Europe

17 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands To Visit In Europe (2023)

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Last Updated on September 14, 2022 by Nicole

There is something magical that snow brings in the winter months. Even though it signals that it is cold outside, and the warm rays of the sun have come and gone, the snow opens up new worlds of discovery. Instead of green forests and mountainsides, there are vistas of snow draped trees and white capped mountains. Where you once hiked among wild flowers, you now do winter sports like snowshoeing, or downhill or cross-country skiing on icy paths. In many places, the winter months means it is the best time to see the Northern Lights. In city or town centers, the Old Town becomes even prettier with a white dusting over gingerbread roofs. So, where are the best snowy winter wonderlands to visit in Europe?

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Other Options

If you are looking for other winter destinations in Europe, or the best places to go in Europe all year round, then consider the following:

If you wish to explore other parts of the world for amazing snowy winter wonderlands, then consider the United States – 24 Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands In the USA.

Best Snowy Winter Wonderlands To Visit in Europe

Here are 17 of the best European destinations to do winter sports and for a snow-filled vacation. Most of them offer regular snowfalls in December, January and February, while others have a winter season that extends to November, March and April. Each of them offer fantastic winter activities, in addition to other popular attractions available all year round.

For each spot, the best things to do are featured, the weather including expected snowfall is set out, as well as the most convenient airports and transfers are highlighted. If there is a popular or well reviewed hotel nearby, it is noted as well as any significant reasons why you should consider staying there over somewhere else.

best winter destinations in Europe to see snow
Zermatt, Switzerland (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Zermatt, Switzerland

By Linda from Hiking The Alps

One of the best places to visit in Europe for a snowy winter wonderland is the little mountain village of Zermatt in Switzerland. This lovely place is hidden in the end of a deep valley, in the very south of Switzerland, on the border to Italy.

Zermatt calls itself the “Home of Winter” and accordingly, it is one of the best winter destinations in Europe. Several times it has been chosen Best Ski Resort in the European Alps. In 2022, the destination was even awarded the Traveler’s Choice Awards by TripAdvisor in the category “Best of the Best Destinations for Skiers in the World”. Besides great skiing, the area offers fantastic snowshoe hikes and even the option to do excursions on Husky sleigh rides.

One of the best reasons to visit Zermatt is that from nearly any place within the village and the surrounding mountain areas, you can admire the world-famous Matterhorn Mountain, the Swiss national symbol.

The greatest view of Zermatt, the Matterhorn and 28 other mountain peaks above 13,000 feet (4000 meters) is Gornergrat at 10,100 ft (3089 m) above sea level. You can reach the observation platform on foot or directly from Zermatt with the Gorner Bahn, the world’s first fully electrified cog railway. The village is car-free, which makes strolling through the charming, narrow streets to admire the traditional Swiss houses, easier and better.

If you are keen to try the famous Swiss cheese Fondue and some Home-made Glühwein (mulled wine) head to Igloo Village, high above Zermatt. You can even stay the night and enjoy the fantastic atmosphere out in the whirlpool.

Weather And Directions

Snowfall can begin as early as October and last until late April. You will see the heaviest snowfall in December and January with 17.7 inches of snow each month. But for those passionate about skiing and snowboarding, you can do both year round, in the winter and summer months, on the Little Matterhorn. The area is also known for having more than 300 days of sun, so don’t forget the sunscreen.

Located in the middle of the highest mountain peaks in Switzerland, it is quite a journey to reach Zermatt. The closest airport is Geneva which is about 3hrs drive. However, the journey is definitely worth it!

best European destinations for a snowy winter wonderland
Lapland, Finland (Photo courtesy of Jennie from Jenny from Jennie Wanders)

Lapland, Finland

By Jenny from Jennie Wanders

One of the best winter destinations in Europe to experience a winter wonderland is Lapland, Finland, in the Arctic Circle. Between the months of November and March, the lakes freeze, the sun sets early and the sheer white snow can reach a depth of up to 35″ (90cm), so don’t forget your snow boots

If you’re visiting Lapland for the first time, head to Rovaniemi, the ‘capital’ of Lapland. Rovaniemi is known for its incredible snow forests, beautiful frozen lakes and home of Santa Claus and his elves.

There are many popular activities to do in Lapland and Rovaniemi, but you won’t want to miss out on spotting the Northern Lights. Known as one of the most incredible natural phenomena in the world, the Northern Lights are best seen during the cold winter season. 

