Looking for the best places to spend Christmas in Europe? Here are the best Christmas European destinations that will make your holiday season memorable.
Christmas in Europe might come with coldness, jackets, and snow, but that’s what makes it even more enjoyable and charming. Christmas season is actually my favorite season of the year and for many others.
From warming up with a cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine, visiting Christmas markets that go all out to celebrate this favorite time of the year, watching the impressive Christmas lights and decorations to participating in all the amazing Christmas activities, you can never fall short of what to do during Christmas.
I agree Christmas is a fun season literally anywhere in the world but Christmas in Europe is beyond anything else. The entire continent glistens in beautiful Christmas lights, locals, and tourists all come out to enjoy the most charming Christmas markets, and everything and everyone is high spirited during this festive season.
Now you might be wondering, with Europe having some of the best Christmas celebrations and traditions around the world, where exactly in Europe should you go to celebrate? Wonder no more! In this post, you’ll be able to know all the best places to celebrate Christmas in Europe .
But before we look at some of the best Christmas destinations in Europe, there are a few items you shouldn’t leave behind as you travel to Europe during Christmas, and below are some:
Christmas in Europe travel Essentials
- Base layer: They are perfect for warmth even in the coldest of temperatures. I love this long-sleeved Merino wool top and these woolen and thick leggings. Or you can just grab this full thermal base layer set if you prefer.
- Warm fleece: This fleece is a perfect mid layer when its super cold or even worn alone when its not too cold.
- A winter coat: Winter can get really cold, so you will definitely need a super warm winter coat like this one.
- Touch screen gloves: Keep your hands warm with these touch screen gloves. A big plus is that you don’t have to take them off while using your phone as they are touch screen sensitive.
- Scarf: Whether it is to warm up while roaming the various Christmas markets or to coverup while chilling on the couch, you’ll need to take this large scarf as you visit Europe at Christmas.
- Knitted cap: Keep your head and ears warm while you enjoy the best Christmas vacations in Europe by taking this extremely warm Knitted cap.
- Waterproof winter boots: One of the essential items to carry while visiting Europe during Christmas are these Waterproof winter boots.
- Swim suit: Don’t forget to take a bathing suit as some hotels heat up their swimming pools during winter or to chill in the jacuzzi.
- Woolen socks: Woolen socks like these ones are guaranteed to keep your feet warm and dry during the winter season.
For more winter accessories to pack for your Europe Christmas vacation, check out this complete winter packing list for Europe.
Best places to spend Christmas in Europe
1. Paris, France
Contributed by Me ( Esther from The Adventurous feet)
Christmas in Paris is like no other. The weather is chill but the atmosphere is pleasant and very festive. The whole city sparkles in Christmas lights and various Christmas markets are flocked by both locals and tourists alike who want to fully take in the high-spirited Christmas vibe.
There are so many things to do in Paris during Christmas making it one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.
From the impressive lights along the champs elysées avenue that total up to over 100,000 bulbs to the Bercy Village which turns into a magical forest lit up with a thousand lights, the Christmas season in Paris perfectly brings out the true meaning of the city of light.
It’s not just the coat of illuminated lights that make Paris a perfect Christmas destination in Europe but also the Christmas markets.
Strolling down the Parisian Christmas markets is a tradition that has been going on for years and these markets are a perfect place to not only pick up Christmas gifts for your loved ones but to also discover the traditional specialties from the Eastern part of France.
Some of the Christmas markets in Paris that will awaken all your festive senses while you indulge in all the traditional Christmas pastries like Kougelhopf and Bredele include the Christmas market of La Défense which is the largest in the city, the Eiffel tower Christmas market which has a backdrop of the Eiffel tower, and the Tuileries Christmas market.
Besides watching the amazing twinkling lights and strolling the Paris Christmas markets, you can also opt to warm up by either sipping on the much needed mulled wine or a cup of hot chocolate. But if you feel more adventurous, go skating at the many ice rinks in the city.
With all these incredible things to do, there is no doubt that Paris is one of the best European cities at Christmas.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Contributed by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet
Salzburg is a great place to visit all year long, but it is during Christmas time that the magic happens. From charming streets and cozy cafes to visiting the iconic highlights including castles, and baroque buildings while surrounded by the Alps covered in snow immerses you in a fairy tale land.
Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace, and during the wintertime, you can watch winter concert, and appreciate several aspects of Salzburg at once: the beauty of the city, the compositions of Mozart, and, depending on which concert you choose to attend, a traditional Austrian dinner!
Christmas time in Salzburg begins with the opening of Christmas markets at the end of November, and besides the most popular Christmas Markets in Salzburg located at the Damplatz, you can also find other options to visit smaller Markets, such as the Advent Magic Heilbrunn and the Market on Mirabell Square. Experience the Salzburg delicacies, local handcraft, and try the traditional Glühwein, known as hot, spiced wine.
Besides the Christmas Markets, Salzburbug is a great destination during Christmas time for winter sports and offers an amazing opportunity to explore the picturesque valleys with excellent slopes in the Alps. You can go skiing, snowboarding, ride a sled, go cross-country skiing, or ice skating.
One of the most traditional things to do in Salzburg during Christmas time is going to the “Salzburger Adventsingen”, a traditional nativity scene play performed by local boys in different Salzburg dialects.
