13 Best winter destinations in Europe that are perfect for a winter city break

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It is no secret that Europe has tons of amazing destinations that will make your jaw drop. Right now, we are trying to enjoy the heat wave that is hitting a big part of Europe. As much as we like the blistering sun and the tons of mosquitos, we can’t deny that in between the cocktails we are already dreaming of cooler destinations sometimes.

So we wondered which awesome destination in Europe do you want to visit this winter?

Check out this cool round-up of the best European cities to visit in winter and enjoy your perfect city break! Each holiday destination has a description of top things to do and some of the best tours you can find to give you extra inspiration of how to spend your days there.

Maybe you are looking for some snow fun or are you trying to keep summer going on for as long as possible?

Let’s check out some of the best winter destinations in Europe.

The medieval city of Nuremberg in Bavaria has a tainted history as it was the favourite city of Hitler who made it the center of the Nazi Party Rallies. At the end of WWII the city and all its glory got destroyed by the allied forces.

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Be that as it may, the citizens of Nuremberg have rebuilt the city and tried to capture its original medieval character in the process. They more than succeeded and nowadays it is the second largest city of Bavaria, known for its picturesque old town, the Bratwurst and other delicacies.

Visiting in winter gives you the opportunity to enjoy the warm atmosphere of the Christmas markets.

Top Things to do in Nuremberg

  • Discover the old town with highlights as
    • Hauptmarkt with the Frauenkirche and the Schöner Brunnen fountain
    • Nuremberg Imperial Castle
    • St. Lorenz Church
    • Weissgerbergasse with its half-timbered town-houses
    • Fleish Bridge over Pegnitz river
  • Stroll around The Christkindlesmarkt which is the Christmas market held on the main square and the surrounding streets.
  • Get back in time with a visit to the Handwerkerhof. This medieval village has craft shops and restaurants that give you an idea of how life was back in the old days.

Tours in and around Nuremberg

Get to know the top sites of the city on this guided walking tour of the old town. Learn more about Nazi history and how this city played an anchor role for the Third Reich.

Let a local guide lead you through the old town while you get to know the best places and delicacies that Nuremberg has to offer on this Nuremberg food tour.

Nuremberg - Germany
View of the Old Town medieval architecture with half-timbered buildings in Nuremberg, Germany

12. Murcia - Spain

Murcia gets pretty hot in summer months with temperatures rising towards 40° Celsius. In winter however, temperature is much milder and ranges between 15° and 20° Celsius. Ideal to explore this beautiful ancient town without getting a heat stroke and without paying high prices for your hotel room.

Adjust to a slower pace and take your time to wander around town. Take in the lovely architecture, the different plazas and enjoy amazing food without the big crowds that summer months bring.

Top Things to do in Murcia

  • Walk around the city and enjoy its architectural gems like the Cathedral at Plaza del Cardenal Belluga and the Puente de los Peligros, the oldest bridge in town
  • Visit the elite Real Casino and gaze at its astonishing over-the-top interior
  • Stroll along the coastline of Mar Menor
  • Take pictures of the Monteagudo Castle and its statue
  • Enjoy a walk through Jardin de Floridablanca and admire the winter beauty of the park
  • Visit Cartagena
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Tours in and around Murcia

Discover the region around Murcia and its orchards on a guided 3,5-hour E-bike tour. Get to know the Segura river valley and enjoy tapas at La Plaza de las Floras.

Get to know Cartagena in Murcia with a guided walking tour while you can enjoy delicious tapas from the region.

Murcia - Spain
Murcia Cathedral in a day of storm

11. Meteora - Greece

Meteora in the center of Greece offers a rare sight of nature. These astonishing rock formations are quite unique and you can admire them from different viewpoints. There are six monasteries founded on these cliffs and this region is on the UNESCO world heritage list.

The monasteries where built high up the rocks to escape the persecution of the Turkish during their occupation in the 14th century. The priories used to be only accessible by baskets and rope ladders but nowadays there is a walking path connecting the various abbeys.

Visiting Meteora in winter months guarantees far less tourists than in high-season. Of course it is colder but you don’t need it to be too hot for exploring these wonderful sites.

Winter is definitely a great time to visit Greece!

Most people stay in the nearby town of Kalambaka or Kastraki for a visit to the monasteries.

