Riquewihr’s most famous hotels is Hotel de la Couronne. This authentic, family-run hotel was built in 1550, and it’s located in the center of the village.

When it comes to the best restaurants, places like La Grappe d’Or and Au Trotthus won’t disappoint you.

You will be able to try some of the best Alsatian food here, including choucroûte garnie and tarte flambée.

It’s good to know that Riquewihr is surrounded by vineyards and other charming villages like Ribeauvillé, Hunawihr, Eguisheim, and Kaysersberg. If you have the time, these are well worth visiting too.

All in all, Riquewihr’s charm and Christmas market make it one of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

Contributed by Laura from Laure Wanders

9. Athens in December

Athens street at night

Athens is an exciting metropolis to explore all year long. Winter is probably the ideal season to visit Athens for the fewer crowds in Plaka and the historic center, the mild temperatures, and the frequent sunny days.

In December, Athens is adorned by thousands of Christmas lights while the city’s excellent dining and nightlife scenes become even more alluring thanks to the inescapable Christmas cheer.

Undoubtedly, the best thing to do in Athens in December is to visit the Acropolis. Thanks to the lower temperatures, it’s easier to climb the rock of the Acropolis then and the absence of crowds will allow you to take in the beauty of this spectacular monument in a unique way. 

Moreover, museums in Athens are among the best places to visit in December. Who doesn’t love a warm space, filled with art and knowledge, after all?

There are a lot of museums in Athens, among which the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are the best for ancient history lovers. If you are into contemporary art, the Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation stands out.

In Athens, you can find a lot of fine restaurants that feel irresistibly warm and festive in December. One of them is Ergon House in Syntagma, where you can savor superb Mediterranean cuisine and buy local delicacies at the on-site market. For traditional Greek dishes in a quaint setting, try To Krasopoulio Tou Kokkora in Psyrri.

Royalty Hotel Athens is one of the best accommodation options for those who want an elegant and comfortable hotel in the heart of the city.

Contributed by Katerina from It’s All Trip To Me

10. Paris in December

Paris is magical any time of the year you visit and is a popular tourist destination all year round, but there is something so special about December.

The streets are getting lit up with Christmas decorations, and the weather is chilly, but what’s a  Christmas in Paris  without some layers?

Visiting Paris in December presents an opportunity to do several unique activities that wouldn’t be possible during other times of the year.

From admiring the perfectly decorated window displays at the city’s big department stores and enjoying the Festival of Lights at Jardin des Plantes to picking up some souvenirs from the various Christmas markets, Paris becomes incredibly exciting even with an overcast.

And unlike other cities in northern Europe where December is one of the coldest months, Paris is still bearable when you dress in layers with temperatures oscillating between 4° C ( 39 °F) and 8° C (46 °F).

But when the cold gets to you, and you want to hide away, the best thing to do is to cozy up at some of its trendy cafes like Café de Flore, La Flamme, and Angelina to either warm up with hot chocolate, Vin chaud, or the winter’s staple, Onion soup.

And for where to stay, you can opt for Mandarin Oriental Paris since it goes all out when it comes to Christmas decorations or Hôtel Eiffel Turenne to be close to the Iron lady.

Contributed by Esther from Dreams in Paris

11. London in December

London in December

The amazing amount of Christmas decorations, winter festivals, and one of the biggest Christmas trees in Europe, make London a top place to visit in December. With so many amazing  things to do in London in winter , you will never run out of festive activities in one of the most vibrant cities in Europe.

Visit Covent Garden for its beautiful Christmas decorations and some of the most amazing bars and restaurants. You can try a delicious meal in Rules which is one of the oldest restaurants in London.

However, a walk around the most famous street in London such as Regent Street, New Bond Street, or Oxford Street cannot be missed in winter.

Admire angels and stars that hung over London’s streets. Then, go Christmas shopping at Burlington Arcade which is a unique place to get presents for your friends and family.

Stay in 5-star accommodation – One Aldwych Hotel, which is nearby some of the best theatres in London. There is no better way to spend a cold winter evening than watching Christmas shows in the National Theatre or the Globe.

  December is also the best time of the year to check out winter festivals such as Lightopia or Lumiere London. Incredible light installations which receive numerous awards for the best festival in the world make London the top place to visit in Europe during winter.

Contributed by Paulina from the UK Every Day

12. Prague in December

Prague castle at christmas

Prague’s charm shines throughout the year but even more so at Christmastime. At the end of November, Christmas markets start popping up and Prague puts on a beautiful festive dress with lots of lights and sparkles. When it snows, it’s pure magic.

To enjoy the true Christmas atmosphere, hang out at markets with a mug of mulled wine or hot mead and soak up the Christmassy vibes.

The Old Town Square market is the largest and the most traditional one.

It’s pretty and a total must-see but if you don’t like crowds, there are many smaller markets to enjoy. I personally love the Prague Castle Christmas market.

It’s small and intimate and later in the day, say after 4 pm, there’s hardly anyone. 

Apart from enjoying  Prague winter  and Christmas, you should do the usual sightseeing visiting the Old Town, Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, etc.

In winter, you may also have fun at one of the ice skating rinks around town with the most central one located at the Ovocný trh Square between the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

There are many cafés to cozy up in when you need to warm up – e.g. SmetanaQ Café at the Vltava Riverbank is a great choice. The choco café “U Červené židle” (By the Red Chair) in the Old Town is a charming hideaway with excellent hot chocolate.

I can highly recommend the Mosaic House as an accommodation option with various types of rooms suiting every budget and with a location close to the city center.

Contributed by Veronika Primm from Travel Geekery

13. Lapland in December

Lapland sunset

December can be a really great time to explore Europe, but Lapland is a particularly magical place to be during this wintry month. Christmas in Finland’s northernmost region is like something out of a dream, mainly because it’s where you’ll find Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus!

Great for families, couples, or even solo travelers, two of my favorite places in Rovaniemi has to be the Santa Claus village and Santa Park. Here, you can meet the iconic Mr. Claus and enroll in the famous Elf School. 

Of course, when in Lapland, you should take the opportunity to hunt the Northern Lights. Your best bet is to stay far away from light pollution, such as in an igloo hotel, and a matter of patience as you wait out the night to spot the enchanting aurora phenomenon.

Staying in a snow hotel is also a must-do, and there are few things more enticing than watching the white landscape unfurl beyond your glass-domed room.

Or if you don’t want to spend the night, it’s also possible to just dine here during the day—still a pretty memorable experience!

Speaking of a Christmassy trip and Finland, your trip won’t be complete without a dreamy husky safari.

This is the ultimate Lapland bucket list, but be sure to pick an ethical husky company. I personally recommend BearHill Husky.

Overall, Lapland has a lot to offer for visitors throughout the year, but more so in December. From Santa histories and reindeer farms to snowmobiles and polar bear zoos, there really is something for everyone.

Contributed by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

14. Madeira in December

Madeira view

Madeira is a fantastic destination in Europe to visit in winter. The town of Funchal, which is where most travelers will use it as a base on the island, has an average temperature of around 20 degrees in December. 

There are plenty of  amazing things to do in Madeira . Because the island is small, you can reach most places in around one hour – even the mountains.

Pico do Arieiro, at 1800 high, from where you can witness the most incredible sunrise above the clouds, is a mere 40 minutes away from Funchal.  

In the North of the island, you will find the natural volcanic pools from Porto Moniz. You can either swim in the wild ones, or at the lido – which is much safer when the ocean is rough.

The lido is open all year round, and offers a lifeguard service, as well as changing rooms and toilets. The water is cold, but the experience is well worth it, especially when the ocean waves push you back towards the middle of the pools. 

Funchal is a lovely town, with a beautiful historic old center. Here you will find two buildings that are dating from the 16 th century and are still standing.

The market in Funchal is also a great place to visit, especially in the morning when the fish vendors are bringing their catch of the day. 

A great place to eat in Funchal is the Beerhouse, a brewery that serves traditional dishes and has a lovely view over the harbor. A good hotel to stay at is VidaMar Resort. 

Contributed by Joanna from The World in My Pocket

👉 Read more about Portugal in my Portugal Travel Guide

15. Hamburg in December

If you’re looking for a place to visit in Europe during December, there is no better place than Hamburg. 

The major reason for this is the numerous Christmas markets located around the city; if Christmas markets are your thing, you absolutely have to visit. 

Arguably the biggest and best is Rathausmarkt Christmas Market located in the shadows of the City Hall and it truly is worth spending an evening exploring. The market is open throughout the whole of December each year and is packed with stalls selling handmade toys, jewelry, and international delicacies. 

Alternatively, you can wander over and around Hamburg’s famous canals. Located in the Speicherstadt district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, these canals are beautiful to explore in the evening where you can view stunning architecture, museums, and much more! 

If you’re traveling on a budget, there is no better place to stay than Generator Hamburg. This hostel is situated just outside the city center and a three-minute walk from both the bus and train stations; perfect for getting in and out of the city.

Conversely, the Hotel Motel One Hamburg-Fleetinsel, if you’re searching for a more comfortable and, aren’t constrained by any budgets. 

Whilst you’re exploring the city, make sure to try out Groot, an authentic bistro specializing in traditional German cuisine.

Here you’ll be able to choose your meat (ham, beef, or pork) along with roast or mash potatoes and cabbage.

The portion sizes are huge and it only costs €10 including a drink; well worth checking out! 

Overall, the main reason you should visit Hamburg in winter is that it’s a city that comes alive in the dark; the canal and buildings are beautifully lit up and it’s such a calming, warm city to explore! 

Contributed by Alex and Leah from Alex and Leah on tour

16. Zagreb, Croatia in December

Advent in Zagreb is the number one reason to visit Croatia’s capital in December. Did you know that Zagreb’s Christmas market was named the best Christmas Market in Europe for a couple of years in a row? 

As soon as the 1st of December rolls around, the whole city gets a holiday makeover, food stands pop up all over the city, and the fragrant scent of mulled wine permeates the cold air.

Bundle up, and start your Zagreb itinerary from Ban Jelačić square. This central square is known as the local meeting spot. Stroll along Ilica, the longest street in Croatia, to the Funicular leading to the Upper Town. 

Arrive at the Lotrščak tower before noon to witness the Grič canon firing to signify noon, a daily tradition dating to the 19th century!

Plato Gradec offers the best view of the city and the Cathedral. In December, Plato gets a special makeover making it one of the best Christmas market locations.

There is no need to look for restaurants, as most cult Zagreb restaurants will have their stand on the Market, and you can see the food! However, if you want to warm up inside, the History cafe on Tkalča walking street or Noktoruno restaurant are popular local choices! 

Save visiting Zrijevac park for the afternoon. As the night begins to fall, glistening Christmas lights illuminate the trees. The highlight of the Christmas market is the ice rink on King Tomislav square. 

December is a high season in Zagreb, so book your accommodation in advance! Opt for a studio apartment to get the best value for your money.

Contributed by Natali from She’s abroad again

17. Nice in December

Nice, France is a lovely city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and one of the best destinations to visit in Europe in December if you are looking for warm temperatures. 

Its temperate winter climate made it famous as a winter resort town for the English aristocracy.  For that reason, it is honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

There are many wonderful  things to do in Nice .  One must-do activity is to take a stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, Nice’s seven-kilometer pedestrian boardwalk. 

To the south, enjoy the beautiful sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean.  To the north, there are myriad tempting entertainments:  restaurants, bars, museums, fancy hotels, and swanky casinos.

At the easternmost end of the promenade and the beaches, climb to the Parc de la Colline du Château to enjoy fantastic views of the beaches and the sea.  Along the way, you’ll find the #ILoveNice sign, with picture-perfect views of Nice!

Be sure to visit Vieux Nice, the city’s historic center.  Walk along the cobbled streets and do some shopping at the Marché Aux Fleurs Cours Saleya. 

This outdoor market is a great place to find vibrant flowers as well as local produce and specialties.  

You’ll want to sample socca, a local favorite.  Socca is a thin pancake made of chickpea flour, baked, then sliced into strips for snacking – try some at Chez Thérésa. 

For a heartier meal, try La Rossettisserie; this rotisserie-focused restaurant pleases with roasted meats, chicken, and hearty sides.  Note they’re only open for dinner and closed on Sundays, so plan accordingly.       

Stay at the Hôtel Nice Beau Rivage .  This hotel has a great location just a block from the Promenade des Anglais, the public park of Jardin Albert 1er, and the lovely beaches of Nice.

Contributed by Lisa Garrett of Waves and Cobblestones

18. Helsinki in December

There are plenty of reasons to love Helsinki in winter. For starters, the city is beautifully blanketed in snow, making it a picturesque destination for winter wonderland seekers.

And if you’re looking for a festive atmosphere, Helsinki definitely delivers, with its many Christmas markets and holiday events.

But what really makes Helsinki shine in winter is its excellent food and drink scene.

From cozy cafes serving up steaming cups of coffee to  Michelin-starred restaurants  dishing up Nordic delicacies, there’s something for every foodie in Helsinki. 

One of the most unique  things that you can do in Helsinki  in winter is visiting the Allas Sea Pool.

It’s conveniently located in the city center and is quite cheap compared to other attractions in Finland. For just 18€ you can enjoy 3h of pools and saunas.

The main pool is outdoors and it’s heated to 27°C all year round. The pool has a view of the city center and the port, which is really impressive in winter.

You can swim comfortably in your bathing suit in a pool, while there are big ships breaking ice to get to the port just a few meters away.

If you wish to stay right in the city center of Helsinki,  Holiday Inn Helsinki City Centre , an IHG Hotel is the perfect place.

It’s located right next to the train station and is a walking distance away from all of the attractions in the city center, including shops, restaurants, museums, and the seaside.

Contributed by Una from Wandernity

19. Seville in December

One of the best places to visit in December in Europe is the capital city of Andalucia in southern Spain, Seville.

It is not only a wonderful city to visit for its many famous attractions like the Giralda and the Moorish palace Real Alcazar. 

Seville in winter  is magical. The city is dotted with grilled chestnut stands on every corner, and the Christmas lights are giving that warm touch, especially in the evenings.

The streets are full of people no matter where you go, and people are generally in a good holiday mood.

The weather is wonderful with highs up to 18-20 degrees Celsius in the daytime if it is sunny that is.

Nighttime temperatures might go as low as 5 degrees Celsius, however, and even in the shade you will feel a huge temperature difference in the day, so make sure that you dress up in layers that are easy to take off and on again as you meander through one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

Venturing through Maria Louisa Park, taking pictures at the picturesque Plaza de España, and strolling along the Guadalquivir River feeling the sun on your skin is a wonderful feeling when other parts of Europe are cold and grey.

Seville is truly a good choice when looking for a city break in December.

Contributed by Linn Haglund of Amused by Andalucia

20. Tallin in December

Tallin Estonia at Christmas

Tallin in Estonia claims to be the first to display a Christmas tree in public and is therefore among the best places to visit in Europe in December.

Whether they are right or not, setting up the Christmas tree in Tallin’s medieval town hall square remains a yearly tradition along with a lively market.

The festivities in December bring joy to the cold and dark days in Estonia’s capital. 

Tallinn in winter is extremely picturesque. In December the chance is high that the city is covered under a thick blanket of snow.

This makes the cobbled stone streets of the old town even more fairytale-like. If it gets too cold for you there are lots of trendy cafes and delicious restaurants to warm up.

Or you can visit one of the interesting museums. 

If you are not a city person, Tallinn is still a great place to visit in December. The city is surrounded by lots of nature. Even in winter, you can still go hiking in the forests and bogs.

Not far from Tallinn you will find the Jagala waterfall which will freeze in winter and is a spectacular sight. The Viru bog trail is also great in winter when it is a frozen wonderland. 

As you can see there are plenty of reasons to visit Tallinn in the cold and dark days of December. Just make sure you bring enough warm clothes and you have a wonderful time.

21. Lisbon in December

Christmas Lights in Lisbon

Although Portugal may seem more of a summer destination, Lisbon in Winter is kind of special with mild weather that allows you to enjoy roaming around the vibrant city and many things to do indoors in case of rain.

Make sure you go wine tasting, you check out the Mercado de Ribeira for great food, or you attend one of the winter festivals .

But most of all you will enjoy Lisbon’s nightlife with colorful Christmas lights throughout the historic center and on its main squares and avenues.

The Christmas markets at Eduardo VII Park are something not to be missed, with many attractions, local vendors selling typical handicrafts and Christmas foods.

Lisbon’s City Hall also organizes several activities including exhibitions, performances, and cultural programs for the entire family.

The inauguration of the Christmas lights is one of these events and it usually takes place between the last days of November and the beginning of December .

Also don’t miss the dance of the famous “ Nutcracker ” organized by the Belém Cultural Center , among the many Christmas Concerts.

22. Lagos, Algarve, Portugal in December

Ponta de Piedade Lagos Algarve Portugal

Lagos is a great place to visit in December for the winter sun, empty beaches, and nice weather.

After the busy summer season, the town and the beaches get quieter and prices of accommodation and activities decrease significantly.

You don’t have to plan and book your trip months in advance unless you want to spend New Year here. Lagos is famous for its fireworks. Many locals come here for the New Year’s party.

The weather is pleasant . It’s not as hot and dry as during the summer months, but it’s still warm and sunny with little rain.

Daily temperatures are between 15°C and 20°C. Nights are quite chilly though. During the day you can enjoy outdoor activities and beaches and sit in front of a fireplace reading a book at night. 

There are many great things to do in Lagos in December. Surfing is better in winter than in summer.

Porto de Mos Beach and Meia Praia are the two best beaches for surfing in Lagos. Hiking is another great outdoor winter activity.

There are several walking trails and boardwalks around Lagos that offer breathtaking scenery. Relaxing and tanning on the beach is possible in Lagos in December.

Praia Dona Ana, Camilo Beach, and Praia dos Estudantes are pefect for that. 

Unlike in January and February, all restaurants and coffee shops are open in December. For a good cup of coffee head to the Coffee Studio in the Old Town of Lagos .

To get the best views of town go to Mare Restaurant. Marina de Lagos is the best place to come for a drink. Several bars offer live music on weekends.

If you want to stay close to the beach, Belmar Spa and Beach Resort at Porto de Mos Beach is one of the best hotels in Lagos .

If you prefer to stay close to the Old Town and the Marina Lagos Avenida Hotel is a good option.

Contributed by Alya from the Algarve Family

23. Turin, Italy in December

Turin is one of the best places in Europe to visit in December because it combines a city getaway with a sky holiday.

Many people don’t know, but Turin was the first capital city of Italy, which means it has so much history hidden in its streets and palaces that you can stay there for days and only scratch the surface.

And Turin’s strategic location at the feet of the Italian Alps makes it an excellent base for ski day trips to the snow-capped mountains.

That makes it one of the best European destinations for those who love both winter sports and cultural sites

Turin’s royal palace and residences are a must-visit, and the city’s interesting museums will keep you entertained and warm during the cold days. Turin’s food scene is also worth mentioning.

The region of Piedmont (Piemonte) in Northern Italy is world famous for Barolo wine, slow food movement, truffles, chocolates, and mouthwatering dishes like vitello tonnato, agnolotti, pizza al padellino, and many more. 

When you get tired of exploring the old town, the city parks, and neighborhoods filled with incredible buildings and unique architecture, you can go to the mountains.

There are a couple of ski resorts near Turin, most of which can be done as a day trip. In fact, you can go from Turin to Bardonnechia ski town using public transportation.

The ski resorts in Piedmont and Aosta Valley have pistes for beginners to experienced skiers and snowboarders.

Some of them will have a snow park and all the infrastructure you expect from a ski resort (restaurants, cafes, ski rentals, and hotels). 

When planning your trip to Turin, remember that you can fly to Turin International Airport or one of the two airports in Milan , and from there, get a train to Turin.

The train trip takes about 1 hour, and you will arrive at Turin’s central station, which is close to many hotels.

Talking about hotels, here is a guide to the best places to stay in Turin , and I can tell you that Principi di Piemonte and NH Collection Torino Piazza Carlina are two of the best hotels in the city. 

Contributed by Natalie Deduck from The Best of Turin

24. Istanbul  in December

Istambul in December

With its vibrant cafe culture, fantastic food scene, and wide range of indoor attractions that are perfect for when the temperature drops, the picturesque city of Istanbul is the ideal destination for a wallet-friendly December winter holiday. 

One of the major benefits of visiting Istanbul in December is that it is low tourist season, so you can enjoy all of the most popular attractions such as The Hagia Sophia Mosque, The Blue Mosque, and The Topkapı Palace without the crowds.

As all of these attractions are indoors, you don’t have to worry about getting cold or rained on.

There are also plenty of fascinating museums, underground cisterns, massive bazaars, and churches to keep you occupied! 

After a long day of sightseeing, head over to one of the many Turkish baths (hammams) in the city. Having a massage, steambath and scrub is a surefire way to rid you of those winter chills. 

Winter is also the perfect time to try out unique Turkish winter foods and explore Istanbul’s incredible cafe scene. Istanbul is a city filled with cafe lovers and you’ll find cozy and quirky cafes everywhere you look.

Pop into one that takes your fancy and order schlep, a warming traditional winter drink that’s the perfect antidote to the chilly weather.

Made from milk, orchid root flour, cinnamon, and sugar, it’s rich, creamy, and filling. Murat Muhallebicisi in Karaköy sells particularly good sahlep.

Another famous winter beverage is boza, a cold drink made from fermented grains and topped with roasted chickpeas and cinnamon.

The best place to try this is at Vefa Bozacısı, a historic shop that has been making boza since 1876. In winter the queues are out of the door! 

Winter is also the cheapest time to visit the city: flights to Istanbul and city tours are much more affordable at this time of year.

There is a wide range of places to stay in Istanbul and in winter many hotels and apartments offer major discounts.

Louis Appartements in the historic Galata area offers cozy and comfortable rooms and a terrace with great views of the Galata Tower. 

Contributed by Sasha from Mog and Dog Travels

25. Barcelona in December

Dragon Statue at Park Guell

Barcelona is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year, but it can get very busy.  If you  visit Barcelona in winter  you will be able to experience this incredible city when it is relatively quiet.  

From the end of November to early January, the streets are filled with colorful decorations, and Christmas Markets appear around the city, selling Catalan Christmas decorations and souvenirs, bringing festive cheer to the city.  

Barcelona’s climate means it stays relatively warm throughout the winter months with an average high of 59F/15°C and low of 28.2F/9°C in December, and a little colder in January.

While it can rain, it’s more likely you’ll get to enjoy some sunny weather – even if it is cold, a walk along the beach is still guaranteed to bring a smile to your face!

You still should plan to book tickets in advance for the top attractions in Barcelona, such as Gaudí’s stunning Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, and a tour of Camp Nou and the FC Barcelona Museum. 

Barcelona has plenty more fabulous museums if the weather is poor, but when it is dry and sunny you can explore on foot.  

The Bunkers at El Carmel have incredible views of the city and the Mediterranean beyond and are worth the walk (or bus journey) to get up there.  

As for eating, the best way to warm up in poor weather is with a cup of thick hot chocolate and  churro  doughnuts from Granja Dulcinea on Carrer Petrixol. 

For great value traditional Catalan food, head to Taverna el Glop in Gracia, or hit the bars on Carrer del Blai in Poble Sec for a tapas crawl.

If you’re on a budget Chic and Basic Born is a good value choice, or try the H10 Madison hotel, with a roof terrace overlooking the Gothic Cathedral.

Contributed by Claire from Why Visit Barcelona

26. Vienna, Austria in December

Vienna Christmas Market

Vienna is a wonderful destination throughout the whole year, but December is one of, if not the most magical month to visit the Austrian capital.

This time is marked by Christmas markets, mulled wine, and fairytale decorations all around. 

When saying “all round”, this is actually serious – there are over 15 Christmas markets in Vienna in December , scattered around the city.

If you’re spending a short few days here, seeing even one or two of them is enough to admire the festive atmosphere and delicious traditional snacks and drinks. 

The most beautiful and recommendable Christmas markets are the one in front of the Rathaus (City Hall), the one in front of Karlskirche, and the one in front of Schönbrunn Palace. 

When in Vienna, one must also try some traditional food like Viennese schnitzel or Sacher cake. One of the best places for a traditional schnitzel, which won’t break the bank, is the Reinthaler – a small local restaurant, right in the heart of Vienna. 

Another must-do thing in Vienna, and especially appropriate for the cold weather, is to visit the Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere Palace – two of the city’s biggest attractions. 

The Schönbrunn Palace served as the Habsburg’s summer residence and one can still see the wonderful interior which has been preserved.

Belvedere Palace has been turned into an art museum, where one can see the famous painting by Gustav Klimt – The Kiss. 

A recommendable hotel in Vienna is The Leo Grand, which is located right in the heart of the city. 

Contributed by Lyubomira from Bulgarian On The Go

27. Gdansk in December

Gdansk in WInter

One of the best places to visit in December in Europe is the quaint Polish city of Gdansk.

During the Second World War, the city got completely bombed, in fact, point zero of the war was in Gdansk and is now a memorial site worth visiting, Westerplatte.

But there are many wonderful  things to do in Gdansk  as the city was rebuilt and a few of the attractions, like Neptune’s fountain, were hidden during the war and the original set up again.

This, like many other attractions, is set on the Royal Way, where pastel houses line the road where kings once entered the city, welcomed by the entire population.

Gdansk in December can be snow-capped or not, but no matter what, you will have the opportunity to try numerous Polish hot drinks that are so popular in the winter months, like hot beer with fruit.

Yes, it is not for everyone. If it is not for you, hot chocolate can never go wrong, especially after a swirl at the city’s skate rink.

The Christmas markets in Gdansk are also worth visiting and there are many typical Polish Christmas treats to be tested.

Stay centrally at the Celestin Residence to have walking distance to all the main attractions.

Contributed by Linn Haglund from Brainy Backpackers

28. Copenhagen in December

Copenaghen

The birthplace of hygge, winter in Copenhagen is a cozy affair. Cafes and restaurants deck out their outdoor terraces with heating, sheepskin rugs, and blankets, so eating al fresco is a delight all year round.

Stores invite you in with their tempting window displays and approaching Christmas, the entire city has a distinctively festive feel. Head along to the Tivoli Gardens for a fun day out for all ages, with rides, markets, and shimmering Xmas trees to delight all.

For more low-key entertainment, seek out one of the city’s ice skating rinks for family fun on the ice. Afterward, spas and saunas await to thaw out frosty bones.

The many and varied  Christmas mark e ts in Copenhagen  are an attraction in themselves, with homemade trinkets, delightful decorations, and warming food & drink taking center stage.

And if you’re lucky enough to time your visit right, you’ll be able to witness the annual Saint Lucia Kayak Parade where hundreds of decorated kayaks float through the city’s canals.

Copenhagen often experiences snowfall in December too, so you may be lucky enough to do all this sightseeing within a magical snowy scene.

When it’s time to find sustenance, you can’t beat the cakes at Sek’s bakery for an afternoon pick me up, and for an after-dinner tipple, Den Vandrette is the spot to be.

At the end of the day, rest your head at the centrally located Nimb Hotel.

Contributed by Nadine Maffre from Le Long Weekend

29. Brussels in December

Brussel

Are you looking for a great European Christmas vibe? While most people flock to Germany to visit the many Christmas markets, Brussels is a great alternative to travel to in December.

Aside from the regular things to see and do in Brussels, like visiting the Atomium and “Manneke Pis”, the city is turned into a winter wonderland that you will surely enjoy for a couple of days.

During the day, head to Brussel’s famous Christmas market. You can find around 225 chalet-style Christmas stalls covering the streets around La Bourse all the way up to Place Sainte Catherine.

Here you can enjoy mulled wine and Belgian chocolate, and try out Bûche de Noël, a traditional Belgian dessert you can find at every family’s Christmas table.

As for another great December activity, Winterpop is a small pop-up winter show held on the first three weekends of December.

Here you can enjoy small concerts, Brass bands, acrobatics, performances, and art. It is held at different locations around Brussels every year so keep an eye out on their website  Winterpop .

In the evenings you can take a stroll through the city to enjoy the  Brussels by Light  festival, which gives the city a magical touch.

Hungry? Try out some traditional Belgian cuisine at places like Viva M’Boma, Au Vieux Spijtigen Duivel, and Fin de Siècle, or try one of the many lovely  vegan restaurants in Brussels .

A beer lover? Don’t forget to visit De Monk, a typical brown café with a large selection of Belgian beers.

One of the best places to stay in Brussels, especially in the wintertime, is Jardin’s secret.

Not only are the rooms and staff fabulous here but the hotel has a heated outside pool that is open during the winter.

Contributed by Annelies from Travelers & Dreamers

30. Bolzano, Italy in December

If you’ve always wanted to visit Italy in December but didn’t think you’d find the European charm of other countries, consider a trip to Bolzano for the  Mercatini Bolzano , Italy’s largest Christmas market.

Beginning at the end of November, there are several small Christmas markets scattered around the city to enjoy.

But the largest of all is located in Piazza Walther, a sprawling square surrounded by grand European-style architecture and crowned by the Assumption of Our Lady Cathedral, Bolzano’s main landmark.

But besides being known for its holiday market, Bolzano in December is full of charm for holiday shoppers and winter activities for snow lovers.

You can spend all day ducking in and out of shops in between bites of local food and steaming cups of hot chocolate.

Peter Patisserie  is a perfect stop for your sweet tooth indulgence. Known for their cakes and pastries, you’ll find their cafe just steps from the main square.

For traditional Tyrolean food, the bright yellow facade of Hopfen & Co.beckons you in from the cold for hearty fare and a warm lively alpine atmosphere.

There are decent ski runs just outside the city, but powder hounds should head to the nearby Dolomites or Ortler ski areas for more challenging slopes.

At the end of the day, the  Hotel Grief  is a perfect place to lay your head and has an ideal view overlooking the Christmas market.

Contributed by Lori from Travlinmad

31. Krakow, Poland in December

trips to europe in december

While Krakow, the second-largest city in Poland, is worth visiting all year long, there is just something magical about being there in December.

Not only the place is decorated for Christmas and you can attend the Christmas market on the Main Square but you can also join some unique Christmas activities, such as the annual Krakow Nativity Scene Contest.

The local tradition of creating spectacular, multi-story, handmade nativity scenes dates back to the 19th century.

The first contest for the most beautiful nativity scene took place in 1937 and it was a way to keep the tradition going.

The contest takes place on the first Thursday of December but afterward, you can admire the incredible works throughout the whole month in one of the city’s locations (recently it was Krzysztofory Palace).

December is also a good time to do some sightseeing as the city isn’t so packed with tourists and you can freely enjoy all the amazing  things to do in Krakow .

And since days are shorter then you can spend the afternoons checking numerous cafes and restaurants Krakow is known for – you will find most of them in the former Jewish district of Kazimierz.

Since Krakow is a popular destination, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, for each taste.

The best areas to stay in Krakow are either the Old Town or Kazimierz. 

Contributed by Kami from Kami and the Rest of the World

32. Hallstatt in December

hallstatt

If you like picturesque destinations with serene lake views, pristine mountains, and traditional architecture, you’ll fall in love with Hallstatt in Austria.

Located a little over an hour from Salzburg, it is a quaint and lesser-known destination that looks like a winter wonderland in December.

One of the  best things to do in Hallstatt  is to stroll along the lakefront, covering the entire length of the village to get your bearings.

Being a small village, you can visit most places in Hallstatt on foot and stumble across many viewpoints on your way.

Both Aussichtspunkt Hallstatt and Badestrand are postcard perfect.

Another place to not miss in Hallstatt is Salzwelten Altaussee, the oldest working salt mine in the country. You can spend your afternoon taking a tour and learning about the history of salt production in Hallstatt.

Besides, there is also a treasure chamber, chapel, and an underground lake to see when there.

Lastly, take a cable car to Dachstein Krippenstein for the Five Fingers Viewing Platform.

You will need to hike for roughly 20 minutes to get to the platform from the cable car station, but the unobstructed view of Hallstatt, the lake, and the surrounding alps is so worth it.

Although many people visit Hallstatt for a day trip, staying there for a night or two is a must.

The Seehotel Grüner Baum and Heritage Hotel Hallstatt , located close to each other, are both beautiful lakefront properties. For dining, Zum Salzbaron at Seehotel Grüner Baum is a good choice, with delicious food and seating overlooking Hallstätter See.

The nearby Café Derbl and Simple 169 are also worth checking out.

Contributed by Charu from Travel with CG

The Best places to visit in Europe in December: final thoughts

If you are reading this it means that you found this post on the 31 Best places to visit in Europe in December interesting. I also hope you found some inspiration for your next winter vacation in Europe.

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Wanderlust Storytellers – An Inspirational Family Travel Blog

25 Best European Cities to Visit in December

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Home » 25 Best European Cities to Visit in December

Visiting Europe in the winter may not be on the top of your travel destination list, but many of the cities listed here are full of festive cheer, from the sparkling nights that light up the streets to the many Christmas markets that run over the December months.

Add the winter weather and many options to keep warm, like Gluhwein (mulled wine) from Germany to velvety thick hot chocolate in Italy, and you feel like you are in a Winter Wonderland!

To ensure we had the best destinations on our list, we reached out to other travel bloggers to find out which city is their favorite during December.

Make sure to check out our post on the best cities for weekend trips in Europe for a quick weekend trip!

Here is Our List of the Best European Cities to Visit in December

To help you make sure that you experience a magical time this December, we put together a full list of the best European cities to visit in winter.

If you have more than a few days for your trip to Europe in December, why not visit more than one of these cities – or maybe even try out a cruise that stops at some of these festive destinations?

Okay, let’s get straight into it shall we?

1. Barcelona, Spain

– Recommended by Carley from Home to Havana –

Barcelona - Home to Havana

With its enviable position along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona never gets too chilly or wet, making it the perfect city in Europe to visit in December if you are after warmer weather.

Not only is it a great time to visit weather-wise, but it is also one of the cheapest months to visit Barcelona.

During December, you can also see many fun markets and festive activities dedicated to celebrations such as Christmas, Carnival, and New Year’s Eve.

Visitors will enjoy strolling the sunny streets of the Gothic Quarter and El Born neighborhoods and making the most of a city with markedly fewer tourists while enjoying pleasant weather in this highly walkable city. 

Start your  Barcelona itinerary  from Park Guell or Castell Montjuic, both of which will give you enviable views of the entire city and the sea in the distance while still easily accessible from the rest of the city.

You’ll be able to take in some of the biggest attractions in Barcelona without being overwhelmed by the onslaught of visitors in the summer. However, it would be best if you still planned on booking tickets ahead for the most well-known sites like Sagrada Familia. 

December is also the perfect time to enjoy a tapas crawl to some of the best tapas restaurants in the city. Many are spread throughout the El Born neighborhood and are easily walkable in just one evening.

Try the warm dishes like patatas bravas, bombas, and fried seafood, and finish the evening with churros and hot chocolate. Though churros are generally a breakfast dish in Spain, who could think of a better way to end a brisk Barcelona evening?

If you are traveling with kids, you can also find some additional ideas of what to include in your itinerary on our Spain with kids blog post.

2. Berlin, Germany

– Recommended by Wanderlust Storytellers –

Berlin Germany in December

Berlin is the place to be and arguably the most fascinating and diverse capital city in Europe. People flock there not only for its unrivaled party scene but also to experience and learn more about its troubled past.

December is a perfect time to visit Berlin as the city comes alive with festive joy, from Christmas markets, beautifully decorated Christmas trees, and yummy mulled wine.

Some of our favorite Christmas markets to visit is at:

  • Alexanderplatz
  • Gendarmenmarkt; and
  • Potsdammer Platz

Besides festive activities, there are heaps of other fabulous things to do in the city. If you aren’t afraid of heights and are ready to see Berlin from above, head up into the sky in the Weltballon (World Balloon).

If you’d rather be on dry land, then a trip to Tempelhofer Feld (Tempelhof field) is a must. Located on the edge of the inner-city ring, it used to be an operating airport until it closed in 2012. Now the landing strips and the rest has been turned into a haven for city dwellers and wildlife. It’s the perfect place to get sporty.

Locals, young and old, like to go cycling, rollerblading, and wind skating, yes, you read that correctly. There’s even a skate park and a mini-golf area.

If it’s raining outside, heading to one of Berlin’s many museums is a fantastic idea. If you are traveling to Berlin with kids , that are majorly into dinosaurs, then the  Naturkunde Museum  (Natural History Museum) is the place to be.

There is a life-size dinosaur skeleton in the museum’s great hall and many interactive zones throughout; your kids will have fun for hours, and you will also.

Another great interactive museum is the Technik Museum (Technology Museum). This houses life-sized boats and planes in its interior and has trains you can explore on the grounds.

Berlin is a very green city with a whole host of parks to explore, and don’t worry, the kids will also be entertained on one of the 1850 playgrounds strewn across the city. It also has around 1000 ping pong tables that anyone can use, so don’t forget to pack your ping pong bats; older kids will love it.

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

– Recommended by Sam and Natalia from Something of Freedom –

Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh is truly a magical place to visit in December, with Christmas lights illuminating the city as you walk down the streets.

The city is home to a large Christmas market at the East Princes Street Gardens, where you’ll find plenty of festive cheer. There are a variety of Scottish and German food stalls, Santa’s Grotto, an ice rink by George Street, and much more! 

Another great spot to visit is the city’s botanic gardens, decorated with Christmas lights. Displays vary yearly, with previous displays including a Winter Light Trail, Laser Garden, Christmas Cathedral, and more!

Many events in the city make it a great place to visit in December, so you’ll have plenty of things to do during  a day in Edinburgh.  With so much going on, it’s the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit!

As well as all of the above, another great thing about visiting Edinburgh in December is that it’s outside the main tourist season. This means it’s not as crowded as during the peak summer months, although the Christmas market does mean there are still some other tourists. 

If you happen to be in the city on New Year’s Eve, don’t miss the amazing fireworks display at Edinburgh Castle to kick off the Hogmanay celebrations.

4. Bern, Switzerland

– Recommended by Daria from The Discovery Nut –

Bern Switzerland in December

The capital of Switzerland, Bern, is a cozy town with cobbled-stone streets and medieval architecture. Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Switzerland’s best places to visit .

Traveling in December to Switzerland is a great time to visit Bern thanks to its proximity to the Bernese Oberland, one of the country’s top destinations for winter sports.

Many winter sports events occur in the region, with many snowboarders, skiers, and mountain climbers coming here. The area has close to 350 cross-country skiing trails and many alpine villages like Murren, where you can see traditional Swiss architecture. 

Even if you don’t ski or snowboard, you can still try winter hiking and snowshoeing, which make for fun winter activities.

Here are a few ideas of what to see in Bern before heading to the mountains. 

Walk around Old Town Bern to explore its architecture or take a walking tour with one of the local guides to learn about Bern’s history and visit some of the highlights like the Zytglogge clock tower.

If you don’t feel like driving to the mountains, you can also arrange a helicopter tour to the Swiss Alps to enjoy the incredible view of one of the most prettiest cities in Switzerland and scenic places in Europe.

5. Paris, Fance

– Recommended by Gabriel Glasier of  Chef Travel Guide –

Paris France in December

December is one of the most magical times to visit Paris as the hoards of tourists have left and a sense of peace and tranquility takes over the city’s bustling markets and famous landmarks.

Christmas lights get strung across Paris, making the city of lights even more brilliant.

If you want to experience a completely different side of Paris, this is the perfect time to visit the city while the streets are quiet and the city is dressed up for the season. 

There are so many things to do in December, including visiting one of the many Christmas markets around the city of Paris, like the Village de Noël at the base of the Eiffel Tower.

You can also shop for chocolates and sweet treats at Galeries Lafayette Gourmets, which has stalls from the best chocolate makers, pastry chefs, and confectioners in Paris. 

A highlight of any trip to Paris in December is walking the Avenue des Champs Elysées, lit up with millions of lights with the stunning backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe.

If you are looking for something to do that is less holiday-focused, you can check out one of the city’s famous museums, including the Musée du Louvre, when there is no line, and you relax and enjoy the exhibits. 

You may even get lucky, and Paris could be blanketed with a thin layer of snow, making visiting in December more memorable.

Further Reading:

  • Find the best family hotels in Paris here.
  • Read our Paris with a baby travel guide here.

6. Prague, Czech Republic

– Recommended by Veronika from Travel Geekery –

Prague in December

Prague in December  just screams the Christmas atmosphere. The whole city dresses in festive colors, lights hang above the streets, and shops are filled with people.

For a visitor like yourself, it’s just the most magical time to visit and the most beautiful European cities to visit in December!

Prague’s Christmas markets are the main draw. The large Christmas market at the Old Town Square is where most of the action is, sometimes a little too much. Avoid special ceremonies such as the first lighting of the Christmas tree if you don’t like crowds. 

Luckily, Prague features many other more intimate markets and scores even higher on the Christmas atmosphere. One such market takes place at the Prague Castle grounds. If you visit later in the day, say after 4 pm, you can wander around without the crowds.

Náměstí míru in the Vinohrady district houses another charming Christmas market, popular among ex-pats and Czechs alike.

Whichever Christmas market you pick, you’ll be able to warm yourself up with mulled wine and mead, sausages and other grilled meat, and sweet treats such as the famous chimney cake Trdlo.

If you enjoy winter activities, you can ice skate in town too. The most central ice skating rink can be found at the Ovocný trh Square, just a few steps away from Old Town Square.

Of course, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants to hang out at once your body temperature drops. You can choose from a traditional style or go for a more modern café with all the modern ways of preparing coffee.

If you go to one of the restaurants of the Lokál chain, you’ll be able to taste some traditional Czech food at high quality and reasonable price.

7. Gothenburg, Sweden

– Recommended by Hannah from That Adventurer –

Gothenburg Sweden in December

Gothenburg in southern Sweden is the perfect city break in Europe in December.

From fika and mys (a Swedish tradition about taking time to slow down, relax, and eat delicious food), to a wintery trip to the archipelago and one of Europe’s best Christmas markets, Gothenburg has everything you need for a fun December trip.

The main reason to visit Gothenburg in December is for the  Gothenburg Christmas Market ! The market is held in Liseberg Amusement Park and is the perfect blend of Christmas festivities and a theme park.

The Christmas market isn’t full of stalls selling cheap look decorations. Instead, it’s full of snow, ice skating, glogg (a Swedish mulled wine), Father Christmas and the elves from his workshop, arcades, rides, hot chocolates, and Christmas carols blaring from the speakers across Liseberg amusement park.

It’s super fun and will get even the biggest scrouges in the festive spirit! 

Further, there’s no better time than winter to experience fika in Sweden by enjoying some cafe hopping. Some of the best cafes with cozy vibes include A43 Coffee, Alkemisten, Tony’s Coffee Bar, and Cafe Sirius. 

When the sun is shining in December in Gothenburg, heading out to the southern archipelago is a fantastic day trip. The Gothenburg archipelago is made up of more than 20 islands.

There are charming fishing villages, beautiful nature and beaches, seals, fishing, and more, all a short ferry ride from the city.

8. Strasbourg, France

– Recommended by Sydney from A World in Reach –

Strasbourg France in December

If you’re planning a trip to Europe in December, consider a stop in Strasbourg, France. This Alsatian city claims itself as the capital of Christmas and transforms into a magical Christmas wonderland during the holiday months.

When visiting Strasbourg in December , the highlight of your trip will be experiencing the Christmas markets. Strasbourg is home to France’s oldest markets, and there isn’t just one – the markets are scattered across the city.

More than 300 stalls in the city’s prettiest squares and surrounding its magnificent cathedral will be found. The city’s streets are decked out in bright Christmas lights, and you’ll find Christmas trees around every corner.

If you have a few days to spend in Strasbourg, you should plan to experience more than just the Christmas festivities.

Check out the Strasbourg Cathedral, home to an incredible astronomical clock. Wander around the city’s historical center, La Petite France, and admire the quaint cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. 

Since the Alsace is one of France’s best wine regions, make sure to spend an evening hanging out at a wine bar. Black & Wine is a great wine bar to sample Alsatian Wine, and the attached Hotel Hannong is the perfect place to stay in Strasbourg.

Lastly, don’t forget to include some day trips in your itinerary. There are some gorgeous towns to explore close by! Our post on the best Alsace villages will help you pick the ones that tickle your interest the most!

9. Bruges, Belgium

– Recommended by Sarah from Cosmopoliclan –

CosmopoliClan - Bruges Christmas

Bruges is known for being one of the most romantic cities in the world. In December, this medieval gem transforms into a winter wonderland and looks even more postcard-pretty. 

Although chances are slim that the enchanting decor of gingerbread houses and cobbled streets will be covered in snow, the city sure looks more atmospheric than any other time of the year.

That’s because visiting Bruges in December allows you to experience the Christmas market. With decorated trees, twinkling lights, handmade winter gifts, an intriguing light and experience trail, and the magically lit ice-skating rink at Minnemeers, Bruges sure knows how to wow its visitors.

Not only is celebrating Christmas in Bruges a truly unique experience, but it’s also a mouth-watering one. From chocolate-topped Belgian waffles to spicy speculoos biscuits and from one-of-a-kind Belgian Christmas beers to heart-warming mulled wine, the number of food options is downright dazzling.

Admire the festivities at Grote Markt from the top of the Belfry or snuggle up under a blanket on a horse-drawn carriage as you discover the city’s most interesting sights and monuments.

Conclude your visit to the  Bruges Christmas market  in one of the chocolate boutiques that line the elegant streets: the lavishly decorated end-of-year gift boxes are just as irresistible as the pralines inside

10. Budapest, Hungary

– Recommended by Trijit from Budget Travel Buff –

Budapest in December

Budapest in December offers more winter charm than most places on the globe. Although it is chilly and snowy in the Hungarian capital, the city is also in a joyful mood.

Budapest has many festive activities in December, including enchanting winter markets, warm thermal baths, and fun Christmas celebrations. Hungary is one of the  most affordable countries in Europe .

If you plan to celebrate your Christmas without breaking your bank, Budapest is the city for you. The city’s numerous bridges, tall churches, and imposing Parliament building are frequently covered in a light dusting of snow throughout the month, further enhancing the festive spirit permeating the streets.

While traveling to Hungary in the winter, you must visit Budapest’s Christmas markets. The biggest holiday market in the city is located on Vörösmarty Square. Get lost among the countless twinkling Christmas lights, sip mulled wine while browsing the wares, and enjoy the renowned poppy seed strudel or chimney cake.

The beautiful Christmas lights and decorations surrounding Budapest’s main streets are among the city’s most breathtaking sights in December. Explore the shops and streetlights along Deák Ferenc Street and Andrássy Avenue, decorated with sparkling fairy lights and art.

The public bathhouses in Budapest, with their naturally spring-fed water rich in calcium, magnesium, and fluoride, are among the most well-liked tourist attractions. The Szechenyi Baths are the most popular with both visitors and residents. It has three outdoor heated pools and a collection of lovely yellow buildings.

Budapest is a fantastic destination for foodies. Hold Utcai Piac is the place to go if you’re seeking cheese, cold cuts, fish dishes, or eateries serving traditional or unusual cuisine.

11. Salzburg, Austria

– Recommended by Paul from Paulmarina-

Salzburg in December

Salzburg is a dreamy place in the Austrian alps. The city is known to be the birthplace of Mozart. Today, you will find that the city offers a lot more for lovers of culture and art.

Especially December is one of the most romantic times to be in Salzburg. Imagine Christmas lights adorning alleys surrounded by baroque architecture and snowflakes falling over the Christmas market in the city center.

You are holding a hot cup of spiced mulled wine in your hands, taking in the sweet melody and aromas of the advent period. The castle on the hill looks magical too, and you can get a wonderful view of the city from Abbey hill.

A horse carriage ride with your family will surely be one of your trip’s highlights. Afterward, you warm up in a heated Restaurant “Stube” (room) with a spiced goulash soup and some Austrian wine.

Salzburg makes for a great base if you love winter sports. You will find plenty of skiing slopes nearby.

The city even sets up an ice skating area in the city center, and you can skate in the city with snowflakes and dimmed warm light creating a special, memorable atmosphere.

Lastly, there are plenty of magical destinations to visit on a day trip from Salzburg , so make sure to add some of those to your itinerary.

Discover Salzburg city if this is where you want to be this coming winter.

12. Helsinki, Finland

– Recommended by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler –

Helsinki in December

One of the best places to visit in December in Europe is Helsinki. Travelers often overlook the capital city of Finland because of its smaller nature. Home to only about 600,000 people, the city is small compared to other cities like London or Paris. 

The size of the city makes it perfect for exploring. The city is compact and walkable. Since you’re visiting in December, be sure to bring snow-friendly shoes.

Our favorite thing in December is visiting the oldest and most popular Christmas Market at Senate Square. The Christmas market typically runs until 22 December. There, you can purchase a variety of quality Finnish crafts and gifts and try various traditional foods.

Since it snows a lot in Finland, they compact the snow on the ground instead of icing and clearing it. If you wear shoes with treads, like hiking boots, walking on the snow is fine. There are also plenty of cafes and small shops worth popping into if you’re cold.

You can always enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna as well. Sauna is an integral part of Finland’s culture. There are public saunas like Loyly available for visitors to use. 

While the daylight is limited, there are plenty of ways to spend  one day in Helsinki . One of the best things to do in the winter is to catch both sunrise and sunset!

The sunrises around 9 AM and sets around 3:30 PM, making it easy to catch some incredible views.

Head to Cafe Regatta for a hot chocolate, freshly baked pastry, and a gorgeous view!

Enjoy the cozy atmosphere of the city, decorated in warm Christmas lights glistening off the snow. You won’t be disappointed if you enjoy the quaint city of Helsinki in December.

13. Vienna, Austria

– Recommended by Lyubomira from Bulgarian On The Go –

Vienna-christmas-markets Bulgarian On The Go

Christmas markets. Mulled wine. Ice skating wonderland. These are just three of the things that make Vienna one of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

The Austrian capital may be among the best cities to visit a Christmas market, simply because there are more than 15 of them. 

The most beautiful  Christmas markets in Vienna  are the one in front of the Rathaus (City Hall), the one in front of Karlskirche, and the one in front of Schönbrunn Palace. Be sure to try the mulled wine or some punch and taste some of the delicious food being offered. 

Visiting the Viennese palaces is a great way to warm yourself up in this cold December weather.

No matter the season, the Schönbrunn Palace and the Belvedere Palace always welcome visitors. With its preserved interior and exterior, Schönbrunn will take you back to when the Habsburgs were in rule, and this palace served as their summer residence.

Belvedere, on the other hand, has been turned into an art museum. This is where you can see the infamous painting by Gustav Klimt – The Kiss. 

Another great thing to do during the wintertime in Vienna is to enjoy its rich museums. Whether you’re interested in history, art, music, or nature – there’s something for everybody.

And last but not least – there’s nothing better to end the day than having a glass of punch on a terrace overlooking the city of Vienna.

One can visit a few Christmas punch terraces from mid-November till the end of December, such as The Ritz Carlton, Palais Coburg, Klyo Punch Terrace, and Hotel Lamee. 

14. Talinn, Estonia

– Recommended by Alex from Just Go Exploring –

Talinn at Christmas

Visiting the old city of Tallinn  feels like stepping into a fairytale. Estonia’s medieval capital is a stunning destination year-round; however, in December, the city feels particularly magical.

Tallinn’s central Town Hall Square, in the heart of the Old Town, is the focal point for the city’s famous Christmas celebrations. These are steeped in traditions that go back hundreds of years.

Every December, this large medieval market square is transformed into one of Europe’s best (and most traditional) Christmas markets. Traders come from all over Estonia and the wider Baltic region to sell handmade gifts, including Christmas decorations, ornaments, candles, knitwear, cookies, and mulled wine. 

It’s a perfect place to pick up a unique present for friends and family back home.

The square is decorated with thousands of lights and an enormous Christmas tree. Tallinn’s residents claim that their city invented the tradition of placing a Christmas tree in its central square and that the city has done so every year since 1441!

Tallinn’s best views can be enjoyed from the city’s defensive walls, which encircle the Old Town and are among the largest and strongest in the world. Also, don’t miss the iconic viewpoint from the top of Toompea Hill.

The city’s beautiful old buildings, picturesque cobbled backstreets, cozy warming cafes, and ornate castle towers and turrets – all covered in a thick blanket of snow – give December in Tallinn timeless magic that you will remember forever.

15. Amsterdam, Netherlands

– Recommended by Dymphe from Dymabroad –

Amsterdam in December

One of the best European cities to visit in December is the city of Amsterdam. This is the capital of the Netherlands, which is known for its canals, architecture, art, and nightlife.

In December there is a lot to do and see in the city. A great thing to do is to explore the Christmas markets of the city. You can find these at various places in the city, such as Rembrandt Square and Museum Square.

You can have delicious foods at the Christmas markets, including the famous Dutch snack “oliebollen”, and shop for various items, including Christmas gifts.

Another great activity during December is going to the Amsterdam Light Festival. This is an event that takes place throughout the city, and it features light displays.

For example, beautiful light displays at the canals and some of the city’s sights can be seen. You can see these light artworks for free by walking in the city at night.

Also, doing a canal cruise is great in December. Especially when it is snowing outside, the picturesque canal houses in Amsterdam are wonderful to see.

Another fun activity is to go ice skating in the city. In December, you can find several ice rinks in Amsterdam, such as a large ice rink in front of the Rijksmuseum.

  • Things to do in Amsterdam with kids

16. Copenhagen, Denmark

– Recommended by Charu from Travel with CG –

Copenhagen, Denmark, boats on the river, buildings, people

Denmark is one of the  best family cities to visit in Europe with kids , and Copenhagen is a wonderful destination in December.

Home to the concept of hygge, countless twinkling lights, and charming Christmas markets, it is a destination that feels like an enchanting winter wonderland come December. One of the best things to do during Christmas in Copenhagen is to wander around its winding cobblestone lanes. Kronprinsensgade off Købmagergade gets a makeover with a canopy of twinkly lights and is a must-visit in the city center. Besides, there are Christmas markets on nearly every corner offering all the holiday spirit and joy. Tivoli Gardens, the city’s largest amusement park, is another unmissable spot in December. Although it is a landmark that is enjoyable throughout the year, over half a million lights, festive stalls, and decor make it all the more special. D’Angleterre Hotel, with its gigantic advent calendar in the heart of the city, is another highlight during this time of the year. Since Copenhagen can get cold in December, make sure you stop and savor Gløgg, the Danish version of mulled wine, at any of the markets. Nyhavn, the colorful harbor of the city, is particularly lovely, with stalls lined up on both sides of the canal. Another Danish Christmas treat to try is æbleskiver. Lastly, if visiting Copenhagen during the first half of December, coincide your trip with Saint Lucia Day. Unlike traditional celebrations, the city of Copenhagen gives this parade a twist as several illuminated kayaks float through the canals. Witnessing them paddle through the Christmas markets is truly surreal!

17. Venice, Italy

– Recommended by Lucy from Lucy Lives Here –

best family holiday destinations in december in Venice, Italy

Why visit Venice in December ? The biggest reason is the lack of crowds. Hundreds of thousands of tourists spill into the streets of Venice during the summer months. In winter, the crowds are gone, and everything feels way more magical.    

Venice also looks beautiful in the winter. Not only will you fall in love with the gorgeous canals, but now you will see them lit up with Christmas decorations.

The cold temperature is also a great reason to visit the oldest coffee shop in Venice, Cafe Florian. Everyone from Charles Dickens to Lord Byron has dined here, showing how old this city is! 

Order the hot chocolate. Expect rich, smooth, molten chocolate served from the daintiest cup and saucer, which perfectly complements the sophisticated, shabby chic interior. This is a little bit of old-fashioned decadence you can’t miss!  

If you head to Venice for Christmas, why not extend your trip and stay till New Year’s Eve, where you can experience a magical celebration with fireworks to say goodbye to the year?

18. Reykjavik, Iceland

Northern Lights - Bucket-List Adventures with Poseidon Expeditions

Reykjavik is often overlooked when deciding where to travel for a European City break in December. However, the city of Reykjavik is breathtakingly beautiful, and if you bundle up, you can enjoy the Northern Lights, geothermal hot springs, and fascinating history without the fuss!

Boasting surreal landscapes and fascinating natural phenomena like the Northern Lights in Iceland, you will surely have a memorable trip.

With Iceland’s location at the top of the world, the country has become the best spot to view the full wonder of the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights are a beautiful sight in the sky at night. When viewing them at night, they seem to be pure magic. They are largely seen from September to April, so visiting in December is a good time if the Northern Lights are top of your list of things to do and see.

The best way to experience the Northern Lights is on tour, where the experts will know what to look for and when to expect it. The most popular tour is the Northern Lights Bus Tour from Reykjavik. 

19. Krakow, Poland

– Recommended by Kami from My Wanderlust –

Krakow in December

Krakow, the second-largest city in Poland, is a perfect destination for winter holidays. While it is pretty awesome all year long, December is a special month when it’s worth visiting Krakow.

Besides all the usual  things to do in Krakow  that you can enjoy, that’s when the city offers some unique Christmas activities, like the annual Krakow Nativity Scene Contest.

The local tradition of creating spectacular, multi-story, handmade nativity scenes dates back to the 19th century but to save the tradition, in 1937, the first contest for the most beautiful nativity scene took place.

Ever since each year in December, the contest takes place, and that’s where you can see the most spectacular Christmas creations. The contest takes place on the first Thursday of December, but afterward, you can admire the works throughout the month in one of the city’s locations (recently, it was Krzysztofory Palace).

Besides the contest, December brings the Christmas market to the Main Square of Krakow. You can do some unique shopping there, try local food, get warm with mulled wine and, of course, enjoy the jolly atmosphere.

The whole city is decorated with Christmas lights and decorations that make the city looks magical. Strolling around the charming Old Town in the winter evening is a wonderful experience. 

When you have enjoyed all the Christmas activities there are some wonderful day trips from Krakow that you can do to make the most of your time in this city.

20. London, England

– Recommended by Claire from Tales of a Backpacker –

London in December

London is a fabulous city to visit in December, and  visiting London in the winter  is a completely different experience from the warmer summer months.

For a start, it is quieter, which is a good thing!  The cold and generally wet weather puts off many tourists. However, the Christmas period is wonderful, with many gorgeous Christmas decorations around the city.

Shops and entire streets are in full-on Christmas mode, with colorful lights and intricate displays that are a spectacle in themselves. 

For more Christmas fun, head to London Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which has fairground rides and a Christmas market.

If you want to do some Christmas shopping, there is nowhere better than London. 

As well as big named brands and the usual high street shops, you can find independent boutiques and all sorts of unique Christmas gifts in places like Carnaby Street and Camden market. 

Several Christmas markets also pop up around the city, such as South Bank Centre Winter Market and Leicester Square Christmas Market.

On clear, crisp winter mornings, there is nothing better than a walk along the Thames to take in the famous London landmarks or walk through Richmond Park where you can spot deer that roam free. 

If the weather is poor, make the most of the incredible museums in London, many of which are free to visit, or warm up with a pint in a cozy traditional pub. 

However, don’t let a bit of rain (or an occasional snow flurry) put you off exploring the outdoors; just come prepared with plenty of layers and a waterproof coat and shoes! 

21. Maastricht, Netherlands

– Recommended by Exploring the Netherlands –

Maastricht

One of the best places to visit in December in the Netherlands is Maastricht , as this beautiful Southern Dutch city is home to the most famous Christmas market in the country.

Each December, Maastricht becomes a real winter wonderland, with the main festivities held at the emblematic Vrijthof Square. This traditional market attracts thousands of locals and tourists each year, who enjoy the numerous Christmas stalls and attractions.

There’s a skating rink, a giant slide, a merry-go-round, a Christmas train for the kids, and of course a Ferris wheel from the top which you will have the loveliest views of the city.

At the Christmas market do not miss to try the local specialties: oliebollen (sugar-dusted deep-fried dough balls), poffertjes (miniature pancakes), bratwurst (grilled sausage), and smoked salmon.

And when you have enough of the Christmas magic, get lost in the narrow cobbled streets, ambling from one little square to the next.

Visit the lovely Basilica of St. Servatius, the oldest still-functioning church in the Netherlands, and its Treasury.

If you are interested in contemporary art, you will for sure appreciate the local art museum – The Bonnefanten. Cross the medieval St. Servatius bridge to visit Wyck, the hipster neighborhood of Maastricht – lovely concept stores, small cafés, thrift shops, and galleries.