If you’re lucky, your tour will involve a trip on a snowmobile to the depths of the Finnish countryside, truly one of the most beautiful places in Finland. You need to avoid all light to increase your chances to see the Northern Lights. 

Rovaniemi is full of bucket list experiences. From the Northern Lights to reindeer sleigh rides, ice fishing and of course, Husky rides. Wrap up warm from the cold weather and spend the day with the Huskies. Play with them in the snow, take a sleigh ride and then cosy up around the fire with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.

Weather And Directions

Temperatures in the colder months (December to February) range between 3.2 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-6°C to -16°C), so make sure to pack your warm hat and gloves at this time of year! But, if you forget anything, your tour company or hotel will have suitable clothing to borrow or rent. 

It snows heavily from November to April, but there is can also be snowfall in October and May.

The best ways to access Rovaniemi is from Helsinki International Airport either via sleeper train, or a short 50-minute flight. 

Hotel Recommendation

Jenny says, “If you’re staying in Rovaniemi for the first time, make sure you book into the Apukka Resort. Situated about 20 minutes from the town centre, it’s in the heart of nature and the perfect place to stay. This means you can spend your time in Lapland walking through snowy forests, ice fishing on frozen lakes and snowmobiling over thick layers of snow. They even have glass igloo rooms for you to spot the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own bed. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

best European city to enjoy snow and winter sports
Tallinn, Estonia (Photo courtesy of Ellis From Backpack Adventures)

Tallinn, Estonia

By Ellis From Backpack Adventures

Are you looking for a budget friendly winter destination in Europe? Then, you should consider Tallinn. The capital of Estonia has a beautiful medieval old town and is surrounded by lots of nature. Tallinn in winter is a magical winter wonderland with a thick blanket of snow covering the city from December till February. 

Winters in Tallinn can be cold with temperatures hovering around freezing point. Some days offer a clear blue sky, others can be gray and misty. Luckily, Tallinn has plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. The city has lots of interesting museums when the weather is not in your favor.

However, Tallinns true beauty is outside. Wandering through the cobbled stone streets of the scenic Old Town is one of the best things to do in Tallinn. In winter, the central square is decorated with a Christmas tree and one should not miss the viewpoints over the city. Another scenic place in winter is the pink Kadriorg Palace and its snow covered park. You can visit the art museum inside the palace or go for a walk in the park.   

Tallinn is also the perfect place to get out in nature, even in winter. Some places are even more spectacular such as the frozen Jagala waterfalls only 18.7 miles (30 kilometers) from Tallinn. The Viru bog trail is a popular day trip from Tallinn and the boardwalk through the frozen bogs remains open in winter. 

Weather And Directions

Average temperature in December through March ranges from 25 degrees Fahrenheit to 35 degrees Fahrenheit with February being the coldest. Expect snowfall from November through March. December and January will have the most at about 5.3 inches per month.

You can fly into Tallinn airport which is only 20 minutes away from the city center.

Hotel Recommendation

Ellis says, “The Hestia hotel Il Marine is a great budget hotel right next to the Old Town.”

best winter sport destination in Europe
Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France (Photo courtesy of Erin from Erins Travel Tips)

Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France

By Erin from Erins Travel Tips

The ultimate destination in France for a winter getaway is the stunning village of Chamonix-Mont Blanc (often most referred to as Chamonix). Here you can spend the perfect winter holiday cradled in the valley of a charming 19th century village.  

Chamonix is renowned for being a top ski resort destination. Mont Blanc is Europe’s highest mountain peak in the Alps at 15,781 feet. It is also known for holding the first Olympic Games back in 1924.

While in Chamonix, you must go to the top of the Aiguille du Midi. The ride in the vertical cable car holds the record as the highest in the world. Once you get there, you will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic mountain views. On your way up or down the mountain, there are plenty of things to do with cafes, shopping, and viewpoints.

Extend your day by taking the Skyway Monte Bianco cable car between two countries. This memorable experience has out of this world views! You will be suspended in the air with the clouds below you.  

For the less adventurous, you can also easily travel by car to Courmayeur, Italy through the Mont Blanc Tunnel which runs underneath the Aiguille du Midi.  Either way, you can easily see France, Italy, and Switzerland on this trip without traveling more than an hour. In addition, Chamonix is a great place home base for day trips to Annecy and Gruyères

Chamonix offers some of the best winter sports in Europe. You will be impressed by the sheer magnitude of these mountains. Chamonix skiing is so prominent that there are 3 distinct ski areas, Les Grands Montets, Brévent – Flégère, and the Le Domaine de Balme. 

