Experience the Magic of Europe’s Best Winter Destinations

Aerial view of one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter

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For most people winter is that time of year when staying inside, saving money, and spending another chunk of the year looking forward to the summer is considered “the norm.” I encourage you to shake off those winter blues by exploring the best winter destinations in Europe where you can take advantage of smaller crowds, lower prices, and some seriously impressive European cities that look even better covered in snow. 

In this post I dive into popular winter destinations and some not-so-popular destinations that you might never have considered for a winter vacation before. I also look at what you should bear in mind before choosing your destination and what to pack for a chilly winter getaway in Europe.

The best European winter destinations

All of the destinations on this list can offer something different but in my opinion they are all equally charming in the winter season. Some cities just look better in winter, don’t you think?

Edinburgh, Scotland

victoria street in edinburgh, scotland

When you book a visit to Edinburgh you can look forward to enjoying mulled wine and Scottish ale in cozy pubs and cafes, strolling down charming cobbled streets, and getting warm by the fireplace with a mince pie and a cup of tea as snow falls outside. This is one of the most intriguing cities in Europe and a treat for anyone visiting Scotland for the first time.

You’ll have plenty of things to see in Edinburgh too: Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh Castle, and Palace of Holyroodhouse are all must-see destinations and you can even book a tour of the underground vaults in Oldtown, which I can’t recommend enough for anyone interested in learning more about the truly miserable conditions people once lived in here.

Another very affordable activity underground awaits beneath the Royal Mile in Edinburgh when you book a fully-guided tour of Real Mary King’s Close. Don’t pass up the opportunity to discover more than 450 years of history as you wander through this preserved 17th Century street during one of Scotland’s Best Heritage Experiences.


🔸 Best overall hotel: Market Street Hotel (9.0) Very close to the station and an excellent location for sightseeing, this highly rated hotel features a rooftop lounge and magnificent views not easily found in other hotels.

🔸 Best overall apartment: ALTIDO Apartment (9.1) This spacious and very central apartment is ideal for both couples and families and can sleep a total of five guests. Accommodation also comes with the very best amenities and facilities.

🔸 Best overall hostel: CoDE Pod (9.4) If you want a memorable stay in Edinburgh you absolutely need to book a stay in this unique and faultless hostel that uses Asian-style pods for guests to sleep comfortably with more privacy and comfort than other hostels.

Best things to do in Edinburgh: Book one of the best scotch whiskey tasting tours in Scotland (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) 

Seville, Spain

Building in Seville, Spain with Christmas decorations

Seville is one of the warmer winter destinations in Europe that is simply magnificent this time of year thanks to jaw-dropping decorations around the city and its Christmas markets. Seville also has one of the most beautiful city centers in Europe and I’ve already put together a list of areas where you can easily find accommodation plus great things to do in each area. You can read my article on the best places to stay in Seville here.

Temperatures in December and January can top more than 45°F (20°C) during the day and if the sun is shining (which it usually is) you can explore Seville’s tropical neighborhoods without feeling the cold. But do make sure you have a coat for the evenings as temperatures drop considerably after sunset.

If you want to escape the cold this winter, Seville might be your best option and you can learn more about the capital of Andalusia in this post that breaks down everything you need to know before you visit Seville.


🔸 Best overall hotel: Hotel Gravina (9.5) This 18th century manor house has been converted into one of the most impressive hotels in Spain and it’s our pick if you want the most authentic Andalusian experience in Seville.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Loft en el Corazón (9.7) A spacious apartment in the heart of Seville where you have plenty of natural light, beautifully furnished rooms, and high quality amenities.

🔸 Best overall hostel: La Banda Rooftop Hostel (9.6) If you’re traveling through Seville and want a hostel that ticks all the boxes, La Banda Rooftop Hostel is the best in town.

Best things to do in Seville: Book your ticket to visit one of the best palaces in Spain: The Royal Alcázar (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Berlin, Germany

Berlin at night and one of the best winter destinations in Europe

Berlin is by far one of the best winter destinations in Europe. The city is steeped in history and culturally it’s one of the most intriguing cities in Europe today, offering some of the best attractions and things to do in Germany. From the world-famous Brandenburg Gate to the bustling Christmas markets, winter here is a magical time for families, couples, and backpackers alike.

Berlin is also home to some of the world’s best museums and galleries, as well as plenty of delicious restaurants and cafes.

Just make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes—I’d even recommend thermals—if you want to survive the cold weather here. Temperatures can plummet to as low as 23°F (-5°C) in January so trust me when I say that you’ll need a hat and some gloves when you’re out and about.