Top Things to do in Meteora

  • Go explore the famous monasteries on the cliffs of Meteora
  • Visit Trikala, a big Christmas festival called the mill of Elves. From the end of November until the first week of January

Tours in and around Meteora

Get comfortable in a mini-van and check out the scene to Meteora.  During a 4-hour guided tour around the 6 monasteries of Meteora you get the chance to see some astonishing views and included in the tour is the visit of at least one of the monasteries. End this tour with admiring the sunset over the cliffs.

Follow your guide on one of the tallest rocks of Meteora while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Hike the ancient path of the Great Saint Rock on the edge of the cliffs on this Meteora rocks and cliffs scramble tour.

10. Sibiu - Romania

Sibiu can get very cold and full of snow in winter. But this only attributes to its charm. This medieval town with its cobblestoned streets and narrow staircases will transport you back in time.

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The city is ideal for long romantic walks in upper and lower town where you can admire all the many old houses, little market squares and cozy alleyways. After sightseeing get yourself warmed up in one of the restaurants or cafés enjoying a drink and a tasty local dish.

Especially in the period around Christmas Sibiu is full of decorative lighting that creates an even more romantic setting.

Top Things to do in Sibiu

  • Visit or stay at the Ice Hotel
  • Check out the spectacular Christmas lights on Nicolae Balcescu street and visit the Christmas market up until the first week of January
  • Make a city walk of Sibiu town:
    • Market square Piata Mare & the small square Piate Mica
    • St. Mary’s Cathedral
    • Liars Bridge
    • Council tower which offers great city views
  • Wander around the Brukenthal Museum. This art museum is set in a former palace so the architecture is equally amazing as the exhibited art
  • Try out local dishes in one of the many cozy restaurants

Tours in and around Sibiu

Discover all the medieval gems of Sibiu on this half day sightseeing tour with a guide. You will also visit the nearby village of Sibiel where you can enjoy lunch at a peasants house. The trip ends with a stop at the village of Cristian.

This 4,5-hour walking food tour leads you through the upper and lower old town of Sibiu. While enjoying this exploration you will get to know the typical local cuisine of Romania through a lot of tastings of dishes and drinks.

Go on a day trip to Biertan and Sighisoara. Drive through the Transylvanian Plateau and stop at the town of Biertan where you get time to explore before you move on to your next stop Malancrav. Here stands a gorgeous fortified church that you visit. Your next stop on this day tour is the medieval town Sighisoara, the birthplace of Dracula. This important town is on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites and you will discover why.

Sibiu - Romania
Panoramic view of Sibiu central square in Transylvania, Romania.

9. Lagos - Portugal

Lagos in the Algarve region of Portugal is increasing in popularity as a winter destination in Europe.

It’s rather mild climate makes it a good city to explore outside the busy and hot summer months. With temperatures ranging around 10 and 15 degrees Celsius it is ideal to go for an active holiday that includes for example kayaking, hiking and long walks along the gorgeous coastline.

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The best thing about visiting Lagos in winter is that you will be able to explore all the beauty of the city and the surrounding nature without the busy crowds.

Prices in winter or much lower than in high-season too which makes your city break a lot cheaper!

Tip: This region hasn’t got a lot of rainfall either. November is the wettest month of the year and January tends to be the coldest month.

Top Things to do in Lagos

  • Visit the Ponta da Piedade and Praia do Camilo
  • Learn how to surf or show of your surfing skills on the awesome winter waves
  • Stroll around the picturesque old town of Lagos
  • Treat yourself with a delicious Portuguese dinner
  • Explore the Marina

Tours in and around Lagos

Embark on the speed boat of a local skipper and explore the coast of the Algarve. On this 75 minutes boat tour he will show you the rock formations and caves of the Ponte da Piedade.

Get to know the typical dishes of the Algarve on this 3-hour food tour. A guide will take you to different restaurants where you can enjoy tastings of different dishes that are popular in Lagos. On your way, you discover the ancient city and its charms.

Visit the charming Algarve village Sagres which is known for some of the best sunsets in the world. Wander around the village and take in the breathtaking views of the setting sun while enjoying a glass of wine on this Sagres sunset tour.

Lagos - Portugal
Lagos - Photo by LauraRinke on Pixabay

8. Krakow - Poland

Krakow is a delightful ancient city in Poland and we fell for its charm from the moment we arrived. We dedicated a full post about how to spend 4 days in Krakow and what excursions you can take in the surrounding area.

When visiting between the end of November end the beginning of January you get the chance to visit the Christmas market on the main square of Krakow. Rustic wooden stalls sell all kinds of candies, food and toys and souvenirs.