Weather And Directions

In Chamonix, you should expect snow most of the year and even into the summer months. The average temperatures range from 29°F in the coldest month (January) to summer highs in July around 62°F. Precipitation due to the elevation averages around 50 inches per year.

You can reach Chamonix by flying into the Geneva International Airport (Genève Aéroport). It is the closest airport to the Savoie region, and just over an hour’s drive on the Swiss motorway. Car travel is the easiest and most convenient way to travel. Chamonix is also accessible by train with service from Paris Gare de Lyon and to Annecy or Geneva. 

Hotel Recommendation

Erin says, “Stay in the heart of the village at the stunning, Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix. This 5-star resort is the perfect place to relax with its luxury spa amenities. It is also conveniently located near excellent restaurants and boutiques.”

best places to visit in Europe for snowy winter wonderlands
Zakopane, Poland (Photo courtesy of Holly from Four Around The World)

Zakopane, Poland

From Holly from Four Around The World

Zakopane is a small town in southern Poland that is nestled in the Tatra mountains. It is a popular destination for both Polish and international travellers who come to enjoy the many winter sports and incredible mountain scenery. It is also one of the best places to visit in Europe for snow filled landscapes.

There are many things to do in Zakopane during winter. Snowboarding and skiing are very popular and there are several terrain parks where you can test your skills. And kids will love tobogganing down Gubałówka Hill, one of the most popular sledding hills in Zakopane.

Don’t miss a chance to take the Funicular up Mount Gubałówka for the best views of Zakopane and the Tatra mountains. The other popular nearby attraction is taking the cable car to the top of Kasprowy Wierch. This is the highest ski resort in Poland. Even if you aren’t keen on winter sports, it is a great place to enjoy spectacular views!

Weather And Directions

The average temperature in Zakopane in winter sits between 21 degrees Fahrenheit and 25 degrees Fahrenehit (-4 to -6 degrees Celsius) during the day and drops lower during the night. There is an average of 7.87 in (200mm) of snow in each of December, January and February. However, snow falls up to 6 months of the year, making it possible to enjoy a visit in November and April when there will be fewer tourists.

To reach Zakopane, the closest international Airport is Krakow. It is 70 miles (113 km) by car or take the 2-hour bus ride between Krakow and Zakopane.

Hotel Recommendation

Holly says, “You will find plenty of options for accommodation in Zakopane. There are some beautiful private holiday home rentals, which are perfect for visiting with a large group. Otherwise, Hotel Aquarion Family & Friends is a fantastic choice for families. It is right next to Zakopane’s indoor waterpark.”

best places in Europe to enjoy winter sports
Copenhagen, Denmark (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Copenhagen, Denmark

By Trisha from P.S I’m On My Way

Copenhagen is a great destination to visit in Europe during the winter. From living in Copenhagen, the best tip is to visit during the Christmas season (late November through early January) as the city holds over 10 big Christmas markets in the city where you can eat, shop for gifts, and get to know the Danish culture.

For a full winter adventure, Copenhagen has ice skating rinks that are free of charge. You only need to rent your ice skating gear for DKK 50 (US$7) and you can go ice skating for as long as you want. Frederiksberg Runddel and Toftegårds Plads are two of the best ice skating rinks in Copenhagen that are open every winter.

Indoor enthusiasts can go cafe hopping in Copenhagen and eat food primarily offered in winter. For example, Flæskesteg is a traditional winter pork dish that is widely served within the country. Overall, Copenhagen has an impressive cafe culture and they have many delicacies that are unique to Denmark.

Weather And Directions

The minimum temperature in Copenhagen in December is 37 °F (and can go up to 40 °F). There will be cold evenings where temperatures drop to 20 °F. Make sure to pack proper winter clothing, not just normal jackets and shoes. 

Snowfall in Copenhagen occurs from December to mid-March. January and February is the best time with the most snowfall (1.8 inches each month).

The airport that serves Copenhagen is Karstrup. Denmark has a very efficient transportation system. Here are some options from Copenhagen Airport to the city center:

  • Bus: 30 minutes ride at US$4 per person. Trusted bus companies are Movia, Flixbus, and Öresundståg;
  • Train: 13 minutes via Danish Railways (from US$6 – US$10);
  • Subway: 15 minutes via Copenhagen Metro (from US$3 – US$5); and
  • Taxi: 10 minutes from US$25.

Hotel Recommendation

Trisha says, “As for accommodation, I usually just go for a VRBO if I am traveling with someone. Most of the time, I visit Copenhagen solo and stay in hostels like Urban House or Steel House. 