🔸 Best overall hotel: KPM Hotel & Residences (9.3) With its sleek design inside and out, KPM Hotel is a great option for guests that want to wake up in large, bright rooms before enjoying a delicious breakfast buffet.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Bensimon Apartments (9.0) Stay close to the center of Berlin and book your stay in this fantastically furnished apartment that gets particularly excellent reviews for its stunning kitchen area.

🔸 Best overall hostel: Lekkerurlaub (9.5) Guests always feel at home in this hostel where its cozy atmosphere and comfortable beds are a delight to come back to after a long day out in the Berlin’s buzzing city center.

Best things to do in Berlin: Learn about the history of Berlin in a small group or private walking tour with a top-rated local guide (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) 

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague city center

Prague is is full of cultural attractions like the iconic Charles Bridge to the majestic Prague Castle and has a variety of excellent neighborhoods to choose from when deciding where to stay.

Fore example, Mala Strana is one of the best areas for families and couples to stay in Prague and you’ll also be close to the famous Charles Bridge in this neighborhood too. As it’s a popular part of town for tourists, food prices can be a little more expensive than other parts of the city but it’s definitely worth it if you find a renowned restaurant here. Check out this guide on eating and drinking in Mala Strana for more ideas.

The city also has a vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars and clubs to explore in areas like Zizkov. You could instead consider the desirable Vinohrady neighborhood if you want to be in a more “trendy” part of town. Vinohrady is also popular for expats if that’s something you’re interested in.


🔸 Best overall hotel: Josephine Old Town Square Hotel (9.5) If you’re looking for a classic hotel vibe in a central location in Prague where you’ll also receive complimentary snacks and drinks, make sure this place is on your radar.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Jilská 449/14 (9.5) This pristine apartment in the heart of Prague is worth every penny thanks to a central location, spacious floor plan, and accommodating host.

🔸 Best overall hostel: The RoadHouse Prague (9.9) A wonderfully welcoming and relaxed hostel where you can have fun with other guests through daily activities organized by the friendly staff.

Best things to do in Prague: Enjoy a medieval dinner with three courses, unlimited drinks, and music and entertainment (⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Reykjavik, Iceland

Rainbow street in Reykjavik, Iceland

From the world-famous Blue Lagoon to the unforgettable Northern Lights, Reykjavik is a great winter destination for those looking for a unique experience in Europe this year.

If adventure is on your wish list this winter, a vacation in Reykjavik absolutely needs to be booked and crossed off your travel bucket list. For example, you could see the famous Geysir area, Þingvellir National Park, and Gullfoss Waterfall all in one day if you book the Golden Circle Full-Day Tour. On this particular tour, you’ll be able to actually feel the spray of the Gullfoss Waterfall and even look into a volcanic crater at Kerið — talk about great photo opportunities!

And for most first-time tourists in Reykjavik the most popular place to stay here is Downtown Reykjavik also known as Midborg. From here you can quickly access all the best museums, bars, and cafes in the city when you’re not exploring the amazing natural attractions outside the city center.


🔸 Best overall hotel: Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel (9.0) This hotel comes with all the essentials plus some extras too and has a very welcoming atmosphere that you can’t always find in other hotels like this.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Old Charm Reykjavik Apartments (9.1) These apartments are simply some of the best in town for value for money and location rated 9.8/10 – one of the best available here.

🔸 Best overall hostel: Loft HI Hostel (8.9) Voted the best HI-Hostel in the world in 2014, guests can visit the terrace here for beers in the summer and Northern Lights in the winter!

Best things to do in Reykjavik: Explore the best of Iceland’s natural landmarks on this full day trip in Southern Iceland (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Vienna, Austria

peaople at a christmas market in vienna in winter

Vienna is a great destination for those looking to explore Europe in the winter and boasts the world-famous Schonbrunn Palace and the stunning Ringstrasse, a circular grand boulevard that serves as a ring road around Vienna’s historic Innere Stadt district.

I love Vienna in the winter because it really feels like the place to be during this festive part of the year. For example, the popular plaza Rathausplatz in front of Vienna City Hall is transformed into an impressive ice rink where you can either show off your skills or embarrass yourself completely.

Remember that you will really feel the cold in Vienna if you don’t dress for the weather so pack plenty of layers. But if you’re still cold you can always warm up inside the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, home to the largest amount of Gustav Klimt paintings in the world. Circle back to Rathausplatz and you have one of Europe’s best Christmas markets to explore too.


🔸 Best overall hotel: Parks 73 The Townhouse Hotel (9.3) Guests love the comfortable beds in this hotel, which are guaranteed to give you a full night’s sleep and also its proximity to supermarkets and the tram that are just around the corner.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Rioca Vienna Posto 2 (9.0) Great apartments in Vienna for couples, these modern rooms can sleep two guests in the large double beds and the contemporary design and gym area are also a very nice addition.