Top Things to do in Krakow

  • Explore the old town and Visit the Cloth Hall and the majestic main square
  • Walk through the green belt around town called Planty Park
  • Explore Wawel Castle
  • Take a day trip to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau
  • Visit the Oskar Schindler Factory
  • Test your skills and nerves in an Escape room.
  • Take a tour to the Wieliczka Salt mine
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Tours in and around Krakow

Descent into the Salt Mines of Wieliczka on this guided 2.5 – hour tour. The underground labyrinth leads you through different levels of the mine to 327 metres below the surface. This UNESCO world heritage site offers unique views of the mine with its underground lakes and chambers.

Visit the holocaust memorial at Auschwitz and Birkenau on a guided tour.

Get to know the history of this marvellous Wawel castle with a guided tour. Also this site is on the list of UNESCO world heritage. Enjoy wandering around the courtyard and majestic chambers and visit different exhibitions.

How about an evening of Polish folklore while enjoying the best of Polish cuisine? This all-inclusive dinner with all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet formula includes entertainment! Watch traditional Polish dancers going loose on the dance floor. Maybe you feel like dancing too?

Krakow
Krakow square in Poland

7. Nice - France

We fell in love with Nice from the very first steps we took outside the airport. Palm trees, blue skies and sun greeted us a warm welcome.

You can spend some lazy days at the beach or wonder around the cobblestoned old town with its picturesque small streets. Enjoy your evenings out on a trendy rooftop terrace after a delicious Niçoise dinner.

Nice has this tropical, classy feel that you get used to very fast. It is the kind of place I could see myself settle down.

Check out our LGBT guide for 3 days in Nice

Top Things to do in Nice

  • Wander around the old town
  • Check out the city park and promenade du Paillon
  • Take a walk at the boulevard “Promenade des Anglais” while enjoying great views of the beach
  • Saunter around Castle Hill and relax in the park
  • Visit some of the local markets like the farmers market at the Cours Saleya
  • Explore different museums like the MAMAC
  • Make a day trip to Monaco or Cannes

Tours in and around Nice

Explore the old town and enjoy the best of the famous Niçoise cuisine in this 4-hour  Nice Food Tour

Visit 2 wineries and sample some of the best local wines of the Bellet wine region while enjoying the magnificent views. This relaxing and tasty activity is perfect to fill up an afternoon and be back in Nice for dinner.

Go on a full day tour to the nearby city Saint Tropez. Check out what makes this one of the top destinations for the rich and famous. A boat tour is included in this trip!

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Take a 4-hour tour to the smallest country in the world: Monaco. With this Monaco by night tour you can immerse yourself in the luxurious lifestyle of your idols. Place a bet at the Monte Carlo casino or make a childhood dream come true with a drive on the Formula one Grand Prix track.

Nice - France
Beach promenade in old city center of Nice at the French riviera

6. Innsbruck - Austria

Innsbruck is a vibrating city nestled between the high mountains of the Alps in Tirol. It is the perfect winter destination in Europe if you like the fresh air of the mountains where you can engage in numerous outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing, winter hiking, tobogganing and bobsledding.

Innsbruck also offers a variety of things to do in town. There are multiple indoor swimming pools where you can relax your weary muscles after all the outdoor activities. Some of them even have sauna’s and heated outdoor swimming pools where you can enjoy the view of the snowcapped mountains surrounding you.

The Altstadt ,or old town, offers a romantic setting to stroll around and after a day of sightseeing you can get some rest and warm yourself in a cozy restaurant near a fire place trying out some of the local dishes or just enjoying a coffee with an apfelstrudel.

Top Things to do in Innsbruck

  • Outdoor activities:
    • Skiing and snowboarding
    • Snowshoeing
    • Tobogganing: let your inner kid out and descend the slopes on a sled
    • Bobsledding
    • Paragliding
  • Relax in a heated swimming pool and enjoy the sauna
  • Discover the old town called Altstadt with “the Golden roof”, the Triumph Arch and the Hofburg Palace
  • Visit Ambras Castle which houses an impressive art collection
  • Stroll around the Christmas markets. One of them you can find high up on Hungerburg where you have amazing views over the city.

Tours in and around Innsbruck

Ascent the snowcapped mountains in the Nordkette cable car and enjoy the rugged snowcapped mountains and views over Innsbruck.

Get to know the most important landmarks of the city in this 1,5-hour guided walking tour.