If you want to stay near the canals, the most ideal neighborhoods to book your accommodation are in Amager, Nordhavn, and Christianshavn.”

best winter wonderland to visit in Europe
Innsbruck, Austria (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Innsbruck, Austria

By Paul from Paulmarina

Innsbruck is the regional capital of Tyrol in Austria. The city is nestled between the Alps and is known for winter sports. The Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck twice in 1964 and 1976. It is one of the best European cities to visit to experience snow.

Winter sports aren’t the only thing for which Innsbruck is known. People come from far and wide to see the golden roof, the symbol of Innsbruck, in the Old Town. The roof was built in the 15th Century and was tiled with 2,657 fire-gilded copper shingles in the early 16th Century. It looks stunning when the first snow falls in November.

In addition, the modern and impressive looking Nordkette cable car takes you within 20 minutes from the city center to the top of the Karwendel mountain. On a sunny day, you get a stunning 360 Degrees view of the winter wonderland below. Of course, you can also enjoy a wonderful ski day as well.

If you just want to take in the charming feeling of the Old Town and its architecture, visit in December, during the Christmas season. There are great Christmas markets. The one next to the River Inn is heartwarming, and the colorful buildings with the snow-capped mountains in the back will get you into the Christmas mood.

The Krampus tradition is still very much celebrated in the area and worth an experience. Traditionally, a man hides in animal skins, under carved wooden masks, and ties bells to their costume so that people hear the clanking in the darkness. They carry a long stick and a canvas bag to drag naughty children away. Historically, this was a frightening tradition for small children. Today, children are no longer taken away and instead, many towns host formal processions. It is held on the 5th of December and St. Nikolaus visits on the 6th of December.

Weather And Directions

The temperature is usually between 15 and 32 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. It may drop further in early January. January and February are the best months for guaranteed snow. Occasionally, it snows earlier in November too. If it’s a good year, then December is the best time to enjoy fresh snowflakes when Christmas lights and decorations adorn the medieval city. The snow tends to melt starting in March. Then, the best way to enjoy the snow is on the surrounding mountains.

Innsbruck has an international airport, so you can fly direct. It is only a few minutes into the city center.

Hotel Recommendation

Paul says, “Innsbruck offers many great hotels in which to stay, so you will surely find something that suits your needs.”

best European destinations to visit for winter sports
Limone Piemonte, Italy (Photo courtesy of Francesca from Travel Heal Love)

Limone Piemonte, Italy

By Francesca from Travel Heal Love

Limone Piemonte is one of the oldest Alpine villages in Italy, with a twelfth-century church at its center, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Near the France border, Limone is a famous location for skiers for both Italian and French people. It has a magical atmosphere when everything is covered by a thick layer of snow. It is one of the best places in Europe to enjoy winter sports.

Limone Piemonte is a popular winter sports destination in Italy. It offers a lot of terrain for downhill skiing and snowboarding up to elevations of 6700 feet (2,060 meters). There are 32 miles (52 km) of slopes available in total and 14 ski lifts. You can bring your own equipment or you can rent all you need at the local shops.

However, this is not the only activity that you can do while in Limone Piemonte. In fact, you go cross-country skiing, hike or snowshoe, or go mountain biking in the surrounding mountains. You can discover many beautiful places by following the walks and itineraries in the Italian-French natural parks. Also, there is a skating rink for roller skating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. It is so much fun!

Weather And Directions

During the winter season, the temperatures can go pretty low, with an average of 27.9 °F from December to March. It usually snows a lot in this period, especially in February. Some years, there is up to 56 inches (140 cm) of snowfall in total. Amazing right? A white paradise!

To reach this unforgettable destination you can fly into Turin International Airport and then drive or get a train. It will take around 2 hours by car and 2 hours and 45 minutes by train.

Hotel Recommendation

Francesca says, “Limone Piemonte offers great accommodation for local and international guests. Most of them resemble a mountain cabin, with lots of woodworks, fireplaces, and rugs. Furthermore, many of them offer shuttle services to take you to the nearest ski lifts for the best snow adventure of your life!”

most beautiful places in Europe to visit for snowy winter wonderland
Loften Islands, Norway (Photo courtesy of Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far Blog)

Loften Islands, Norway

By Bradley from Dream Big Travel Far Blog

Lofoten islands are a Norwegian archipelago known for its spectacular peaks and views of the Northern Lights during wintertime. With countless viewing points, harbor towns, and fishing villages, these islands have a magical charm that comes alive when the snow falls! Accordingly, for anyone who seeks snow covered vistas, it is one of the best European winter destinations to visit.

