24 Best Places To Visit For Christmas In Europe (2023)


Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Nicole

Christmas is a magical time of the year and nowhere in the world does it better than Europe. Christmas trees are decorated and Christmas lights sparkle, making even the most dreary of buildings beautiful and bright. In Northern Europe, the cold often brings a white Christmas so you can enjoy a sleigh ride, go skiing, or ice skating on your December vacation. In Southern Europe, snow is merely a thought (for some a bad one). Instead, you will find a warm sun and other wonderful Christmas traditions during the holiday season. Regardless of where you go on your December winter holidays, you will be tempted by some of the best Christmas markets in the world. From so much to choose, where should you go? Here are the 24 of the best places to visit in Europe for the Christmas holidays.

Table of Contents

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Other Destinations

For other snow filled European destinations that may also offer amazing Christmas festivities, please see 17 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands To Visit In Europe.

In addition, many towns and cities in Europe start to decorate or open Christmas markets in November during low season. Accordingly, for a list of the best places to visit with the crowds during a time where you will save money, please see 24 Best Places To Visit In Europe In November.

If you are looking for other fantastic fall destinations in Europe, check out 24 Fabulous Fall Destinations In Europe.

For those looking for the best sunsets in Europe, please see 28 Best Places In Europe For Most Beautiful Sunsets.

Many cities and towns in the United States also have amazing Christmas celebrations. Here are 23 Best Places To Visit In The USA For Christmas and 15 Best Places To Watch Christmas Parades In The USA.

If you have some flexibility for when you can travel, then here are a list of other places in Europe for a fantastic getaway around December.

Finally, for those of you are in the midst of Christmas shopping and looking for some inspiration, please see 38 Best Christmas Stocking Stuffers For Adventure Seekers And Travelers and 60 Best Christmas Gifts For Men.

Best Places To Visit In Europe For Christmas Vacations

I have asked some of the best travel bloggers where they believe are the best December destinations in Europe for a Christmas getaway.

For each destination, all of the best local traditions are highlighted in the festive season as well as other things to do. How best to reach each place is set out as well as the expected weather so you can properly plan and pack. In addition, if any industry expert has stayed at an excellent hotel, those are recommended and discussed as well.

best places to visit in Europe for Christmas
Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

By Veronika from Travel Geekery

Any trip to Prague is going to be wonderful but visiting Prague in winter for Christmas in Europe? Magical!

Come the end of November, Prague dresses up in her Christmas decorations, and the cheerful vibe of the coming festive season fills the air. The best Christmas markets start popping up and there’s nothing more joyful than just strolling through them with a mug of mulled wine (hot mead is a good option too).

You can also enjoy the chimney pastry called Trdlo or Trdelník – while not originally from the Czech Republic, it’s still delicious.

You need to see the main Christmas market at the Old Town Square but don’t leave out the smaller ones in Prague’s neighborhoods. These are often filled with locals rather than tourists. The market at the Náměstí míru is a great place for that. 

Also, visiting Prague Castle and its own Christmas market is a must. The atmosphere of the fairytale-like Prague Castle complex is just the perfect place for this small Christmas market.

Those of you who like to stay active should head straight to an ice-skating rink. At the Ovocný trh square in the historical center of Prague, you can find a nice ice rink to practice your pirouettes.


You can expect cold weather in December in the Czech Republic. The temperatures can drop below 30°F but usually, they stay a bit above.

In addition, you may get a white Christmas. If there’s a snowfall, rush to a viewpoint to see Prague’s many roofs and spires covered in white. It’s a magical sight. The perfect place for that is just outside the main gate of the Prague Castle.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The best way to get to Prague is to fly into the Václav Havel International Airport. The city center is only 40 minutes away by car. You can also take a train – it takes 4 hours from either Berlin in Germany or Vienna in Austria.

Best Place To Stay

Veronika says, “The Mosaic House is a great mid-range accommodation option near the city center and with a variety of different room styles and prices.
best European cities to visit for Christmas holidays
London, England (Photo courtesy of Paulina from UK Everyday)

London, England

By Paulina from UK Everyday

If you are looking for one of the best European cities to celebrate Christmas, then visit London. The Christmas lights and Christmas decorations are incredible. Also, the Christmas markets in Covent Garden or at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland are amazing. In Hyde Park, you can go ice skating and ride rollercoasters, in addition to enjoying German-styled Christmas Markets.

The Christmas season in London starts in November when all the lights are switched on and Christmas trees are put up around the city. One of the most impressive Christmas trees is in Covent Garden with a height of almost 17m (55f). 

Admiring beautiful Christmas lights is one of the best things to do for Christmas in London. Famous streets such as Regent Street, Oxford Street, or New Bond Street, attract many visitors every year that want to take unforgettable Christmas pictures. The light display with 45 iconic angels at Regent Street is the biggest in the United Kingdom.

If you visit London between November and January, you will not only see amazing Christmas lights but also incredible light installations. No European city offers such an amazing winter holidays experience. Award-winning light festivals such as Lightopia will enchant you with luminous sculptures and interactive art.


It doesn’t snow that much in London during winter and if it does, snow melts quickly. The average temperature in winter is 48°F, which is not too cold compared to other European countries. You can expect rain, but with so many things to do in London, the weather will not be a problem.

Best Way To Reach Destination

There are a few airports in London and all of them have a good train connection to the city center. You can choose between London Luton Airport, London Stansted Airport, Heathrow Airport and others.

Best Place To Stay

Paulina says, “If you want to stay in a luxury hotel in London choose Shangri-La The Shard with the best views in the capital. For those who are traveling on a budget, you can find more than 1000 budget hotels in London.”
best ice rinks, Christmas trees and Christmas decorations in Europe
Cologne, Germany (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Cologne, Germany

By Kat from World Wide Honeymoon

One of the best places to visit in Europe for the Christmas holidays has to be Cologne. This German city transforms into a dreamy winter wonderland at this time of year, with some of the best Christmas markets everywhere you turn! 

