Winter In Europe – Last year we wrote a few posts about where to escape the winter cold in Europe, without having to leave the continent – this time, however, we will embrace the winter and talk about the highlights of the season, and some of the best places to enjoy them.
While winter is the off season in Europe and most people prefer traveling the continent during the summer, winter is not such a bad time to travel around Europe after all.
There are many benefits of traveling in low-season; the accommodation is cheaper, the crowds are gone and you get a different insight into what life is like outside of the big tourist season.
Places like Barcelona and Rome, for example, are very different in low season.
Best Places to Enjoy Winter In Europe
Alps & Rural Villages – Graubünden, Switzerland
Of all the places I’ve been during winter, nothing beats Graubünden in Switzerland.
It is a very unique place, with lots of tiny mountain villages, chocolate-box ski towns and the most amazing mountain scenery you could imagine.
The Engadine valley is one of the deepest in Europe, surrounded by the Swiss Alps, and is still only accessible via train (you drive your car onto the train!), and thanks to this inaccessibility the local culture and heritage is very well preserved.
And you know the craziest thing about this place? It’s sunny almost every day, and yet it has heaps of snow – because it almost only snows at night..!
Warm Relaxing Bath in Budapest Hungary
There is nothing better than to soak down into a warm bath after a long day out in the cold.
In Budapest, bathing takes on a new level, with the many “Turkish baths” the city boasts – the baths are far from the noisy, cold indoor pools most cities have.
Even those who aren’t fond of bathing go there just to admire the beautiful architecture.
There are both outdoor and indoor pools, and every place has their own charm and unique touch.
And I can guarantee you they’re much more pleasant in winter than during a hot day in mid-july…!
What better way to relax your shoulders from hunching in the cold outside than soaking into a hot pool with water full of natural healing properties?
Budapest has a lot of beautiful baths, both inside and outside with a long history and tradition.
By enjoying the baths in Budapest you’re also experiencing something very typical for the city, its history and culture.
Sit back, relax and take in the wonderful environment.
Magic & Culture – Tromsø, Norway
The countryside of Norway is quite a spiritual place, and there is a very unique atmosphere there.
Perhaps it’s the eery northern lights, or the quiet forests, or the red sun at noon – whatever it is, there is a unique atmosphere in the north.
But aside from nature, there is another reason that many people forget or don’t even know about Scandinavia: the Sami culture.
The Sami people are the indigenous people of Scandinavia who inhabit the north.
They have their own language, culture, flag and traditions.
In Tromsø in February, there is a week long event called “Sami week”, where you can get an insight into their culture, check out the reindeer racing, lasso-throwing championship and other cultural Sami events, buy traditional handicrafts etc.
Snow-Covered Wonderland – Cappadocia, Turkey
If you think Turkey is warm in winter, you’re wrong. It can get freezing cold, but the weather also brings some magic to this land.
While you should stay away from the beaches, it’s a good time to visit some of the historical wonders in the country, such as Cappadocia.
People say that while Cappadocia is beautiful at any time of the year, it’s the most magical under a layer of snow.
Another good reason to go there in winter are the cheap flight deals you can find, especially within the country – Jet2 can offer cheap flights during winter as well as other times of the year.
I can also imagine that Ephesus would be a nice place to go in winter.
I was there in June and it was extremely hot, so visiting on a sunny but cold day would be nice.
Picturesque Winter City – Salzburg, Austria
Does any city look more picturesque in a layer of snow than Salzburg?
With one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe, a winter classical music festival, lots of winter hiking trails and a generally romantic vibe of the city, it’s simply the place to be.
And what better place to be surrounded by “Silent Night” music than in the city where it was composed?
St Anton, Austria
Why not embrace the cold and go for a ski weekend trip somewhere in the Alps?
There are hundreds of destinations to choose from – over 350 ONLY in Austria – of course it all depends on your skills and likes which one suits you the best.
But one of the best is St Anton – it is a huge ski resort in Austria which is famous for its amazing ski slopes, relaxation and crazy night life.