If your main goal is to see the Northern Lights, go further north and make sure that you get away from the city lights. Lakes are a good bet in Lofoten, and you’re more likely to see the lights when the weather is clear.

Another must-visit is the Rorvikstranda Beach. It’s more popular in the summer months when people swim and camp here, but it is the perfect place to see spectacular views in winter. With snow-capped mountains in the distance and the sparkling waters, it’s definitely a great place to relax.

Overall, the Lofoten islands are a treasure trove of hidden gems and dramatic sceneries. While many people come here for a day trip, it’s worth staying for at least three nights to fully explore all that these islands have to offer.

Weather And Directions

The temperature in Lofoten can vary throughout the year, with its warmest month being August (61.8°F). For a wonderful winter wonderland in this archipelago, note that the temperature can reach as low as 34.5°F between December and January. There is lots of snow from November to April, with the heaviest snowfall in December, January and February with approximately 11 inches per month.

It’s really easy to drive to the Lofoten islands from other parts of the country. For those wanting to fly in from abroad, the closest international airport is Harstad/Narvik Airport. The drive to Lofoten will take around 2 hours and 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can fly into Bodø Airport as it connects to many international airports.

Hotel Recommendation

Bradley says, “In terms of accommodation, there are a lot of dreamy Airbnbs that can help you experience the islands in a memorable and authentic way. If you prefer a hotel, located in the islands’ biggest city, Thon Hotel Svolvær is a new, eco-friendly hotel known for its clean and modern interiors.”

best European destination to enjoy winter sports
Brasov, Romania (Photo courtesy of The Migrant Yogi)

Brasov, Romania

By Jade from The Migrant Yogi

Brasov, Romania is the ultimate getaway for a winter wonderland in Eastern Europe. Nestled on the plateau of Transylvania surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains, it’s no wonder this place draws tourists from all over Europe and beyond. It is also one of the best places in Europe to do winter sports and other activities in the snow.

Within the city limits, you can get a full Romanian cultural experience. Visit the Black Church (which isn’t black) which got its name from a fire. It is famous for its domineering presence in the Old Town and offering one of the greatest organs in Europe. It has over 4000 pipes and was constructed in the 1800s. Brasov also has one of the narrowest streets in the world, Strada Sforii.

Hike Tampa Mountain to the iconic (and Hollywood-esque) Brasov sign. Though, be forewarned – one of the top things to know before visiting Transylvania is not to feed the bears! Tourists get in trouble for this constantly.

In addition to the epic hiking opportunities in Brasov and the surroundings, snow sports abound here, particularly if you wander outside the city limits to Poiana Brasov, located just about an hour’s drive.

Skiing and snowboarding are among the top things to do. It is one of the cheapest places to go skiing in Europe and if offers 8.5 miles of ski slopes. The mountain range is Postavarul Massif, the highest point being Postavarul at 5800 feet (1799 m).

In addition, there are two gondolas that go high into the mountains as well as other lifts where you can either sightsee, hike or snowshoe.

Weather And Directions

The average temperature in the winter months ranges from 26 degrees Fahrenheit to 370 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 6 degrees Celsius) from November to March, so be sure to pack some layers to keep warm. The snowiest week is the last week of January, in case you’re hoping for heaps and heaps of the fluffy white stuff. You will typically see late snow storms in March and April.

To get to Brasov, you’ll can fly into either Bucharest or Sibiu, or Brasov’s new international airport (once opened). From Sibiu, it takes around two hours to reach Brasov by car. From Bucharest, the ride increases slightly to two and a half hours. By train, expect the rides to take much longer as the rail system in Romania isn’t as developed as in other parts of Europe.

Hotel Recommendation

Jade says, “Hotel Casa Wagner Brasov is a top pick among international and Romanian tourists alike for the best place to stay in Brasov.”

best European cities to visit to see winter and snow
Reykjavik, Iceland (Photo courtesy of Lowri from Many Other Roads)

Reykjavik, Iceland

By Lowri from Many Other Roads

Iceland. The land of fire and Ice. If you are looking for a snowy winter wonderland, Iceland is one of the best in Europe. From frozen craters to snow covered hills, Iceland is a dream destination for anyone who loves the winter elements. Iceland has so many great spots for the perfect winter getaway but there is one that you can’t help but fall in love with – Reykjavik. 

