The Best Winter Destinations In Europe – A Definitive Guide

Snow, skiing, sledding and more, there’s a reason why Europe is such a popular winter holiday destination. With so many amazing places to visit, where are the best winter destinations in Europe?

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Europe is a fantastic holiday destination no matter what time of year you visit. 

Home to some of the world’s oldest cities, incredible history, stunning architecture, beautiful landscapes, and divine food, there’s a reason why Europe is on so many people’s bucket lists.

However, there is something about winter in Europe that just feels magical. Unlike other seasons, winter can completely transform a place, making you question if the beauty you’re seeing is real. This is the reality in Europe in winter. All of the cities come alive with decorations, lights, festivities, and holiday cheer. 

While not every European country is a suitable winter destination, those that are, are definitely worth adding to your bucket list. 

Whether you’re planning a trip to the snow or to the warmer parts of the continent, let’s look at the best winter destinations in Europe and what makes each place so special. 

1. Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Photo: Photo by Y K | Unsplash

We begin our list with the quintessential European winter holiday destination, Hallstatt. 

This little picturesque alpine town situated on a lake, Hallstatter See, in Austria, is one of the best winter destinations in Europe because of its incredible landscape, beautiful alpine houses and postcard picture views. 

While the town may be small, there is so much to love about Hallstatt. As you wind your way through the quaint streets, you will be blown away by the views that welcome you around every corner.

Made up of small alleyways winding between traditional Austrian alpine houses, Hallstatt is wedged between the lakefront and the Alps, providing breathtaking sights no matter where you look. 

You can spend your days in this village admiring the views that are so picturesque it feels like you’ve stepped into a fairytale or hiding from the cold in one of the unique restaurants indulging in delicious traditional Austrian cuisine. 

Whether you find yourself standing by the lake or atop the mountains behind the village, one thing is for sure, Hallstatt is a destination that will exceed all of your expectations. 

Some of the best things to do in Hallstatt in winter include

  • Visiting the beautiful Catholic Church
  • Strolling through the streets
  • Visiting the Altaussee Salt Mine
  • Getting a picture-perfect shot of the lake, town and mountains
  • Hiking the Echerntal trail
  • Making your way up to the Hallstatt Skywalk 
  • Visiting the World Heritage Museum
  • Visiting the Charnel House

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Hallstatt in winter

  • December: 3°C high / -3°C low 
  • January: 2°C high / -4°C low 
  • February: 5°C high / -4°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 55.7 days 

While Hallstatt is a picturesque place in summer and spring, too, there is just something so special about it dusted in snow that makes it a perfect European winter holiday destination. 

2. Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, Photo: Roman Protsyshyn | Unsplash

If you want to experience the magic of Christmas but don’t want to wait until 25 December, why not visit Santa Claus instead? 

Located in Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi is where you can meet Santa in Santa Claus Village and experience the true wonder of a Lapland winter. 

What makes this place one of the best winter destinations in Europe is that not only can you meet Santa, but you also get a special stamp on your passport and can hang out with genuine reindeer!

Located near the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is the coldest destination on this list, so be prepared for freezing temperatures. However, the beauty of the snow, impressive buildings and charm of Rovaniemi make the cold temperatures entirely worth it! 

While the Santa Claus Village is one of the most popular things to experience in Rovaniemi, some other things to do include

  • Sledding with husky dogs
  • Seeing the Northern Lights; a bucket list experience for many
  • Learning more about the Artic at the Arktikum Science Museum
  • Sleeping in an igloo
  • Experiencing the Christmas opening ceremony 
  • Visiting the reindeer farm
  • Exploring the surrounding nature in snow-shoes 
  • Discovering new places on a snowmobile 

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Rovaniemi in winter

  • December: -4°C high / -11°C low 
  • January: -8°C high / -16°C low 
  • February: -6°C high / -14°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 200 days (across seven months)

If you want to step into a town that looks like it has been pulled straight out of a fairytale, then you have to visit Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland this winter!

