We have warm weather lovers who are too quick to skip Europe in winter and instead prefer the sunny beaches of summer. We’re here to convince you to embrace snowy weather and make the most of the coldest season. A wintry day in Europe is possible to be, dare we say it? blissful and beautiful.
The Christmas rush is overshadowed by the fact that most major cities are relatively quiet and affordable in the colder months. They also offer outdoor adventures and cozy experiences worth the effort.
These picturesque winter destinations in Europe will help you plan your next vacation, no matter if you are planning for 2023 winter vacations. In the meanwhile, we would suggest to check out ETIAS website for updated EU travel requirements and regulations.
Hallstatter See is a beautiful lake with fairy-tale churches, Alpine homes and snowcapped Dachstein Mountains. It’s located right next to Hallstatter See.
Hallstatt has a small population, less than 1,000 permanent residents. They live in Alpine timber homes built on steep hillslopes.
Hallstatt is equally stunning in all seasons, but it shines best when it’s covered with snow and ice. If you feel up to it, the Hallstatt Skywalk offers the best view of Hallstatt in winter. However, this requires a steep hike that is not always possible during winter.
Finnish Lapland is a winter wonderland unlike any other. Perhaps the best example of this is in Rovaniemi, the capital city. Rovaniemi, the capital of the region, is perhaps the best spot to spend Christmas. It boasts husky sledding and ice-skating rinks as well as Northern Lights safaris. You can enjoy glogg by the fireplace, cloudberry ice cream, and smoked salmon from your comfortable bed.
Even if the northern lights are not visible, Rovaniemi experiences a magical period called Polar Twilight (rather that Polar Night), during which the sun rises for a few hours each day. These months are magical for nature and buildings alike because of the bluish, sparkling snowdrifts that cover everything.
Christmas markets are an essential European tradition, and Germany is the best country to host them. It’s hard not to love the glow of Christmas lights in medieval towns, especially when there is a light dusting of snow. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Germany.
Over 100 stalls are located here selling everything, from the local “Rauschgoldengel”, (gold-foil angel decorations), to the traditional Lebkuchen Gingerbread. The backdrop is historic buildings.
After shopping, you can enjoy a holiday concert at Lorenzkirche church, which is home to the largest organ in the world. You can also take a walk-up cobbled streets to Nuremberg Castle. Then, visit the city’s toys museum to learn more about the centuries-old art of wooden toymaking.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Cortina d’Ampezzo, located just two hours north of Venice and best known for hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics is the perfect getaway to the Italian Dolomites. It’s also one of the most popular ski resorts in Italy. The town is just steps from Lake Sorapis, and the Tre Cime National Park. It’s also a top-end destination for snow lovers. Cortina will host the 2026 Winter Olympics. This is why now is the best time to go, before the crowds return.
The town is a great place to go for adventure. It has easy access to three ski areas: Faloria Cristallo Mietres and Tofana. There are also great trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. The town also has an Olympic ice arena where you can try curling or ice-skating. Visitors can also take a brief “driving” lesson, have time with the dogs and then go for a 30-minute ride on a husky powered sled.
The town transforms into a winter wonderland during December. There is a vibrant Christmas market that sells handmade crafts and hot chestnuts. The Christmas spirit is felt throughout the town with cozy cafes and buildings from the 18th century decorated in holiday lights.
Innsbruck is a charming mountain town that offers a glimpse of the Austrian Alps. It offers historic sights, stunning views from cable cars and funiculars, and you can also ski the beautiful peaks. Innsbruck, host to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics is a charming mountain town that loves winter sports and has a lot of history.
Skiers and other cold-weather enthusiasts flock to Innsbruck when the first snow arrives. Winter brings out the best of the town, but the beautiful summers offer plenty of opportunities to hike, mountain bike, or simply enjoy the sights.
Visiting Europe is a nice experience even in winter. Winter sports and activities such as searching for the northern light can be enjoyed due to the short days and snow. Winter also brings important dates and celebrations like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. These celebrations allow for the local culture and traditions of the area to shine through, allowing you to see a side that you might not otherwise be able to.
These are some of the most picturesque winter destinations in Europe that we hope you will enjoy on your next trip.