It was founded by the local folk-culture-expert Tobias Reiser in 1946 and draws an audience of thousands of people every year, especially Austrians.
This compact city, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, has a perfect blend of incredible history, rich culture, and several sites to explore, including the enchanting Christmas Markets making it an incredible destination to visit in Europe during Christmas time.
Related post: Cheapest ski resorts in Europe
3. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Contributed by Natasha from the Great Ocean Road Collective.
One of the best European cities for Christmas is the Dutch capital of Amsterdam. This stunning city is known for its narrow brick houses lined by charming canals.
Every year, Amsterdam is transformed into a Christmas wonderland when the city is lit up by the colors of the Amsterdam Light Festival. Artists from around the world create light artworks and exhibitions throughout the city, creating a magical ambiance wherever you go.
At Dam Square, you’ll find a huge evergreen Christmas Tree decorated in rich hues, towering over the heart of Amsterdam. The 65-foot tree boasts 4000-meters of LED lights, attracting locals and visitors alike to admire this spectacular sight.
Throughout the month of December, you’ll find plenty of Christmas markets, holiday craft sales, and Christmas caroling. Visit the iconic markets at Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein and pick up a gift for a loved one or indulge in traditional Dutch fare.
Christmas markets are also a perfect place to try fresh Dutch specialties like oliebollen, pannenkoeken, and stroopwafel. If you drink alcohol, try a warm glass of gluhwein, a warm spiced mulled wine.
For a fun outdoor activity that can be enjoyed alone or as a group, go ice skating at one of Amsterdam’s outdoor skating rinks.
During the Christmas season, you’ll find rinks at Museumplein as well as Rembrandtplein, each in a picturesque setting.
Enjoy the magical setting, sip on hot cocoa, and marvel at the views. However you spend your holiday, you’re sure to love Christmas in Amsterdam.
Related post: Best places to visit in Europe in winter
4. Kraków, Poland
Contributed by Bridget from The Flashpacker
Whilst it is a great city to visit any time of year, Kraków at Christmas is something very special. Picture in your mind horse-drawn carriages circling cobblestoned squares, illuminated with sparkling Christmas lights and you’ll have the measure of the place.
Unlike some cities in Europe, Kraków is open for business at Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Some restaurants remain open over the festive period and public transport is running. Even on Christmas Eve, when Polish people hold their main Christmas celebration, you’ll be able to find somewhere to eat.
Let’s start with Kraków’s Christmas market, which is amongst the best in Europe. Located in Rynek Glowny, Kraków’s majestic central square is the place to pick up festive gifts for those back home, including finely decorated heart-shaped gingerbread and traditional hand-painted glass baubles.
Join the carol singers processing around Rynek Glowny and admire the colorful and creative nativity scenes. This is also the perfect spot to grab a quick bite, including the famous pierogi (Polish dumplings), washed down with a glass of mulled wine to keep the winter chill at bay.
The Christmas market usually starts at the end of November and continues until at least December 26th.
You can also join a free walking tour of Kraków’s historic heart to get your bearings (this even runs on Christmas Day!). As many of Kraków’s landmarks are located in a small area, this is the best way to get to grips with the city and its rich history.
Finally, wrap up warm. If you are lucky, you will get a dusting of snow, and what is more festive than that? No wonder Kraków is considered one of the best European destinations for Christmas.
5. Vienna, Austria
Contributed by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
If there was such a thing as the ‘home of Christmas’, then the Austrian city of Vienna would most certainly be in the running.
Come late November there’s a certain excitement in the air as the city’s parks, squares, and palaces are transformed into a festive fairytale.
There are over 20 Christmas markets in Vienna, each with its own unique take on the Xmas tradition, so you could easily spend most of your visit hopping from one to another. Among the stalls selling hot soup and handmade trinkets, you’ll find plenty of advent activities too.
Children are well catered for with Ferris wheels, pony rides, and workshops, but adults will also love the ice skating rinks, live music performances and just catching up with friends over a mug of warm punch.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to go Christmas shopping in Vienna’s pedestrian streets which are adorned with lights and decorations at this time of year, and warm up between boutiques by popping into one of the famed coffee & cake houses.
Be sure to visit both Belvedere and Schönbrunn Palaces to see them in all of their Christmas fineries, or pop over to Karlsplatz or Spittelberg for a more organic and rustic advent experience.
Those with young kids, or who like their Christmas festivities with a side of frivolous, should head along to the Wintermarkt for amusement park fun.
When visiting Vienna at Christmastime, don’t forget to pack your winter woollies as the evenings get very chilly, and good walking shoes for ease of getting about. For an all-in-one, public transport and attraction pass, consider buying a Vienna City Card which could save you money and time.
With all those amazing things to do, it’s not hard to see why Vienna is one of the best places to go in Europe for Christmas.
Related post: Best winter festivals in Europe
6. Strasbourg, France
Contributed by Elisa from France Bucket List
Strasbourg is one of the best places in Europe for Christmas! The capital of Alsace and the region of Grand Est is located in Eastern France, 500 km East of Paris.
Flying to Strasbourg is not very convenient but the city is well connected by train to the French capital (a mere 2-hour trip by TGV train) and also to other cities in Eastern Europe like Frankfurt, Brussels or Luxembourg.