3. Interlaken, Switzerland 

Interlaken, Photo: Bao Menglong | Unsplash

When you think of winter in Europe, one of the first places that come to mind is the snow-covered mountains in Switzerland. 

While Switzerland is a breathtaking destination to visit in summer, there’s something about the country that seems like it was made for winter, and Interlaken is no exception.

Located in a valley between two lakes, Interlaken is the perfect summer destination. But once the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall, it transforms into a fairytale. Within proximity to the Swiss Alps, Interlaken is a popular place for outdoor activities in winter, such as skiing and snowboarding. 

If you have ever wanted to wake up in Switzerland to falling snow and head straight up the mountain, then Interlaken is the perfect place to do it. Not only that, but the village is so quaint you could spend hours in a cafe looking out the window and admiring the beauty that surrounds you. 

One of the best things about Interlaken is that there are activities for everyone to enjoy in winter, such as 

  • Skiing and snowboarding down the fresh-powdered Swiss Alps
  • Paragliding over the stunning valley
  • Skydiving high above the picturesque village  
  • Wandering through the snow-covered streets 
  • Going cross-country skiing
  • Exploring the region in snow-shoes 
  • Hopping on a boat cruise on one of the nearby lakes
  • Going night sledding

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Interlaken in winter

  • December: 4°C high / -2°C low 
  • January: 3°C high / -3°C low 
  • February: 5°C high / -3°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 9.8 days 

No matter how you choose to spend a winter’s day in Interlaken, one thing is for sure; there is always a Swiss hot chocolate ready and waiting to warm you up!

4. Prague, Czech Republic 

Prague, Photo: Florian Olivo | Unsplash

Prague is one of the most popular cities in Europe, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists annually, especially in summer. However, while the city is just as, if not even more beautiful in winter, not many people choose to holiday there. 

If you love visiting destinations where it feels like you’re the only one there, then you have to add visiting Prague in winter to your bucket list. 

Prague is a city of old-world charm, architecture and culture, and it looks even more stunning coated in white snow, so it’s a wonder why many people choose to holiday elsewhere in winter. 

However, while Prague is a historical and cultural city, it is also popular for its drinking and partying scene, making it a fun holiday destination. Enjoy the different local beers at one of the many bars across the city, or if you want to warm up, why not head to a beer spa where you can literally soak in the beer?

Some other things to do in Prague in winter include

  • Visiting the Prague Castle
  • Wandering through the Christmas markets
  • Going ice skating
  • Seeing the lamplights on Charles Bridge
  • Watching a traditional holiday performance 
  • Going cross-country skiing in the city
  • Hopping on a river cruise
  • Warming up in a sauna 

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Prague in winter

  • December: 4°C high / 0°C low 
  • January: 3°C high / -1°C low 
  • February: 5°C high / -1°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 25 days 

If you have been to Prague at any other time of the year, you know just how beautiful and vibrant it is. So, why not head there in winter to experience its magic and charm?

5. Bergen, Norway 

Bergen, Photo: Syntax | Unsplash

When you picture Scandinavia, some of the first things that come to mind are snow and cold, so it’s no wonder that Bergen in Norway looks like it was literally made for winter. 

Situated amongst the stunning fjords and mountains that Norway is known for, Bergen is a popular place where people base themselves to explore this spectacular part of the country. 

And while the streets are covered in snow, it’s the perfect time to discover what makes this city so wonderful. Some of the best things to do in Bergen in winter include

  • Hopping on a fjord cruise and seeing what makes Norway so unique
  • Seeing the waterfront buildings of Bryggen
  • Braving the cold and heading up Mount Fløyen or Mount Ulriken to soak in the views
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Staying inside a warm cafe and indulging in gingerbread and a hot cup of cocoa
  • Visiting the biggest collection of gingerbread houses
  • Going sledding
  • Witnessing a breathtaking winter sunset 

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Bergen in winter

  • December: 5°C high / 1°C low 
  • January: 4°C high / 0°C low 
  • February: 4°C high / 0°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 36.1 days 

With so many wonderful things to see and do in Bergen in winter, it’s definitely a European holiday destination you have to add to your list!

