7 Best Winter Destinations In Europe | STA Travel x Contiki European Magic Vlog
How to Visit Europe During the Winter
Visiting Europe in winter is a great way to see the sites on a budget. Because winter is considered the off-season, you'll find hotels and flights are cheaper. However, that doesn't mean that you'll be left out in the cold when it comes to entertainment. There's plenty to see and do in winter, and you'll be able to enjoy it more without crowds of people getting in your way.
Choosing a Destination
Try Mediterranean areas for warmer weather.If you've always wanted to visit places like Greece, the Canary Islands, Sicily, and the southern parts of countries like France, Spain, and Italy, winter is a great time to do it. You won't run into the crazy crowds you do in the summer, plus you'll still get relatively warm weather (think 50s and 60s) compared to the rest of Europe.
Pick winter climates for protection against cold weather.That is, if you choose cities that naturally have cold climates, you'll find that they have learned ways to deal with the cold. For instance, Prague has underground restaurants to help protect you from the cold. Additionally, many countries with colder climates specialize in warm winter drink and hearty winter food, such as hot chocolate in Switzerland and venison in Germany.
- Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Germany, France, and Britain are just some countries that are beautiful in winter.
Let your budget guide you.Even in winter, some destinations are going to be more expensive than others. Before deciding on a destination, consider what you'll be able to spend. That will help guide where you go. For instance, it's often cheaper to stay in smaller towns rather than big cities. Tourist-dependent areas may also be fairly cheap in the winter.
Using Winter to Your Advantage
Look for Christmas and holiday markets.Many cities across Europe host Christmas and holiday markets, so they make a great destination before Christmas. You'll find local handmade crafts, treats, and other delights at these markets.Some cities that feature Christmas markets include Nurembourg and Heidelburg Germany, Strasbourg, France, and Bruges, Belgium.
- If you want to go after Christmas, try the International Film Festival in Dublin (January), the Kiruna Snow Festival (January), or Carnival in Venice (February).
- The Salzburg Music Festival also happens in winter.
Hit the slopes.Another option for winter in Europe is to engage in winter sports, such as skiing. Parts of Europe are iconic for these types of sports, including the Scandinavian countries and any country connected to the Alps.
- Winter sports and activities include more than just skiing and sledding. You can also go ice fishing, snow kiting, or ice skating, to name a few.
Pick a place with culture.While you'll likely find museums and indoor attractions in many European cities, winter can be a good time to visit the large cities that are rife with indoor cultural attractions. For instance, in cities like London, Paris, and Berlin, you'll find plenty of art museums, art galleries, theaters, and historic locations to keep you warm and entertained.
Visit for the aurora.The aurora or Northern Lights can be seen in the Scandinavian countries during the winter months; you may also be able see it in the northern parts of Scotland during the winter. Seeing this phenomenon is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and a perfectly good reason to visit Europe in the winter.
Try an ice hotel.Winter is the perfect time to visit a chilly location that boasts an ice hotel. Most of these hotels are located in Scandinavia. Each winter, they are rebuilt completely from ice, and they make a truly unique destination.
Pick a location with spas and thermal baths.In colder countries, the locals know how to do it up right, taking warm baths in local springs and tubs and getting the spa treatment. Winter in Europe is a great time to experience this luxurious treatment for yourself, and you'll find these types of destinations in places like Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland, just to name a few.
Planning the Trip
Have your documents ready.When traveling to Europe, you'll need to have a passport. Depending on the country you're traveling from and how long you plan to stay, you may also need to apply for a visa. Check for the rules for your country when you're planning your trip.
- Keep in mind it can take a while to process your passport application, so start early.
- If you plan on driving in Europe, your driver's license will need to be up to date, as well.
Realize you can be spontaneous.In winter, flights and hotels won't be as booked up, making it easier to set off on a vacation at a moment's notice. Even booking late, it won't cost you an arm and a leg because you're traveling in the off season.
- In this vein, hunt around for deals. You may find a good deal that requires you to leave in a few days. Check budget traveling sites often to catch the best deals.
Go for higher-end.Because winter is the off-season in Europe, you can get a vacation similar to what you would have taken in the summer for much cheaper, or you can upgrade your vacation for about the same amount you would've paid for a less luxurious vacation in the summer. Either way, don't be afraid to check hotels you normally wouldn't to see if they're in your price range.
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