What are your tips for places to visit in Europe during winter?
European Winter Breaks
European Winter Breaks – Summer is nearly coming to an end here in Europe, and as we start our preparations for the next winter season, we thought it would be fun to share 3 fun winter breaks you could take in Europe in December.
Winter getaways don’t all have to be about skiing or snowboarding – there’s lots more to do when the days get shorter and the temperatures plummet.
Here are 3 suggestions if you’re looking for a winter holiday that’s a little out of the ordinary…
European Winter Breaks Dog Sledding In Sweden
Forget exploring winter landscapes under your own steam and harness the power of creatures that are infinitely more suited to this kind of activity than humans.
Of course, I’m talking about huskies.
You’ll need a bit of tuition to pick up the basics but then you’ll be mushing away, flying through breathtaking scenery.
Lapland is a magical place in the winter – not least of all due to its association with Santa Claus – and you’ll feel like you’re in your very own snowy wonderland as you glide across the snow past frozen lakes and fir tree forests dusted with a coat of white powder.
You don’t have to rely solely on husky power to get around here, though, as there’s also the option of hiring a snowmobile or even strapping on some cross-country skis if you’re feeling particularly energetic.
Highlights of a visit to Sweden in the winter will include the chance to spot herds of reindeer in the forest and the opportunity to take an ice-fishing lesson.
Now, be honest, you didn’t do any of those things on your last skiing holiday, did you?
Shopping At Christmas Markets In Salzburg During European Winter Break
One of my favorite things about the build up to Christmas is the shopping.
Even though battling crowds can be tiring, I love coming home with bags of goodies for all my friends and family.
To get even the biggest bah-humbug in the mood for Christmas shopping, head to Salzburg in Austria, which hosts several festive markets each winter.
The historic city is a delight to explore anyway, as it’s packed with architectural gems.
There’s the Hohensalzburg Fortress that looks out over the city from its hilltop position, as well as its beautiful Baroque cathedral, just for a start, not to mention a host of buildings associated with Mozart.
Back to the shopping, though, because that’s the main reason to visit Salzburg in December!
The most famous of the markets is the Christkindelmarkt in Cathedral Square, which has been held every year since the 15th century!
Browse the dozens of stalls with a gluhwein in hand to keep the cold out and if you get tired of searching for presents, you can enjoy a classic carol singing session.
Cruise The Fjords In Norway
When you think of cruises, sunshine, sandy beaches and destinations like the Caribbean or the Spanish islands probably come to mind.
So, turn your idea of a cruise holiday on its head by visiting Norway in the depths of winter!
It’s not as crazy as it sounds – the fjords are absolutely stunning at any time of the year, and even more so when there’s a fine dusting of snow along the high cliffs and mountains.
Travel to the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Circle and you’ll be greeted by a rugged, but beautiful, landscape.
The real highlight, however, is the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in all their glory.
Winter is the best time of year to spot them here, so wrap up warm and head out on deck after the sun sets to be in with a chance of seeing one of nature’s greatest spectacles.
Top Places To Visit in the Winter Sun
With the temperatures dropping, the frost settling and the inevitable fall of festive snow, the winter is one of the most beautiful times of the year.
But wouldn’t you rather be sitting on a sun glazed beach in your swimsuit than wrapped in layers trying to keep yourself warm?
For some, the winter break signals an escape from the cold mornings and chilling frost as they pack their bags and head abroad for some winter sun.
If you prefer your deckchair to decking the halls, then a winter break may be just want you are looking for.
Escape The Cold This Winter and Soak up the Sun
You don’t have to fly thousands of miles either, with Europe home to host of sunny hot spots.
Why not consider flying privately to avoid the Christmas crowds and congestion inevitable around this time of tear.
Start your holiday off in style.
But where to go?
With so much choice, culture and a number of coastlines to consider, it can be difficult to find the perfect destination.
We’ve teamed up with Charter-a Ltd, the UK’s leading private jet and helicopter charterer, highlighting 5 places you can soak up the sun this winter.