The capital city of Reykjavik has plenty to offer its visitors, especially in the winter season. One of the most popular things to do is to stroll around the harbour and take in the snowy views. Not only is it home to some great museums such as the Saga museum, it is also offers some of the best places to eat in Iceland. 

Another great spot in Reykjavik to admire the scenery is near the Hallgrímskirkja church. As it doesn’t look like most churches in Europe, the unique architecture of the Hallgrímskirkja church makes it well worth visiting. In addition, it is one of the most magical spots in the snow and a fantastic spot for photos.

To explore this snowy winter land, it is best to rent a car. However, if you aren’t confident driving in these conditions, then wait and drive in Iceland in March. You will still find winter conditions but weather warms a bit and driving conditions improve. 

For a snowy winter wonderland, there is no place like Iceland. Add Reykjavik to your list of places to visit for the ultimate winter getaway.

Weather And Directions

The winter season tends to be from November-March with temperatures in Reykjavik averaging around 32-37°F. But if you want your trip to have lots of snow, the best time to visit is from December through March. December, January and February sees around 9 inches of snowfall each month whereas there is 7 inches in March.

There are a few airports in Iceland but most flights come into Keflavik international airport. The airport is about a 45 minute drive to Reykjavik so it is pretty easy to reach. As Iceland has no train service, the only way to get to the city is by bus or car. 

Hotel Recommendation

Lowri says, “The Capital of Iceland is full of wonderful places to stay on your trip, no matter your budget. Midborg is one of the most popular locations, especially for first time visitors to Reykjavik. This neighbourhood is in the heart of the capital and great for shopping and eating. One of the top picks in this location is Hotel Fron, a charming hotel in a fantastic location.”

best snowy winter wonderlands to visit in Europe to do winter sports
Bansko, Bulgaria (Photo courtesy of Lyubomira from Bulgarian On The Go)

Bansko, Bulgaria

By Lyubomira from Bulgarian On The Go

When talking about snow and winter sports in Bulgaria, the first place that comes to people’s mind is Bansko – the country’s biggest and most famous winter resort. Bansko is located in the beautiful Pirin Mountains, and apart from being a preferred European winter getaway, it’s also a beautiful small town with a lot of history and landmarks one can visit. 

Bansko is known to charm its visitors with its romantic cobbled streets, traditional taverns and lovely architecture. Discovering the Old Town is a must-do when visiting, as there is a lot to uncover – from churches and monuments to house-museums of remarkable Bulgarians.  

Number one on the list of things to do in Bansko in winter is to definitely try some winter sports. Bansko has been a regular host to the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, a top international circuit of alpine skiing competitions. For skiing and snowboarding, there are 26 miles (48.2 km) of slopes and 14 ski lifts. Elevation is between 3000 and 8200 feet (990 and 2,560 m).

For those non-skiers, one of the best things that you can do is take a snowmobile tour through the spectacular forests of the Pirin Mountains. For a slower pace, take a snowshoeing trip up to one of the mountain huts. You can also rent a toboggan and sled.

Weather And Directions

The winter temperature in Bansko remains around 32°F with some fluctuations, and the sun is usually shining bright. In January, for example, the temperatures can be anywhere between 40°F and 25°F, in February – between 37°F and 23°F, and in March – between 43°F and 27°F.

The amount of snow that falls in the wintertime is anywhere between 5 and 10 inches per week, but the mountain peaks remain covered at all times. Bansko usually keeps its snowy landscape all the way through March. 

The easiest way to get to Bansko is to first fly to Sofia and then catch a bus or drive. The bus takes around 3 hours and leaves from the Central Bus Station, whereas driving takes just about 2 hours.

Hotel Recommendation

Lyubomira says, “A good hotel option is KapHouse, which is just a few minutes walk away from the ski lifts and also from the town center.”

best snowy winter wonderland to visit in Europe
Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Sierra Nevada National Park, Spain

By Paulina from Visit Southern Spain

Sierra Nevada National Park is a natural and scenic beauty located in the lap of Granada and Almeria in Spain. The National Park is spread from the Alpujarra to El Marquesado. It covers a total area of 320 square miles and features one of the tallest mountains in Europe. In addition, it is home to more than 20 mountains and a number of rivers, forest areas and lakes. Sierra Nevada National Park is one of the best places to visit in Europe for a snowy winter wonderland.

There are several things that you can do in Sierra Nevada National Park in the winter months. The Sierra Nevada Ski, Snowboard and Mountain Resort offers you 62 miles of ski runs with 21 gondolas and chairlifts.