Pump up your blood circulation with a tandem paragliding flight over Stubai Valley. During this 1-hour flight over the valley you can take in the beauty of nature from high above accompanied by a certified instructor.

Innsbruck - Austria
Innsbruck - Photo by A Rosara on Unsplash

5. Budapest - Hungary

The capital of Hungary has become immensely popular recent years and for good reason.

This ancient city has a lot of charm and there are plenty of things to see and do to keep you busy.

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We visited Budapest multiple times now and still didn’t do and see everything we wanted to! Check out our itinerary for 2 perfect days in Budapest if you like some inspiration for a route to follow to explore this amazing city.

Top Things to do in Budapest

  • Budapest is full of spectacular buildings that you just need to check out like:
    • Buda Castle
    • Fisherman’s Bastion
    • Matthias Church
    • St. Stephen’s Basilica
    • Parliament building
  • Relax in one of the many thermal baths after a day of sightseeing
  • Have a drink at a ruin bar. There are plenty of cool ruin pubs in town and the best ones we have put together in our post: 10 best ruin pubs in Budapest
  • Check out more things to do in Budapest.

Tours in and around Budapest

We created a round-up of the most epic ruin pub crawls in Budapest

Let your muscles relax after all the walking and exploring of this bustling city. This full day at Gellert Spa gives you the chance to enjoy the healing powers of the natural hot springs.

Discover the best of Budapest on a guided E-scooter tour! You can choose between different options and durations up to 3 hours. This is a fun way to explore the city without getting you knackered at the end of the day so you have more energy for your next sight seeing days.

4. Bruges - Belgium

As a resident from Belgium I must admit that Bruges is in my humble opinion the prettiest city in the country. Wondering through the streets of the city center feels like a throwback in time. The canals, the old buildings, cobblestoned streets and big market place with great architecture gives the whole city a fairytale vibe.

It’s an awesome destination for a  winter city break in Europe. If you are planning to visit in between the end of November and December, you can enjoy the Christmas market and skate on the ice rink.

Top Things to do in Bruges

  • For history and architecture buffs there are plenty of visit worthy sites in town. The most famous ones are:
    • The Church of our Lady
    • The Belfry Tower on the Market Square
    • The Basilica of the Holy Blood
    • City Hall on Burg Square
  • Take a look at the work of Belgian master painters in the Groeninge Museum.
  • Learn more about the history of Diamonds in the Diamond museum.
  • Visit ‘Ten Wijngaerde’ the only preserved beguinage
  • Take a boat ride on the canals of Bruges
  • Explore Minnewater Park and Minnewater Lake
  • Visit the port of Bruges: Zeebrugge
  • In between the end of November and December: Wander around the Christmas market and skate on the ice rink
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Tours in and around Bruges

An excellent way to get to know the best dishes is with a food tour! Step into the wonderfully delicious world of French fries, truffles, waffles and more in this 3-hour guided food tour through medieval Bruges.

Get to know the historic center of this fairytale like town with this guided 3-hour tour. It will take you to some of the most prominent landmarks that Bruges in known for and you get well informed background information while exploring.

Get to know the hot spots of Bruges while enjoying chocolate and beer with a 3-course lunch.

3. Naples - Italy

One of the largest cities in Italy attracts hordes of tourists every summer. It’s gorgeous coastline at the Gulf of Naples and the proximity of Procida Island and the Amalfi coast makes it immensely popular but also expensive and overly crowded at times.

That’s why visiting Naples in winter is a good option to avoid the crowds and enjoy the charms of the city without breaking the bank. Hotels, airlines and tour operators charge way less in winter than in summer. The money you save on accommodation and airfares by visiting Naples in winter you can spend on extra tours, splurge in a good restaurant, buy souvenirs or anything else you like.

Note: The winter months are more rainy and it gets dark in the early evening around 5 pm depending on your time of visit. So you need to plan your day activities properly.

Top Things to do in Naples

  • Get to know the center of Naples and its history with a guided walking tour
  • Check out the main square called Piazza del Plebiscito
  • Visit the ancient Roman town Pompeii
  • Explore Castel dell’Ovo
  • Stroll around the Christmas market and the Via San Gregorio Armeno which is renowned for its handicrafts and nativity art work. Don’t forget to try some of the Christmas specialities
  • Visit some of the many museums. For example the National Archaeological museum
  • Explore the Catacombs of San Gennaro

Tours in and around Naples

Skip the lines and visit the ruins of Pompeii in a relatively small group with a guide. Get to know more of this ancient town and the most important historic sites

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Go on a day trip to discover the gorgeous Amalfi coastline with its steep cliffs and natural bays. Stop on the way there at Sorrentino to discover this beautiful gem and its historical center and harbour. On this trip you also get the chance to take panoramic photos of Positano.