Most of all, Strasbourg is the Christmas capital of Alsace. The Christmas Market of Strasbourg is one of the best Christmas markets in Alsace and also the oldest (since 1570).
Place Kléber, with the giant Christmas tree, lit up at night, is the Christmas market’s beating heart but there are other locations with wooden chalets that offer hand-made Christmas gifts, sweets, quick eats, and mulled wine.
In addition to the Christmas shopping, a stroll through rue des Orfèvres is a must. This street near the cathedral is well known for its awesome Christmas decorations.
And of course, there are other Christmas events like the Christmas concert by the Truchtersheim Youth Choir, themed treasure hunts, or the kids’ favorite “Christmas in the farm” in the village of Ittenheim near Strasbourg.
Apart from all the Christmas events, take the time to stroll around the city to see its main sights like Notre Dame of Strasbourg, Strasbourg’s impressive gothic cathedral with only one tower, the Maison Kammerzell, a jewel of renaissance architecture, or the historic area named La Petite France.
Strasburg is very popular at Christmas time so booking transportation, accommodation, and restaurants in advance is paramount. If you have some extra time, the Christmas markets of Colmar, Obernai, or Sélestat are very easy to visit on a day trip from Strasbourg.
7. Barcelona, Spain
Contributed by Ben Holbrook from Driftwood Journals
You may think of sun, sea, sand, and sangria when you think of Barcelona, but in reality, you’ll find that Christmas in the Catalan capital is far more exciting than summer.
Not only because this Mediterranean metropolis is unseasonably bright and warm during the winter season, but also because the Catalans have some of the weirdest and most wonderful Christmas traditions on the planet.
Tour the tiny stalls of Fira de la Sagrada Familia, a charming Christmas market situated at the foot of Barcelona’s most famous landmark, and you’ll find all sorts of bizarre trinkets and treasures. Pick up one of the famous ‘El Caganer’ nativity scene figurines, which depict a Catalan peasant with his trousers around his ankles as he “relieves himself” and fertilizes the land in preparation for the following harvest.
And did you know that the Catalans don’t write their wish lists to Santa, but instead receive their presents from a colourful Christmas character known as “Caga Tió”, a wooden log with a smiley face drawn on the front and a red blanket to keep it warm. Catalan children feed Caga Tió orange peel to fatten him up and then hit him with a stick so that he “poos out” the presents. No joke!
There’s also no better time to stroll Barcelona’s broad shopping streets of Plaça del Angel, Las Ramblas, Gran Via, and Rambla de Catalunya, which are lit up with twinkling trees and glittering lights.
Christmas in Spain is also extra special because it lasts so much longer. Although Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are celebrated with great gusto, it’s actually January 6th that the locals go crazy for. This is when the famous “Three Kings” or “Three Wise Men” parade through the streets with their dancers and musicians, throwing out fistfuls of free sweets for one and all.
Another feast of “escudella i carn d’olla” (a hearty stew) is enjoyed by families all over the city, while beautiful Roscóns de Reyes (cream-piped pastry with medallions of candied fruit) glisten in bakery windows far and wide.
Related post: Famous landmarks to visit in Europe
8. Manchester, UK
Contributed by Pauline from Beeloved City
The main attractions in November and December are the Christmas markets. There are 9 of them spread out all around the city.
The main one is located on Albert Square, in front of the stunning Town Hall. It’s a great place to go grab something to eat and drink mulled wine or hot chocolate!
You will also find a wide selection of unique craft gifts, local products and the German village. It’s the most authentic Christmas market but it can also get pretty crowded.
If you love shopping, you are in for a treat! Manchester is known as one of the best shopping destinations in the UK. There are loads of shops in the city centre but if you really want to see the magic of Christmas, head to the Trafford centre.
This huge commercial centre is almost an entertainment park. It’s beautifully decorated and at the end of the year, it becomes a true winter wonderland.
Make sure to also head to the Cathedral gardens to check out the ice village and go ice-skating. The ice-rink can get a bit busy so it’s always better to book online.
Finally, in the evening, you can go see a Christmas pantomime in one of the theatres. The Palace Theatre and the Opera House host Christmas shows every day in December. Watching these shows will bring out the festive feels as you celebrate Christmas in Europe.
9. Zakopane, Poland
Contributed by Karolina from Travel Poland Tours
For people who are dreaming of a White Christmas, the small town of Zakopane definitely fits the bill, making it the best place to spend Christmas in Europe.
If you fancy taking a walk around the small town tucked into your snow globes, then a walk around Zakopane will definitely complete your Christmas.
With the majestic snow-capped mountains of the Tatras as a backdrop to complete Zakopane’s winter wonderland, the wooden stalls of the Christmas market, and the city streets bedecked with Christmas lights will definitely bring out the Christmas spirit.
Here, one can find traditional Polish products and food. Make sure to try the special highland cheese, Oscypeck, which has a smoky flavor that pairs well with mulled wine.
Another wonderful spot during the evening is the skating rink. Surrounded by glittering lights and a Christmas tree, this picturesque sight will definitely make you want to skate. It’s not too expensive as shoes are rented out for just 10PLN.
During the daytime, take a walk around Koscieliska Street, which is located at the northern end of Krupowki Street. The wooden architecture of this street can bring any traveler back in time. Visit the oldest wooden church and cemetery in Zakopane and the Willa Koliba, the first house built in the style unique to Zakopane.