The best thing you can do is to try to visit as many of the Cologne Christmas markets as possible. Some popular markets include the Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market with the majestic Cologne Cathedral towering over the 150+ stalls and Christmas tree.

Another is the Alter Market for its adorable gnome decor and ice rink. Finally, make sure you explore the Village of Saint Nicholas with light projections on the castle gate.

Aside from exploring Christmas markets, be sure to explore inside the Cologne Cathedral. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is massive and can be spotted throughout the city. Climbing the southern tower of the Cathedral is a great place to catch beautiful views of the city and markets. 

Cologne is a truly beautiful city to visit for the winter holidays and experience German Christmas traditions!


The average daily temperatures during the holiday season in Cologne range from lows of 34ºF to highs of 44ºF. Cologne also gets about 13 days of precipitation during the month of December, which includes both rain and snow. With luck, you may experience a white Christmas.

Best Way To Reach Destination

To get to Cologne, you can fly into the Cologne airport and then take the S-Bahn train S13 or S19 to Koln-Hauptbahnhof. This will take you into the city center in about 15 minutes. 

Best Place To Stay

Kat says, “For a great place to stay with amazing views of the Rhine and Cologne Cathedral, opt for the Hyatt Regency Cologne.”
best destinations to visit in Europe for Christmas
Strasbourg, France (Photo courtesy of Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast)

Strasbourg, France

By Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast

Strasbourg, France calls itself the “Capital of Christmas,” and they really do work hard to earn that title so that it is one of the best Christmas vacation destinations in Europe.

The city of Strasbourg itself is a charming mix of French and German architecture and culture, as the region has belonged to both countries at different times in history. Buildings in Strasbourg are half-timbered and a picturesque canal runs through the Petite France section of old-town.

During the end of November and December, there are 15 different markets set up around the city that are part of the Strasbourg Christmas market. Some of the markets are very large and others are comprised of just a few stalls.

One of the main markets has Le Grand Sapin, a very large Christmas tree that is almost 100 feet tall. Another market sits in the shadow of the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral, which is absolutely worth exploring.

Where the city really shines is in the Christmas lights and decorations on the streets. Immersive light displays run down just about every street, with lights crisscrossing the roadways above your head. Different streets have various themes, from lit gingerbread and bows to candy canes and angels. 

The food here is a great mix of French and German – with dishes like toasted baguette, tarte flambée, sauerkraut and sausages, and creamy potatoes making big appearances. 


Temperatures in Strasbourg are chilly in December – with highs generally in the 30’s F. You can get sun, cloud, rain, or snow during the season, so a white Christmas is always a possibility.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Strasbourg does have its own international airport, but the airports in Basel, Switzerland, or Stuttgart, Germany are within two hours and much larger so you might be able to get better flight deals to these spots.

Best Place To Stay

Stephanie says, “Hôtel Restaurant Le Chut is a quaint and charming hotel located in the Petite France part of Strasbourg – one of the best areas to stay in the city.”
Best places to spend time in Europe for the Christmas festive season
Bolzano, Italy (Photo courtesy of Lori from Travlin Mad)

Bolzano, Italy

By Lori from Travlin Mad

If you’re looking for a new European destination to visit during the Christmas festivities, there are many places from which to choose. But if you want your holiday with an Italian flair, you must visit Bolzano, the Christmas Capital of Italy!

Nestled among the Italian Alps in northern Italy, Bolzano makes a perfect base from which to explore the nearby Dolomites, the spectacular towering mountain peaks that beguile many a traveler. The city is multi-cultural with a distinct German influence seen in everything from the cuisine to the local dress.

Bolzano is a popular wintertime destination for skiing and winter hiking to mountain huts that bustle with activity when there’s snow. But the main reason travelers visit Bolzano in late November and December is for its Christmas market, the largest European-style market in Italy.

Visiting the Christmas market is one of the most popular destinations, but the city has many winter activities to enjoy that can be enjoyed in January and February as well. The city hosts seasonal ice-skating rinks for families, and the cold weather doesn’t deter shoppers from strolling the streets. In addition, be sure and visit the Cathedral on Piazza Walther for a bit of local culture.


The average temperature in Bolzano hovers around freezing (26-45 degrees F) so bundle up. In fact, most bars and restaurants in Bolzano have outdoor tables with built in propane stoves so you can enjoy a glass of wine, cocktail and a warm time with friends outdoors.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest major airport is in Milan with a 3 hours drive to Bolzano. By far, the easiest way to get to Bolzano is by train. There is daily service from Milan, Venice, Florence, Verona and other nearby cities.

Best Place To Stay

Lori says, “As for where to stay, the Parkhotel Laurin is an excellent choice with fabulous service and great dining options onsite.”
best destinations in Europe to celebrate Christmas
Barcelona, Spain (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Barcelona, Spain

By Cristina from My Little World Of Travelling

Barcelona is one of the most incredible cities to visit in Spain – its mosaic and detailed Gaudi architecture, its delicious food and vibrant atmosphere makes it a place to fall in love with.

It is also one of the best cities in Europe for a Christmas escape. In comparison to other European countries, Barcelona enjoys a very mild December – no white Christmas or extremely cold conditions.

If you decide to visit Barcelona at this time of the year, you don’t want to miss the Xmas markets across the city. One of the oldest and most popular Christmas market is the Fira de Santa Llúcia which takes place in the Cathedral square from late November to the 23rd of December.

You should also visit the market at night to see the beautiful Christmas lights. Other most popular locations for Christmas lights are Plaça de Catalunya, La Rambla and Portal de l’Angel.

If you happen to be in Barcelona at the beginning of January, you should check out the Three Kings Parade on the 5th. It is a lively event in which the three kings as well as other cartoon characters throw sweets to children from their impressively decorated floats.


