Even for the Grinchiest vacationers (of which I’m one), touring to Europe in the course of the holidays is a fascinating expertise. Between the glimmering lights and the lingering smells of vacation treats, the very best European cities to go to in December are people who absolutely embrace festive traditions and customs.
From the best possible locations for Christmas markets to fairytale-like cities and even just a few locations to observe the northern lights, these are some unforgettable locations to journey this December in Europe:
1. Davos, Switzerland
Excessive up within the Swiss Alps lies the snowy paradise of Davos. Whereas most ski cities within the Alps have to supply snow for his or her slopes in December, the excessive elevation right here lends itself to having greater than sufficient contemporary powder for snowboarding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and different wintry actions.
The city of Davos is small and quaint, what you may anticipate from a Swiss mountaintop city. December is a perfect time to go to, because the twinkling lights and elevated snowfall create an idyllic scene. For outside lovers who’re desperate to hit the slopes, Davos is the very best European metropolis to go to in December.
Discover out extra about visiting Davos, Switzerland within the winter right here.
2. Berlin, Germany
In relation to visiting Berlin within the winter, dressing for the climate and understanding the place to go and what to do is vital. In spite of everything, the town has a repute for being darkish and chilly this time of 12 months. This definitely shouldn’t be a deal breaker, although, as a result of there’s a plethora of issues to do right here which can be truly higher within the winter.
For starters, the Christmas markets in Germany (and particularly in Berlin) are completely magical in December. Cities world wide attempt to replicate them, however there’s nothing fairly just like the OG ones you’ll discover right here. Heat yellow lights illuminate stalls promoting all the pieces from ornaments to snacks and mulled wine. Though these markets are unimaginable all through the nation, Berlin’s are particular as a result of they’re extra multicultural (there’s even a Japanese one!) and quirky, breaking free from German custom.
Moreover hitting up the Christmas markets, December in Berlin can also be a good time to take a look at one of many metropolis’s well-known spas, like Vabali, for a little bit of pampering. For the reason that excessive season in Berlin is in the course of the summer season months, December is ideal for testing some in style websites, because the crowds might be thinner.
3. Stuttgart, Germany
December is arguably the very best time to go to Stuttgart. The general ambiance is nothing wanting magical this time of 12 months. There quite a few Christmas markets all through the town and close by, every with its personal theme, so that you could be tempted to see as many as you possibly can. Try this video for a full rundown on the very best ones in Germany:
Different issues to not miss out on in Stuttgart in December embrace the Winter Gentle Pageant in Palace Sq., the Markthalle Stuttgart, and the Stuttgart Library. Although these final two points of interest are year-round locations of curiosity, they’re additional particular in December, once they tackle their very own model of vacation cheer, identical to the remainder of the town.
In case you need to enterprise outdoors of Stuttgart, there are plentiful day journeys which can be simply accessible by way of prepare. For instance, the quaint city of Tübingen, simply an hour’s trip away, is enchanting within the month of December.
4. Cologne (Köln), Germany
Cologne (Köln in German) is without doubt one of the greatest cities to go to in Germany, regardless of the time of 12 months. Nevertheless, the gothic structure it’s well-known for is especially stunning in December when Cologne attire up for the vacations. This can be a nice different to Berlin, as Cologne is smaller and extra laid-back, with fewer crowds on the Christmas markets and different points of interest.
There are seven Christmas markets in Cologne in December, every with a unique theme. Whether or not you enterprise to all of them or just some, that is a necessary merchandise in your itinerary.
Karneval can also be in full swing in December. This is without doubt one of the largest avenue festivals of the 12 months and the best possible place to get in contact with German tradition. It options vibrant celebration stuffed with reside music, plenty of dancing, conventional German feasts, and plentiful beer.
5. Rovaniemi, Finland
Rovaniemi is a part of Finnish Lapland and the undisputed residence of none aside from Santa Claus himself. Are you able to think about a greater place to go to in December, when St. Nick is in full Christmas-preparation mode? You’ll discover him within the Santa Claus Village within the Arctic Circle of Rovaniemi.
This city can also be residence to the majestic SnowHotel, which is carved from snow every year, ever-changing in its design. There are additionally glass igloos with clear domes that permit friends to observe the northern lights above from the consolation of their beds. You’ll be able to e book each right here.
Take into account that December is by far the most well-liked time to go to Rovaniemi, so make certain to e book properly prematurely if you wish to reside out your Arctic winter desires right here.
6. Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria
Touting itself as the best ski resort within the Alps is Saalbach, a beautiful mountain retreat in Austria that’s good in your December journey. That is simply some of the epic locations to hit the slopes. Not solely does Saalbach have a wonderful selection, starting from absolute newbie to professional degree, however the views of the Alps create a backdrop that feels nearly surreal. In case you need to take a break from snowboarding, you can too go for a powdery mountain snowshoe hike.
You may also discover the lovable streets of Saalbach Hinterglemm, that are adorned this time of 12 months with glowing Christmas lights. Guests love staying at Boutique Lodge Anyone, because it’s solely 300 meters from the ski lifts.
7. Vienna, Austria
This enchanting metropolis is definitely the primary one which involves thoughts after I take into consideration the very best European cities to go to in December. Very similar to Germany, the Christmas markets in Austria are legendary. The twinkling golden lights and wafting aroma of roasting chestnuts (actually, chestnuts roasting over an open fireplace!) and smoky Viennese sausages characterize the ambiance right here in December.
Vienna is a hub for artwork, cinema, and music in Europe — nice information if you happen to want a break from strolling by the Christmas markets, that are outdoors within the chilly. There are quite a few artwork museums to peruse, from the important Kunsthistorisches Museum to the Albertina. One other nice indoor different to the Christmas markets is a go to to the Edelstoff Design Market, which has a particular part only for Christmas objects.
8. Reykjavik, Iceland
Iceland is without doubt one of the greatest locations on the earth to see the northern lights — and a go to to Reykjavik this December grants you a spectacular alternative to see them. Because of the city mild air pollution, your greatest guess is to do a tour outdoors of the town, the place you’ll have a greater probability of seeing the aurora borealis.
Though December is the darkest time in Iceland, with solely 5 hours of daylight, Reykjavik makes up for the shortage of solar with loads of Christmas markets and delightful lights all through city. Plus, the elevated snowfall in December nearly ensures a white Christmas. Not like different international locations that solely rejoice Christmas for a day or two, Iceland marks this vacation for 26 days, from December 11 to January 6. Because of this, Reykjavik could be the very best European metropolis to go to in December for diehard Christmas fanatics.
In case you need to escape the town, you can too embark on an epic highway journey alongside the Golden Circle or Ring Street, though the heavy snowfall may make the journey a bit treacherous. Discover out what else there may be to do in Iceland right here.
9. Abisko, Sweden
Talking of northern lights, one other stellar place to see them in December is Abisko, Sweden. This rugged Arctic vacation spot is without doubt one of the greatest locations on Earth to see the aurora borealis, though it’s definitely distant and very chilly (discover some packing ideas right here). In reality, temperatures can dive beneath zero Fahrenheit from time to time. For those who’re unafraid of the chilly, although, this is without doubt one of the most magical locations to be in December.
Abisko can barely be categorized as a metropolis, because it’s extra of a small gateway city to Abisko Nationwide Park, which is residence to herds of reindeer — you may even be capable of spot them trotting by the snow on the town! The reindeer are just the start of the attraction of Swedish Christmas, nonetheless. The Swedes go all out for this vacation; other than Midsommar, it’s the largest celebration of the 12 months. Even in small cities like Abisko, all the month of December is stuffed with festivities.
10. Prague, Czechia
Other than being a super European vacation spot for funds vacationers, Prague can also be a culturally wealthy metropolis that’s particularly charming in December, with snow-dusted cobblestone streets, Christmas markets smelling of gingerbread and cinnamon pastries, and an eclectic mixture of vacation celebrations that showcase Prague’s uniqueness.
Probably the most notable Christmas market and an awesome place to start out exploring is in Outdated City Sq., the place you’ll see a big Christmas tree and cubicles surrounded by a number of the metropolis’s most venerable buildings. Prague’s Jewish neighborhood additionally celebrates Hanukkah presently (test a calendar, because the date shifts every year), so might expertise an attention-grabbing mixture of traditions right here.
December is the right time to get pleasure from Prague’s gastronomical scene as properly; a number of the most conventional dishes are hearty stews with meat and starchy greens. Czechia can also be well-known for its beer, which you’ll be able to attempt on a craft beer tour.