To have a complete Polish Christmas, either book a hotel that includes the traditional Polish Christmas dinner or find a restaurant that serves one.
There is nothing more Polish than the 12 dishes of the Wigilia. Just remember not to complain when you bite into a coin as you eat one of the tiny dumplings in your soup. This means that your finances will be great in the year to come.
10. Bolzano, Italy
Contributed by Linda from La Dolce Fit Vita
Who’s ready for Christmas and chocolate?!!! Oh, and I forgot, wine and skiing… and let’s throw in some traditional Christmas market food like Raclette and Wurst (a.k.a. sausage).
That’s right ladies and gentlemen— there is a magical town right smack in the middle of the Italian Dolomites that offers all of this during the Yuletide season and it goes by the name of Bolzano.
Aside from the obvious winter sports activities to choose from (given the fact that Bolzano is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking snowcapped mountains), there are countless things to do and explore in this quaint town.
If you’re a fan of wine, this city is a great pick for you as it sits right on the Strada del Vino del Alto Adige (translated, the wine road of South Tyrol). The area is packed with vineyards. You can pick a private wine tasting tour or go for a more budget-friendly one— whatever the case, there is an option for everyone.
If you’re a fan of chocolate, beware… a hot chocolate every couple of hours or so will indeed present itself to you. The town is home to one of the largest Loacker facilities and as such, chocolate is the town’s water.
During the Christmas season especially, there are countless varieties to choose from and numerous customizable options. Oh, and don’t forget to accompany your hot cocoa with a scrumptious wafer!
The traditional Christmas market in the town square is one of the coziest in Europe. Smaller than others, the market has a real local and intimate appeal. Most of the vendors are local craftsmen specialized in wooden handcrafting- make sure you don’t leave here without a handmade Christmas ornament.
Mulled wine and roasted chestnuts will await you on every corner as you wander about the city. Streets are lit with twinkle lights and buildings are literally wrapped like gifts. Christmas literally bursts out of every nook and cranny of this city.
If you start feeling overwhelmed, don’t sweat it. Reset your energy at nearby QC Terme Dolomiti, one of the most luxurious (and let me add, AFFORDABLE) spas in the area.
Could this town be any more festive?? Indeed it’s one of the best Christmas towns in Europe.
11. Zurich, Switzerland
Contributed by Smita from My Faulty Compass
You would have heard of visiting Switzerland during the winter for some amazing skiing – but did you know that the holiday season is one of the best times to visit the country, especially the city of Zurich?
Christmas turns the already stunning city of Zurich into a wonderfully magical place. Swarowski adorned Christmas trees, twinkling lights decorating the streets, and beautifully decorated Christmas markets add to the charm of the city during the holiday season making Zurich one of the best cities to spend Christmas in Europe.
Zurich’s Christmas markets are some of the best in Europe. In fact, the largest covered market in Europe can be found here at the main train station! Hundred of stalls in this market invite you to spend hours strolling through them.
The Christmas market at Werdmühleplatz, located off the famous Bahnhofstrasse is known for its ‘’Singing Christmas Tree’’ where a kids’ choir performs from atop a tree – an experience not to be missed!
The Sechseläutenplatz Christmas market located in front of Zurich’s Opera House is one of the largest markets in the city, complete with a huge tree, lots of shops and an ice rink to keep the kids (& adults!) entertained.
One of the other things to do in Zurich during this season is to enjoy the Christmas events that happen across the city. The Samichlausschwimmen tradition is a charity event that invites Santas (well, people dressed as Santas of course) to swim across the freezing Limmat river – a fun event to watch and take part in if you feel brave enough!
The Lichterschwimmen floating candle event also invites people to place candles in the Limmat river and makes for a beautiful sight.
Spending Christmas in Zurich is a truly wonderful experience – spend your days skiing in the slopes nearby (or just relaxing with some of the best hot chocolate or fondue!) and your evenings taking in the fascinating Christmas lights.
12. Gothenburg, Sweden
Contributed by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
The west coast of Sweden is home to the country’s second-largest city, Gothenburg. It is the world’s most sustainable city and hosts some of the best Christmas markets in Scandinavia.
Scattered across Gothenburg city, there are four Christmas markets, however, the largest and most popular one is found within Liseberg amusement park.
From mid-November to the end of December, Christmas at Liseberg combines thrilling roller coaster rides, festive ice skating shows, fairytale treasure hunts, Santa’s workshop and more than 80 Christmas stalls!
Liseberg is also one of the best places in Gothenburg for foodies to try some of the festive Swedish favorites; Including glogg (sweet mulled wine), Pepparkaka (Swedish gingerbread biscuits), and even a traditional four-course Christmas buffet dinner.
The dinner is full of Christmas specialties such as pickled herring, saffron buns, cured salmon, and a huge table full of chocolates and sweets known as a gottebord.
The other popular Christmas markets in Gothenburg concentrate on different themes. The Kronhuset Christmas market is the oldest and features traditional items, compared to the Roda Sten Christmas market which is full of modern Swedish designer goods. The Haga Christmas market is great for foodies especially those who want to try the largest cinnamon rolls in Sweden.
