By Dani Thomason
Europe is a traveler’s playground. With so much fascinating history, intriguing cuisine and striking landscapes, European destinations appeal to any kind of adventurer. In the peak of summer months, traveling to Europe can bring congested crowds, never-ending lines and sky-high prices. If you want to avoid this kind of experience, consider taking your vacation during the wintertime. These cities take on a whole new persona during the colder months and are truly unique compared to summer. Whether you are looking to go hide away in the Swiss Alps or want a major city such as Paris all to yourself, try visiting these 10 European destinations this Winter.
1. Prague, Czech Republic:
With its red tiled roofs, colorful facades, and stunning architecture, Prague is a beautiful city no matter what time of year it is. Take advantage of this romantic city during the winter season when there are less tourists and cheaper accommodations. There is plenty to do and see in Prague. Take a stroll through Prague’s charming old town square or marvel at the stunning Charles Bridge. This city is simply breathtaking. If you are fortunate enough to visit during December or early January, be sure to check out their festive Christmas markets that can be found throughout the city.
2. Barcelona, Spain:
For those of you who are looking for an escape from the harsh winter climate, head down to the beautiful Mediterranean coast in Barcelona, Spain. With its traditional tapas, relaxing beaches, and extravagant nightlife, this artistic city has plenty to do all year round. Its moderate climate and off-season prices make it unbeatable compared to its touristy summer months. Whether you are feasting at La Boqueria or wandering through the el Borne district, this European destination is the perfect winter escape.
3. Grandvalira, Andorra:
Andorra is a micro country sandwiched between Spain and France. It is situated right in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains. During the wintertime, European vacationers flock to Andorra to experience some of the most fantastic ski resorts. These slopes are perfect for every level skier and are a great alternative to other alpine resort towns. Andorra is also known for being a more affordable destination, which is always an added bonus. Head down the road less traveled and spend your holiday skiing in Andorra’s Pyrenees!
4. Interlaken, Switzerland:
Switzerland as a whole is an adventure seeker's paradise and that is no exception in the wintertime. Interlaken is a must see destination due to its pristine location. This town has a 360-degree view of soaring snow-capped mountains and is nestled between two vast lakes. Tourists visiting will still have full access to some of the best slopes in all of Europe, but see less crowds and pay less compared to its larger neighboring Swiss resort towns. Whether you are a thrill seeker exploring the mountains, or just want to relax with a cup of Switzerland’s famous hot chocolate, Interlaken is a dreamy destination for all.
5. Paris, France:
It’s safe to say that Paris is one of the top cities to travel to around the world, and that’s for good reason. It’s hard not to be swept away by the city’s romantic charm. Whether you’re strolling down the champs elysees or marveling over the grand Eiffel tower, all of these activities can be enjoyed effortlessly during the winter time. Traveling to this magical city in November-March will avoid the wave of tourists that will undeniably be there in the high season of summer.
6. Innsbruck, Austria
Tucked away in the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck is a winter lover’s heaven. With 9 local ski regions surrounding Innsbruck, this major city is the ideal destination for winter sports. In fact, it has even held three winter Olympic games. Many people visit Innsbruck during the winter because it is a large city with a great selection of restaurants, shopping, and attractions to keep all types of tourists entertained.
7. Copenhagen, Denmark:
Why did Copenhagen make the list? Because this city is absolutely beautiful. The colorful and photogenic buildings bring life to the charming waterfront harbor. Though the weather might be overcast or rainy, with no crowds, you can take full advantage of all the top sightseeing spots with peace and ease. This city seamlessly blends the old versus the new with its architecture and contemporary art. If you are looking for a laid back and relaxing holiday, consider spending it in the charming city of Copenhagen.
8. Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
There is nothing more romantic than strolling through a labyrinth of canals, and that is only heightened during the chill of winter. Even though this season in Amsterdam can be quite cold, that shouldn’t stop you from exploring this beautiful city. Amsterdam is a very popular destination in the summer months, but if you travel here in the winter, you get shorter lines, smaller prices, and all of the main attractions will still be open. Amsterdam is progressive and thought provoking. It really is one of those cities you have to go see in person. Whether you’re interested in checking out their famous “coffee shops” or enjoying a scenic bike ride through Vondelpark, this city offers endless possibilities.
9. Abisko, Sweden:
One spectacle that should be included on every traveler's bucket list is a night under the aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights). Watch as the sky transforms into a colorful light show dancing from blue to red to green. Abisko, Sweden is known for being one of the best places to view this remarkable phenomenon. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when the northern lights will occur. The best opportunity to catch them is in the middle of winter, in really dark and cloudless skies. Even if the northern lights don’t make an appearance during your visit, all is not lost. Try other activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, or ice-fishing.
10. Bled, Slovenia:
The city of Bled is one of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes you can find in Europe during the winter. This picturesque town captures the natural beauty of the surrounding alpine mountains and highlights a stunning lake. This town's luring attraction is a medieval castle that sits stoically on its own private island in the middle of Lake Bled. While countless tourists flock to see this spectacle each summer, this small town will be all yours in the winter months. With its plentiful mountains and cozy atmosphere, Bled should be included on every traveler’s bucket list.
Bonus City: Budapest
Winter is the perfect time to enjoy some Goulash and take a dip in the many thermal bathhouses Budapest is famous for. Each one is very different from each other and some even have Sparties (Spa+Parties) complete with DJs and Lights in the evening. Stay warm with some delicious (and cheap Hungarian wine the region is famous for.