If you are not keen to downhill ski, you can take a ride on one of the lifts to the park’s highest points. It takes visitors to peaks like Veleta and more scenic trails. After that, you can explore the popular hike of Los Cahorros Gorge which can be reached from Monachil. It is a 6 mile trail and opens you to breathtaking views of the hills in the Monachli Valley. The view from the top is especially marvellous in winter. You will love it if you wish to see lots of snow.

After the picturesque hiking trail, you can go rock climbing, even in winter. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rock climber, Sierra Nevada National Park has opportunities for everyone. You can rent equipment if you do not have your own.

Weather And Directions

The average temperature in December, January and February varies between 36.7°F and 24.8°F. There is generally a snow depth of 8.6 in (22cm) in November, but by March, there could be as much as 116 inches (297cm) at the top.

The nearest airport to Sierra Nevada National Park is Granada Airport. You have to drive 27 miles (44km) to reach the destination.

Hotel Recommendation

Paulina says, “A great accommodation spot is Melia Sierra Nevada.”

best places to visit in Europe for snow and winter sports
Stockholm, Sweden (Photo courtesy of Philipp from Journication)

Stockholm, Sweden

By Philipp from Journication

Looking for a true winter wonderland in Europe with a high chance of snow and plenty to experience? 

Then Stockholm is the place for you. Sounds rather cold and dark? Far from it! The Swedish capital has not only many museums and large department stores for extensive shopping trips in winter, but there are also great things to do in Stockholm in winter.

Skansen Park is considered the world’s oldest open-air museum. Here you can admire many original houses and even whole farms from all parts of Sweden. Many craftsmen offer daily performances. For example, the blacksmith showcases how they forge metal and the glassblower creates works of art. 

Attached to the Park is also a zoo, where you can admire typical Nordic animals. You can look forward to seeing reindeer, moose or wolves. However, in winter, the bears hibernate. 

Skansen Park in winter is very special. At this time of year, the area is usually wonderfully covered in snow. There is a real Christmas atmosphere when you walk through the streets surrounded by typical Swedish houses. The Park is beautifully decorated with cozy lights and all kinds of decorations.   

Weather And Directions

In the winter months, you can expect temperatures between 28 degrees Fahrenheit and 31 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to -2 degrees Celsius). Expect snow from November through March. However, the best months snowfall is December, January and February with around 3 inches each month.

From Arlanda International Airport its easy to travel to Sweden’s City Center by train.

best winter sports destinations in Europe
Dolomites, Italy (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Dolomites, Italy

By Caroline from Veggie Wayfarer

There is no better place to experience a true white winter than the Dolomites in Northern Italy. The Dolomite Alps are a paradise for lovers of winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, sledding, but also more relaxing activities including indulging in a thermal spa. It is one of the best places in Europe to experience all the good things that winter and snow bring in a stunning setting.

The Dolomites are an expansive area, covering a whopping 15,942 km² (almost 4 million acres). The very best areas to stay in the Dolomites during winter are Val Rendana, Val di Rabbi and for the first-time visitors, the famous Val Gardena area. The little village of Ortisei in Val Gardena is the perfect pieds-à-terre to set-off on any numerous winter activities.

In particular, there is spectacular cross-country skiing areas in Val Gardena, in addition snowshoe excursions into the forests where you will be surrounded by nature. If you are traveling with your family, you will find lots of tobogganing opportunities as well as ice rinks for skating in almost every village.

And of course, there is an abundance of fantastic downhill skiing and snowboarding. The Dolomites Val Gardena / Alpe di Siusi ski area is part of the Dolomiti Superski, a world-famous network of 12 ski areas in the Dolomites which you can access using just one ski pass. This includes the longest ski slope in South Tyrol, the “La Longia”. It is more than 6.2 miles long (10 km), offers 4100 feet (1,273 m) of elevation gain and stretches from mount Seceda to Ortisei.

Weather And Directions

Average winter temperatures hover between 14°F and 23°F, the valleys tend to be a little warmer while the cold winds on the slopes can feel arctic. A good windbreaker and plenty of warm clothes are an absolute must!

The beauty of the Dolomites Alps is that when it snows, it does so in thick sheets of snow that stick to the ground. The average snowfall for the colder months of the year looks as followed:  December 6.6 inches (17cm), January 16 inches (40cm), February 17 inches (43cm) and March 14.5 inches (37cm). The first snow tends to hit the ground starting end of October and will stay until March/April of the following year.