6. Venice, Italy 

Venice, Photo: Federico Beccari | Unsplash

While it may not be Europe’s most typical winter holiday destination, visiting Venice in the colder months is perfect because it’s the least busy time of the year for tourists. 

If you’ve been to Venice any other time of the year, especially in summer, you’ll know how incredibly overcrowded it gets. So, why not take advantage of having no one around you and explore Venice without touching shoulders with strangers?

Take your time exploring the quiet, picturesque cobblestone streets, being the only one sitting in a cafe or enjoy the simplicity of not having to wait in line to see some of the popular sights in the city. 

While Venice may be quiet for most of the winter, it gets busy when Carnival comes to town in February. If you happen to be there during that time of year, enjoy the parades of people dressed extravagantly and wearing spectacular masks that are unique to the world-famous carnival.

If you plan on going to Venice to avoid the crowds and the Carnival, some of the best things to do there in winter include

  • Enjoying a gondola ride through the fog
  • Wandering through the Christmas markets 
  • Going ice skating in Campo San Polo Square
  • Appreciating the Christmas lights and decorations scattered around the city 
  • Treating yourself to a Venetian hot chocolate 
  • Going to The Opera at Teatro La Fenice
  • Soaking up the view from a rooftop terrace
  • Celebrating New Year’s Eve in St. Mark’s Square

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Venice in winter

  • December: 8°C high / 0°C low 
  • January: 8°C high / -1°C low 
  • February: 10°C high / 0°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 2-5 days

If you love Venice in summer, you will appreciate its charm even more in winter when there is hardly anyone else around. So, what are you waiting for? Why not book a trip to Venice this holiday season? 

7. Nuremberg, Germany 

Nuremberg, Photo: Kadir Celep | Unsplash

Europe is known around the world for its incredible Christmas markets, and Germany is known to have the best. But where can you find the best of the best Christmas markets in Germany? In Nuremberg! 

Located in Bavaria, this historical town boasts the best Christmas market in Germany because of its overwhelming sense of tradition and history. What makes the Christmas market in Nuremberg even more remarkable is that it dates back to the 16th century. 

With over one hundred stalls to visit, you can spend hours wandering through the market tasting delicious traditional German food, such as the local gingerbread, lebkuchen or sipping on glühwein. 

As well as food and drinks, while browsing through the market, you can also find traditional souvenirs, gifts and unique Christmas ornaments.  

While visiting the Christmas market is the most popular thing to do in Nuremberg in winter, other activities include

  • Ice skating
  • Walking Weißgerbergasse
  • Visiting the gothic church Lorenzkirche
  • Learning about a critical part of history at the Memorium Nuremberg Trials
  • Walking the city walls 
  • Admiring the ​​Weinstadel building
  • Climbing Nuremberg Castle and admiring the view
  • Wandering through the museums 

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Nuremberg in winter

  • December: 4°C high / -2°C low 
  • January: 3°C high / -3°C low 
  • February: 5°C high / -3°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 32.8 days 

If you love traditional Christmas markets and want to experience a German winter wonderland, then Nuremberg is definitely one of the best winter destinations in Europe you have to visit. 

8. Budapest, Hungary 

Budapest, Photo: Daniel Olah | Unsplash

Only within the last few years has the capital of Hungary finally been recognised as the fantastic destination that it is, welcoming more and more tourists every year. 

If you have been to Budapest in summer, you would think there isn’t much to do there in winter. But it’s the complete opposite. It seems as though Budapest was created to be the perfect summer and winter destination. 

Notably famous for its large thermal baths that are popular in summer, they also come in handy in winter, where you can escape the cold and keep warm below the water’s surface. 

