Gael Attal once said, “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for”. A human soul is happiest when it’s wandering. The more you explore, the more you learn. And when it comes to exploring, the finest place to start your journey is EUROPE. There are some great European cities to explore especially during the winter. Regardless of whether you have an entire week or for just weekends, there are enormous places to explore. Here are some of the best cities and places to visit when traveling to Europe:
1. Abisko, Sweden
If adventure is your motivation for traveling and the cold is hardly but a challenge, Abisko will be a life-changing experience for you. Lying on the Arctic Circle, Abisko of Sweden often doesn’t face sunlight for weeks during winters.
At Abisko, travelers can ice skate, ski, and hike and go dog sledding. In case you’re not much of a fan of adrenaline, you can opt for site gazing and explore the national parks. Also, Abisko is the best place to see Northern Lights as it is.
The first ice hotel (named ICE HOTEL) should also be a part of your places to visit when in the city.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
It is not ironic that the home of Hans Christian Andersen ended up on this list, as Copenhagen is one of the most fairytale-like cities in Europe, especially in the winter. After the release of “The little mermaid”, a movie based on Anderson’s book, Copenhagen maintains a statue in her honor. The statue in Copenhagen continues to be the most popular tourist attraction in Denmark.
The Danish concept of “hygge” (or “coziness”) is at its peak in winter. It is an opportunity for the locals to spend their afternoons and evenings relaxing, drinking hot chocolate, all while taking in the fantastic scenery. The idea of coziness not just being accepted, but promoted, is enough to make Copenhagen one of the best European cities to visit during the winter.
Top sights in Copenhagen include Christiansburg, and Rosenberg Castle, which are all even more charming covered in snow. One can also rejoice at Tivoli Amusement Park, second oldest amusement park in the world. Don’t miss out on Copenhagen’s winter culture month, Wonder cool, which occurs in February and includes concerts in unusual venues, art shows, and culinary events.
3. Innsbruck, Austria
The proud two-time host of the Winter Olympics also known as the ski and snowboard capital of the world is covered in internationally recognized alpine resorts. The panoramic snowscape of Innsbruck will not disappoint. In addition to tearing up the slopes, visitors can tour the famous Olympic ski jump and other nearby athletic facilities.
The historical significance of Innsbruck is reflective of its past, earning this city recognition as a seat of power for centuries. If you’re a history buff, you will love visiting the royal Hapsburg home and soaking up the city’s beautiful architecture. As though there weren’t enough reason to visit the exotic snowboard capital, Innsbruck is the home of Swarovski Crystals, and no visit to this city is complete without a tour of their bizarre but beautiful headquarters.
4. Venice, Italy
The city of love, Venice, is considered as one of the most romantic places in Europe as well as in the world. This unique city is built on an archipelago of 118 islands that are connected by about 400 bridges.
Understandably renowned as one of the top European tourist attractions in winter is the Carnival of Venice. Breathtaking, exhilarated, and definitely a little bizarre, the famous February through March celebration is a must visit experience. A fair warning ahead, the costumed events could lighten your pockets, but those looking to economically optimize their time can get the full benefits of the festival by enjoying the many free events around the city – just with a mask purchased at a street market or local shop. Talk about a memorable souvenir!
Carnival aside, traveling to Venice in winter allows visitors to experience the city at a slower pace and really soak up the culture. The unique architecture inclusive of canals and old-fashioned atmosphere become magical in winter, and the lack of crowds is always encouraging. A stop in Venice during its colder months is a definite European highlight, as it’s one of the best European cities to visit during the winter.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Remember Ranbir Kapoor crossing all the line in ROCKSTAR to go to Prague to meet Nagris Fakhri? Well it wasn’t just to meet the love of his life!! The surreal blend of snow-capped spires, cobblestone alleys, and the cozy hue from its old-fashioned street lamps make Prague the perfect winter fairytale haven.
The city’s natural beauty really comes to life under a blanket of snow, as the peak of winter drifts close. Astonishingly this period experiences a decline in tourism, which conveniently serves those who time their trip for the cold months. While being mesmerized by the captivating scenes around you, one can further their experience by visiting the Prague Castle at your own pace or hit up a local cafe to escape the cold, especially Choco Cafe, which has more than a dozen types of hot chocolate. If you want to party, make sure you check out our Where to Party in Prague guide.