Visit Vineyards and taste the best local wines at famous mount Vesuvius. Get a guided tour of the vineyards and enjoy a mediterranean lunch.

Get back in time and explore the sacred route of the San Gennaro Catacombs. On a 3-hour guided tour. You get the chance to visit on of the most ancient districts of the city and immerse yourself in the other side of Naples.

Naples - Italy
Panorama of Naples, view of the port in the Gulf of Naples, the Egg Castle, and Mount Vesuvius

2. Rovaniemi - Lapland

This winter destination is one that speaks to the imagination. Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland in Northern Finland and it is the place to go if you want to visit Santa Claus.

But there is so much more that can ensure a perfect winter holiday. How about a ride with a husky sled to discover the wild white landscapes and forests? Maybe you want to drive a snow mobile and have a winter barbecue while enjoying the Northern lights?

Duffle up in your warmest clothes to get adventurous outdoors all day and warm yourself at a cozy fire in a log cabin at night.

Top Things to do in Rovaniemi

  • Visit Santa Claus Village and the Arctic Circle
  • Get adventurous outdoors:
    • Ride a snow mobile
    • Explore an ice cave
    • Go snow shoeing
    • Learn the art of ice fishing
  • Go on a husky sled tour
  • Check out the Northern lights
  • Visit a reindeer farm

Tours in and around Rovaniemi

Learn and experience the local lifestyle with this guided tour of the wilderness and search for the Northern lights. Get outdoors away from the city and settle at a fire you build yourself.

Visit a Reindeer farm and learn about the traditional life of the Sami. This tour also includes a reindeer sleigh ride.

Explore the magical surroundings of Rovaniemi on this adventurous snow mobile drive around the Arctic Circle area. Be amazed by the stunning snowy landscapes and end your trip at a husky farm.

Rovaniemi - Lapland
Bright Winter Polar Night Sunset over road in Lapland

1. Zermatt - Switzerland

Number one on this list is not the cheapest location but a dazzling one! Car-free Zermatt lies in the Swiss Alps and guarantees amazing views. With the presence of the Matterhorn and multiple other peaks and glaciers.

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There are skiing slopes for all skill levels. Even if you are not a ski enthusiast, you will not easily get bored here. Take a look at the top things to do!

Tip: Zermatt is car-free. A lot of visitors park their car in Täsch and take a short train ride to Zermatt. Getting around in town is mostly done by walking. You can also opt to hire a bike, take the eBus or an eTaxi.

Finding budget accommodation in Zermatt can be difficult, so check out this guide on where to stay in Zermatt.

Top Things to do in Zermatt

  • Get adventurous at the ski slopes
  • Catch a cable cart up the mountains and check out views of the Matterhorn and its surroundings
  • Ride with the highest cable cart in Europe called “Matterhorn Glacier paradise” up the 3882 meters high famous mountain! With a ticket to Glacier paradise you also get access to Glacier Palace which is located beneath the ice in the glacier itself!
  • Ride with a cogwheel train to Gornergrat. This train takes you through a spectacular landscape to a viewing platform high up in the Swiss Alps.
  • Explore the town on your own or with a guided tour
  • Relax in a spa after letting your inner kid go crazy in the snow all day

Tours in and around Zermatt

Embark the Cogwheel train and enjoy an awesome ride with even better views that takes you high up into the mountains! Admire the landscape and the beautiful peaks of the Swiss Alps!

Discover the historical part of the village with your private tour guide, learn more about the history of the area and about the first mountaineers who took on the challenge to climb the Matterhorn. Board the train to Gornergrat, enjoy the spectacular views along the way and of course on top of the viewing platform mote then 2800 metres high in between the mountains.

Zermatt - Switzerland
aerial view on Zermatt valley and matterhorn peak at dusk with fresh snow

13 Best winter destinations in Europe

So this is our list with some of the most awesome cities in Europe that are worth your time and money in the cold winter months.

Some of these places will certainly be covered in snow while others offer a milder climate year round, so you have the chance to discover these gems without the big crowds that summer brings.

Happy winter travels everyone!

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