The weather is often pleasant and sunny. The maximum temperature in December is 59ºF whereas the minimum temperature is 48ºF.

Best Way To Reach Destination

If you are flying to Barcelona, then the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport is the closest to the city, only 25 minutes drive. However, you won’t need a car to enjoy this city.

Best Place To Stay

Cristina says, “There are endless accommodations in Barcelona, however, one of the best tips for visiting Barcelona for first timers is to stay central to maximize your trip. H10 Metropolitan is a chic, central and great hotel to stay in.”
best small towns in Europe to visit for Christmas
Rovaniemi, Finland (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Rovaniemi, Finland

Erin from Explore With Erin

Rovaniemi is the ultimate family Christmas destination in Europe. From husky sledding to reindeer rides, to searching for Northern Lights on zipping snowmobiles, there are many things to do in Lapland.

Rovaniemi is an urban city surrounded by Arctic nature where Santa Clause lives and works all year round! The Arctic Circle runs through Santa Claus Village, 5 miles north of the city centre. Everyday is Christmas day here.

While Alaska and many other places offer husky sledding, in Rovaniemi a husky sled takes you through the Finnish forest at unbelievable speeds, past reindeers and elves, and even Santa.

And talking of fast-paced, you can even spend an evening jumping on board a snowmobile through the same Finnish forest to chase the Northern Lights.

If you’re looking for something less fast-paced, consider a reindeer sleigh across the winter wonderland.

There are multiple theme parks within the depths of Rovaniemi where you can meet Santa, admire Xmas trees, visit an ice castle, go tobogganing, make Christmas cookies, or ride an ice slide.

Finally, spend an enchanting evening at Elf School decorating Christmas Trees in the Finnish forest, learning the Elf ways, and cooking magical Elf food.


In December, Lapland is freezing! The average temperature is -6°C and highs of -3°C (21-26°F). Temperatures drop as low as -9°C (15°F) at night, so you’ll need very warm clothes during the day and into the night, especially if you’re visiting with children. There’s a 72% chance of snowfall throughout the month of December while the chance of rain is 28%.

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can get to Rovaniemi on a flight from London to Helsinki in 2.5 hours. And then, head further north with an additional one hour flight into Finnish Lapland. The airport is especially Christmassy, with Christmas carols, and all.

Best Place To Stay

Erin says, “When visiting the Arctic is there a more appropriate place to stay than the Santa Claus Hotel in the city center? Not a luxury hotel, but the location is epic.

Steps away from restaurants, shopping centers, museums, and Lapland Safaris, which was where most of our excursions originated. This hotel also provides free sleds for children to borrow. Perfect for the month of December and a great mode of transport.”
best places to visit in Europe for Xmas
Budapest, Hungary (Photo courtesy of Kate from Adventurous Kate)

Budapest, Hungary

By Kate from Adventurous Kate

If you’re looking to enjoy Christmas cheer in Central Europe, look no further than the capital city of Budapest. This vibrant capital is great to visit year-round, but Christmas brings much celebration.

Each Christmas Market in Budapest has a different flavor. The main market is in Vörösmarty Square, with lots of food vendors and artisans selling homemade gifts. At St. Stephen’s Basilica, you’ll have video-mapping and live music, a great backdrop for your mulled wine.

The town of Óbuda brings a more local feel once Advent begins. And if you have time, don’t miss a trip to the artsy small town of Szentendre, which has its own market.

Christmas food is a huge part of the Budapest Christmas Markets, so don’t forget to try traditional food such as lángos (a big slab of fried dough topped with cheese, sour cream, or other toppings), mangalica (a uniquely delicious Hungarian sausage) or kürtőskalács (chimney cakes roasted over the fire, sometimes filled with ice cream) .

During the day, hit up the traditional Szechenyi Baths, where the toasty outdoor pools feel blissful on a chilly day. Afterward, stroll to nearby City Park for ice skating. Later, St. Andrea Wine and Skybox have the most Christmasy view in town, overlooking the main market from above!  

Best of all? The Budapest Christmas Markets open in mid-November, making them some of the earliest Christmas markets in Eastern Europe and greater Europe. If you’re planning a big Christmas market trip, come here first and the holiday spirit will last a bit longer.

Finally, Budapest is a popular point for Christmas river cruises along the Danube to begin or end. Add on a few extra days in December, and you’ll be so glad you got to enjoy this city a little longer. 

Weather And Directions

In December, you can count on Budapest being on the chilly side. You could have anything from bright clear skies to cloudy or rainy days. Temperatures average 32-40 Fahrenheit (0-4 Celsius).

Best Way To Reach Destination

To get to Budapest, fly into Budapest Airport which is a 35 drive to the center. There are also direct buses to the center which take around 45 minutes. Budapest is a very easy city to walk so you don’t need a rental car for your December trip.

Best Place To Stay

Kate says, “La Prima Fashion Hotel is a solid, cozy hotel a stone’s throw from the main Christmas market.”
best european cities to spend time for the xmas holidays
Zurich, Switzerland (Photo courtesy of Emma from Travel On A Time Budget)

Zurich, Switzerland

By Emma from Travel On A Time Budget

As the largest city in Switzerland, Zurich has a lot to offer regardless of what time of year you visit. However, it’s one of the best places to visit in Europe for a December holiday.

Exploring the city’s historic old town should be high on the list. There are windy, cobbled streets, a 17th century Renaissance Town Hall, beautiful churches (one of which is famed for having Europe’s largest church clock face), as well as Lake Zurich at one end where you can hop on a boat to sightsee. 

In the colder months, the narrow streets, lit up in the dark, make the picturesque surroundings feel really festive and wintery. There are lots of cosy cafes and restaurants where you can warm yourself up with local gluwein or traditional Swiss fondue.