The nearest airport to fly into the Dolomites is located in Venice (either Venice Marco Polo or the budget airline airport of Venice Treviso). Renting a car will give you maximum flexibility to discover this majestic region. Driving from Venice Marco Polo airport to Val Gardena is a beautiful 3h30 drive, along the way you pass sweeping vistas and snow-capped mountaintops galore.

There are strict rules for driving in winter in the Dolomites which include the mandatory use of winter tires and snow chains starting the first of November. Make sure to check with your rental company what the latest rules are, and which of the mandatory items are included in your rental package. 

best European cities to visit in winter for snow
Helsinki, Finland (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Helsinki, Finland

By Kenny from Knycx Journeying  

Located by the coast of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki was founded in the 16th century. It offers a rich history and strong cultural influence as the capital of Finland. The city is nicknamed the “Daughter of the Baltic” and is one of the best cities with lots of snow to visit in winter in Europe.  

A few keywords are often used to describe Helsinki: “Compact”, “Cultural”, and “Clean”, making it easy to plan a winter itinerary in Helsinki.

First of all, it is convenient to get around the city center on foot or by tram and visit a number of world-class museums. Those include the Design Museum in the design district and the National Museum. As for art, there are several exceptional galleries, such as the Ateneum Art Museum for a world class collection of Finnish Art and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Purchase the Helsinki Card for free entry into many of these popular attractions.   

Next, visit Helsinki Cathedral, an eye-catching landmark in Senate Square, where you can also have a taste of local food at the Christmas Markets on Aleksanterinkatu if you visit in late November or December.

In addition, the nearby SkyWheel Helsinki is an observation wheel with fantastic views of the city and beyond. It also features a SkySauna – the first of its kind in the world. Afterwards, make sure you admire the unique Temppeliaukio Kirkko, a Lutheran Church carved into solid granite.

Bundle up and take a ferry across the harbor to Suomenlinna, an important heritage site in Finland. Built in the mid 18th century by Sweden on eight islands located at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbour, this fortress is an interesting example of European military architecture. Try and coordinate the ferry ride for sunrise for beautiful views.

Lastly, no trip to Helsinki is complete without stopping by a Finnish Sauna. It is a wonderful way to socialize, relax and also warm up as it snows in winter.  

Weather And Directions

The snowy period in Helsinki lasts for five to six months, starting from the end of October to mid-April. January has the most snow in Helsinki with an average snowfall of four to five inches, and the temperature drops to 3 to 25°F.  

Helsinki is a travel hub in Finland, served by Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. It connects with many international destinations all over the world. The airport is located about 10 miles (17 kilometers) away from the city center.   

Hotel Recommendation

Kenny says, “One of the best hotels in Helsinki is Hotel Kämp, which is located by the Esplanadi, with an in-house spa.”

best cities to visit in Europe to see snow
Berlin, Germany (Photo courtesy of Pixaby)

Berlin, Germany

By Pamela from Directionally Challenged

An overlooked destination for a snowy winter is the beautiful city of Berlin, Germany. The city comes alive with the first snowfall and continues through the winter months. 

As one of the best cities in Germany, Berlin has so much to offer visitors. If you’re comfortable walking around in the cold, the city’s Christmas markets are unlike anywhere else in the world. You’ll find glassblowers, artisans, mulled wine, and warm treats. From November to mid-January the Berline Botanical Garden gets decorated for the holidays and even has its own ice rink!

If you need a break from the cold, there are plenty of museums in Berlin to warm up in, such as the Germany Historical Museum or the National Gallery.

For a great panoramic view of the city head up to the TV tower. If you prefer to see the city skyline, head to the Tiergarten and up the Victory Garden.

Weather And Directions

While it snows throughout all of winter (November-February), January typically has the most snowfall with 1.5 inches. Temperatures in winter are usually a little above freezing (mid-30s Fahrenheit, or 2-3º Celsius). 

Most people who visit Berlin fly directly into the city through Berlin Brandenburg Airport. There are public buses that provide transportation to the city center for around 4€. 

Hotel Recommendation

Pamela says, “A great mid-range hotel located in the city center is the Park Inn by Radisson. It’s within a few miles of many of Berlin’s attractions. There is even a bus station near the hotel for travelers using public transportation.”

Last Word

Winter is a great time to explore a different side of Europe. There are many beautiful cities, towns, national parks, and mountain ranges that get lots of snowfall and offer you the opportunity to not only see stunning vistas filled with snow and ice, but also enjoy winter sports. Consider skipping that next beach holiday and leave your shorts and t-shirts at home. Instead, pack fleeces and boots and seek out these wonderful destinations.

the authorNicole
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