22. Dublin, Ireland

Dublin in December

There is a stunning culture of friendliness in the city of Dublin. The beautiful design of the city mimics the breathtaking rolling green hills on the outskirts that surround the area, making Dublin on the top of many people’s bucket lists.

One of the most popular things to do when in Dublin is to visit the Guinness Storehouse, located in the heart of St. James’ Gate Brewery. The inside of the building is designed to look like a pint of Guinness making it the largest pint in the world! This tour is also great for kids as you will learn all about the Irish brewing history and the Guinness family.

If history is your thing, head to Dublin Castle to learn all about prehistoric Dublin. There are over 800 years of Irish memories within its walls and encompasses some of the most pivotal events in all of the country’s history.

If you are in Dublin for a few days be sure to head out on a day trip or two. One of the best day trips is a tour of the Wicklow Mountains. Another spectacular trip is a tour of the natural wonders, the Cliffs of Moher, which are not only breathtaking but so amazing to experience as they have been used for film shoots like Harry Potter.

Visiting Dublin in December is a truly magical experience because not only do you get to enjoy the usual sights and sounds of the city, you can also enjoy one of the many events that happen over December.

  • Book a ticket for the Wild Lights hosted by Dublin Zoo each year. The theme changes each year but the event brings to life stories through illuminated giant colorful lanterns.
  • Go on a Pantomime Bus tour. This interactive, theatrical Christmas ride goes from Dublin city center to Phoenix Park.
  • Go ice skating at one of the many ice skating rinks that pop up over December and January.
  • Stroll through streets to view the wonderful Christmas lights and displays. If you want to see the best light displays, you can even book a Christmas walking light tour with one of the locals.

Shopping in Dublin is always great and over December you can enjoy shopping at the Christmas markets that pop up.

23. Cologne, Germany

– Recommended by Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast –

cologne-christmas-market The Unknown Enthusiast

Cologne, Germany, is one of the best European cities to visit in December for no reason other than the truly fantastic  Cologne Christmas market  that runs through the month.

While Cologne is a much more modern city than others in Germany, the theming around its many markets is top-notch.

The main market in Cologne is in the shadow of the Cologne cathedral (one of the tallest cathedrals in the world!) and is referred to as the “Dom” market. You can find a massive Christmas tree, a blanket of lights radiating overhead from the stalls, and nightly musical performances. 

The Angel market has women dressed up as angels walking around, stars in the trees, angel decorations everywhere, and themed angel mugs.

The Heumarkt and Altmarkt share a woodland theme: rustic stalls lined with garland, woodland scenes in corners, a blacksmith shop, and mugs with gnomes.

St Nicholas Market is located in a square near a castle, with timbered stalls, a Santa sleigh, and an adorable boot-shaped mug.

The Harbor Market unsurprisingly has a strong nautical theme, and the Gay Market showcases bright, neon colors and flashy decorations. 

Between the lights, the decorations, the mugs, the food, and the theming, you’ll quickly be in the holiday spirit in Cologne!

24. York, England

– Recommended by Sinead from York With Kids –

york xmas York With Kids Blog

The historic city of York in northern England is a magical place to visit in December. Illuminations, enormous decorated Christmas trees, and colorful festive-themed window displays bring life and sparkle to the city.

Many of York’s historic buildings, such as Micklegate Bar, are festooned with lights in December. York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, hosts candlelit carol services and traditional Nine Lessons and Carols services.

Several city center hotels and the famous 100-year-old tearoom, Betty’s, offer winter-themed afternoon teas. 

If you are spending  Christmas in York , you can also experience a traditional British pantomime at one of the city’s three theatres.

York’s historic houses, including Georgian-era Fairfax House or the Victorian Mansion House, are elaborately decorated to show how Christmas was celebrated in the past.

In addition, York’s pedestrianized city streets play host to the St Nicholas Fair, a six-week-long Christmas market consisting of over 100 wooden chalets. The chalet stalls include locally produced food and drink and locally made artisan crafts; it is a perfect location to pick up an unusual and quirky Christmas gift.

Weary shoppers can recharge with a hot mulled wine or creamy hot chocolate in front of a log fire at Thor’s Tipi. This huge canvas tipi is specially erected yearly in York city center and is a focal point for winter gatherings and festive celebrations. 

25. Lisbon, Portugal

– Recommended by Jenifer of The Evolista –

Lisbon, Portugal, Christmas tree lit up with Christmas lights in the square, monument and markets at night, people walking around

Lisbon is one of the best European cities to visit in December. The weather is better, prices are cheaper, and crowds are thinner than in many other European places.

You’ll be able to ride the iconic Lisbon Tram 28, enjoy views from the lively Alfama neighborhood, visit Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, and enjoy Lisbon nightlife like a local.

And Lisbon is a city that comes alive during the holiday season. One of the most exciting events in December is Wonderland Lisboa, a must-visit holiday market and fair.

If you have kids in tow, they’ll love the huge Ferris wheel, ice skating rink, Christmas train, and Santa’s village. The Christmas market has 60 stalls with food and handicrafts from local artisans. 

For another more traditional Christmas market, head to Campo Pequeno where you’ll find 140 local artisans selling gifts produced in Portugal. Try Broas Castelares, traditional Portuguese holiday cookies, and Pastel de Nata, the famous Portuguese custard tarts. 

Make your way through the pedestrian shopping area along Rua Augusta. It’s beautifully adorned in holiday lights leading to Praça do Comércio, home to the tallest Christmas tree in Europe. And on New Year’s Eve, there’s a huge celebration featuring live music and an incredible fireworks display at midnight. 

With all of the holiday festivities and so much to see and do, spending 2 days in Lisbon in December is the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That is the list of the 25 Best Cities to Visit in Europe in December.

I hope that we have helped to narrow down some easy options of where you can visit for a city break in December in Europe.

Feel free to pin this pin to Pinterest so you can find this post easily in the future!

trips to europe in december

Jolene Ejmont

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The adventurous feet

23 Warmest Places In Europe in December to Escape the Cold Winter

Want to escape the cold weather in Europe in December without leaving the continent? Here are the warmest places in Europe in December to choose from!

Summer is long gone and with the cold weather approaching, you are starting to long for a well-deserved winter holiday.

Sure, most people will say “ ski trip ”, but what about those who want to escape the cold and are looking for a warmer, sunnier destination?

If you are missing the warm feeling of sunshine on your skin and you feel the need for some temperate climate, then this guide is for you!

warmest places in Europe in December

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The truth is, you don’t need to take off to some tropical faraway destination to take a break from the cold.

Even in Europe, there are still plenty of options that will satisfy your need for a blue and cloudless sky, without the need for an exhausting and expensive intercontinental flight.

So if you’re looking for the warmest places in Europe in December to escape the cold, this post will give you the best and hottest places in Europe in December for your winter holiday in the sun!

But before we dive in, let’s look at the general weather in Europe in December.

Psst…  Before traveling anywhere, make sure that you have Travel Insurance! I always use  World Nomads  on all my trips and I am happy to recommend it to you. You can easily  request a quote from World Nomads from here for FREE !

Europe weather in December

Prague is one of the beautiful capital cities in Europe

While some people instantly assume that the temperatures are the same across Europe in December, this is definitely not true.

The weather of Europe in December is very much varied with countries in Scandinavia experiencing brutal snowy winters with temperatures dropping to below zero sometimes while some countries especially those on the Mediterranean experience some sun and temperatures can go as high as 18°C (64°F).

So it really depends on the country itself. There are some countries in Europe you can visit to experience a snowy winter but there are some you can visit and enjoy some sun.

So in this article, I will be focusing on some of the warmest places in Europe in December. Read on and you might just find your perfect winter sun destination.

warmest places in Europe in December

In no particular order, here are the 23 warm places in Europe in December!

1. Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is one of the warm places in Europe in December

When it comes to choosing a warm place in Europe in December, the island of Madeira is worth taking into consideration. The island is blessed with pristine blue seawaters, beautiful sand beaches, and green cliffs.

The climate is temperate all year long, creating the illusion of a never-ending spring. Even in December, temperatures vary between 20°C (68°F) and 15°C (59°F) at its lowest.

Seawater temperature during wintertime is approximately 20°C (68°F), offering the rare opportunity for a December swim for the more daring.

Madeira is also the perfect choice for those who love a more adventurous vacation since there is plenty of opportunity for hiking and trekking in the region.

For a hike to remember, take a walk through the levadas footpaths (the local mountain trails) and enjoy some of the most incredible views in the world, surrounded by uncontaminated wilderness.

The best part is that you don’t need to worry about your hiking expertise too much. There are plenty of incredibly beautiful paths of all kinds of levels of difficulty, and fortunately, the weather conditions on the island are year-round perfect for excursions.

If you are a foodie, then you’ll want to have a taste of the typical Mediterranean cuisine that Madeira has to offer.

On the island, you will have no problem finding fresh, earthy ingredients. Among the most loved local dishes, you may want to try the Tuna in molho de vilão sauce or the typical Espetada steak, accompanied by Bolo do caco bread.

2. Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba is one of the warmest places in Europe in December

The picturesque city of Cordoba is located in Andalusia, in southern Spain. If you love a city with plenty of art and history to offer, then you may want to book a ticket to Cordoba this winter.

The city was once the capital of the Muslim empire in Spain, and its unique architecture is characterized by a mix of Roman, Neoclassical, Gothic-Renaissance influences, as well as examples of Arab-Islamic art that will blow you away.

The climate in Cordoba, and the Andalusia region in general, is good all year round. In December, the average temperature is 10.5°C (51°F), with the highest registered being 15°C (59°F) and the lowest at 6°C (43°F).

If you love food that’s spicy and rich in flavor, then you’ll love the typical meals that Cordoba has to offer.

Between typical breakfast sweets, tasty tapas, and elaborate dishes like the Flamenquín (jamón serrano wrapped in pork and eggs), you will find yourself missing the Andalusian cuisine once you go back home.

For those who love to cook, or just want to dive into another culture, try taking a cooking class! Let local experts guide you and learn how to prepare local Andalusian dishes on your own.

Also, many cooking classes include a shopping session at the most famous local farmer’s market, the Mercado La Corredera.

3. Costa Tropical, Spain

Costa Tropical is one of the warmer places in Europe in December

For those who are craving a break from the office and want to hit the beach, spending your winter holiday in Costa Tropical will be a great choice.

Costa Tropical is located in Andalucia, in particular in the Granada province, and is blessed with both splendid beaches and stunning scenery.

Even during wintertime, the weather in the Granada area is pleasant with mostly sunny days and a daily temperature that can vary from 18°C (64°F) to 11°C (52°F).

Costa Tropical is a destination for those who love spending their time at the beach, but this doesn’t mean just laying in the sun and taking the occasional bath. Water sports are a big thing in Costa Tropical!

If you are feeling adventurous, try taking a kayak tour in the Acantilados de Cerro Gordo-Maro Natural Park or rent a small boat without the need for a license and go snorkeling in Maro and Cañuelo.

4. Sardinia, Italy

Sardinia is one of the best places to go in Europe in December

The Italian island of Sardinia is a real-life paradise, and up until a few years ago, it was still not a super touristy destination.

However, due to the increasingly good reputation of its pristine seaside, beaches, and wild vegetation, the best time of the year to visit the island is Autumn or Winter.

The weather on the island is usually great all year round with registered warm temperatures even during the colder months, varying between 15°C (60°F ) and 13°C (55°F).

You can find beautiful seashores on all the perimeter of the island, and for this reason, it is recommended to take a tour of the entire region to fully enjoy everything that Sardinia has to offer.

Among the most famous beaches include the Arenas Biancas, the white beach of Golfo Aranci, Cala Brandinchi, Cala Mariolu, and Cala Goloritzè.

For a great picture, ask the locals to point you in the direction of the best “panorama”, the Italian term for “view”.

Yet, Sardina is not only famous for its nature but also for its art and history especially if you are passionate about exploring ancient locations and discovering pre-historical artifacts.

Make sure to pay a visit to the Osini Heels to have a guided tour of the Nuraghi , the unique ancient architecture from the Bronze Age.

5. Crete, Greece

Crete is one of the hottest places in Europe in December

Blue sea, picture-perfect beaches, ancient temples, and a plate of souvlaki . Of course, I am talking about the iconic Greek-island holiday.

Even in December, with temperatures going from 17°C ( 63°F) to 14°C (57°F), the stunning island of Crete can be your perfect winter sun destination in Europe . Whether you’re in Crete to drink wine at sunset or you are looking for more cultural activities, on the island, it is virtually impossible to get bored.

Once you feel you’ve spent enough time at the beach, the island still offers a lot since it was once the cradle of ancient Greek civilization!

Take an archeological guided tour of the fabled Knossos Palace, where the hero Theseus faced the minotaur in the labyrinth built by Daedalus.

Visit Heraklion, the main city on the island, or pay a visit to the Ideon Cave, the alleged birthplace of Zeus, father to all gods, for a truly mythological holiday.

6. Tenerife, Spain

Tenerife is the hottest place in Europe in December

“You look so beautiful in this light

Your silhouette over me

The way it brings out the blue in your eyes

Is the Tenerife Sea”

It doesn’t take an Ed Sheeran song to know that Tenerife is one of the most beautiful warm places in Europe in December.

Home to a sunny sky and warm weather, Tenerife is blessed with a never-ending spring-like temperature that, even in December, can vary between 20 – 23°C (68 -73 °F). In fact, it can easily pass as the warmest place in Europe in December.

For a perfect day on a greek white sand beach, you will get plenty of choices in Tenerife. Some of the most loved by the tourists are El Medano Beach, Playa de las Teresitas, Playa Torviscas, and Playa Torviscas.

However, if you are looking for a more secluded location away from the masses, then you may want to hit la Playa del Bollullo, located not far from Puerto de la Cruz.

For the foodies reading this guide , Tenerife has a lot to offer when it comes to fresh vegetables, fruit, and Pescado , or fish.

Try the typical churros de pescado (croquettes of fish), the Garbanzos soup or the Gofio escaldado (fish, garlic and red onions).

7. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Fuerteventura is one of the hottest places in Europe in December

Located in the Canary Islands in Spain, Fuerteventura is your typical subtropical island, with a twist!

The island may be located just 120 km (around 74 miles) from the African coastline, however, it is still a European destination , with all the advantages that this brings. For a European hot-and-sunny winter destination, Fuerteventura is as good as it gets, with weather being consistently good even in December and temperatures oscillating between 22°C(72°F) and 17°C ( 62°F). For a breathtaking view of the Ocean and unspoiled dune beach, visit the Parque Natural de Corralejo.

Among the most loved beaches on the Fuerteventura coastline, you won’t want to miss out on the Sotavento Beach or the postcard-like Playa de Cofete.

However, what makes Fuerteventura unique is its volcanic nature. Pay a visit to the Piscinas Naturales Aguas Verdes and enjoy the truly rare lava formations meeting the pristine emerald water.

8. Limassol, Cyprus

 Limassol is one of the  warmest places in Europe in December

When visiting the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, you must take a couple of days to stop in Limassol. TripAdvisor chose Limassol as the 3rd up-and-coming destination in the world, and not without a reason.

Especially if you are traveling in December, the city presents a great alternative option to other more expensive European destinations .

Even during the coldest months, the city’s weather is consistently fortunate, with the average day temperature being 18°C (64°F) and never going under 9°C(48°F).

For what concerns precipitations, you may expect around 9 out of 31 days of rain in December.

If you consider yourself a history enthusiast, Limassol offers some pretty good Indiana Jones opportunities, such as the UNESCO archeological park of Kourion, Limassol’s Castle, the Kolossi Castle, or the Sanctuary of Apollo.

The city also offers a rich Archaeological Museum for those who really can’t get enough of ancient Greek and Roman history and artifacts.

9. Nice, France

Nice is one of the warm places in Europe in December

Without leaving central Europe, you can still spend your winter holiday escaping the cold weather.

I am talking about the south of France , and in particular, Nice, whose winter temperature swings between 12°C (54°F) and 6°C (44°F).

With the greatest pride of the city being a huge wine and exquisite world-famous french cuisine haven, Nice is the perfect destination for food lovers.

Even while taking a stroll on the spectacular Promenade des Anglais , or through the picturesque narrow streets of the Vieille Ville (the Old City), you can still enjoy some of the most incredible street food.

Try the Socca , the emblematic street food of Nice, or a typical chickpea pancake that goes hand in hand with a glass of white wine.

With all that, Nice is not one of the most beautiful cities in France but also one of the warmer places in Europe in December.

Related post: 28 Best things that make France famous

10. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is one of the warmest places in Europe in December

For a winter sun getaway in Europe in December, Barcelona is definitely a good choice and a personal favorite.

With the weather being agreeable and pleasant all year round, visiting the capital of Catalonia in December has the great advantage of avoiding the huge crowd of tourists that flood the city during spring and summertime .

The city has plenty to offer from a naturalistic, architectural, artistic, and cultural point of view.

But most of all, the city itself is pure Art. From visiting the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, taking a stroll through the Gothic Quarter, to paying a visit to the stunning Parco Guell, Barcelona has it all.

Moreover, the city also offers plenty of great partying opportunities, and that’s what makes it the perfect warm place in Europe in December for younger people.

And for an incredible view of the entire city, ride the Telefèric de Montjuïc!

11. Cagliari, Italy

Cagliari is one of the best European cities to visit in December

Southern Italy is by definition the home of a never-ending summer. In Autumn, when the rest of Europe is busy baking pumpkins and drinking hot tea, people in the Italian island of Sardinia are still going for a swim in the Mediterranean sea.

Maybe you’ll want to avoid taking a swim in December, but you will still be able to have a great time at the beach in Cagliari, where the winters are mild and temperatures are mostly steady around 15°C (60°F) and never lower than 9°C(48°F) in December.

Cagliari has also a lot to offer in terms of art and architecture. Among the most famous attractions, you should definitely visit the Elephant tower, the San Pancrazio tower, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria.

When visiting the upper part of town, once you’ve arrived at the famous Saint Remy Bastion, ask the locals for the “ ascensore ”, the Italian word for “elevator”, and enjoy an amazing view of the city from the Umberto I terrace.

12. Seville, Spain

Seville is one of the warmest places in Europe in December

For a warm holiday in Europe in December away from snow and chilling temperatures, book your ticket now to Seville!

The capital of Andalusia is truly a southern European gem, and even in December, you will be able to visit the city without worrying too much about the cold. In fact, the temperature is pretty stable around 17°C  (63°F) and 8 °C (47°F).

Seville is widely known for its monumental architecture that mixes European and Arabic influences.

However, what makes the city unique is its main park, the Parque de María Luisa, which cuts in half the city center and follows the path of the Guadalquivir river.

If you are a bird-watching enthusiast, this park will be a great opportunity to observe a great variety of different species, coexisting in this peculiar habitat within the city.

The capital of Andalusia is also a real European capital of fun and nightlife. So, if you are traveling with a younger crowd, you will be blown away by the incredible open-air discotheques and clubs.

13. Valletta, Malta

Malta - Capital, Valletta

When traveling to Valletta, feel free to leave home your scarf and beret (maybe not but you get the point)!

The weather on the island of Malta is super hot in the summer and warm and pleasant in the winter.

The average temperature in December is 15°C (60°F), which makes it the ideal location for those that want to spend their winter holiday in short sleeve t-shirts and tennis shoes.

The city is rich in history, culture, and monumental architecture, with a distinctive style that you won’t easily forget.

Valletta winds in a succession of ancient palaces, fortifications, bastions, gardens, and churches, all marked by the city’s unique baroque style.

If art is your thing, this could be your destination of choice. The whole city is an open-air museum and has been officially recognized as part of UNESCO.

14. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is one of the warmer places in Europe in December

The city of Dubrovnik is characterized by a unique beauty that will stay with you long after you’ve come back home.

The city is an example of southern European historical architecture, faces the mediterranean sea, and is nothing less than spectacular.

The main attraction of the city is its iconic city walls. If you are somewhat of a TV show addict, then you will recognize them as the set of the worldwide popular TV show Game of Thrones.

If you love the show, then you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity of taking a guided GOT tour of the city.

Visit the Old town and at the same time re-live some of the most iconic scenes from the show such as the Slaying of King Robert’s bastards, Jaime’s return to King’s Landing, or the infamous Walk of shame.

15. Malaga, Spain

Malaga is the 	warmest place in Europe in December

We are back in one of the warm European countries in December, Spain but this time to recommend you to visit Malaga, one of the gems of the southern part of the country.

With its mild winter and temperatures in December fluctuating between 18°C (64°F) and 9°C (49°F), Malaga is a good pick for those that crave a bit of sunshine.

I recommend visiting Malaga if you are a real art addict. The city was the birthplace and home of the famous painter Picasso and some of its greatest works are showcased in the Picasso Museum, thanks to over 300 artworks being donated by the Picasso family to the city.

Moreover, walking around the city, you will find many opportunities to mingle with the locals and engage in local traditions, stop for tapas with a beer or a glass of wine.

16. Algarve, Portugal

Algarve is one of the best European cities to visit in December

For a cloudless holiday, the southern region of the Algarve in Portugal is a top pick.

The entire region is blessed with year-round good weather as well as pristine, uncontaminated sandy shores and breathtaking cliffs overlooking the ocean.

When traveling during wintertime, you will have the unique opportunity to admire the naturalistic beauty of the region, away from the crowd of tourists that can’t be avoided during the summer.

Among the best beaches in the region, I recommend spending a day at Praia da Marinha in Lagoa, one of the most scenic beaches in the world.

If you are a fan of long sandy shores, and you are looking to party or in general entertainment, then pay a visit to Praia da Rocha in Portimão.

And for the most incredible cliffs and a real-life postcard landscape, go to Praia da Dona Ana in Lagos.

17. Sicily, Italy

Sicily is one of the warmest places in Europe in December

Home of great food, incredible sea, and a rich history that dates back to the Greek Empire, Sicily is one of the warm places in Europe in December that everyone should add to their winter bucket list .

The island doesn’t know cold weather and has plenty to offer. Since it is the biggest island on the Mediterranean sea, and traveling by public transport isn’t always the most accessible option, I recommend renting a car and having the full Sicilian experience by checking out of the list each of the most famous locations in the region.

First of all, I recommend visiting the capital of the region, Palermo. Then Syracuse and Agrigento, where you can find one of the greatest ancient Greek archeological sites in the world. And for the perfect beach day, take a ferry to the Egadi Islands.

For the foodies reading this guide, I can guarantee you will find your heaven in Sicily. The perfect day? It starts with the typical breakfast, granita, and brioche.

Then, for lunch, arancini (deep-fried rice balls filled with whatever you like) and an espresso coffee. Finally, a light but unforgettable dinner with freshly fished Mediterranean bluefish.

18. Monte Carlo, Monaco

Monte Carlo is one of the hot places in Europe in December

You can’t say French Riviera without saying, Monte Carlo. Between the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the legendary Casino de Monte-Carlo, the city is an absolute symbol of luxury, fun, and entertainment.

For the car enthusiasts, I recommend visiting the impressive Private Collection of Antique Cars of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III.

However, if you are looking for a moment of relaxation away from the hustles and bustles of the city, then take a meditative stroll and a moment to decompress in the beautiful Japanese Gardens.

After a day spent visiting the city, Monte Carlo offers a lot in terms of nightlife, especially if you are in for some luxury partying!

With temperatures pendulating between 14°C (57°F) and 6°C (43°F), Monte Carlo is one of the best places to go in Europe in December.

19. Nicosia, Cyprus

Nicosia is one of the best places to go in Europe in December

For a winter holiday that’s both exotic and close to home, the island and republic of Cyprus are what you need.

The stunning island is located in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Turkey , and its architecture and culture reveal influences from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot heritage. 

The weather, even in December, is consistently good, with spring-like temperatures going from 17°C (63°F) to 10°C (49°F).

When visiting Cyprus, you can’t miss out on its capital, Nicosia. To get a better understanding of the complex and rich history of the island, visit the Cyprus Museum.

There are also other several sites of both spiritual and artistic interest including the caravanserai of Büyük Han which is one of the most ancient buildings on the island.

Another must-see place is the Machairas Monastery, a monumental building overlooking a valley and surrounded by uncontaminated nature, and the UNESCO heritage site of the Panagia Asinou Church.

20. Granada, Spain

Granada is one of the warm places in Europe in December

The city of Granada, Andalusia, has both incredible natural surroundings and an amazing architectural style that puts together influences from the European and Arabic worlds.

When visiting this lively and colorful city, a must-see is the Arabic quarter of Albaicín.

Then, if you are up for a bit of a walk, you can reach the Mirador San Nicolas, one of the best viewpoints in the city,  and admire the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

In Albaicin, don’t miss out on the incredible Moorish palace, the former residence of Granada’s last Moorish King.

For a scenic stroll, you can visit the picturesque old Jewish quarter, but if you want to witness Granada’s culture in action, you should visit the Flamenco Barrio, Sacromonte.

21. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Gran Canaria is one of the hot places in Europe in December

It doesn’t matter when you’re visiting the island, Gran Canaria is a perfect destination for backpackers and outdoors lovers that prefer a more adventurous holiday.

Especially if you love hiking , you should consider Gran Canaria as your perfect warm winter destination in Europe.

Avoid the tourists and the highest temperatures and enjoy hiking in the pristine nature and unbelievable landscapes that the Island has to offer.

For a truly unique outdoor experience, try one of the tours to the village of Tejeda and the incredible Roque Nublo.

Whether you are already an experienced surfer or a complete newbie who wants to try, Gran Canaria, with its signature good waves offers an ample choice of beaches where surfing is fun and easy to learn.

Also, if you are passionate about astronomy, there is no place better than Gran Canaria.

The stars can be observed, at high altitudes, particularly well on the island, thanks to an astronomical effect that the inhabitants call “donkey’s belly” or “Panza de Burro”.

For a starry sky to remember forever, visit the Astronomical Observatory of Temisas or the Roque Saucillo Astronomical Center.

22. Côte d’Azur (French Riviera), France

Côte D’Azur  is one of the warm places in Europe in December

The Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera, has historically always been one of the most loved winter destinations in Europe .

Its mild climate and mostly serene weather, together with the classical beauty and the french-chic factor of the Rivera itself make it impossible not to take this region into consideration when planning your December winter sun vacations in Europe.

Whether you choose to visit one of the main cities, or you prefer to spend your time in the little towns that dot the region, the Côte d’Azur has indubitably a charm that cannot be matched.

Some of the most famous destinations include; Nice, Saint Tropez, and Cannes . Another smaller but picturesque town that’s worth visiting is Antibes.

For an alternative take on the French Riviera, just 10 minutes of sailing from the shore, you’ll be able to visit the paradise-like Porquerolles Island.

23. Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca is one of the warmer places in Europe in December

The Island of Mallorca, part of Spain’s Balearic Islands, is a holiday destination worth keeping in mind for every season.

Even in wintertime, its combination of beautiful nature, mountains, long shores, and remote bays, together with its distinctive architectural style and lively nightlife, makes Mallorca one of the warm places to visit in December in Europe and a place where everybody can have the best time.

When on the island, you have to visit the main city, the famous Palma de Mallorca, however, don’t miss out on the smaller and quaint towns in the internal part of the island.

Among the most loved destinations on the island, you will love Port de Sóller, and if you are interested in historical European landmarks , then pay a visit to the 14th-century royal fortress Bellver Castle.

If you love art, you may want to visit the town of Deia which is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe , famous for its distinctive colorful houses.

Here, you will have the chance to purchase original art from locals, and bring back home with you a piece of Mallorca, to forever remember the holiday or as a truly unique present for family and friends.

Final Thoughts on the Warmest Places In Europe In December

Thank you for reading this guide! Whether you’re thinking of booking a plane ticket to a Spanish island, planning a backpacking hike through Portugal, or picturing yourself sipping wine on the French Riviera, I truly hope that this guide has helped you choose the perfect warm place in Europe in December for you!

After all, you don’t need to leave Europe to enjoy a memorable winter holiday in the sun. Countries like Spain, Malta, some parts of Italy, Portugal, and France offer amazing temperatures even in December.

Have you been to any of these places? Which one do you consider the hottest place in Europe in December? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

NEVER TRAVEL ANYWHERE WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip is to forego Travel Insurance! You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s  NOT  that expensive! There are many Travel Insurance companies out there, but I love  World Nomads ! They cover almost every single thing you might face/do while traveling, it is easy to request a quote, and if you ever need to claim, the claiming process is not a rat race! I’ve used World Nomads on all my trips, and I am confident and happy to recommend it to you! No worries if you’re not yet ready to book your trip, you can request a  free quote from World Nomads here  and see if it suits your personal needs!

More posts to inspire you to visit Europe in Winter

  • Best reasons to visit Europe in winter
  • Most beautiful cities in Europe
  • The ultimate packing list for Europe in winter
  • Best snowy winter destinations in Europe
  • Fun winter festivals in Europe
  • Cheapest ski resorts in Europe
  • What to Pack for a Ski trip
  • Best Warm destinations in Europe in winter

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35 Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Posted on Last updated: December 6, 2023

Looking for a European getaway around the festive period? There are tons of amazing towns and cities to check out in the winter season, whether you’re into Christmas markets, hitting the slopes, or catching some winter sun.

With so many awesome options, it can be difficult to choose the best winter European destination for you. That’s why we compiled a list of the 35 best places in Europe to visit in December. Let’s dive in and find out more!

1. Lapland, Finland

Okay, nothing says Christmas like a visit to the real-life Lapland up in northern Finland, flying into a snow-covered paradise called Rovaniemi. Lapland is home to Santa’s workshop, husky dog sled rides through the snow, glass igloos where you can watch the stars, and much, much more.

Honestly, it’s one of the best options if you’re looking for a family vacation in Europe in December! 

2. Reykjavik, Iceland

The capital of the Land of Fire and Ice is a super popular destination pretty much all year round. From stunning geysers to geothermal lagoons to awe-inspiring waterfalls, Iceland is a stunning place to visit.

In the winter months, the city comes alive with the Icelandic Christmas traditions of the mischievous Yule Lads and is covered in a layer of snow. Of course, you’ll also be at the peak of the season for seeing the majestic Northern Lights. That’s a bucket-list moment right there!

3. Cologne, Germany

If you love German Christmas Markets, there is one city that rises above the rest. Cologne has not one, not two, but seven different Christmas Markets for you to enjoy. There’s even one that’s on a boat on the river.

In December, the entire city gets taken over by festive vibes, and the smell of Gluhwein and Bratwurst is just about everywhere—it’s magical! It’s also beautiful to see the architecturally stunning Cologne Cathedral dusted in snow.

4. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest has long been a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a budget European getaway, and it’s especially beautiful in the winter months. Like many central European cities, there is a huge Christmas Market to enjoy, and the prices of accommodation, food, and drink, are a fraction of what they are in Germany.

There are also a ton of beautiful open-air thermal spas to relax in and warm up after a chilly walk around the city.

5. Prague, Czechia

Want to ice skate around medieval architecture and be surrounded by beautiful, historic buildings? Well then, you need to head to Prague in Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic).

concrete buildings during daytime

Prague has one of the most stunning Old Towns in the whole of Europe, and in December, with the snow, the markets, and the lights, it gets completely transformed. There’s a distinctive Baroque vibe to Prague that makes it feel like you’re in some kind of European fairytale. 

6. Edinburgh, Scotland

If you’ve ever visited Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, you’ll know how magical the cobbled streets of Old Town are and how cool the atmosphere of the city actually is. In December, there are a ton of amazing festivals and celebrations.

From the Celtic Winter Solstice on Calton Hill to the famous Hogmanay New Year’s Eve celebrations, Edinburgh in December is a great place to be if you want a mix of culture, festive vibes, and fun.

7. Munich, Germany

Did you know that there was a thing called a Christmas Tram? Well, in Munich, Germany, you can take a festive ride through the city, between Christmas Markets, open-air curling arenas, and more.

Usually covered in a blanket of snow, Munich in December is the quintessential city when you imagine German Christmas time. Make sure to wrap up warm and buy as many candied almonds as your arms can carry!

8. Copenhagen, Denmark

If you want to indulge yourself in a winter wonderland that unleashes your inner child, head to Copenhagen. The Danish capital has a huge Christmas market and the super popular Tivoli Gardens transforms into a winter playground full of fun, fairground rides, and all the traditional Christmas treats.

Whether you’re traveling with kids or just want to be a big kid at Christmas time, Copenhagen is always a good idea in December.

9. Salzburg, Austria

Okay, so The Sound of Music is always playing on at least one channel at Christmastime, so why not visit where it was filmed? Salzburg in Austria is a beautiful and historic city – it’s the birthplace of Mozart – and it’s perfect in December.

You can wander around the Christmas markets, go for a wintery walk or hike around the hillsides, and even explore the medieval castles to get your fill of culture.

10. Lille, France

You might not know much about Lille in France, but in December, it’s a winter wonderland that’s home to one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in the whole of France.

a blue car outside a tall building

With light dustings of snow, that classic French joie de vivre, and a ton of delicious French treats, Lille is an amazing place to be in December. As it’s right by the border with Belgium, you can also make it a dual-city trip with the next destination on our list.

11. Brussels, Belgium

The Belgian capital is a popular short city break as it’s a super walkable city, filled with history and culture. It’s got a fantastic Christmas Market in December, and Brussels is easy to reach by train, even if you’re coming from London, as the Eurostar goes directly into Brussels.

Overall, you can get your fill of culture, history, and festive spirit, all in one amazing capital – with super strong beers!

12. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

If you’re looking for some winter sunshine, head out to the gorgeous volcanic island of Fuerteventura. As a part of the Canary Islands off the coast of Northwest Africa, Fuerteventura is warm and sunny pretty much all year round.

You can hike the volcano and surf up a storm with the amazing winter swells that hit Europe at that time of year. Of course, being a Spanish island, you know that the food and drink are going to be on point!

13. Madeira, Portugal

Speaking of Atlantic islands off the coast of Africa, Madeira is another super popular winter sun destination. This Portuguese island is often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe and for good reason!

Take a hike along one of the waterfall-filled routes, slide down the hills of Funchal in a traditional toboggan, or sit back and relax in one of the freshwater pools and look out into the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great way to escape the dreary winter weather!

14. Florence, Italy

Let’s be honest, there isn’t a bad time of year to visit Florence. This Italian city is full of beautiful architecture, history, culture, and amazing food. As December is during the off-season, there are way fewer tourists so you can have the place all to yourself.

You can also have your fill of Italian Christmas traditions—and yes, that means eating your weight in Panettone! It’s the perfect way to kick off the festive season.

15. Warsaw, Poland

The capital of Poland is an illuminated wonderland during December. If you’re into history, you’re going to love a trip to Warsaw, as it’s around every corner! During December, Warsaw gets covered with Christmas markets, ice rinks, light displays, and much, much more.

people walking on the street outside tall buildings

Also, by other Central European standards, Warsaw is a super affordable option if you’re traveling to Europe in December on a budget. 

16. Chamonix, France

We cannot talk about European December getaways without talking about some world-class skiing destinations. Chamonix in France is commonly known as one of the best places to ski in the whole of the Alps, making it one of the best ski destinations in the world.

Spend some time on the slopes, kick back and have a drink or three at Apres, or curl up in front of a fire with a mug of mulled wine and a book. Sounds perfect, right?

17. Budva, Montenegro

You might not know a lot about Montenegro, but this Balkan nation is nestled between Croatia and Albania on the Mediterranean coast. The town of Budva sits right on the coast and has a bustling nightlife scene in the summer months – think Ibiza on a budget.

However, in the off-season, Budva is a super chilled seaside town with a beautiful Old Town, filled with cobbled streets and relaxing beaches. 

18. Valetta, Malta

Due to Malta’s location in the Mediterranean, it’s pretty warm and sunny all year. If you want some classic European sunshine in the heart of winter, Malta’s capital, Valletta, needs to be high on your list.

With beautiful old-world Mediterranean architecture and winding alleyways, it’s easy to get lost in the island fantasy!

19. Nazare, Portugal

Okay, it might sound weird to include a small coastal town in Portugal on this list, but December is the perfect time to visit the surfing mecca of Nazare in Portugal. Home to one of the biggest waves in the entire world, December is when the monster swells hit this iconic beach town.

On any given day, you’ll see some of the world’s best riding 60ft waves at this quintessentially Portuguese fishing town.

20. Sicily, Italy

Home to the Godfather, cannolis, and Mount Etna, Sicily is a wonderful place to visit, especially in December when the tourist hordes are gone and the temperatures are a little bit more bearable.

Whether you want to check out the iconic ruins at Agrigento, chill on the beaches of San Vito Lo Capo, or explore the beautiful town of Taormina, there is a little something for everyone in Sicily in December.

21. Zermatt, Switzerland

If you’re looking for a quintessential Swiss ski town, there’s no better place than Zermatt. With the mighty Matterhorn towering over the town, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that the mountain and snow sports have on the town.

In fact, its peak season is the winter season. One of the coolest things about Zermatt is that it’s completely car-free. It makes it annoying to get there, but it’s really nice to wander around the town without worrying about traffic. 

22. Nice, France

It’s no secret that I love Nice , and it’s a great place to visit during any season. With a stunning promenade that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, a beautiful old town district that you can easily get lost in, and tons of delicious French food and wine, you’re spoiled for choice.

nice france in december

Also, in December, Nice’s Place Masséna gets transformed with a Christmas Market and a giant Ferris Wheel!

23. Riga, Latvia

If you want a real taste of the festive spirit but don’t want to spend a fortune, it’s time that you check out the capital of Latvia, Riga. Honestly, Riga is a beautiful city that’s got bags of character and history and is quickly becoming one of the most popular cheap city breaks in Europe.

The old town gets doused in snow, and it gets turned into a complete winter wonderland.

24. Stockholm, Sweden

Want to get a Scandinavian Christmas vibe but don’t want to be stuck in massive amounts of snow? Well, as Stockholm is on the coast, you rarely have to worry about being snowed in, compared to most of Sweden, but you can still benefit from all the cozy Christmas traditions that make this part of the world magical in December.

Make sure to check out the markets and the giant Christmas trees!

25. Paris, France

Can you have a list of the best places to go in Europe without including Paris? The capital of France is one of those cities that’s beautiful no matter what the season or month, and December is no different.

Wrap up warm and see the Eiffel Tower covered in snow, take a wintery cruise on the Seine, or eat a ton of festive French pastries and desserts!

26. Oslo, Norway

Honestly, compared to the other Nordic capitals, Oslo doesn’t seem to get a ton of love, despite being a gorgeous city. In December, it comes into its own with Christmas markets, sledding and cross-country skiing, and a ton of hot tubs to warm up in after a long day exploring beautiful Norway!

It’s the perfect winter vibe to lead you into the Christmas period.

27. Valencia, Spain

Located in the south of Spain, Valencia is an awesome place for some winter sun and culture. You can be surrounded by palm trees, sunshine, and creativity, but at the same time, you’ll also find a giant skating rink with a huge Christmas tree.

It’s kind of weird to see an ice rink in a warm city, but it’s a cool way to lead into the festive season.

28. Crete, Greece

If you’re looking for December island vibes, you need to check out Crete in Greece. Filled with amazing ruins, ancient temples and towns, and beautiful architecture, Crete is an awesome place to visit.

As it’s a lot cooler but still has plenty of sunshine, it’s a decent temperature to wander around the old town and ruins without the tons of tourists who visit in the summer. 

29. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Honestly, Amsterdam is a super popular city break for a lot of reasons, and in December it’s definitely a great place to be. In fact, the canals freeze over during the winter and the locals walk and ice skate straight over it, so much of the city turns into a magical winter wonderland.

There are also a ton of Christmas lights all around the city, which makes it look super festive. 

30. Strasbourg, France

Located on the border between France and Germany, Strasbourg is kind of the best of both worlds. With fairytale European architecture and winding rivers, the city looks like it’s jumped straight out of a Hans Christian Anderson book.

In the winter, you can find one of the best Christmas markets in the world, as there’s a blend of French and German vendors, making the whole thing even more delicious!

31. Manchester, UK

If you want to head over to the UK in December, why not journey to the north-west of the country to the bustling city of Manchester?

Known for its music scene, football, and independent food scene, Manchester is super popular in December as it has one of the biggest Christmas markets in the UK, which takes over the majority of the city.

view of concrete buildings

You might be able to catch a football game while you’re there.

32. Dublin, Ireland

There’s something so magical about Dublin at Christmas. If you’re lucky, you might get flutterings of snow on the cobbled streets around Temple Bar!

The whole city is lit up with festive lights and displays, which gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling all through December.

Wrap up in your big coat and boots, get yourself an Irish coffee, and enjoy exploring this beautiful capital city!

33. Tallinn, Estonia

Located in the Baltics, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is quickly becoming a popular expat destination thanks to its Scandi flair without the Scandi price tag! In December, Tallinn is covered in snow, and there are tons of Christmas market booths open for business.

With the snow all over the towers, spires, and cobbles of the old town, it’s a perfect spot for a winter getaway. 

34. Ibiza, Spain

Hunting for some winter sun? There’s probably no better place for a chilled-out, sunny, December vacation than Ibiza.

This Spanish Balearic Island is known all over the world for its summer party vibes, but in the winter, Ibiza has a more laidback feel to it which makes it ideal for exploring the more picturesque towns and going on coastal hikes.

35. Lagos, Portugal

It might sound weird to book a Portuguese beach break in December, but the small town of Lagos is beautiful in the winter.

With coastal walks, hidden grottos, and excellent surfing during December, if you want an outdoorsy December escape in Europe, but don’t want to head into the snowy mountains, Lagos is an amazing option.

Read More About Europe:

  • Is it Worth It to Visit Zermatt?
  • Best French Wine Tours for an Unforgettable Wine Experience
  • The Only Itinerary You’ll Need for Visiting Naples in Two Days
  • How to Spend One Day in Polignano a Mare

Dayna Brockbank at Happily Ever Travels

Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.

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Europe In December: 33 Awesome Places To Visit In 2024

Europe in December is a magical time of year, with snow-covered streets, glittering Christmas markets, and plenty of festive cheer.

From the snow-covered streets to the twinkling lights and festive markets, Europe over Christmas is a winter wonderland. Whether you’re looking for a cozy mountain retreat or a vibrant city break, there are plenty of incredible destinations to choose from.

Some of our best vacations have been to Europe in December and we’re lucky enough to live so close to so many beautiful countries, making it possible to experience the festive season in lots of different cultures.

In December you’re more likely to find some excellent deals, especially if you can travel outside of the Christmas holiday weeks towards the beginning of December. The weather might not be as warm, but there are plenty of other ways to spend your time.

But where are our favourite European destinations over the winter months? We’ve put together the ultimate guide to our ultimate Christmas holiday spots so that you can plan the vacation of a lifetime.

Here are 33 awesome places to visit in Europe in December.

Europe In December: 33 Awesome Places To Visit

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Table of Contents

Awesome places to visit in europe in december, #1 vienna, austria, #2 prague, czech republic, #3 copenhagen, denmark, #4 helsinki, finland, #5 paris, france.

  • #6 Berlin, Germany

#7 Munich, Germany

#8 budapest, hungary, #9 combloux, france, #10 reykjavik, iceland.

  • #11 Rome, Italy

#12 Amsterdam, Netherlands

#13 bergen, norway, #14 krakow, poland, #15 lisbon, portugal, #16 bucharest, romania, #17 belgrade, serbia, #18 ljubljana, slovenia, #19 barcelona, spain, #20 stockholm, sweden, #21 zurich, switzerland, #22 istanbul, turkey, #23 edinburgh, scotland, #24 london, england, #25 cardiff, wales, #26 belfast, northern ireland, #27 dublin, ireland, #29 tallinn, estonia, #30 rovaniemi, finland, #31 tromsø, norway, #32 dubrovnik, croatia, #33 athens, greece, frequently asked questions.

  • What To Pack

Let’s dive straight into the top places to visit in Europe in December!

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is a city that comes alive during the holiday season. The streets are lined with festive lights and decorations, and the scent of spiced wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air.

The Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz is one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe, and it’s a must-visit if you’re in Vienna in December. The market features over 150 stalls selling everything from traditional Austrian foods to handmade crafts and gifts.

Don’t miss the stunning decorations at Schönbrunn Palace, which is illuminated with thousands of lights and is home to its own Christmas market.

Another really awesome thing to do in Vienna in December is attending a concert in St Peters Church . Vienna is known for its classical music, and you really can’t get a better setting to enjoy some beautiful classics.

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Prague, Czech Republic in Europe in December

Prague is a stunning city at any time of year, but it’s particularly enchanting in December. We even got treated to snow while we were sat outside at a restaurant in Wenceslas Square, huddled under blankets and sipping mulled wine. What could be more magical?

The Christmas markets in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are a must-visit, with their charming stalls selling traditional Czech foods, crafts, and gifts.

The historic architecture of the city is even more beautiful when it’s dusted with snow, and the Prague Castle is particularly impressive when it’s illuminated with holiday lights.

If you need to escape the cold for a few hours then consider booking onto this raved about 5 course dining experience , where you’ll step back into medieval times in the most stunning setting and be entertained by jesters and jugglers. The free wine and beer is a big plus too, and will make that walk home all the warmer!

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Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is a charming and festive destination in December. The city’s amusement park, Tivoli Gardens, is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, with thousands of lights, Christmas markets, and an ice-skating rink.

We were really pleasantly surprised with how quiet it was in Copenhagen in December, and we enjoyed wandering around after dark without the crowds we had expected.

The city’s historic architecture is also beautifully decorated for the holidays, with the iconic Nyhavn harbor lit up with festive lights.

If you’re finding it a little too chilly to explore then the hop on, hop off bus is a great way to see the city without the biting wind attacking!

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A few attractions are closed over the winter months, but we didn’t feel we missed out on anything important. If there’s one thing you’re desperate to see on your visit then it’s worth just checking into whether it’s closed over the festive season.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki is a stunning European destination in December, with beautiful Christmas markets, snow-covered streets, and a cozy atmosphere.

The Christmas market at Senate Square is a must-visit, where you can shop for traditional Finnish crafts and enjoy hot drinks and snacks. Yum!

The city’s famous Cathedral is also beautifully decorated for the holidays, and there are plenty of cultural events to enjoy during the season.

Paris, France

December is one of the best times to visit Paris , and it’s particularly magical. The great thing about visiting over the winter months is that there are so many things to do in Paris at night , so you don’t have to worry about shorter days.

The city’s iconic landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame, are beautifully lit up for the holidays, and there are plenty of Christmas markets and festive events to enjoy.

The Champs-Élysées is especially enchanting during the season, with its stunning lights and decorations.

There are also some gorgeous hidden-gem hotels in Paris that simply must be explored, and what better time to splash out on accommodation than during the winter? It’s the perfect time to make the most of a decadent room or hotel!

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#6 Berlin, Germany For Europe In December

Berlin, Germany For Europe In December

Germany is renowned for being one of the best European countries to visit in December, and it’s hard to choose between the major cities here when it comes to Christmas celebrations.

Berlin is famous for its Christmas markets, and there are over 60 to choose from in the city. The market at Gendarmenmarkt is particularly beautiful, with its stunning backdrop of the Konzerthaus and French and German Cathedrals.

The market features traditional German foods and crafts, as well as live music and entertainment.

Once you’ve had your fill of festivities it’s well worth exploring some of Berlin’s history, which is rich and interesting. The best way to do this is on a walking tour of the city with an experienced guide.

Book onto this highly rated walking tour now

Munich, Germany

Munich is a cozy and charming destination in December, with traditional Christmas markets, ice-skating rinks, and plenty of holiday cheer.

The market at Marienplatz is one of the oldest and most famous in Germany, and it’s a must-visit if you’re in Munich during the season. The city’s historic architecture is also beautifully decorated for the holidays, with the stunning Frauenkirche Cathedral illuminated with holiday lights.

Once you’ve done your Christmas shopping head off on a food and beer tour of Munich where you’ll discover the best Bavarian beer halls and chow down on some seriously warming food. If there’s something Munich does well, it’s food and beer!

Book onto the best food and beer tour in Munich

Budapest, Hungary: Europe in December

Best boutique hotels in Budapest

Budapest is a stunning destination year-round, but it’s particularly magical in December. We had crisp, sunny days and a little powdering of snow that made everywhere all the more pretty.

The Christmas markets in Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica are a must-visit, with their charming stalls selling traditional Hungarian foods, crafts, and gifts. You should also check out some of the most romantic things to do in Budapest before you go.

The city’s thermal baths are also a perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day. The thermal baths are iconic in the city, and you have to experience them when you come here. By far the best time to do that is during the winter when it’s such a warming treat.

Book tickets in advance so you’re not queuing in the cold

Wondering whether Budapest is safe to visit ?

Combloux, France

Combloux ski resort in December can be a great destination for winter sports enthusiasts. December is usually the beginning of the winter season in the French Alps, and Combloux is a popular ski resort that offers a variety of winter activities.

We actually spent a whole ski season here, from December through to March, and it was incredible. It was way more affordable than a lot of the more well known French ski resorts, but it was also big enough to stay fresh all winter.

In December, the weather in Combloux can be quite cold, with average temperatures ranging from -2°C to 5°C (28°F to 41°F). Snowfall is also common during this time, making it perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports.

Combloux has more than 100 km of ski slopes, suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. There are also several ski schools and rental shops in the area, so even beginners can enjoy the slopes. In addition to skiing, you can also try snowshoeing, ice skating, and sledding.

The town of Combloux itself is a charming mountain village with traditional architecture and stunning views of Mont Blanc. There are several restaurants, bars, and shops where you can enjoy local cuisine and purchase souvenirs. It’s not huge, but you can visit nearby Megeve if you want a bit more action.

Overall, if you enjoy winter sports and picturesque mountain scenery, Combloux can be a great destination to visit in December. Just make sure to pack warm clothing and proper gear for the snow!

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Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik may be chilly in December, but it’s also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. The winter months are when you’re most likely to see the northern lights so December is the perfect time to visit.

If you’re there to see the northern lights then we highly recommend you book onto a trip . The guides know the best places to see them and the best nights to look out for them. We were very impressed with the tour, and we got some awesome photos just outside of the city.

You can also sometimes spot them from the city itself, and we were lucky enough to see them here, but it is a little less impressive due to more light pollution. Head to the harbour for your best chance of seeing them!

The city’s Christmas market at Ingolfstorg Square is a must-visit, and there are plenty of winter activities to enjoy, including ice-skating and snowmobiling.

Don’t forget to soak in one of the city’s famous hot springs for a truly Icelandic experience. This is especially fun in winter when it’s cold outside and the water is especially inviting. We highly recommend this tour which includes some of the best natural sights just outside of Reykjavik too.

Book a tour of Icelands top sights here

#11 Europe In December: Visit Rome, Italy

Europe In December: Visit Rome, Italy

December is an interesting time to visit Rome, and in fact one of the best times to visit Italy . The weather can be cold, with average temperatures ranging between 4-14°C (39-57°F), but the city is filled with Christmas festivities and decorations, creating a unique and magical atmosphere.

We were there at the very end of December, between Christmas and new year, and we highly recommend a visit here over the new years festivities. There are numerous firework displays over iconic monuments like the colosseum and they’re really special to watch.

Here are some more things you can do in Rome in December:

  • Visit the Vatican City: The Vatican is always a must-see attraction when visiting Rome, but it’s particularly beautiful during the Christmas season. The square is decorated with a giant Christmas tree and a life-sized nativity scene. You can also attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The Vatican is one of the reasons Italy is so famous .
  • Explore the Christmas markets: Rome has several Christmas markets throughout the city, such as the Piazza Navona Christmas Market and the Mercato Monti Market. You can find unique gifts, local handicrafts, and enjoy some traditional Italian food and drinks.
  • Enjoy the city’s architecture: Rome is known for its stunning architecture, and in December, many of the city’s landmarks are beautifully lit up for the Christmas season. You can take a stroll through the city’s historic center and admire the festive decorations.
  • Try the local cuisine: Italian food is delicious any time of the year, but there’s something special about indulging in comfort food during the winter months. You can try traditional dishes such as pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup), lasagna, and cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper).
  • Visit museums and art galleries: Rome has a wealth of museums and art galleries, many of which are housed in historic buildings. Visiting these places during the winter months can be a great way to escape the cold and learn more about the city’s rich history and culture.

Why not book onto a 12 day Italy tour to get the most from your vacation?

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is a beautiful city to visit in December, with its picturesque canals, historic buildings, and festive atmosphere. We’ve visited in both summer and winter and honestly, winter probably tops it!

The weather in Amsterdam in December can be chilly, with temperatures ranging from 2-8°C (36-46°F), so be sure to pack warm clothing.

Here are some of the best things to do in Amsterdam in December:

Book a canal cruise

Visit the Christmas markets: Amsterdam has several Christmas markets throughout the city, such as the Winter Parade at the Westergasfabriek and the Christmas market at Museumplein. You can find unique gifts, local handicrafts, and enjoy some traditional Dutch food and drinks.

Explore the city’s museums: Amsterdam has many world-class museums, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Stedelijk Museum. Visiting these museums during the winter months can be a great way to escape the cold and learn more about Dutch art and history.

Enjoy the city’s architecture: Amsterdam is known for its beautiful architecture, and in December, many of the city’s buildings are lit up with festive lights. You can take a stroll through the city’s historic center and admire the holiday decorations.

Take a canal cruise: Amsterdam’s canals are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and taking a canal cruise can be a great way to see the city’s architecture from a different perspective. We thought the canal cruises would be closed in the off season, but many canal cruises offer special holiday-themed tours in December.

Try the local cuisine: Dutch cuisine may not be as famous as Italian or French cuisine, but there are still many delicious dishes to try. You can sample traditional Dutch treats such as stroopwafels (caramel-filled waffle cookies) and oliebollen (deep-fried dough balls), which are often eaten during the holiday season. Yum!

Bergen, Norway

Bergen is a charming city to visit in December, with its picturesque harbor, colorful houses, and festive holiday decorations. The weather in Bergen in December can be chilly and rainy, with temperatures ranging from 0-6°C (32-43°F), so be sure to pack warm and waterproof clothing.

Bergen has several Christmas markets throughout the city, such as the Bergen Christmas Market and the Pepperkakebyen Gingerbread Town. You can find unique gifts, local handicrafts, and enjoy some traditional Norwegian food and drinks.

Take the funicular to Mount Fløyen. Mount Fløyen offers spectacular views of Bergen and the surrounding fjords. In December, you can take the funicular up to the mountaintop and enjoy the snowy scenery.

Bergen has many excellent museums and galleries, such as the Bergen Art Museum and the Hanseatic Museum. These are the perfect places to duck out of the cold for a while and learn more about Norwegian history and culture.

Bergen is known for its seafood, and in December, you can try local specialties such as smoked salmon and lutefisk (dried cod). You can also warm up with traditional Norwegian comfort food such as lapskaus (beef and vegetable stew) and fiskegrateng (fish gratin).

While you’re here you should definitely check out the thriving arts scene, with many concerts and plays taking place during the winter months. The Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, for example, often performs special holiday-themed concerts in December.

Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a beautiful city to visit in December, with its stunning architecture, festive holiday markets, and charming old-town atmosphere.

Krakow has several Christmas markets throughout the city, such as the Main Market Square Christmas Market and the Krakow Nativity Scene Contest. You can find unique gifts, enjoy traditional Polish food and drinks, and experience the festive holiday atmosphere.

The Wawel Castle is one of the most significant landmarks in Krakow and is especially enchanting in the winter months when covered in snow. You can take a guided tour of the castle and learn about its fascinating history.

Kids might particularly enjoy the Krakow Christmas cribs exhibition. It is a unique tradition in Krakow, where you can see intricately designed and decorated nativity scenes from all over the world.

After, head to the historic old town of Krakow. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is particularly beautiful in December when adorned with holiday lights and decorations.

Obviously one of the most popular things to do (if you can call it that) is to visit Auschwitz concentration camp .

Although this isn’t a fun Christmas activity it is an incredibly humbling and moving experience, and many people want to go and pay their respects. It’s only through learning about the true autrocity of places like this that we can ensure they never happen again.

Book a tour to Auschwitz through this well respected company

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of Europe in December, but it’s a charming and festive city during the holiday season.

The city’s Christmas markets and decorations are a must-see, and there are plenty of winter activities to enjoy, including ice-skating and holiday concerts.

While you’re here make sure you book a tour to visit the iconic city of Sintra . This is as close to Disney as you’ll get in Spain, only this isn’t a fairytale!

Book a tour to Sintra

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest may not be as famous as other European destinations, but it’s a charming and affordable destination in December. Bucharest was a real surprise for us, as we didn’t have high expectations, but there are some really great things to do here over winter.

The city’s Christmas markets are a must-visit, and the stunning decorations on Piata Unirii and Piata Victoriei are not to be missed. Don’t forget to try some traditional Romanian foods, including sarmale and mici.

If you have time we would highly recommend you book a day trip to visit Dracula’s castle. The Romanian countryside is breathtaking, and the castle itself will blow your mind. Just make sure you book in advance as these tours sell out quick.

Book a trip to Dracula’s castle

Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia in December can be an interesting destination to visit, although it can be quite cold during this time of year. The average temperature in Belgrade in December is around 0°C (32°F), and snowfall is common.

One of the main attractions of Belgrade in December is the New Year’s Eve celebration, which is known for its lively atmosphere and fireworks display. The city center and Kalemegdan Fortress are popular places to gather and celebrate the new year.

In addition to New Year’s Eve, there are several other cultural events and festivals that take place in Belgrade in December, including the Belgrade Winter Festival, which features music concerts, theater performances, and other cultural events.

If you enjoy winter sports, there are several ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive of Belgrade, including Kopaonik and Zlatibor, where you can ski, snowboard, and enjoy other winter activities.

Belgrade also has a rich history and culture, with many museums, art galleries, and historic landmarks to visit, such as the Belgrade Fortress, St. Sava Temple, and the National Museum of Serbia.

Overall, while the weather in Belgrade in December can be chilly, there are still plenty of things to see and do, especially if you enjoy celebrating the holidays or exploring cultural attractions. Just make sure to pack warm clothing and comfortable shoes for walking.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia in December can be a charming and festive destination to visit during the holiday season. The average temperature in Ljubljana in December is around -1°C to 5°C (30°F to 41°F), and the city is often decorated with Christmas lights and decorations.

One of the main attractions in Ljubljana during December is the Christmas market, which takes place in the city center and features stalls selling local crafts, food, and drinks. The market also offers entertainment, such as live music and cultural performances.

In addition to the Christmas market, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Ljubljana during December, such as ice skating at the Tivoli Park ice rink, visiting the city’s museums and galleries, and exploring the old town.

If you’re willing to venture outside of Ljubljana, there are several ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive, such as Kranjska Gora and Vogel Ski Resort.

A food tour is a great winter option, and Slovenia has some interesting cuisine, with a variety of local soups, tapas, charcuterie, street food, wine, beer, and coffee on offer to keep you warm!

Book one of the best food tours

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of Europe in December, but it’s a charming and festive city during the holiday season.

One of the main attractions in Barcelona during December is the Christmas markets, which take place in several locations throughout the city, such as the Plaza Catalunya, Plaza de Sant Jaume, and the Fira de Santa Llúcia. These markets offer a variety of local crafts, decorations, and food, and can be a great place to pick up unique souvenirs or holiday gifts.

In addition to the Christmas markets, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Barcelona during December, such as ice skating at the Skating Club Barcelona, visiting the city’s museums and galleries, and exploring the Gothic Quarter and other historic neighborhoods.

If you’re looking for some sun and sand, you can also visit one of the city’s nearby beaches, such as Barceloneta or Nova Icària, although the water may be too cold for swimming.

The main attractions in Barcelona are busy year round, so you’ll want to book skip the line tickets to ensure you aren’t waiting for ages in the cold!

Book your skip the line tickets here

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm may be chilly in December, but it’s also a stunning destination during the holiday season. The city’s Christmas markets and decorations are a must-see, and the iconic landmarks, including the Royal Palace and the City Hall, are beautifully illuminated for the holidays.

One of the main attractions in Stockholm during December is the Christmas market in the historic Old Town (Gamla Stan), which features traditional Swedish crafts, food, and drinks, as well as live music and cultural performances. The market is a great place to pick up unique gifts and souvenirs for your loved ones back home.

In addition to the Christmas market, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Stockholm during December, such as ice skating at Kungsträdgården or the Vasaparken skating rink, or even just exploring the beautiful parks and neighborhoods if you’re looking for something on a budget.

If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, there are several ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive of Stockholm, such as Romme Alpin and Kungsberget.

Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is a charming and festive destination in December, with its Christmas markets and stunning decorations. Don’t forget to try some traditional Swiss foods, including fondue and raclette, and enjoy a cup of mulled wine to warm up on a cold winter day.

The average temperature in Zurich in December is around -1°C to 5°C (30°F to 41°F), and snowfall is common, creating a beautiful winter wonderland.

One of the main attractions in Zurich during December is the Christmas market in the heart of the old town, which features over 150 stalls selling local crafts, food, and drinks. The market also offers entertainment, such as live music and cultural performances, and a large Christmas tree in front of the opera house.

If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, there are several ski resorts located within a short drive of Zurich, such as Flumserberg and Davos Klosters.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a stunning destination year-round, but it’s particularly enchanting in December. The city’s Christmas markets and decorations are a must-see, and the stunning Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are beautifully illuminated for the holidays.

The average temperature in Istanbul in December is around 8°C to 14°C (46°F to 57°F) with common sunny days, and the city is generally less crowded than during the peak tourist season.

One of the main attractions in Istanbul during December is the festive decorations and lights in the city’s historic neighborhoods, such as Sultanahmet and Beyoglu. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar are also great places to visit for holiday shopping, and you can find unique Turkish handicrafts, textiles, and spices.

In addition to shopping, there are several winter activities to enjoy in Istanbul during December, such as visiting the city’s museums and galleries, exploring the iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and taking a boat tour on the Bosphorus.

Overall, Istanbul in December can be a culturally rich and enjoyable destination to visit, especially if you enjoy festive decorations, shopping, and exploring historic sites.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city to visit no matter what time of year. To be honest, the weather here is questionable year round so the city is well set up for the cold and the rain. We had some bitterly cold days when we were there and it didn’t ruin our enjoyment at all.

One of the main attractions in Edinburgh during December is the Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens, which features stalls selling local crafts, food, and drinks. The market also offers entertainment, such as live music and cultural performances.

The market is also close to the famous Edinburgh Castle, which is a must-visit attraction in the city. Take a guided tour to get the full experience.

Book a guided tour of the castle here

In addition to the Christmas market, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Edinburgh during December, such as ice skating at St. Andrew Square, visiting the city’s museums and galleries, and exploring the Royal Mile and other historic neighborhoods.

If you’re willing to venture outside of Edinburgh, there are several ski resorts located within a few hours’ drive, such as Glencoe and Cairngorm Mountain. They don’t really compare to ski resorts in the alps, and snow cover might be thin, but it’s a fun day out if you’re feeling active.

Don’t forget to try some traditional Scottish foods, including haggis and neeps and tatties, and warm up with a cup of mulled wine or hot toddy.

London, England

London is a bustling and festive destination in December, with its Christmas markets and stunning decorations. December is one of the best times to visit England . We have visited London in December countless times and it never ceases to feel magical.

One of the main attractions in London during December is the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which features an ice rink, festive markets, amusement rides, and a giant observation wheel.

The city also has several of the best Christmas markets in the UK, such as the Southbank Centre Winter Market and the Leicester Square Christmas Market.

Check out where to stay in London on a first time visit

In addition to the Winter Wonderland and Christmas markets, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in London during December, such as ice skating at Somerset House or the Natural History Museum, visiting the city’s museums and galleries (The Science Museum is great for kids), and exploring the historic neighborhoods.

London also has several world-class theaters and concert venues, and you can catch a holiday performance, such as the Nutcracker ballet or a Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

It would be easy to spend a week here, but most people only have two days in London to spare before visiting the rest of England in winter .

Don’t forget to see the famous Christmas lights on Oxford Street and Regent Street, and enjoy a cup of mulled wine at one of the city’s cozy pubs.

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Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff may be a smaller city, but it’s a charming and affordable destination in December. You could combine it with a trip to some of the UKs other iconic cities.

One of the main attractions in Cardiff during December is the Christmas market, which takes place in the city center and features stalls selling local crafts, food, and drinks. The market also offers entertainment, such as live music and cultural performances.

In addition to the Christmas market, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Cardiff during December, such as ice skating at Winter Wonderland in City Hall, visiting the city’s museums and galleries, and exploring the Castle Quarter and other historic neighborhoods.

If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, there are several parks and nature reserves located within a short drive of Cardiff, such as Bute Park and Forest Farm Country Park.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Belfast is a vibrant and festive destination in December, with its Christmas markets and stunning decorations. Don’t forget to try some traditional Irish foods, including soda bread and Ulster fry, and enjoy a pint of Guinness at one of the city’s cozy pubs.

In addition to the Christmas market, there are several other winter activities to enjoy in Belfast during December, such as ice skating at the Dundonald Ice Bowl or the W5 Winterland.

Belfast also has a vibrant live music scene, and you can catch a holiday concert or performance at one of the city’s many music venues or theaters.

If you’re willing to venture outside of Belfast, there are several other attractions nearby, such as the Giant’s Causeway and the Titanic Belfast museum.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is a charming city to visit in December, with its festive holiday decorations, cozy pubs, and lively atmosphere.

The weather in Dublin in December can be chilly and damp, with temperatures ranging from 3-9°C (37-48°F), so be sure to pack warm and waterproof clothing. We got lucky and had sunshine while we were there, but that certainly isn’t the norm!

Here are some things you can do in Dublin in December:

  • Visit the Christmas markets: Dublin has several Christmas markets throughout the city, such as the Dublin Flea Christmas Market and the George’s Street Arcade Christmas Market. You can find unique gifts, local handicrafts, and enjoy some traditional Irish food and drinks.
  • Explore the city’s museums and galleries: Dublin has many excellent museums and galleries, such as the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Visiting these places during the winter months can be a great way to escape the cold and learn more about Irish history and culture.
  • Enjoy the city’s pubs and music scene: Dublin is known for its lively pub culture and music scene. In December, many pubs feature live music performances and holiday-themed drinks, such as mulled wine and hot toddies.
  • Take a walking tour: Dublin is a compact city that can easily be explored on foot. Taking a walking tour can be a great way to see the city’s historic landmarks and learn more about its rich history and culture.
  • Try the local cuisine: Irish cuisine is hearty and comforting, with dishes such as Irish stew, boxty (potato pancakes), and soda bread. In December, you can also try traditional holiday treats such as mince pies and Christmas pudding.

Malta

Head to Malta for some summer sun in December, when you tend to get some pretty nice temperatures (sometimes even sunbathing hot, though usually more like pleasant sunny days).

There are so many pretty spots to explore here, so we would suggest hiring a car and heading along the coast as well as visiting some of the main towns and cities.

In December, you can visit Malta’s charming towns and villages, such as Valletta, Mdina, and Sliema, which are decorated with Christmas lights and offer a festive atmosphere. You can also visit the famous Christmas markets, enjoy traditional Maltese cuisine, and attend concerts and cultural events.

If you’re interested in outdoor activities, December is a good time for hiking, as the weather is cooler and more comfortable. You can explore the stunning countryside of Malta and Gozo, and visit landmarks such as the Blue Lagoon, the Azure Window, and the Dingli Cliffs.

Overall, Malta in December can be a great choice for travelers who want to experience a different side of the island, away from the bustling crowds of summer. Just be sure to pack layers, as temperatures can drop at night.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is a charming and affordable destination in December, with its picturesque Old Town and cozy cafes.

The city’s Christmas markets and decorations are a must-see, and the stunning Toompea Castle is beautifully illuminated for the holidays.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, also known as the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus,” is a must-visit destination during the holiday season.

The average temperature in Rovaniemi in December is around -13°C to -6°C (9°F to 21°F), and the city is often covered in a thick layer of snow.

One of the main attractions in Rovaniemi during December is Santa Claus Village , located just outside the city. Here you can meet Santa Claus himself, ride on a reindeer or husky sled, and even cross the Arctic Circle. You can also visit the Santa Claus Post Office and send a letter or postcard with the official Arctic Circle postmark.

Book this popular husky sled ride before it sells out

Ice fishing , snowmobiling, and visiting the Ranua Wildlife Park, which features animals native to the Arctic region are also popular winter activities here. It’s a totally different way of life if you’re not accustomed to these colder climates.

Rovaniemi is also a great place to see the Northern Lights, and you can book a guided tour or stay in a glass igloo to experience this natural wonder.

Tromsø, Norway

For all you adventure seekers, Tromsø in December can be a stunning and unforgettable destination to visit during the winter season. The average temperature in Tromsø in December is around -5°C to -1°C (23°F to 30°F), and the city is often covered in snow.

One of the main attractions in Tromsø during December is the Northern Lights, which are visible in the area from late September to early April. The best way to see them is by booking a tour like this highly rated one , as the guides know where and when to search for them and can help you find the best photography spots too.

Book a northern lights tour

Tromsø also has several museums and galleries, such as the Polaria Arctic Aquarium and the Tromsø Museum, which showcase the history and culture of the region.

You can also get involved in some more active pursuits, such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, and visiting the Tromsø Wilderness Center, which features Sami culture and reindeer sledding.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

You might think that Dubrovnik in Croatia is purely a summer destination, but it’s also a great place to visit in December.

Croatia in December can be a peaceful and off-season destination to visit, with fewer crowds and lower prices compared to the peak tourist season. While some attractions and activities may have limited availability or hours due to the winter season, there are still several things to do and see in Dubrovnik during December:

Visit the Old Town: Explore the historic Old Town of Dubrovnik, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and walk along the city walls for stunning views of the Adriatic Sea.

Attend a Christmas market: Dubrovnik has several Christmas markets during December, offering local crafts, food, and drinks, as well as live music and entertainment.

See the holiday lights: The city is beautifully decorated with holiday lights and decorations during December, creating a festive atmosphere for visitors.

Visit museums and galleries: Dubrovnik has several museums and galleries, such as the Dubrovnik Museum and the Art Gallery Dubrovnik, showcasing the history and culture of the city.

Take a cable car ride: Enjoy panoramic views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area by taking a cable car ride up to Mount Srd, which is open year-round.

Attend a concert or performance: Dubrovnik has several theaters and concert venues, such as the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra and the Marin Drzic Theatre, offering holiday performances and concerts during December.

Enjoy the local cuisine: Dubrovnik is known for its delicious seafood and traditional Croatian cuisine, and there are several restaurants and cafes open during December for visitors to sample the local fare.

If you’re looking for snow in Croatia then head inland instead, where you’ll find skiing and winter sports alongside snowy towns and cities!

Overall, while some activities and attractions may have limited availability in Dubrovnik during December, there are still plenty of things to do and see in the city, and the off-season can offer a unique and peaceful travel experience.

Athens, Greece

Athens is one of our favourite European cities. In fact, Greece in general is a pretty special place. Visiting Athens, Greece in December can be a great option for several reasons:

  • Mild weather: Athens in December has mild weather, with average temperatures ranging from 9°C to 16°C (48°F to 61°F), making it a comfortable time to explore the city without the summer heat.
  • Fewer crowds: December is the off-season for tourism in Athens, so you can avoid the crowds and long lines at popular attractions and landmarks.
  • Christmas celebrations: Athens has several Christmas markets, festive lights, and events during December, which can be a fun way to experience the local culture and traditions.
  • Lower prices: The off-season also means lower prices for accommodations and activities, making Athens a budget-friendly destination during December.
  • Cultural activities: Athens has several museums and cultural events, such as the Acropolis Museum and the Athens Festival, which can be enjoyed year-round, including during December.
  • Winter sports: Athens is close to several ski resorts, such as Parnassos and Kalavrita, where you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports during December.

Overall, visiting Athens in December can be a great way to experience the city without the crowds and high prices of peak tourism season, while still enjoying mild weather, cultural activities, and winter festivities.

If you prefer a bit of island life then consider 4 days in Santorini too. This usually crowded island is so much quieter in the winter months but no less pretty!

We’ve answered some of the questions we get asked the most about visiting Europe in December.

Is December a good time to visit Europe?

Is December a good time to visit Europe?

December can be a wonderful time to visit Europe, especially if you enjoy the festive holiday season. In fact, it’s one of our favourite times of year to visit.

Many cities have beautiful Christmas markets, decorations, and events to enjoy, and there are often fewer crowds than during peak summer season.

However, it’s important to be prepared for cold weather and potentially snowy conditions, especially in northern and eastern European countries.

Where in Europe is warmest in December?

If you’re looking for warm weather in Europe in December, your best bet is to head south to countries such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

Some Mediterranean islands, such as Malta and Cyprus, can also be quite mild during the winter months. However, keep in mind that temperatures can still be chilly, especially at night.

Is Europe cheap in December?

Is Europe cheap in December?

It can depend on where you go and what you do, but in general, Europe is not the cheapest destination during the holiday season.

Prices for flights, accommodation, and activities can be higher than during other times of the year, and popular destinations can be quite crowded. For example, cities popular for their Christmas markets are likely to be more expensive over Christmas.

However, there are still plenty of affordable options, especially if you choose to stay in smaller cities or less touristy areas.

What To Pack For A Winter In Europe

Obviously this depends somewhat on where about in Europe you’re going and what activities you have planned, but some of the things you’ll need are very similar for all European destinations.

We would recommend lots of layers. You will find variable weather in the winter months and having the option to add or remove clothing throughout the day is going to be a lifesaver.

Make sure you pack a quality insulating layer and this should see you through all sorts of weather. You can layer it with a stylish coat, or wear a nice dress under it for meals out, but while you’re out in the elements a decent insulating layer will keep you warm and dry.

Helly Hansen has a fantastic option for men and women . We rely on these way too much!

For footwear think waterproof boots. If you’re having a city break expect puddles and splashes from cars and if you’re hiking then you’re going to be seeing a decent amount of mud and/or snow. If you’re looking for something that looks classy enough to wear our to dinner but hardwearing enough for hiking then the Bowstring Primaloft boots for men and the Sorrento boots for women are our go tos.

On top of your usual winter outfits you’ll probably want to bring a waterproof backpack for day to day that can protect any electronics you want to bring. We love the Helly Hansen Stockholm backpack for city breaks because it’s rugged and waterproof but looks super classy.

You might want to check out these more comprehensive posts for more advice.

  • London packing list
  • Greek packing list

Conclusion: Europe In December

Europe in December offers a plethora of charming, festive, and magical destinations to explore. From the stunning Christmas markets in Germany to the winter outdoor activities of Tromso, there is so much for everyone.

We love Europe in December and know you’re going to have the best vacation. Prices tend to be better, crowds less and the Christmas celebrations plentiful. Enjoy every minute!

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17 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December With Family

European Christmas Market

From gorgeous places to escape for some winter sun to the most festive of Bavarian Christmas markets, there’s a magic that descends upon Europe in December that – despite often subzero temperatures – makes it the top of many family bucket lists.

We got to experience an incredible nine cities in our last European adventure in December on a train tour of Europe , but for this article, we’ve reached out to other family travellers for even more inspiration on where you could include in a Europe winter itinerary with kids.

Top Tips for Experiencing Europe In December

Bansko, bulgaria, barcelona, spain, dublin, ireland, lapland, finland, london, england, munich, germany, paris, france, prague, czechia, reykjavik, iceland, rome, italy, rothenburg ob der tauber, germany, salzburg, austria, seville, spain, stuttgart, germany, venice, italy, vienna, austria, warsaw, poland, more europe travel inspiration.

You will want to read this post alongside our European travel guides, including:

  • Top Tips For Travelling to Europe in Winter
  • Eurail around Europe With Kids
  • Our Complete European Packing List For Winter

Don’t forget the long-awaited ETIAS (online Visa waiver) will likely come into effect in early 2024. So even if you’re from a country that doesn’t need a Schengen Visa to visit Europe, you may still need an ETIAS for all members of your family.

A collage of images from Europe in December with winter blue  colours - titled  17 Fabulous Places to Visit in Europe in December

Suggested by Vicki from This Parenting Thing

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 23°F (-5°C)

As part of our full-time travel adventure, we decided that some snow for winter would be nice and if we could find somewhere with other travelling families hanging out, then even better.

Luckily for us, at Worldschool Hub in Bansko, Bulgaria, ticked all our boxes, and we arrived in December.

My first recommendation is to check out the Sunday market in town. Packed with fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, pickles, crafts and sweet treats. Super affordable, and plenty of freebies for the younger kids from the stall holders.

OG - Vicki - Bansko

Next up, hot springs. There is a lot in the area, and after visiting a few, for families, we feel that Alpha Spa and Pool is best. Fabulous outdoor, naturally heated pools with a shallow one for those less confident swimmers, a colder one for the hardier and a super warm hot tub to thaw you out nicely. They also have saunas and steam rooms, as well as a bar and restaurant to keep you going for hours.

Bansko is a ski town , and although the milder weather this year meant that the slopes couldn’t open fully in December, we enjoyed riding up the Ski Gondola to the bottom slopes of the Pirin mountains and playing in the snow there. Sledging, snowball fights and snow angels all topped off with hot chocolates and mulled wine. The lack of snow also meant we could hike up the “snow road”, enjoying the woodland hikes and picturesque streams and rivers running down the mountain.

Don’t miss the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the main square and the New Year’s Day folk festival full of amazing music and incredible costumes.

Bankso is a wonderful cheap destination in Europe if you’re looking for a great value outdoor European adventure with your family.

Suggested by Melissa from The Family Voyage

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 56°F (13°C) and lows of 40°F (4°C)

Barcelona is a delightful addition to your European winter itinerary! It balances the best of both worlds, with a festive atmosphere but relatively low crowds and mild temperatures. When the temperature dips at night, it’s easy to pop in for every child’s favourite Spanish food, churros con chocolate.

trips to europe in december

Many of the city’s streets and alleys are adorned with overhead light displays as the country’s municipalities compete for who has the best decorations. If you’re seeking Christmas markets, you’ll find the largest in front of Barcelona Cathedral and smaller ones sprinkled throughout the city in places like La Sagrada Familia and the Columbus Monument. The large ones operate from late November until just before Christmas.

Families deciding where to stay in Barcelona with kids should consider El Born. This charming neighbourhood is still in the walkable historic centre, but it’s less rowdy than the nearby Gothic Quarter. Be careful as you seek accommodations, as many rooms in the city only accommodate two or three guests.

Suggested by Catherine from Travel Around Ireland

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 47°F (8°C) and lows of 39°F (4°C)

A great European city to visit with kids in December is Dublin, Ireland. Apart from Christmas, December is typically a quieter time when it comes to tourists, but unlike some cities in Europe, everything remains open in the Irish capital.

Dublin has some Christmas markets centred around Mary Street and Henry Street, the main shopping street on the north side of the city. There are some smaller markets in other areas of the city.

OG - Catherine - Dublin

On the south side, Grafton Street has Christmas lights to enjoy while browsing the shops, and there are other light displays around the city to get visitors into the festive spirit.

All tourist attractions remain open, and many guides are also running their walking and food tours of Dublin , during which you might just visit a Christmas market or two.

To be in the heart of the city, stay on the southside in Temple Bar (but beware of noisy Christmas parties at night), or close to St Stephen’s Green.

Note that the 8th of December is the day during which many people from outside Dublin flock to the city to do their Christmas shopping. So, it can get busy on this day. But, aside from that, December is a great time to visit Dublin with kids .

Suggested by Katy From Otis and Us

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 19°F (-7°C) and lows of 8°F (-13°C)

Lapland is truly magical in December and an incredible Winter family holiday. There are so many options for Lapland holidays , including package holidays and DIY holidays. You can fly into Helsinki, the capital of Finland and head to a Christmas market before moving on to Lapland for the ultimate Christmas destination.

OG - Katy - Lapland

Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland and is known for the Northern Lights and, of course, is the home of Father Christmas. Lapland offers an abundance of family-friendly activities in December, including husky rides, reindeer safaris, snowmobile safaris, skiing, sledging, and a visit to see Santa!

It can be difficult to decide which resort to stay in Lapland. We flew into Helsinki and then took connecting flights to Kittila, staying near Yllas, however, there are many resorts to choose from, including Rovaniemi, Levi, Luosto, and Saariselka. There are also many accommodation options for families in Lapland too, including in a glass igloo, hotel, apartment or log cabin!

Combine a visit to Helsinki with a stay in Lapland for a truly magical family-friendly Christmas break.

Suggested by Cathy from Mummy Travels

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 48°F (9°C) and lows of 40°F (4°C)

From light trails to festive markets, pop-up ice rinks, family-friendly theatre and other Christmas events, London really is magical in winter – plus, you’ll find a string of things to do at Christmas in London with kids .

The Christmas lights are switched on in the main shopping streets from early November, while you’ll find special light trails popping up at some of the historic houses and palaces too. Don’t miss the Christmas markets, with around 10 to choose from. Winter Wonderland, with its rides, shows, Santa’s grotto, an ice rink and stalls, is one of the biggest, so it has timed tickets and an entry fee, but stroll through others, including some by the riverside, in Leicester Square and in Trafalgar Square.

trips to europe in december

Add in ice skating in the shadow of the city’s most iconic buildings, a steam train with Santa aboard, pantomimes and child-friendly theatre productions, special family activities at the main attractions and some unforgettable hot chocolate; it’s perfect for a winter break.

Unsurprisingly, London gets very busy during the Christmas season, so visiting earlier in December is a good way to enjoy the festive fun but avoid the crowds. Bear it in mind when booking accommodation, too: consider areas like the South Bank, close to key attractions with their own festive events but away from the busiest shopping streets.

Suggested by Keri from Mama Loves A Drink

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 26°F (-3°C)

The clinking of beer hall steins and the chime of the Glockenspiel in Marienplatz is only part of the magic of Munich during the festive month of December. The wonderful warm aromas of gingerbread and pretzels fill the air, along with traditional Glüwhein and Kinderpunsch in every flavour combination you can imagine at Chrsitkindlmarkt, one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets.

This traditional Bavarian market has roots dating back to the 14th century and sprawls across several locations of Old Town München. The stunning neo-Gothic town hall in Marienplatz takes centre place through much of lat December until Christmas Eve, with live Bavarian Stubenmusik and choirs frequenting the balcony with performances throughout the festive season.

A mulled wine hut in the English Garden Munich in mid winter snow

Our Munich highlight in December was a snowy trip to the Englischer Garten, where a crisp silence falls over the giant urban park. The warming scents of bratwursts and chestnuts fill the space normally filled with summer sunbathers to make for a picture-perfect white Christmas scene.

If you’re travelling to Munich by train, there’s a wide selection of hotels, many offering family-sized rooms situated around Karlsplatz (between München Hauptbahnhof and the Old Town), where the majority of market stalls can be found.

Suggested by Annabel from Smudged Postcard

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 44°F (7°C) and lows of 36°F (2°C)

The French capital is a beautiful city to explore at any time of year, but December is a particularly special time to visit Paris with children .

Although Paris is cold in December, there are plenty of places to buy a warming crepe for the kids too much on as they wander through the pretty streets. To encourage reluctant young visitors to walk that little bit further, Paris has the perfect reward – unlimited free rides on the carousels (or merry-go-rounds) which are dotted through the city.

OG - Annabel - Paris

The best place to head for is Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, which is beautifully decorated with lights projected onto the town hall. Here, families can enjoy rides on the carousels together. There is a small selection of stalls here selling vin chaud and hot chocolate.

A ride on one of the Seine boats is a great way to admire the sights of Paris from a warm interior. Top tip : wrap up warm if you plan to scale the Eiffel Tower – it’s a lot chillier at the top than it is at the bottom!

Paris is great throughout December – it’s not essential to visit during Christmas. The period between Christmas and New Year is a little quieter and a great time to tick off some of the tourist attractions.

The Luxembourg Gardens are always a hit with families – stay at Hotel Baume to be within easy reach of this popular park. The hotel has suites and interconnecting rooms.

Suggested by Erin from WanderlustwithKids

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 36°F (2°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Prague is a great destination to visit in December with kids.

Prague’s Old Town Square transforms into a winter wonderland complete with a large, beautifully-decorated Christmas tree and thousands of festive lights. The largest of Prague’s Christmas Markets is held here and has an array of stalls selling everything from traditional handcrafted gifts to tasty treats like crepe-like palačinky and sweet trdelnik.

In addition to the Christmas Markets, Mikuláš Day, known in other countries as St. Nicolas Day, is a fun event for kids.

OG - Erin - Prague

On December 5th, Mikuláš, along with an angel and a frightening-looking character named Krampus, is seen throughout town, visiting children at the Christmas Markets to see if they have been good.

If they have, the angel writes their name down in a large book, and Mikuláš knows to bring them a present.

And for a festive way to see the best of the city, hop on the Christmas Tram, which is decorated with lights and takes a circular route past some of the most popular sights in Prague.

There are plenty of family-friendly accommodations in Prague, whether you’re looking to stay in the midst of things in the Old Town or in a quieter area in the New Town.

Suggested by KyAnn from KidTripster

Those who visit Iceland during the holiday season will discover that it’s a place of myth and majesty.

The myth relates to tales of Christmas trolls. There’s not just one single Santa, but instead, 13 mischievous Yule Lads. For 13 nights leading up to Christmas Eve, children leave shoes on windowsills. If they’re good, the lads leave them treats, if not, the lads might leave a rotten potato.

OG - KyAnn -Reykjavik

The majesty comes in the form of frozen waterfalls, snowy landscapes, and steaming hot springs. You might get lucky and see the Northern Lights. Well-known tourist destinations like the Golden Circle and the black sand beach are still accessible in winter, although we recommend that you leave the driving to professional tour operators .

Base yourself in Reykjavik. Tours pick up passengers at hotels around the city. We love the historic Kvosin Hotel. Rooms include kitchenettes, which are always helpful for families. The hotel’s within walking distance of major attractions in Reykjavik.

During the month of December, Downtown Reykjavik sparkles with holiday lights and festive decor. Small Christmas markets take place in and around Reykjavik on weekends. Christmas begins at 6 pm sharp on Christmas Eve, marked by the simultaneous ringing of church bells around the country.

Collage of places to visit in Europe in December at night

Suggested by Marta from Mama Loves Rome

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 54°F (12°C) and lows of 38°F (3°C)

If you are looking for a fabulous destination for a December city trip with kids, then look no further than Rome!

The Eternal City is endlessly fascinating for kids and has activities so varied you are sure to find something your children will love, whatever their age.

OG - Marta - Rome

December is a great time to visit the Colosseum, kids’ number one must-see. It is also a great time to visit St Peter’s Square at the Vatican, which boasts one of the best Christmas trees in the city and stunning Piazza Navona, with its cute Christmas market.

As well as historical landmarks, kids’ activities in Rome include mosaic classes, cooking classes , treasure hunt tours, and outdoor pursuits such as biking in the Borghese Gardens, lovely during this chilly yet often sunny time of the year.

The Christmas season in Rome starts on the 8th of December, and visitors’ numbers grow steadily from that day to the end of early January included. Booking of attractions and accommodation is a must. For the best experience, secure accommodation in the Pantheon/ Navona area or the Monti neighbourhood, among the most charming and best located in Rome.

Suggested by Marianne from PastaPretzels&Passports

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 37°F (3°C) and lows of 28°F (-2°C)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a charming medieval town located in the Franconia region of Germany. It’s a popular destination for tourists all year round, but in December, it transforms into a winter wonderland that’s truly worth visiting.

One of the main reasons to visit Rothenburg in December is to experience the town’s famous Christmas market. Known as the Reiterlesmarkt, it features a variety of traditional crafts, wooden toys, and gifts, as well as delicious food and drink.

Enjoy live music and entertainment while you shop, and don’t forget to try a cup of white Glühwein – a Rothenburg speciality. The markets are open from the end of November until the end of December, so there’s plenty of time to take in all the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

trips to europe in december

Another highlight of a December visit to Rothenburg is the town’s Christmas lights. The streets are lined with beautiful, colourful lights, creating a magical atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic stroll or a family outing.

At night, experience the town’s charm with a family-friendly candlelit Night Watchman’s tour. Meander through the town’s narrow streets, past beautifully lit buildings and monuments, all while learning a bit of the town’s history.

Other activities to enjoy in Rothenburg during December include visiting local museums, such as the town’s famous Christmas museum, exploring some of the historical buildings like the Gothic St. James Church, or walking along the town’s famous fortification walls.

So pack your bags and head out to this charming German town for a memorable and magical December family vacation.

Suggested by Jenn from Those Johnson Boys

Salzburg is a quaint city surrounded by a dramatic landscape, making it the perfect spot to experience a fairytale-like vacation . From exploring a fortress to sipping coffee (or hot chocolate for the younger ones!) at the same cafes frequented by Mozart, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time.

In December, the magic of Christmas really comes alive in Salzburg. You may even get a snowy day, turning the city into a winter wonderland.

OG - Jenn - Salzburg

While you’ll come across several Christmas markets scattered around the city, you can’t miss the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt at the Dom and Residenzplatz. Its roots date back to the 15th century, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. It’s open from mid-November until January 1st.

When looking for accommodation, choosing a hotel in Altstadt (Old Town) will put you right in the heart of the main attractions. If you’d rather be located closer to the train station, Neustadt is a great area to stay.

Suggested by Astrid from The Wandering Daughter

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 61°F (16°C) and lows of 43°F (6°C)

The city of Seville is an ideal European city to visit in December if you’re looking to escape the cold in Southern Spain . Not only is Seville decked out in festive lights during December, but you’ll also experience pleasantly mild weather.

trips to europe in december

Many of Seville’s beautiful buildings date back thousands of years. The city is influenced by the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and other cultures. Catch a glimpse of these cultures with a visit to the Royal Alcazar or watch a flamenco show at Teatro de Flamenco. Then, stroll through Seville’s historic streets while munching on delicious churros and buñuelos.

In December, keep an eye out for nativity scenes, known as belen. You’ll find them at churches and cathedrals. However, businesses will also install nativity window displays. To stay close to the action, find a hotel in Casco Antiguo. Alternatively, look for hotels in the Triana neighbourhood, which is home to a handful of great restaurants.

Suggested by Diana from Travels in Poland

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 40°F (4°C) and lows of 29°F (-2°C)

A major city in southern Germany, just a two-hour drive from the French, Austrian, and Swiss borders, Stuttgart is a great place to visit for December before continuing on to other beautiful locations. The Stuttgart “Weihnachtsmarkt is one of Germany’s oldest and largest Christmas markets, visited by millions every year. It typically runs for one month, from November 23 to December 23 and has stalls in different areas of downtown Stuttgart.

trips to europe in december

There is a children’s fairyland that takes children on a steam train ride around a beautiful miniaturized version of Stuttgart. There are concerts at Alten Schloss that are free to the public and various other types of entertainment.

There is typically a Nordic market, a children’s area, and numerous artisan shops not seen at other markets, and in 2022, the market added a Winter Hut, with ice stick shooting and an array of food and beverage items such as the infamous gluhwein Germany is known for. There is usually an annual ice rink, though, in 2022, it changed to a skating rink to help the city reduce energy costs.

With over 300 merchants, the entire Christmas market is quite special, as Stuttgart is nestled in a valley, thus, twinkling lights from houses and buildings nearby are hard to miss. Kronenhotel Stuttgart is a great palace to stay in, as this 4-star hotel is centrally located with easy walkable access to the centre.

Suggested by Marta from Mama Loves Italy

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 44°F (7°C) and lows of 33°F (1°C)

Venice is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a fantastic destination for a December city trip with kids. Entirely built in water and famous for its evocative atmospheres, Venice is like a giant playground for families, a place with many fun activities that will keep kids and adults busy and entertained!

During a winter visit to Venice , families can enjoy the famous Doge’s Palace, the incredible St Mark’s Basilica and, of course, a gondola ride. Art-loving kids can have fun taking one of the many hands-on workshops, teaching them local arts such as mask making and glass making, great activities for winter, especially when bad weather is possible. Active kids will love taking a rowing class or going ice skating on one of the ice rinks that dot the city in winter.

OG - Marta - Venice

Venice gets busy during Christmas, and early booking of activities and accommodation is mandatory. Visitors’ numbers peak around the 8th of December, a National holiday, and again during the week between Christmas and New Year but tend to be low during the rest of the month. Stay in Cannaregio or Dorsoduro, two beautiful and well-served areas with accommodation options to suit all budgets.

Suggested by Keri from Little City Trips

Vienna is a classic European city to visit in December, with some of the best Christmas Markets dotted all around the city. The most famous is “Wiener Christkindlmarkt” – Vienna Dream Christmas Market at Rathausplatz. Not the largest of all the markets, but the ice skating rink set in front of City Hall is one of the largest in Europe and the most magical of Christmas settings.

The fun continues across the city with the year-round fun fair Prater, a great spot for kids, whatever the season. At Wintermarkt am Riesenradplatz, you can ride one of the oldest wooden Ferris wheels in Europe before jumping in your dodgem car, visiting the Chocolate Factory or Madam Tussauds, then warm up with your hot chocolate, kinderpunsch, Glühwein or Schnapps!

There are more Christmas markets to be found in Stephansplatz, Schönbrunn Palace, Maria Theresien Square, and one of our favourites, the Arts and Crafts market on Karlsplatz, where the focus is on local handicrafts.

A christmas market in Vienna on a sunny December day

Most markets in Vienna run from late November and up to the 23rd of December (Christmas is celebrated by families in Austria on the evening of the 24th), though some continue through until the first week of January.

Staying near the very centre of town and Stephansplatz will give you the most options for heading to the markets on foot each evening or catching the affordable and convenient Wien Metro.

Suggested by Mark from Poland Travel Expert

Average December Temperatures: Expect daytime highs of 34°F (1°C) and lows of 25°F (-4°C)

Warsaw, in winter, can be a great destination for a family trip with kids. The city offers many activities that can be enjoyed indoors, such as visiting museums, art galleries and indoor playgrounds. Some popular sightseeing options include the National Museum, the observation deck at the Palace of Culture, the Hop on hop off bus and the Pinball Station.

For indoor playtime, check out the Playground at the Warsaw Uprising Museum or the Children’s Room at the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanow. You will find all the December Christmas lights equal anywhere in Europe. They were quite stunning.

OG - Mark - Warsaw

Outdoor activities, such as ice skating, are also available in the winter, with several rinks around the city, such as the one at the Old Town Square. Additionally, you can take a stroll through the colourful Christmas markets, where you can find traditional crafts and food.

The best part of the city to stay in is in and around the Royal Castle area of Warsaw. We choose the budget option for our winter accommodation in Warsaw and stayed at Safestay, an upmarket hostel with all the features of a hotel.

It’s important to note that Warsaw can be quite cold during the winter, so make sure to dress warmly and bring appropriate clothing and gear for your children.

We hope you’ve found the perfect inspiration for your next December trip in amongst this fabulous selection of European destinations. From magical Christmas markets to making the most of snowy weather and meeting Father Christmas himself, Europe can make the perfect winter family vacation.

Looking at visiting Europe with kids at another time of year? We’ve got plenty of ideas and inspiration for your European plans, why not check out next:

  • The Best Winter Sun Destinations in Europe
  • Family Ski Resorts in Europe Perfect For Beginners
  • February Half-Term Break Ideas Around Europe
  • Plan Your Spring Break in Europe
  • Autumn Half-Term Escapes From the UK in October

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trips to europe in december

30+ Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

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Want to know some of the best places to visit in Europe in December ?

Whether you’re trying to take a loved one on a romantic getaway, your kids on the ultimate ski vacation, or a solo trip across numerous magical cities, this list is for you!

In this post, you’ll find over 30 different places to visit in Europe in December for families, couples, and those seeking a warm and sunny break from the brisk winter months.

Happy Travels!

trips to europe in december

Going on a family vacation? Covered. Looking for somewhere warm? Got it. Want to impress a loved one with the ultimate romantic getaway to Europe ? Yup, we’ve got a list for that too.

Check them out below! Or, if you want to read about where to go for the ultimate new years party in 2023-2024, check out these 25 Best Places in Europe for New Years Celebrations !

You could always just take my quiz which aims to identify the #1 location for you this winter!

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December with Family

The Alps are one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for family ski trips

Here are nine of the best places to visit in Europe in December to consider for your next family getaway!

1. Lapland, Finland – easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

trips to europe in december

Lapland is one of the most famous destinations in the world for its endless available winter activities.

With everything from aurora borealis hunting, snowshoeing, dog sledding, ice fishing, and plenty of other outdoor and indoor opportunities, Lapland is sure to capture your attention.

It’s also popular for its extremely hospitable people, many of them known as Sámi, and breathtaking winter wonderland environment.

Located deep inside the Arctic Circle , visitors who venture here are bound to experience nothing short of remarkable! Traveling with kids? Lapland is also home to tons of reindeer and even Santa Clause’s village in Rovaniemi !

Lapland, Finland is also great for tourists looking for the ultimate escape from city life. Perfectly situated in a remote area of the world, the only people you’ll meet are new friends and happy faces.

✔️ Local Food to Try

→ cured reindeer fillet

✔️ Where to Stay

→ Villa Kunkku in Kuivakangas

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for solo travelers

Found along Denmark’s far eastern coast just a quick drive from Sweden, Copenhagen is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December!

The boats in Nyhavn Harbor remain beautifully vibrant, but without all of the tourists walking around them, and the nearby restaurants bring their dining indoors for a cozy experience.

Families with kids can enjoy nearly private tours of The Round Tower , Rosenborg Castle , the National Museum of Denmark , and even the Christiansborg Palace .

With frequent snowfall, kids can enjoy snowball fights along the pier and parents can enjoy hot Danish treats and window shopping for the holiday season.

There is also the lovely Children’s Museum and dozens of public playgrounds to bring your kids to (as long as they’re dressed in plenty of layers, of course).

There are tons of fun activities for adults and kids, making Denmark a very family-friendly destination regardless of the season!

→ Smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches)

→ 25hours Hotel Indre By

3. Stockholm, Sweden – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for families

trips to europe in december

When you think of Stockholm, Sweden, chances are you’re picturing gorgeous white-sand beaches, sophisticated architecture, and The Royal Palace .

And while you would be correct, there is so much more to Stockholm for families than meets the eye!

You can explore the stories at Junibacken Museum such as Pippi Longstocking, or you can seek out the best cinnamon rolls in the neverending bakeries scattered across town.

Kids can also play dress-up and become knights at the Royal Armoury (known as Livrustkammaren) or challenge their intellectual abilities with nearly 50 different interactive exhibits in the National Museum of Science and Technology!

There’s also the world’s oldest and one of the most impressive open-air museums in Stockholm… the Skansen ! Families can learn about people from different periods and experience how they lived first-hand.

With so many outstanding museums and beautiful scenery around every corner, Stockholm has so much to offer to families with kids of every age.

→ Palt and Smörgåstårta

→ Villa Dagmar

4. Warsaw, Poland

If you're looking for extremely cold temperatures, then Warsaw is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

If you are looking for a unique getaway on the outskirts of Europe that also has a lot of fun activities for kids, look no further than Warsaw, Poland.

Home to the Copernicus Science Center , Fountain Park , and the Old Town Market Square , there is plenty to capture your children’s attention!

Take some time to explore the Old Town at night when it’s all lit up with beautiful holiday decor come December, or listen to some live music in one of the dozens of pubs around the city center.

While Warsaw is often on the colder side when compared to the rest of Europe in the winter, it’s also often covered in a light blanket of snow which makes it perfect for photography and winter activities!

Ice skating is popular in the Old Town Market Square once the cold weather really sets in and you’re never far from delicious Polish pierogis when you’re done!

→ Pierogis and Placki Ziemniaczane

→ InterContinental Warszawa, an IHG Hotel

5. Munich, Germany – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for the holidays

trips to europe in december

If you’ve ever seen pictures of dazzling Christmas markets covered in endless food and craft stalls and thousands of people, then you were likely looking at a Christmas market somewhere in Germany.

Munich is home to one of the oldest and most impressive Christmas markets in not only Europe, but the world! We even have an entire post dedicated to Where to Stay in Munich in December .

Kids can enjoy dressing up in medieval or traditional German attire while parents can do some shopping or choose to have a relaxing evening strolling around Marienplatz .

For the most part, older kids (especially those old enough to drink – age 16 and older) will have more fun in Munich than children who are younger since it tends to be more of a drinking town.

Whether you decide to visit with your children or leave them with a babysitter while you go out and do your own self-guided beer tour , there is so much to do in this exciting German city!

→ Spätzle, Bratwurst, Schweinshaxe, and Sauerkraut

→ Hotel Torbrä

6. Colmar, France

trips to europe in december

Colmar is a quintessential French town with so much to offer! Regardless of the time of year, this riverside town is overflowing with medieval charm and traditional French architecture.

For families traveling with younger kids, be sure to pop into the Musée du Jouet where they can explore numerous train sets and endless amounts of toys, play with dolls, and play games with other kids their age.

For the parents, there is the Wolfberger – Cave Eguisheim which is an enormous wine tasting room where you can do your own self-guided wine tours and check out the interactive exhibits.

Colmar, France is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December owing to its cozy winter ambiance and beautiful Christmas markets that are appropriate for people of all ages!

→ Foie Gra and Baeckaoffe

→ Le Colombier

7. Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic

If you're looking for romantic destinations, Karlovy Vary is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

Distinguished by its housing of dozens of natural and man-made thermal hot springs , Karlovy Vary is the ultimate relaxing destination to include on your next winter getaway to Europe.

Especially for families with kids in their teens or older, Karlovy Vary has age-appropriate spas , amazing food , outstanding museums and art galleries , and beautiful lookouts such as the Diana Observation Tower .

Karlovy isn’t your typical European town with endless bars, restaurants, and clubs. Instead, it’s more known for its rejuvenation properties and would make for a great family, solo, or couples destination any time of the year!

In December once the cold weather really sets in, take some time to tour the Loket Castle or the Museum of Glass MOSER , before relaxing with an elegant dinner and a quiet night on the town.

Karlovy Vary would make for an excellent mother-daughter trip or honeymoon destination , as well!

→ Vepřo knedlo zelo

→ Humboldt Park Hotel & Spa

8. Salzburg, Austria

trips to europe in december

Ever wanted to see Fortress Hohensalzburg covered in snow? This sight makes Salzburg, Austria one of the best places to visit in Europe in December!

Also home to the stunning Mirabell Palace and even Mozart’s birthplace , families can enjoy live operas where Mozart once conducted his very own works of art.

There is also the Grossglockner High Alpine Road which is closed in the winter due to snow, but there are countless hiking trails that stem off of it for families seeking a little bit of adventure. Just be sure to pack your snowshoes and crampons!

Afterward, hit the town for some incredible cuisine from the plenty of cozy taverns. If you want a great opportunity for a family picture, head to the highest waterfalls in Europe known as Krimml Waterfalls .

They’ll be made up of almost entirely blue icicles in the winter which makes for a sensational backdrop!

→ Tafelspitz and Wiener Schnitzel

→ Altstadt Hotel Stadtkrug

9. Florence, Italy

trips to europe in december

Home to David’s famous Michelangelo statue and the iconic red dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore , Florence has a whole new perspective come December when many of the flocks of tourists have fled the city streets.

Visitors can enjoy peaceful museums and walks along the snow-dusted banks of the Arno River . The Ponte Vecchio which is normally covered in vendors throughout the summer months has just a few stalls open during the winter.

You can occasionally find beautiful handcrafted souvenirs and ornaments for the holiday season in December being sold by very kind Italian locals!

Even if you’re traveling with young kids, there are plenty of great museums, kid-friendly cooking classes, and even a great carousel at the Piazza della Republica .

I recommend booking any cooking classes in Florence in advance, as this is one of the most popular family-friendly activities to do there!

→ Gelato and Tagliatelle (all types of pasta!)

→ Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December that are Warm

The Canary Islands in Spain are one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for warm weather

Want to escape your own winter madness and go somewhere warm? We get it! The snow isn’t for everyone.

All of the destinations on this list typically boast milder temperatures and plenty of sunshine for all the beach bums out there.

10. Canary Islands, Spain – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for warm weather

trips to europe in december

Looking for one of the warmest places to visit in Europe in December? The Canary Islands are practically the warmest you’re going to find!

With average low temperatures rarely dropping below the high 50s (Fahrenheit), even at night, Tenerife and the Canary Islands are popular stops for tourists seeking a warm winter getaway.

You won’t experience the heat of the summer, but the ocean temperature will still be plenty warm for swimming and ocean activities like snorkeling, body surfing, and more!

Whether you’re traveling solo, with your family, or going on your honeymoon, this Spanish set of islands is the ultimate vacation destination.

Spend some time hiking on Mount Teide , admiring the volcanic landscape in Timanfaya National Park , or sinking your toes in the sand at Playa del Papagayo .

Afterward, make your way over to Morocco for the ultimate warm winter trip!

→ Mojo Rojo and Pescado Seco

→ Hotel Taburiente S.C.Tenerife

11. Sicily, Italy

The southern tip of Spain is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for fewer tourists and sunny weather

Do you know that large island-looking thing that hangs off Italy’s “boot”? Well, that’s Sicily!

People from Italy refer to locals as either Italians or Sicilians depending on where they’re from in Italy… so, as you can see if you’re going to Sicily, don’t say you’re going to Italy.

History buffs can enjoy the Valley of the Temples , the Cattedrale di Palermo , and the historic Island of Ortigia while those seeking the ultimate Instagram photo should stop at the Stair of the Turks for the perfect snapshot of their vacation.

Covered in ancient ruins and stunning beaches like the famous Rabbit Beach , everyone from sun bums to history enthusiasts and families of all ages can enjoy everything Sicily has to offer.

With hundreds of activities to choose from including hiking (we recommend Stromboli !), snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, cooking classes, and everything in between, Sicily is the ultimate winter destination for people young and old!

→ Cannolis and Limoncello

→ CIELO D’ALCAMO

12. Crete, Greece

trips to europe in december

If a little wind and rain don’t squash your vacation dreams, then the Greek island of Crete is an amazing place to visit in December.

With mild temperatures averaging in the 60s (Fahrenheit), travelers can enjoy walks on the seemingly endless gorgeous beaches(especially the pink-sand ones found along Elafonisi Isle) and explore numerous ancient ruins sites such as the Minoan Palace of Knossos and the Rocca a Mare Fortress .

Additionally, Greek mythology lovers can explore what’s believed to be the site of Zeus’ birth, the Diktaion Andron , and those who loved seeing old towns can explore the Old Venetian Port of Chania !

Crete is a fantastic winter destination for travelers not seeking extreme heat, but instead mild temperatures and nearly endless fun activities for people of every age.

→ Sarikopitakia and Dakos

→ Monastery apartment, a unique house

13. Algarve, Portugal

trips to europe in december

Beachbums rejoice! There are literally dozens of hidden beaches, secret coves, and tranquil caves ready to be explored in this southern section of Portugal.

With endless water activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, seaglass hunting, windsurfing, and more, the Algarves are definitely one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for people seeking warmer weather.

It may be a little on the cooler side for these ocean sports, so a wet or dry suit is recommended. But, don’t worry… even if the temperature isn’t in your favor, there are plenty of spots to explore around Faro and the surrounding region!

Check out the iconic rock formations on Marinha Beach and the Ponta da Piedade or the Moorish ruins at the Castillo de Silves .

With mild temperatures and plenty to explore, Algarve and the surrounding region make for a great vacation idea for couples, solo travelers, and families. Lagos is also amazing in December , so if you’re looking to beat the crowds, then this is the best time to visit!

→ Frango da Guia

→ Casa Miramar

14. Valletta, Malta

trips to europe in december

Malta is a small island country in the Mediterranean Sea found about 170 kilometers from the southwestern border of Sicily .

Known for its gorgeous harbors, ancient history, and rustic charm, Malta is a bucket list destination for many travelers from varying nations.

People of all ages can explore the Fort St. Angelo and the National Museum Of Archaeology , have a picnic in the Upper Barrakka Gardens , do some shopping on Republic Street , or even take a boat ride through the Grand Harbour .

With mild temperatures averaging in the low 60s (Fahrenheit), you can do all of these activities in comfort… no need for winter gear!

Valletta is a stunning capital city that looks as if an ancient city was cut out and placed in the middle of the ocean.

It’s a wonderful destination for history buffs as it is the same for those looking for a good mix of culture and beautiful scenery.

→ Casa Ellul – Small Luxury Hotels of the World

15. Limassol, Cyprus

Cyprus is a unique destination and one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

Situated on the far eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea, around 300 kilometers from Turkey’s southern border, the small island country of Cyprus has much to be discovered.

With famous archaeological sites and fortified castles as far as the eye can see, specifically the Kolossi Castle and the Archaeological Site of Amathous , the history buff in your group will feel right at home.

But, for those seeking a little escape from the rest of the town, take a short walk to the Caledonia Waterfall or, for more experienced hikers, head to Mount Olympos !

Limassol , the capital of Cyprus, has beautiful boardwalks along amazing beaches, endless bars and restaurants, and unlimited opportunities for shopping.

Depending on your preferences, you can take advantage of the mild temperatures and go on a day hike, or you can sit along the beach and relax with a local cup of Ouzo !

Souvlakia and Afella

Old Port Hotel

16. Budva, Montenegro

trips to europe in december

If you’ve ever seen a famous travel magazine with a picture similar to the one shown above, that’s because Budva, Montenegro is one of the most spectacular places in Europe!

With stunning mountainous backdrops, turquoise blue waters, white-sand beaches, and terracotta rooftops, Budva truly feels like the perfect combination of western, southern, and eastern European all at the same time.

Plus, with temperatures in the high 50s (Fahrenheit), you’ll be free to explore the Old Town , go for a hike, take a dip in the warm Adriatic Sea , or just enjoy the view from Čelobrdo .

Other things worth exploring include the Ruins of Roman-era Necropolis , Mogren beach , Jaz Beach , and the Citadela Fortress .

It doesn’t matter if you want to visit Budva on your own, with friends, for your honeymoon, or with young kids, there is so much to do in this seaside town of Eastern Europe!

→ Brav u Mlijeku and Palačinke

→ Apartments Inspiration

17. Nice, France

If you're seeking empty and beautiful beaches, then Nice, France is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

Temperatures on the French Riviera are slightly lower than the aforementioned destinations, but that makes it no less enchanting come December.

With far fewer tourists, you’ll have the beaches to yourself to soak up some sun… you just may need a light sweater.

Visitors can take some time to stroll the Promenade des Anglais , learn about the popular artist of Matisse at the Musée Matisse , climb to the top of the Castle of Nice , or pick up some fresh produce at the Cours Saleya (lovely outdoor market – fresh produce may be limited in December).

Also, since this is Nice’s off-season, visitors will be able to find fantastic deals on flights and accommodations as well as tours and food, so if you’re looking to stay on a budget then Nice should be at the top of your list!

→ All seafood dishes

→ Résidence Lamartine – Nice

18. Durrës, Albania

trips to europe in december

Just 180 kilometers south of the previously mentioned destination of Budva, Durrës is a top contender on this list of best places to visit in Europe in December.

With temperatures in the high 50s (Fahrenheit) and rather consistent cloud coverage, people with fair skin tones can explore this historic town without worry (we still recommend using sun protection!)

Throughout Durrës , you’ll find ancient sites such as the Roman Amphitheatre of Durrës , the Venetian Tower which dates back to the 5 th century, the Rodoni Castle , ancient Roman baths , a Royal villa , and plenty more!

This Albanian city is home to some beautiful beaches, exciting nightlife, and a great atmosphere. Especially for those looking to stay on a budget, Durrës is a perfect option for a winter vacation to Europe.

→ Ferges and Tavë Kosi

→ Hotel Epidamn

19. Málaga, Spain

trips to europe in december

This vibrant Spanish city is a must for culture-focused tourists seeking out the best balance of history, art, cuisine, and activities.

From the popular Moorish palace of Alcazaba to the renowned Picasso Museum , there are boatloads of things to do for every type of traveler.

In addition, with temperatures averaging in the low 60s (Fahrenheit) with plenty of mostly sunny days, beachgoers can feel free to squish their toes in the sand on Playa de la Malagueta while the rest of the group heads out to explore the best tapas at the Mercado Central de Atarazanas !

Málaga, Spain is a beautiful European destination to consider visiting in winter since there will be fewer tourists, better pricing on food, tours, and accommodations, plus you’ll still get to experience warm weather and plenty of available activities.

Be sure to climb to the top of Gibralfaro for some panoramic views overlooking the city and check out the stunning spires atop the Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga !

→ Gambas al Pil-Pil

→ Soho Boutique Equitativa

Best Romantic Places to Visit in Europe in December

These are some of the best places to visit in Europe in December for couples and romantic getaways

Whether you’re planning on proposing, asking someone to be your partner, or renewing your vows after 30 years of marriage, romantic getaways are essential to happy relationships.

Surprise your loved one with a trip to any of the destinations below and I can practically guarantee you’ll fall in love all over again! Just be sure that they truly enjoy traveling first 😉

20. Paris, France – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for Christmas markets

Owing to fewer tourists and cheap accommodations, Paris is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

We’ve all heard Paris be referred to as the City of Lights and the City of Love … and it’s true! Even in the winter, Paris is completely outfitted in dazzling decor and romantic views.

From the glittering Eiffel Tower to the medieval Notre Dame Cathedral , Paris is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

Couples who enjoy art can spend their days bouncing between Le Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay among many other museums and exquisite art galleries.

Those looking for the ultimate couple’s photo can hire a private photographer to get a glimpse of them under the Eiffel Tower at night or walking up the hill to Montmartre!

Not to mention it has some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world!

Even those who don’t celebrate the holiday will enjoy poking their heads in and out of the dozens of stalls across the city selling handmade crafts, beautiful hand-painted ornaments, and souvenirs not found elsewhere .

→ Croissants, Croque Monsieur, Escargots, Macarons… this list goes on!

→ 1er Etage Marais

21. London, United Kingdom

trips to europe in december

What better way to see the city of London than via the London Eye ?

Even in December, this sky-scraping observation wheel is open to the public and is often the site of dozens of proposals year after year.

Couples who enjoy art and history can tour the Tower of London in search of the crown jewels , wander the halls of the Natural History Museum , try to sneak a peek of the queen at Buckingham Palace , or simply enjoy a relaxing vacation in search of the best tea and Yorkshire pudding spot in the city!

London is incredibly beautiful when covered in snow and makes for some great photo opportunities.

Couples looking for some great pictures for their “save the date’s” or winter wedding invitations can stroll the iconic Tower Bridge for some amazing shots if they’re thinking of hiring a photographer!

London is absolutely astounding in December owing to the festive environment and lovely snow, making it perfect for couples on any type of holiday.

→ A Full English Breakfast and Bangers and Mash

→ The Londoner (very luxurious, but don’t worry, there are plenty of more affordable options, as well!)

22. Bruges, Belgium – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for romance

Its stunning canals and historic square put Bruges on this list of best places to visit in Europe in December

The first time I visited Bruges was in May and I couldn’t get over how beautiful the canals were… then, I saw pictures of Bruges in the winter when everything was hidden under a light dusting of snow and I was hooked!

Bruges is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for couples owing to its romantic ambiance by nature.

Between the historic Old Town and the charming canals, and the medieval architecture and endless cozy breweries, Bruges is nothing short of a fairytale destination for love birds.

During your visit, be sure to take in the view from the top of Belfry Tower, fill your bellies with some waffles from the House of Waffles on Wollestraat, and walk around the cold city at night to capture some incredible photos!

Bruges is a great alternative when it comes to escaping the touristy ambiance of Brussels and offers a much more authentic Belgian experience.

→ Belgian waffles covered in toppings, Belgian fries, and chocolate

→ Hotel Ter Brughe

23. Budapest, Hungary

trips to europe in december

While the summers typically bring in the most tourists for Budapest , the winter months are a well-kept secret that hardly anyone knows about!

Couples can stroll the beautiful Chain Bridge at night, explore the indoor Central Market Hall , or get lost among the halls of the grand Buda Castle before making their way down to the center of Buda for some delicious home cooking.

Just be sure to check out the Hungarian Parliament Building after nightfall as it absolutely comes alive at night!

If you’re looking to impress your loved one, book a reservation for the Széchenyi Thermal Baths online in advance and surprise them!

There are multiple baths of varying temperatures, plus you can opt to have your own private locker and choose from a variety of Hungarian spa treatments .

Budapest is a great destination for couples looking to stay on a budget during their next winter getaway.

→ Gulyás (goulash) and Lecsó

→ Stories Boutique Hotel

24. Barcelona, Spain

The vibrant culture and mild temperatures put Barcelona, Spain on this list of best places to visit in Europe in December

Barcelona has long been known as a city of color and vibrancy, and for good reason! Spanish culture is exciting and unique all on its own regardless of the season, making Barcelona one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for couples.

Seeing Barcelona at night is particularly romantic, with every corner of the city being lit up with colorful lamposts and lights! La Sagrada Familia becomes the heart of the city and acts as a focal point for wandering tourists.

Spend the evening with your loved one watching a light show in front of Montjuïc Fountain, sitting on Barceloneta Beach, roaming Las Ramblas, or eating churros in the Latin Quarter!

Barcelona is a wonderful destination for couples, especially in December, when many of the tourists have left and the city is beautifully decorated and full of festive cheer.

→ Paella and Gazpacho (chilled tomato-based soup)

→ Boutique Hostemplo Sagrada Familia

25. Chamonix, France – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for winter sports

Its endless supply of winter sport activities put Chamonix, France on this list of best places to visit in Europe in December

Winter sports enthusiasts and après-ski professionals (you know… the people who don’t love the cold but are really good at sipping wine by a fireplace overlooking a mountain covered in skiers?) continue to make their way to the peaks of Chamonix year after year.

Come December, this famous ski town is covered in tourists once again enjoying melted cheese fondue under endless holiday lights and striking snow-capped peaks. It’s one of the 23+ BEST Things To Do in Chamonix, France 2024 !

Mont Blanc is at its most spectacular (when it decides to give you a good view) during this time and those looking for a little adventure can make their way up to the Step Into The Void for some nerve-wracking photos!

A trip up the world’s highest ascending cable car, the Aiguille du Midi , is another exciting adventure to have with your loved one.

Any couple seeking either luxurious spa treatments at the foot of the Alps or some intense winter sports on top of them, Chamonix is the ultimate December European destination!

→ La Raclette

→ Hôtel Le Refuge des Aiglons (our absolute favorite place to stay in Chamonix – for more amazing places, check out Where to Stay in Chamonix in December 2024 !)

26. Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Siwtzerland is one of the most popualr and best places to visit in Europe in December

This Swiss destination is often recognized as one of the best places to visit in Europe in December by travelers from around the world!

Zermatt, home to the striking Matterhorn , is nestled beneath the towering snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. Beautifully situated, Zermatt is world-renowned for its scenery and winter sports opportunities.

Couples can opt for a scenic train ride on the Gornergrat Railway or if you’re extreme winter hikers, then a trek up any of the surrounding mountains will prove to be both challenging and rewarding.

Have a dinner next to a roaring fire under the views of the Matterhorn or indulge yourself in a couples massage in one of the dozens of spas in the area.

Zermatt is the ultimate romantic winter destination in Europe owing to its unique balance of exciting activities, breathtaking scenery, and luxurious ambiance mixed with small-town charm.

→ Walliser Roggenbrot

→ Hotel Butterfly, BW Signature Collection

27. Prague, Czech Republic – one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for couples

Couples seeking magical ambiance will find Prague to be one of the best places to visit in Europe in December

Prague is a wonderful destination no matter when you decide to visit, but December is utterly magical.

Dusted with light snow coverings and warm golden lights around every corner, Prague is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December on this list!

Couples can explore the stunning Prague Castle , scour the Old Town Square , do some shopping and pick up some street food in Wenceslas Square , or even watch the 12 apostles show on the world’s oldest operating Astronomical Clock !

December brings a warmth and holiday spirit to Prague with many of the local restaurants offering special holiday meals and comforting live music.

Be sure to get outside if you happen to be there during a snowstorm and take a stroll over the Charles Bridge ! It makes for some wonderful pictures and will be very exciting for you and your loved one to see the city all lit up in the snow.

→ Řízek and Guláš

→ Myo Hotel Caruso

28. Strasbourg, France

trips to europe in december

If you and your loved one are seeking a truly magical winter wonderland experience for a holiday vacation, look no further than Strasbourg!

Overflowing with decorative Christmas lights, markets, and boatloads of window shopping, Strasbourg, France is easily one of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

Couples can light a candle for a loved one in the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg , still the Grande-Île de Strasbourg during a light flurry, or admire the various art exhibits and museums scattered all over town.

Frozen in a storybook setting, Strasbourg is truly a fairytale town covered in medieval architecture, charming canals, and romantic ambiance.