The city also hosts some great Christmas markets. This includes the Christkindlimarkt in the main train station where a huge Christmas tree, decorated with 7,000 Swarovski crystals, dominates the entrance hall. The Werdmühleplatz market also has a “singing Christmas tree”, a stage in the shape of a tree where choirs stand and entertain the locals with Christmas carols. 

For sports lovers, there’s lots of winter activities on offer in Zurich, including skiing in the nearby mountains, tobogganing and ice skating. For those looking for a more relaxed festive break, there are spas where you can swim in thermal pools.  


A trip to a spa is a great way to warm up in the chilly winter months. However, although it can get cold in Zurich, the temperature generally hovers above zero in December, with just a few periods when it dips into the minus figures. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

International visitors fly into Zurich airport where they can connect to trains that reach the city centre in about 10 minutes. There is an efficient public transport system with trains, trams, buses and boats. In addition, the city centre is easily walkable. 

Best Place To Stay

Emma says, “There are plenty of places to stay, with a range of accommodation to suit all budgets. For those wishing to push the boat out, the Hotel Dolder Grand, with its hilltop setting, complete with ice rink in winter, would be a perfect place to stay at Christmas.”
best small cities to visit in Europe for Christmas celebrations
Colmar, France (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Colmar, France

By Jackie from Jou Jou Travels

Colmar is a medieval town in the Alsace region of France bordering Germany. It is one of the most magical places you can visit during the Christmas holidays and for a December vacation.

There are five Christmas markets in Colmar to visit. Those are Place des Dominicain, Place de la Cathedral, Place Jeanne d’Arc, Place de l’Ancienne Douane, and Petit Venise. These markets sell a variety of items spanning from ornaments for Christmas trees, cute figurines, and accessories to keep you warm. 

You can try amazing traditional food at the markets including Choucroûte garnie which is a dish with sauerkraut and a variety of meats, or Tarte flambée, the Alsatian equivalent to a pizza covered with crème fraîche, cheese, onions, and bacon.

Besides visiting Christmas markets, other fun things to do include visiting the beautiful gingerbread facade of Au Vieux Pignon. It’s one of the most photographed spots in Colmar. The other photo worthy location is one of the main Christmas trees located in front of a beautiful pink building. You can find it by typing in Maison dite ‘Au pèlerin’ into google.

Make sure you wander off the path of the main tourist roads to discover many pretty streets all around. You will feel like you’re part of the movie Beauty & the Beast. In fact, the Alsace region inspired the movie.

Try to spend a few days in Alsace and visit neighbouring towns like Kayersberg, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr.


With temperatures averaging at a high of 43 Fahrenheit in December, be sure to keep warm strolling the Christmas Markets with a mulled wine in hand.

Best Way To Reach Destination

To reach Colmar, fly into the Strasbourg Airport located 30 minutes by train or the Basel, Switzerland airport (one hour by train).

Best Place To Stay

Jackie says, “A great hotel option that is centrally located is the Colmar Hotel.”
best places to travel to in Europe for Christmas holidays
Nuremburg, Germany (Photo courtesy of Melanie from BRB Travel Blog)

Nuremburg, Germany

By Melanie from BRB Travel Blog

Nuremberg is the second-largest city in Bavaria after Munich. The medieval city hosts the Nuremberg Christmas Market (Christkindlesmarkt) every year which is one of the biggest and oldest markets in Europe dating back to the 16th century. The market is open for almost a month from 26 November and closes on December 24th. It is a fantastic destination for a December getaway.

Nuremberg is considered one of the culinary cities of Germany and the Christmas Market is a great way to taste some of its local gastronomy. Nuremberg grilled sausages, Glühwein (mulled wine), Nuremberg Lebkuchen (Gingerbread cookies) are some of the must-try foods.

Besides the fabulous food, there are 180 stands in total and they showcase the best craftsmanship of the region. Thirty of the stalls date back to 1890. Another highlight of this festival is the unique tradition of the Christmas Angel, or Christkind.

Another Christmas activity is the Sister Cities Market. This market encompasses the craftmanship of Nuremberg sisters’ cities around the world. Here, you can buy colourful souvenirs of the tropics from Carlos (Nicaragua) or tea from Shenzhen (China), all in one stop. There are more than a dozen sister cities that will take you on a journey around the world. Most of the proceeds go to charitable organizations in these cities. 

Finally, the third Christmas market is the Children’s Market (Kinderweihnacht). A short 3-minute walk from the Hauptmarkt, this market is for the little ones. Everything is tailored for the kids. There is a carousel, a mini Ferris wheel, and a steam train.


Nuremberg’s winters are cold and the temperatures range from 41°F to 38°F.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Nuremberg Airport has flights to major German cities and many European destinations. If not, you can arrive at Munich airport and take the train. From the airport to the city, all you need to do is take the U-Bahn line U2.

Best Place To Stay

Melanie says, “Hotel Victoria is a beautifully renovated hotel nestled in the middle of the old town. The hotel offers complimentary breakfast with local cuisine. Centrally located, the property is only a 15 min walk to the Nuremberg Castle. It is also a short walk to museums, restaurants and public transportation.”
best destinations to visit in Europe for Christmas
Puerto De La Cruz, Spain (Photo courtesy of Alexandr from Tenerife Is)

Puerto De La Cruz, Spain (Canary Islands)

By Alexandra from Tenerife Is

Puerto de la Cruz is a wonderful town on the most popular Canary island, Tenerife. Thanks to its beautiful climate, Puerto de la Cruz is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year. However, it is especially a great winter escape during the Christmas holidays. 

During the festive season, the city of Puerto de la Cruz is in full swing. If you visit Puerto de la Cruz at Christmas time, you can enjoy the special Xmas atmosphere in a tropical style. The whole town of Puerto de la Cruz is decorated with Christmas lights, and the old town squares are especially beautifully dressed up.