🔸 Best overall hostel: Vienna Boutique Hostel (9.6) Run by staff with years of travel experience, this place has some of the best facilities you could hope for in a budget-friendly hostel with brand new showers in every room.

Best things to do in Vienna: Book this Hallstatt & Alpine peaks day trip from Vienna with magnificent skywalk lift (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Paris, France

Cars and the Arc d'Triumph in Paris in December

Ah, Paris.

For a long time Paris has been regarded as the most romantic city in the world and while other destinations in Europe have vastly improved over the last 20 years, Paris is still a must-visit if you’ve never been before.

Staying in a nice hotel in a safe location in Paris can make all the difference but it isn’t cheap so make sure you’ve saved up enough and worked out a budget before you book anything.

You’ll also want to visit all the main attractions while you’re here. Paris is one of the best places to visit in the world thanks to must-see tourist attractions like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the world-famous Eiffel Tower, which are both even more charming when it starts snowing.

Paris also has many of the best museums and galleries in the world and you can’t leave without visiting the iconic Louve Museum, home of course to Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting. Make the most of your time in Paris and get your tickets for a guided tour of the Louvre that also allow you to skip the line (the queues can be enormous even in winter).


🔸 Best overall hotel: Hotel Moderniste (9.1) The rooms in this boutique style hotel aren’t the biggest but what they lack in size they more than make up for in quality and comfort. The main sights in Paris are also easily accessible from the hotel.

🔸 Best overall apartment: Apartments Du Louvre – Le Marais (9.1) Only 900m from the world famous Louvre Museum, this jaw-dropping apartment comes with three large rooms all with double beds – ideal for 6 people or less.

🔸 Best overall hostel: The People – Paris Bercy (9.3) This superb hostel is located in the 12th district of Paris, which is one of the safest and most charming areas in Paris and a fantastic place to be based if you want to visit the best attractions in Paris.

Best things to do in Paris: Treat yourself and loved ones to a night at the Moulin Rouge Cabaret show with champagne included (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)

What to think about when choosing where to go

globe zoomed in on Europe

When it comes to choosing the best winter destinations in Europe for you, it is important to think about many key factors — let’s start with the weather. Despite the fact that most of Europe will be cold and snowy throughout the winter months, there are other cities known for their milder climates in winter. For instance, Seville boasts much warmer temperatures than most other European cities, which makes it an excellent alternative for anyone looking for warm winter destinations. It’s also important to think about the activities and attractions you want to see/do while you’re away. Cities like Paris, for example, offer an endless list of amazing things to do in winter (that don’t always require you to be outside).

Another factor to think about is the cost of the trip. Some of the destinations above will force you to dip into your pocket more often than others but there are ways to remedy that. You could stay in a hostel, for example, and I’ve included some excellent options for that above too. You might also be happy to explore more budget-friendly activities but wherever you decide to travel to, there’s always plenty of ways to save money abroad.

Exploring Europe within the winter: advantages and challenges

Exploring Europe in the winter has its advantages and challenges. On the one hand, the winter months will bring cold temperatures and snowy weather, which might make traveling between places harder so make sure you bear this in mind when choosing your next winter trip abroad. Some attractions may also be closed due to weather conditions but this is pretty unlikely for the European cities I’ve outlined above.

On the other hand, the winter months tend to be less crowded than the summer season, which would make it easier for you to explore your surroundings more peacefully. Queueing to see attractions in the summer can be pretty miserable when you’ve got that hot European sun beating down on you and a slow-moving line to contend with. Booking city breaks in winter instead may be a smarter idea for this reason alone. The winter months will also give you some unique experiences, like seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland or exploring the world’s best Christmas markets in Germany and Austria.

What to pack for a winter trip to Europe

When packing for a winter trip to Europe, it’s important to be mindful of cold temperatures and pack intelligently. Make sure you pack essentials like coats, hats, scarves, and gloves — this really goes without saying. But you should also consider packing some good thermals, especially if you decide to visit Iceland or even Berlin in winter where extreme temperatures can be an unpleasant shock to the system.

You’ll also want to pack good quality boots with excellent grip or snow shoes depending on your destination. Sneakers like your favorite Nike high tops simply won’t cut it for most cities in Europe that are prone to snowfall. Once that snow melts or turns to ice, you’ll be concentrating more on staying upright than seeing the sights that you’ve paid to see.


Europe has plenty of memorable places to visit in winter and if you already had one of the cities on this list in mind, perhaps this post has encouraged you to book your dream winter vacation there already. Wherever you decide to go, remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes! If you’re unsure always pack an extra layer or two to be safe when traveling in winter.

Post your questions and any additional thoughts in the comments section below and please share this post if you found it useful. And hopefully you have a blast visiting the best winter destinations in Europe this year! 

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