If you’re trying to plan a trip for you and your partner, you should seriously be considering Strasbourg as a possible destination. It’s also just a quick 55-minute drive from Colmar , so it is possible to visit them both in a short amount of time!

→ Choucroute

→ HANNONG Hotel & Wine Bar

29. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic is easily one of the most romantic cities and best places to visit in Europe in December

Located in Czechia’s southernmost reaches, Český Krumlov is another fairytale town well deserving of its place on this list.

Often recognized for the way the Vltava River winds its way around the town, Český Krumlov is home to some truly amazing winter activities.

Spa treatments galore are available for couples who just want to sit inside and stay warm while enjoying some special time together.

For those who want to get out and explore a little, be sure to take in the views from the Český Krumlov Castle Tower and the Cloak Bridge ! Both offer wonderful observation points overlooking the city, and are great locations for photos.

Český Krumlov is full of winter charm and is unique in comparison to many other European destinations.

Often overlooked by tourists, couples looking to explore off-the-beaten-path a little should surely look into visiting Český Krumlov on their next winter European vacation!

→ Česnečka (delicious garlic soup) and Svíčková na smetaně (sirloin)

→ Hotel Vltavská pohádka

30. Lucerne, Switzerland

A walk along the famous Chapel Bridge in the snow puts Lucerne on this list of best places to visit in Europe in December

Often recognized for the beautiful Chapel Bridge where many couples have their wedding photos taken, Lucerne, Switzerland is one of the most romantic places you can visit on this list!

Art-loving couples can take some time to explore the beautiful Kunstmuseum Luzern and the Jesuit Church , as well as the Lion Monument and the Hofkirche St. Leodegar .

With temperatures in the mid-30s (Fahrenheit), on average, couples can explore the town quite comfortably as long as you have plenty of layers and then enjoy some delicious cheese fondue and mulled wine by one of the dozens of cozy campfires around town!

Lucerne is one of the most sophisticated and upscale destinations on this list, so if you’re looking for the ultimate romantic getaway for you and your partner, be sure to consider Lucerne as a possible option.

→ Fresh Swiss Cheese and Chocolates (also fondue!)

→ Hotel Des Alpes

Is it Good to Visit Europe in December?

Snowy destinations make up some of the best places to visit in Europe in December

Yes, it is a fantastic idea to visit Europe in December ! It’s actually one of the most magical times to visit Europe owing to the endless holiday festivities and winter sports opportunities.

Those who enjoy the crisp winter air will feel right at home during après-ski hour while those who are more accustomed to warmer weather may find the temperatures to be a little bit discouraging if there is no snow to accompany the lowering temps.

So, if you’re looking for warmer weather European destinations in winter, then check out the specific list dedicated to that below.

But, if you don’t mind the cold, whether you’re skiing down a mountain or making your way through a snow-covered city, then any of the other below destinations will certainly be your style.

Overall, Europe is great to visit in December as long as you dress for the occasion and are prepared for whatever weather may come your way!

What is the Best European Country to Visit in December?

Lapland in Finland is easily best places to visit in Europe in December for the northern lights

In my opinion, the best European country to visit in December is Norway . Why? So glad you asked!

While France is absolutely magical in the snow and Germany has some of the world’s most incredible Christmas markets, the striking appearance of the mountains, fjords, and northern lights in Norway are enough to take anyone’s breath away.

Yes, it can get very cold there come December with temperatures averaging in the 20s (Fahrenheit), but it is easily one of the most beautiful winter destinations in Europe.

This is, of course, personal preference, and you may agree or disagree depending on your likes and dislikes. If charming outdoor markets fully outfitted with food stalls and horse and buggy rides is more your style, then I highly suggest heading to Germany for the holidays.

But, if you prefer to experience milder temperatures and plenty of sunny weather with half the number of tourists compared to the summer months, then Spain should be a serious consideration for your next winter trip to Europe!

Where in Europe is Warmest in December?

trips to europe in december

When it comes to finding warm winter getaways in Europe, it can be a bit tricky. Over time, we have found that some of the warmest places in Europe in December include the Canary Islands in Spain, Malta, and some of the Greek Islands .

Anywhere north of these areas will typically experience temperatures ranging from the 50s to 60s (Fahrenheit) all the way down to the single digits!

If you are looking for some warm and sunny weather, keep in mind that even the places I mentioned above can experience brisk evenings in December.

Do your best to pack appropriately using my list below! Plus, there’s a fully downloadable PDF guide at the bottom of the section.

What to Pack for Europe in Winter

trips to europe in december

If you do decide to plan a winter vacation , you’ll need to know what to pack for Europe , specifically.

Below, I’ve provided you with a full one-week packing list that has been designed to cater to the average destination. Now, what does that mean? Let me explain.

Paris, France and Brussels, Belgium are average winter destinations in Europe since they only get a very small amount of snowfall and they typically have temperatures ranging between the high 30s to the mid-40s (Fahrenheit).

But, there are far more extreme locations in Europe that you’ll need to be properly prepared for should you decide to visit.

For example, if you’re visiting the Scandinavian countries of Norway or Finland, you need to be prepared for extremely cold temperatures. With nearly no sunlight and consistent 10-20 degree Fahrenheit days, thermal layers and winter gear are going to be very important.

But, if you plan on spending the bulk of your time cruising between the Greek Islands, then just a few light layers and a sweater or two will do the trick for those chillier nights.

So, depending on your destination, you may need to adjust the list below to account for the temperatures you will experience during your trip .

✔️ Girls, if you’re trying to pack as minimally as possible, check out my Ultimate Minimalist Packing List for Females Traveling to Europe . It has everything you need to ensure you don’t overpack!

✔️ Guys and girls: I also have a great Travel Essentials List for Europe that will tell you all of the basic necessities, accessories, and travel gadgets that I never leave for Europe without.

Ultimate One Week Packing List for Europe in Winter

Want to get my fully downloadable winter packing list for Europe? Fill out the form below and it will be in your inbox in less than 10 minutes!

The Legendary Winter Packing List for Europe

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Where is the Best Place in Europe for Christmas?

trips to europe in december

Your perspective on where to spend Christmas may vary depending on if you have family or relatives in a particular country, if you prefer to spend the holidays building snowmen or sitting on a beach, and how much time you have for travel.

But, since you specifically asked “ where is the best place in Europe for Christmas? “, I’m going to give you my personal preferences.

I looove the holidays and everything about them… the snow, spending time with family, mulled wine, gingerbread, magical festivities and holiday decor, caroling, the lights… all of it!

If I can only give you a few places to really experience the magic of Christmas (or any other religious winter holiday!), then they would be Vienna, Austria , Nuremberg, Germany , and Basel, Switzerland .

But, keep in mind that Germany is home to numerous stunning cities boasting their big annual Christmas markets and events, and any one of them would be magical.

The same goes for other great cities such as Bruges and Brussels in Belgium, Paris, France, Poznan, Poland, Manchester, U.K., and others!

No matter which one of these cities you visit for Christmas, they all make for some of the best places to visit in Europe in December.

Other Helpful Europe Resources

Traveling to Europe for the First Time: The Complete Guide How to Plan an EPIC Trip to Europe in 9 Simple Steps 2 Weeks Europe Itinerary: 11 EPIC 2 Week Itineraries Across Europe Backpacking Europe Routes for 2 Weeks: Routes & Tips 143 Once in a Lifetime Experiences for Your Europe Bucket List Hidden Gems in Europe: 40 Incredible Places To Visit in 2024 Is Azerbaijan in Europe? The Facts for 2024 60 Incredible Things To Do in London in Winter 73 Best Places to Visit in Europe in January 2024 30+ BEST Places to Visit in Europe in March 2024 30+ BEST Places to Visit in Europe in April 2024 20 Best Places to Visit in Europe in May 2024 (Weather & Tips!) 28 Best Places to Visit in Europe in July (from a Backpacker!)

trips to europe in december

Taking a winter vacation comes with a lot of risks. Flight delays and cancelations, poor road conditions, closed businesses… it all adds up to make or break your trip.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure you have plenty of time on either end of your vacation to accommodate these uncontrollable events. It’s also a good idea to book some travel medical insurance in case you or your child gets hurt in a sledding incident!

✔️ Pro Tip: We use SafetyWing Insurance and absolutely love it! It’s super affordable (we’re talking $42 per month of travel) and it covers everything from injuries to lost baggage and more ! The best part is it takes less than 10 minutes to book and there’s no guessing about what’s included. It even includes Covid-19 coverage in the event you test positive while traveling!

Once you have your travel insurance, you’ll be off to the airport. This list of the best places to visit in Europe in December is a great guide to get you thinking about your future winter itineraries, and I hope you get to book your trip to Europe in no time!

Cheers! Emily

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Hey there! I'm Emily Concannon, a seasoned globetrotter who has backpacked her way across over a dozen European countries, immersing myself in the diverse cultures, languages, and cuisines of the region.

My passion for travel transcends personal experiences; I've spent years learning how to transform my globetrotting knowledge into personalized itineraries for fellow travelers worldwide.

With a tally of 26 countries (and counting!) under my belt, my day job involves extensive research on different countries which often leads me to booking a new adventure every chance I get!

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23+ Best Places To See In Europe In December

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If you’re planning to travel in Europe during December, let me tell you, it’s the perfect time! The whole continent turns into a winter wonderland, with festive celebrations happening everywhere you look.

You’ll find charming Christmas markets , ice-skating rinks, and delicious mulled wine. Trust me, Europe is truly magical during this time of year.

But with so many amazing countries and cities to choose from, you might be wondering which ones to add to your travel itinerary.

Well, in this guide, we’ll explore some of the best places to see in Europe in December . So, let’s dive in and start planning your unforgettable winter adventure!

Why December in Europe?

There’s something truly magical about Europe in December. Nature paints the landscapes with a breathtaking beauty, covering cities and countryside in a snowy embrace.

The sight of leafless trees against a clear blue sky is absolutely mesmerizing.

And let’s not forget the festive spirit that fills the air in every city. You’ll be dazzled by the twinkling lights, as if a thousand stars have descended to grace the streets.

From Germany’s grand Christmas markets to the sparkling Eiffel Tower in Paris, the whole atmosphere is simply enchanting.

Related Posts:

  • A list of must visit Christmas Markets in Europe

Everywhere you look, there are streets adorned with colorful lights, melodies of Christmas carols floating in the air, and the delightful scent of mulled wine and gingerbread wafting from food stalls.

These festive vibes and winter landscapes are what make Europe in December one of the best places to see!

Best Places To See In Europe In December

Unique Experiences During the Holiday Season

December in Europe is truly something else! Not only do you get to experience the breathtaking natural beauty and stunning architecture, but the festive vibes are absolutely unmatched.

The Christmas markets are like a magical wonderland, with stalls twinkling with fairy lights and offering everything from unique handcrafted gifts to mouthwatering traditional treats.

And let’s not forget about the markets in Nuremberg , Germany and Strasbourg, France – they’re simply incredible.

Oh, and cities like Vienna? They’re home to enchanting concerts and ballet performances that will transport you to a world of cultural richness. Trust me, it’s a holiday experience you won’t want to miss!

salzburg christmas markets

Less Crowded Attractions for a More Intimate Experience

December is actually a great time to travel in Europe! It’s considered off-peak season, so you’ll find fewer crowds at the major tourist attractions.

This means you can enjoy Europe’s iconic landmarks in a more peaceful and relaxed way.

Whether it’s exploring the Louvre in Paris or the ancient ruins of Rome, you’ll love the absence of long queues and the luxury of time to fully immerse yourself in the experience.

  • The Most Underrated Winter Destinations in Europe

Winter Activities and Events

The winter season in Europe is absolutely amazing! You’ve got skiers and snowboarders having the time of their lives on the snowy slopes of the Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees .

And don’t get me started on the picturesque ice-skating rinks in cities like Amsterdam and Bruges, set against those stunning historic backgrounds.

Oh, and let’s not forget about all the unique events happening during this time!

Take Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, for example. It’s a wild and crazy mix of concerts, street parties, and fireworks to ring in the New Year in style.

Trust me, if you’re a winter enthusiast, Europe is the place to be in December!

Central Europe

Let’s explore the best places to see in Central Europe in December together! 

Prague, Czech Republic

  • The Christmas markets in Prague are like stepping into a festive wonderland. You’ll find charming stalls at Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, selling delicious treats like trdelník and medovina. Don’t forget to check out the handcrafted Christmas ornaments for a perfect holiday keepsake.
  • And oh, the Prague Castle ! Covered in a delicate blanket of snow, it looks straight out of a fairy tale. The sight is truly magical!

prague christmas markets

Vienna, Austria

  • December is such a vibrant time in Vienna! The city is famous for its classical concerts, and venues like Wiener Musikverein and St. Stephen’s Cathedral host mesmerizing performances. Make sure to catch the Vienna Boys’ Choir concerts and the extravagant New Year’s Eve Grand Ball at the Imperial Palace.
  • The imperial palaces in Vienna, like Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palace, are adorned with twinkling lights and decorations. It’s a sight to behold! You can’t miss the enchanting Christmas market in front of Schönbrunn Palace, with its lively atmosphere against the majestic backdrop of the palace.

If you’re up for an extraordinary winter adventure, head to Werfen, Austria, and explore the famous ice caves.

These natural wonders are only open during the winter months and offer an otherworldly experience as you wander through icy tunnels and caverns. Just remember to bundle up and wear sturdy shoes!

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Austria

Budapest, Hungary

  • One of Budapest’s highlights in winter is its thermal baths. Picture steam rising from warm water into the chilly air – it’s a uniquely Hungarian experience! The Széchenyi and Gellért thermal baths are especially captivating, providing a relaxing haven amidst the snowy scenery. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit!
  • Budapest’s Christmas markets are simply incredible. The Vörösmarty Square Christmas market, the largest in Budapest, is a hub of festive activity. You’ll find a delightful variety of stalls offering Hungarian delicacies, handmade crafts, and unique gifts. The scents of goulash, Hungarian sausages, and spiked hot chocolate fill the air, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The market also hosts captivating performances, showcasing Hungarian culture and tradition.
  • Take a stroll through Budapest’s charming Christmas markets at night for an extra dose of magic. The twinkling lights and festive decorations create an enchanting ambiance that will surely put you in the holiday spirit. Treat yourself to traditional Hungarian delights and admire the beautiful handmade crafts.

Western Europe

Paris, france.

  • There’s something truly magical about Paris in December. The Eiffel Tower sparkles more brightly against the night sky, and the city lights shimmer, reflecting off the River Seine. It’s absolutely breathtaking!
  • Oh, you have to check out the Christmas markets along the Champs-Élysées! They’re like a scene out of a fairytale. The wooden stalls are all lit up with twinkling lights, offering everything from mulled wine to handmade crafts. It’s the perfect place to soak up the festive atmosphere and get started on your Christmas shopping.

Paris Europe, at christmas time in December

Colmar, France

  • Oh, if you thought Paris was enchanting, just wait until you experience Colmar in December! This picturesque town is straight out of a storybook, especially during the holiday season. You’ll find timbered houses all decked out with twinkling lights and colorful decorations, lining the cobblestone streets and creating an atmosphere that’s like a winter wonderland.
  • Let me tell you, Colmar hosts one of the most celebrated Christmas markets in Europe . The markets are scattered all around the old town, each one offering a mix of local produce, traditional Alsatian crafts, and festive goodies. As you stroll through the market, you can savor the rich scents of mulled wine, gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts wafting through the frosty air. It’s truly a treat for the senses.

Related posts:

  • Why got to Colmar Christmas Market in 2022?

colmar december

Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Picture this: the canals of Amsterdam , beautifully decorated with festive lights. It’s like walking through a dream in December. And the best part? The lights reflecting on the water, adding an extra touch of magic to this already enchanting city.
  • Amsterdam really knows how to celebrate winter! From Sinterklaas festivities to indulging in Oliebollen on New Year’s Eve, there are so many unique traditions here. You won’t want to miss out on experiencing the Dutch winter magic in December.

Brussels, Belgium

  • You have to see the Grand Place in Brussels during the winter months. It’s transformed into a spectacular display of lights and sounds. The architecture alone is stunning, but when you add in the mesmerizing light show, it becomes something truly unforgettable.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget about the Belgian chocolates and waffles! Winter is the perfect time to treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate or indulge in a freshly made Belgian waffle. Trust me, it’s pure bliss!
  • 21 Best Solo Winter Breaks in Europe

Zurich, Switzerland

  • Zurich in December is like a fairytale come true, with the Swiss Alps as a breathtaking backdrop. The city is adorned with lights and decorations, and the view of the snow-capped mountains in the distance adds to the enchanting atmosphere.
  • You absolutely cannot miss the Christmas markets at Lake Zurich. The views alone are worth the visit, but the markets themselves are a delight. You’ll find Swiss delicacies, unique crafts, and the aroma of mulled wine and Swiss raclette cheese in the air. It’s a winter wonderland!

Northern Europe

Northern Europe has some incredible destinations to explore during the winter months. Let’s take a closer look:

Reykjavik, Iceland

  • In Reykjavik, Iceland, you can witness the breathtaking spectacle of the Northern Lights in December. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
  • Plus, you can enjoy the unique contrast of soaking in geothermal hot springs while surrounded by a winter wonderland.

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Reykjavik

Stockholm, Sweden

  • Stockholm, Sweden, is known for its Santa Lucia celebrations in December. Picture candlelit processions and beautiful singing creating a magical atmosphere.
  • And don’t miss the opportunity to go ice skating in the heart of the city. It’s a fun way to embrace the winter season. Plus, you can also enjoy skiing near Stockholm !

Oslo, Norway

  • For winter sports and outdoor adventures , Oslo, Norway, is the place to be. Hit the slopes for skiing and snowboarding in the nearby mountains.
  • And while you’re there, make sure to visit the Viking Ship Museum to dive into the country’s rich history and Viking heritage.

Tromso, Norway

  • When you step foot in Tromsø, Norway, in December, you’ll find yourself in a snowy paradise known as the Gateway to the Arctic.
  • It’s a popular destination for winter enthusiasts and those chasing the Aurora Borealis . During the Polar Night, when the sun doesn’t rise for about two months, you have an extended opportunity to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights .
  • Plus, Tromsø has a vibrant nightlife and a range of outdoor activities like dog sledding and whale watching. Don’t miss the fascinating Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden and the iconic Arctic Cathedral. Tromsø truly is a winter wonderland that offers an authentic Norwegian winter experience.

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Tromsø

  • Your 2024 Ultimate Travel Guide To Tromso
  • Best Tours In Tromso For An Unforgettable Arctic Experience
  • 5 Best places in Europe to see northern lights
  • Tromso Winter Vacation: How To Plan Your Dream Trip to Norway’s Northernmost City
  • Seven Amazing Places To Visit When You’re In Tromso

Tromso Europe, December

Helsinki, Finland

  • Helsinki, Finland, offers a unique Christmas market experience in its Design District. You’ll find handmade crafts, Finnish design pieces, and local treats.
  • And what better way to enjoy a Finnish winter than taking a sauna? Especially when followed by a refreshing dip in the Baltic Sea!

Copenhagen, Denmark

  • Lastly, Copenhagen, Denmark, is a must-visit during winter. The Christmas festivities at Tivoli Gardens are simply enchanting, with twinkling lights and delightful stalls.
  • And don’t forget to embrace the Danish concept of hygge. Experience the cosy atmosphere in the city’s cafes and restaurants while sipping warm glögg and savoring delicious Danish food.

So, whether you’re chasing the Northern Lights or immersing yourself in the festive spirit, Northern Europe has something for everyone during the winter season.

Southern Europe

Rome, italy.

  • Christmas celebrations in Vatican City are absolutely spectacular! You won’t forget the grandeur of St. Peter’s Square, all lit up with thousands of lights and a massive Christmas tree.
  • And of course, don’t miss out on the delicious Italian feasts and culinary delights that make the festive season so special. Warm up with a hearty pasta dish, indulge in traditional panettone, and sip on a glass of vin brule!

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Rome

Dolomites, Italy

  • If you’re in Italy during December, you absolutely have to visit the Dolomites. This incredible mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the landscapes are simply breathtaking.
  • Imagine snow-capped peaks and charming alpine villages that will make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. Whether you’re an expert skier or just want to soak in the stunning scenery, the Dolomites are the perfect destination.
  • You can stay at a cozy mountain chalet and indulge in some delicious traditional South Tyrolean cuisine for the complete experience. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
  • These 4 Dolomites Ski Resorts Are Opening In November 2023
  • Explore the best winter activities in the Dolomites
  • Why you should book a winter trip to Lago Di Braies
  • 10 reasons why you should visit the Dolomites
  • 10 top hiking trails in the Dolomites (+Map & Instructions)
  • Where to stay in the Dolomites?
  • A Complete Guide to Skiing in Italy: Explore the Alpine Wonders
  • The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Dolomites In The Winter

Dolomites Europe in December

Venice, Italy

  • You don’t want to miss out on the chance to experience a gondola ride . It’s absolutely mesmerizing to see the city’s historic buildings lightly dusted with snow as you glide past them!
  • Make sure to visit the famous Piazza San Marco and take in the breathtaking architecture of Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and the Clock Tower.
  • Don’t forget to indulge in some mouthwatering traditional Italian dishes like risotto and tiramisu at a cozy Venetian trattoria. You’ll also get to enjoy the warm and welcoming Italian hospitality.
  • And of course, you’ve got to check out the city’s Christmas markets, especially the Campo Santo Stefano. They’re the perfect spots to find unique gifts and delicious Italian Christmas treats.
  • Visiting Venice in December is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The serene atmosphere and the magic of the festive season make it one of the best destinations to see in Europe.
  • Venice Italy – the most essential travel tips
  • Best Things To Do In Venice Italy In One Day

venice europe december

Barcelona, Spain

  • Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, like the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló, become even more impressive when they’re adorned with festive lights.
  • Experience the unique Catalan Christmas traditions, like the “Caga Tió” log and the delightful Christmas markets where you can find crafts and local delicacies.

Athens, Greece

  • The historical Acropolis offers breathtaking views, especially in the glistening winter setting. It’s a sight you don’t want to miss!
  • Immerse yourself in the vibrant Greek Orthodox Christmas celebrations, filled with joyous music, delicious food, and a strong sense of community.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

  • The medieval charm of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is truly enchanting, especially during the winter months when the cobblestone streets are quieter and the city walls are beautifully lit up with Christmas lights.
  • Indulge in the winter seafood delights along the Adriatic Sea – from fresh oysters to succulent prawns and other Adriatic specialties, you’re in for a treat!

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Dubrovnik

Lisbon, Portugal

  • Winter is the perfect time to experience the hauntingly beautiful Portuguese Fado music. Let the melancholic tunes accompany you on the cooler and quieter winter nights.
  • Explore Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods, like Alfama and Bairro Alto, where lively Christmas markets await you with handcrafted gifts and delicious Portuguese holiday treats.

Eastern Europe

If you’re ever in Eastern Europe, here are a few must-visit places:

Tallinn, Estonia:

  • Take a stroll through Tallinn’s medieval Old Town, especially during winter when it feels like you’re in a fairy-tale. The Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square is a real gem.
  • Looking for something sweet? Check out the marzipan museum in Tallinn. You can even make your own marzipan figures!

tallin europe december

Warsaw, Poland

  • Winter turns Warsaw’s Old Town into something magical. The snow-covered rooftops and historic buildings create a beautiful setting for holiday festivities. Take a leisurely walk through the illuminated streets and soak up the winter charm.
  • For some adventure, try ice skating in the city center. The rink near the towering Palace of Culture and Science offers an unforgettable experience. Feel the vibrant energy of the city while gliding on ice.

Krakow, Poland

  • In December, Wawel Castle becomes a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Covered in snow, the castle’s architectural beauty is truly captivating. Take a tour and enjoy the fascinating history and breathtaking views of the city.
  • Don’t miss out on the Polish Christmas traditions in the market square. The scent of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts fills the air as people gather to celebrate, shop for unique gifts, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Stop by the Cloth Hall for some Christmas shopping and admire the Polish art masterpieces upstairs. And of course, treat yourself to some delicious pierogi from the food stalls scattered across the city.

➡️ Discover more winter activities in Krakow

Hope you have a great time exploring these amazing places!

Winter festivals that you shouldn’t miss

Let’s talk about some amazing winter festivals that you shouldn’t miss.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London:

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is one of the most anticipated festive events in London. It’s like stepping into a magical wonderland with glittering lights and festive decorations all around.

You won’t believe your eyes when you see the incredible ice sculpting competitions happening right before you. It’s truly an unforgettable experience!

As you stroll through the park, you’ll come across a variety of food and drink stalls serving delicious treats from hearty British comfort food to international cuisines.

Don’t forget to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine and indulge in the festive foods this event has to offer.

Striezelmarkt in Dresden, Germany:

The Striezelmarkt in Dresden is a must-visit if you’re in Europe during December.

It’s said to be the oldest Christmas market in Germany, and it’s like stepping into a real-life Christmas wonderland. The stalls are beautifully decorated, the lights twinkle, and the air is filled with the delightful aromas of mulled wine and gingerbread.

One of the highlights of the Striezelmarkt is the Stollen Festival.

You’ll witness the making of a giant Stollen, a traditional German Christmas bread, that is paraded through the streets and then shared with the crowd.

Make sure to explore the stalls for some traditional German crafts that make perfect holiday gifts and souvenirs.

Niche Experiences:

Lapland, finland:.

Lapland in Finland offers a truly magical experience, especially in December. It’s known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, and visiting Rovaniemi in Lapland is a must for both kids and those young at heart.

Meeting Santa Claus in person and exploring Santa Claus Village will fill you with Christmas cheer. The twinkling lights and the abundance of festive activities will leave you feeling joyful and full of holiday spirit.

Another incredible experience in Lapland is going on husky sleigh rides through the stunning snowy landscapes.

Wrapped up in warm layers, you’ll glide across the frosty tundra, guided by a team of enthusiastic huskies. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget and will create memories to last a lifetime.

Christmas Markets River Cruise

If you’re up for a unique way to explore multiple European Christmas markets, you absolutely can’t miss the Christmas Markets River Cruise !

This amazing river cruise takes you through the heart of Europe, stopping at charming cities known for their festive markets.

From Nuremberg in Germany to Strasbourg in France, you’ll get to fully immerse yourself in the warm holiday spirit, shop for unique crafts, indulge in local festive delicacies, and enjoy the breathtaking views of beautifully decorated cityscapes.

And let me tell you, the views from the boat as you cruise through these festive cityscapes are simply out of this world!

Picture this: twinkling lights and ornaments adorning the cities, snow-covered roofs, beautifully decorated bridges, and illuminated city skylines, all seen from the river against the backdrop of the evening sky.

It truly creates an enchanting experience that will leave you in awe of Europe’s Christmas charm. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!

Christmas Markets River Cruise

Weather Considerations

What to pack for a december trip to europe.

If you’re packing for a December trip to Europe, you’ll definitely want to consider the winter weather. It’s all about staying warm and cozy!

Make sure to bring some thermal under-layers, woolen or thermal socks, and an essential waterproof and insulated winter coat.

Oh, and don’t forget a comfy pair of waterproof boots for those snowy or rainy days. And of course, accessories like a warm hat, gloves, and a scarf are a must for that extra warmth.

Remember, layering is key because the weather can be unpredictable. You never know when you’ll find yourself going from a heated indoor environment to the chilly outdoors. Stay warm and enjoy your trip!

Tips for Staying Warm and Comfortable While Exploring

When you’re exploring Europe’s December attractions, it’s all about staying warm and comfortable.

So, here are some tips to make your trip a breeze! First, layer your clothing to adapt to changing temperatures – you never know when it might get chilly.

And don’t forget about comfort, especially when it comes to your footwear. Trust me, there’s going to be a lot of walking involved!

To battle the cold, consider packing hand and foot warmers. They can be real lifesavers! Oh, and don’t forget to keep your skin moisturized, as the cold weather can be harsh on it.

And last but not least, make sure to have a thermos of hot tea or coffee handy. Nothing beats a warm drink to warm you up on those chilly winter days!

➡️ Lastly, I strongly recommend   securing travel insurance   for your trip. VisitorsCoverage offers comprehensive coverage that includes medical expenses, travel delays, lost checked luggage, emergency response, natural disasters, and personal liability. Sign up for   VisitorsCoverage here .

Food and drinks to enjoy during winter in Europe

If you’re looking for something heart-warming, you can’t go wrong with Germany’s ‘Glühwein’ or the UK’s classic ‘Mince Pies’.

And don’t forget to try Italy’s sweet Christmas bread called ‘Panettone’ or France’s yule log-shaped cake known as ‘Bûche de Noël’. These traditional dishes will surely add another layer to your cultural exploration!

Now, when it comes to staying warm while sightseeing, Europe has got you covered with its hot beverages.

Picture yourself sipping on a spicy mulled wine or indulging in the aromatic sweetness of hot chocolate in Switzerland. And if you’re in Scotland, why not give a hot toddy a try?

These drinks are perfect for keeping cozy during your winter adventures. Cheers!

dolomites winter adventure

Accommodation recommendations for your winter getaway in Europe

Cozy winter lodges and boutique hotels.

When it comes to staying warm and cozy, Europe has got you covered.

Picture yourself in snug lodges nestled in the Swiss Alps, or how about charming boutique hotels right in the heart of Italy’s city centers?

If you fancy a more traditional experience, you can also opt for guesthouses in the German countryside.

Not only will these accommodations keep you comfortable, but they’ll also add an authentic touch to your winter adventure.

👉 I enjoyed a 20% discount on a 5-star hotel using  this hotel booking platform  

Booking Tips for December Travel Discounts

Here’s a pro tip: book your winter accommodations early to snag the best discounts. Look out for package deals and off-peak rates that can save you some serious cash.

And to give yourself some flexibility, consider using booking platforms that offer free cancellation in case your plans change.

With some smart planning , you can have an amazing European winter vacation that fits your budget perfectly.

dolomites italy accomodation

Transportation Tips

Navigating european cities during the winter.

Getting around European cities during the winter months can be a little challenging because of the unpredictable weather. However, most cities are well-prepared for snow and ice.

The public transportation systems, like metros, buses, and trams, usually run smoothly with only minor delays.

Just remember to check the weather forecast and local transportation websites for any travel disruptions.

Best Modes of Transportation for Winter Travel

When it comes to winter travel in Europe, trains and buses are some of the best options.

They are not only reliable and efficient, but also offer a chance to enjoy the scenic winter landscapes.

Driving can be tricky because of icy roads, especially in hilly or mountainous regions, so renting a car is recommended only if absolutely necessary.

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FAQs about best places to see in Europe in december

Where in europe is nice in december.

December is such a magical time to visit Europe! You’ve got Christmas markets, festive lights, and in some areas, even enchanting snowfall.

Cities like Vienna, Prague, and Strasbourg are well-known for their incredible Christmas markets. And if you really want to experience a true winter wonderland, you can’t miss out on places like Lapland in Finland. It’s like stepping into a fairytale!

Where is the warmest place in Europe during December?

If you’re seeking warmth during December, consider visiting the Canary Islands in Spain, where the temperature averages around 20°C (68°F). Alternatively, Southern Italy, Greece, and Portugal also tend to be relatively warm in December compared to the rest of Europe.

Is it a good idea to visit Europe in December?

Definitely! Exploring Europe in December is such an amazing experience. The whole continent turns into a magical wonderland with Christmas markets, ice-skating rinks, and stunning decorations. And you know what’s even better? It’s off-peak season in many places, so you can avoid the crowds and even save some money!

What is the best country to visit in December?

This largely depends on your preferences. For a traditional Christmas experience, Germany and Austria are fantastic options.

If you want winter sports, consider Switzerland or France. For milder weather and fewer crowds, the Mediterranean countries like Italy or Greece could be perfect. Ultimately, every European country has its own unique charms in December.

Final Words

In the end, the best places to see in Europe in December are the ones that truly speak to your adventurous spirit, you know?

From the bustling Christmas markets to the serene snow-capped mountains, every corner of Europe just has this undeniable charm, especially during the holiday season. And hey, don’t let the cold scare you away!

Let it be the reason you decide to go out there and explore the magic of Europe in winter.

I really hope my guide has inspired you to embark on your own winter journey, and I’d absolutely love to hear all about your experiences.

So, drop a comment below and share your favorite European winter destinations. Who knows, your stories might just inspire someone else’s adventure!

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I’m Magdalena – Globetrotter, Free Spirit, and your personal travel guide. Since 2017, I’ve been calling France my home while exploring and falling in love with 35+ diverse countries, from the frost-kissed ski towns to the sun-kissed beaches of Costa Rica and El Salvador. Thrive and Wander is a testament to my adventures, filled with destination guides, travel itineraries, and tips for solo female travel. So grab your backpack, let go of your fears, and join me on this journey to explore our beautiful world!

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Best Places To Visit In Europe In December

Cologne -German cities to visit in winter

Europe is a stunning continent filled with unique destinations for travelers to visit. While many flock to it during the summer months, the winter is especially a great time to tour the different countries as well.

December particularly is a highlight as many countries are celebrating the holiday season with festivals and beautiful decorations that can’t be seen any time else during the year.

However, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best European countries to visit in December. Below you’ll find some of the top countries to venture to while touring Europe during this month.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.

Table of Contents

The 8 Best Countries to Visit in Europe in December

Germany is a popular destination during December for many reasons, but especially for its famous Christmas markets. The country is home to hundreds of different markets that each have their own unique personality and goods.

You might like: Best places to visit in Germany in winter.

Some of the best Christmas markets to explore while here are the Cologne Christmas Market (which rests beneath the majestic Cologne Cathedral), the Aachen Christmas Market (known for its traditional printen- – a type of spicy gingerbread), and the Frankfurt Christmas Market (one of the largest in Germany).

Aachen Christmas Market Germany - which country in Europe to visit in december

Besides the markets, you can also go skiing on its mountains, ride a steam train through the snow-covered forests, or stop by the Stollen Festival to try some of this iconic German dessert for yourself.

Check out: The best Christmas Markets in Germany.

You might be interested in the following tours: Munich: Christmas Markets and Christmas Village 2-Hour Tour Cologne: Kölsch Beer and Christmas Market Tour

The polar Northern lights in Norway Svalbard in the mountains

The Land of the Midnight Sun is one of the most magical places to visit in December. Because the days lack adequate sunlight, this provides you with plenty of opportunities to view the colorful Northern Lights.

Check out: The best places to see the Northern Lights in Norway. 

You can also sign up to go dog sledding with a professional through the snowy forests to see landscapes you would otherwise be unable to. Some other popular winter activities to try in December are snowshoeing at night, whale watching tours in its fjords, or exploring the local towns to try some warm traditional meals, like Lefse.

Northern Norway. Lyngen Alps in the background

If you’re looking for special cultural experiences, you can visit an elegant ice hotel or take a reindeer sleigh through the snow to see the Lyngen Alps. However, keep in mind that December does tend to be the chilliest month of the year here, so make sure to bundle up when out.

You might like: Things to do in Norway in winter. 

You might be interested in the following tours: Tromsø: Self-Drive Husky Dog Sledding Adventure Tromsø: Whale Watching Tour by Hybrid-Electric Catamaran From Tromso: Small-group Snowshoeing Tour Tromsø: Sámi Reindeer Sledding and Sami Cultural Tour

Northern Lights in Lapland Finland - Best country to go in Europe in December

While many think of Finland as a tranquil place to visit during the summer to enjoy lush forests and strawberries, it’s just as beautiful during December. While here, you can venture to Lapland, Ylläs, or Levi to view the dazzling Northern Lights unobscured.

trips to europe in december

In addition to this, you can also venture to Rovaniemi. This city, the capital of Lapland, is not only one of the top places to view the Northern Lights but is home to the iconic Santa Claus Village. Rovaniemi is considered to be the official home of Santa Claus and you can explore his village to see elves hard at work, take reindeer rides, learn how to make igloos, and enjoy some soothing hot chocolate.

You can also sign up to take a Lapland Safari at the village where you’ll be taken by a tour guide on a snowmobile around the local forest.

You might be interested in the following tours: Rovaniemi: Northern Lights Hunt and Arctic Circle Rovaniemi: Snowman World Entrance Ticket Rovaniemi: Reindeer, Huskies & Santa Claus Village

Galerie Lafayette Paris in 7 days itinerary

One of the most sought-after places in Europe at any time during the year is France. This romantic country is known for its Christmas decorations in December that grace the streets, such as lamp posts covered in garlands and strings of twinkling lights hung above the sidewalks. You can also stop by its capital Paris to go window shopping at department stores, such as Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, which is known to create some of the most spectacular holiday window displays.

Chcck out: The best Christmas Markets in France. 

Besides window shopping, you can visit the Alsace region famous for its Christmas Markets. The region is transformed into a Christmas Wonderland and you can explore each of the Christmas Markets to find handcrafted goods to buy or try some traditional Christmas food. Famous Christmas markets in the area are the ones in the cities of Strasbourg and Colmar.

The best Christmas Markets in France - Strasbourg

However, if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous during your time in France, December is also perfect for skiing. The Alps are home to many ski resorts you can stay at, such as Val d’Isère, which features some of the largest amounts of snow in Europe. You can also check out Val Thorens which offers spectacular views of the Alps and is one of the highest ski resorts on the continent.

You might also like: Strasbourg in winter. 

You might be interested in the following tours: Strasbourg: Christmas Market Tour

The best city to spend Christmas in Europe - Vienna

Austria is another beautiful destination to venture to during December. The country features many Christmas markets you can attend, most of which offer scenic views and homemade goods you can buy. One of the most popular is the Vienna City Hall Christmas Market. Situated in front of the historic City Hall, this market is known for being illuminated with nothing more than strung lights and candles. It also features choirs singing traditional Christmas carols and plenty of Christmas cookies you can taste test.

Another popular Christmas Market to visit in Austria is the Salzburg Christmas Market. Believed to have been started in 1491, it’s considered to be one of the oldest markets in the country. The market rests beneath the shadow of a historic church that rings its bells occasionally as you shop through the stalls. It’s also known for its selection of roasted chestnuts, baked apples, and nativity scenes.

Mountain ski resort Obergurgl Austria - countries to visit in December in Europe

Besides the Christmas markets, Austria is also home to plenty of ski resorts you can stay at. Hintertux is ideal for skiing thanks to its reliable amount of snow throughout the year. Obergurgl is another great ski resort to check out. While it uses both natural and artificial snow, it offers stunning views of the Alps and has a large portion of land you can easily ski around on.

You might be interested in: Vienna: Christmas Markets Walking Tour with Hot Punch and Traditional Snack

Best Christmas destinations in Europe - Dolomites

December is also a great time to visit Italy, especially Northern Italy and the Dolomites. These areas are home to plenty of beautiful ski resorts that provide you with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. For instance, Cervinia is a reliable place during December for even snow cover and is known for its towering height making it perfect for ski enthusiasts.

The Carezza Ski Resort is also ideal as it provides plenty of winding trails for you to enjoy and has a small inn where you can grab a warm meal when you’re done exploring the outdoors.

Christmas market in Bolzano - winter in Italy

You’ll also find a good variety of Christmas markets you can shop at in Italy, especially in the Dolomites. For instance, the Bolzano Christmas Market is one of the largest in Italy and contains many unique handcrafted items you can buy, such as ornaments and knitted clothing pieces. There’s also the Brunico Christmas Market which is known for its emphasis on Advent traditions and delicious culinary treats.

Besides these, there are Christmas parades throughout the country, a light festival in Florence you can attend, and plenty of living Nativity scenes you can view. You’ll also find that many of the popular attractions in the country, such as the Trevi Fountain, are much less crowded during December making this month ideal to visit Italy.

You might also be interested in: Winter in Italy, a complete guide. 

7. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is a charming place to visit during December. You can stop by London to view some of its intricate Christmas decorations and go shopping in its small stores. You’ll find many of the local streets have been converted into a winter wonderland you can explore and buy goodies at. You can also stop by historic Harrods to find unique toys and gifts to buy as well as its Christmas Grotto.

Check out: The best Christmas Markets in the UK.

trips to europe in december

While in the United Kingdom you can also visit the Edinburgh Christmas Market. This six-week festival is not only filled with numerous stalls you can shop at, but rides, concerts, and many events as well. One popular event at the market is the “24 Doors of Advent.” This is where you’ll be taken on a guided tour through the city and “open” a local door each day of Advent.

Edinburgh Christmas Market - Places to visit in Europe in December

For New Year’s Eve, you can also celebrate Hogmanay in Scotland which celebrates the upcoming year with fireworks and lively parties.

You might also want to check: Three days in Edinburgh.

8. Switzerland

Best countries to visit in Europe in December - Switzerland

While a small country, Switzerland is one of the best destinations to venture to during December thanks to its rich culture. You’ll find plenty of outdoor activities you can do, like skiing and tobogganing. One of the best places to enjoy winter sports though is in the Interlaken area. This resort town lies beneath the Alps and offers a handful of forests and glaciers you can explore.

You might be interested in: Zurich in winter.

The town is also home to St. Bernards which sometimes roam around with their famous barrels around their neck. Switzerland is also home to plenty of Christmas markets you can shop at. You’ll find various types of chocolate and fondue dishes you can taste and handmade goods you can buy while at one. Many choirs also stop by and sing traditional carols.

You might like: From Zurich: Mount Titlis Snow Adventure Day Trip

Grindelwald, Interlaken - European countries to visit in December

If you want to experience Europe in a unique way, definitely consider stopping by during the month of December. While it might be a little chilly, the crowds tend to be much smaller providing you with plenty of opportunities to view and experience things that would otherwise be too crowded and expensive to visit.

These countries also host many festivals during this time to celebrate the holiday season, like Christmas markets. Because of this, visiting Europe during December is one of the best-kept secrets for travelers.

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30 BEST Places to Visit in Europe in December – Christmas & non-Christmas Travel!

Categories Europe , U.K , Winter Travel

The best place to visit in Europe in December depends on what YOU want from a trip to Europe in December!

With schools breaking up for the Christmas holidays in December , this is an excellent time of the year to travel and the best thing about going on holiday in Europe in December is the amount of options there are!

From City Breaks with the best Christmas markets in the world to world-class Ski Resorts and Winter Sun Islands , there are many options for the best places to visit in Europe in December!

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

best places to visit in Europe in December

In this Europe travel guide, I’ve teamed up with my fellow travel bloggers to give you the best winter destinations in Europe which range from visiting Santa in Lapland and the best German Christmas markets , to the winter sun on the Canary Islands and the fairy tale landscape of Cappadocia .

I know not everyone wants a Christmas-filled holiday in December so this list of places to visit in Europe in December will give you lots of different options whether you’re looking for a weekend break in Europe in December or a 2 week Europe holiday in December.

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere stretches from December to February but realistically, weather-wise, winter is late November and often the start of March too, and although you can apply this list to the best places to visit in Europe in winter .

The contributions are very much concentrated on the month of December and the weather in Europe in December with Christmas and the December holidays in mind.

I’m trying to help people travel to the best places in the world in December because this is such a big month for people to travel with school holiday time off. See the BEST Places to Visit in Asia in December here!

best places to visit in Europe in December, Beach in Antalya Turkey in December

Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

So let’s get into the best places to visit in Europe in December! I have noted against each option whether it is best for a Christmas-related trip , non-Christmas-related trip, or Winter Sun holiday in Europe , and which ones are the best places to visit in Europe in December for families.

1. Rovaniemi, Finland – the best place to visit in Europe in December for families!

Christmas in Finland, Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

One of the best places to visit in Europe in December is Rovaniemi . Located in the Lapland region of Finland, this city is a breathtaking destination. It’ll put you in the holiday spirit and give you memories to last a lifetime.

There are so many  things to do in Rovaniemi , but in December, getting in the Christmas spirit is at the top of the list. Rovaniemi is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus and is located on the Arctic Circle, making it a prime destination for a Christmas getaway .

One of the highlights is Santa Claus Village, where you can meet Santa himself , explore the Santa Claus Post Office, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. The village is adorned with twinkling lights, snowy landscapes, and cheerful holiday decorations, creating a magical atmosphere that will bring out the childlike wonder in visitors of all ages.

You can also enjoy the snow by going snowmobiling, taking a reindeer sledge ride, or even going dog sledging. All of these can be family-friendly but also get your heart racing! Be sure to bundle up as the temperatures are often below freezing, even during the day.

Another reason to visit Rovaniemi in December is the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing phenomenon of the Northern Lights . With the long nights of winter, there is a higher chance of catching a glimpse of the d ancing auroras in the clear Arctic skies .

Venture outside the city, away from light pollution, and experience the awe-inspiring display of vibrant colours painting the night sky. It’s an extraordinary natural spectacle that will leave you in awe and create lasting memories of your winter getaway in Europe . You can also stay in a glass igloo to have uninterrupted views of the sky!

Suggested by: Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler

2. Nuremberg, Germany – the best city break for Christmas Markets in Europe!

Winter vacations in Germany, best winter destinations in Europe

Nuremberg is known as one of the best places to visit in Europe during Christmas in the world, thus is a fantastic option for a winter getaway in Europe. Throughout December the main event is the annual Christmas market, Christkindlesmarkt. This is spread throughout the old town and is a real treat of lights, decorations and festive foods or drinks. The main Christmas Market is in Hauptmarkt, a picturesque town square which is home to the gothic Frauenkirche .

The backdrop of Nuremberg city certainly adds to the visit with its beautiful churches, a castle on the hill and timber-framed buildings. The  top attractions in Nuremberg   are still open throughout the city in December. This includes the Imperial Castle on the hill overlooking the city.

The banks of the River Pegnitz are stunning to see, especially the views of Maxbrücke , a pretty bridge. At night, this area is very vibrant, with Christmas stalls and people having fun. Other recommended things to do is to walk the city walls and to pop in and see the Christmas displays in the various churches of Nuremberg.

For food and drink, the Christmas markets deliver lots of options to try. For drinks, you can enjoy various festive mulled ciders and wines. There are countless gingerbread stalls which add to the aroma of the city. And when in Nuremberg, the local speciality sausage is a must try if you eat meat. Overall, Nuremberg is one the fantastic countries to visit in December in Europe, hence is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe .

Suggested by: Rich from RJOnTour

3. Reykjavik, Iceland – the best place to visit in Europe in December for snow!

Winter getaway in Reykjavik Iceland, nice places to go in Europe in December

Looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December for snow and winter activities? If so, then be sure to head to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. 

After all, this city is covered in snow and is a magical winter wonderland where you can regularly see the northern lights dancing through the sky since the city only receives around four hours of daylight a day. 

However, if you really want to enjoy the natural beauty of the northern lights, hop on the Golden Circle and take it to Þingvellir National Park . You can also go to nearby Lake Kleifarvatn on the Reykjanes Peninsula as part of a fun day trip from the city. 

Just be aware that many roads are closed in Iceland in December, So, it’s best to stay in Reykjavik and do short day trips from there. 

Tours you shouldn’t miss out on:

You’ll also love that Reykjavik is bedazzled with tons of vibrant Christmas decorations that you can see as you wander through the streets. However, you cannot visit Iceland in December without checking out Yule Town at Ingólfstorg . Not only is the decor amazing but you can go ice skating on a big ice rink that sits in the center of the market.  

There are also tons of vendors here that sell delicious traditional foods – like Síld (pickled herring) and Hangikjöt (smoked lamb) – as well as decorations, homemade gifts, and more. 

And if you stay in Iceland through the New Year, you’ll see tons of fireworks light up the sky. You can also join in on the fun as people gather around bonfires and party together until the sun starts to come up

Suggested by: Victoria of Iceland Trippers

4. Gran Canaria, Spain – the best winter sun holiday in Europe!

Gran Canaria, best places to visit in Europe in December with family, countries to visit in December in Europe

A great destination to visit in Europe in December is Gran Canaria . For those looking for some almost guaranteed winter sun, the Spanish Canary Islands are a good option . The average high temperature is 22c/71f, with the sea temperature being almost the same, so swimming is still an option. The evenings and mountain regions can get a little chillier but a long sleeve top or light jacket should be enough.

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital city located in the north of the island and Maspalomas is a popular tourist resort that sits in the south, next to the Maspalomas sand dunes. However, if you are looking for a quieter resort, Taurito is a nice option.   Taurito Beach   sits at the end of a valley, with towering cliffs on either side. There’s also a saltwater waterpark and a couple of nice beach bars. 

Puerto de Mogan is a short drive away and is sometimes referred to as the ‘ Little Venice of Gran Canaria ’ because of the narrow alleyways and colourful buildings in the marina area.

For a break away from the coast, a fun day trip is a full-day island tour into the mountain regions. In winter the temperature is a little lower compared to the regions, especially in the south. Highlights include the Valley of Fataga, visiting an aloe vera farm and the towns of Tejeda and Teror. If visiting on a Sunday, the Mercadillo de Teror (The Sunday Market of Teror) is a must-see, it’s one of the oldest markets in the Canary Islands.

Several places have Christmas decorations displayed from November. Throughout December, Belén de Arena de las Canteras takes place in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This is a giant nativity scene in the form of sand sculptures on the beach!

Suggested By: Kylie from Between England and Everywhere

5. Barcelona, Spain – best city to visit in Europe in December for Winter Sun

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, Beach outside Barcelona in December

Spain is a great option for the best places to visit in Europe in December for winter sun and the city of Barcelona is a perfect option because you can experience a city break and time on the beach .

You won’t be swimming or sunbathing in Barcelona in December, it’s not like one of the Spanish Canary Islands that I recommend as a great European Winter Sun Holiday but if you get a seasonably warm day, you will be able to enjoy a walk along the beach like we did at the end of December which was such a lovely way to spend the time between /Christmas and New Year .

A city break in Barcelona in December is also great because the crowds are less than in the summer and Barcelona is a city you can walk around for days around and walking around in the comfortable winter temperature is much more pleasant than the hot summers heat.

We visited Barcelona and the coastline nearby just after Christmas and although there were Christmas decorations around, it wasn’t one of the most Christmassy cities in Europe which we enjoyed.

Suggested by: Ellie from The Wandering Quinn

6. Malta – one of the warmest places to visit in Europe in December

Malta,best winter destinations in Europe, best countries to visit in December Europe

December in Europe is often associated with snow, cold weather and days spent cooped up inside. But why not make the most of this time of year and head to Malta as it is one of the Best Places to Visit in Europe in December ?

Located just off the coast of Italy, Malta is easily accessible from many major European cities. With cheap flights operating throughout December, it’s easy to make the trip. And once you arrive, you’ll be met with beautiful weather – in fact, Malta is one of the warmest places to visit in Europe during the winter months !

Malta is known for its amazing beaches – and while this isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a winter vacation, they are worth visiting. 

With crystal-clear waters and plenty of sunshine, Malta’s beaches are the perfect place to relax and soak up some winter sun making it one of the best warm places to visit in December in Europe . Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s definitely worth doing  a private boat trip  to explore some of the hidden lagoons and coves that surround the Island.

Book this day-long cruise tour exploring Malta, Gozo, and Comino islands, sailing past Mgarr Harbor, Anchor Bay, and Elephant Rock , delighting in an on-board buffet lunch.

Malta is also incredibly easy to get around – whether you opt for public transport, or rent a car for maximum flexibility – you’ll be able to explore the Island’s many attractions and towns without any issues.

So if you’re looking for winter vacation destinations in Europe to visit during December and want to make the most of your time, look no further than Malta! With its stunning beaches, warm weather and easy access from all over Europe, it’s one of the best places to visit in December .

Suggested by: Lowri from Many Other Roads

7. Lucerne, Switzerland – one of the most beautiful places in Europe in December

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, winter getaways in Europe

If you’re looking for a truly enchanting experience, make sure to visit Lucerne, Switzerland in December, one of the best winter destinations in Europe. Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on the magical transformation this charming city undergoes during the winter season.

Visiting Lucerne in December provides numerous benefits, starting with the captivating holiday atmosphere that fills the city. Sparkling lights and festive decorations adorn the streets, casting a warm and welcoming glow over the entire area. The old town becomes a hub of joy and merriment with its delightful Christmas markets, making it one of the best places to visit in Europe in December .

Here, visitors can browse through wooden stalls brimming with handcrafted gifts, indulge in local delicacies, and sip on warm mulled wine. The markets offer a chance to experience the holiday spirit and find unique souvenirs.

Beyond the festive ambience, Lucerne’s natural beauty is accentuated by the winter scenery. Blanketed in a layer of snow, the city’s stunning landscapes become even more picturesque. Take a leisurely boat ride on the glistening Lake Lucerne, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, or venture to Mount Pilatus via a cogwheel train for panoramic views and exhilarating winter activities like sledging and snowshoeing. The pristine snowscapes provide the perfect backdrop for creating cherished memories.

For winter sports enthusiasts, Lucerne offers convenient access to nearby ski resorts, providing opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. Additionally, the frozen lakes, including Lake Lucerne, offer the chance to partake in the joy of ice skating.

Lucerne in December  offers a captivating blend of festive charm, stunning landscapes, cultural experiences, and winter activities. It truly stands out among the best winter destinations in Europe .

Pack your warm clothes, bring your holiday spirit, and get ready for an unforgettable winter adventure in Lucerne’s enchanting wonderland!

Suggested by:  Lavina D’Souza from Continent Hop

8. Cappadocia, Türkiye – best non-Christmas related destination in December

Cappadocia- Turkey, best places to visit in Turkey in december

The other-worldly region of Cappadocia in central Turkey is a year-round destination and one of the best places to visit in Europe in December and the best place to visit in Turkey in December. It’s most popular in summer when crowds of tourists descend on the lunar-like valleys for hiking and hot air ballooning.

Yet, it’s in winter when Cappadocia really emerges as one of the best winter destinations in Europe . The tourist hordes have melted away, and you’ll often have some of the most picturesque areas to yourself – something that wouldn’t happen in peak season.

Winter brings the snow, and to see the geological landforms dusted in sparkling white just adds another layer to the enchantment. It’s not necessarily cold in Cappadocia during December, and you’ll often experience beautiful blue sunny skies at this time of year too, making it a nice place to go in Europe in December .

Hotels are cheaper during winter, so this can be a great time to stay in one of the  luxurious cave hotels in Goreme or Uchisar . This is a quintessential Cappadocia experience, but summer prices can often be prohibitive. Being nestled into the rock, cave bedrooms are super cosy in December and often come with open fires for a romantic touch as well as a bit more warmth.

You can still enjoy all the activities that Cappadocia has to offer during December, and you won’t be fighting off the tour groups at the top attractions. The Open Air Museum in Goreme is a must, as well as horse riding and hot air ballooning over the valleys and plains.

Don’t miss hiking down Love Valley to see the iconic fairy chimneys – the cooler winter weather is perfect for exploring these barren landscapes.

Book your hot air balloon in advance below to get a great price and a guaranteed booking on your first morning!

The perfect way to end a day of adventure here is with a hammam. This is a traditional hot steam bath and massage that’s typical of Middle Eastern and North African regions.

Suggested by: Heather from Conversant Traveller 

9. Antalya, Türkiye – best family holiday in Europe in December

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, , swimming pool in Antalya in December

The coast of Turkiye is one of the warmest places in Europe in December and the holiday town of Antalya is a great place to go during the Christmas school holidays.

Don’t expect perfect sunshine and high temperatures, we experienced a range of weather in Antalya in December the other year but we booked a hotel with a heated swimming pool which was 100% a great idea on an all-inclusive board so we didn’t have to worry about finding restaurants that were open, we planned a few day trips like the Land of Legends Theme Park and we had a great family holiday in December in Europe and it was much warmer than at home in the UK!

Because Antalya is a big tourist destination, our hotel did have a lot of Christmas decorations and Christmas music but it wasn’t as full-on as other places in Europe so if you are looking for a Christmas-free holiday in Europe in December , overall Tururkiye is a good idea!

10. Rome, Italy – the best city break in Europe in December

Rome, best places to visit in Europe for Christmas

Rome, Italy is the perfect place in Europe to visit in December!  The city is much less crowded in December, so you will have an easier time seeing Rome’s iconic monuments and getting tickets for popular tours and attractions such as the Colosseum, the Borghese Gallery, and the Vatican.

It’s a much more pleasant experience strolling through  famous Rome piazzas   when they aren’t thronged with tourists.  You can really take your time to relax, enjoy the gorgeous fountains and sculptures, and get that perfect picture.  Take in the beauty of Piazza Navona with Bernini’s stunning Fontana dei Fiumi , see the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotunda, and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure your return to Rome!

December in Rome is extra special as the city lights up to celebrate the holidays. making it one of the best winter holiday destinations in Europe. Shops and monuments sparkle with Christmas lights and festive decorations. And be sure to visit Rome’s best Christmas market . It’s held in Piazza Navona and is open from the 8 th  of December through to the 6 th  of January.

The Vatican City, an independent nation located inside of Rome, is a must-see in December. St. Peter’s Basilica with its incredible museums and the Sistine Chapel are of course popular year-round. In December, admire the Christmas tree and Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square , and see the Pope make his address to the world on Christmas Day.

By visiting Rome in December , you avoid the sweltering summertime heat, so you can comfortably enjoy exploring the Eternal City.  Expect high temperatures in the mid-50s and be prepared for an occasional rainy day.

Suggested by: Lisa Garrett of Waves and Cobblestones

11. London, U.K – the best place to visit in the UK in December

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, , Oxford Street Christmas Light

From winter festivals to Christmas markets to Christmas decorations , there are many reasons why London is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December .

Checking out the Christmas markets is one of the most fun activities in December and you can find these at many spots throughout the city. For example, the Southbank Centre Winter Market and the Christmas Market at Covent Garden are great ones.

Furthermore, there are many events that take place in December. Hyde Park Winter Wonderland is one of the best festivals to attend in London . This is a Christmas event that takes place in Hyde Park and during it, many activities can be done.

For example, there are many attractions, live shows, and restaurants. Another event to attend is Christmas at Kew , which is a festival at Kew Gardens during which you can see all kinds of beautiful lights. Lots of special concerts take place in London as well. For example, you can go to the Royal Albert Hall for a special Christmas concert

Ice skating is also a fun activity during December in London and all throughout the city lots of pop-up outdoor ice rinks can be found during this month.

New Year’s Eve also takes place in December and London has many great spots for seeing fireworks . One of the best places for that is the Sky Garden, a public garden that is located in a skyscraper in the City of London. Furthermore, the banks of the River Thames are great for seeing the annual fireworks show.

Suggested by: Daniel from North Carolina Travel Guides

12. Alta, Norway – best place to see the Northern Lights in Europe in December

alta-norway, visiting Europe in the winter

December is one of the most magical times to visit Europe , especially if you travel North to the Arctic Circle. One of the most beautiful places to visit in this region is the Norwegian town of Alta , also known as “the town of the Northern Lights” .

It is home to only 20,000 people, yet it remains the most populated area in the Finnmark County, and can be reached by cruise ship, or by plane from Oslo in 2 hours, or by car in 5.5 hours from Tromso.

Located at 70 degrees north latitude means that during winter (late November to mid-January), Alta experiences the polar night. This is when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon , meaning the whole area is shrouded in darkness most of the day except a few hours in the afternoon when there is a twilight blue glow . For most people this takes some getting used to, however, it does provide optimal conditions for the town’s biggest draw, the Northern Lights .

The best way to experience them is by hiring a guide or joining a tour. Both will check the clouds and solar activity, to make sure you visit the spot with the most likelihood of viewing the Northern lights. Many of them also include tripods and photographers, to help you capture the moment. Tours run from 10 pm-2 am, so make sure you get an afternoon nap in if you can!

Other popular winter wonderland activities in Alta include snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and dogsledding. There are also plenty of great attractions such as the Northern Lights Cathedral, Alta Museum and the famous ice hotel at Sorrisniva to make your winter destinations in Europe memorable!

Suggested by: Roshni from The Wanderlust Within

13. Halstatt, Austria – best places to visit in Europe in December with family

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, Halsatt in Winter with snow and sunshine

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December with family, the fairytale town of Hallstatt, Austria couldn’t be more perfect. 

The town, situated on the turquoise shores of Lake Hallstatt, is known for its colorful gingerbread homes, perched amongst pine trees on the slopes of the Alps. During wintertime, though, the homes’ rafters are festooned with twinkling lights, festive garland, and, oftentimes, glistening icicles. 

Beyond its general whimsical appearance, though, Hallstatt goes all out for Christmas every year on December 8th, when the town transforms into a Christmas market .