Some of the other Christmas activities to do in Gothenburg include going in search of the singing Christmas tree, a unique choir that is arranged in the shape of the Christmas tree, who sing festive favorites at different locations around the city.
Gothenburg may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of the best places to visit in Europe for Christmas but it’s definitely not far behind.
13. Nuremberg, Germany
Contributed by Claire from stoked to Travel
Nuremberg, located in Bavaria in the southern region of Germany is one of the best Christmas cities in Europe. In fact, it has one of the best known Christmas Markets in Germany and can offer a complete, authentic experience.
Christkindlmarkt is the main market in Nuremberg and is absolutely huge. There are hundreds of beautifully decorated stalls selling traditional gifts, toys, tree decorations, keepsakes, and souvenirs, as well as delicious, warming home-cooked treats.
Make sure to try the famous Nuremberg gingerbread, called Lebkuchen, which has been traditionally baked in the city for over 600 years! This main market gets very busy in the evening when huge crowds of friends gather around vast cauldrons of Glühwein to drink and sing together. The atmosphere is complete magic!
There’s also a separate Childen’s Christmas Market, with the chance to meet Santa, as well as enjoy its charming and nostalgic merry-go-round and lots of other child-friendly activities.
Another area not to miss while enjoying Christmas in Nuremberg is the Market of the Sister Cities, where you can buy items and gifts from all over the world, such as delicious French marmalade and jams, to charming Czech wooden angels.
If you fancy a little day trip, you could also hop onto a train to Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Town.
Not only are the streets lined with stunning medieval and Renaissance period architecture, all of which escaped any damage during WW2, but Bamberg also has its own Christmas Market, which is a far more local affair. It’s a lot smaller, but exceptionally charming and guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit.
One top tip for Nuremberg at Christmas time is to keep in mind how busy the town can be and the crowds, and to book tables for dinner well ahead of time otherwise you might end up queueing out in the cold as there are no tables available!
14. Berlin, Germany
Contributed by Sydney from A World in Reach
Berlin, Germany is a wonderful city to visit at any time of the year, but there’s something truly magical about visiting Berlin around Christmastime. All around the city, there are lights, decorations, Christmas markets, and more to help you get into the holiday spirit.
Germany is the birthplace of Christmas markets, and there is no shortage of them to enjoy while visiting Berlin.
There are several markets around the city, but one of the best is the market at Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s most beautiful squares. Other Christmas markets in Berlin include Winter World at Potsdamer Platz and the market held at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace.
Grab a warm mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate, snack on some sausages, or potato pancakes, and do some last-minute Christmas shopping at all the stalls selling traditional crafts and other gifts as you stroll the beautiful Christmas markets.
There are a few things more magical than the city’s Christmas light displays. Several spots around Berlin are lit up for the season, including Kurfürstendamm & Tauentzienstraße, Berlin’s most popular shopping streets. There are also several ice rinks set up around the city, including one at Winter World in Potsdamer Platz.
If you’re looking to explore some of Berlin’s top sights as well as its Christmas attractions, it’s best to spend at least 4 days in Berlin so that you aren’t rushed.
The weather in Berlin around Christmastime is typically cold, but not miserably so. Pack a warm winter coat, a few sweaters, and some warm, comfortable shoes and you’ll be all set for a fun, magical Christmas visit to Berlin!
Related post: Best places to see the Northern lights in Europe
15. Seville, Spain
Contributed by Paulina from Paulina on The Road
Seville becomes the city of lights during Christmas, being firmly in the grip of the festival’s fever. If you are tired of celebrating the Christmas season in your town, visiting the same shops every year, you need a change now.
The Southern Spanish city of Seville is one of the Christmas destinations in Europe that has become increasingly popular in recent years for the holiday celebrations.
Why Seville? There is a long list of reasons. The city is recognized as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities that features the world’s best sights.
During Christmas, you can witness the sights sparkling with fairy lights such as Cathedral Alcazar Palace, Plaza Espana, the Metropol Parasol, and more. The city also marks a thriving food culture with the most famous tapas bars.
Seville lights up for the Christmas season in early December and carries on until Epiphany on January 6. The popular tourist areas, Avenida de la Constitución and the commercial center are full of festival hustle and bustle making it the best place to celebrate Christmas in Europe
Here are some more things you must do during Christmas in Seville.
- Visit the Christmas markets: The Christmas Markets in Seville are a sign of the arrival of winters. Visit Feria del Belen, one of the unique markets, to buy figurines for the Nativity scene of your homes. The markets are full of shops shining in Christmas lights.
- Enjoy the Christmas Concerts: You cannot celebrate Christmas Eve without some Carol and music. You can enjoy many concerts happening in Seville during Christmas where groups and choirs play traditional songs.
- Go to Christmas Parades: Christmas holidays start from early December with December 8 marked as the Day of the Immaculate Conception. The night before this day, students dressed up on streets head to La Purisima where they leave flowers, and everyone serenades the statue of the Virgin Mary.
If you are spending your holiday season in Seville, your itinerary must also include visiting the nearby places. You can go on a day trip from Seville to Madrid or Malaga as these cities also go all out during Christmas.
16. Athens, Greece
Contributed by Elena from Passion for Hospitality
Greece is indeed a hot destination for summer holidays thanks to its postcard-worthy sceneries, crystal clear waters, the many islands, the sunny and warm weather.