11. Copenhagen, Denmark
For those who’re chasing the last word hygge feeling this December, look no additional than Copenhagen. Let’s face it, the Danish have mastered the artwork of making cozy areas, which is why spending the vacations right here is so engaging. All through the capital in December, you’ll discover golden Christmas lights twinkling, ice rinks full of individuals skating, and small retailers promoting candy vacation treats.
Probably the most well-known ice rinks is the Frederiksberg Runddel, the place you possibly can lease a pair of skates and be a part of the pack on the ice. From there, head to the Tivoli Gardens, the place you’ll discover a Christmas-themed carnival, a conventional Danish vacation market, and all types of scrumptious meals and drinks. Some particular issues to attempt are gløgg (spiced mulled wine), risalamande (a kind of rice pudding), and æbleskiver (candy fried dough balls).
Copenhagen in December is the epicenter of all issues cozy, making it top-of-the-line locations to go to in the course of the holidays.
12. Riga, Latvia
Latvia escapes many vacationers’ bucket lists, which is why it’s one of many most underrated international locations to go to in Europe. That stated, Latvia’s capital, Riga, is an unimaginable off-the-beaten-path metropolis to go to this December.
Like different cities all through Europe, Riga has three stunning Christmas markets. Probably the most well-known is the one in Doma Laukums, which is simply open on weekends. One other is the Livu Laukums market, which is extra fashionable and has a big Christmas tree produced from wooden planks at its heart. Probably the most distinctive of the three is in Esplanade Park, which has a whole part known as the Rabbit Village, full with a rabbit church and tiny rabbit homes.
Probably the greatest issues about visiting Riga in December is that there are far fewer crowds than in different European locations. Riga is smaller and quieter, and offers guests an opportunity to see how locals rejoice the vacations in their very own distinctive method.
13. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburg does Christmas lights like no different metropolis, boasting some of the spectacular shows in Europe. You’ll discover an unimaginable instance of this Christmas cheer on George Avenue, which can also be the location of one of many metropolis’s largest Christmas markets. The markets listed below are German-style however have their very own Scottish id, serving conventional fare like venison burgers and Scottish beer. On George Avenue, you can too lease a pair of skates and go ice skating, which is an area favourite festive exercise.
Many American vacation traditions come from the UK, so visiting Scotland in December offers you a neat look into their origins, like consuming turkey and potatoes and sipping scorching toddies, that form how we rejoice throughout the pond.
14. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is known for its scenic canals, which have earned the town its nickname, “Venice of the north.” When you can’t discover the canals within the winter, you possibly can get pleasure from this stunning metropolis’s immaculate surroundings and festive vacation ambiance. Take a horse-and-carriage trip by the twinkling city at nighttime, or make your method to the candy Christmas market, which is rumored to be the very best within the nation.
Bruges’ ornate structure takes on a mystical high quality in the course of the vacation season. The castle-like spires and stepped gable roofs on the buildings in Markt Sq. lend the place an vintage really feel, which appears to be like much more magical at night time with the glowing yellow and purple lights.
For those who select Bruges in your winter getaway, don’t miss out on an opportunity to find out how chocolate is made and go to a chocolate museum. In spite of everything, Belgian chocolate is a number of the greatest on the earth, and what could possibly be extra festive this December than snacking on some whilst you peruse a Christmas market?
15. Budapest, Hungary
Visiting Budapest in December is an intensely sensory expertise. The streets fill with the scent of heat spices and truffles, and the internal metropolis turns right into a fairytale-like masterpiece of lights yearly. Vörösmarty Sq. is the place to be in Budapest in the course of the holidays, as that is the place probably the most spectacular mild shows are, together with the biggest of the town’s Christmas markets, that are stuffed with meals stalls promoting stuffed cabbages, conventional goulash, and native wine.
One other improbable method to get pleasure from Budapest in December is to hop on the winter tram (line 2), which has hundreds of tiny blue and white lights and runs alongside the Danube Promenade, with a number of the greatest views within the metropolis. Budapest can also be residence to Europe’s largest pure ice skating rink, the Metropolis Park Ice Rink.
Regardless of the way you select to discover the town this December, Budapest is bound to attraction you with its vacation cheer.
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Whether or not you’re hoping to hit the slopes or cozy up in a festive metropolis, mulled wine in hand, I hope this record offers you some inspiration in your December travels this 12 months. Possibly you possibly can even go to a number of of those cities throughout your European winter journey. Which place feels like the very best European metropolis to go to in December to you?