There are plenty of  things to do in Hallstatt  during this time of year—you can peruse the local vendors’ booths, hawking handmade mittens, ornaments, or wooden toys; admire the life-sized wooden Nativity scene, hand-crafted by the local carpentry school; or tuck into some holiday goodies, like a steaming mug of glühwein or Hallstatt’s iconic cookies.

If you’re visiting with kiddos (or just really like to get into the holiday spirit!), consider timing your visit with the first weekend of Advent. Every year, the children of the neighbouring town of Obertraun wait on the shores of Lake Hallstatt at night, illuminated only by candlelight, to await the arrival of St. Nicholas.

The jolly old man sails to shore on a wooden boat; passes out small treats to the waiting children, like apples and oranges; and recites a Christmas poem. And, just like that, he slips back into his boat and sails into the darkness until next Christmas. This ritual and other Christmas shenanigans make Hallstatt one of the best places to visit in Europe during Christmas .

Suggested by: Jess from Uprooted Traveler

14. Lanzarote, Spain – best places in Spain to visit in December

Lanzarote, warm places to visit in December in Europe, visiting Europe in the winter

How about some wintertime in a bathing suit? Book your flight to  Lanzarote , a Canary Island paradise, one of the warm places to visit in December in Europe , that awaits you in its pristine crystal waters with an amazing temperature to be enjoyed throughout all year, December included.

Both outside and the water temperature on the island remain quite stable at around 68ºF/20ºC, even in the winter months. You’ll be able to do some sunbathing on amazing beaches like Papagayo and Playa Blanca or swim in beautiful natural volcanic pools in Arrieta and Punta Mujeres .

If you’re into surfing, enjoy some waves in the surf capital of the island, Famara, while staring at its impressive walls that hide the highest point of Lanzarote. The island also has many cultural options to visit such as the architectural gems of local artist Cesar Manrique like Jameos del Agua, Casa LagOmar, or overwhelming views of the neighbouring island La Graciosa from Manrique’s Mirador del Río.

Do some trekking on petrified lava surrounded by (sleeping) volcanos in Timanfaya National Park and have an adventure entering Cueva de los Verdes, a 20.000 years old volcanic tube. 

Special tip for foodies: Did you know that you’d be able to find a salmon smokehouse in the middle of the Canary Islands?

In the small town of Uga, you can delight yourself with this local delicatessen ( try it at Bodega de Santiago’s restaurant ) accompanied by some island’s cheese, and the famous Canarian  papas arrugás  (wrinkled potatoes) with   mojo verde  and  mojo picón  (typical Canarian sauces). Don’t forget to try the local volcanic Malvasia dry white in one of Lanzarote’s wineries surrounded y the peculiar vineyard landscape.

Suggested by: Inês from Randomtrip.net

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15. Tenerife, Spain – warmest islands in Europe in December

Tenerife - Spain, Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, winter vacation destinations in Europe

When December blizzards or torrential rains are pouring down in your country, head to the island of eternal spring, Tenerife; a warm Christmas destination in Europe. You can’t find a place like Tenerife in all of Europe in December, where you can not only sunbathe but even swim in the ocean .

Travelling to   Tenerife in December  is a great idea because you will find comfortable climatic conditions and sunny weather which makes it one of the Best Places to Visit in Europe in December .

Daytime temperatures in December in Tenerife are usually between +18°C and +25°C. With the mountain range, the southern part of the island is considerably warmer than the north and the temperature difference can reach 4-7 degrees Celsius. 

In the evening and night hours, it gets noticeably colder, and the average temperature is +16 °C, so be sure to put in your suitcases not only summer clothes but also sweaters, jackets, pants and sneakers. 

December in Tenerife is the perfect time to explore the island and embark on various excursions. The absence of scorching heat allows you to enjoy the sights and activities to the fullest.  

Be sure to visi t Teide National Park and its highlight – the active volcano Teide. The volcano is over 3,500 meters high. A visit to the Teide volcano is without exaggeration considered a mandatory ritual on a trip to Tenerife. While climbing the volcano, you can also enjoy the beauty of the Teide National Park. This natural monument is more than 5 million years old.

The area surrounding the volcano is dotted with a plethora of volcanic fragments, solidified lava in hues of black, white, and ochre that, over time and through natural processes, have taken on peculiar and unusual shapes. 

If you like authentic places, visit Icod de los Vinos , a typical old Canarian town. It dates back to the 16th century and has preserved its traditional architecture and stunning mansions with wooden balconies. 

The most important tourist attraction of Icod de los Vinos is Drago Milenario , a huge dragon tree. It is a fact that the tree is over a thousand years old, although its exact age remains unknown.

Another popular place in Icod de los Vinos is the butterfly park where you can see hundreds of butterflies. 

The weather in Tenerife in December is also great for outdoor activities and hiking. Tenerife has one amazing place for hiking – the Laurel Forests in the Anaga Mountains , in the northern part of Tenerife. 

This area is notably cooler than the southern part of the island and experiences higher levels of rainfall, which has allowed these laurel forests to thrive here. There are only a few places on the planet that have such forests and they have been preserved since the Jurassic period.

Suggested by: Alexandra from Tenerife-is

16. Nice, France

Nice- France, visiting Europe in the winter

Another wonderful place on the list of warm places to visit in December in Europe is Nice, France. During the month of December, the city experiences an average high temperature of 57°F and an average low temperature of 43°F, which means it’s relatively warm compared to most other places in Europe.

Additionally, travelling to Nice during this time of year tends to be cheaper in comparison to the summer months since there are usually significantly fewer tourists out and about.

For visitors who want to explore the city, there’s plenty to do and see! One great spot is Castle Hill , where you can take in the breathtaking views of the Cote d’Azur coastline . Or, if you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, head over to Nice’s Christmas market . The annual event runs for an entire month and features around 60 stalls selling festive items, local foods, and souvenirs.

And of course, don’t forget to stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais . Here, you’ll not only get to see and enjoy the lovely coastal views but also you’ll be able to admire the holiday lights. Similar light displays and decorations can be found in the iconic Place Massena and Place Garibaldi . 

But, if you’re looking for a change of scenery, you can catch a glimpse of how the rich and wealthy celebrate the holiday season by   visiting Monaco as a little excursion !

All in all, Nice is one of the best places to visit in December . Its relatively warm weather, picturesque views, and an array of activities to partake in make it one of the ideal winter getaways in Europe for those looking to experience Europe during wintertime !

Suggested by: Kristin of Global Travel Escapades

17. York, UK – one of the best cities in the UK in December

Christmas in York, best places to visit in Europe during Christmas, best places to visit in Europe for Christmas

The historic city of York in northern England is a fantastic destination to visit in winter , but also one of the best places to visit in Europe in December . On gloomy rainy days, its cobbled streets and maze of snickelways (old pedestrian alleyways) take on an added atmosphere.

Don’t miss the mediaeval cobbled street The Shambles , voted Britain’s Best Street, whose overhanging, tightly packed timber buildings are said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies .

You can escape the wintery weather by visiting one of the city’s world-class museums such as the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre or the York Castle Museum. If the weather is good, climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower for a 360-degree view of the City of York.

Alternatively, take a tour of one of the city’s historic houses such as the Georgian era Fairfax House or the Victorian Mansion House or simply indulge in a festive afternoon tea at the iconic 100-year-old Betty’s Tea Rooms. On crisp sunny days, York’s city centre parks and riverside walks are the best places to catch some winter sun. 

York comes alive at Christmas when the city is festooned with lights and window displays. There is a six-week-long Christmas market (The St. Nicholas Fair) in the pedestrianised centre of York, making it one of the most picturesque warm Christmas destinations in Europe . It hosts over 100 alpine chalets selling locally-made crafts, food and drink.

It is ideal for picking up a last-minute Christmas gift. Visitors to  York at Christmas   should also visit York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe . It offers candlelit services and carol concerts throughout December which are guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.

Suggested by: Sinead at York Travel Expert

18. Berlin, Germany – best place for New Year’s Eve in Europe

Berlin, visiting Europe in the winter, best places to visit in Europe during Christmas

Normally, you might not think of coming to Berlin as the best place to visit in Europe in December . After all, it is pretty cold and dark at that time of year. But in December, Berlin is such a festive place to be . You won’t regret coming for the Berlin Christmas markets , solidifying Berlin’s reputation as one of the best winter holiday destinations in Europe .

One of the best markets to visit in Berlin is the WeihnachtsZauber at Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market , usually called Gendarmenmarkt for the square where it normally takes place. But due to construction, it’s being held at nearby Bebelplatz until 2024.

Take a fun and insightful stroll through Berlin, getting to know Germany’s buzzing capital like a local.

There’s a 1 euro entry fee, but if you get there before 2 pm most days, it’s free. This market has a lovely setting, even at its temporary location, and it oozes holiday charm. You’ll find traditional Christmas market food and mulled wine , and plenty of specialty stalls selling gifts and tree ornaments.

Another great market to check out is Lucia at Kulturbrauerei. This one has a Nordic theme, and you’ll find food and drinks from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and other Nordic countries. It’s in the courtyard of a former brewery, and the red brick buildings make for a cosy setting.

If you’re in Berlin at New Year’s, you can experience one of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world. It takes place near Brandenburg Gate , and the roads are closed off to make room for stages to be set up.

There are musical performances and of course, a big fireworks display at midnight. Even if you don’t go there, you can find NYE parties at clubs and bars all around the city, and fireworks being set off from every bridge and intersection. Berlin at New Year’s is not for the weak!

Suggested by: Ali from Berlin Travel Tips

19. Porto, Portugal – best cities to visit in Europe in December for fewer crowds

Porto-Portugal, Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, best places to visit in Europe during Christmas

Porto, on this list of the best places to visit in Europe in December , is a captivating city with its charming narrow streets, magnificent architecture and picturesque riverside setting. It’s a great winter getaway in Europe , perfect to visit year-round but particularly ideal in December.

One of the reasons why Porto is a great place to visit in December is the fewer tourists. With the peak tourist season long gone, you can experience the city’s attractions without the crowds which makes it one of the best winter holiday destinations in Europe .

Another advantage is the pleasant weather. While winter brings cooler temperatures, they remain mild compared to other European cities. The cooler temperatures are ideal for strolling through Porto’s enchanting streets , sipping on a cup of hot Port wine and enjoying the city’s festive decorations.

A visit to Majestic Café in December is a must . This iconic café, adorned with beautiful Art Nouveau decor, has been a beloved meeting place for residents of the city since 1921. It always has really long queues in the summer but is much quieter in winter.

You’ll also want to make sure you explore the historic Ribeira district . Wander through its narrow, winding streets, lined with colourful buildings and intricate tiled facades . 

Explore the bustling Ribeira Square where you can soak in breathtaking views of the Douro River and the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge . Experience the local cuisine at the riverside restaurants , sample the famous Porto wine and maybe even join a relaxing boat cruise along the Douro River.

Another thing you can’t miss is Livraria Lello , often considered to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world . Its grand neo-Gothic architecture , intricate wooden bookshelves and stunning stained glass ceiling create a magical atmosphere.

Suggested By: Megan From Traveller’s Elixir

20. Sicily, Italy – best places to visit in Italy in December

Sicily - Italy, best winter destinations in Europe, best places to visit in Europe during Christmas

If you’re looking for the perfect European destination in December , check out Sicily .

Winters are milder in Sicily with reasonably warm days and temperatures hovering between 55-60°F . You can expect some rain (bring your umbrella), but snow is uncommon. However, Mt. Etna’s high altitude means that the peak is covered in snow and December is the perfect time to go skiing and snowboarding here which makes Sicily one of the best winter holiday destinations in Europe .

Sicily also has popular Christmas markets with many of them running through December. The best ones happen in Palermo, Catania, Ragusa, and Agrigento . It is a great time to soak in the festive vibe, eat good food, and shop for Christmas gifts and trinkets.

Sicily is also home to several other December festivals including the renowned Festa di Santa Lucia in Syracuse and Festa di Santo Stefano , not forgetting it has the best places to visit in Europe for Christmas .

December is the low season in Sicily which means accommodation and tours are more affordable . It also means fewer tourists at popular tourist attractions. Therefore, it is the best time to explore the historic centres of Palermo and the Late Baroque Towns of Val di Noto.

If you’re a history enthusiast, you’ll love visiting Sicily’s iconic archaeological sites which are virtually empty in December. The   Valley of Temples in Agrigento , the Ancient Theater of Taormina, and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica are all great choices. Since they are mostly out in the open, exploring these sites is also a good way to get your daily dose of winter sun .

December is a mild winter month in Sicily , but be sure to pack warmer layers and an umbrella just in case temperatures dip. 

Suggested by: Soumya of Stories by Soumya

21. Malaga, Spain – one of the warmest cities in Europe in December

Malaga, winter getaways in Europe, winter vacation destinations in Europe

If you are looking for winter destinations in Europe , Malaga, located in Southern Spain, is a fantastic option.

The high temperature in  Malaga in December  is 17.5 degrees Celsius, and it doesn’t rain much, so there are many outdoor things to do while enjoying the sunshine .

December is a good time for sightseeing , but also hiking. It isn’t cold or warm as in the summer when the city can reach 40 degrees Celsius.

During your visit to Malaga, don’t miss its main attractions, which include Alcazaba and Roman Theatre , Malaga Cathedral and Gibralfaro Castle . And if you like museums, Picasso Museum is a must-see , although Malaga has over 40 museums with different themes to choose from.

However, exploring beyond the city centre is also a good idea. You can head to t raditional white-painted villages , such as Frigiliana and Mijas Pueblo . Both villages are perfect for taking photos and learning about local culture.

On top of this, if you love all Christmas-related activities, you can also enjoy the Christmas atmosphere in Malaga , from seeing the Christmas Light Show every evening from the end of November to the beginning of January to visiting the traditional Spanish nativity scenes, like the one in the Town Hall, and window shop at the Christmas markets.

Christmas in Malaga isn’t the stereotypical cold and snowy Christmas but is full of fascinating traditions and events, like New Year’s Eve and the Three Kings Parade so you must consider visiting Malaga if you are looking for the best places to visit in Europe during Christmas .

Suggested By: Cristina of My Little World of Travelling

22. Ephesus, Türkiye – best non-Christmas related vacation in Europe

Ephesus in Turkiye, countries to visit in December in Europe

Ephesus might not come into your mind when looking for winter destinations in Europe, but let me tell you; it is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December . Located along the sunny Aegean coast , Ephesus is an ancient city that exemplifies the rich history of bygone civilizations.

It’s also a fantastic destination to visit in December , especially thanks to its pleasant weather (even during the winter!) and fewer crowds.

To start, the Aegean region doesn’t suffer from extremely cold weather , which makes it one of the  best places to visit in Turkey  during the winter. You can expect temperatures of around 10 to 14 C (50 to 57 F) in December , and there is little chance of snow.

Likewise, Ephesus is absolutely fantastic during the winter, as there are much fewer crowds than the summer . You can peacefully enjoy some of Ephesus’ most popular attractions without having to wait in long lines or push through crowds. 

While Ephesus is one large historical complex, there are plenty of stand-alone landmarks once you’re inside. The most famous is the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!), along with the Library of Celsus, the Ancient Theater, and the Terrace Houses . To get the most out of your trip to Ephesus, we recommend hiring a guide, as they’re a wealth of information on each of the places!

Join this guided tour of Ephesus, which includes a delicious Turkish cuisine lunch and wine tasting, with an optional visit to the Terrace Houses.

If you have some free time after exploring Ephesus, we also recommend visiting the nearby village of Şirince as well. It’s only a 10-kilometer (20-minute) drive and is sure to be the highlight of your trip! Şirince is famous for being a wine-producing village , with the added atmosphere of narrow cobblestoned streets and olive groves that grow on the outskirts.

While you’re here, be sure to visit one of the many viewpoints to look at the traditional houses, try the local Turkish coffee (with a twist!) , and enjoy fresh farm-to-table food. 

Suggested by: Kedi from Let’s Travel to Türkiye

23. Prague, Czechia – best cities in Europe for Christmas in December

Prague, best places in Europe to visit during Christmas

Prague is the ultimate winter fairy tale city . The stunning architecture with structures spanning centuries serves as the best backdrop for Christmas time . 

Visiting Prague in December  is all about Christmas. Most Christmas markets start at the end of November and last until December 24th . The way the city dresses for the occasion of Christmas is beyond beautiful . 

Prague’s main Christmas market can be found at the Old Town Square . It has everything you could look for in a market, including local treats, mulled wine, and hot mead. There’s usually a massive tree and a stage with Christmas concerts . However, it’s also the most crowded Christmas market of all .

For a more intimate Christmas market experience , head to the smaller ones. E.g. the Christmas market at Náměstí míru is still within walking distance from the city centre and provides a market of a smaller size, yet lacking nothing. The market is held right in front of the church of St. Ludmila , which is quite magnificent on its own.

And then there’s the Prague Castle Christmas market . Personally, I find it to be the most charming one of all. Even though it’s primarily geared at tourists, it doesn’t take away from the magic. Prague Castle buildings, with the majestic St. Vitus Cathedral at its heart, provide a unique setting for any event. If you get lucky and experience some snowfall while in Prague, you’ll truly feel like you’re living in a fairy tale.

Visitors who’ll be in Prague on the night of December 5th will experience a special event – it’s St. Nicolas Day and St. Nicolas , together with his helpers, angels and devils, will be roaming the streets of Prague!

Suggested by: Veronika from Travel Geekery

24. Athens, Greece – one of the best places to visit in Europe in low season

Athens in Greece as one of the best places to visit in Turkey in december

Though it may not be the first place that comes to mind when looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December, Athens is a fantastic destination to consider for your December travels. With mild temperatures, a festive atmosphere, and plenty of cultural experiences to indulge in, Athens has a lot to offer visitors in the winter months.

Though the temperature may only hover between 15 and 8 degrees Celsius , you’ll be grateful for the cooler weather when you’re exploring the city’s many outdoor sights. And while the overcast skies and occasional rain showers may seem like a downside, they also mean you won’t have to contend with the summer crowds.

Imagine strolling up the Acropolis hill without having to elbow your way through hoards of tourists. In the summer, the crowds are horrendous, but in December, you’ll have plenty of space to breathe and take some shots without being photobombed .

Stay in one of the  Athens hotels with pools  indoor, such as the A.P. Acropolis View Apartments , for a unique and indulging experience and epic views over the Acropolis .

Here are some must-visit attractions of Athens

For shopping and entertainment, there’s plenty to do in Athens during December . Visit the Monastiraki flea market for incredible finds, or stroll the hipster neighbourhood of Psiri .

December is also perfect for taking your time and enjoying indoor museums , and Athens boasts a fantastic choice. From the world-renowned Acropolis Museum to the Jewish Museum , you’ll find plenty to learn and explore.

Besides, visiting Athens in December means you can take part in the lovely holiday festivities that the city has to offer. Syntagma Square will be lit up with colourful lights, and for the ultimate Christmassy experience , head to Technopolis, home to festive performances, food and souvenir stalls and a traditional Christmas market .

Suggested by: Mal of Raw Mal Roams

25. Dolomites, Italy – best places in Europe for Winter Activities in December

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, snowy Dolomites

The Dolomites are a mountain range located in northern Italy and are one of the best places to visit in Europe in December . The mountain peaks are tall and jagged and the lakes are Gatorade blue. It’s a super unique and gorgeous winter getaway destination . Visiting in December calls for unparalleled skiing and a Christmas wonderland .

The Dolomites are quite large with many towns located throughout. You will want to select the town you want to stay in based on the activities that are important to you. However, some good options are Ortisei, Cortina or Val d’Ega . Plan to stay as long as you can, but  four days in the Dolomites   should be the minimum!

Getting here is easy as Milan is only a few hours away. From there you can either drive or take the train. It’s best to have a car so you can explore the area easily on your own!

If you enjoy skiing or other winter sports, then you’ll probably want to spend a lot of your time doing that. Select one of the 20+ ski resorts in the Dolomites to stay and or visit to hit the slopes !

But there are plenty of other things to do in the area, and this time of the year visiting Christmas markets is an absolute must . There are currently at least ten different markets to visit and they all offer something unique, so it’s recommended that you visit at least a few.

And most importantly, you must enjoy some of the incredible food , you are in Italy after all! Some of the things this area of the country is known for include polenta, canederli and fondue !

Suggested by: Adam and Kathryn of Adventures of A+K

26. Lisbon, Portugal – one of the top European cities to visit in December

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, Christmas Tree in Lisbon main square

In the list of best places to visit in Europe during Christmas , how can one forget Lisbon? Even in December,  Lisbon   is a city that’s worth visiting. While temperatures will be cooler than usual and you may run into some rain, the overall climate remains mild in Lisbon in December.

Plus, there’s added warmth in the air brought on by the festive holiday decorations and Christmas markets around the city.

Usually a great place for foodies, in December you can sample seasonal treats as well. Try the  Broas Castelares , a holiday cookie with sweet potato as one of its main ingredients. Or, sample a slice of Bolo Rei, Lisbon’s traditional Christmas cake .

Enjoy the Christmas lights hung all across the city , and spend a few hours at the Christmas markets like the one in Rossio Square . There, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling unique gifts to bring home as souvenirs. Sample the hot chocolate, mulled wine, roasted nuts and a variety of other snacks for sale at the market.

Various Churches across Lisbon also host special Christmas concerts this time of year , and you can even hear the music from the streets as you pass by.

Visiting Lisbon in December also means you benefit from fewer crowds and more affordable rates, since it’s off-peak season in the city. This means you can appreciate all of the typical landmarks on most Lisbon itineraries with fewer crowds.

Whatever time of year you visit Lisbon, including in December, be sure to attend a Fado show for a taste of traditional Portuguese music.

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December , there’s no doubt that Lisbon should be on your list.

Suggested by: Nausheen of Globe Gazers

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27. Budapest, Hungary – best budget-friendly Christmas market in Europe

Budapest, Hungary, best winter destinations in Europe

Budapest is a budget-friendly yet beautiful city to explore, especially during the month of December.  The city has lots of history, tasty food, great beer, and a variety of things to do, including Christmas markets that’s why people head to Budapest when looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December . 

Budapest turns into a Christmas Market haven at the end of November and runs through December and is one of the best Christmas markets in Europe .  Strolling through  Budapest , you can find multiple Christmas Markets offering locally made gifts and serving delicious Hungarian specialities such as chimney cake, Palacsinta, or marzipan . 

Hungarian hand-crafted gifts include painted porcelain, embroidered textiles, and ornaments that are perfect gifts for loved ones . Make sure to explore the stalls and try the local drink specialities such as mulled wine which is a red wine with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel to warm up and enjoy the holiday season.

The  best and biggest Budapest Christmas market  takes place in Vörösmarty Square, in the heart of Budapest . In addition to the amazing foods and gift ideas, Hungarian bands offer free concerts daily in the square .

If you are looking for a smaller, more quaint experience, then check out the Christmas market in front of St.Stephen’s Basilica , which has great photo spots such as the Christmas tree by the ice skating rink. You can also catch an amazing custom light screening show that is displayed at the church hourly.

Obuda is a charming Christmas market that is less touristy and has a unique carousel, delightful Christmas carolers, and twinkling tights that create a lovely ambience, overall solidifying Budapest’s reputation as the best place to visit in Europe for Christmas .

Suggested by: Adam & Hannah from Getting Stamped

28. Dubrovnic, Croatia – best places to visit in Europe in December for fewer crowds

Dubrovnik for winter getaway, one of the Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

Beautiful Dubrovnik is probably the best-known city in Croatia . Travellers voted Dubrovnik the most beautiful coastal city in Europe , leaving behind cities like Barcelona, Lisbon, and Venice .  

Thus, it is no wonder that many people want to see Dubrovnik. The high season in Dubrovnik is summer. Summer in Dubrovnik means crowds, heat, and inflated prices. Opposite to summer, winter in Dubrovnik means no crowds, no heat, and reasonable prices making it the best winter destination in Europe .

Sun-kissed Dubrovnik is among the b est places in Europe in December . Dubrovnik enjoys sunshine, while most of Europe sees rain, fog, and snow in December. To make it clear, Dubrovnik can be chilly in December. But you will never lack sunshine either!

The daily temperatures in Dubrovnik are not favourable for swimming, but they are great for sightseeing in the city ! December is a perfect time for sightseeing the Baroque and Renaissance churches, monasteries , and palaces in Dubrovnik with no crowds.

December is a great time for strolling th e ancient cobbled streets and the walls of the Old City . The best way to explore the city is to book one or two  best Dubrovnik tours   to learn about the city and the area from local expert guides. 

Besides that, Dubrovnik Christmas Fair is a joyful event that brings Christmas magic to the city. Stradun, the most famous street in Dubrovnik, gets filled with Christmas huts that sell traditional Croatian Christmas products, food, and drinks.

In addition, the streets of Dubrovnik get decorated with traditional Croatian Christmas ornaments . The New Year’s Eve celebration in Stradun is a top event in Dubrovnik. The start of a new year comes with live music in Stradun and fireworks above the Old City of Dubrovnik . 

So, if you wish to celebrate New Year in one of the most beautiful old-walled cities, head to Dubrovnik . 

Suggested by: Milijana of World Travel Connector

29. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina – one of the best-underrated places to visit in Europe in December

Sarajevo as Best Place to Visit in Europe in December, visiting Europe in the winter

Visiting Sarajevo , the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina , in December can be a delightful experience as it is one of the best places to visit in Europe for Christmas . Like any other city in Europe, Sarajevo embraces the holiday season with enchanting Christmas decorations, lights, and festive markets . The city centre, particularly the Baščaršija area, comes alive with a joyful atmosphere.

But besides Christmas, there are other reasons to visit Sarajevo in December too. The weather is cold , with temperatures typically ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F) . If you’re lucky, you might experience a snowy landscape that enhances the city’s charm.

In the surrounding mountains you can almost be sure there will be snow. Locals flock to the famous Olympic mountain towns such as Bjelašnica and Jahorina for a range of winter sport activities such as skiing, snowboarding or simply enjoying a magical winter wonderland that is just a stone’s throw away from Sarajevo making it the best place to visit in Europe in December with family .

Most tourists avoid Sarajevo in December due to the chilly temperatures. This allows you to explore the city without the large crowds. And with plenty of indoor activities it is easy to escape the cold in this winter destinations in Europe .

First of all, Sarajevo has a number of interesting museums about the Bosnian war such as the Tunnel Museum and Galerija 11/07/1995. Second of all, there is always a cafe or traditional tea house nearby to warm you up with a hot cup of tea with sweet treats like baklava or bosnian sweets . 

Bosnia’s cuisine is just as multicultural as the city itself with influences from its Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian past . This diverse cultural heritage is visible everywhere in the various religious sites and the different styles of architecture. What makes Sarajevo unique is that you can enjoy the Christmas festivities in the traditional old town that feels more Middle Eastern than Europe. 

Sarajevo in December thus offers a blend of festive spirit, culinary delights, winter sports and cultural diversity, making it the Best Place to Visit in Europe in December . 

Suggested by: Ellis from Backpack Adventures

30. Istanbul, Türkiye

Best Places to Visit in Europe in December, Istanbul with Snow in December

You’ll need to wrap up warm for this European winter break but December is a great time to visit Istanbul!

Like many of the cities on this list of places in Europe to visit in December, going at this time of year benefits from fewer crowds and easier temperatures to walk around in.

All of the best things to do in Istanbul are open in winter and seen as Istanbul is such a great city for coffee, tea and the local Turkish drink Salep it’s a great time to enjoy the cafes of Istanbul and warm up with a hot drink between sightseeing.

I did experience snow in Istanbul in Janaury, it is less likely to snow in December but you never know!

Istanbul is also one of the great places in Europe without a Christmas atmosphere. Although there will be more lights around the city and the occasional Christmas display, this isn’t a city you visit for Christmas markets which will suit some people well.

I hope this has helped you with the best places to visit in Europe in December and plan your winter holiday in Europe in December!

  • For more of my posts see:
  • 32 BEST Places to Visit in Asia in December & January!
  • 20 BEST Places to Visit in Africa in July & August
  • 26 BEST Places to Visit in Asia in July & August!
  • Visiting Antarctica in November! Best Time To Visit Antarctica?
  • 16 Best Greek Islands for Families to Visit!

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

25 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: February 27, 2023

Home >> Destinations >> 25 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December

From winter sports to Christmas markets and even glorious winter sun destinations , there are so many unique things to do in Europe in winter .

However, December in Europe has a unique vibe you won’t find anywhere else.

Twinkling lights decorate the river edge in the old town of Strasbourg at Christmas.

From snow-dusted castles to the festive cheer of hot Glühwein at a Christmas market. Witnessing Mother Nature’s most incredible light show, Christmas shopping in some of Europe’s most elegant cities, or visiting the home of Christmas, we have some fantastic destinations to visit in Europe in December.

Table of Contents

Gorgeous Places to Visit in December in Europe

1. bruges belgium.

There is no better European destination to spend a romantic winter getaway than beautiful Bruges. There is so much to do in Bruges any time of year, but this medieval Belgian gem, located in the heart of Europe, enjoys winter celebrations in the most mesmerizing setting.

A horse drawn carriage in front of a twinkling christmas market and the colourful gabled houses in Bruges.

From the stepped-gable houses trimmed with twinkling lights, the graceful Belfry towering over Markt square to the artificial ice-skating rink at the idyllic Minnewater, and the captivating Light Experience Trail – Bruges shines in December.

The  Bruges Christmas Market  is held over two equally enchanting, intimate fairytale settings. The wintry atmosphere is also a feast to the senses, with the smell of mouth-watering delicacies filling the air.

Indulge in the most sumptuous waffles, the sweetest speculoos biscuits, the most heart-warming bûches de Noël, and the softest marzipan. Quench your thirst with a delicious Christmas beer or a fragrant mulled wine before exploring the cobbled streets of Bruges, snuggled up under a blanket on a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Take the magic of Bruges home and delight your loved ones with a festively-wrapped box of Belgian chocolates or a handmade lace Christmas ornament.

Recommended by: Sarah Vanheel – CosmopoliClan

2. Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne  is one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland on the shores of Lake Lucerne, surrounded by the magnificent Swiss Alps .

Its scenic location makes it a popular destination year-round. However, visiting Lucerne is particularly lovely in winter and a top place to visit in December. 

Snow capped mountains in the distance behind the iconic covered bridge on the river in Lucerne Switzerland. The double, onion dome spires of the church create a pretty skyline next to the mountain.

Although the weather can be cold, the payoff is snow-capped mountains and the magical atmosphere in the charming medieval old town decorated for Christmas, especially at night.

There’s always a wealth of things to do in Lucerne. (We recommend at least two days in Lucerne ). See the iconic 14th-century Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), Europe’s oldest covered wooden bridge, and the eye-catching Jesuit Church with its twin towers. 

Visit the 17th-century Italian Renaissance Town Hall and the lovely boulevard in front with restaurants with outdoor seating – even in winter. It is a great place to sit and enjoy the views over the Reuss River.

For great views across the city, walk around the fortified Musegg Wall surrounding the old town. 

People sitting at an outdoor cafe by the river in the beautiful city of Lucerne in Switzerland. It is winter and there are red blankets on the cafe chairs.

In December, Lucerne hosts charming Christmas markets selling traditional Swiss gifts, typical foods, and mulled wine. You can also enjoy various winter sports – several ski slopes a short distance away and local ice rinks. Nearby, Mount Titlis also has a ‘revolving’ cable car that takes you up the mountain for spectacular 360-degree views.

Recommended by: Emma Marshall – Travel on a Time Budget

3. Strasbourg France

In December, Strasbourg’s famous Christmas market brings the city to life with great seasonal cheer. The decorations in this delightful Alsatian town, considered the European capital of Christmas, are next level. Along one of the most scenic river cruise routes in Europe , it’s not surprising Strasbourg is a popular stop on the European Christmas Market cruises .

Traditional wooden buildings in Strasbourg france decorated for Christmas with giant teddy bears and lights.

Explore the bright wooden market stalls for handmade Christmas ornaments, paintings, toys, knitted goods, candies, cheeses, and mulled wine.

Though famous for its festive vibe,  Strasbourg  has much more to offer. Start your exploration of this beautiful border town at Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which dates back to the 13th century. The beautiful rose window and the magnificent astronomical clock are highlights of the cathedral. If you visit the church’s north tower, you can see beyond the city as far as the Black Forest, 30 kilometers away.

Wander around Place Kléber and take in the splendor of the famous Strasbourg Christmas tree, ranked one of the ten most famous trees in the world.

Stroll through the modern Neustadt (New Town) to see the Place de la République, the National Theater of Strasbourg, and the Palais du Rhin. La Petite France, is the most attractive district in all of Strasbourg, with charming historic buildings from the 1500s and 1600s.

Traditional white and wooden houses line a river in the town of Strasbourg in France. The houses are reflecting in the water.

Make sure to visit some of the local restaurants and try Alsatian specialties like choucroute garni , baeckeoffe , tarte flambee , and raclette , as well as some Riesling.

Recommended by: Imee Magbag –Journey To France

4. Copenhagen Denmark

One of the best cities to visit in Europe during December is Copenhagen. Although the weather in Scandinavia is often cold and windy, with clouds covering the diminishing daytime light – it’s such a magical month in Copenhagen.

Wooden sailing boats moored infront of the coulful houses in Copenhagen in Denmark.

During December, Copenhagen is full of lights, decorations, and a constant smell of pine around the city, thanks to the Christmas tree vendors. You’ll find an air of excitement among the locals about what’s to come during this month.

There are always so many things to do in Copenhagen , but some things you can only do during December. Visit the Christmas markets and try out the local hot wine named “ Gløgg ,” only served this time of year. Make sure to walk through the beautiful Tivoli Gardens to see all the magnificent Christmas decorations, and if you’re lucky to visit on Dec 13th, you can experience the unique Santa Lucia Kayak Parade in Copenhagen’s canals.

Copenhagen is a magical city during December, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best places in Europe to feel the Christmas spirit.

Recommended by: Cecilie Mortensen – Think Copenhagen

5. Dubrovnik Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia, is best known for its stunning architecture and beautiful setting on the Adriatic Sea. However, what many visitors don’t know is that Dubrovnik is an absolute gem in December.

Temperatures range from 47 – 57ºF (8-14ºC) with plenty of sunny days and a bit of rain. But throwing on a coat is a small price to pay to see the beautiful old city without all the crowds.

The shiny streets of Dubrovnik at night.

There is so much to do in Dubrovnik , and the milder weather is lovely compared to the peak summer months. Walk along the city walls, ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car up to Mount Srđ for stunning views, or do a Game of Thrones tour of all the iconic filming locations.

There are plenty of festive events to enjoy throughout December. The Dubrovnik Winter Festival takes place from Advent through New Year. Around the city, you’ll find Christmas concerts, holiday decor, and Advent Markets with vendors selling traditional Christmas food – fritules (donuts), sausages, and mulled wine. 

Tourists standing in the empty streets of Old Town Dubrovnik on a rainy day.

Another treat is the chance to see the Kolenda, a tradition dating back to the 13th Century where Kolandari singers walk through town serenading everyone. It all culminates in a beautiful display of fireworks for New Year’s. In December, you can enjoy these amazing experiences and stay in one of the best boutique hotels in Dubrovnik without breaking the bank. 

Recommended by Jenifer Byington – The Evolista

6. Lapland Finland

One of the most incredible places to visit in Europe in December is Lapland, Finland. From November, the days are shorter with purple sunsets, the lakes freeze solid, and the snow piles high ( you’ll definitely need your snow boots. Get tips on what to wear in Lapland here .) 

This magnificent, natural winter wonderland is also the home of Christmas. Santa Claus lives in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, which makes Lapland one of the most magical (and snowiest) places to be at Christmas time. If you’re in Lapland for a few days in December, of course, pay a visit to Santa and Mrs. Claus – But there are so many other reasons to visit Lapland in December.

Two husley dogs sitting in the snow.

Lapland offers so many unique winter experiences, such as the magic of dog and reindeer sledding through a wintery landscape.

Rovaniemi is also one of the best places in the world for spotting the Northern Lights, especially during December. Wrap up and head out at night to try to catch the green dancing sky of the magical Aurora Borealis. 

Green Aurora borealis lights over a snow covered track through winter forest landscape in Lapland.

For the best chance of experiencing the Northern Lights, book a guided Northern Lights tour on a snowmobile to the heart of the Finnish countryside, where you’ll have no artificial light. For a more authentic experience, try a northern lights adventure tour on a husky sleigh . This increases your chance to see the lights in the best conditions, and you get to experience the real Lapland.

For the ultimate Lapland accommodation, stay at the remote Apukka Resort for a once-in-a-lifetime stay in a glass igloo with unobscured views of the Aurora Borealis from the warmth of your bed.

Recommended by: Jennie Tuck – Jennie Wanders

7. Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon is not a city that pops into mind when considering visiting Europe in December. The high season for Portugal is generally from spring through to autumn when the weather is warm.

However, like many other European cities, Lisbon has many festivities, markets, and loads of Christmas spirit during the month of December. What Lisbon has over Northern European cities are lovely, mild temperatures in December, perfect for exploring Portugal’s capital. Expect daytime highs of around 59℉ (15℃). You’ll still need a coat, but the weather will be pleasant.

A girl standing in front of an enourmous Christmas tree in the main square of Lisbon at night.

Smaller scale than other European cities, you’ll find charming Christmas Markets around Lisbon with a Portuguese flair, such as Campo Pequeno on the first weekend of December, the Rossio Market, The Mercado de Baixa, and Parque Eduardo VII for Wonderland Lisboa, which is perfect for families visiting Lisbon .

Aside from Christmas festivities, there’s so much to do in Lisbon , from fascinating museums and galleries to excellent restaurants, historical monasteries and castles, and quaint neighborhoods to explore. Winter is the perfect time to visit the top of the iconic Cristo Rei statue or take a ride on the mile-long cable car running alongside the River Tagus. 

Christmas market huts and Christmas lights at night in Lisbon. people are walking across the typical black and white mosaic pavements of Portugal.

Ride on the famous tram 28 to see all of the main attractions of the city. In December, the best time to ride is at dusk to make the most of the Christmas lights around the city. 

Three to four days is perfect for exploring Lisbon. Although, you may want to allow some extra days as there are some excellent day trips from Lisbon that tick off some of the best places to visit in Portugal .

Recommended by: Karen Ni Eadbhard – Travel Mad Mum

8. Rome Italy

Rome is an excellent city to visit in Europe during the month of December.

December is considered off-season, which means there will be fewer crowds, which means shorter lines for all the major sites.

However, the holiday season between Christmas and New Year can be fairly crowded, but it is well worth it to be in the Eternal City during this magical time of the year.

Long exposure photo of the Roman Colosseum at night.

In early December, you’ll see Christmas decor go up around the city. Head to Piazza Venezia and St Peter’s Square in Vatican City to see the most beautiful Christmas tree and nativity scene displays – the lights, Christmas trees, and festive decor throughout Rome is magical.

There is so much to do in the Eternal City, must-sees in Rome  include the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Surprisingly, there are also loads of incredible free things to do in Rome .

Make sure you try Rome’s four famous pasta dishes, cacio e pepe, carbonara, amatriciana, and alla gricia. After all, winter is the perfect time for cosying up in a trattoria and indulging in authentic Italian dishes .

Many automatically think of Rome as being a hot city, but in December, the weather in Rome can be fairly chilly. Expect averages in the high 55s℉ (13℃) which is much more pleasant for sightseeing.

Recommended by: Kim Swanson – Traveling Swansons

You Might Also Like: We have the perfect 3-Day Rome Itinerary with an Optional 4th Day .

9. Venice Italy

In the Veneto region of Italy, Venice, Italy’s most famous island , is one of the more unique places to visit in Europe in December. 

While the floating city is beautiful anytime, Venice comes alive during the holiday season . The city streets are decorated with twinkling lights, which adds ambiance to Christmas shopping for the perfect gifts in Venice’s high end stores and local artisan shops.

Christmas tree in Saint marks Square in Venice on a blue sky day. St marks Basilica is in the background.

In the world-renowned Piazza di San Marco, Venice’s Christmas tree sets a beautiful scene on the Riva Degli Schiavoni next to some of Venice’s most iconic buildings – Doge’s Palace and Basilica di San Marco.

You can find the city’s primary Christmas market in Campo Santo Stefano or go ice skating in Campo San Polo, where a temporary ice rink is in the square from December through the Carnevale season.

The Museum of Music hosts holiday concerts throughout December, featuring Baroque music on historic instruments performed by the Interpreti Veneziani string quartet. Make the most of your visit to Venice with our 5-Day Venice Itinerary , which includes some incredible day trips.

Recommended by: Lyndsay Crescenti – The Purposely Lost

10. Prague Czechia

Prague is located in the very heart of Europe, but winters can be cold, with a high possibility of snow. This is why visiting Prague in December is about fairytale castles, Prague’s signature spires dusted in snow, and a magical Christmas atmosphere.

Night time in the main square in Prague. There is a large Christmas tree lit up in front of the iconic castle building with fairytale like spires on the roof.

From the end of November, the city of Prague starts to dress up and prepare for the holiday season. Christmas markets start to pop up – each prettier than the next.

When visiting Prague’s Christmas markets, warm up with mulled wine or hot mead. Apart from the main Christmas market at the Old Town Square, make sure to visit the smaller ones, such as the Náměstí míru Square and Prague Castle, for an extra-magical setting.

Looking down on the red roofs of the colourful buildings in Prague. There is a square with restaurants and aChristmas tree.

At the beginning of the month, on Dec 5th, Prague celebrates St. Nicolas Day. You’ll see unusual characters roaming the streets – angels, devils, and even St. Nicolas himself.

You can also enjoy ice skating in the historic center at the Ovocný trh Square in the Old Town.

Recommended by: Veronika Primm – Travel Geekery

11. Vienna Austria

The Austrian capital, Vienna, is a wonderful European destination to visit in December. Despite the very cold weather and the chance of snowy days, Vienna has so much to offer in winter , with its joyful Christmas markets, photogenic illuminated streets, and overall festive atmosphere.

Vienna Christmas markets

Start with a self-guided Christmas market tour – head to the largest market of Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt and enjoy the ice skating rink and Ferris wheel. Escape the crowds at the cozy Spittelberg Weihnachtsmarkt , and go for quality over quantity at the Belvedere Palace Christmas Market .

Vienna is also a city for history and culture buffs. To escape the weather, there’s no shortage of amazing palaces and museums to check out, including the UNESCO-listed Schönbrunn Palace, the Hofburg Palace, the Museum of Art History, and the Albertina Museum. Other visit-worthy landmarks are St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera.

A tourist stands in the St Stephens Cathedral Vienna

To engage in the city’s thriving coffee culture, head to one or more of the famous historic  coffeehouses of Vienna , like Demel and Cafe Central. Try authentic Apple Strudel, devour Austrian layer cakes, or try a local dessert called Kaiserschmarrn . If you’re looking to unwind, Vienna’s parks are ideal, especially Stadtpark, Burggarten, and Volksgarten.

Recommended by: Or Amir – My Path in the World

12. Madrid Spain

During the lead-up to the festive season, Madrid, the Spanish capital, is a hive of activity – a perfect winter city break destination. We have a great 3-day Madrid Itinerary to make the most of your time.

Even though  winter in Madrid  gets to a chilly 6-8°C (approx 44°F), it’s a relatively dry city blessed with many sunny winter days.  

On crisp December days, a popular thing to do in Madrid is walk around the city’s biggest green space, Parque El Retiro . In the lead-up to Christmas, the park is dressed in lights, and pop-up Christmas markets start to appear.

One of the best light displays in Madrid is next to Parque El Retiro at the Botanical Gardens. Home to over 1500 trees, from the end of November through to early January, the main central route is decorated with twinkling Christmas lights, illuminated trees, and decorated pergolas.

Christmas lights decorating the Retiro Park in Madrid. A man stands next to the pond with an umbrella on a gray and rainy day, in Spain.

If you’re in feeling more energetic, you can incorporate some winter sports into a Madrid city break. An easy day trip from the capital will land you in the popular ski area of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. 

Spaniards take Christmas seriously, so expect festive storefronts, ice rinks, and markets popping up all over the city. If you’re looking for something Christmas kitsch to do, then take a ride on the NaviBus (‘Christmas bus’) which does a circuit around the city’s best displays. 

The best thing to eat at this time of year is Churros y Chocolate. Although they are available all year round, the hot, gloopy chocolate sauce you dip your Churros into (a long finger-like doughnut) is especially satisfying on a chilly December afternoon.

Recommended by: Becki Rendell – Meet Me in Departures

13. Amsterdam Netherlands

December is a very special time to visit Amsterdam. During the holiday season, Amsterdam sparkles and comes alive with tourists visiting the many Christmas Markets. 

Christmas Markets are a staple all over Europe in December, and Amsterdam has some fabulous markets worth visiting. Enjoy gingerbread cookies and other seasonal treats, live music, street food, and a party atmosphere Amsterdam does so well.

People ice skating on the frozen canals in Amsterdam next to the canal barges.

The largest Christmas Market in Amsterdam is the Ice Village, located in Amsterdam’s Museumplein. The Ice Village is open from two weeks before Christmas until the day after and features a huge ice skating rink.

Ice skating is a national pastime in Holland, so other than at the Museumplein, you will find tons of places to skate in the winter. If the weather is cold enough for long enough, you can even skate on Amsterdam’s famous canals. If the conditions look right, boat traffic will be blocked from certain canals to allow them to freeze. The canals become a glittering, icy super highway for skaters with classical music and little kiosks on the ice serving warm drinks and liqueurs.

Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht are the canals that will most likely be frozen for skating. Be sure to take your cue from the locals on where to skate, as some areas, such as under bridges, can still be quite thin.

People in an art gallery looking at famous Rembrandt paintings.

Want to escape the cold or prefer a little culture? Visit one of Amsterdam’s world-famous museums. The Museumplein in Amsterdam, where the Christmas Market is held, is also home to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and MOCA Museum, where world-famous Dutch artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Vincent Van Gogh are exhibited. 

Recommended by: Katie Caf – Katie Caf Travel

14. Turin Italy

If you’re looking for a magical European destination to visit in December, look no further than Turin, Italy.

Nestled in the north of Italy bordering Switzerland and France, this unique Italian gem is only an hour by fast-speed train from Milan.

City skyline of Turin with Mole Antonelliana and Alps in the distance.

The capital city of the region Piedmont, Turin, was the first capital of Italy and home to the Savoy Royal Family for centuries. There is so much to do in Turin , yet, this regal and elegant city is still relatively undiscovered by tourists. 

If you love a good dose of Christmas atmosphere, you will adore Turin. In December, Turin lights up with Christmas cheer and, more often than not, a decent dusting of snow.

There is a big Christmas market every year outside the Royal Palace. Warm up after the markets at the famous Al Bicerin cafe with a glass of bicerin , a traditional hot drink native to Torino (chocolate coffee), or aperitivo Torinese style with vermouth and a tramezzino.

Recommended by: Olivia Windsor – Livguine

15. Dublin Ireland

Dublin has a charm quite unlike any other European capital, especially in December when the city hums with Christmas cheer. The twinkling lights of Grafton Street, stores decorated in Christmas cheer, and the bustling pubs heaving with people looking for a celebratory pint and some warmth. 

people standing in the cobble streets of the famous temple Bar district in Dublin.

Being near the coast, Dublin has a relatively mild climate, with temperatures rarely dropping below zero. You will, however, still need to bundle up against the rain, this is Ireland, after all.

Spend your days in Dublin, pub hopping in some of the best pubs in the country on South William Street. Shop for Christmas presents in Brown Thomas on Grafton Street, or visit the Guinness Storehouse to learn about Ireland’s most famous export. 

Dublin is a very walkable city, so it’s easy to explore. Enjoy relaxing meals at restaurants such as Brother Hubbard on the Northside or eat your way down Camden Street. 

Spend an evening visiting the Dublin Zoo Wild Lights in Phoenix Park. One of Europe’s oldest zoos becomes a magical wonderland of fantastical light displays. Head back across the city to the Dublin Castle Christmas Market and spend your night listening to Christmas music, shopping for local artisan products, and eating delicious winter treats.

Recommended by: Missy – Travel with Missy

16. Paris France

One of the most beautiful cities to visit in Europe in December is nonother than the city of love, Paris.

Even though Paris often has overcast, chilly days with an average temperature of 5ºC (41ºF) in December, the beauty of the City of Light still shines through.

While the city is worth visiting any time of the year,  Paris in December  offers a much more charming vibe.

Christmas markets in Paris

From streets dazzling in Christmas lights and magical Christmas window displays at the major department stores to Christmas markets dotted around the city, Paris becomes a dreamy destination in December.

Besides enjoying the Christmas cheer, December is the perfect month to cozy up in some of Paris’ most famous galleries and museums with fewer crowds. Whether it’s seeing the Mona Lisa at the world’s largest art museum, the Louvre, admiring impressionist art at Orsay Museum, or modern art at Centre Pompidou, Paris has so much to offer during this time of the year.

Looking down the Seine River in Paris on a clear cold morning.

Even though picnicking in Paris’ beautiful parks is far from a winter activity, December presents an opportunity to participate in the festival of lights at Jardins des Plantes , a festival that showcases various endangered species while highlighting the park’s beauty.

Paris never disappoints when it comes to food, you’ll be able to enjoy some winter staples like Soupe à l’oignon , (onion soup) or Vin Chaud (mulled wine) to warm up during the chilly nights.

Between admiring the perfectly decorated city, cozying up at quaint cafes, and soaking in all the art, Paris is one European getaway that always leaves you longing for more.

Recommended by: Esther – Dreams in Paris

17. Nice France

Thinking about hitting the French Riviera for the Winter holidays? Spend your December in Nice, France, for a festive getaway with a Mediterranean twist.

Nice is one of the most popular cities in the south of France , with balmy temperatures hitting highs of 57℉ (14℃), you can leave the big coats and beanies at home. Instead, relax on the festively illuminated Promenade des Anglais and dive into a giant bowl of moules frites (mussels and french fries).

Two coffee mugs with mulled wine being clinked together with festive lights in the background in Nice in December.

Afterward, take a post-dinner wander along the beach – the temperature does drop in the evening, so remember to bring a coat out with you even if the sun is shining down. 

If you’re seeking out something special to do in Nice in December, head to Place Massena, home to Nice’s Christmas village. Wrap your hands around a hot mug of mulled wine while you browse for the perfect souvenirs to take home.

If you want a birds-eye view of the festivities, check out the Winter Ferris Wheel. You’ll be able to see the light displays of Place Massena, Promenade des Anglais, and Place Garibaldi, or head there during the day and enjoy a clear view of the city.

There’s never a bad time to visit Nice ( even if you just have one day )

Recommended by: Dayna Brockbank – Happily Ever Travels

18. Helsinki Finland

If you’re looking for a magical winter experience in Europe, then consider Helsinki in December.

The Finnish capital is a perfect short break thanks to wonderful festive markets, a wealth of cozy cafes, a fantastic collection of museums, and some quirky winter activities that will test even the hardiest of travelers. It’s also a great stopover en route to Lapland.

A traditional wooden boat moored in Helsinki harbor district with Uspenski cathedral in the distance during winter in Finland.

Helsinki gets cold. Really cold. Despite the Scandinavian city’s coastal location, temps can reach sub-zero in December. On the plus, you’ll likely be rewarded with clear days for stellar winter wonderland vibes. Take your cue from locals who gather to enjoy mulled wine,  Glögi,  and steaming bowls of delicious salmon soup at the traditional Christmas markets.

Old man and lady waiting at a market stall in Helsinki that serves hot, creamy salmon soup and coffee as advertsied on the market stall sign.

If it’s really cold, you may even get to see parts of the sea have frozen. Otherwise, marvel at (or join) the coldwater swimmers braving the Allas Sea Pools before warming up in a local public sauna. There are plenty of public saunas in the Kallio area.

For other top things to do in Helsinki  in December, don’t miss the famous Design Museum or seasonal ice skating at the Helsinki Ice Park– both should be followed with a piping hot chocolate at either the renowned Fazer Café or insta-famous Café Regatta.

Recommended by: Steph Parker – Big World Small Pockets

19. Berlin Germany

Located in the northern part of Germany, Berlin isn’t at the top of many travel lists for winter. But with more than 50 Christmas markets, December is a definite exception and a great choice for a winter city break. From traditional to quirky, you’re sure to find at least a few Christmas markets to enjoy here.

Christmas markets at night in front of a beautifully lit historical building in Berlin.

If tradition and beauty are what you’re looking for, check out the markets at Charlottenburg Palace and Gendarmenmarkt square. Both are gorgeous settings for a festive celebration where you can enjoy a mug of mulled wine and delicious food and shop for some  Berlin souvenirs  and gifts. 

Berlin also has culturally themed markets, such as Japanese or Nordic. There’s also a vegan Christmas market, markets focused on artistic creations, ones that are more geared toward shopping, and so many more. Find kid-friendly markets at Potsdamer Platz and Rotes Rathaus. 

Berlin can be quite cold in December, so make sure you’re dressed in warm clothing, especially if you plan on being outside a lot. The city gets less than eight hours of daylight in December, so plan your sightseeing accordingly. Luckily Christmas markets are at their best at night.

Check out the 25Hours Hotel near the Berlin Zoo for an interesting place to stay. Their “jungle” rooms look out over the zoo and Tiergarten park, definitely a view worth splurging on.

Recommended by: Ali Garland – Berlin Travel Tips

20. Iceland

Iceland is a wonderful European destination if you’re looking for winter wonderland vibes and adventure without extreme cold. 

Iceland is located near the arctic circle. However, the temperatures in December are relatively mild. You can expect temperatures to be around 1-2℃ (30-36 ℉). Highs can even reach 4℃ (upper 40s℉). 

A remote and icy landscape on a sunny day in Iceland. There are snow capped mountains in the distance.

A Northern Lights tour is one of the main attractions you will want to add to your  Iceland itinerary . It is one of the best ways of being guaranteed to see the Northern Lights, as these pros know the best places to visit for optimal visibility of the Aurora Borealis. 

If you love adventure, Iceland in December is perfect for you. Take a road trip around the Golden Circle to see waterfalls and geysers, finishing the day soaking in the famous Blue Lagoon. Or, you can explore glaciers with the opportunity to go through glacier tunnels.

For Christmas vibes, make sure to spend some time in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. The capital is lit up, and there are festivities and traditional Christmas Markets to enjoy. If you are from the States, you may be surprised that Christmas day is celebrated on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik is also quite the spectacle, with fireworks lighting the night sky for hours. 

If you want to try some local Icelandic food, consider trying Fermented Shark ( Hákarl ), Sheep Head ( Svið ), and Dried Fish. 

Recommended by: Sam Opp – Find Love and Travel 

21. Deventer Netherlands

Deventer, a city in the north of the Netherlands is a Hanseatic city and one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands. The city is on the banks of the river IJssel with a beautifully preserved medieval old town. 

Visiting Deventer is fun year-round, but especially in December. One weekend a year in December, the Dickens festijn ( Dickens Festival ) is held in the Bergkwartier (the medieval part of the city).

Men in costume dressed as Dickens period policemen in the streets of Deventer in the Netherlands.

For two days, Deventer transforms into a 19 th -century town from the stories of Charles Dickens. A massive performance requiring around 950 actors to portray characters from Scrooge to Queen Victoria. Chimney sweeps and orphans roam the streets and perform sketches and plays. Entrance to the festival is free of charge.

Christmas markets at night with the silhouette of a double spired church in the distance.

Also, in December, there are two Christmas markets in Deventer. One is outside on the Brink (a square), and the second is an indoor market at the Grote of Lebuinus’ church. 

Other things you shouldn’t miss in Deventer are the Toys Museum and the Deventer Koekwinkel, a shop that has been making traditional Koekwinkel cakes since 1959. 

Recommended by: Cosette – KarsTravels

22. Bratislava Slovakia

Central Europe is a charming place to visit in winter. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia is a great pre-Christmas escape as it is one of the  cheapest places to live in Europe .

Surrounded by Hungary and Austria, Bratislava has been gaining popularity as a budget destination for its relaxed atmosphere, history, cuisine, and incredible natural beauty.

Visit in December, and you will be rewarded with beautiful snow-covered landscapes. Even the rivers and lakes with be blanketed in white.

A narrow street in Bratislava with yellow buidling wiether side and an onion domed spire over an archway.

Bratislava has some wonderful historical and cultural sites to visit in winter, such as Bratislava Castle and the Slavin War Memorial – the largest war memorial in Central Europe. The views from both are spectacular, especially in winter.

Danubiana, Kunsthalle, and Nedbalka Galleries have world-class contemporary exhibitions, and the Bratislava City Gallery caters to classical art fans. The Slovak National Theater has a special winter edition of ballet, opera, and drama performances.

Eastern Europe is famous for its hearty winter-worthy cuisine, and Bratislava really shines. Make sure you try local dishes such as veal schnitzel or a bowl of cozy goulash soup.

Take a craft beer tour and find out just how serious Bratislava is about beer, with a new wave of independent microbreweries and pubs making their mark.

Recommended by: Trijit Mallick – Budget Travel Buff

Warmest Places in Europe in December

23. madeira island portugal.

Madeira is a Portuguese island in the Atlantic Ocean, north of the Canary Islands. One of the most beautiful places to visit in Portugal , it is part of an archipelago and can be reached by plane or ferry from the mainland of Portugal.

The temperature in winter is around 68℉ (20℃), making it one of the warmest places in Europe in December.

A girl in a yellow raincoat wearing a black backpack walking through bright green lush rain forest next to a levada on Madeira Island.

Visitors can comfortably enjoy the many outdoor activities Madiera offers. Hiking in Madeira is incredible, with so many varied hikes available – Hike above the clouds at Pico do Arieiro, explore the hidden caves in São Vicente, visit the black sand beach at Seixal, and follow the famous Levada trails through the lush Laurissilva forests.

If enjoying local cuisine is more your thing, Madeira doesn’t disappoint. Make sure you try the local Madeira wine, as well as Sopa de Tomate e Cebola ( Tomato and Onion Soup ), and the abundant seafood on offer, such as Lapas, which are harvested off the wave-swept rocks. They are considered a Madeira delicacy.

Houses cascading down the hill from an old castle on the island of Madeira.

A great place to stay in Funchal (the capital of Madeira) is the Vine Hotel , it is centrally located and an easy walk from the old town. Or consider some of the quirkier places to stay, such as a  treehouse in Portugal .

Recommended by: Roshni – Top Treehouses

24. Tenerife Canary Islands Spain

The volcanic island of Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands. An autonomous community of Spain, Tenerife is located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, off the Northwest coast of Africa.

Its unique location means it is a year-round holiday destination. But  Tenerife is particularly popular for winter sun cruises , as the temperature remains in the high 60s℉ (low20s℃) with at least six hours of sunshine a day.

Palm trees along the coast of a light blue ocean on Tenerife.

Tenerife has a lot to do, so it caters well to all interests. For adventurers, there is great hiking in Teide National Park, home to Spain’s highest point, or kayaking alongside Los Gigantes Cliffs. For foodies, you can visit the vineyards for wine tastings or try the famous Canarian potatoes with mojo sauce.

For beach lovers, Playa de Las Teresitas is a must-visit. The most popular beach in Tenerife, the sand was imported from the Sahara Desert and laid over the volcanic sand to create a larger beach. There was also a breakwater built to create clear, calm bathing conditions.

Most tourists choose to stay on the south of the island as this is where most of the activities are. The GF Victoria is a great 5-star choice in Costa Adeje.

Recommended by: Roshni – The Wanderlust Within

Malta is a small island country in the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. Its unspoiled beaches, all-year-round warm climate, prehistoric archaeological sites, beautiful towns, and delicious local cuisine are renowned. 

Saling boat travelling past the ancient city of Valletta in Malta.

There are plenty of  things to do in Malta  for a perfect holiday in December. Throughout the winter, the weather is much warmer than in the rest of the European countries, with mostly sunny days and clear blue skies. There are also loads of Christmas activities around the island. And, if Malta wasn’t beautiful enough – the streets, shops, and houses will be decorated for the season.

Start your Maltese adventure with a visit to the fortified city of Valletta, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital of Malta. Explore the winding streets of the historic city to marvel at Malta’s world-renowned and extremely photogenic architecture.

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.

Cannons lined up overlooking the harbour and two cities of Malta. There are large boats moored in the harbour.

Enjoy a delicious dinner with some hearty traditional Maltese food and drink in Nenu, The Artisan Baker. Also, take a day trip to explore the atmospheric walled city of Mdina, known as the silent city, and the neighboring historical town of Rabat.