However, people don’t know until they have been to Greece during winter how amazing it actually is during the offseason.
Athens is a city that combines both ancient and modern worlds, full of history and culture, thousands of restaurants, cafeterias, bars, happy people, and good vibes.
The city of Athens during the Christmas holiday season is dressed in sparkling lights and is decorated with Christmas Trees. The city also has its own unique holiday traditions.
Just before Christmas Eve, children wander around the city singing Christmas carols, ta kalanda, a wonderful sight indeed. Across the city, visitors and locals can admire choirs, dancing performances held on independent stages, and during the night the dark sky is filled with colorful fireworks.
The Athenians take the festive season seriously – decorating their shops and houses to spark joy. The warm weather adds to the joys of the holidays.
The month of December in Athens enjoys mild weather. The sun is still proudly shining and brightening up the city and compared to other European Cities and it rarely rains making it one of the best winter sun destinations in Europe.
One of the Greek’s favorite pastime activities during the Christmas holidays is to meet with friends and family for brunch in one of the numerous thematic cafeterias and restaurants.
Little Kook and Noel in Athens’ Psyrri area are a must-visit, as their extravagant decorations will make you feel like you are in Santa’s winter wonderland. Once you’ve eaten to your heart’s content, take a leisurely walk down to Ermou Street where you can spend a few good hours shopping for gifts.
Visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Central where you can spend a fun afternoon on the ice-skating rink, grab a hot chocolate, and watch the dancing fountains performance accompanied by the sounds of Christmas carols.
To end the perfect day, choose among one of the many traditional restaurants to dine in the warmth of a fireplace and some red wine.
17. Moscow, Russia
Contributed by Lindsey Puls from Have Clothes, Will Travel
Moscow during Christmas is simply magical and looks as though the city were plucked straight from a fairytale.
There are many beautiful Christmas lights displays, as well as festive Christmas markets that begin in late November and run to the end of February which makes Moscow the best place to celebrate Christmas in Europe.
It is also important to note, Russia celebrates the Orthodox Christmas which takes place on January 7th – not December 25th!
Moscow’s most famous Christmas market is located in the heart of the city right in Red Square. This magical market is set against the magnificent onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral as well as The Kremlin and the beautiful GUM Mall, which is covered in strings of twinkling lights. Actually, many of the best things to do in Moscow are located right by this market!
The market itself hosts a large ice skating rink, festive carnival rides and dozens of vendor stalls selling all kinds of traditional Russian gifts and treats. You can indulge in many kinds of grilled meats, blini (Russian pancakes), cookies and more. Be sure to also grab a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm!
Another great option is to visit the Izmailovksy Market in Moscow. This market is located within the walls of a brightly colored Kremlin, and you’ll find far better prices on Russian souvenirs here than you will in the city centre.
If your budget and schedule allow, I also highly recommend seeing The Nutcracker ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theatre during the Christmas holiday. Buy your tickets as soon as possible, though, as The Nutcracker sells out within hours of tickets going on sale!
18. Prague, Czech Republic
Contributed by Veronika from Travel Geekery
Prague is one of the best European cities to spend Christmas. A proper Prague winter sees the city’s roofs and spires covered in a white blanket and in December, the special Christmas glow adds to the fairytale feel.
The pre-Christmas season is, apart from shopping and getting everything ready for Christmas, about meeting friends and family. It’s often done in the numerous Christmas markets. Prague has so many!
Apart from the largest Christmas market at the Old Town Square, there are smaller, more intimate Christmas markets in most neighborhoods near the city center. The Namesti Miru Christmas market is one of the locals’ favorite who often meet up with friends for mulled wine there.
Aside from the omnipresent mulled wine and hot mead, you can have a sausage or two or go for the sweet Trdlo/Trdelník – a cinnamon chimney cake that’s originally from Transylvania, but somehow got labeled ‘traditional’ in Czech markets. It’s still delicious, though.
On the days leading up to Christmas, you can see more and more of the local traditions. On the evening of December 5th, St. Nicholas roams the streets with angels and devils, rewarding good children and giving coal to those who’ve been bad.
Stalls selling Christmas trees spring up and large containers with live carps fill the squares. That’s where Czechs get their ingredients for the Christmas dinner, which traditionally consists of fried carp and a potato salad.
You can join in the festive atmosphere by hanging out at the markets, listening to Christmas carols being sung, and soaking it all in. If you like ice-skating, you can enjoy it in the city center atOvocný trh Square.
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19. Konstanz, Germany
Contributed by Wendy Werneth from The Nomadic Vegan
Several cities and towns in Germany are well-known for their Christmas markets, but one that doesn’t get talked about as much as the others is the southern German city of Konstanz.
Located right on the border with Switzerland, on the shores of the eponymous lake, Konstanz is generally thought of as a summer destination. After all, the whole area around Lake Constance is fantastic for hiking, cycling, and all kinds of water sports.
But if you come here during the month of December, you will find one of the most unique Christmas markets in all of Germany. Officially known as “Weihnachsmarkt am See”, which means something like “Christmas Market on the Lake”, this festive holiday market takes place all along the shores of Lake Constance.