Hacks for Traveling During the Winter Season
Traveling during the winter season is definitely more stressful than traveling during the summer or any warm weather.
The best way to go is just to pack well, plan ahead and be well prepared.
The more information you have, the better you can plan ahead and avoid setbacks or issues that can make a wonderful trip go wrong.
Here are some top tips for winter travel, whether you are traveling by car, plane, bus or train.
Plan Ahead (more than usual)
Preparation is important when traveling, even more so during the winter season.
Do as much research as you can regarding flights, layovers, weather, etc.
Knowing exactly what you’re in for will help you pack, plan and have an overall great trip.
Make sure you check the weather often, more frequently the days before you’re leaving.
This will help you keep an eye out for extreme conditions, be it at airports or once you arrive at your destination.
Issues like snow storms or icy road conditions can really set you back upon arrival.
Read up on your destination and find out details such as peak travel dates, crowds, popular events and common issues that can come up.
Air Travel during winter
Emergencies do happen so plan ahead.
Leave for the airport early to avoid traffic delays.
Be mentally prepared for delays.
Take along a good book, some snacks, a days supply of medication and wear warm clothing but nothing too heavy that will hold you down.
A sweatshirt or sweater can double as a pillow or blanket.
Put important telephone numbers in your cell phone.
Also write them down so you can contact your rental car office, hotel and/or family members if they are going to pick you up from the airport.
Although it may cost more, try to book a direct flight to avoid delays at connecting airports. It’s a greener way to travel, too.
Driving in Winter Weather
If you are planning to road trip locally, be sure to maintain your vehicle for cold weather driving.
If you’re renting a car at your final destination, make sure it’s the right model for winter driving.
Add anti freeze and have your oil changed, install new wiper blades to keep your windows clean and snow tires that will get you through snow, ice and slush.
If you’ve planned a ski vacation, you will need those snow tires and possibly even chains.
Make sure you’ve arranged this with your car rental.
Pack warm clothing, stay hydrated, take extra blankets, a good flashlight and an emergency road kit.
Packing the Right Stuff
Packing the right items is extra important when traveling during the winter time, especially if you are traveling with young children.
Experts recommend dressing in layers with a soft shell, this way you can remove layers if you’re too warm.
Other than this, the right clothing can be key when traveling, not always the woolen heavy stuff is the best to pack and/or wear.
Look for special fabrics that help keep you warm but are still light and breathable.
The right pair of shoes can make or break your winter trip, pack waterproof boots and enough socks to keep you feet dry and warm.
With busy holiday traveling dates, try to leave a few days early.
Book flights ahead of time and, if you can, book direct flights to avoid delays on any connecting flights.
If your trip is composed of many flights, try to pick southern countries to avoid layovers.
Avoid popular destinations such as well-known ski resorts, Disney or cities like New York, these places will be swarming with people and setbacks during these seasons.
Remaining calm is also key here, busy seasons such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or the New Year are specially crowded, so just be patient and run with it.
You can have a great time traveling during the winter season.
Just take some time in advance to plan, so you can avoid issues that often come with cold-weather traveling.
Things to Do in Salzburg Austria
A walk from the Salzburg central station to the castle, a visit at the castle and then back again will take you past many of the most famous sites in Salzburg.
On the way you will pass stores and restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine and even a fresh produce market – the following 5 top attractions in Salzburg can be seen in one day by following the route through the old town and up to the castle.
- Things To Do In Salzburg Austria
These landscaped gardens interspersed with ponds and statues are best known from the film The Sound of Music when the kids sang and danced along the edge of the ponds.
The gardens are part of the Mirabell Palace grounds.
The palace was built in 1606 and the gardens were designed in the 1600s and again in the 1700s.
The Pegasus Fountain dates back to 1913 and the 17th century statues around the fountain represent the four elements.
Other features of the gardens include the 18th century Hedge Theatre, the Dwarf Garden and the Orangerie.
The gardens are open from 6am to dusk and entrance is free.