Recommended by: Moumita Paul – Chasing the Long Road

There are so many fabulous places to visit in Europe in December, the trouble is deciding what kind of winter getaway you’re looking for.

Sometime Traveller

40+ BEST Places to Visit in Europe in December

By Sometime Traveller

5 October 2023

Europe is a continent of contrasts, where you can find ancient history, modern culture, stunning scenery, and diverse cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family adventure, a warm escape, or a solo trip, Europe has something to offer for everyone. And what better time to visit than in December, when the festive spirit is in full swing and the winter wonderland is at its best?

In this blog post, I will share with you 40+ best places to visit in Europe in December, categorized by different types of travellers and preferences. You will discover some of the most popular destinations as well as some hidden gems that will make your trip unforgettable. Plus, I will give you some tips on what to eat and drink in each place, because let’s face it, food is one of the best parts of travelling.

So grab your passport, pack your bags, and get ready to explore the best of Europe in December!

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10 Best Romantic Places to Visit in Europe in December

If you’re searching for a warm and enchanting setting to share precious moments with your loved one, Europe offers a delightful array of choices. From enchanting castles that seem straight out of a fairy tale to quaint, picturesque villages, from intimate candlelit dinners to the joy of gliding on ice, and from soothing hot springs to savouring the rich flavours of local wines, I’m here to introduce you to 10 of the most enchanting and romantic destinations to explore in Europe during the magical month of December.

Paris, France

40+ BEST Places to Visit in Europe in December

The City of Love is an obvious choice for a romantic getaway, but it’s also a great place to visit in December. The city is beautifully decorated with lights and ornaments, and the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour. You can stroll along the Seine River, visit the Louvre Museum, admire the Notre Dame Cathedral, or shop at the Galeries Lafayette. Don’t miss the Christmas markets around the city, where you can enjoy some mulled wine and crepes. 

Local food to try: Croque monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with béchamel sauce.

Venice, Italy

trips to europe in december

Venice is one of the most romantic cities in the world, and it’s even more magical in December. The crowds are smaller, the canals are quieter, and the fog adds a mysterious touch. You can take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, explore the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica, or visit the nearby islands of Murano and Burano. Don’t forget to try some of the local specialties like cicchetti (small snacks) and prosecco (sparkling wine). 

Local food to try: Risotto al nero di seppia, a creamy rice dish with squid ink.

Prague, Czech Republic  

trips to europe in december

Prague truly appears as though it has sprung from the pages of a fairy tale, especially in the enchanting month of December. The Gothic architecture, cobblestone pathways, and the magical Charles Bridge all glisten beneath a snowy blanket adorned with twinkling lights. Here, you can explore the majestic Prague Castle, stroll through the historic Old Town Square, and marvel at the intricate workings of the Astronomical Clock. Moreover, Prague boasts some of Europe’s most delightful Christmas markets, where you can discover handcrafted treasures and savor delectable seasonal delicacies.

Local food to try: Trdelník, a pastry made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, grilled, and topped with sugar and nuts.

Salzburg, Austria

trips to europe in december

Salzburg seamlessly harmonizes culture and nature, creating a splendid blend. This city is not only the birthplace of Mozart but also the enchanting backdrop of “The Sound of Music.” In Salzburg, you can explore Mozart’s home, wander through the splendid Mirabell Palace and Gardens, and ascend to the commanding heights of the Hohensalzburg Fortress. For those seeking outdoor adventures, a day trip to the nearby Alps offers opportunities for skiing and snowshoeing, surrounded by breathtaking alpine vistas.

Local food to try: Sachertorte, a chocolate cake with apricot jam filling and chocolate icing.

Bruges, Belgium

trips to europe in december

Bruges is a medieval city that has preserved its charm and beauty over the centuries. It’s known as the Venice of the North because of its many canals and bridges. You can take a boat tour along the waterways, visit the Belfry Tower and the Basilica of the Holy Blood, or admire the artworks at the Groeninge Museum. Bruges also has a cozy and festive atmosphere in December, with Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. You can shop at the Christmas market on Market Square, where you can also ice skate on a temporary rink. 

Local food to try: Belgian waffles, a crispy and fluffy pastry that can be topped with whipped cream, chocolate, or fruits.

Lucerne, Switzerland

trips to europe in december

Lucerne is a city cradled between a tranquil lake and majestic mountain ranges, gifting visitors with breathtaking vistas and an inviting, snug ambiance. In December, Lucerne takes on a wintry guise, with average temperatures hovering around 2°C (36°F). Amidst this scenic backdrop, you can embark on a journey to discover captivating landmarks such as the iconic Chapel Bridge, the poignant Lion Monument, and the engaging Swiss Museum of Transport.

For those seeking elevation and adventure, Lucerne provides the means to ascend Mount Pilatus or Mount Rigi via cable car or train. At their summits, a snowy wonderland awaits, offering a variety of snow activities and panoramic views to savor.

Local food to try: Raclette, a melted cheese dish that is served with potatoes, pickles, and bread.

Bratislava, Slovakia

trips to europe in december

Bratislava is a city steeped in history, culture, and an undeniable charm. In December, a cool breeze fills the air, with average temperatures resting around 4°C (39°F). While exploring this enchanting city, you’ll have the opportunity to visit prominent landmarks such as the stately Bratislava Castle, the awe-inspiring St. Martin’s Cathedral, and the historic Old Town Hall.

For those with a thirst for knowledge, Bratislava offers a rich selection of museums, including the Slovak National Gallery, the Bratislava City Museum, and the Museum of Jewish Culture, each unveiling layers of the city’s captivating past.

As December paints the city with a festive spirit, be sure to explore the delightful Christmas market on the Main Square. Here, you can peruse handmade crafts and savor delectable culinary delights, adding a touch of holiday magic to your Bratislava adventure.

Local food to try: Bryndzove halusky, dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon.

Porto, Portugal

trips to europe in december

Porto, nestled beside the meandering Douro River, is renowned for its rich wine culture and captivating architecture. In December, the city enjoys a temperate climate, with average temperatures hovering around 14°C (57°F). As you explore this charming destination, you’ll have the opportunity to discover notable attractions such as the imposing Clerigos Tower, the ornate Sao Bento Station, and the atmospheric Ribeira District.

For wine enthusiasts, Porto beckons with the allure of world-famous wineries, including the venerable Sandeman Cellars, the esteemed Taylor’s Port, and the historic Graham’s Port Lodge, where you can immerse yourself in the region’s wine heritage.

As night falls, Porto’s vibrant nightlife and music scene come alive, ensuring that you’ll find plenty of entertainment to round out your days in this dynamic city.

Local food to try: Francesinha, a sandwich with cheese, ham, sausage, and steak covered with tomato and beer sauce.

Riga, Latvia

trips to europe in december

Riga, a city steeped in history, art, and culture, beckons travelers with its rich tapestry of experiences. In December, a snowy wonderland envelops the city, with average temperatures resting around -1°C (30°F). As you delve into this enchanting locale, you’ll have the chance to explore notable monuments such as the iconic House of Blackheads, the poignant Freedom Monument, and the venerable Riga Cathedral.

Art and history enthusiasts will find their passions ignited by Riga’s array of museums, including the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, and the engaging Riga Motor Museum, each shedding light on different facets of the city’s heritage.

Riga’s distinction as one of Europe’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets brings added charm to the season. Here, you can peruse exquisite amber jewelry and handcrafted wooden toys, immersing yourself in the festive spirit of the city.

Local food to try: Karums, a curd snack coated with chocolate.

10 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December with Family

When you embark on a family adventure across Europe, you’ll discover a wealth of destinations that are sure to put smiles on everyone’s faces. From thrilling amusement parks to enriching museums, from sprawling nature reserves to captivating zoos, and from indulgent chocolate factories to the enchanting abode of Santa himself, allow me to introduce you to 10 exceptional places to explore with your loved ones in Europe during the delightful month of December.

London, England

trips to europe in december

Exploring London is a journey through a city that caters to everyone, regardless of age or interest. Whether you’re drawn to iconic landmarks like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge, captivated by the world-class exhibits at the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum, or in search of seasonal merriment, London has something special in store for you.

And for families seeking a dose of holiday spirit, don’t miss the enchanting Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Here, you can immerse yourselves in the excitement of thrilling rides, captivating shows, and the simple joy of ice skating, making London the perfect destination that truly has it all for family travelers in December.

Local food to try: Fish and chips, a classic dish of fried fish and potato fries.

Barcelona, Spain

trips to europe in december

Barcelona seamlessly melds culture and nature into a vibrant tapestry of experiences. Here, you can marvel at the awe-inspiring architecture crafted by Gaudi, including the iconic Sagrada Familia, the whimsical Park Guell, and the captivating Casa Batllo. Stroll through the historic Gothic Quarter, ascend Montjuic Hill for panoramic vistas, and unwind on the golden sands of Barceloneta Beach.

Families with children will discover a host of exciting attractions, including the Tibidabo Amusement Park, where thrills abound, the mesmerizing Aquarium, and the delightful Chocolate Museum, all adding to Barcelona’s allure as a multifaceted destination for families in December.

Local food to try: Paella, a rice dish with seafood, meat, or vegetables.

Stockholm, Sweden

trips to europe in december

Stockholm, embraced by the serene beauty of water and nature, offers a captivating array of experiences. Begin your exploration in the heart of the city at Gamla Stan (Old Town), where you can immerse yourself in history at the Royal Palace, explore the fascinating Nobel Museum, and wander through the picturesque Stortorget Square.

Venturing further, the city’s archipelago beckons with its islands, including Djurgarden, where the enchanting Skansen Open-Air Museum, the intriguing Vasa Museum, and the immersive ABBA Museum await your discovery.

In December, Stockholm comes alive with some of Scandinavia’s most enchanting Christmas markets. Here, you can peruse exquisite handicrafts and savor the delightful warmth of glögg (mulled wine), adding a festive touch to your Stockholm experience.

Local food to try: Meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes.

Edinburgh, Scotland

trips to europe in december

Edinburgh is a city that is full of history and charm. Edinburgh has a mild climate in December, with average temperatures around 9°C (48°F). You can visit some of the landmarks like the Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. You can also visit some of the museums like the National Museum of Scotland, the Camera Obscura, and the Dynamic Earth. Edinburgh also has some of the best Christmas events in Europe, including a giant Ferris wheel, an ice rink, and a street party on New Year’s Eve. 

Local food to try: Haggis, neeps, and tatties, a dish of minced sheep’s organs with turnips and potatoes.

Zurich, Switzerland

trips to europe in december

Zurich is a city that is located on the banks of Lake Zurich and at the foot of the Alps. Zurich has a frosty climate in December, with average temperatures around 3°C (37°F). You can visit some of the attractions like the Grossmunster Church, the Bahnhofstrasse Street, and the Lindenhof Hill. You can also visit some of the museums like the Swiss National Museum, the Kunsthaus Zurich, and the FIFA World Football Museum. Zurich also has some of the most enchanting Christmas markets in Europe, where you can buy chocolate and cheese. 

Local food to try: Fondue, a melted cheese dish that is dipped with bread.

Lisbon, Portugal

trips to europe in december

Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal and is located on the Atlantic coast. Lisbon has a mild climate in December, with average temperatures around 15°C (59°F). You can visit some of the attractions like the Belem Tower, the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Sao Jorge Castle. You can also explore some of the neighbourhoods like Alfama, Baixa, and Chiado. Lisbon also has a festive Christmas market along the river banks, where you can buy souvenirs and drinks. 

Local food to try: Pasteis de nata, a custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon.

Rome, Italy

trips to europe in december

Rome is a city that is full of history, art, and romance. Rome has a mild climate in December, with average temperatures around 13°C (55°F). You can visit some of the monuments like the Colosseum, the Vatican City, and the Trevi Fountain. You can also visit some of the museums like the Borghese Gallery, the Capitoline Museums, and the National Roman Museum. Rome also has some of the most festive Christmas celebrations in Europe, like the Nativity scenes and the Pope’s blessing. 

Local food to try: Carbonara, a pasta dish with eggs, cheese, and bacon.

10 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December that are Warm

If you’re in search of a sunny respite from the winter chill, Europe offers enticing possibilities. From tranquil islands to picturesque coastlines and sun-kissed beaches to serene mountain escapes, I’m here to introduce you to 10 delightful destinations in Europe that promise warmth and sunshine during December.

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

trips to europe in december

Tenerife is the largest and most popular of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Africa. Tenerife has a mild climate all year round, with average temperatures around 20°C (68°F) in December. You can enjoy some of the best beaches in Europe, like Playa de las Americas, Playa de las Teresitas, and Playa del Duque. You can also explore the Teide National Park, where you can find Mount Teide, the highest peak in Spain. 

Local food to try: Papas arrugadas con mojo, boiled potatoes with spicy sauce.

Malta 

trips to europe in december

Malta, nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, is a charming island nation steeped in a tapestry of history and culture. In December, Malta offers a warm embrace, with average temperatures hovering at a comfortable 18°C (64°F). As you explore this captivating destination, you’ll have the opportunity to wander through UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Valletta, the capital city, Mdina, a beautifully preserved old city, and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, an intriguing underground burial site.

Moreover, the island is adorned with pristine beaches, including the inviting shores of Golden Bay, Mellieha Bay, and St. George’s Bay, where you can bask in the Mediterranean sun and embrace the tranquil beauty of Malta.

Local food to try: Pastizzi, a pastry filled with ricotta cheese or peas.

trips to europe in december

Cyprus is an island country in the eastern Mediterranean Sea that has a mix of Greek and Turkish influences. Cyprus has a warm climate in December, with average temperatures around 19°C (66°F). You can visit some of the ancient sites like Paphos, where you can find the Tombs of the Kings and the House of Dionysus. You can also enjoy some of the stunning beaches like Nissi Beach, Coral Bay, and Fig Tree Bay. 

Local food to try: Halloumi, a semi-hard cheese that can be grilled or fried.

Madeira, Portugal

trips to europe in december

Madeira is an island off the coast of Portugal that is known for its natural beauty and wine. Madeira has a mild climate in December, with average temperatures around 20°C (68°F). You can explore some of the scenic landscapes like the Laurisilva Forest, the Pico do Arieiro, and the Cabo Girao. You can also visit some of the charming towns like Funchal, Santana, and Camara de Lobos. 

Local food to try: Espetada, skewered beef marinated in garlic and herbs.

Granada, Spain

trips to europe in december

Granada is a city in southern Spain that has a rich cultural heritage and a stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Granada has a pleasant climate in December, with average temperatures around 16°C (61°F). You can visit some of the impressive monuments like the Alhambra, a Moorish palace and fortress complex, the Generalife, a royal garden, and the Cathedral, a Renaissance masterpiece. You can also enjoy some of the lively nightlife and tapas bars in the city center. 

Local food to try: Tortilla de Sacromonte, an omelette with lamb brains and offal.

Athens, Greece

trips to europe in december

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece that is famous for its ancient history and mythology. Athens has a moderate climate in December, with average temperatures around 15°C (59°F). You can visit some of the iconic landmarks like the Acropolis, where you can find the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. You can also visit some of the museums like the Acropolis Museum, the National Archaeological Museum, and the Benaki Museum. 

Local food to try: Moussaka, a baked dish of eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce.

Antalya, Turkey

trips to europe in december

Antalya is a city that is located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and is known for its beaches and resorts. Antalya has a warm climate in December, with average temperatures around 18°C (64°F). You can visit some of the historical sites like the Hadrian’s Gate, the Yivli Minare Mosque, and the Aspendos Theatre. You can also enjoy some of the natural attractions like the Duden Waterfalls, the Konyaalti Beach, and the Olympos National Park. 

Local food to try: Kebab, a grilled meat dish with various spices and sauces.

10 Best Places to Visit Solo in Europe in December

When it comes to solo travel, Europe boasts destinations that will embrace you with warmth and ensure your safety. Whether you’re drawn to vibrant cities or the peaceful countryside, seeking cultural enrichment or thrilling adventures, I’m here to share with you 10 outstanding places in Europe that are perfect for solo exploration during the serene month of December.

Berlin, Germany

trips to europe in december

Berlin is a city that is full of history, art, and diversity. Berlin has a cool climate in December, with average temperatures around 4°C (39°F). You can visit some of the landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, and the Berlin Wall. You can also visit some of the museums like the Museum Island, the Jewish Museum, and the East Side Gallery. Berlin also has a vibrant nightlife and music scene that will keep you entertained. 

Local food to try: Currywurst, a sausage with curry sauce and fries.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

trips to europe in december

Amsterdam is a city that is famous for its canals, bicycles, and tulips. Amsterdam has a chilly climate in December, with average temperatures around 6°C (43°F). You can visit some of the attractions like the Anne Frank House, the Rijksmuseum, and the Van Gogh Museum. You can also take a canal cruise or rent a bike and explore the city by yourself. Amsterdam also has some of the best coffee shops and pubs in Europe that will make you feel relaxed. 

Local food to try: Stroopwafel, a thin waffle with caramel filling.

Budapest, Hungary

trips to europe in december

Budapest is a city that is divided by the Danube River into two parts: Buda and Pest. Budapest has a cold climate in December, with average temperatures around 3°C (37°F). You can visit some of the sights like the Buda Castle, the Parliament Building, and the Chain Bridge. You can also enjoy some of the thermal baths and spas that are scattered around the city. Budapest also has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe that will make you feel festive. 

Local food to try: Goulash, a stew of meat and vegetables with paprika.

Copenhagen, Denmark

trips to europe in december

Copenhagen is a city that is known for its design, hygge, and happiness. Copenhagen has a freezing climate in December, with average temperatures around 2°C (36°F). You can visit some of the attractions like the Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, and the Nyhavn Canal. You can also visit some of the museums like the National Museum, the Design Museum, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Copenhagen also has some of the best restaurants and cafes in Europe that will make you feel cozy. 

Local food to try: Smorrebrod, an open-faced sandwich with various toppings.

Dublin, Ireland

trips to europe in december

Dublin is a city that is famous for its literature, music, and Guinness. Dublin has a mild climate in December, with average temperatures around 9°C (48°F). You can visit some of the landmarks like the Trinity College, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Guinness Storehouse. You can also visit some of the pubs and bars that are full of live music and friendly locals. Dublin also has some of the best Christmas events in Europe, like the Winter Lights Festival and the New Year’s Festival. 

Local food to try: Irish stew, a hearty dish of lamb, potatoes, and carrots.

Krakow, Poland

trips to europe in december

Krakow is a city that is rich in history, culture, and beauty. Krakow has a freezing climate in December, with average temperatures around -1°C (30°F). You can visit some of the attractions like the Wawel Castle, the Main Market Square, and the Cloth Hall. You can also visit some of the museums like the Schindler’s Factory, the National Museum, and the Galicia Jewish Museum. Krakow also has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, where you can buy amber jewelry and wooden toys. 

Local food to try: Pierogi, dumplings filled with cheese, meat, or fruits.

Reykjavik, Iceland

trips to europe in december

Reykjavik is a city that is surrounded by stunning natural wonders. Reykjavik has a cold climate in December, with average temperatures around 2°C (36°F). You can visit some of the landmarks like the Hallgrimskirkja Church, the Harpa Concert Hall, and the Sun Voyager Sculpture. You can also take a day trip to some of the nearby attractions like the Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss Waterfall. Reykjavik also has a chance to see one of the most amazing phenomena in the world: the Northern Lights. 

Local food to try: Skyr, a thick and creamy yogurt-like dairy product.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

trips to europe in december

Ljubljana is a city that is small but charming. Ljubljana has a cool climate in December, with average temperatures around 5°C (41°F). You can visit some of the sights like the Ljubljana Castle, the Triple Bridge, and the Dragon Bridge. You can also visit some of the galleries like the National Gallery, the Modern Gallery, and the Metelkova Art Center. Ljubljana also has one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, where you can buy handmade crafts and taste some honey liqueur. 

Local food to try: Potica, a rolled cake with various fillings like nuts, poppy seeds, or chocolate.

Europe is a beautiful continent to visit in December, whether you’re looking for romance, family, warmth, or solo travel. You can find a variety of destinations that will suit your preferences and expectations and enjoy some of the best attractions, activities, and events that Europe has to offer. You can also experience some of the most unique and festive Christmas traditions and celebrations that will make your trip unforgettable.

So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets, pack your bags, and get ready to explore the best of Europe in December! And don’t forget to share your experiences and photos with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you! 😊

FAQ’s

What are the best places to visit in europe in december for christmas markets.

Top European cities for December Christmas markets include Strasbourg, Vienna, Prague, Munich, and Riga. Explore historic markets for crafts, ornaments, food, drinks, and festive ambiance.

What are the best places to visit in Europe in December for skiing?

For prime December skiing in Europe, consider Bansko, Bulgaria; Val d’Aran, Spain; Mayrhofen, Austria; Gudauri, Georgia; and Interlaken, Switzerland. These destinations offer top-notch ski resorts, scenic slopes, affordability, warm hospitality, and cozy lodging.

What are the best places to visit in Europe in December for winter sun?

For a sunny December escape in Europe, consider Tenerife, Malta, Cyprus, Madeira, and Granada. With temperatures around 18-20°C (64-68°F), these destinations offer beach bliss, history, and delicious cuisine.

Where is the Best Place in Europe for Christmas?

Prague, Vienna, and Strasbourg are renowned for their enchanting Christmas markets and festive spirit.

Where in Europe is Warmest in December?

Southern Spain, including Malaga, offers the warmest temperatures in Europe during December.

What is the Best European Country to Visit in December?

The best European country to visit in December depends on your preferences. For festive markets, consider Germany. For mild weather, Spain and Portugal are great choices.

Is it Good to Visit Europe in December?

Absolutely! Europe in December is a magical experience with festive markets, snowy landscapes, and cozy atmospheres.

How much does it cost to travel to Europe in December?

European travel expenses vary with factors like location, duration, transport, lodging, dining, and activities in December. Prices are generally lower due to the low season, but some places can be pricier during the holidays. On average, expect $104 per person daily.

How cold is Europe in December?

In December, Europe provides a variety of climates to suit all travelers. From Reykjavik, Iceland’s chilly -1°C (30°F) to Tenerife, Canary Islands’ pleasant 20°C (68°F), you have options. Some regions might even offer unique weather experiences, adding excitement to your trip.

What are the best places to visit for romance in Europe in December?

In December, pick Paris, Venice, Prague, Salzburg, and Bruges for a romantic European escape. These cities charm with architecture, quaint streets, and scenic views. Explore canals, museums, candlelit dinners, and luxurious stays

What are the best places to visit with family in Europe in December?

London, Barcelona, Stockholm, Lisbon, and Rome are excellent family-friendly destinations in Europe during December. With diverse attractions like museums, parks, and holiday festivities, they guarantee an enjoyable and educational experience for all ages.

What are the best places to visit solo in Europe in December?

Top solo travel destinations in December: Berlin, Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, and Dublin. Explore history, art, and culture. Enjoy vibrant nightlife and socializing in pubs.

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Europe Tours in December 2024

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250+ Europe trips in December 2024

Europe Escape Tour

Explorer Family Coach / Bus

Europe Escape

"Great experience. Very fun." Paul, traveled in April 2024
  • 10% deposit on some dates

European Discovery (Winter, Start London, Classic, 12 Days) Tour

Explorer Coach / Bus Historical Christmas & New Year +2

European Discovery (Winter, Start London, Classic, 12 Days)

"Good coordination and good infrastructure." Cristian, traveled in December 2022

The Great Adventure Tour

Explorer Family Historical Christmas & New Year +1

The Great Adventure

"Europamundo did a good job facilitating the trip. I would make a few changes to some of the highlighted stops in order to add in a little more free time." Thomas, traveled in July 2023

European Delight Tour

Explorer Family Coach / Bus Historical Christmas & New Year +2

European Delight

"The Vatican City is a principal centre of Christianity in the world. You will be able to visit St. Peter's Basilica." Ian, traveled in September 2023

Europe Jewel Tour

Europe Jewel

"Great team, tour leader Jemma and the coach Coen, thanks much. The itinerary was as described, everything was on time." Raquel, traveled in May 2024

Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice in 7 Days Tour

Explorer Train & Rail Historical Christmas & New Year +2

Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre & Venice in 7 Days

"It's amazing how much we saw in just a week! We learned a lot about the cultures and different types of food and paintings/architecture which was really cool." Malaika, traveled in May 2022
  • $100 deposit on some dates

10 Day Group Tour in Ancient Greece & Santorini with Cruise to Volcano Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Christmas & New Year +1

10 Day Group Tour in Ancient Greece & Santorini with Cruise to Volcano

"Everything is average, not too bag, not too good." mike, traveled in July 2021

European Cavalcade (End Paris, 18 Days) Tour

European Cavalcade (End Paris, 18 Days)

"For the price of what it was, it was great hotels and great places to see." Ashley, traveled in May 2024

Tour from Athens to Belgrade: 7 Balkan countries in 14 days Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Sightseeing Christmas & New Year +2

Tour from Athens to Belgrade: 7 Balkan countries in 14 days

"The stuff was so friendly, and the tour was amazing." Ela, traveled in September 2022

Tour from Athens to Dubrovnik or Split: 7 Balkan countries in 14 days Tour

Tour from Athens to Dubrovnik or Split: 7 Balkan countries in 14 days

"The accomodation was lovely and very central. The countries we visited were beautiful." Amelia, traveled in September 2023

European Highlights Escape - 12 Days Tour

European Highlights Escape - 12 Days

"We enjoyed the lively city of Athens and beautiful Santorini. Everything was organised perfect by Dot Travel Greece." ChristosS, traveled in January 2020
  • $65 deposit on some dates

European Inspiration (Start London, Classic, 19 Days) Tour

Explorer Active Coach / Bus Sightseeing Historical Christmas & New Year +4

European Inspiration (Start London, Classic, 19 Days)

"Having such a thoroughly planned trip really made things easier and a lot more stress free for me." Holly, traveled in June 2023

Magic Carpet Tour Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Coach / Bus Historical Christmas & New Year +3

Magic Carpet Tour

"The one thing I didn't like was the amount of time we had to spend sitting in a van. It would also be nice to stay in one city for more days." Laura, traveled in October 2023

Grand Classical Tour Of Greece plus Mani and Monemvasia (Small group - In depth culture/Historical/Nature/Culinary guided tour) Tour

In-depth Cultural Family

Grand Classical Tour Of Greece plus Mani and Monemvasia (Small group - In depth culture/Historical/Nature/Culinary guided tour)

"The Grand Classical Tour Of Greece plus Mani and Monemvasia offered a deep dive into Greek culture, history, mythology, nature and culinary delights." Vanessa, traveled in August 2023

European Traveller (10 Days) Tour

In-depth Cultural Family Explorer Coach / Bus Christmas & New Year +3

European Traveller (10 Days)

"Excellent service. Educational trip." Stella, traveled in September 2023

What people love about Europe Tours in December

The best tour guide we have ever had by far, your knowledge of the regions, your local history and cultural knowledge was outstanding. My wife and I had an absolute blast of a tour. Thank you Luke, can’t wait to catch up with you again
Could not fault them enough
It was very good. The tour guides were awesome
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Europe in Winter

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15 warmest places in December in Europe (2024 guide)

Aerial view with Puerto de la Cruz, in background Teide volcano, Tenerife island, Spain

Are you searching for the warmest places in December in Europe?

Who said winter holidays always had to be about woolly mittens and numb toes?

Brush off the winter chill, slip on your sunnies and swap snow boots for flip-flops; I’ve put together a list of Europe’s warmest destinations in December.

These sun-drenched corners are a well-kept secret, steeped in history that reaches back to ancient times.

They transform the European map into a series of sunny spots, charming both locals and visitors with their balmy climate, vivacious cultures and tantalising culinary landscapes.

I’ve visited many of these Mediterranean spots throughout the years, and loved the fact that they’re a short flight from where I live in the UK, but the weather is totally different in the winter season.

If you’re looking for the warmest places for Christmas in Europe, read on!

Table of Contents

What’s the weather like in Europe in December?

palm trees in sunny day on blue sea and sky background

So, the question on everyone’s lips – where is hot in Europe in December – and does a warm destination over Christmas actually exist? 

In December, Europe boasts a diverse range of climates – it’s not a winter wonderland everywhere you go!

Northern Europe may well embrace winter’s icy atmosphere but don’t fret if you’re looking for a warm place in Europe in December.

Head south, and the weather’s completely different.

Southern Europe, thanks to the Mediterranean’s influence, offers pleasant and occasionally even warm and sunny temperatures! 

Places on the Med defy winter’s chill, providing a sanctuary for those seeking sunshine during the frosty months.

None of Europe is scorching hot during the winter months – if you’re looking for reliably warm countries in December, you’ll need to head to Africa, Asia, Australia or Latin America – but the South European destinations we describe in this article are temperate – and you’ll have a good chance of finding some sunshine. 

So, if you long for rays of sun rather than blankets of snow this December, check out these sunny places in Europe in December!

I often book package holidays in Europe with Jet2 holidays, who offer a range of winter sun deals. Click here to check out some of their top picks.

The warmest places in December in Europe

The warmest places in December in Europe include: 

Take a look at my posts about warm destinations in other winter months!

  • Warmest places in Europe in November
  • Warmest places in Europe in January
  • Warmest places in Europe in February
  • Warmest places in Europe in March

Let’s go into why each location should be on your festive season Europe bucket list!

1. Malaga, Spain

Historic buildings in Malaga city centre.

Warm sunshine, a merry atmosphere, and sandy beaches in December?

Malaga indeed pulls this all off.

Positioned along the sun-kissed Costa del Sol, this Andalusian gem is a haven for those who dream of swapping frosty winds for gentle sunlight. 

Drenched in about 320 days of sunshine each year and nearly no snow , Malaga maintains pleasant temperatures even in December, making it an attractive getaway.

This city is brimming with history, boasting an intriguing blend of Moorish and Roman architecture.

From the imposing Alcazaba fortress to the Roman theatre and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, there’s plenty to do in Malaga in winter. 

But let’s not forget about the pleasures of leisurely beach walks , vibrant flamenco performances , or relishing tantalising tapas dishes at cosy local bars.

And, if a Christmas day dip in the sea tempts you, Malaga’s beaches are just the ticket.

It’s perfect for visiting all winter long – there are plenty of reasons to visit Malaga in February – but there’s something special about the city when its adorned in festive decorations. You could head down the road and visit Marbella too.

I had a wonderful trip to Malaga over New Years’ a couple of years ago, and it was a solace compared to the freezing UK.

Check out my full guide to visiting Malaga in winter!

We visited Malaga last winter with Jet2 Holidays. They offer three-night breaks with flights and hotels at great value – there’s £50 off at the moment too! Check them out here.

2. Sicily, Italy

Aerial top view of sandy beach of Tyrrhenian sea bay gulf coast shore of beautiful seaside town village Scilla with green hill and Sicily island background, Calabria, Southern Italy

As one of the Mediterranean’s most enchanting islands, Sicily certainly doesn’t lose its charm with the changing seasons.

The sunny winter climate lures visitors who yearn for a milder European December . In fact, it’s one of the best winter sun destinations on the continent.

Sicily’s beauty is deeply rooted in its history, culture, and undying traditions.

Wander around the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento , where ancient Greek relics stand solemn under the winter sun.

Or explore Palermo, the island’s vibrant capital, where you can admire a unique blend of Arab, Norman, and Baroque architecture.

The bustling markets here emit a symphony of sights, sounds, and scents that beautifully captures the essence of Sicilian life .

And let’s not forget the island’s culinary prowess.

Picture tucking into a sweet cannoli or a hearty pasta alla Norma in a charming street-side cafe, the December sun warming your face – surely, this beats a snowy, shivery Christmas?

3. Madeira, Portugal

Landscape of Madeira island - Portugal

Known affectionately as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’ , Madeira provides a warm and colourful escape from the dreariness of winter.

Even in December, this jewel of the Atlantic boasts a climate that encourages its diverse flora to flourish.

Madeira’s capital, Funchal, is a charming city filled with colourful buildings, delightful markets, and beautiful gardens.

Venture into its historic heart to find quaint cobbled streets lined with cafes and shops.

For the adventurous, the island offers hiking trails through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Laurisilva forest .

And of course, a visit to Madeira wouldn’t be complete without tasting its namesake wine .

As the year draws to a close, the island dresses up for the festive season , with Funchal’s harbour becoming a stage for one of the world’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve firework displays.

Now, isn’t that a warm and radiant way to welcome the New Year?

Jet2 offers winter breaks to Madeira, offering a range of hotels, some by the beach and others in the heart of Funchal. All breaks include flights and accommodation. Browse them here.

Beautiful natural rock arch near of Ayia Napa, Cavo Greco and Protaras on Cyprus island, Mediterranean Sea. Legendary bridge lovers.

If you’re looking for warmer places in Europe in December, Cyprus is just the ticket. 

Basking in the gentle warmth of the Mediterranean , Cyprus offers a delightful escape from December’s traditional cold climes.

This sun-kissed island country boasts a unique blend of cultures, ancient archaeological sites, and delightful cuisine.

Start your trip in Nicosia , the capital city.

Here, the old city’s sandstone walls hold a treasure trove of history.

From the grand Venetian columns of the Famagusta Gate to the Selimiye Mosque’s fusion architecture, Nicosia is a vibrant mix of old and new.

Don’t forget the coastal city of Paphos , home to the mesmerising Paphos Archaeological Park.

As you walk amid the Roman ruins and mosaic-filled villas under the warm winter sun, you’ll appreciate the slower pace of winter tourism – it’s much quieter than the heaving (and scorching) summer months!

And of course, there’s the food.

Be it a warming bowl of moussaka or a platter of fresh halloumi and olives , the Cypriot cuisine is a feast for the senses – whenever you’re visiting in the year!

5. Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

trips to europe in december

Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands , is a veritable December paradise, with warm weather and plenty to do.

Off Africa’s northwest coast, this volcanic island is potentially the warmest place in Europe in December. 

Tenerife’s diversity is enchanting – from the trenbolone acetate for sale golden and black sand beaches to the dramatic lunar landscapes of Teide National Park (a personal favourite). 

Stroll along the vibrant promenades of Playa de las Americas , explore the quaint Canarian architecture in La Orotava , or gaze at the star-studded skies in the Teide National Park , home to Spain’s highest peak.

Just a note – because Teide is so high , it does get cold here – so make sure you pack some layers if you’re planning on visiting the park on your Tenerife winter trip !

The island’s cuisine is an adventure in itself.

Feast on local dishes like papas arrugadas and fresh seafood, ideally paired with a glass of island-produced wine, while enjoying the scenic ocean views.

Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife has to be one of the best places in Europe to enjoy some winter sunshine in December – and you can easily book it with Jet2! Imagine sunset by that swimming pool, cold beer in hand… (I’m thinking about booking it myself!). Click here to see what I mean!!

6. Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Central square with old church Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Teguise village on the sunset on lanzarote island

Neighbouring Lanzarote is another fantastic sunny place in Europe in December .

This island’s unique beauty is born from volcanic activities , and no trip’s complete without exploring the Timanfaya National Park’s moon-like terrain.

Lanzarote’s potentially the warmest place in EU in December, so you can explore comfortably (and maybe even enjoy some beach time). 

Explore the white-washed homes and green landscape of the island’s former capital, Teguise , or discover the inspiring works of artist César Manrique , deeply woven into the island’s fabric.

Take a leisurely walk through the La Geria wine region , where vines grow in unique volcanic pits.

End your day by savouring fresh seafood by the sea in El Golfo , as the setting sun bathes the island in warm hues.

Lanzarote in winter is truly a delight!

Sunny weather in Malta in March, overlooking the Sliema area

A group of sun-soaked islands nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, where the sun shines brightly even in the depth of winter, Malta’s well known for its beaches. 

You can still enjoy them throughout the winter – Malta’s weather generally stays warm, and it almost never drops close to freezing .

However, the island also boasts a history spanning over 7,000 years , balmy December temperatures, and a vibrant culture that infuses life into every street and alleyway.

The capital city, Valletta , is a living museum – its grand palaces, ancient forts, and charming cobbled streets are drenched in history. 

The imposing St. John’s Co-Cathedral , the magnificent Grand Master’s Palace , and the stunning views from the Upper Barrakka Gardens are just a few of the highlights.

Head to the north of the island, to places like the Blue Grotto and Dingli Cliffs or venture to Golden Bay to see one of Europe’s most idyllic stretches of coastline. 

Gozo, Malta’s sister island, offers serene countryside, pristine beaches, and a more laid-back style of life. 

And in between all the sightseeing, be sure to indulge in some Maltese pastizzi , a warm and flaky local pastry – perfect for a sunny winter’s day!

Do you live in the north? There are some fantastic deals from Manchester Airport to Malta (for a 7-night stay) throughout December. Check them out here!

8. Seville, Spain

Spain Square or Plaza de Espana in Seville in the sunny summer day, Andalusia, Spain. Flower beds, bridges and channel in the foreground

In December, Aundulusian Seville sheds the scorching summer heat but keeps its warm charm intact. 

Seville is steeped in rich Moorish history and brimming with flamenco’s fiery passion – Sevillians say that the originated in their city, although Granadans disagree! 

Wander around the city’s heart, exploring the grandeur of Seville Cathedral , the lush gardens of Alcázar, and the bustling Plaza de España . 

As the sun sets, find a local tablao and immerse yourself in a passionate flamenco performance.

And let’s not forget the food. 

Seville’s tapas scene is a dream come true for food lovers – I especially loved the tapas at La Bartola , which had a few excellent veggie/ vegan options. 

Picture a warm December evening, enjoying al fresco dining, a glass of vino in hand, and an array of tapas to choose from – doesn’t it sound like the perfect Spanish winter escape?

9. Lisbon, Portugal

tram on line 28 in lisbon, portugal

Lisbon, Portugal’s sun-dappled capital, shines even brighter in December’s mild climate. 

With its charming trams, grand squares, and picturesque waterfront, Lisbon combines old-world charm with a vibrant, contemporary vibe.

Venture through Lisbon’s distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own unique flavour. 

The Alfama district , with its narrow winding streets and historic Fado houses , is a delightful contrast to the modern riverside area of Parque das Nações .

A trip to Lisbon isn’t complete without tasting the iconic pastel de nata .

This custard tart, crisp on the outside and creamy within, is the perfect companion for a warm December stroll through the city.

It originated in Belem, a suburb of Lisbon, but their tarts are actually called pastels de Belem .

You can head to the bakery with the same name to try one of the originals, although I must say that I found their tarts too eggy, while I prefer the sweeter versions that you can find in the city. 

The weather’s usually sunny in Lisbon in the winter season , but if you do have a few rainy days, the capital’s brimming with museums where you can learn about its unique culture and maritime history.

I love the Museu do Fado , which depicts Portugal’s famous dance and Belem Tower where you can learn about expeditions leaving the capital throughout its history. 

I’ve been to Lisbon a few times, and consider it the perfect winter city break , with great weather and plenty of things to do!

10. Antalya, Turkey

Famous Konyaalti beach, scenic panoramic view from a cliif top. Travel destinations of Turkey and Antalya and mediterranean riviera

Perched on Turkey’s southwest coast, Antalya offers a warm winter escape with its splendid blend of sun-soaked beaches, ancient history, and vibrant bazaars. 

Even in December, Antalya usually remains pleasantly warm, making it an ideal spot to escape the cold.

The city’s old town, Kaleiçi , is a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets lined with Ottoman-era houses , rustic cafes, and charming shops. 

Explore the imposing Hadrian’s Gate , visit the picturesque marina, or admire the views from Hidirlik Tower.

For a dose of retail therapy, the local bazaars offer a colourful array of Turkish rugs, pottery, and spices. 

And when hunger strikes , find a cosy eatery and indulge in the region’s rich, flavourful cuisine – from the hearty kebabs to the delicate baklava. 

You might not be able to spend all day at the beach or go swimming in the sea, but a winter’s day in Antalya is sure to delight!

One of the best things about Antalya is how easy it is to get to from most major UK cities (and places all over Europe). Jet2 fly to Antalya from London Stanstead, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, East Midlands and Newcastle. Check out their deals!

11. Crete, Greece

Agios Nikolaos. Agios Nikolaos is a picturesque town in the eastern part of the island Crete built on northwest side of the peaceful bay of Mirabello. Lake Vouliagmeni, Agios Nikolaos, Crete, Greece

Crete, Greece’s largest island, is a Mediterranean paradise that enjoys an enviable climate, even in December. 

This beautiful island promises stunning landscapes, rich history, and hearty cuisine to make your winter escape memorable.

Wander around the historic city of Chania , with its Venetian Harbour , old town, and colourful markets. 

Or drive to Heraklion to explore the Palace of Knossos , a fascinating Minoan archaeological site. 

The southern town of Rethymno , with its beautiful Venetian fortress and charming old town, is another must-visit.

In between sightseeing, make sure to sample local delicacies such as moussaka, souvlaki, and dolmades. 

The warm Cretan sun, matched with the equally warm local hospitality, makes Crete a perfect December getaway.

12. Algarve, Portugal

Algarve region in south of Portugal is very popular tourist destination

The Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, is known for its beautiful beaches, golf resorts, and delightful seafood cuisine. 

The region’s mild winter climate allows for outdoor activities, even in December, making it a favourite among winter sun seekers.

In fact, outdoor activities like hiking, cycling and golf are much more pleasant in the gentle winter heat compared to the harsh summer! 

Discover the town of Lagos , with its fortified walls, the historic church of St. Anthony , and the stunning Ponta da Piedade. 

Or visit Faro , the region’s capital, for its well-preserved old town, scenic marina, and lively nightlife.

Algarve’s culinary scene is a delight, with an array of seafood restaurants serving dishes featuring fresh local produce. 

A bowl of cataplana (seafood stew) or a plate of grilled sardines by the sea is the ideal way to bask in the Algarve’s winter warmth.

13. Mallorca, Spain

Cathedral La Seu at sunet time, Palma de Mallorca islands, Spain

As the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands , Mallorca offers a mix of stunning coastlines, mountains, and a wealth of historical landmarks. 

The mild Mediterranean climate persists even in December. 

Palma , the island’s capital, boasts a magnificent Gothic cathedral, a labyrinth of cobbled streets, and an abundance of chic bars and restaurants. 

Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful town of Sóller – you can take a charming vintage train from Palma – and head to its port that’s filled with yachts and sandy beaches.

For food lovers, Mallorcan cuisine offers a warm respite from the winter cold. 

From the hearty sopas Mallorquinas to the sweet Ensaimada pastries , there’s plenty to indulge in!

Despite its compact size, the French Riviera’s Monaco is a beacon of glamour and luxury that also enjoys a pleasantly warm December. 

The world’s second-smallest country is known for its Casino de Monte-Carlo , the annual Grand Prix, and the stunning Prince’s Palace.

Monaco-Ville, the old town, offers narrow medieval lanes, vibrant houses, and the splendid Saint Nicholas Cathedral. 

The Oceanographic Museum , with its rich collection of marine life, is another must-visit.

Dining in Monaco can be as simple as a warm croissant at a cafe or as lavish as a multi-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant . 

With its combination of sunny weather, breathtaking views, and the glitz and glamour of the high life, Monaco is an intriguing winter destination.

15. Marseille, France

Yachts reflecting in the still water of the old Vieux Port of Marseilles beneath Cathedral of Notre Dame, France, on sunrise

Marseille, France’s oldest city, offers an invigorating mix of history, vibrant culture, and Mediterranean warmth. 

It’s not the hottest place in Europe in December, but it still basks in pleasantly mild temperatures – especially when you consider destinations further north!

From the bustling Old Port to the historic Le Panier neighbourhood , there’s a lot to explore in this coastal city.

Visit the iconic Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde , which offers panoramic views of the city, or explore the picturesque Calanques National Park . 

The lively markets of Marseille are perfect for hunting local products and regional delicacies.

Don’t leave without trying a bowl of bouillabaisse , the city’s traditional fish stew, ideally paired with local wine. 

How to book these winter sun holidays to Europe

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Their packages all include flights with hold luggage, hotel and breakfast at a minimum, and they’re fully ATOL Protected.

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trips to europe in december

FAQs about visiting Europe in December

Beach of Puerto Banus with the mountains of Sierra Blanca at background, Marbella, Costa del Sol, Malaga province, Spain

Where is the warmest place in Europe for December?

Madeira, Portugal, stands out as one of the warmest places in Europe in December, with average high temperatures reaching 20°C (68°F).

Its subtropical climate ensures a pleasant and mild winter, making it an excellent choice for those seeking warmth and sunshine.

The warmest countries in Europe in December include Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Malta. 

Where is the warmest place in Europe for a winter holiday?

The hottest place in Europe in December is probably the Canary Islands.

For a warm winter holiday in Europe, the Canary Islands in Spain offer a haven of sunshine and warmth.

Tenerife and Lanzarote are particularly popular choices, with average high temperatures ranging from 21°C to 22°C (70°F to 72°F) in December.

Where is hot in Europe in December for holidays?

In December, many destinations in Southern Europe offer a welcome respite from the winter cold.

Popular hotspots include Madeira, Sicily, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands (Tenerife, Lanzarote, and Gran Canaria).

These locations provide pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine for a delightful holiday escape.

What is the hottest part of Spain in December?

In December, the Canary Islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa, experience the hottest temperatures in Spain.

Tenerife and Lanzarote, among the Canary Islands, offer warm and sunny conditions with average high temperatures of 21°C to 22°C (70°F to 72°F).

How hot is Greece in December?

Greece experiences milder temperatures in December compared to its scorching summer days.

Average high temperatures range from 15°C to 16°C (59°F to 61°F) in popular destinations such as Athens and Crete.

It’s still pleasantly warm and suitable for exploring historical sites and enjoying Greek hospitality.

Is Portugal hot in December?

While Portugal cools down in December, it still enjoys relatively mild temperatures.

The southern region, including the Algarve, experiences average high temperatures of around 17°C (63°F), providing a comfortable climate for outdoor activities and sightseeing during the winter months.

Is Turkey hot in December?

In December, Turkey experiences cooler temperatures compared to the summer months.

Coastal areas such as Antalya still offer relatively mild weather, with average high temperatures around 16°C (61°F).

While it might not be scorching hot, it’s still a pleasant destination to explore historical sites and enjoy the local culture.

Is Tenerife hot in December?

Yes, Tenerife, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, maintains a delightful warmth even in December.

With average high temperatures of around 21°C (70°F) and plenty of sunshine, Tenerife offers an inviting escape from the winter cold.

Its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture make it an excellent choice for a warm December getaway.

How hot is Gran Canaria in December?

Gran Canaria, another one of Spain’s Canary Islands, experiences pleasant temperatures in December.

The average high temperatures hover around 22°C (72°F), offering a warm and inviting environment for a winter holiday.

Whether you seek relaxation on the golden beaches or adventure in the island’s diverse landscapes, Gran Canaria has much to offer.

Is Cyprus or Gran Canaria hotter in December?

In December, Gran Canaria tends to be slightly hotter than Cyprus.

While both destinations offer pleasant temperatures, Gran Canaria experiences average high temperatures of around 22°C (72°F), while Cyprus ranges between 16°C and 19°C (61°F to 66°F).

Both destinations provide warm winter climates, but Gran Canaria tends to be a touch warmer during this time of the year.

Is Tenerife or Gran Canaria hotter in December?

Tenerife and Gran Canaria, both located in Spain’s Canary Islands, are both warm places to visit in December in Europe.

On average, Gran Canaria tends to be slightly hotter than Tenerife during this month.

Gran Canaria experiences average high temperatures of around 22°C (72°F), while Tenerife boasts average high temperatures of about 21°C (70°F).

Both islands provide delightful winter warmth for visitors to enjoy.

Which Canary Island is hottest over Christmas?

In terms of temperatures, Lanzarote tends to be the hottest Canary Island over Christmas.

With average high temperatures reaching 21°C (70°F) in December, Lanzarote offers a warm and enjoyable winter holiday destination.

Its volcanic landscapes, stunning beaches, and unique attractions make it a fantastic place to soak up the sun during the Christmas season.

What’s the warmest city in Europe in December? 

One of the capitals of the Canaries, such as Arrecife or Santa Cruz de Tenerife, is probably the warmest city in Europe in the festive month.

But on mainland Europe, Malaga stays warm throughout December – I visited just before New Year’s Eve last year and sat outside in the sunshine! 

Are you ready to visit the warmest places in Europe in December? 

trips to europe in december

December holidays in Europe don’t have to be synonymous with freezing temperatures and snow-covered landscapes!

The continent boasts a selection of warm and inviting destinations, perfect for those seeking a sun-soaked December getaway with no worries.

From the picturesque island of Madeira in Portugal to the vibrant Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, there’s a place for every sun-seeker.  

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Claire Martin

Claire is an expert in exploring Europe in the winter! She's from the UK and has been to over 20 countries on the continent in the winter season. She loves every bit of Europe in the cooler months, including finding winter sunshine in Spain, skiing in the Alps and the charm of the Nordic countries in the festive season.

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The Best Places in Europe to Soak Up the Winter Sun

By David Annand and Connor Sturges

Image may contain Shoreline Water Outdoors Nature Ocean Sea Land Promontory Coast Scenery Beach and Sand

Brazil or Bali may be more synonymous with scorching-hot beaches in January, but there are alternatives for when you just want a quick blast of vitamin D to see you through to March. From golden islands that sizzle well into autumn and beyond, to European city break destinations bathed in elusive December sunshine, these winter-sun destinations in Europe mean escaping the blustery winter days is easily achievable. For some further-flung ideas, see our pick of the best winter-sun destinations.

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best for nature lovers December temperature range 5066°F  Its easy to forget that Cyprus is only about 130 miles off the...

Best for: nature lovers December temperature range: 50-66°F

It’s easy to forget that Cyprus is only about 130 miles off the coast of Lebanon. And, unsurprisingly, its winter temperatures run closer to those of the Levant than much of continental Europe, which means T-shirt weather during the off-season. Winter is also a great time to go hiking in Cyprus’s dense forests, where you can stumble across fascinating Byzantine monasteries.

Where to stay: The seaside city of Paphos is a brilliant base for exploring the island and is home to many of the best hotels in Cyprus , including Almyra design hotel . In the north are some of the island’s prettiest beaches, where loggerhead and green turtles come to nest, along with the beachside Anassa hotel (closed 28 November to 31 March), located a short boat ride away from the Blue Lagoon.

Best for dyedinthewool sun seekers December temperature range 1121°C  In summer the breeze that hits Lanzarote and...

Canary Islands

Best for: dyed-in-the-wool sun seekers December temperature range: 11-21°C

In summer, the breeze that hits Lanzarote and Fuerteventura is a blessed relief from the intense heat and a major draw for windsurfers. In winter, said breeze brings with it a bit of a chill, so you’re better off heading to the other Canary Islands : Tenerife or Gran Canaria . The former has made great strides in repositioning itself as a cultural hub with an art gallery designed by Swiss firm Herzog and de Meuron and Santiago Calatrava’s concert hall in Santa Cruz. And the latter has plenty of charm beyond the overdeveloped tourist spots. The capital, Las Palmas, has a lively food scene and the landscape, particularly around the village of Artenara, is manna for hikers. Flights to both islands from London are under four and a half hours.

Where to stay: In Las Palmas, Bed and Chic is a cool 12-room hotel reminiscent of the Ace Hotel look, but without the pretension. On Tenerife, Hotel San Roque , is a pretty 18th-century manor house where dining and lounging take place around the turquoise courtyard pool.

Best for thrillseekers  December temperature range 5968°F  The longtime destination of choice for Britains bluerinse...

Best for: thrill-seekers (but still good for pensioners, too) December temperature range: 59-68°F

The long-time destination of choice for Britain’s blue-rinse brigade, staid old Madeira has been busy reinventing itself as a place for adrenaline-fueled adventure. And why not? The island is an outdoor Eden in miniature, with black-sand beaches, tumbling canyons, and epic rock faces. Which means great mountain biking and wonderful views for those who dare to go paragliding. The network of levadas (water-irrigation channels carved into the volcanic island) makes for thrilling trail running. It is also, as far as we know, the only place to offer year-round urban tobogganing in wicker sledges, which are steered downhill at great speed.

Where to stay: The island's most famous hotel is Reid's Palace, A Belmond Hotel —a pink cliffside palace with a Michelin-star and stunning ocean pool. If you're traveling in a group, Okulus sleeps eight, and thanks to its curated interiors, is easily the coolest villa in Madiera.

Best for getting away from it all December temperature range 4864°F  Continental Europes most southwestern region has...

The Algarve, Portugal

Best for: getting away from it all December temperature range: 48-64°F

Continental Europe’s most south-western region has its own sunny microclimate that makes it consistently warmer than the rest of Portugal. You won’t be in a bikini in winter, but the pleasant T-shirt temperatures mean that an increasing number of hotels and restaurants stay open year-round, and cities such as Albufeira retain a buzz. Away from the package tourist haunts, there are dramatic red-cliff coastlines and Moorish villages dotted among the hills to explore.

Where to stay: Enjoy a tranquil escape to Casas da Quinta de Cima , where a series of nine little cottages sit on a serene farm estate in rural eastern Algarve. For something more grand, reserve a room at Bel Vista , a turn-of-the-century villa hotel with a swimming pool framed by slender palm trees, a L’Occitance Spa and a one-star Michelin restaurant by Chef João Oliveira. See our pick of the best hotels in the Algarve for more options.

Best for culture seekers December temperature range 4959°F  Perhaps surprisingly the Greek capital stays much warmer...

Athens, Greece

Best for: culture seekers December temperature range: 49-59°F

Perhaps surprisingly, the Greek capital stays much warmer than many places on the country’s salty-aired coastline once winter rolls in. All the better for those who want a slice of sunshine without being marooned on a beach somewhere. Athens is a classic city-break destination, but an influx of artists, chefs and hoteliers over the past few years means the quirky neighborhoods and must-visit restaurants are now as much a draw as the big-hitting sites. Spend days exploring the many museums, libraries and galleries—we particularly like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, which is home to the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera and a 42-acre park.

Where to stay: For a room with a view, some suites at xenodocheio Milos have huge terraces overlooking the old Parliament. If you're here for some sun and food, Ergon House is more than just a restaurant with rooms – the ground floor is a perpetually buzzy deli, roastery, bakery and dining room. See our pick of the best hotels in Athens for more.

Best for openwater swimmers December temperature range depending on which island you're on temperatures range from...

The Greek Islands

Best for: open-water swimmers December temperature range: depending on which island you're on, temperatures range from 54-63°F

The gorgeous Aegean is surely the loveliest of Europe’s seas, and the water of many of the Cyclades, such as Paros, Santorini , and Milos , is still tolerable in winter, making it a year-round destination for swimmers. In places like Santorini, visiting in the off-season means you can explore the picturesque vistas without the crowds, while Rhodes is known to have clear blue skies and warm temperatures well into winter.

Where to stay: Many Greek Island hotels close their doors between the end of October and the start of May, but there are a handful that continue to welcome guests. On Santorini, Opsis Cave Houses are one of the properties in Oia that still welcomes guests. Best of all, the views are entirely uninterrupted across the glittering blue sea.

Best for ecoconscious adventurers December temperature range 5564°F  You might think that including the Azores is...

Best for: eco-conscious adventurers December temperature range: 55-64°F

You might think that including the Azores is stretching the definition of Europe to breaking point, but the Atlantic archipelago is actually about five hours from London . And, in any case, they’re not your typical isolated island group. For starters, it’s never that hot here, even in summer. People don’t visit to laze on the beach Maldives-style. They come because it’s a natural nirvana, rich in wildlife, full of rugged, dramatic craters and caverns, hot springs and lush forests. All of which are being sustainably managed: only 5 per cent of the land is developed, and the islands are dotted with marine conservation parks.

Where to stay: Stay at Santa Barbara Eco-Beach or the similarly green-minded Sete Cidades Lake Lodge , both on São Miguel. See our Azores hotels guide for more.

Best for design buffs and hotel obsessives December temperature range 5263°F  Its frankly ridiculous 300 days of...

Best for: design buffs and hotel obsessives December temperature range: 52-63°F

Its frankly ridiculous 300 days of sunshine a year would be the standout selling point for most islands of Malta’s size, but the understated Mediterranean gem is also a history-soaked gastronomic hub, packed with first-class hotels and surrounded by some of the world’s best diving sites. Visit in winter for a weekend exploring striking Valletta, the ancient capital that’s had a bit of a revival of late, converting some of its gorgeous townhouses into excellent design hotels. The restaurant scene is thriving, too. Head to Panorama at the British Hotel in Valletta or Barracuda near the Sliema coast for a taste of traditional Mediterranean food.

Where to stay: Domus Zamittello in Valetta is a restored baroque masterpiece by the bombed-out opera house, with painted coffered ceilings. Iniala Harbour House offers a front-row seat to the Grand Harbour across its four smartly renovated townhouses.

Best for adventurous foodies December temperature range 5263°F  Italys southernmost island is closer to Tunis than Rome...

Best for: adventurous foodies December temperature range: 52-63°F

Italy’s southernmost island is closer to Tunis than Rome and has winter weather to match. Visiting at this time of year allows you to get up close to Sicily’s incredible historic spaces, such as the Temple of Concordia in Agrigento, which is reliably overrun in high season. With a distinct food culture, Sicily has gastronomic delights beyond summer’s glut of glorious fruit and veg – visit in February to experience the sea urchin season in full swing.

Where to stay: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is Sicily's grand dame hotel, with opulent marble bathrooms and a pianist that cajoles couples to dance on the elegant balcony overlooking Amalfi-style Taormina. We also love Agriturismo trailblazer Monaci Delle Terre Nere , one of the region's smartest and most stylish country hotels. For more, see our pick of the best hotels in Sicily .

Best for stopandflop and families December temperature range 5061°F  Straddling two continents Turkeys enormous landmass...

Best for: stop-and-flop and families December temperature range: 50-61°F

Straddling two continents, Turkey’s enormous landmass is diverse enough to justify its nickname: the land of four seasons. For winter sun, the best part of the country to visit is, predictably, the south coast, particularly the area around Antalya. There’s a long stretch of fairly upmarket hotels to the west of the city, many of which are family-friendly entertainment retreats in their own right, with golf courses and adventure playgrounds beside the beach. On Turkey’s wilder southwest coast, there’s the pretty city of Bodrum and lovely Didyma with its astonishing ruined temple.

Where to stay: For an authentic low-season experience, check into one of the pansiyon guesthouses dotted across the city. Owners will enthusiastically share their recommendations for a city that dies down considerably compared to summer. For something more private, check into Kalkan's Villa Pairidaeza —where the sunsets need to be seen to be believed.

Seville Spain

Seville, Spain

Best for: Sun-soaked city exploration December temperature range: 46-63°F

Year-round direct flight routes and mild temperatures make Seville the perfect choice for travelers searching for some mid-winter vitamin D. Ditch the Michelin-man coats in favor of light jackets and utilise the sunny conditions for pictures of the magnificent Plaza de España, al fresco lunches along the winding alleyways that siphon off Plaza Pumarejo, and afternoon drinks under blue skies atop Hotel Doña María. Head to Seville between the last week of November and the end of December to pick up handmade crafts and sweet treats from the Christmas markets .

Where to stay: The hottest stay in the sunny city right now is Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Sevilla , having opened its doors in spring 2023. Set in the Plaza de San Francisco, the 25-room property is ideally located for experiencing all the city offers over a long weekend. Admire the cathedral and surrounding rooftops from the terrace, and sample fresh seafood sashimi dishes in the sleek signature restaurant.

view of Villefranche Sur Mer on Cote D Azur French Riviera in France

The French Riviera

Best for: Low-season glitz December temperature range: 43-61°F

Granted, you won’t be donning swimwear on Plage des Ponchettes or spotting A-listers in Nice 's beach clubs come December. However, with up to nine hours of sunshine a day, the winter months are ideal for exploring Nice and the surrounding French Riviera towns—without the crowds that flock here each summer. Check out the Christmas village at Place Massena in Nice, spot the pop-up nativity scenes around the city, or pop to glitzy Monaco for a lavish lunch and glide around the ice rink.

Where to stay: Anantara Plaza Nice is a luxe urban oasis centrally located for sightseeing and sunny lunches along the promenade. There’s a glamorous rooftop terrace for sea views and destination restaurants ideal for those occasional rainy nights.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller .

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Best winter vacations in europe.