And in fact, the market stalls even spill out into the lake itself! In addition to the food stalls and arts & crafts stalls set up around town, you’ll find even more stalls on board the “Christmas Ship” that’s moored in the Konstanz harbor especially for the event. On the upper level of the ship, there is also an ice bar with a 360° panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding scenery.
The Weihnachsmarkt am See is a great place to try some local food and drinks. Glühwein, or hot mulled wine, is definitely the drink of choice among most adult marketgoers.
Even though the Weihnachsmarkt am See is not as famous as some of Germany’s other markets, it’s still quite popular locally, both with Germans, Swiss, and Austrians who live across the border.
If you happen to be arriving from Switzerland by train, be sure to ask at your departure station in Switzerland about special deals for visitors to the market. They usually run an offer of up to 50 percent off the ticket price, and they may even throw in a complimentary glühwein in a special souvenir mug!
20. Wroclaw, Poland
Contributed by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Wroclaw is one of the best places to visit in Europe during Christmas! The city is situated in the south-western part of Poland, and with only two hours’ drive from the German border and a well-connected international airport, it is an easily accessible place for a perfect European Christmas getaway.
In the heart of the city, there is a stunning, gothic Market Square surrounded by colorful townhouses. The Market Square turns into a bustling winter wonderland around Christmas time with a giant Christmas tree right in the middle and streets adorned with twinkling fairy lights.
Festive arts and crafts are sold in wooden huts scattered around the square. You can find some excellent gifts like hand made jewellery, Christmas decorations and traditional Polish souvenirs from different regions like wool sweaters, smoked, squeaky cheese from the mountains and traditional fluffy slippers.
Don’t forget to sample some local, Christmas specialties while exploring the Christmas market including Polish sausages, doughnuts, pancakes, and traditional Polish dumplings called pierogi. In addition to festive Polish food, you can also find some best international cuisine like Spanish paella and Hungarian lagos.
Other activities to do during Christmas include fan fairs for the little ones, traditional carousels, and Christmas carol performances.
The city also sets up large ice rinks in various locations in the town, and various churches in Wroclaw have live nativity scenes with real animals and actors worth watching.
And if you get cold and tired of spending time outside, Wroclaw has a large Aquapark with saunas, steam rooms, and a variety of slides that can be enjoyed by the whole family as you warm up.
21. Nottingham, UK
Contributed by Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go
Nottingham in the East Midlands of England is the perfect destination in Europe for a romantic Christmas break in the UK.
At Christmas time, the city is filled with festivities and cheer, with the main event being the German Christmas market which is located just off the Old Market Square in the centre of Nottingham.
It has a fantastic traditional European vibe with over 70 Bavarian-style market stalls featuring traditional handcrafted Christmas gifts, decorations, and treats from different sellers making it the ideal shopping destination to pick up any last-minute Christmas presents.
The Christmas market with the twinkling Christmas lights, enormous Christmas tree, and beautiful decorations overhead is just one part of the Nottingham Winter Wonderland.
Nottingham Winter Wonderland is the largest Christmas event in the East Midlands which also features an outdoor ice skating rink, Santa’s grotto, various traditional fairground rides, live music on certain nights, and a magical Alpine Ice Bar, where fur coats and gloves are provided and the drinks are served in glasses made from ice.
Around the outside of the Old Market square are many cozy cafes and pubs to sit and enjoy the festive atmosphere, and no trip to Nottingham would be complete without seeing Nottingham castle and the nearby Wollaton Hall all decked out for Christmas.
Nottingham is easily accessible with the nearest airport being East Midlands airport with cheap flights from all over Europe. Exit the M1 at junction 25 if visiting by car and there are many secure multistorey carparks around the city centre. Nottingham also has a central train station, two bus stations and a tram network making it very easy to get around on public transport.
22. Madrid, Spain
Contributed by Becki from Meet Me In Departures
The Spaniards definitely know how to throw a good celebration, and Christmas (Navidad in Spanish) is no exception. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Madrid in the winter during this festive period, there are loads of traditions to get involved in.
Religious services start during mid-December in the lead up to Christmas Day and go on up to January 6th, which is Three Kings Day. In Spain, Christmas Dinner is eaten on the 24th of December, and gifts are given to the children on this day.
In every shop window, main street, and the square, you will notice stunning displays of lights and nativity scenes. You’ll also find plenty of pop-up Christmas markets selling local produce. A great sweet treat available in the lead up to the festive period is Turrón, a type of nutty sweet fudge-like treat.
If you’re staying in Madrid for the whole of the festive period, then the city comes alive on New Year’s Eve, with enormous street parties and celebrations. Join in on the traditional eating of ‘12 grapes’ as the clock strikes midnight. You eat one grape per chime of the clock before partying into the early hours.
The 6th of January, known as the Cabalgata De Los Reyes (The Three Kings Cavalcade), marks the end of the Christmas period in Madrid. A huge street parade and carnival takes place in the city, and like with Christmas Day, children are given gifts.
Another delicious traditional food to try is the Roscón de Reyes, a traditional ring-shaped, fruit-filled buttery cake which is eaten in the morning of Three Kings Day.
Related post: Reasons to travel to Europe in winter
23. Frankfurt, Germany
Contributed by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights
Frankfurt in Germany is one of the best places in Europe to spend Christmas. Here, you can find one of the continent’s biggest Christmas markets with 3 million visitors each year. It also happens to be one of the oldest with records showing it dating back to 1393.