If the duration of your visit to Czech Republic allows sufficient time, be sure to take a day trip to a tiny medieval town, Cesky Krumlov, also referred to as the “Pearl of Bohemia”. Known to be easily accessible this destination will especially provide additional thrill for fans of the movie Hostel, which was filmed here. Nothing like adding a little spook to your winter!
6. Bled, Slovenia
Bled’s unbelievable natural beauty combined with its serene surroundings make it one of the most superb alpine areas in Europe. Renowned for its superb healing climate, thermal lake water, and “tucked away” ambiance, this small city is very close to perfection for anyone looking forward to a relaxing winter escape. However, don’t make the mistake of shying away from Bled if you’re looking for a bit more adventure – its terrain is ideal for exciting outdoor engagements such as hiking, skiing, or ice skating. In between relaxing and skiing, don’t forget to check out Bled Castle, a medieval fortress believed to be the oldest castle in Slovenia.
Whether you’re interested in shredding through the slopes or roaming the quaint cobblestone streets, Europe has plenty to offer in the winter. Don’t get bogged down by the cold weather or cabin fever – just pop some cold-weather travel gear on and try something you otherwise couldn’t do in your own city.
7. Budapest, Hungary
This capital city of Hungary is known as the Paris of East. The city has so many things to do that you will want to spend at least a few days exploring. Buda Castle & Castle Hill, Gellért Hill and the Museum of Fine Arts are some of the most famous tourist attractions.
Take a dip in one of the city’s famous baths, savor the local cuisine, check out some of the cool, funky shops featuring homegrown designs, stroll over the Chain Bridge, take a cruise for beautiful panoramic views of Buda and Pest or simply sit, relax and people-watch at one of the great downtown cafés.
8. Granada, Spain
If the only thing the cold makes you long for is warmth, Granada is a great solution. However, do not be misled into visiting Spain with expectations of a beach vacation. Even southern Spain is too cold for the beach in the winter, which is why a city like Granada becomes the ideal option because there is more to do than just stroll along the sand. Few regions can compete to offer versatility as Granada — you can always head to the coast, ski the Sierra Nevadas, or simply just roam about in the city.
In relation, Spain is much more merciful on your budget and less crowded in the winter months, so visitors can truly enjoy the city’s sights without waiting in line or suffering to break the bank.
9. Region of Transylvania, Romania
While tour groups’ line up every summer to visit Dracula’s fabled home, it may deplete your experience to know that this warm place is surrounded by tourists with selfie sticks. So, a more desirable time to make the trip to Transylvania would be when it’s cold and snowy to enhance the unbelievable experience! In addition to Dracula, the region of Transylvania is home to so many medieval towns littered with castles, cathedrals, and rich histories that there would be no justice in picking any one to simply feature.
After gallivanting to your heart’s satisfaction through winding villages and scenic overlooks, don’t forget to plan a visit up to one of the many ski resorts and national parks for some real winter activities.
10. Paris, France
There is no wrong time or season to visit Paris. The most romantic city in the world has a lot more to offer apart from Eiffel tower and boat ride to Seine. This ideal land of fashion lovers is the most populous city of France. There are several Iconic sights such as Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral (finest examples of French Gothic architecture) and National Picasso Museum. To add to the list, Paris can make your fairy-tale dreams come true with the world’s second largest theme park Disneyland and Palace of Versailles.
The most popular areas for staying are 1st, 4th and 7th district. The 7th district offers you the view of Eiffel tower. Unwind and relax in the climate of the city in one of the numerous coffeehouses or loosen up with a glass of wine sourced from the Bordeaux area and a rich cut of Camembert.
Now that you know about the places to visit, it is always better to be well prepared when traveling in winters. Pack decent amount of winter outfits and always limit your luggage so you have a hand free in case you need to use an umbrella. The days are shorter so plan your duration accordingly. Most importantly, depend only on experienced tour guides.