Every year before Christmas and during the first few days of January, Puerto de la Cruz hosts a Christmas fair. It’s a gigantic event. It is like a mini Disneyland. You can enjoy different amusement rides, participate in contests and eat delicious street food.

On January 5, Puerto de la Cruz hosts the parade of the three kings. Accompanied by popular cartoon characters, the three kings parade through the streets of Puerto de la Cruz. Adults and children love participating in the parade as the three kings hand out sweets to everyone.


In December, the weather in Puerto de la Cruz is a wonderful 66-71.6°F. Usually in December, it is sunny, but sometimes it can also get a light rain. Fog is common and occasionally, “calima” may occur which is dusty warm winds.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The nearest international airport is San Cristóbal de la Laguna, 21 miles or 34 km east. The drive to the city takes about 40 minutes.

Best Place To Stay

Alexandra says, “Bahia Principe Sunlight San Felipe is a great hotel with several swimming pools, a nice restaurant, a gym, and a spa area.”
best European countries to visit for Christmas celebrations
Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo courtesy of The Discoveries Of)

Copenhagen, Denmark

By Julianna from The Discoveries Of

Copenhagen is one of the best holiday destinations in Europe during the Christmas season. It is a true winter wonderland filled with magical twinkling Xmas lights, Christmas trees and Christmas markets that make for the perfect winter city break.

The Tivoli Gardens amusement park gets decked out in full festive cheer. Go to enjoy the traditional Danish Christmas markets, which offer a festive shopping experience with local crafts and produce on sale, before snuggling up with a glass of something warm in the food hall.

Other Copenhagen Christmas markets include the Christmas Square at City Hall (where you’ll also find the city’s biggest Christmas tree), the Christmas Market at Nyhavn Harbour and the Winter Wonderland Market in Christiania.

Each has its own appeal but the Christmas Market at Nyhavn Harbour is particularly pretty with its location by the water and views of the famous colourful houses. Enjoy a glass of Gløgg (mulled wine) while taking in the festive atmosphere.


Copenhagen in December is cold with highs of around 4-5°C (39-41°F), so you’ll definitely need to pack some warm clothes. It may snow though it’s not guaranteed.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Copenhagen is easy. Simply fly to Copenhagen International Airport and hop onto the bus or metro.

Best Place To Stay

Julianna says, “In terms of accommodation, Hotel SP34 is a fabulously stylish and trendy option right in the heart of Copenhagen. The hotel occupies an old warehouse building. It has been renovated in a stylish minimalist style, complete with Scandinavian design furniture and cool art on the walls.

The hotel has a trendy bar and restaurant, as well as a roof terrace overlooking the city. They are perfect for soaking up the Christmassy atmosphere (tip: wrap up warm!).”
best Christmas destinations in Europe
Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo courtesy of Kathryn from Biker Girl Life)

Edinburgh, Scotland

By Kathryn from Biker Girl Life

If you’re looking for one of the best European cities to visit around Xmas time, head up the road to Scotland, in particular, Edinburgh.

This vibrant European city is the perfect place to go in Europe in December to get into the Christmas spirit. All the shops are decked out, the smell of minced pies and mulled wine fills the air, and you’ll see tartan EVERYWHERE.

One of the most festive things to do is visit the famous Edinburgh Christmas Markets, especially the Prince Street Garden one. Don’t forget to rent a cup for your mulled wine. You can reuse it as often as you like and you’ll get your deposit back when you return it. 

Visit the George Street Ice Rink. This gets busy, so you’ll need to book in advance, but it’s a wonderfully festive atmosphere and a great way to burn off a couple of those minced pies!

Lastly, don’t forget to wander the streets and enjoy some Xmas shopping and the festive lights. The best streets for lights are George Street (don’t miss the Dome, where the locals grab a cocktail after work), Rose Street and Cockburn Street, which also has several good independent stores for unique presents. 


Be sure to dress warmly for your trip. It’s going to be COLD in Edinburgh around the Christmas holidays. Expect temperatures near freezing and very probably snow. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

The nearest airport is Edinburgh, which is about 20 minutes by taxi.

Best Place To Stay

Kathryn says, “If you’re driving or motorcycling in Scotland, be sure to get a hotel with parking, as it can be tough to find parking in the city centre. The Sheraton Grand Hotel, which overlooks Edinburgh Castle, is a great option to treat yourself.”
Best Christmas celebrations in Europe
Tallinn, Estonia (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Tallinn, Estonia

By Alex from Just Go Exploring

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is one of the most beautiful medieval European cities.

In recent years, Tallinn has established itself as a perfect place for an alternative winter European city break. It still doesn’t suffer from the large crowds found in many better known European cities.

Tallinn Old Town is a maze of cobbled stone streets, with colorful old buildings, medieval meeting halls, several stunning churches, and castle towers and turrets, all enclosed by the city’s ancient defensive walls. Most of Tallinn’s 13th century buildings are incredibly well preserved.

Christmas season is definitely the most magical time of year to visit Tallinn. Be sure to spend time in the old Town Hall Square. This central main square – the focal point of medieval Tallinn – is decorated with thousands of festive lights, and a giant Christmas tree (which is covered in real snow, of course). It looks like something straight out of a fairytale.

Tallinn claims to be the first city in Europe to place a Christmas tree in its central square – a tradition that supposedly dates back to the year 1441. Each year, in early December, there is an important ceremony in the city during which the tree is carried into the square and set in place.

Town Hall Square is also the site of the annual Christmas market. It’s a traditional Christmas market, one of the most traditional in Europe, and the picturesque surroundings make it feel really magical. 

Here you will find a range of stalls selling gifts and treats, including traditional handmade clothes, wooden ornaments, festive cookies, and cups of deliciously warming hõõgwein (Estonian mulled wine, made with fruit, nuts and spices).