Just about every European city becomes chock full of tourists during the summer months. However, those crowds are avoidable if you're willing to embrace cooler temperatures. Not only will you run into fewer travelers during this time you're also likely to score travel deals, especially on cruises . To guide you through the continent's wintry choices,  U.S. News  combined reader votes and expert analysis to rank the best winter vacations in Europe. Start planning your next trip using these ideas, and help us decide next year's list by voting for your favorite destinations.

trips to europe in december

A winter visit to Rome may have you bundling up to see iconic sights like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain, but you'll have ample opportunities to warm up, too. Head indoors to admire Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel before sampling some of the city's world-renowned pizza and wine. Prices for accommodations drop dramatically, and deals on Italian products are abundant during the offseason.

trips to europe in december

The charms of Paris are alive and well in winter. Warm up while sipping coffee in romantic cafes, and spend time visiting heated indoor museums like the Musée du Louvre, the Musée Rodin and the Musée d'Orsay while the crowds are away. If you don’t mind the cold, walk down the Champs-Elysées at Christmastime and enjoy the illuminated trees that line the boulevard.

trips to europe in december

Winters in Amsterdam can be chilly, but those willing to endure the cold will enjoy significantly discounted hotel rooms and flights. Most of Amsterdam's attractions are open year-round, and, during the winter months, the city offers holiday festivities and many places to ice skate. What's more, the Amsterdam Light Festival is a bright display of international artwork from November to mid-January.

trips to europe in december

Budapest gets pretty cold in winter and snowfall is frequent. But, you can snag inexpensive hotel stays and plan your trip around indoor activities like the Hungarian National Gallery. Christmas markets also offer delicious food and unique treasures to buy as gifts. If you're feeling adventurous, warm up with a dip in the city's outdoor thermal baths.

trips to europe in december

Although you'll still find some visitors in Venice during winter, you can expect airfare and hotel rates to be cheaper. Crowds in St. Mark's Square will also thin out as a mist falls over the island, providing stunning photo-ops for those willing to endure temperatures in the high 30s. If you visit in February or March, you'll witness the exciting festivities of Carnevale.

trips to europe in december

Prague's castles and underground restaurants are perfect spots to seek refuge from the city's winter weather and enjoy a Czech beer. Travelers will also encounter fewer crowds at the city's museums, which are open year-round. For those willing to brave the cold, there are festive options like Prague's beloved Christmas markets and outdoor ice skating rinks.

trips to europe in december

If you like the idea of beautiful castles, cathedrals and other Baroque buildings covered in snow, one look at Salzburg, Austria, might be enough to lure you in. Add in Christmas bazaars in the town square and easy access to some of the finest ski areas in the Alps nearby, and you'll be sold on vacationing in this charming city during the winter.

trips to europe in december

Vienna welcomes winter with advent markets, public ice skating rinks and plenty of lavish parties. Add wintry touches like snow-covered rooftops and nearby ski slopes into the mix and you'll find yourself in a European winter wonderland. Classical music concerts in extravagant music halls and a world-famous New Year's celebration are marquee events unique to this city.

trips to europe in december

The Austrian Alps peek through the skyline of this charming city, home to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. Innsbruck, with its abundance of ski resorts and winter attractions, offers all-inclusive packages through the region's ski organization, Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck. For less sporty travelers, the medieval streets with snow-capped rooftops, tolling cathedral bells and romantic coffee shops are perfect for strolling.

trips to europe in december

Set in the shadow of the Swiss Alps and nestled next to Lake Lucerne, this German-speaking town is about as picturesque as it gets in the winter. Visitors can enjoy sports like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and winter hiking at a number of resorts and trails that surround the medieval town. Or, journey to the summit of Mount Pilatus for an unforgettable meal in the clouds.

Vote to Add these Destinations to the Rankings

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10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December 2021

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Are you planning your winter vacation and want to know the best places in Europe to visit in December ? Did you know that 713 million tourists  visited Europe in 2018—most of them in the summer months?

There’s no doubt that Europe is a great place to visit when the weather is warm and sunny. But what about winter in Europe? Is it worth visiting during the colder months?

Absolutely! Many would argue that European cities are stunning after a fresh snowfall. And with fewer tourists, you’ll enjoy shorter lines (maybe even discounted rates) at many attractions.

From skiing in the Alps to chasing the Northern Lights across Scandanavia, there’s no shortage of  unique activities outdoors during the wintertime. There’s plenty to see and do indoors with countless historical sites, museums, bars, and cafes.

The only thing left to decide is where to plan your winter destinations in Europe vacation. This post will reveal our pick for the best places in Europe to visit in December .

Ready to feel inspired? Read on to discover your ideal European winter destination. Also, read about the places in Europe where the temperature is warmer.

Table of Contents

Copenhagen Denmark: Exploring The City Marvels

Copenhagen (in Denmark) is ranked the  7th most expensive city  in the world, making it off-limits for many travelers. But if you’re headed to Europe in December, add this beautiful Scandanavian city to your list.

Tourism drops off during the colder months—and so do the prices. Many hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions offer discounted rates, making it one of the best places in Europe to visit in December.

As the birthplace of Hans Christen Andersen, you’ll quickly see why Copenhagen inspired so many fairy tales. The colorful architecture of Nyhavn looks even brighter against the snow. And the Tivoli Gardens and winding, frozen canals look almost magical in the muted winter light.

When you need to warm up, head into any bar, and grab a glass of Glogg, a spicy red wine served hot. If it’s in your budget, book a 20-course  meal at Noma , one of the world’s best (and most expensive) restaurants.

Explore these family-friendly tours in Copenhagen.

Dublin, Ireland

7 Days Ireland Itinerary What To See & Do

The Emerald Isle holds unique appeal during the winter when its cozy pubs are extra warm and inviting (read the post for seven days in Ireland itinerary ).

Every year on December 21, the capital hosts the “Smashing Times City of Dublin” Parade. This colorful extravaganza is a celebration of the winter solstice and a party you can’t miss.

Regarding parties, stick around until New Year’s Eve when Dublin goes wild with holiday events. Enjoy  Luminosity , a spectacular 3D light show, or get into the rhythm with the world’s most massive Celtic drum concert.

Want to keep the good times rolling all night? Walk into any one of  Dublin’s 700 pubs  for a pint of your favorite malted beverage.

When in Dublin, here are some guided tours to do.

Venice, Italy

2 Days In Venice Italy Itinerary

Over  600 cruise ships  dock in Venice annually, unleashing 30 million tourists upon the glorious sinking city. Book a ticket to Venice during winter if you want to avoid the teeming masses and have the town all to yourself. 

Nicknamed La Serenissima (“The Serene”), Venice becomes relatively peaceful and quiet when the weather turns colder. The famous canals become enshrouded in mist, and the narrow alleyways are empty and hauntingly beautiful.

Enjoy the rare chance to see St. Mark’s Square and Cathedral without the crowds. Take a day trip to the nearby island of Murano and visit an ancient glass-blowing factory. On a clear day, you’ll see the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites in the distance.

Bonus tip: The winter bring Venice’s “acqua alta,” or  high water season . Bring a pair of wading boots in case the high tide creates some localized flooding around the city. Here is the post for two days in the Venice itinerary .

If you are looking for a guide or small groups to take you around, then see these .

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Is there anywhere in Europe where the sun shines during the winter? Yes!

Although it’s cold and dry, Granada (in Spain) is sunny virtually every day of the year. Book your tickets to  the Alhambra  well in advance and enjoy your tour of the stunning Moorish castle without hoards of tourists.

Granada is the gateway to the Sierra Nevada, Spain’s highest mountain range. The peaks are often covered in snow year-round and are a Mecca for snowsports during winter. The beautiful cities of Sevilla and Ronda are also nearby, providing plenty of opportunities for culture-packed day trips.

To warm up in the evenings, go on a tapas crawl and enjoy southern Spain’s delicious cuisine and wine.

Popular tours with a guide can be seen here .

Transylvania

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Ready to follow in the footsteps of  the real Dracula ? Not one of your familiar places to visit, right? One of the best places in Europe to visit in December is Transylvania (the country of Romania).

Winter is the perfect season to tour the area’s legendary castles. Set against gray skies and bare trees, Bran Castle (the supposed home of Dracula) is sure to appear extra spooky.

Tour the medieval towns of Brasov, Sighisoara, and Vlad Tepes and enjoy learning about the region’s fascinating history. Take a romantic stroll through the beautiful village of Sibiu, which glows with festive lights each holiday season.

Or, for a unique experience, book a night at a  hotel made entirely of ice !

Book ahead for the Draculas Castle.

Berlin, Germany

What To Do in Berlin in 3 Days

Germany is known for its Christmas markets ; Berlin alone has over 60 of them. This exciting city comes to life over the holiday season, when twinkling lights take over virtually street and square.

But Berlin’s appeal goes far beyond its spectacular Christmas markets. Sign up for a free walking tour and watch as Berlin’s history comes to life. You can even drive an authentic Trabi car along the old Berlin wall .

If the weather is too cold outside, Berlin has an impressive  175 museums  to entertain and educate you. From World War II history to contemporary art, there’s a museum for every interest and taste.

Speaking of taste, warm up those cold German nights with a glass of hot mulled wine or a visit to a beer garden (Biergarten).

Explore Berlin with a Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour .

Prague, Czech Republic

3 Days in Prague What To See & Do

Perhaps one of Europe’s most romantic cities, Prague is especially magical during the months of winter.

Fresh snow on the St. Charles Bridge and the medieval church spires of the Old Town is a sight you’ll never forget. At night the city lights glow off the ice and frigid, slow-moving waters of the Vltava River.

Prague has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, but there’s plenty more to see and do. Sign up for a ghost tour of the city’s creepiest sites, or take a day tour to the fascinating  “bone church” of Kutna Hora .

If creepy isn’t your thing, stick with a tour of Prague Castle or the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral. Czechs  drink more beer  (per capita) than any other nationality, so do as the locals do and grab a pint at any pub.

Taste the Bohemian food with locals.

Interlaken, Switzerland

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

What Queenstown is to New Zealand, Interlaken is to Europe. This “sports capital” offers endless thrills to outdoor enthusiasts, especially during the wintertime.

Surrounded by mountains and glaciers but nestled right on the shores of Lake Interlaken, this alpine town is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Skiing and snowboarding are staples here, but that’s not all there is to do.

Adrenaline junkies can go paragliding, bungee jumping, and skydiving, even in winter! If you prefer to stay on the ground, rent a pair of snowshoes or take a leisurely cruise across the lake. Here is a post on what to do in Switzerland .

Book ahead for the day trip to Jungfraujoch.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Day trips Reykjavik Iceland - Golden Circle and Other Wonders

If you want the ultimate winter experience in Europe, head north—and keep going.

Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region, the majority sitting above the Arctic Circle. The capital city, Rovaniemi, is known as  the “official” residence  of Santa Claus. As you might expect, there are rides with sleighs, reindeer, and an entire Santa-themed village.

That is also an extraordinary chance to see the Northern Lights in person. Just be sure to bundle up, as December temperatures rarely exceed freezing.

No matter how cold it gets outside, don’t worry—you can  stay warm and look cute  during your visit.

Go after the Northern Lights Hunting With Lappish BBQ .

Athens, Greece

The 13 Best Hotels in Athens, Greece

Is all this talk of snow and ice making you cold? Don’t worry—you don’t have to freeze if you visit Europe during December. This lengthy post describes more than 40 things to do in Athens , and this one tells all the day trips from Athens .

Winter is an ideal time to visit the Greek capital without the hoards of summer tourists. Stroll around the  Acropolis and other ancient sites  and enjoy having them (mostly) to yourself.

The air tends to be cleaner this time of year, too, and prices drop all over the city. Temperatures remain comfortably in the 50s throughout the winter season, so that you can leave your snow coat at home!

Get on an Athens Food Tour !

The Best Places in Europe to Visit in December: Now You Know

From December through March, Europe transforms into a winter wonderland.

Don’t let the shorter days and cooler temperatures deter you. Winter in Europe is the ideal time to visit many destinations. From Christmas markets to sleigh rides to steaming mugs of hot chocolate, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Now that you know the best places in Europe to visit in December, what’s next? All that’s left to do is find a flight ,  book a room , and start packing!

Are you lucky enough to be visiting Europe during the holiday season?  Click here  to learn which European cities take Christmas to a new level.

If you liked this article, then you might also like:

  • 10 Best Coldest Countries in Europe For Winter Lovers
  • 7 Best Cities for Honeymoon in Italy
  • Best Dolomites Hiking Trips
  • The Country with the Most Castles in the World .

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trips to europe in december

Best 7 destinations for a Europe trip in December

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Recently updated on July 18th, 2023 at 02:41 pm

Ever considered travelling Europe in December? Europe becomes a truly magical destination during the festive season. It’s the month to enjoy Christmas markets, spectacular light shows and delicious food, all with the added benefit of fewer crowds than the summer months. And while Trafalgar take care of all the details, you can sit back, sip a mulled wine and take in all the wonders of a joyous Europe. With Today’s Best Travel Deals offering irresistible discounts, now is the best time to book your winter trip to Europe. To get you inspired, here’ s our list of the best destinations to visit in Europe this December.

trips to europe in december

If you want to get into the Christmas spirit in December 2021, then the destination to visit is Germany. Here you’ll find some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, including Dresden’s Striezelmarkt – the oldest and most traditional Christmas market. Amidst magical fairy lights and rousing oompah music, enjoy perusing the cute market stores for the most sublime presents before sipping on a warming Glühwein. Germany’s neighbouring countries, Austria and Switzerland, also host some magnificent Christmas markets to check out during a tour, too.

EXPERIENCE ON: German Christmas Markets or Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland tours

trips to europe in december

With so many iconic sights, it’s no wonder Italy is a popular destination for travellers. Yet in the summer months, the major Italian cities can get quite crowded. This is not the case in December. Visit in December and take in the true beauty of Italy without worrying about the crowds. Touring with Trafalgar is the best way to meet the Italian locals and learn how to cook like a Nonna, before feasting on Italian delights with the locals. After all, December is all about food and family.

BEST TOURS THIS WINTER: Best of Italy , Italian Holiday & Italy Bellissimo

trips to europe in december

We can’t speak about delicious food and friendly locals without mentioning Spain. By the end of December, we all suffer with a bit of roast dinner fatigue. Help yourself beat that this year by getting a last minute deal to Spain to enjoy delicious paella, fresh seafood, tantalising tapas and fruity sangria. Enjoy a spot of sherry in December? Learn about the centuries-old tradition of Spanish sherry production on Trafalgar’s Dive Into Culture experience. Make sure you have room in your suitcase to take a bottle home with you.

BEST TOURS THIS WINTER: Spanish Wonder & Highlights of Spain and Portugal

trips to europe in december

It might be known for its resorts and beaches, yet there’s so much more to Turkey to discover when touring. Being on the intersection of Europe and Asia, it’s rich in fascinating history and culture, and home to some geological phenomena. A particular standout is the Cotton Castle Springs, also known as the travertines, in Pamukkale. The cascading white mineral rock and bright turquoise pools make the area look like a winter wonderland. No need to worry about frost bite if going for a dip. These pools are in fact hot springs.

EXPERIENCE ON: Best of Turkey tour

trips to europe in december

During December, there’s nothing better than wandering around and seeing all the Christmas lights in the neighbourhood. Why not take this a step further and head to Paris to see their twinkling festive lights? Nicknamed the ‘City of Lights’, Paris is especially illuminated during the festive season. With over 2.4km of lights stretching from the Place de la Concorde right down to the Arc de Triomphe, you’ll see 450 decorated trees along the avenue. If you’ve ever wondered how enchanting the Eiffel Tower looks at night, with Trafalgar you can take an orientation tour to show you these dazzling sights at night. Then, on the Paris Explorer, give yourself a chance to create your own unique fragrance at one of France’s most famous perfumeries. The perfect gift for a loved one.

BEST TOURS THIS WINTER: Paris Explorer & European Traveller

6. Portugal

trips to europe in december

The colourful streets, castles and trams of Lisbon are nothing short of a colourful toybox. Join a Trafalgar Local Specialist to learn about this bright city on a sightseeing tour, full of UNESCO-listed architecture. Enjoy custard with your Christmas pudding? Then we are sure you’ll love the Portuguese tasty custard tart, Pastéis de Nata.

EXPERIENCE ON: Best of Portugal & Highlights of Spain and Portugal tours

7. United Kingdom

trips to europe in december

The UK does December especially well and, in stunning cities like York and Bath, it’s not hard to experience the festive feeling at its best. Why not explore and discover the rich history of these cities on Trafalgar’s Real Britain tour? A particular standout you’ll experience during December is Edinburgh. This mesmerising medieval city is made for Christmas with cute streets and a lively Christmas market. Visit Edinburgh Castle, perched atop Castle Rock, to take in the sights and sounds of the festive city.

TOUR ON: Real Britain

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Europe Travel Guide

Last Updated: April 18, 2024

The historic city of Prague with its classic stunning architecture

From beautiful Paris to smoke-filled coffeeshops in Amsterdam, Oktoberfest to La Tomatina, Europe is a massive, diverse continent with an unlimited assortment of things to see and do. You won’t have any problem filling your time, whether you’re backpacking Europe for a few months on a budget or just spending a few weeks there on a well-earned vacation.

The continent boasts wonderful beaches, historical architecture, amazing wine, and tons of world-class festivals. Every country is incredibly different from the next too, providing limitless variety in what you do during your trip.

I first backpacked Europe in 2006 and was hooked immediately. I’ve been visiting every year since, have run tours around the continent, and even wrote a book on traveling in Europe . It’s a destination I love and never get tired of exploring.

This guide will give you an overview of Europe and the tips and tricks you need to start planning your trip. I’ve also written extensive travel guides to each country on the continent (linked below in this post) so you can get more in-depth information for your specific itinerary too!

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Europe

Click Here for Country Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in europe.

Aerial view of Greek town along the Mediterranean ocean, with mountains in the background

1. Tour the Greek Islands

These islands are the mecca of summer beach fun and each is unique in its own great way. There’s Ios (beach party central with archeological ruins and awesome boat tours); Kos (ancient ruins and nature); Crete (Bronze Age ruins of Knossos, hiking, beaches, and wine), Santorini (iconic blue water, white buildings, and local wineries); Mykonos , (the upscale party island with beautiful beaches, villages, and sunsets), Naxos (best island in the Cyclades). Plus, Milos, Corfu, Lemnos, Zakynthos, and so many more! With hundreds of islands in the country, you can always find what you are looking for!

2. Ride the rails

Europe is famous for its international rail system. Rail passes like the Eurail Pass have been around forever and still make it very easy to get from country to country on a relatively small budget (and with lots of flexibility). Europe has some of the fastest trains in the world that travel up to an incredible 217 mph (350 kph). The whole continent is connected by trains and there’s a growing push for even more connections and long-distance, high-speed trains in order to reduce flying and help combat climate change. There’s nothing more quintessential than riding the trains in Europe and I encourage you to take as many trains as possible. It’s one of the best ways to see the continent.

3. Get lost in Paris

The “City of Lights” is everything people say it is. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped foot in Paris . The city is just magical. You have a ton of museums, cafes, jazz clubs, famous art, and beautiful architecture. I love just strolling around the streets of the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) or Montmartre neighborhood as it makes for a breathtaking day. Another one of my favorite things to do here is just sit in the Jardin des Champs-Élysées park and picnic like the Parisians. For something a bit different, check out the famous Catacombs and Paris Sewer Museum. With so much to offer in the way of culture, history, and gastronomy, it would take years to see everything here but you can still get a good feel of the city in a few days.

4. Go city hopping

There are so many amazing cities in Europe that we’d need a top 100 to list them all. Here are some of my personal favorites and must-see cities: London is rich in history, culture, and the famous Big Ben clock; Edinburgh is a vibrant medieval city with cozy pubs and a famous castle with a huge New Year’s Eve Party; Amsterdam has cozy coffee shops and canopied tree-covered canals; Berlin has a wild party scene, street art, and the Berlin Wall; Barcelona has tapas, beach, and unique Gaudi architecture; coastal Lisbon has colorful tiles, old tramcars, cobblestone streets and plenty of fresh seafood; Prague has a beautiful intact Old Town, incredible architecture and eclectic bars; Tallinn Estonia has beautiful medieval buildings with colorful roofs. Florence  is a mecca for Italian Renaissance architecture, art history, and gelato; Stockholm mixes medieval architecture and modern art and design. Crisscross the continent, take in the culture, and enjoy all the historic cities!

5. Hit the Alps

Whether you go skiing in the winter or hiking in the summer, the Alps hold some of the most breathtaking views in all the world. You don’t even need to be an expert hiker because there are mountain trails for all levels and crystal-clear Alpine lakes. Check out the spectacular Eibsee trail loop in Bavaria at the foot of Die Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain, for the clearest, multi-colored, sparkling lake you’ve ever seen. Or the Männlichen Kleine Scheidegg Panorama trail in Switzerland’s stunning green and snow-capped Alps. Or visit Italy’s Dolomites in South Tyrol for the scenic Seceda trail. The Alps have trails for every fitness level and in every season.

Other Things to See and Do in Europe

1. tour amsterdam.

I love Amsterdam so much that I lived here for a short period of time in 2006. Here cobblestone and brick streets weave around lovely canals as people ride their bikes to and fro. My favorite things to enjoy here are Amsterdam’s vibrant art and music scene and there are also a ton of interesting museums here like the Anne Frank House, FOAM, the history museum, and the hemp museum. Be sure you get out of the center into Jordaan and Oost with their wonderful outdoor cafes and fewer tourists. Also, a visit to Amsterdam wouldn’t be complete without a canal cruise to visit the many islands and there are many to choose from that include snacks and drinks, sunset cruises, live guided tours, and more.

2. Hang out in Barcelona

Barcelona is a city that goes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It truly could give NYC a run for the “city that never sleeps” title. Be prepared for late-night dinners and parties until dawn. Besides a great food and nightlife scene, there is a wonderful beach, tons of Gaudi architecture (including the fairytale-like Parc Güell, as well as the iconic Sagrada Familia , which has been under construction for over 100 years!), incredible food tours, one of the best history museums in the country, and lots of outdoor spaces. What I love about Barcelona is that when you’re ready to chill, you can wander around Parc de la Ciutadella and marvel at the majestic fountains, plant life, and buildings created from an ornate military fortress.

3. Visit Berlin

Hip and trendy Berlin is an energetic destination. It is one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, with a vibrant music and art scene and a growing foodie movement. Be sure to spend some time learning about the city’s darker history via the many excellent museums, memorials, and landmarks. The East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that’s now painted with murals, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe are two especially powerful reminders of Germany’s past. For all periods of German history, don’t miss the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) – it’s one of the best history museums in the world. Once you’ve had your fill of history, relax in Berlin’s many green spaces, from Tempelhof Field, the site of a former airfield and popular local hangout spot, to Tiergarten, a tree-covered former hunting ground for 17th-century aristocrats.

4. Drink beer at Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest is a must for anyone going to Germany at the end of September. While not a budget option since beers now cost 15 € a maß, I love the energy and friendly camaraderie this event inspires. For two weeks, millions of people from all over the world gather for lots of beer, excitement, music, and wild fun. Watching thousands of people sing together, raising quart-sized beer mugs for endless toasts, and enjoying the general party atmosphere makes you feel good about the world. (Or maybe that’s just the beer?) Just be sure to book your accommodation well in advance and be prepared to pay top prices for them. If you don’t have an outfit, don’t worry, there are plenty of shops even at the main train station where you can buy a Bavarian dirndl dress and men’s lederhosen.

5. Experience London

Get a taste of English culture in diverse London . The museums here are some of the best in the world (most are free) and include the Tate, the British Museum, the City Museum, the National Gallery, the Historical Museum. There’s no shortage of iconic sights here as well, with Big Ben, the House of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and of course, Buckingham Palace. I love London’s diversity because of the countless international eateries with great food and wonderful pub culture, perfect for after a long day seeing the sights. Head to Brick Lane on the weekends for some amazing food and craft markets. I prefer Paris to London, but there is something sophisticated and fun about London. Just watch those pints — London is not a cheap destination!

6. Get outdoors in Scandinavia

My favorite region in Europe is Scandinavia. The quality of life here is high, the people are beautiful and friendly, and the cities are clean and historic. Cycling the cities, taking canal tours, hiking the vast forested areas, archipelago hopping, enjoying fika (a Swedish coffee break), and warming up in saunas are just a few of the popular activities that await you here. True, this area of Europe is not cheap, but there are plenty of ways to reduce your expenses. Don’t let the high prices scare you away. Highlights for me include Copenhagen , Stockholm , Gotland, Norway’s fjords, and Lapland in Finland .

7. Get enchanted in Prague

Prague has an amazing history and is one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities I’ve ever seen. Highlights include the 9th-century Prague Castle, the magnificent Charles Bridge (built in the 14th century and one of the oldest standing bridges in the world), the 10th-century old square with its iconic astronomical clock, and the winding Jewish Quarter. Even if you only have a few days there don’t miss the free walking tour which is one of my favorites in Europe and the best way to learn about the Old Town and the tragic history of the city that went from thriving Bohemian capital of art, music, and literature to part of the Iron Curtain after WWII. Some of my favorite gems here include the fantastic black light theater shows in 4D and the one-of-a-kind medieval dinner show in an old tavern complete with musicians and jugglers not to mention hearty food and drinks. During the weekends it heaves with people enjoying the bars, cheap beer, and delicious food so try to visit during the week (and in the spring or fall) to beat the crowds.

8. Relax on the French Riviera

Here, you can pretend to live the high life for a little bit. Have fun in the sun, relax on the beach, swim in azure blue water, hobnob with the rich and famous, and sail on (or gaze at) gigantic yachts. As for cities, Nice is nice with its palm-tree-lined promenade, old town, and many art museums. If you want to go see how the rich and famous live, spend an afternoon checking out Cannes to soak up some glamorous vibes on La Croisette where they hold the famous Cannes Film Festival. The kingdom of Monaco with its tiny streets, beautiful buildings, and world-famous casino is just a skip away too.

9. Enjoy the great outdoors in Interlaken

Located in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, Interlaken is a gorgeous place to unwind with fantastic hiking, delicious hot chocolate, and plenty of outdoor sports. The area is full of natural attractions to explore, including the St. Beatus Caves (complete with a legendary dragon), the cascading 500-meter-high (1,640 feet) Giessbach Waterfalls, the Jungfraujoch mountain railway (which leads to the highest train station on the continent), and a plethora of lakes (hence the town’s name). It’s a good alternative to all the cities and museums. Interlaken is also a popular party destination for backpackers and other young travelers. By far, my favorite scenic and visually stunning trail was the Oberberghorn panoramic hike, where you can wander the green mountain ridge ogling the amazing views and the turquoise-blue Brienzersee.

10. Experience history in Rome

In this thriving historical city, you can’t walk two feet without stumbling over a ruin, making Rome a history buff’s dream. Its tiny streets are perfect for wandering as you explore the Colosseum, see the Forum and Palatine Hill, visit the Pantheon, spend time in Vatican City, admire the Spanish Steps, and toss coins into the famous Trevi Fountain. The skip-the-line tickets can definitely be worth it so you don’t waste time waiting outside attractions. Rome also has amazing food (it’s Italy, after all) and nightlife. Visit the Trastevere area for a taste of “local” Rome and chill bars. It’s my favorite area in the city because you feel like you’re in a small village in the middle of a big city.

11. Hike around the Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is my favorite part of Italy. These five beautiful cliffside towns are perched near warm waters and beautiful olive and grape groves. There are wondrous and strenuous hikes in these hills; for a real challenge, take trail #8. Or just walk the coastline for something less difficult. Many activities here revolve around the coastline: kayaking, swimming, having a beach picnic or visiting the Technical Naval Museum. If you happen to be here in December or January, don’t miss the Nativity Manarola, the world’s biggest lighted nativity scene.

12. Tour Krakow

Krakow looks like it stepped out of a medieval postcard. It’s a hip, trendy, and youthful city that’s the center of education in Poland, meaning there are a lot of university students here. Most travelers come to party here (the vodka is cheap) but try to enjoy the city’s history and food besides just the bars. Walk the Royal Road through the Old Town to the 13th-century Wawel Castle, tour Schindler’s Factory (where Schindler saved over 1,200 Jews during World War II), and visit the sobering Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. You can also take a fascinating day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Wieliczka Salt Mine, a 13th-century mine with cavernous chambers, statues, chapels, chandeliers, and cathedrals all carved out of salt.

13. Visit the ruin bars in Budapest

The coolest nightlife in all of Europe is found in Budapest . Built in abandoned buildings, ruin bars feature funky art installations, repurposed furniture, and quirky decor. They are amazing, fun, and great places to meet locals, as people of all ages flock here. Open since 2001, Szimpla Kert is the original ruin bar and one of my favorites, along with Instant-Fogas Complex, which takes up an entire building and is actually many different bars in one. Don’t skip the ruin bars — they’re one of the most unique things about the city!

14. Explore Cornwall

The best part of England is outside London, yet unfortunately, not a lot of travelers leave London. Head west to the area of Cornwall for cheaper prices, welcoming locals, natural beauty, great hiking, rolling hills, plenty of medieval castles, and picturesque small towns. If you like biking, the Camel Trail from Bodmin to Padstow is worth the trip and you even pass by a local vineyard. It’s an easy way to spend a day (and it’s pretty flat so it’s not too hard to do.) Plus, I had the best fish and chips in Cornwall! Overall, it’s what you think of as “traditional England.”

15. Walk the Camino

El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is an ancient pilgrimage route that stretches from France all the way across northern Spain. It is a 500 mile (800 km) trail that winds through incredible terrain, ending in Santiago de Compostela at the cathedral where St. James is supposedly buried. As a pilgrim, you get a “pilgrim’s passport” which allows you to stay in affordable pilgrim-only hostels, making this a surprisingly budget-friendly adventure. While it usually takes over a month to complete, you can just walk a section if you don’t have the time. To receive a “Compostela” (certificate of completion), you just need to walk the last 62 miles (100 km), which generally takes 4-5 days.

16. Throw tomatoes during La Tomatina

By far my favorite festival, the largest food fight in the world happens during the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, Spain. What started in 1945 as a local brawl has turned into a massive event drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world. For about an hour, everyone throws tomatoes at each other, leaving streets ankle-deep in tomato juice. Afterward, everyone walks down to the river, cleans off, and then heads to the town square for sangria and music.

17. Find Dracula in Romania

Not a lot of people visit Romania but this underrated country in Eastern Europe has undiscovered yet picturesque medieval towns like Brasov (home to “Dracula’s castle”), Sighisoara, and Sibiu; gorgeous beaches on the Black Sea; and incredible hiking in the Fagaras Mountains — all at dirt-cheap prices. Other major sights include frescoed Byzantine monasteries, the steepled wooden churches of Transylvania, the hip university town Cluj-Napoca, the post-communist capital of Bucharest, and the Danube Delta, a huge nature reserve.

18. Drink whisky in Islay

Whisky has a long history on Islay , an island off Scotland’s west coast. It’s been made there since the 16th-century — first in backyards and then, starting in the 19th-century, in large distilleries. Over the years, whisky from the island came to be considered a specialty and was used to flavor a lot of other blends on the mainland. There are currently nine working distilleries on the island, all located along the island’s shores, with Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Lagavulin being the most famous. Most distilleries here make single-malt Scotch, meaning that only one type of grain (barley) is used. My visit here was amazing and, even if you don’t like whisky, there are tons of good hikes and walks throughout this magnificent island.

19. Explore Iceland

Iceland is a magical country with majestic waterfalls, hidden hot springs around every corner, and sweeping vistas unlike anywhere else in the world. After my first visit, the country quickly became one of my favorite countries. With whale watching in the summer, the northern lights in the winter, and geothermal baths for soaking in year-round, there really is no bad time to visit! While Iceland’s main draw is the epic natural landscapes, it’s worth spending a couple of days in Reykjavik with its café culture, artsy feel, and brightly colored wooden row houses.

20. Sail the Croatian coast

With calm winds, short distances, a coastline littered with over 1,000 islands, and countless historical sites, Croatia is one of the world’s best sailing destinations. If you can, go during the shoulder season when you can find some great deals. Plan to stay at least a couple of days on one of the islands, with the most popular being Brac, Hvar, Krk, Cres, and Lošinj. However, don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser-known islands such as Silba, Vis, and Lastovo. If you want to splash out and spend a week partying on a yacht, check out The Yacht Week, which hosts week-long parties, complete with DJs, from May-September. You can book a full boat to share with friends or just a cabin if you’re traveling solo. Prices start at 5,250 HRK per person and go up to 9,300 HRK.

21. Explore the Balkans

While the Balkans have become more popular with backpackers in recent years, it’s still largely overlooked by most budget travelers, despite being an extremely budget-friendly region. The Balkan peninsula is home to great (and again, overlooked) wine, beautiful medieval towns like Kotor and Mostar, stunning mountainous landscapes, beautiful pebble beaches, coffee culture, fresh, hearty yet inexpensive food, and museums covering the area’s history, including the most recent turbulent events of the early 1990s. I especially loved my time in Albania . Don’t miss the beautiful beaches in Ksamil, nicknamed the “Maldives of Europe’ as well as the mountain village of Gjirokastër, which was occupied by Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. The Balkans have so much to offer for every budget and every country has its unique cultural flavor.

22. Take a wine tour in the Loire Valley

Located in central France, the picturesque Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and stretches 280 kilometers (174 miles) along the Loire River. One of the major wine-producing regions of France, the area is home to some of the best wines in the world, with over 1,000 vineyards open to the public. Even those who don’t drink wine will enjoy the beautiful small towns, great food, and the region’s over 300 impressive chateaux. I loved the medieval Chenonceau Castle and Chateau Villandry and the small villages like Saint-Florent-le-Vieil. Spring and Autumn are my favorite times to visit because you can go biking and do outdoor activities when it’s not too hot and there are fewer people. It’s an area not to be missed.

23. See Fado in Portugal

Fado is an important musical tradition in Portugal , originating in Lisbon and stretching back some 200 years. The word “fado” likely stems from the Latin word for fate, and it’s very haunting, poetic, and emotional music. Most of the songs follow themes of loss and mourning, and the music was popular with the working class (especially sailors). Performances normally take place in restaurants during dinner. In Lisbon, head to Clube de Fado, Tasca do Chico, Parreirinha de Alfama, or Senhor Vinho.

24. Tour green Slovenia

Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited destinations, which is mind-blowing to me because it’s an amazing place to visit. Slovenia offers all the beauty of Western Europe but at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the crowds. Perfect for outdoor adventure lovers, Slovenia offers rugged mountains, untouched landscapes, fantastic ski resorts, plentiful wine, sprawling cave systems, incredible food, and postcard-perfect lakes, such as the famous Lake Bled with its castle on an island. I loved Piran, Slovenia’s often overlooked coastal Venetian-style harbor town that was actually founded 3000 years ago. Stroll around its beautiful windy cobble-stoned streets, beautiful plazas, and take advantage of the many affordable restaurants right on the water. Make sure to also spend a few days in the country’s capital, Ljubljana, known as one of the continent’s greenest and most livable cities. Take a river cruise to see the city and enjoy the friendliness of the locals.

  For more information on specific countries in Europe, check out the guides below:

  • Albania Travel Guide
  • Austria Travel Guide
  • Belgium Travel Guide
  • Belarus Travel Guide
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina Travel Guide
  • Bulgaria Travel Guide
  • Czechia Travel Guide
  • Croatia Travel Guide
  • Denmark Travel Guide
  • England Travel Guide
  • Estonia Travel Guide
  • Finland Travel Guide
  • France Travel Guide
  • Germany Travel Guide
  • Greece Travel Guide
  • Hungary Travel Guide
  • Iceland Travel Guide
  • Ireland Travel Guide
  • Italy Travel Guide
  • Latvia Travel Guide
  • Lithuania Travel Guide
  • Malta Travel Guide
  • Moldova Travel Guide
  • Montenegro Travel Guide
  • Netherlands Travel Guide
  • Norway Travel Guide
  • Portugal Travel Guide
  • Poland Travel Guide
  • Romania Travel Guide
  • Scotland Travel Guide
  • Slovakia Travel Guide
  • Slovenia Travel Guide
  • Spain Travel Guide
  • Sweden Travel Guide
  • Switzerland Travel Guide
  • Ukraine Travel Guide

Europe Travel Costs

a traditional Austrian home overlooking the snow capped mountains and rolling hills in the Austria countryside

Accommodation – Accommodation prices vary greatly by region. In Western Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 25-45 EUR per night, depending on the room’s size and the popularity of the hostel. I stayed in a 6-bed dorm in Berlin for 20 EUR, while the same one would have cost me around 45 EUR in Paris. A room in Paris costs on the higher end and a room in cheaper Athens costs on the lower end.

In Eastern Europe, hostel dorm rooms cost between 10-15 EUR per night depending on the size of the dorm room and the popularity of the hostel. The further east you go, the cheaper it gets. Expect to pay around 30-60 EUR per night for a private room that sleeps two.

In Scandinavia, hostel dorm beds cost around 25-45 EUR, while private rooms are 65-80 EUR. Budget hotels start around 85 EUR.

Most accommodations offer free linens, free Wi-Fi, and a lot offer free breakfast, but it’s important to check specific websites for exact amenities.

Campsites cost between 10-15 EUR per night for a basic plot for two without electricity.

Food – Food traditions in Europe run deep, stretching back centuries to become integral parts of each country’s culture. From baguettes in France to tapas in Spain, from hearty Eastern European stews and goulash to the fresh vegetables and olive oils of the Mediterranean, European cuisine varies as much as the countries themselves. Food prices differ greatly across the continent, so check individual country guides for specifics.

But no matter where you are, even in the more expensive countries, finding places to eat within your budget is easier than you might think. Throughout Western Europe, you can find small shops, street food stalls, or food trucks where you can get sandwiches, gyros, kebabs, slices of pizza, or sausages for between 3-7 EUR. These shops are most often found in train stations, bus stations, and main pedestrian areas, and offer cheap food alternatives that can have you eating on 12-17 EUR per day. Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs around 7-10 EUR for a combo meal.

Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Vietnamese eateries abound in Germany, while Indian food is incredible and everywhere in the United Kingdom. Meals at these restaurants usually cost between 8-12 EUR.

Restaurant meals in casual, traditional eateries generally cost around 13-25 EUR for a main dish and drink. Food is much cheaper in the east than in the west, and in the west, northern regions like Scandinavia and the UK are more expensive than southern countries like Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

In Eastern Europe, even if you are eating out for all your meals, you can still get by on a food budget of as little as 15 EUR per day.

For drinks, a pint of beer is 2-5 EUR, a glass of wine is 2-7 EUR, a cappuccino is 2-5 EUR, and cocktails range from 6-14 EUR.

If you eat out, do so at lunch and get the prix-fixe menu (two-course or three-course set menu). Restaurants offer this set menu during lunch, and with prices between 10-20 EUR, it’s a way better deal than the regular dinner menu. You can also get affordable lunches at outdoor markets. So many European cities have huge fresh food markets throughout town.

You can cook your own food for around 45-65 EUR per week. This gets you basic staples like rice, pasta, seasonal produce, bread, and some meat. You can save money by shopping at discount supermarkets like Profi, Lidl, Aldi, and Penny Market.

If you want to save big money on meals, head to one of the markets, pick up some cheese, wine, bread, meats, or anything else, and go to the park for a picnic. (Or grab a sandwich for later!) You’ll find the locals doing the same thing, and it’s one of the cheaper ways to get a true taste of local food.

Backpacking Europe Suggested Budgets

Prices for travel in Europe vary greatly depending on how far north, east, south, or west you travel. If you stick to the budget accommodations, food, and tours listed here and use all my tips on saving money, you need about 65-110 EUR per day in Western Europe, 40-50 EUR in Eastern Europe, and about 85-130 EUR in Scandinavia.

Those numbers reflect a traveler who stays in hostels, cooks some meals and eats out cheaply, enjoys a few drinks, and sticks to free and cheap activities like hiking, walking tours, and enjoying nature. This is your typical backpacker budget. You aren’t going to have a fancy time, but you aren’t going to want for anything either.

However, by getting tourist cards and rail passes, avoiding flights, occasionally Couchsurfing or camping, cooking all your meals, and not drinking, you can travel a lot cheaper. On this budget, you could do Western Europe on 35-45 EUR per day, Eastern Europe on 20-25 EUR, and Scandinavia on 50-65 EUR. That would require you to take a train or a bus or hitchhike everywhere, skip most museums, and limit how often you go out.

Generally, the suggested daily budget for Europe is 80-120 EUR. You can use the chart below to get an idea of how much you need to budget daily. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Europe Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Individual country guides have more specific information on how to save money in them but here are some general tips on cutting your costs while you explore Europe:

  • Picnic – This continent has a lot of little shops where you can buy pre-made sandwiches or ingredients to make your own. Many supermarkets have delis as well where you can get food to go. Buy some food, eat outside, and watch the city and its people go by. It’s a much more enjoyable and cheaper way to eat.
  • Eat local and cheap – Not into picnicking? Eat at local sandwich shops, pizza parlors, Maoz, Wok to Walks, and outdoor street vendors. Avoiding restaurants and eating at a lot of the local “grab n’ go” places gives you a taste of the local cuisine at a much cheaper price. If you’re really on a budget, use your creative cooking skills to prepare meals at the hostel as well.
  • Stay with a local – Hostels can add up really quickly. If you don’t have any friends with whom you can stay, consider using Couchsurfing , which connects you with locals who let you stay with them for free. Plus, they tend to also have meetups to meet other locals and travelers. It’s a great way to save on accommodation and meet a local who can share their insider tips and advice.
  • Camp in a garden – A very good camping service specific to Europe is Campspace , which allows you to pitch a tent in someone’s backyard for free or for a small fee (around 10-20 EUR). All of the garden owners have profiles that tell you what services and facilities they offer. Also, many countries allow wild camping (like Sweden), which can save you a fortune if you have a tent.
  • Take the bus – Budget bus companies like Flixbus can take you across the continent for cheap. I personally feel it’s best for day travel as sitting up for an overnight bus isn’t really ideal for sleeping. It isn’t glamorous, but with tickets starting at 5 EUR, you really can’t complain!
  • Get a Rail Pass – Eurail Passes have saved me hundreds of dollars. If you are traveling far distances and through many countries, they are a great deal.
  • Take the free city tours – One of the great things about Europe is that you can find free walking tours in all the major cities. They can be a great way to see the city attractions, take in some history, and learn your bearings without spending any money. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!
  • Plan accordingly – Plan your trip around Europe so you avoid doubling back. Transportation is a big expense so proper planning can save you a lot of money (and time). Go in a straight line or a loop. Booking your accommodation ahead helps you save as well since cheap, good places unsurprisingly get reserved first. One thing I’ve learned is that waiting until the last minute means you get stuck with expensive places or cheap places no one wants.
  • Fly cheap – If you know where you are going and a train won’t do, try to book flights early. You can often get round trip fares for as little as 5 EUR from many of the European discount airlines like Ryanair or Wizz. Many capital cities have smaller airports farther from the city with ‘inconvenient’ times but cheaper fares. Keep in mind you might need to factor in an early morning Uber or taxi if the busses aren’t running and you have an early flight!
  • Drink less – Those 5 EUR beers add up. Hit happy hours or pick and choose when you party. Hostel bars are a good place to get cheap drinks or buy your alcohol at the supermarket. Plus, in Europe, it’s legal to drink outside in parks, plazas, by the lakes or rivers. You’ll find you can save a lot of money by not going to bars and clubs. Partying your way across the continent will destroy your bank balance in no time.
  • Get a city tourist card – Many local tourism offices sell a tourism card for all their attractions, tours, and restaurants. This card gives you free entry and substantial discounts on all the attractions and tours in a city, free local public transportation (a huge plus), and discounts at a few restaurants and shopping malls. They save a ton of money. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, get one of these cards.
  • Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar to catch rides with locals between cities (or countries) by paying a small fee. It’s like Airbnb but for rides. I used this service in Switzerland and, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe, though sometimes rides cancel at the last minute (which is why you need to be flexible). Check their ratings first and try to use rides where the person has done many trips.
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water is safe to drink in most of Europe, so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.
  • Get a HostelPass – HostelPass is a discount membership for hostels in Europe. Members get 10-20% off select hostels around Europe, as well as perks like free breakfast or free drinks. There are discounts on tours and activities too. It’s a great way to save money if you’re bouncing around Europe as they have hostels in 18 countries around the continent.

Where to Stay in Europe

Europe has a ton of budget accommodation options. The individual country and city guides have tons of recommendations but here’s a short list of some of my favorite budget hostels and hotels around Europe:

  • The Flying Pig (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Hotel 54 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Generator Hostel (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Harcourt Hotel (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Castle Rock (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Ios Palm Pansion (Ios, Greece)
  • Greg and Tom’s Party Hostel (Krakow, Poland)
  • Largo da Sé Guest House (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Sophie’s Hostel (Prague, Czech Republic)
  • The Yellow (Rome, Italy)
  • City Backpackers (Stockholm, Sweden)

How to Get Around Europe

The famous steam train from Harry Potter crossing an old bridge in Scotland

Public transportation – Transportation around most European cities is by tram, subway, or bus. Prices are typically around 2 EUR for a one-way ticket in Western Europe and closer to 1 EUR in Eastern Europe. Most large cities also have day passes available that offer unlimited public transportation. These passes are usually 5-12 EUR per day.

In large cities with international airports, there is usually a bus or train available that ferries travelers from the downtown core to the airport. Expect to pay around 5-15 EUR to get to/from the airport.

Bus – Buses are not quite as comfortable as Europe’s trains, although certain lines do have great amenities (like roomy seats and Wi-Fi). While buses are not the most efficient way to travel around the continent, they’re certainly dependable, reliable, and cheap. You can find last-minute rides for as little as 5 EUR. A route from Berlin to Munich is about 25 EUR, while Paris to Bordeaux can be as low as 10 EUR. Longer routes, like Amsterdam to Copenhagen, start at around 47 EUR.

Each country has its own national bus service, but some lines also take you long distances internationally. Megabus and Flixbus (which now owns Eurolines) are the most popular companies.

Train – Train travel is a great way to see Europe. Intercity train prices vary wildly from country to country, depending on whether you take the slow train or a high-speed train and how far in advance you book. For example, a high-speed train from Berlin to Munich costs around 38-60 EUR, Bordeaux to Paris is about 50-85 EUR, and Madrid to Barcelona ranges from 45-85 EUR. Non-high-speed trains and other intercity lines are a lot cheaper, generally costing about 40-50% of the price of high-speed trains. Eastern Europe inter-country trains usually cost between 45-100 EUR when the ticket is booked last minute. Short train rides of 2-3 hours within countries cost about 27 EUR.

To find routes and prices for trains around Europe, use Trainline .

You may also want to consider getting a Eurail Pass , which allows travelers to explore Europe by providing a set number of stops in a specific time period. These passes are continent-wide, country-specific, or regional. It can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.

Ridesharing/Car sharing – If your schedule is flexible, use a ridesharing service and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe. BlaBlaCar is the most popular.

If you’d rather rent a car yourself and find passengers to share a ride with, use Discover Cars to find the best car rental prices.

Flying – Budget airlines are so prolific that competition helps keep fares low. You can often find tickets where the fare is just 5 EUR round-trip! Companies like EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz, and Vueling offer mind-blowingly cheap flights throughout Europe. Book at least a month early to scoop up great deals.

Make sure that the airport they fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).

Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. It costs about 25-39 EUR for one checked bag. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Europe is very safe, but it’s not for everyone. Hitching is quite common around the continent and I’ve met a number of travelers who have done it (I, myself, traveled this way in Bulgaria and Iceland). Some countries are very supportive (Romania, Iceland, Germany) while others may be a bit more time-consuming (Italy, Spain). HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info.

Here are my suggested articles for how to get around Europe:

  • 7 Cheap Ways to Travel Across Europe
  • Are Eurail Passes a Giant Scam or Do They Save You Money?
  • The Ultimate Guide to Finding Cheap Flights

When to Go to Europe

There’s no wrong time to visit Europe. Peak season is summer, when Europe gets crowded and August is the time most European families are at the beach so everything becomes more crowded and expensive. But the overall atmosphere and weather are great during this time, so it’s still worth visiting during peak season (just book your accommodation in advance — especially in August). Keep in mind it’s much hotter in summer so if you like AC, be sure to check that your hostel or hotel has it before you book. You can expect the most crowds in Western Europe. For this reason, I feel summer is a great time to visit the Balkans and the Baltics because many people head to the beaches in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Greece.

Shoulder season is spring and fall (April-May and September-October). It’s still warm during this time but there aren’t as many crowds and prices are cheaper. This is my favorite time to visit hotspot places like Spain, Croatia and Greece, where it’s still hot enough to swim in the sea but you have way more room on the beach. It’s also a good time to go hiking in the Alps in Germany, northern Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland because it’s cooler during the day so you’re much less sweaty on the mountain without shade. The weather is good, the crowds are smaller, and the prices lower.

Winter is from November to February but in much of Central Europe, it’s wet and cold until March or April. It gets cold, even as far south as it gets (like Greece). On the other hand, the Christmas season has Christmas markets and festivals galore! Even if it’s cold, this is a cultural tradition you can’t miss and why I love Europe in December. There is hot mulled wine, sweets, and plenty of hot snacks, which vary by country. One of my favorites is Prague because the Old Town Square is lit up with a gigantic tree with aromas of crispy cinnamon pastries and mulled wine. Berlin takes their Christmas markets very seriously, so there are around 80 different markets with special themes.

Winter is fantastic in Europe for skiing and snowboarding but it doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan carefully. While Switzerland and France are probably the most famous, they are also expensive, but there are plenty of budget winter options.

How to Stay Safe in Europe

Europe is very safe for backpacking and solo traveling, even if you’re traveling solo, and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crimes against tourists are very rare. In fact, some of the safest countries in the world are in Europe. (I wrote a whole article about how Europe is safe to visit right now .)

That said, there are scams and petty crimes you should watch out for, especially around popular tourist landmarks. The most important thing to be aware of is pickpockets in crowds and on public transportation. Zip your bags and don’t put your mobile phone in a jacket pocket where someone could quickly take it. This should be obvious but don’t flash your money to let everyone know you have a huge wad of cash.

When choosing a hostel, look for ones with lockers. It’s always a good idea to carry around a padlock or combination lock. Most hostels are safe and travelers respect each other and I’ve rarely seen things happen to people’s valuables. Nevertheless, I always think that prevention is better.

As anywhere, the standard precautions apply (never leave your drink unattended at the bar, never walk home alone intoxicated, etc.). When at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink. Avoid walking home alone at night if you’re intoxicated.

For female travelers in particular, it’s always a good idea to have a bit of extra money on you just in case you need to take an Uber or taxi back by yourself so you don’t take unnecessary risks to save money. If you’re using apps to date people while traveling, please use common sense and meet in public places. Since I’m not a female traveler, please check out the numerous female bloggers who have first hand knowledge of this.

If you’re worried about scams, you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you rent a vehicle, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight. Break-ins are rare, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Be aware that the UK drives on the left and that most rental cars in Europe will have manual transmissions unless you request otherwise.

When hiking, always bring water, sunscreen, and bandaids or foot plasters. There is nothing worse than being halfway up the mountain with a blister and nothing you can do about it!

Likewise, when at the coast, don’t forget not only to wear sunscreen! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people get burnt to a crisp the first day. Be sure to check the weather before you depart and dress accordingly.

If you do experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary to loved ones so they know where you are.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Europe Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!

GO DEEPER: Nomadic Matt’s In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Nomadic Matt's Guide to Europe

While I have a lot of free tips on Europe, I also wrote an entire book that goes into great detail on everything you need to plan a trip here on a budget! You’ll get suggested itineraries, budgets, even more ways to save money, my favorite restaurants, prices, practical information (i.e. phone numbers, websites, prices, safety advice, etc etc), and cultural tips.

I’ll give the insider view of Europe that I got from years of traveling and living here! The downloadable guide can be used on your Kindle, iPad, phone, or computer so you can have it with you when you go. Click here to learn more about my book on Europe!

Europe Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more tips for your trip? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Europe travel and continue planning your trip:

The 7 Best Hotels in London

The 7 Best Hotels in London

10 Scotland Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

10 Scotland Road Trip Tips You Need to Know Before You Go

The Perfect 7-Day Croatia Itinerary

The Perfect 7-Day Croatia Itinerary

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Copenhagen

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 6 Best Hotels in Florence

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

The 7 Best Hotels in Madrid

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Love Exploring

Essential Tips for Your Europe Trip, From the Experts

Posted: December 28, 2023 | Last updated: December 28, 2023

<p>Taking a trip to Europe is something of a rite of passage among travel lovers. But whether you’re planning a multi-country tour or just a short stay in one place, there’s a lot that you should – yet might not – know about visiting the world’s second smallest continent. Knowledge is power and we’ve got your back, so here’s what to expect and prepare for.</p>  <p><strong>Click through the gallery for top tips, busted myths, and insider info that will help make your next (or first) Europe trip a breeze…</strong></p>

Know before you go

Taking a trip to Europe is something of a rite of passage among travel lovers. But whether you’re planning a multi-country tour or just a short stay in one place, there’s a lot that you should – yet might not – know about visiting the world’s second smallest continent. Knowledge is power and we’ve got your back, so here’s what to expect and prepare for.

Click through the gallery for top tips, busted myths, and insider info that will help make your next (or first) Europe trip a breeze…

<p>When travelers say they’re “going to Europe,” it can mean they’re making multiple stops across the continent, or just visiting one country. As with other continents, Europe is sometimes perceived as one great homogeneous blob – all gingerbread-house architecture, wartime relics, and gelato stands.</p>  <p>But, made up of more than 40 sovereign states speaking 24 official languages, this continent is endlessly surprising. Did you know that Spain is home to mainland Europe’s only true desert (pictured), or that Bosnia-Herzegovina boasts its largest rainforest?</p>

European countries are not homogeneous

When travelers say they’re “going to Europe,” it can mean they’re making multiple stops across the continent, or just visiting one country. As with other continents, Europe is sometimes perceived as one great homogeneous blob – all gingerbread-house architecture, wartime relics, and gelato stands.

But, made up of more than 40 sovereign states speaking 24 official languages, this continent is endlessly surprising. Did you know that Spain is home to mainland Europe’s only true desert (pictured), or that Bosnia-Herzegovina boasts its largest rainforest?

<p>Cultural stereotypes are something every responsible traveler should leave at the door. They breed idle assumptions that when left unchecked can grow into harmful prejudices and unconscious bias. Common stereotypes like binge-drinking Brits, grumpy Eastern Europeans, and lazy Spaniards are not only massive generalizations, but they are also completely unfair.</p>  <p>So come without preconceptions and just talk to the people you meet along the way before forming an opinion. Travel is one of life’s most effective expanders of the mind, after all.</p>

Forget stereotypes

Cultural stereotypes are something every responsible traveler should leave at the door. They breed idle assumptions that when left unchecked can grow into harmful prejudices and unconscious bias. Common stereotypes like binge-drinking Brits, grumpy Eastern Europeans, and lazy Spaniards are not only massive generalizations, but they are also completely unfair.

So come without preconceptions and just talk to the people you meet along the way before forming an opinion. Travel is one of life’s most effective expanders of the mind, after all.

<p>The euro (€) is the official currency of several states both in and outside the European Union (EU). Finland is the only country in Scandinavia to have adopted it, while countries such as Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have retained their original currency.</p>  <p>Great Britain and Northern Ireland use the pound, while the Republic of Ireland has the euro. Croatia became the most recent country to switch to the euro when it discontinued its use of the kuna in 2023.</p>

Not every country uses the euro

The euro (€) is the official currency of several states both in and outside the European Union (EU). Finland is the only country in Scandinavia to have adopted it, while countries such as Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, and Bosnia-Herzegovina have retained their original currency.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland use the pound, while the Republic of Ireland has the euro. Croatia became the most recent country to switch to the euro when it discontinued its use of the kuna in 2023.

<p>When the UK ‘Brexited’ the EU, the rules on travel between the two estranged areas changed. Now, Brits traveling from home to the EU must have a passport valid for at least three months past their departure date.</p>  <p>The same can be said for nationals of other foreign countries too: Australians and Canadians traveling to Europe should have at least three months of validity left on their passports from the date they intend to leave the continent, while US citizens are advised to have no fewer than six months of passport validity past their last day in Europe.</p>

Check when your passport expires

When the UK ‘Brexited’ the EU, the rules on travel between the two estranged areas changed. Now, Brits traveling from home to the EU must have a passport valid for at least three months past their departure date.

The same can be said for nationals of other foreign countries too: Australians and Canadians traveling to Europe should have at least three months of validity left on their passports from the date they intend to leave the continent, while US citizens are advised to have no fewer than six months of passport validity past their last day in Europe.

<p>The Schengen Area is a coalition of 27 European countries that allow borderless travel between them. Travelers from several countries, including the UK and the US, do not need a visa to visit any Schengen nations and can travel freely in as many countries as they like for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.</p>  <p>While you wait for your Schengen Area travel allowance to refresh, you can also travel in the non-Schengen countries of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania for 90 days within a 180-day window visa-free.</p>

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area is a coalition of 27 European countries that allow borderless travel between them. Travelers from several countries, including the UK and the US, do not need a visa to visit any Schengen nations and can travel freely in as many countries as they like for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

While you wait for your Schengen Area travel allowance to refresh, you can also travel in the non-Schengen countries of Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania for 90 days within a 180-day window visa-free.

<p>Frustratingly there is no standard allowance across all airlines when it comes to the size and weight of cabin baggage, which regularly slaps unsuspecting travellers with unwanted extra charges. Your free hand luggage allowance will also vary from carrier to carrier. </p>  <p>British Airways is the most generous – you can bring one 56x45x25cm bag and one 40x30x15cm bag into the cabin with you, whereas budget airlines like Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air are much more stingy. The EU is ultimately looking at eliminating carry-on baggage fees but until then, be sure to do your research.</p>

Hand luggage only? One size doesn’t fit all

Frustratingly there is no standard allowance across all airlines when it comes to the size and weight of cabin baggage, which regularly slaps unsuspecting travellers with unwanted extra charges. Your free hand luggage allowance will also vary from carrier to carrier. 

British Airways is the most generous – you can bring one 56x45x25cm bag and one 40x30x15cm bag into the cabin with you, whereas budget airlines like Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air are much more stingy. The EU is ultimately looking at eliminating carry-on baggage fees but until then, be sure to do your research.

<p>You can avoid a lot of the hand luggage drama entirely by traveling through Europe, as opposed to over it. Overland adventures on the continent have never been easier to plan, with many countries (eg Germany and Spain) implementing affordable ticket schemes for those choosing to travel more sustainably.</p>  <p>Luxembourg’s public transport network has been completely free to use since 2020, while France banned domestic flights in 2023 where the same journey could be completed by train in less than two and a half hours. On the flip side, the UK’s public transport system is notoriously overpriced.</p>

Trains and buses are (mostly) the best ways to get around

You can avoid a lot of the hand luggage drama entirely by traveling through Europe, as opposed to over it. Overland adventures on the continent have never been easier to plan, with many countries (eg Germany and Spain) implementing affordable ticket schemes for those choosing to travel more sustainably.

Luxembourg’s public transport network has been completely free to use since 2020, while France banned domestic flights in 2023 where the same journey could be completed by train in less than two and a half hours. On the flip side, the UK’s public transport system is notoriously overpriced.

<p>Italy has very strict rules about the need for regional train and local bus tickets to be validated before use – and there’s a hefty fine to pay if you don’t. While Trenitalia’s high-speed and intercity trains are ticketless, you’ll need to get physical regional tickets and rail passes date-stamped before departure by the ticket office or a machine like the one pictured here; e-tickets can be validated online.</p>  <p>Ticket validation is gradually being phased out in France, but is still required in some regions. So if you see a ticket-validating machine, use it.</p>

You sometimes need to validate your tickets

Italy has very strict rules about the need for regional train and local bus tickets to be validated before use – and there’s a hefty fine to pay if you don’t. While Trenitalia’s high-speed and intercity trains are ticketless, you’ll need to get physical regional tickets and rail passes date-stamped before departure by the ticket office or a machine like the one pictured here; e-tickets can be validated online.

Ticket validation is gradually being phased out in France, but is still required in some regions. So if you see a ticket-validating machine, use it.