When visiting Frankfurt at Christmas, you should start your visit on Römerberg. Here, in front of the Town Hall, you can find the central part of the Frankfurt Christmas market, surrounded by half-timbered houses.
This area is excellent for trying Glühwein (German mulled wine) or traditional Christmas cookies from Frankfurt. They are called Bethmännchen, made out of almonds, and you will have a hard time finding them elsewhere in Germany.
If you’re looking for a savoury snack while still trying traditional flavours, check out the cheese fondue stall you can find in the square. Instead of using Swiss cheese, the owners offer a version made from a regional sour cheese.
Another local specialty that you need to try when visiting Frankfurt at Christmas is hot Apfelwein. Apfelwein translates to apple wine and is a wine made from apples, similar to cider. In December, locals like drinking a hot mulled version of Apfelwein that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
From Römerberg, you can quickly go down to the shore of the River Main. Here, you will find an ice skating rink. Rent a pair of skates and enjoy the twinkling lights while gliding over the ice.
But if you prefer seeing everything from above? Then you should head to the Frankfurt Cathedral. From its tower, you’ll have a great view of Frankfurt’s Old Town and the lights of the Christmas market.
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24. St Ives, Cornwall, UK
Contributed by Sylvie from Kids 2 Cornwall
St Ives is a beautiful town located in the South-west of Cornwall in the UK. This former fishing village is now a booming tourist hotspot especially during the summer, Christmas, and new year.
If you’re looking for the best Christmas in Europe in a town by the sea, then St Ives checks all the boxes. There’s plenty of events and traditions going on in St Ives during Christmas.
For the kids, Santa Claus always comes in on the Lifeboat at the beginning of December every year. In November, there’s the turning on of the Christmas lights where everyone gathers in the main square to watch.
There’s also the ‘window display competition’ where most of the shops in town compete for the best festive display. Previous winners have included huge handmade chocolate displays and a beautifully crafted nativity.
Make sure to book somewhere with a sea view so you can enjoy it while you open your Christmas presents! On Christmas day itself, the locals like to go on a family walk in the afternoon.
On a windy day, the waves blow foam onto the beach – also turning the beach white especially on the town’s largest beach, Porthmeor.
If you visit this charming town, you’ll be spoilt for choice as St Ives has 5 beautiful white sandy beaches to choose from. And if you stay until boxing day, there’s an annual boxing day dip that you shouldn’t miss.
25. Deventer, The Netherlands
Contributed by Cosette from Kars Travels
Deventer is perfect as a European Christmas destination because it hosts the Dickens Festival each year. The weekend before Christmas, the streets in the Bergkwartier are turned into a village from the stories of Charles Dickens.
The streets are filled with 950 actors that portray every figure from Charles Dickens’s books you can imagine. Chimneysweeps, drunks, Queen Victoria, Christmas carol singers, and Oliver Twist are all there. Engage with the actors while walking through the Dickens town, buy some street food, or just enjoy the show.
The Bergkwartier is the well preserved medieval part of Deventer and with that a perfect fit fort he Dickens Festival. The actors perform sketches, shows, mimes and sing.
Expect to wait over an hour in line, before you can enter the Dickens Festival. There’s no entrance fee, but the streets are fenced off and there’s only one entrance to the outdoors festival. Dress in warm, comfy clothes, so that you can wait a while in the cold. Wear shoes with which you can walk a few hours.
The Dickens Festival isn’t the only Christmas thing to do in Deventer. There are 2 Christmas markets on the same weekend. One on the Brink, a town square at the end of the Dickens tour where stalls are lined up with Christmas stuff, food, and books.
Browse the market, before heading over to the ‘Grote of Lebuinus’church where a second Christmas market is being held inside the church. Christmas carolers sing near a grand tree and inside the warmth of the church, stalls are lined up with all sorts of Christmas items.
26. Valletta, Malta
Contributed by Rai from Rai of Light
The period of Christmas is a decidedly festive time on the island of Malta, especially in its capital Valletta. A significant period known for both its religious customs and cultural traditions has something to offer everyone.
The main street that runs through the city is beautifully adorned with Christmas lights and garlands. In addition to the jovial atmosphere, there is an array of things to do at this time of the year.
Christmas markets are becoming more popular and you can expect a handful of them located throughout the city. You can find everything from local arts and crafts, seasonal goods to handmade jewelry and books.
The main ones worth a visit are the Valetta waterfront and Sliema Christmas markets, offering plenty of Christmas-themed activities, carolling, and street performances.
Participation in churches also increases around this time with a special attendance on Christmas Day and a Midnight Mass.
An old but loved tradition is The Sermon of the Child during which a young boy or girl is chosen to replace the priest in delivering the sermon during this special occasion. The Schengen area of Europe is well known for its cheerful Christmas atmosphere and a visit to Valetta at this time of the year comes highly recommended.
Valletta and Malta as a whole may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Christmas in Europe but its warm temperatures and charming festivities during this time of the year are making it increasingly popular as one of the best places in Europe for Christmas.
There you have if friends, those were the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. Have you been to any of these destinations at Christmas? What was your experience? Share with us in the comment section and don’t forget to share the post to inspire others.
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