You will need to wrap up warm. Tallinn is pretty far north, and winters here can be very cold and snowy.  (The city is only a few hours’ drive from St. Petersburg, after all.)

In December, daytime temperatures are typically below freezing, and there’s only about six hours of daylight. Expect highs of 31°F and lows of 25°F (it can get much colder at night). However, the walls, turrets and spires of the medieval Old Town look incredibly picturesque covered in a blanket of snow.

Best Way To Reach Destination

It’s very easy to get to Tallinn from most places within Europe. The city’s main international airport is only 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the Old Town, and is served by most of the major (and budget) European airlines. You can get an Uber (or a Bolt) from the airport into the center, or take the tram.

Alternatively, you can fly to Helsinki, Finland and catch one of the regular ferries which connect the two cities.

Best Place To Stay

Alex says, “Hotels in Tallinn are fairly affordable, by European standards. The St. Olav Hotel (mid-range) and St. Petersbourg Hotel (mid-to-upper) are both excellent options. Alternatively, you will find a good number of high-quality Airbnbs in and around the Old Town.”
best places to visit in Europe for Xmas
Vienna, Austria (Photo courtesy of Emma from All Over The Place)

Vienna, Austria

By Emma from All Over The Place

Come December, Vienna, Austria transforms into the ultimate European winter wonderland. With gorgeous Baroque architecture, and cozy winter shop displays, Vienna has the perfect atmosphere for getting into the Christmas spirit.

One of the most festive experiences for visitors and locals alike is visiting Vienna’s abundant Christmas Markets. Starting in November, Vienna completely transforms with festive holiday displays and stalls throughout the city.

The largest markets in the city are around Karlzplatz and Rathausplatz. At these markets, you’re sure to find plenty of holiday-themed sweets, crafts, and of course Weihnachtspunsch–warm Christmas punch.

You can check out the holiday light displays from Kärntner Straße to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and make your way towards the Hofsburg Palace to further immerse yourself in the Christmas spirit.

While in Vienna, you can also visit some of the city’s amazing museums like the Belvedere, Leopold, and Kunsthistorisches Museum just to name a few. Additionally, you could visit the famed Opera House or attend different music performances in the city. If you’re lucky, you might even catch an immersive music and light show near the Mumok in the MuseumsQuartier area.


Average temperatures range from about 31- 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Fortunately, it is fairly easy to get to Vienna from many other European cities as well as inter-continental destinations. If you’re flying into Vienna, you can fly directly into Vienna’s airport (VIE) which is located only 11 miles (18 km) outside of the city center. It’ll take about 30 minutes to drive to the center city. Alternatively, you can catch an airport bus or train transfer to connect directly with Vienna’s metro line.

Best Place To Stay

Emma says, “In terms of finding accommodation, I’d recommend staying as close as you can to the downtown Karlzplatz or Stephensplaz areas. This way, you can be central to many of Vienna’s attractions. Likewise, if you’d like to be in the more “trendy” (think vintage shops and cafés) part of town, I’d recommend looking around Neubaugasse.

If you do end up staying further away from the city center, no worries! Vienna has an amazing public transportation system that can take you nearly everywhere you need to go in the city.

Overall, Vienna is relatively more affordable than many other European capital cities, and you can be sure to find comfortable and affordable accommodation for your winter wonderland trip!”
best destinations in Europe for Xmas
Salerno, Italy (Photo courtesy of Lisa from Travel Connect Experience)

Salerno, Italy

By Lisa from Travel Connect Experience

The southern Italian city of Salerno, which overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, is normally off the radar of travelers, surpassed by famous neighbors such as Naples and the Amalfi Coast. This coastal city, which was also the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, attracts local tourism throughout the year because of the many landmarks of its historic center, but it is during the Christmas season that it is at its best.

From mid-November to mid-January, in the main squares and streets of the city, “Luci d’Artista” takes place, an exhibition of grand light installations. While walking through the historic center of Salerno from sunset until midnight, you come across real works of art that each year explore a different theme such as fairy tales for children, myths of the sea, or the temples of Paestum.

Start your tour of the installations from the Christmas tree hosted in Piazza Portanova. To admire the Christmas lights and the Gulf of Salerno from above, take a ride on the panoramic wheel in Piazza della Concordia.


In December, the average temperature in Salerno is 50°F and the weather is generally sunny.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The nearest international airport is Naples. From there, you can drive for about 30 miles to Salerno.

Best Place To Stay

Lisa says, “To enjoy a relaxing stay, reserve a sea view room at RarityArt Minihotel, which is a one-minute walk from the beach.”
best European city for Christmas holidays
Paris, France (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Paris, France

By Esther from Dreams In Paris

With beautifully decorated streets and department stores, Christmas lights adorning almost every part of the capital, Paris lives up to its name as the city of lights. It is one of the best European places to visit for a Christmas getaway.

Like any other time of the year, Paris at Christmas offers so much to do and see that you’ll be spoiled by choice. 

From admiring the Christmas lights at the beautiful Champs Elysees that showcases over a million light bulbs on over 400 trees, Place Vendôme, and Avenue Montaigne, to the charming Bercy village, every corner in the city makes it a point to remind you that it’s Xmas.

Besides the Christmas lights, Paris goes all out when it comes to organizing Christmas markets to truly bring out the Christmas vibe. The most famous is Les Tuileries Christmas market but they’re many others where you can buy Christmas souvenirs or taste some traditional French food, like La Défense Christmas market and Alsace Christmas Market.

Another thing to do during Christmas is to admire the window displays at Paris’ Department Stores. Every year, department stores do a magnificent job decorating their windows with artistic and creative displays that bring out the Christmas spirit in everyone. The most impressive ones are at Printemps Haussmann and Galeries Lafayette. And while at Galeries Lafayette, be sure to admire the most beautiful Christmas tree in Paris.