This huge baroque 17th century church has seen several reincarnations having suffered from fire, and having been renovated and enlarged on several occasion since the original church was constructed in the 700s.
The church has an impressive façade, a large dome and twin bell towers.
The majestic doorways, beautiful organ and high vaulted ceilings are just some of the features.
The church still holds the font where Mozart was baptized. Open from 8am to 5pm, 6pm or 7pm depending on the month and on Sundays from 1pm, entrance is free.
Wander through the cobbled Grain Lane where each store has an old-fashion style shingle and the window fronts are designed to look like they would have looked 100 years ago.
There are a range of stores here including the modern big brand name fashion stores but you’ll also find souvenir stores, quaint cafes and chocolate stores selling Mozart chocolates.
Mozart’s Home (Number 9 Getreidegrasse)
For 26 years from 1747 to 1773 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived with his family on the third floor of Hagenauer House.
See where he lived, furniture from the same era, memorabilia and several musical instruments he would have played.
There are documents and paintings as well as the violin Mozart played as a child.
Open from 9am to 5:30pm and until 8pm in July and August. Admission is €10 for adults, €4 for youths and €3.5 for kids aged 6-14.
The hill top fortress was originally constructed in 1077 and is the biggest completely preserved fortress in Europe.
It overlooks the city and is the number one must-see site in Salzburg.
Several rooms of the castle have been furnished in period furniture and other rooms are used to display medieval weapons.
From the courtyard there are stunning views of the city below and you can enjoy a meal at the hill top restaurant.
You can take the funicular to the hill top or walk up. Open 9:00am to 5pm or 7pm depending on the month.
Admission, together with the funicular ride is €11 for adults and €6.3 for kids.
Whether you are visiting here for pleasure, business or to study, be sure to check out these amazing places.
Christmas Markets In Europe
There is a big bonus in traveling around Europe in December, something which should not be missed: the Christmas markets!
Christmas is a huge and very important tradition in most countries in Europe, and people love celebrating it; the streets are lit up with cozy Christmas lights, every city decorated a big Christmas tree on the main square, the restaurants and cafes prepare for Christmas dinners and lunch – but best of all are the Christmas markets.
We have put together a list of three of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
Brussels Christmas MarketBrussels Christmas Market
What Brussels Christmas market is most famous for is not the handicrafts and gifts you can buy, but the food.
Brussels is in our opinion one of the best food cities in Europe at any time of the year, but during Christmas the city takes food to the next level.
The market takes over Grand-Place square, recognized as one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, and you can smell the mulled wine and hot chocolate drinks a mile away.
From gingerbread and mulled wine to mountains of Belgian chocolate and preserved fruit jars, you can also sample steamed snails and oysters – in other words, this is the ideal Christmas market for food lovers.
Cologne – GermanyChristmas market in Cologne
Christmas in Germany is unlike anywhere else – every city and village in the country has a Christmas market, and Cologne has four.
The most popular one is the market ”Am Dom”, on the square in front of Cologne Cathedral, the most visited monument in Germany, providing a great atmosphere to the market with its Gothic style.
The Christmas markets are a huge event in Cologne, attracting 2 million people every year.
The market on the Alter Market is more idyllic and romantic, set in the heart of the Old Town with half timbered stalls and a very traditional style.
London, UKLondon christmas
London’s Christmas starts a little earlier than in the rest of Europe, with Regent Street ceremoniously switches on the Christmas lights in November to light up the walking parade.
Except for some great Christmas present shopping, there is also the winter wonderland in Hyde Park with a large ice skating rink, a toboggan slide and (if you don’t have the time to visit a traditional market in Germany) a German traditional Christmas market.
Christmas in London is great because it offers not just Christmas markets but a lot of events, like Christmas carols, shows and winter festivals.
It can be difficult to find London accommodation during Christmas, especially hotels and B&B’s.
A much better option would be to opt for London serviced apartments – less people know about them, and you can create a much better Christmas atmosphere staying in an apartment rather than a hotel.
Cook your own Christmas dinner using the foods you bought on the market and have a family Christmas as if you were at home.