<p>Don’t get caught out by thinking there’s just one standard kind of power socket for the whole continent. While most countries in mainland Europe have C and F-type sockets, G sockets are more common in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and Malta.</p>  <p>Venture north to Denmark and its territories and you could encounter E or K-type sockets. To avoid any inconveniences in your destination, pack a universal adaptor that allows you to hook up USB cables and switch plug types with the press of a button.</p>

Bring a universal plug adaptor

Don’t get caught out by thinking there’s just one standard kind of power socket for the whole continent. While most countries in mainland Europe have C and F-type sockets, G sockets are more common in the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, Cyprus, Gibraltar, and Malta.

Venture north to Denmark and its territories and you could encounter E or K-type sockets. To avoid any inconveniences in your destination, pack a universal adaptor that allows you to hook up USB cables and switch plug types with the press of a button.

<p>If you’re lucky, your cell’s network provider might allow you to use your calls, texts, and data throughout Europe as part of your existing plan. If that’s not the case, consider investing in a data-roaming add-on that could save you money if you travel regularly – purchasing packages as you go can often work out more expensive for less allowance. Otherwise, prepaid SIM cards designed for travelers also cover multiple countries for days and even months at a time.</p>

Save on your phone usage

If you’re lucky, your cell’s network provider might allow you to use your calls, texts, and data throughout Europe as part of your existing plan. If that’s not the case, consider investing in a data-roaming add-on that could save you money if you travel regularly – purchasing packages as you go can often work out more expensive for less allowance. Otherwise, prepaid SIM cards designed for travelers also cover multiple countries for days and even months at a time.

<p>Yes, even in today’s mostly cashless society, sometimes cash is king. While it can feel cumbersome and unhygienic to cart around, it’s better to have a safety net of notes and loose change in your bag than running into trouble if the card machine isn’t working in the cafe you’re eating in or if, heaven forbid, you were to lose your bank card or cellphone.</p>  <p>Just remember to keep your money safe, secured, and concealed at all times.</p>

Carry a bit of cash

Yes, even in today’s mostly cashless society, sometimes cash is king. While it can feel cumbersome and unhygienic to cart around, it’s better to have a safety net of notes and loose change in your bag than running into trouble if the card machine isn’t working in the cafe you’re eating in or if, heaven forbid, you were to lose your bank card or cellphone.

Just remember to keep your money safe, secured, and concealed at all times.

<p>If you’re withdrawing cash from a European ATM or paying for something on your card while on the continent, always pay in the local currency rather than your own. This will ensure you’re not being fleeced by bad conversion rates that could cost you up to 10% more than if you’d opted for the local legal tender when prompted. Banks like Revolut, Monzo, and Starling offer some of the best exchange rates on the market when using their payment cards or apps abroad.</p>

Always pay in the local currency

If you’re withdrawing cash from a European ATM or paying for something on your card while on the continent, always pay in the local currency rather than your own. This will ensure you’re not being fleeced by bad conversion rates that could cost you up to 10% more than if you’d opted for the local legal tender when prompted. Banks like Revolut, Monzo, and Starling offer some of the best exchange rates on the market when using their payment cards or apps abroad.

<p>Even if you’re visiting a European destination between November and March – deemed the off-season – it’s likely that city streets and Insta-famous tourist attractions may still be busier than you might expect. The cooler temperatures, wetter weather and shorter days might be enough to dissuade some people from booking an off-season trip to places like Stockholm, Prague, Edinburgh or London, but you’ll be far from the only one braving it in the name of lower costs.</p>

Expect crowds even in the off-season

Even if you’re visiting a European destination between November and March – deemed the off-season – it’s likely that city streets and Insta-famous tourist attractions may still be busier than you might expect. The cooler temperatures, wetter weather and shorter days might be enough to dissuade some people from booking an off-season trip to places like Stockholm, Prague, Edinburgh or London, but you’ll be far from the only one braving it in the name of lower costs.

<p>Greece became the latest European country to impose visitor limits on one of its foremost attractions in 2023 when the Acropolis of Athens began capping the number of daily tourists at 20,000. To protect the longevity of the ancient UNESCO site and the comfort of everyone who wants to see it, visitors must book a one-hour entrance slot in advance.</p>  <p>Elsewhere, tourism caps have also been applied on hire cars touring Italy’s Amalfi Coast Drive at busy periods – if your number plate ends in an odd number, you can’t access the road on odd-numbered days, and vice versa.</p>

Avoid falling victim to visitor caps

Greece became the latest European country to impose visitor limits on one of its foremost attractions in 2023 when the Acropolis of Athens began capping the number of daily tourists at 20,000. To protect the longevity of the ancient UNESCO site and the comfort of everyone who wants to see it, visitors must book a one-hour entrance slot in advance.

Elsewhere, tourism caps have also been applied on hire cars touring Italy’s Amalfi Coast Drive at busy periods – if your number plate ends in an odd number, you can’t access the road on odd-numbered days, and vice versa.

<p>It's amazing how quickly your pedometer will tick up while exploring Europe, without you even really having to think about it. Wandering cobbled medieval streets, coast paths, nature trails, and around sprawling museums, you'll surpass that 10,000 daily step count in no time. Be sure then to pack your favorite pair of sneakers or most sturdy hiking boots – shoes that aren't just supportive but breathable, to avoid unwanted travel buddies like blisters and ingrown toenails.</p>

Pack a comfy pair of walking shoes

It's amazing how quickly your pedometer will tick up while exploring Europe, without you even really having to think about it. Wandering cobbled medieval streets, coast paths, nature trails, and around sprawling museums, you'll surpass that 10,000 daily step count in no time. Be sure then to pack your favorite pair of sneakers or most sturdy hiking boots – shoes that aren't just supportive but breathable, to avoid unwanted travel buddies like blisters and ingrown toenails.

<p>While the term ‘cheap’ is subjective, we think most will agree that paying less than a euro for an espresso is an absolute steal – and almost unheard of. But that's the going rate in Bulgaria, an oft-overlooked nation at the confluence of the Black Sea and the Balkan Peninsula's highest peaks.</p>  <p>Its neighbor Romania is also touted as one of Europe's more affordable destinations, as well as the likes of Estonia, Poland, and Czechia.</p>

There are countries where your budget will go further

While the term ‘cheap’ is subjective, we think most will agree that paying less than a euro for an espresso is an absolute steal – and almost unheard of. But that's the going rate in Bulgaria, an oft-overlooked nation at the confluence of the Black Sea and the Balkan Peninsula's highest peaks.

Its neighbor Romania is also touted as one of Europe's more affordable destinations, as well as the likes of Estonia, Poland, and Czechia.

<p>If you’re planning to save money on accommodation by wild camping your way around Europe, you should know that pitching your tent is subject to different rules in different countries and often involves a lot of red tape. In the UK for instance, wild camping is illegal without the landowner’s consent almost everywhere, apart from the majority of Scotland and Dartmoor National Park in England’s southwest. Sweden, Norway, and Finland have right-to-roam laws that allow camping freely in nature, provided you leave no trace.</p>

Sleeping under the stars isn’t a given

If you’re planning to save money on accommodation by wild camping your way around Europe, you should know that pitching your tent is subject to different rules in different countries and often involves a lot of red tape. In the UK for instance, wild camping is illegal without the landowner’s consent almost everywhere, apart from the majority of Scotland and Dartmoor National Park in England’s southwest. Sweden, Norway, and Finland have right-to-roam laws that allow camping freely in nature, provided you leave no trace.

<p>Though attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community have become more accepting in recent years across the continent, there are countries that are considerably more inclusive and celebratory than others. At the time of writing, ILGA-Europe (the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) ranked Malta, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, and Iceland as the top five European countries where people of all sexualities and gender identities should feel safe.</p>  <p>At the bottom of the table, Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan rank lowest for LGBTQ+ tolerance.</p>

These are the countries most supportive of the LGBTQ+ community

Though attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community have become more accepting in recent years across the continent, there are countries that are considerably more inclusive and celebratory than others. At the time of writing, ILGA-Europe (the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association) ranked Malta, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, and Iceland as the top five European countries where people of all sexualities and gender identities should feel safe.

At the bottom of the table, Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan rank lowest for LGBTQ+ tolerance.

<p>Persons with disabilities, elderly people, and families with children all might need to consider the accessibility of a city before visiting. And looking at those that have placed either first, second, or third in the <a href="https://www.europewithoutbarriers.eu/news-en/most-accessible-cities-where-to-go-in-europe">Access City Award</a> is a good starting point: Stockholm, Lyon, Berlin, Warsaw, Milan, Luxembourg (pictured), Ljubljana, Rotterdam, and Salzburg have all been recognized in the past.</p>  <p>If you require elevators or ramps to get around, you might want to skip London – only 92 Tube stations out of the <a href="https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/what-we-do#:~:text=London%20Underground%2C%20better%20known%20as,trains%20whizzing%20around%20the%20Capital.">272</a> in the metro network provide step-free access from street to platform.</p>

These are some of Europe’s most accessible cities

Persons with disabilities, elderly people, and families with children all might need to consider the accessibility of a city before visiting. And looking at those that have placed either first, second, or third in the Access City Award is a good starting point: Stockholm, Lyon, Berlin, Warsaw, Milan, Luxembourg (pictured), Ljubljana, Rotterdam, and Salzburg have all been recognized in the past.

If you require elevators or ramps to get around, you might want to skip London – only 92 Tube stations out of the 272 in the metro network provide step-free access from street to platform.

<p>If there's one thing solo travelers universally dread, it's dining alone. In reality, no one bats an eye when you say “mesa para uno,” but what if you can’t even get a table in the first place? In August 2023, Lonely Planet reported that solo diners were being denied seats at restaurants with outdoor terraces in Barcelona, with larger groups taking priority.</p>  <p>But worry not, there are plenty of amazing restaurants that do welcome solo customers, such as BENZiNA in the lively Sant Antoni neighborhood. Wherever you travel solo in Europe, it's worth noting that some restaurants won't take reservations for one, so prepare to be flexible.</p>

Table for one?

If there's one thing solo travelers universally dread, it's dining alone. In reality, no one bats an eye when you say “mesa para uno,” but what if you can’t even get a table in the first place? In August 2023, Lonely Planet reported that solo diners were being denied seats at restaurants with outdoor terraces in Barcelona, with larger groups taking priority.

But worry not, there are plenty of amazing restaurants that do welcome solo customers, such as BENZiNA in the lively Sant Antoni neighborhood. Wherever you travel solo in Europe, it's worth noting that some restaurants won't take reservations for one, so prepare to be flexible.

<p>Looking to eat out when you're traveling around Europe? You might find it easier to make a reservation on some days than others. While not all restaurants shut down on Sundays and Mondays as a rule, you might notice that many do. So leave yourself enough time in the planning process to account for a bit of extra research.</p>  <p>Shops will often close early (if not completely) on Sundays too, while in typically warmer countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece, businesses may also pause operations during afternoon siesta time, especially in more rural communities.</p>

Businesses might shut down for certain days and siestas

Looking to eat out when you're traveling around Europe? You might find it easier to make a reservation on some days than others. While not all restaurants shut down on Sundays and Mondays as a rule, you might notice that many do. So leave yourself enough time in the planning process to account for a bit of extra research.

Shops will often close early (if not completely) on Sundays too, while in typically warmer countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece, businesses may also pause operations during afternoon siesta time, especially in more rural communities.

<p>Overtourism has become a major blight in some of Europe’s cities, whose fatal flaw is their aesthetic beauty and party-loving nightlife districts. But enough is enough, says Amsterdam, which will increase its tourist tax in 2024 in line with restrictions the city recently placed on cruise ships.</p>  <p>The hike will mean Amsterdam breaking its own record for the highest tourist tax in Europe – maybe even the world. Spanish destinations like Seville, Mallorca, and Barcelona are also clamping down on rowdy visitors eliciting antisocial behavior.</p>

Know when you’re not wanted

Overtourism has become a major blight in some of Europe’s cities, whose fatal flaw is their aesthetic beauty and party-loving nightlife districts. But enough is enough, says Amsterdam, which will increase its tourist tax in 2024 in line with restrictions the city recently placed on cruise ships.

The hike will mean Amsterdam breaking its own record for the highest tourist tax in Europe – maybe even the world. Spanish destinations like Seville, Mallorca, and Barcelona are also clamping down on rowdy visitors eliciting antisocial behavior.

<p>Italy is one of the more vocal countries when it comes to making rules to deter irresponsible tourism and pollution. In the summer of 2023, it was <a href="https://metro.co.uk/2023/07/07/you-could-be-fined-400-for-eating-on-this-italian-beach-19086092/">reported</a> that beachgoers at Sant’Antioco in Sardinia could be slapped with a €500 ($546) fine for eating food of any kind on the beach.</p>  <p>Milan has also recently been cracking down on eating, banning late-night/early-morning takeout, while consuming food on the streets of Florence's historic center is also prohibited between set times. In Rome, tourists could be fined for sitting on the iconic Spanish Steps or wading in the Trevi Fountain.</p>

You can’t even eat ice cream on this Italian beach

Italy is one of the more vocal countries when it comes to making rules to deter irresponsible tourism and pollution. In the summer of 2023, it was reported that beachgoers at Sant’Antioco in Sardinia could be slapped with a €500 ($546) fine for eating food of any kind on the beach.

Milan has also recently been cracking down on eating, banning late-night/early-morning takeout, while consuming food on the streets of Florence's historic center is also prohibited between set times. In Rome, tourists could be fined for sitting on the iconic Spanish Steps or wading in the Trevi Fountain.

<p>Elsewhere, ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ Dubrovnik is urging travelers to respect the city, having launched a tourism campaign in 2023 encouraging people to carry their suitcases through the ancient old town instead of raking them across the battered cobbles. This comes after UNESCO has previously threatened to strip Dubrovnik of its World Heritage Site status due to its problems with mass tourism.</p>  <p>While the word about wheeling suitcases through the city’s historic center isn’t a concrete ban, visitors should still be mindful of the impact they make on any destination they travel to.</p>

Don’t bring wheelie suitcases to this historic city

Elsewhere, ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ Dubrovnik is urging travelers to respect the city, having launched a tourism campaign in 2023 encouraging people to carry their suitcases through the ancient old town instead of raking them across the battered cobbles. This comes after UNESCO has previously threatened to strip Dubrovnik of its World Heritage Site status due to its problems with mass tourism.

While the word about wheeling suitcases through the city’s historic center isn’t a concrete ban, visitors should still be mindful of the impact they make on any destination they travel to.

<p>While Europe’s most talked-about places are popular for a reason and shouldn’t necessarily be dropped from your itinerary, there is far more to this little continent than what you see on social media. For instance, Scotland isn’t all just moody castles and rugged highlands – it has Caribbean-like beaches, like the one pictured here on the Isle of Harris.</p>  <p>You’ll be vastly rewarded for venturing beyond Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and Iceland’s Golden Circle, and considering the countries you don’t see documented as much, such as Kosovo, Albania, and Lithuania.</p>

There’s more than meets the eye

While Europe’s most talked-about places are popular for a reason and shouldn’t necessarily be dropped from your itinerary, there is far more to this little continent than what you see on social media. For instance, Scotland isn’t all just moody castles and rugged highlands – it has Caribbean-like beaches, like the one pictured here on the Isle of Harris.

You’ll be vastly rewarded for venturing beyond Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and Iceland’s Golden Circle, and considering the countries you don’t see documented as much, such as Kosovo, Albania, and Lithuania.

<p>As part of ongoing plans to digitize its borders, the UK is introducing a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) document that will be required for visa-free international visitors to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. ETAs cost £10 ($13) and are already mandatory for Qatari passport holders, with Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE joining the scheme from February 2024.</p>  <p>More countries, including the 27 European Union member states, the USA, Canada, and Australia, are set to join later in 2024. More on the ETA process can be found in our <a href="https://www.loveexploring.com/news/190526/the-ultimate-guide-to-the-new-electronic-travel-authorisation-system">detailed explainer</a>.</p>

Visiting the UK is about to get more expensive

As part of ongoing plans to digitize its borders, the UK is introducing a new Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) document that will be required for visa-free international visitors to England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. ETAs cost £10 ($13) and are already mandatory for Qatari passport holders, with Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE joining the scheme from February 2024.

More countries, including the 27 European Union member states, the USA, Canada, and Australia, are set to join later in 2024. More on the ETA process can be found in our detailed explainer .

<p>Visa-exempt international travelers to 30 other European countries will also need to apply for additional travel authorization within a couple of years. The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) scheme is similar to the UK’s ETA and will be required for nationals from these <a href="https://travel-europe.europa.eu/etias/who-should-apply_en#ETIAS-countries">listed countries</a> to visit all 27 countries in the Schengen Area, plus Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania.</p>  <p>The new visa waiver program is set to come into effect from spring 2025.</p>

You’ll soon need extra authorisation to visit other countries too

Visa-exempt international travelers to 30 other European countries will also need to apply for additional travel authorization within a couple of years. The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) scheme is similar to the UK’s ETA and will be required for nationals from these listed countries to visit all 27 countries in the Schengen Area, plus Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania.

The new visa waiver program is set to come into effect from spring 2025.

<p>In a bid to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint, more and more low emissions zones are cropping up all over Europe and placing restrictions on petrol and diesel vehicles passing through major cities such as London, Paris, and Madrid. Not only does driving a car in these zones result in huge charges to compensate for the environmental impact of the journey, but it can also mean you’re stuck in traffic jams that eat into the enjoyment of your trip.</p>  <p>While hiring a car is required to visit more rural, remote, and coastal areas, you shouldn’t need one to get around cities.</p>

Dodge city centres if you’re planning a road trip

In a bid to reduce the continent’s carbon footprint, more and more low emissions zones are cropping up all over Europe and placing restrictions on petrol and diesel vehicles passing through major cities such as London, Paris, and Madrid. Not only does driving a car in these zones result in huge charges to compensate for the environmental impact of the journey, but it can also mean you’re stuck in traffic jams that eat into the enjoyment of your trip.

While hiring a car is required to visit more rural, remote, and coastal areas, you shouldn’t need one to get around cities.

<p>While the Dutch capital might be the poster-child for seeing the world on two wheels, it's not the only European city encouraging people to get on their bikes. Copenhagen (pictured) is another incredibly cycle-friendly city, where great bike bridges, explorative routes, designated lanes, and hire schemes have all been created.</p>  <p>If you are planning to cycle when you come to Europe, make sure to familiarise yourself with the road laws for cyclists in each of your destinations, as these can vary from country to country.</p>

It’s not just Amsterdam that loves a bike

While the Dutch capital might be the poster-child for seeing the world on two wheels, it's not the only European city encouraging people to get on their bikes. Copenhagen (pictured) is another incredibly cycle-friendly city, where great bike bridges, explorative routes, designated lanes, and hire schemes have all been created.

If you are planning to cycle when you come to Europe, make sure to familiarise yourself with the road laws for cyclists in each of your destinations, as these can vary from country to country.

<p>Social media ran riot in October 2023 with fear-mongering reports of bedbugs infesting the Paris metro, hotels, and cinemas, sending Parisians and travelers into a panic about getting bitten and taking the little blighters home with them. But despite the frenzy, health officers and dermatologists have said that the French capital’s bedbug problem is no worse than in other cities around the world. So while they’re a nuisance, they shouldn’t put you off traveling.</p>  <p><strong><a href="https://www.loveexploring.com/galleries/199662/eerie-europe-abandoned-places-and-their-secrets">Now discover the fascinating secrets of Europe's most eerie abandoned places,,,</a></strong></p>

Should you really be worried about bedbugs?

Social media ran riot in October 2023 with fear-mongering reports of bedbugs infesting the Paris metro, hotels, and cinemas, sending Parisians and travelers into a panic about getting bitten and taking the little blighters home with them. But despite the frenzy, health officers and dermatologists have said that the French capital’s bedbug problem is no worse than in other cities around the world. So while they’re a nuisance, they shouldn’t put you off traveling.

Now discover the fascinating secrets of Europe's most eerie abandoned places,,,

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  • European Best Destinations 2024

The best places to visit in Europe selected by travellers

trips to europe in december

Best places to travel in Europe

trips to europe in december

Like every year, this ranking is based on your choice. Over 1 million travellers from 172 countries were consulted to vote for their   Best Destinations in Europe ,  the best city breaks in Europe, but also the best nature getaways in Europe, the most beautiful sunny holidays in Europe, the best cultural and gastronomic holidays, whether travelling as a couple, with family or alone, to discover the beauties and riches of Europe.

Discover the 20 most voted destinations  (out of over 500 destinations) awarded the title of "Best European Destinations 2024".

Need more inspiration? Discover the Most Beautiful Islands in Greece , Most Incredible Castles in Germany , Best Secret Destinations in Italy , Best Places to visit in Turkey,   Most Beautiful Beaches in Croatia  and much more…

Choose from this selection of the  Best European Destinations 2024 ,  book your flights ,  accommodation ,  tours and activities  and discover the very  best of Europe .

Marbella - European Best Destinations 2024

1. Marbella, Spain

Marbella is the most beautiful, sunniest, and exclusive of European destinations but also part of the best Golf Destinations in Europe and one of the best destinations for gourmets or shopping addicts.  Marbella is the preferred 5-star destination for travellers in 2024 .

Wherever golfers choose to play, they will enjoy top-class golf courses, many of them with panoramic views of mountains and the Mediterranean, in addition to being able to savour post-round drinks or a meal in well-appointed clubhouses.

Take a gastronomic tour of this food-loving Andalusian city that can cater to any craving – and delivers views and vibes to boot.

With three Michelin-starred restaurants serving excellent cuisine, plus hundreds of smaller eateries dishing up everything from Mediterranean and Thai to paella and succulent local tapas, luscious food is a major part of Marbella’s allure. Moreover, with more than 300 guaranteed days of sunshine per year, al fresco dining by the beach or beneath the stars is practically guaranteed.

Marbella has everything it needs to please any most demanding traveller. Once you get a taste of the gentle way of life in Marbella, you already know that you will come back.

Don't waste time and book your flights to Malaga Airport (30 min by car), your transfer , your accommodation in Marbella as well as your activities and tours such as a " Sunset Sail in Marbella with Drinks & Snacks ".

  Best for:  5 star holidays, Golf, Wellness, Beach, Farniente, Shopping, Foodies, Outdoor Activities, Nature, Romantic Getaway, Families.

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights to  Malaga Airport and your transfer (30 min).

  Where to stay:   " Boho Club Marbella " this is our favourite 5 star hotel in Marbella, a dream place.

Monaco European Best Destinations 2024

Staying in Monaco means choosing an exceptional destination where everyone can enjoy unique and memorable experiences .

This country on a human scale reflects the perfect marriage between glamour, culture and relaxation. Renowned for its security, it will surprise you with its multiple facets and the richness of its history.

Gastronomic delights, cultural and sporting events, exceptional nightlife, shopping experiences, pampering spas… The most eclectic dreams come true are on these two square kilometres. Small in size, the possible inspirations in this territory are no less numerous.

For a romantic stay, a family trip or a getaway with friends , the diversity of the hotel offering will meet all your expectations combining comfort, refinement and excellence of service.

Explore Monaco-Ville, where the green of the gardens blends wonderfully with the blue of the Mediterranean . With its breathtaking panoramas, its Oceanographic Museum and its Prince's Palace, this district dominates Port Hercule where it is pleasant to stroll among the fishing boats and prestigious yachts, in the heart of the Principality.

Head to Place d’Armes: Riviera colours and flavours are guaranteed! Take time and taste local specialties such as barbagiuàn, socca or pissaladière.

Enter the legend and discover the legendary Place du Casino where the Café de Paris, a true institution of the Principality, and the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, an iconic palace with world renown, are located. Like in a dream…

A few steps away, the Larvotto seaside complex reveals its beach , its shaded promenade, its shops and its restaurants where to relax in summer and winter with your feet in the sand.

To gain a little height, the Tête de Chien promontory stands on a terrace above the Big Blue. From there the silhouettes of the French and Italian coasts are revealed: three countries in one look . It is also the ideal place to have the Principality at your feet. A place where we give nature hope for a carbon-free future , a place where we reconcile with the sea and its species by offering them unique development conditions in the world.

Enjoy the enchanting Monegasque setting in all circumstances. Monaco makes any experience unique. So unique that no one can claim to have experienced it anywhere else. The Principality of Monaco is undoubtedly like nowhere else .

  Best for:  Safety, Foodies, Culture, Shopping, Nightlife, Wellness, Sports events, Sustainable tourism, Romantic getaway, Family.

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights    to Nice  and your transfer.

  Where to stay:  The “ Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo ” palace features an American-style piano bar and 2 Michelin star restaurants with views of the famous Place du Casino.

The “ Columbus Monte-Carlo ” boutique hotel features a bar, a restaurant with terrace, a fitness room and access to an outdoor swimming pool.

Malta European Best Destinations 2024

This year explore more   wonders . Malta, Gozo and Comino offer stretches of countryside and stunning coastlines that are

just waiting to be explored!

Explore more beauties ! Wherever you go in Malta , the scenery and architecture provide a spectacular backdrop. The colours a striking honey-coloured stone facing the deepest of Mediterranean blues.

Explore more flavours ! From cuisine and fine wines to architecture and adventure, you’ll find the best of the Mediterranean here in Malta.

Explore more calm . With such a fantastically favourable climate and an astonishing array of underwater sites, it’s easy to see why Malta is consistently voted one of the best diving destinations in the World! Malta has also wellness and spa facilities at the luxury hotels and club resorts. 

Explore more possibilities , Malta is holidaying as the mood takes you. And with near year-round sun, you can indulge in outdoor living at its best. 

Explore more stories . Malta’s culture is a unique blend of influences from various civilizations that have inhabited the islands over thousands of years, from the prehistoric megalithic people, to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Knights of St. John.

Explore more freedom, Malta is your European Best LGBTQ+ destination and #1 on the Rainbow Europe Map For 7 years running. And, if this were not enough, there are the other two islands - Gozo and Comino - which can be a pleasant change of scene during your stay on the mainland or alternative destinations in themselves.

Book your flights to Malta as well as your accommodation in Malta and your activities and tours in Malta , such  as a “ Malta: Gozo & Comino Islands, Blue Lagoon & Seacaves Tour " and stay in one of the  Best Places to Visit in Europe in 2024 ! 

  Best for:    Nature Lovers, Families, Wellness, Calm, Freedom, Wine lovers, Culture, Romantic Getaway, History Buffs, Foodies, Beach lovers,  LGBTQ+. 

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to  Malta and  your transfer .

  Where to stay:      " Hyatt Regency Malta " located in St Julian's, 1km from Balluta Beach.

European Best Destinations 2024 - Geneva

4. Geneva, Switzerland

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Geneva offers an array of unforgettable experiences amid its unique setting. Surrounded by awe-inspiring nature, the city hugs the tip of the largest alpine lake in Western Europe, with the majestic Alps and the Jura mountains in the backdrop. Rolling vineyards and countryside envelop the city, dotted with picturesque villages, where nature is everywhere.

As the second-largest city in Switzerland, Geneva boasts a captivating mix of historical charm and a vibrant cultural scene. Les Nations proudly hosts the European Headquarters of the United Nations , while Les Eaux-Vives invites visitors to witness the iconic Jet d’eau and enjoy a lively beach ambiance .

Beyond its diplomatic significance, Geneva is steeped in rich heritage, celebrated through its world-renowned watchmaking and a delectable chocolate tradition. Discovering Geneva is a journey through the biggest Old Town in Switzerland, dining in top-notch restaurants, and indulging in a plethora of outdoor activities . The city consistently exceeds expectations, offering a magical experience in every season. Recent additions to its attractions include the family-friendly Science Getaway, the inviting Eaux-Vives public beach, and the indulgent Choco Pass a selfguided chocolate tour. Geneva is truly a vibrant city that seamlessly blends tradition with modern delights, ensuring every visit is a remarkable and dynamic experience.

Book your flights , your accommodation in Geneva as well as your tours & activities in Geneva and stay in one of the  Best Places to Visit in Europe in 2024.

  Best for:  Green City Break, Wine Lovers, Shopping,  All-Year Round Events, Exclusive Destination, Outdoor Sport, Star-Awarded Cuisine, Chocolate lovers.

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to  Geneva and your transfer .

  Where to stay:  " CitizenM Geneva ". This hotel has an excellent location score.

Batumi - European Best Destinations 2024

5. Batumi, Adjara Region, Georgia

Batumi is amongst the trendiest destination of 2024 . Forget Barcelona and Berlin , Batumi is so much more surprising, more exciting, more affordable and more exotic.

History rubs shoulders with modernity, the cosmopolitan city rubs shoulders with untouched nature in one of the most beautiful regions in the world, the Adjara Region.  For lazy days on the beach , for an exciting nightlife , for a romantic stay , with friends, with family, for wellness or the culinary riches of this region rich in flavours, Batumi is a real sensory journey, a unique and unforgettable destination in the world.

Adjara Region is an extraordinary destination for a stay off the beaten track and it offers the best of Europe with affordable prices and well-preserved authenticity. Due to its all-year-round subtropical and mild climate , Batumi is distinguished by its remarkably green natural environment. Batumi has a 19th-century Botanical Garden rich in rare species and the city is surrounded by three National Parks recently recognized by UNESCO as World’s Natural Heritage sites.

The architecture of the city was shaped and designed by European architects in the 19th century when Batumi became a port city called “Porto Franco” (freeport). Batumi is home to diverse cultures and religions , where Christian Orthodox, Catholic, or Armenian churches, mosques, and synagogues have lived in harmony throughout the centuries, a way of life we would do well to emulate today.

Batumi has a splendid mix of beautiful scenery of sea and high mountains , ancient cultural monuments, monasteries, mediaeval arch bridges, beautiful lakes, and authentic villages to travel back in time.

Nowadays, Batumi with its cutting-edge architecture, European-style squares and streets, world-class brand hotels and old city cafes has turned into a cultural hub which often hosts major regional events, international artists, art exhibitions and world sports championships. In addition to a legendary hospitality, Batumi’s offers excellent wines and mostly undiscovered cuisine.

Indeed, for a sensory journey , Batumi is the destination to put at the top of your travel wish list in 2024 .

  Best for:  Foodies, Wine lovers,  History Buffs, Architecture, Beaches, Nature, Outdoor Sport, Hiking, Biking, Water sport, Shopping.

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to Batumi.

  Where to stay:  " Sheraton Batumi ". This 5-star hotel is located in Batumi City Center. It has a spa area with indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Riga European Best Destinations 2023

6. Riga, Latvia

In 2024 visit the most cosmopolitan of the Baltic capitals, Riga , the capital of Latvia, is a modern city with a historical heart that offers a spectacular variety of natural, culinary and cultural charms.

Exploring the best places in Riga will give you a definitive answer to the question of why Riga is worth visiting. Riga Old town has UNESCO World Heritage status. The historical center holds many winding paths and well-hidden streets to rediscover the Old Town Riga upon every visit. It is surrounded by Romanticism, Gothic and Baroque testimonials that refresh the views of the modern city. 

Pedantic luxury of the rich building facades can be admired for a long time at Art Nouveau district because about a third of the houses in the city center are genuine pearls of this style.  Architecture, theaters, art galleries , outdoor events are only a small part of the whole cultural pie that can be tasted in Riga. The luxurious Opera House, various music halls, independent cinemas, and contemporary art scene are among the brightest cultural offerings.  

At the end of 2023 Latvia and Riga joined exclusive Michelin guide family, earing it's first star. In Riga you can find cozy cafes or fancy restaurants on every corner in the city center. Food menus there consist of combinations of local and world cuisine flavors, emphasizing seasonal and locally available products. Whether it is a restaurant with white tablecloths or a place to grab a coffee and some vegan bread, it is evident that Riga likes to eat and enjoy food. And let's not forget about the drinks! Riga is home to the best coffee roasters in the Baltics , thus finding a decent cup of Joe in the city is not a problem. The same applies for a glass of beer, as there are a quite a few of home-grown breweries that take their IPA’ s and lagers very seriously.

Despite the remarkable age of 822, Riga is far from feeling old. The city's youthful spirit is best enjoyed at one of the street food festivals or other creative and urban events held throughout the year. But if you want to get more adventurous and closer to the nature, you just have to spend only thirty minutes from the city center to the beach , districts surrounded by forests and fresh sea air, walking along the pier - unique proximity to nature with breathtaking landscapes that you can enjoy here in Riga. Almost everything nature has to offer is just a short drive away.

  Best for:  Foodies, Art Nouveau Lovers, Art Scene, Nature & Culture City Break, Romantic Getaway, Outdoor sport. 

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights to  Riga. 

  Where to stay:   " Hilton Garden Inn ". This hotel has an excellent score location.

Madeira european-best-destinations-2024

7. Madeira, Portugal

You don’t have to travel a long way to find the ideal holiday destination. There are endless reasons for visiting Madeira , one of your Best Destinations to Visit in 2024 .

In addition to its stunning scenery and luxuriant mountains, this archipelago offers a mild climate all year round, a warm welcome, peace, safety and security . 

To really get to know Madeira, climb to the top of a mountain and enjoy fantastic, breathtaking views or follow the trails and paths in the Laurissilva Forest along more than 1,400 km of Levadas (irrigation channels or aqueducts) in a unique encounter with the island’s soul.

Feel the energy flowing from the cosmopolitan ambiance of Funchal’s streets and purchase some of the famous Madeira embroidery, wine or wickerwork.

Take a tour around the island, stopping off on the way to admire the landscape or to enjoy a traditional gastronomic delicacy. For more energetic visitors there is scuba-diving, surfing, windsurfing or jet-skiing, whereas romantics may prefer a wonderful sailboat trip along the coast to enjoy the sunset.

But to make this your dream holiday, you really must spend some time on the paradisiacal island of Porto Santo 40 km from Madeira, only 15 minutes by plane or 2h30 on ferry. Known as the “golden island”, Porto Santo is blessed with a 9 km long fine, unpolluted sandy beach washed by a clear, calm sea - all you need for a perfect stay.

Discover these enchanted islands… happiness is so near!

Book your flights to Funchal Airport, your transfer , your accommodation as well as your activities and tours in Madeira , such as a " Madeira: Food and Wine Walking Tour ".

  Best for:  Nature Lovers, Foodies, Surf, Instragrammers, Outdoor Sport,  Safety.

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights  to  Funchal Airport and  your transfer .

  Where to stay:    the luxurious " Belmond Reid's Palace " with 3 swimming pools and direct access to oceanic waters.

European Best Destinations 2024  - Florence

8. Florence, Italy

Like Rome , Venice or Paris , Florence is an open-air museum; it is in Florence that you will encounter Michelangelo’s sublime David at the Uffizi Gallery and even Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus" .

In one of your European Best Destinations 2024 you can also admire the facades of the awe-inspiring basilicas and cathedrals that form its unmistakable skyline, and see the lavish palaces that tell the story of the different periods of the city's history: from the birthplace of the Renaissance to the capital of Italy , all the way through to the first half of the twentieth century when Florence became a hub for the avant-garde.

When you visit Florence's museums and see the works housed in them, you are not just delving into the history of a city and its treasures. Rather, you are recognizing the cultural imaginary that has contributed to the creation of Western civilization as we know it, laying the foundations for the aesthetic, educational, scientific, culinary, political and artistic principles that surround us today.

Florence is also a romantic, gourmet, astonishing city , which can be discovered on foot, with no other plans than to wander around and be able to marvel. Florence is much more than a historic centre, it is also excursions into the surrounding nature and the Tuscan villages where great vineyards such as Rufina, Pontassieve and Pelago await you.

This year discover Florence, one of the European Best Destinations 2024, the art and history capital of the world.

Book your flights to Florence, your transfer , your accommodation in Florence as well as your activities and tours , such as a " Florence: Uffizi Gallery, David & Accademia Small Group Tour ".

  Where to stay:  the “ Portrait Firenze ” is 30m from the famous Ponte Vecchio Bridge.”

European Best Destinations 2024 - London

9. London, United Kingdom

With the Paris Olympic Games due to be held in 2024, you will head for the capital of love only if what you like are crowds and sport, otherwise London is a far better choice.

London offers a multitude of different atmospheres and neighbourhoods like Carnaby for shopping , Notting Hill for a romantic stroll, Portobello for the flea market, Camden for the punk and libertarian spirit, the West End Theatre District and its legendary musicals or even the gay and sparkling district of Soho, Chinatown, emblematic places like Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, the Shard, Kew Gardens and great parks such as Greenwich Park and Hyde Park:  all of them excellent reasons to visit London in 2024 .

During your stay, don't miss out on the Best Hidden Gems in England as well as the Best Castles in England and Best Beaches in England for a total English experience and a thoroughly unforgettable stay.

Book your flights to London, your transfer , your accommodation in London as well as your tours & activities in London as a " London: The London Eye Entry Ticket ".  

This year, more than ever, the crown for best offbeat city break goes to London , the capital of abundance.

  Best for:  City Break, Shopping, LGBTQ+, Musicals, Culture, Families, Lovers, Foodies. 

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights  to London and your transfer . 

  Where to stay:    " Shangri-La The Shard, London " offers 5-star luxury and breathtaking views of the capital and beyond.

Reykjavik european-best-destinations-2024

10. Reykjavik, Iceland

Capital of Iceland, land of the Vikings, Reykjavik  is one of your Best Destinations to visit in Europe in 2024 . Itis renowned for the exceptional environment which surrounds it such as its volcanoes, hills, blue lagoon or even for its sublime church "Hallgrimskirkja" from which each year one is taken of the most beautiful fireworks in Europe.

With some 130,000 inhabitants, Reykjavik is the most human-sized European capital, which does not prevent it from having an incredible cultural life, a vibrant nightlife, a large associative and sporting fabric and an exceptional music scene. A city to restart, recharge, refuel, Reykjavik offers experiences only to be lived in Reykjavik.

If you like good food, Reykjavik has an incredible range of local and international cuisine. During a food walk you can discover the country's specialties (notably seafood and lamb or fermented shark). 

Come in August to celebrate Gay Pride, Reykjavik is proud to raise the LGTBQ+ colours every year since 1999, showing the whole world that even the most virile vikings know how to have fun and are open-minded.

For vegetarians and vegans, have no fear, Reykjavik offers more than 40 vegan and vegetarian restaurants, some of which are even cat bars.

For a marginal city break combining nature, gastronomy, wellness, Reykjavik the perfect destination for open-minded travellers who love wide open spaces and non-standardized destinations.

Book your flights to Reykjavik as well as your accommodation and your activities & tours in Reykjavik and visit one of the Best Destinations in Europe 2024 . .

  Best for:  Nature Lovers, LGBTQ+, Instragrammers, Outdoor Sport,  Foodies, Nightlife.

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights  to Reykjavik  and  your transfer .

  Where to stay:    " Tower Suites Reykjavik ". Stylish Suites Located in Central Reykjavik.

Cap Ferret  European Best Destinations 2024

11. Lège-Cap-Ferret, Nouvelle Aquitaine, France

Lège-Cap-Ferret is like a Proust madeleine reminiscent of real holidays. Simplicity, sharing, an open-air market, an impromptu concert, new friends met during a bike ride, an aperitif on the beach , this is the South-West and its legendary conviviality .

Leave your tourist rental or hotel and take a walk or bike ride. Join the nearby café, visit the lighthouse and admire the Pilat dune, the largest dune in Europe. Taste oysters in the neighbouring oyster village or take a short sea trip with an oyster farmer.

Here everything has the great taste of summer holidays , from the freshness of fish to mouth-watering ice cream or the white wine accompanying your seafood. Here there are no shopping centres, just a small boulevard lined with fashion boutiques with their pretty dresses and linen shirts to bring home as souvenirs of an unforgettable holiday in the South-West of France.

The Arcachon Bay is a jewel of European tourism once prized by the nobility for the quality of its pure air (sea air and pine air combined). The Arcachon basin offers an incredible architectural heritage and beautiful villas in different architectural styles. The most recent constructions truly embrace nature and give this magical place the appearance of a Robinson Crusoe island , with added comfort and conviviality.

Cap-Ferret, a destination which the French would prefer to keep to themselves, is not yet well known to the international traveller; you can only be seduced by this lifestyle combining simplicity, good food and conviviality.

For holidays with family, couples or friends, where true luxury is time, nature and horizons, book your flights to Bordeaux (1h by car), your accommodation in Cap Ferret or Arcachon , as well as your activities and tours , such as a " Cap-Ferret with Oysters Tasting ".

  Best for:  Robinson Crusoe Holidays, Beach Lovers, Families, Food Lovers, Sunny Holidays, Digital Detox.

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to Bordeaux (1h by car).

  Where to stay:  " La Cabane du Ferret ". Featuring a sun terrace and a swimming pool.

Siena European Best Destinations 2024

12. Siena, Italy

This year get off the beaten track and travel through time. Stay in the heart of Tuscany, probably one of the most beautiful regions of Italy . In addition to Siena, it is an area rich in medieval villages, breathtaking landscapes, historic buildings with much to offer: walks in nature, wine tasting, enjoying olive oils and delicious local products.

Surrounded by nature, Siena is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Italy :  its historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. One could come to Siena for the beauty of the "Piazza del Campo" alone when it hosts a spectacular horse race in July and August.

Climb to the top of the "Torre del Mangia" one of the symbols of Siena and admire the Piazza and the whole city from above. If you are an art enthusiast, be sure to visit the Palazzo Pubblico. It houses masterpieces of Siena's art golden age. Not far from Siena, you can discover Buonconvento, the most beautiful village in Italy , Monticiano and its natural reserves or Rapolano Terme with the best spas in Italy.

Much more than a trip, it is an experience. Stroll through Siena, a city that will please everyone, a romantic destination made for lovers of art, theatre, nature, foodies and families. Siena is a perfect choice for a holiday combining city break and nature getaway, far from the tourist crowds of Florence, Rome or Milan.

Book your flights to Florence (1h by car), your accommodation in Tuscany as well as your activities and tours in Tuscany , such as a " From Florence: Tuscany Day Trip with Lunch at Chianti Winery ".

  Best for:  History Buffs, Romantic Getaway, Short Breaks, Foodies, Instagrammers, Families, Art Lovers, Nature. 

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to  Florence (1h by car). and  your transfer .

  Where to stay:     " Il Giardino di Pantaneto Residenza d'Epoca ". This property has a garden and city views. 

Ponza Italy European Best Destinations 2024

13. Ponza Island - Italy

This small Italian island of a few thousand inhabitants will be your favourite destination this year 2024 .

This Eden, with an area of only 7km2, is located off the coasts of Rome and Naples and was until recently a well- kept secret by the richest Italian families.

Ponza, for the oldest among us, will remind us of Saint Tropez in the 60s and 70s with its festive atmosphere, simplicity, colour, meetings, cocktails, designer boutiques, coves and beaches.

The best way to enjoy the island is to rent a boat or take a water taxi and discover the most beautiful coves and beaches of Ponza but also its caves and natural pools such as the natural pool of Cala Feola to the West of Ponza. Do you like the views? You will enjoy superb panoramas from the top of the cliffs of Ponza such as the Maria Rosa Cliffs.

Come and taste the fish of the day at “Da Enzo al Frontone” also nicknamed “Solo a Vela” because this restaurant is only accessible by boat from the port. Finally, don't forget that you are in Italy, it would be sacrilege not to end your meal with an Italian ice cream . The Bar Gelateria Panoramica is located in the port of Ponza and it is one of the best ice cream parlours on the island:  its strawberry sorbet is a delight!

Ponza is magical at any time of the year but if you can take your holiday in September (until mid-October) it is certainly the best time of the year to discover Ponza.

Book your flights to Rome, your accommodation in Ponza as well as your activities & tours , such as a " From Rome: Ponza Island Day Trip with Boat Excursion ".

  Best for:  Secluded Island Holidays, Beach Lovers, Instagrammers, Ice Cream Lovers, Families, Sun Seekers.

  Nearest airport:   B ook your flights to  Rome, take the ferry at Anzio Porto direction Ponza (1h30 car + ferry from Rome, 2h50 if you land in Naples Airport).

  Where to stay:  " Hotel Chiaia Di Luna " set on the cliffs of Ponza.

European Best Destinations 2024 - Porto-Vecchio

14. Porto-Vecchio, Corsica, France

This year, more than ever, you want destinations of rare beauty but also exclusive destinations far from the crowds . Porto-Vecchio is the perfect choice for this. Imagine a destination with a 16th century Genoese citadel, a great marina, a few yachts and fishing boats, shops, bars, restaurants…  You will find some of the most beautiful beaches in France like Santa Giulia and its crystal-clear waters and fine white sand, or even Palombaggia and its umbrella pines to rest in the shade under their sweet scent. 

In Porto-Vecchio you have the charm of an old Croatian or Montenegrin town with the beauty of a Tahitian lagoon a few kilometres away. You will discover the Corsican identity, which is neither France, nor Italy, nor a mixture of the two, but a uniquely Corsican feel to be appreciated with humility and respect just as the Corsicans do.

Porto-Vecchio is the promise of an unforgettable gastronomic, cultural and visual experience . Are you stiff from too much lazing at the beach? Meet the winegrowers, the women and men who cultivate the land to give you wines of character. Too much sun? Immerse yourself in the heart of the maquis and be transported by the smell of Mediterranean plants, unless it is the beautiful heritage of Porto-Vecchio that thrills you, its Genoese citadels, Romanesque chapels or prehistoric villages. 

Whether you are looking for a relaxing, sporting, gastronomic, oenological, cultural holiday, with family, friends or as a couple, Porto-Vecchio is the guarantee of an unforgettable vacation. It is for this reason that Porto-Vecchio is truly one of the best European destinations 2024 .

Book your flights to Figari Airport (30 min by car), your transfer, your accommodation in Porto-Vecchio as well as your activities and tours in Porto-Vecchio , such as a " Porto Vecchio: South Corsica Cruise and Snorkelling Day Trip ".

  Best for:  Nature Lovers, Outdoor Sport, Sustainable Tourism, Beach Lovers, Water Sport,  Gastronomy, Hiking, Families, History Buffs. 

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to  Figari Airport (30 min by car). 

  Where to stay:   " Domaine Santa Giulia Palace ". The modern apartments are part of a domain situated in a 10-hectare park. They are between 400 and 800 metres from Santa Giulia Beach.

Champagne Wine Region European Best Destinations 2024

15. Champagne Wine Region, France

For many years, the Champagne Wine Region has become a popular destination for travellers looking for unique experiences combining gastronomy, wellness, outdoor activities, heritage , and… champagne! The landscapes of the Champagne vineyards are magnificent at any time of the year with their colour variations ranging from light green to fiery red in autumn. Here, nature rolls as far as the eye can see and unveils for you the secret of the wine of kings: Champagne !

From Epernay to Dormans, villages located along the meanders of the Marne, you will visit a unique land in the world where more than 200 million bottles of champagne rest, nestled in more than 100 km of galleries dug in the chalk. 

During your stay, don't forget to board the tethered balloon to enjoy a glass of champagne and a 360-degree view of the Champagne vineyards. Other villages in Champagne are also worth discovering, such as Hautvillers, the cradle of Champagne and known worldwide for the famous "Dom Pérignon" champagne. Also, don't miss Reims, the capital of Champagne wines, its famous Champagne houses such as "Demoiselle", "Taittinger"and "Veuve-Cliquot" and also its spectacular cathedral. 

This year, just 1.5 hours from Paris, take off for new emotions by discovering the Marne Valley and the Champagne wine region one of the Best Destinations in Europe for lovers .

Book your flights to Paris (1h30 from Reims) your accommodation in Champagne , as well as your activities and tours , such as a " Champagne and Family-Run Wineries Tour ".

  Best for:  Foodies, Wellness, Heritage, Champagne Lovers, Romantic Getaway.

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights   to Paris (1h30 by car or train). and  your transfer .

  Where to stay:   “ Domaine les Crayères ”: this 5-star hotel has a garden, a terrace and a restaurant.

European Best Destinations 2024 - Faroe Islands

16. Faroe Islands

An autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroes are an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean to put at the top of your travel wish-list in 2024 .

Formerly the private turf of a few travellers passionate about ornithology or hiking, the Faroes today attract travellers looking for authenticity, preserved nature , spectacular landscapes, sometimes dramatic, steep cliffs populated by thousands of sea birds or from which spring fountains flow into the sea.

Today very well connected by road tunnel, ferry, bridge and roads, you will not miss anything of the Faroes during your stay in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Still having trouble figuring out where this archipelago is located? Let's say between the tip of Scotland and Iceland to keep it simple. This gives you an idea of the climate. If you like extreme conditions, come in winter, otherwise come in spring or summer. The Faroes can be summed up in a slogan "Discover the islands, discover yourself".

Discovering the Faroes is discovering a destination which has experienced isolation for centuries and has therefore preserved its traditions, authenticity and natural habitat. Eighteen mountainous islands are waiting for you, are you ready?

Book your flights to Vagar Airport (1h20 by car), your accommodation in the Faroes and your tours and activities in Faroe Islands  such as a " Guided boat tour ".

  Best for:  Nature Lovers, Hiking, Birdwatching, Foodies, Instragrammers.

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights to  Vagar Airport.

  Where to stay:   " The View " is a sustainable holiday home in Bour.

European Best Destinations 2024 - Sirmione

17. Sirmione, Lombardy, Italy

  Best for:  Romantic Getaway, Family Holidays, Active Holidays, Nature Lovers. 

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights to  Milan Bergamo Airport (2h by car).

  Where to stay:   " Olivi Hotel & Natural Spa ". Surrounded by olive groves on the Sirmione Peninsula.

Piran European Best Destinations 2024

18. Piran, Slovenia

Piran is probably the most beautiful little town in Europe and in any case the most photogenic destination in Europe. Piran is located in Istria, a region renowned for its vineyards, its gastronomy close to Italian gastronomy (oh these truffles!) and also for the beauty of its crystal-clear waters and nature.

Piran is, along with Portoroz and Koper, one of the few seaside resorts in Slovenia and probably the most beautiful one. City of love , Piran will seduce you with its narrow town streets, the beauty of its facades and the picture sights of the Slovenian Mediterranean.

Discover the Venetian architecture, the ancient city walls, the Monastery of St Francis and participate in the harvest of the famous Piran fleur de sel. This medieval city has it all:  dive into the underwater world with your family or discover that the stars are also visible in broad daylight at the wonderful Pira aquarium.

Take an E-Bike to discover the Slovenian Coast on a tour that combines local cuisine and beautiful beaches or try homemade premium extra virgin olive oil in the small village of Marezige. You can even take a "Mediterranean Fish Cooking Workshop with Irena Fonda" (not Jane Fonda's sister) in her magnificent garden. She will turn you in no time into an expert in preparing fish and other seafood.

Piran is the perfect destination for unforgettable gastronomic, oenological, cultural and sensory experiences .

During your stay, don't forget the other towns in Istria such as Motovun and Rovinj in Croatia or, of course, the amazing Slovenian capital Ljubljana (1h by car); you can also treat yourself to a day trip to Venice facing the beautiful town of Piran.

Book your flights to Ljubljana (1h), Rijeka (2h) or Venice (2h) as well as your accommodation in Piran and your activities and tours , such as a " Piran: E-Bike rental ".

  Best for:  Foodies, Instagrammers, Nature Lovers, Wine Lovers, Water Sport, Biking, Hiking, Families. 

  Nearest airports:   Book your flights  to  Ljubljana (1h), Rijeka (2h) or Venice (2h)

  Where to stay:   " Hotel Piran ". That property has a restaurant and a terrace.

Newquay - European Best Destinations 2024

19. Newquay, Cornwall

In 2024, discover Newquay, one of the best destinations to visit in Europe and one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in the UK. Also awarded the title of Best family Holiday Destination in England , Newquay is often compared to Biarritz in the South-West of France , or to a city in Australia, with its feet in the ocean.

This city is a real invitation to surfing , relaxation and conviviality around a shared meal or an impromptu concert.

Newquay is also a perfect destination for a romantic getaway in Cornwall. With its many spa hotels and à la carte restaurants , Newquay is an ideal destination for a stay with your loved one.

You can also treat yourself to a getaway to the countryside in a cosy lodge with hot tub and log burner.  An introduction to surfing is one of the many activities to be experienced: Newquay is the surfing capital of England . There are many surf schools if you want to learn or simply rent equipment. Newquay also offers other activities like golf, bike riding, go-karts and many more. If you are travelling with family, don't miss a visit to the "Trenance Valley": there is a free play park with slides, the Newquay Zoo, a miniature railway, a swimming pool and the star of the moment, a trampoline park.

For families, long-term friends looking for a place to get together or for lovers, there is everything you dream of for a holiday that suits you in Newquay.

Book your flights to Plymouth (1h by car), your accommodation in Newquay as well as your tours and activities in Cornwall such as a " Newquay: Introduction to Surfing Lesson ".

  Best for:   Surfing, Friends, Romantic Getaway, Outdour Sport, Families. 

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights to Plymouth.

  Where to stay:   " Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa ". This adults- only hotel and spa boasts a bar and a restaurant.

Thassos Greece European Best Destinations 2024

20. Thassos, North Aegean Sea, Greece

We all want to go to Greece but where exactly? Athens or Santorini ? These two destinations are often classified as overtourism destinations where you are more likely to come across another tourist than a local.

Imagine an island with deserted beaches, a little corner of lost paradise that the Greeks prefer to keep for themselves and where you can enjoy delicious mezze for a few euros in typical cafés. Add to that a natural lagoon, Marble Beach which contrasts with the turquoise blue of the water, and a warm welcome from the locals.

There are only very, very good reasons to visit Thassos, one of your best European destinations in 2024 .

Have a few lazy days at the beach, then climb the mountains to meet the inhabitants of Panagia or Kazavati. They will welcome you with open arms.

Thassos is an adventure, don't hesitate to rent a 4x4 to wander through its wild and untouched nature and do not miss anything of this earthly paradise.

Take your flights to Athens, then a domestic flight to Kavala and the ferry to the island. Alternate lazy days with days of discovery in the mountains, restaurants, trendy bars, visits to authentic villages, meeting people and sharing unforgettable moments.

  Best for:  Nature lovers, Hikers, Foodies, Families, Beach Lovers, Instagrammers, Sun Seekers.

  Nearest airport:   Book your flights   to  Athens + a domestic flight to Kavala and take the Ferry to Keramoti (30 min).

  Where to stay:   " Hotel Sirines ".  Featuring a swimming pool with hot tub and pool snack bar, it is situated just 250 metres from the beach. 

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Paul announces Europe dates for the 2024 'Got Back' tour

trips to europe in december

⁠PAUL ANNOUNCES  GOT BACK TOUR 2024 Paul and the band will visit Paris, Madrid, Manchester and London this December TICKET INFORMATION HERE!

Wednesday 4th December - La Defense Arena, Paris, FRANCE ⁠Thursday 5th December - La Defense Arena, Paris, FRANCE ⁠Monday 9th December - Wizink Centre, Madrid, SPAIN ⁠Tuesday 10th December - Wizink Centre, Madrid, SPAIN ⁠Saturday 14th December - Co-op Live, Manchester, UK ⁠Sunday 15th December - Co-op Live, Manchester, UK ⁠Wednesday 18th December - The O2 Arena, London, UK ⁠Thursday 19th December - The O2 Arena, London, UK

SIGN UP TO THE PAULMcCARTNEY.COM MAILING LIST FOR AN EXCLUSIVE PRE-SALE PASSWORD

Paul will bring his acclaimed Got Back tour to Europe this December!

Fulfilling his promise to 'get back', Paul will return to France, Spain and the UK with his Got Back  tour. Earlier this month, Paul announced his first live shows of 2024 with the next leg of the tour launching in South America this October.  

With songs like ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Live and Let Die’, ‘Band on the Run’,  ‘Let It Be’ and so many more, the Paul McCartney live experience is everything any music lover could ever want from a rock show: hours of the greatest moments from the last 60 years of music – dozens of songs from Paul’s solo, Wings and of course Beatles catalogues that have formed the soundtracks of our lives.

This will mark Paul’s first European show since his iconic Glastonbury headlining performance in 2022. Hailed as “one of the greatest gigs of all time” by The Times and “a masterclass from the greatest living cultural figure in this country’s history” by The i, it was also Paul and his band’s 500th show together! These dates will see McCartney return for his first live performance in Paris in six years - in 2018 he played at La Defense Arena, where he is making his return. The wait has been longer for Spaniards, where he last played eight years ago, in 2016 at Estadio Vincente Calderon.

Paul launched his Got Back tour in 2022, completing 16 huge shows across the US before performing his history-making set at Glastonbury in June 2022. In 2023 Paul performed 18 incredible shows as the Got Back tour rocked through Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

PRE-SALE AND GENERAL SALE TIMINGS ARE STAGGERED BY COUNTRY

Wednesday 4th December - La Défense Arena, Paris, FRANCE ⁠Thursday 5th December - La Défense Arena, Paris, FRANCE ⁠PaulMcCartney.com pre-sale: Tuesday 18 June 10am CET ⁠General sale: Friday 21 June 10am CET ⁠ ⁠Monday 9th December - WiZink Center, Madrid, SPAIN ⁠Tuesday 10th December - WiZink Center, Madrid, SPAIN ⁠⁠PaulMcCartney.com pre-sale: Tuesday 18 June 10am CET ⁠General sale: Friday 21 June 10am CET ⁠ ⁠Saturday 14th December - Co-op Live, Manchester, UK ⁠Sunday 15th December - Co-op Live, Manchester, UK ⁠⁠PaulMcCartney.com pre-sale: Wednesday 19 June 10am BST ⁠General sale: Friday 21 June 10am BST ⁠ ⁠Wednesday 18th December - The O2 Arena, London, UK ⁠Thursday 19th December - The O2 Arena, London, UK ⁠⁠PaulMcCartney.com pre-sale: Wednesday 19 June 10am BST ⁠General sale: Friday 21 June 10am BST ⁠ ⁠ ⁠Visit the Got Back 2024 tour page for more information and ticket links , and keep an eye out for more news coming soon...

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4 spectacular (and cheap) European destinations

Puedes leer esta historia presionando aquí.

Europe is one of the regions most visited by tourists and it's no surprise. Its beauty, its history, its diversity and its attractions have everything that many travelers seek. However, many people think that traveling to that continent entails high expenses since its most visited cities are usually costly destinations, such as Amsterdam, London and Paris.

Through my years of traveling, I have discovered beautiful destinations in Europe that you can visit with more modest budgets. Here are four European countries where you will have a spectacular time without spending a fortune:

This country has been one of the great surprises in my life. From crystalline beaches to mountains with beautiful views like Switzerland, Albania offers tourists a little bit of everything.

Prices for transportation, lodging, and food are very affordable. For example, in Tirana, you can get very good hotels for less than $59 per night . Do not forget to visit its famous region of Theth or the towns of Berat, Kruje, Shkodër and Ksamil.

Two vacations in one: How to add a second destination to your trip (for little or no cost)

One of the most beautiful countries in Europe. It has a gastronomy of the first order. Taking a tour of its Adriatic coast will take you to see several of the most beautiful coastal towns in Europe.

I recommend you visit Dubrovnik, Split, Pula, Trogir, Rovinj, Hvar and Zadar, among others. You cannot leave out the beautiful Plitvice Lakes. Croatia recently entered the euro area. If you want to save on arrival flights to this destination, you can consider the airports of Zagreb, Split, or Dubrovnik.

Czech Republic

The romantic country in the center of Europe. Its capital, Prague, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. However, many tourists only visit the capital and forget other towns and cities such as Karlovy Vary, Český Krumlov, Kutna Hora, or Brno. Moving between them is very cheap. For example, the bus between Prague and Český Krumlov starts from $6.99 .

African trips: Want to do a safari trip in Africa, but don't know where to start? Here are my tips to get organized.

What I consider one of the best destinations in the world to travel. Portugal has it all: gastronomy, history, architecture, activities, beaches, nature, vineyards, etc. In short, a long list of many offers and activities that you can do in one place. Flights from New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and Seattle to cities like Lisbon or Porto can often be had for less than $499-$599 round trip. Be sure to visit, apart from its two main cities, Cascais, Sintra, Nazaré, Aveiro, Coimbra and Evora. Portuguese gastronomy has some delicacies that you must try, such as Pastéis de nata, octopus, bacalhau (salted cod), or duck rice.

Europe has many destinations that are sometimes off our itineraries because they are simply not the most frequented and we have not seen much about them. If you want to venture on a trip to Europe, without spending a lot of money and without sacrificing a unique experience on your trip, here are four options that you will fall in love with.

Wilson "Wil" Santiago Burgos is the founder of  Mochileando.com , one of the largest travel platforms in Puerto Rico and the Latin American market in the U.S.

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