All in all, Paris is truly one of the best city breaks in Europe for Christmas. The lights, the markets, and all other Christmas activities make this beautiful city a worthwhile stop on any European adventure.


While it’s all fun and beauty, Paris gets cold during this time of the year with a high chance of rain but low chance of snow. The temperatures range between 4° C (39 °F) and 8° C (46 °F) but can drop to 0° C (32°F) at night. Be sure to bring extra warm clothes or better yet, grab a hot chocolate or Vin Chaud to warmup!

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can plan to either fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport or Paris Orly Airport depending on your departure city. Both airports are not far from the city. Both journeys can take between 30-45 minutes depending on the means of transportation and the exact location in which you’ll be staying.

Best Place To Stay

Esther says, “If you’re looking for a place to stay, you can opt for Hôtel Le Derby Alma Paris since it’s near the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées and comes at a fairly affordable rate.”
best places to visit for white Christmas in Europe
Stockholm, Sweden (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Stockholm, Sweden

By Allison from Eternal Arrival

One of the best places to enjoy the Christmas spirit is the European capital city of Stockholm. This magical Nordic city is lovely any time of year, but it is especially enjoyable in the winter season.

There are several Christmas-themed things to do in Stockholm in winter. Of course, Stockholm has its own Christmas markets like many other European cities, the largest and most traditional of which you can find in Gamla Stan, the old town.

Looking for a more unique Christmas gift than you’ll find in the Christmas markets? Head to the trendy district of Sodermalm which has a lot of beautiful boutiques focusing on Scandinavian fashion and design.

You can also go to the Christmas Market in Skansen, an open air history museum with a holiday fair tradition since the early 1900s.


Weather in Stockholm is surprisingly not too cold in December. Expect average highs of 33°F and lows of 25°F, with occasional snow. You’ll definitely want to dress warm. However, Stockholm is warmer than many American cities in the winter.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Fly into one of Stockholm’s four airports: Arlanda (the most common for long-haul international flights), Bromma, Skavsta (common for budget flights) or Vasteras.

Airport buses serve all of the airports and take about 45-90 minutes depending on where you fly into. You don’t nee to rent a car or drive in Stockholm — public transportation is very good.

Best Place To Stay

Allison says, “For a suggested accommodation, the Grand Hôtel is definitely the nicest accommodation option in Stockholm, with a great view of Gamla Stan and easy access on foot to a lot of wonderful attractions.

For a similarly-located option at a lower price, I suggest the Radisson Collection Strand Hotel.”
best places in Europe to visit for festive season
Tblisi, Georgia (Photo courtesy of Emily from Wander-Lush)

Tblisi, Georgia

By Emily from Wander-Lush

Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia, is the perfect destination for an off-beat Christmas break. This is the place to experience unique holiday traditions, visit charming festive markets, and best of all, have Christmas day twice!

As an Orthodox country, Georgia marks Christmas on January 7, a fortnight after most other Christian nations. December 25th is not a national holiday – however, because of Tbilisi’s culturally diverse population and growing expat community, Xmas celebrations usually extend throughout the month of December and into mid-January.

Christmas Villages pop up at several parks and squares around the city around mid-December. They sell local handicrafts, mulled Saperavi Georgian wine, and festive snacks such as gozinaki, a peanut-brittle-like sweet made with honey and walnuts.

The night of December 31 is the biggest night of the holidays in Georgia, when most families get together for a big meal. Tbilisi lights up with massive fireworks’ displays as everyone sets off their own crackers from street corners, parks and apartment balconies. The best place to watch the fireworks is from any of the city’s lookout points (Mtatsminda mountain is particularly good).

January 1 and 2 are holidays in Georgia. On the second day of the year, people celebrate Bedoba, a unique tradition that sets the tone for the year ahead. On this day, you’re supposed to do what you love – see friends, pamper yourself, eat good food – in the belief that it will bring you good fortune. This is a perfect excuse to indulge in the finer winter activities Tbilisi offers – drinking wine in cozy bars, and going for an exfoliating scrub at the geothermal sulfur baths.


Weather-wise, the months of December and January are relatively dry and mild in Tbilisi, with daytime temperatures averaging around 50°F. Snow is very rare at this time of year, while blue skies are common – perfect for exploring the city on foot.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Tbilisi is very easy to reach with regular flights into Tbilisi International Airport from Western and Eastern Europe, Istanbul and Dubai. The airport is a 20-minute drive from the city center and can be reached by public bus.

Best Place To Stay

Emily says, “It’s a good idea to stay somewhere central over the Christmas period as traffic can be very busy. Taberne Boutique Hotel is ideally located off Atoneli Street, where one of the biggest Christmas markets takes place.”
best destinations to visit for European Christmas festivities
York, England (Photo courtesy of Maja from Away With Maja)

York, England

By Maja from Away With Maja

York is one of the top places in the United Kingdom to visit to celebrate Xmas. While York isn’t as large as London or Edinburgh, it’s a charming and historic city, full of narrow and pedestrian alleyways (called snickelways) and cobblestone streets. It also has a wealth of independent businesses, meaning you can find unique Christmas gifts here that you couldn’t find elsewhere.

One of the best things to do in York around the Christmas season is to visit the Christmas Market, St Nicholas Fair. The stalls are located around Parliament Street and St. Sampson Square, and sell a variety of food and drink, as well as local goods and gifts.

Another thing you can’t miss is seeing the Christmas lights around the gates of the City Walls. Walking the City Walls is one of the best free things to do in York year-round, but it’s also a fun festive activity to do in the evening in December. Another choice would be to strap on your ice skates and head to York Designer Outlet, which has a ice rink.

If you’re visiting York on Christmas Day itself, visit the awe-inspiring cathedral York Minster for an atmospheric Christmas service.