Some other fun things to do in Budapest in winter include

  • Watching the snow fall from inside a warm cafe
  • Wandering through the Christmas markets 
  • Ice skating at City Park 
  • Witnessing St. Stephen’s Basilica light show
  • Hopping on a River Danube cruise 
  • Witnessing the Christmas light tram 
  • Visiting Buda Castle 
  • Indulging in a chimney cake

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Budapest in winter

  • December: 4°C high / 0°C low 
  • January: 3°C high / -2°C low 
  • February: 6°C high / 0°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 21.9 days 

If you’re looking for an affordable yet beautiful winter destination in Europe with a lot on offer, Budapest is for you! 

9. Faro, Portugal 

Faro, Photo: micheile dot com | Unsplash

If you aren’t a fan of the cold and snow that much of Europe brings in winter, why not head somewhere warmer, such as Faro in The Algarve? 

As the southernmost city in Portugal, Faro is a quaint and charming town offering a different winter experience compared to the rest of Europe. 

With low tourist numbers in winter and only five days of rain throughout the season, Faro is the perfect place to escape the cold, visit the beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. 

Some of the best things to do in Faro in winter include

  • Watching dolphins on a boat tour 
  • Catching some waves on a surfboard 
  • Soaking up the epic coastal cliff views 
  • Wandering through the Old Town
  • Visiting the Faro Cathedral 
  • Playing golf 
  • Enjoying local Portuguese food
  • Visiting the Salt Mines of Ria Formosa

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Faro in winter

  • December: 17°C high / 9°C low 
  • January: 16°C high / 8°C low 
  • February: 17°C high / 8°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: no snow 

If you plan on ditching the cold and heading to the warmth this winter, Faro is the best place for it! 

10. Amsterdam, the Netherlands 

Amsterdam, Photo: Lisa van Vliet | Unsplash

This guide to the best winter destinations in Europe wouldn’t be complete without adding the beautiful capital city of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. 

While any time of year is an excellent time to visit Amsterdam, in winter, the picturesque canals and stunning buildings get even more charming (if that’s even possible)! 

If you get to Amsterdam early enough in the season, you can still hop on a canal boat ride and experience what makes the city so special. However, when the canals freeze over, that doesn’t mean the fun stops. Put on a pair of skates, glide over the canals, and enjoy the magic and joy that it brings. 

Although Amsterdam is known for its cafes and party scene, if you aren’t that type of person, you can find peace in knowing there is so much more to do in Amsterdam. 

Much like most other cities in Europe in winter, Amsterdam can get very cold, so some of the best ways to stay warm in the city include

  • Watching tourists and locals wander the streets from inside a warm cafe
  • Wandering through world-class museums, such as the Van Gogh Museum
  • Indulging in classic Dutch winter dishes, such as snert 
  • Shopping along the 9 Straatjes 
  • Walking through the Christmas markets with a hot chocolate in hand 
  • Picking a free bouquet on National Tulip Day (January) 
  • Witnessing the Amsterdam Light Festival 
  • Going snow tubing at Amsterdam’s Winter Paradise 

These are the temperatures you can expect to experience in Amsterdam in winter

  • December: 7°C high / 2°C low 
  • January: 6°C high / 1°C low 
  • February: 6°C high / 0°C low 
  • Average snowfall days: 11 days 

Explore the canals, admire the festive lights and soak in every bit of magic that makes Amsterdam one of the best winter destinations in Europe this year. 

To Wrap It Up 

Winter is a fantastic time to visit Europe because it seems as though most of the continent has turned into a scene out of a fairytale. From snow-covered streets to Christmas markets and holiday cheer in the air, there is so much to love about winter in Europe.

Snow and cold bring fantastic activities, such as sledding, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice skating, snow-shoeing, and more. The great thing about Europe in winter is that every different city has something for everyone to enjoy. 

No matter if you’re planning a trip to the coldest parts of Europe to experience a true winter wonderland or want to head further south to the warmth and sun, there are so many fantastic options for a winter holiday in Europe. 

Whether it’s the Christmas village in Rovaniemi, the quiet streets of Venice or the warmth of The Algarve, where are you planning your next European winter holiday? 


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