Temperatures in York in December tend to average about 43˚F. While you might get lucky with a sunny day, winter in England tends to be overcast and rainy.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest international airport is Leeds-Bradford, but Manchester Airport is the most convenient. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive to York, or you can take a direct train from the airport to York station, which takes 2 hours.

Best Place To Stay

Maja says, “There are plenty of accommodation options in York. For a budget traveler, Safestay York on Micklegate is an excellent choice of hostel.

For mid-range, Galtres Lodge is a boutique property with a stunning city center location right on Petergate.

If you’re after an opulent stay, book yourself into the Grand, a five-star luxury hotel.”
best places to visit in Europe for Christmas
Gdansk, Poland (Photo courtesy of Baia from Red Fedora Diary)

Gdansk, Poland

By Baia from Red Fedora Diary

If you are looking for one of the best places to visit in Europe during the Christmas season, consider planning your trip to Gdansk, a northern city of Poland nestled on the shore of the Baltic Sea. 

This charming city is a fantastic getaway for the Christmas holidays. It prides itself on its Christmas celebrations and plans a whole program for the entire five weeks. Make sure you download the program and plan your trip accordingly. 

Gdansk offers splendid Christmas markets spread across its old town featuring various stalls selling all sorts of things. This includes Christmas toys and decorations, warm gloves and scarfs, local cuisine, and handmade jewelry, to name a few. 

Christmas in Europe usually means heated alcohol, and most likely, it’s red wine. However, Poland has its own take on Christmasy drinks. One of the things to do in Gdansk is to try a hot beer or Grzane Piwno in Polish. The beer is seasoned with clove, cinnamon, artificial ginger syrup, and other mulling spices. 

Another great thing to do is join a Christmas sightseeing walking tour, where certified guides take you in the footsteps of Gdansk legends. Listening to interesting stories and admiring the fascinating architecture is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and learn more about this historic city. 


Winter months are slightly cold here, with average temperatures between 30-38 Fahrenheit. Weather varies during the day, but mostly it snows and rains during the winter season. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Gdansk is accessible from various European cities. Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport serves both domestic and international flights. 

Best Place To Stay

Baia says, “Gdansk offers a wide choice in terms of accommodation options depending on your preferences. If you like staying in an apartment over a hotel, Apartament Kameralny 11 na Starówce is excellent.”
best places in Europe for Christmas holidays
Munich, Germany (Photo courtesy of Ingrid from Zen Moments)

Munich, Germany

By Ingrid from Zen Moments

If you only get to see one Christmas Market in Europe during a December trip, the one organized in Bavaria’s capital is by far one of the most charming. With a vast history, the Munich Christmas Market takes place every year between the end of November and Christmas Eve.

Come prepared to take part in some unforgettable celebrations. Taste delicious traditional food, stroll through the wooden houses packed with handmade souvenirs, and warm up with some mulled wine. Resisting the smell of sweet roasted nuts or handmade gingerbread will be difficult even for the strongest.

While Munich is a stunning city no matter the season, seeing its parks and palaces covered by snow will give it an even more romantic vibe. Don’t skip a day trip to the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle, set in between the Alps, less than 2 hours away from Munich.


You will be spending a lot of time outside and temperatures usually drop below zero during the winter season. Bring winter clothes, and don’t forget to pack lots of layers that will keep you warm in the winter wonderland.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Munich couldn’t be easier. There are plenty of international flights operated from its Munich International Airport, one hour away from the city center. The airport is linked to the train station and the center of the city by a fast train.

Best Place To Stay

Ingrid says, “I would always recommend Best Western Atrium close to the Train Station and Theresienwiese underground, or Mercure München City Center, steps away from Karlsplatz.”
best places to spend time in for Christmas in europe
Valkenburg, Netherlands (Photo courtesy of Kars from Kars Travels)

Valkenburg, Netherlands

By Cosette from Kars Travels

Valkenburg is a small city in southern Netherlands, close to the border with Belgium. Marl has been removed from quarries for years in this region, which has led to a series of caves with corridors. The quarries have been closed and the caves are enjoyed in several ways.

In November and December, Christmas markets in Valkenburg and other Xmas events are held in these caves, making for unique experiences.

Visit the four caves, two of them have Christmas markets: Fluweelengrot and Gemeente grot. The last one is the oldest underground Christmas market in Europe. Mergelrijk has the Christmas story in miniature on display, which is 30 meters long.

Winter Wonderland is at the Wilhelmina grot which is in a mountain. The Christmas story is on display in the cave. There’s a cable lift to the top of the mountain, where there is a toboggan and bobsled ride, small Christmas market and a 30 meter high Christmas tree.

Next to these caves, don’t miss the Christmas Fairytales Parade on Wednesdays and Saturdays. At last, walk a Route d’Amuse, self-guided walking routes with stops at restaurants where you get an amuse bouche (a taste of a delicacy). Besides these festive activities, the whole town is decorated with Christmas lights.


November has 3.3 inches of rain and is the wettest month of the year. Temperatures average between 39°F and 48°F. In December, there’s an average of 2.8 inches of rain. Temperatures are between 32°F and 41°F.

The weather is usually not that beautiful in these months, but since most activities are inside the caves, the weather doesn’t bother you that much. There’s a pleasant temperature of 53°F inside the caves and is always dry.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The closest major airport to Valkenburg is Maastricht Aachen Airport, which is 13 kilometers/8 miles away. Liège Airport is 51 kilometers/32 miles driving and Eindhoven Airport is 101 kilometers/63 miles away.

Best Place To Stay

Cosette says, “Fletcher hotel De Burghoeve is a good place to stay when visiting Valkenburg. It offers a great breakfast and is not that far from the city center.”

Last Word

During the Xmas festive season, Europe offers a fantastic array of places with stunning Christmas lights, soaring Christmas trees and spectacular Christmas decorations. Choosing one of these best places to visit in Europe for the Christmas holidays means a magical experience for everyone in your family.

the authorNicole
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