25 Best European Cities to Visit in Winter (December til March)

25 Best European Cities to Visit in Winter (December 2020 to March 2021)

25 Best European Cities to Visit in Winter (December til March)Europe is gorgeous – in winter and summer, all year long. The trick is to know where to visit. We are Europeans and we’ve visited the big cities and hidden gems at different times of year.

This is my list of the best European cities to visit in winter 2020.

It’s a brand new article, leading you to cold, warm and beautiful destination from December to March and ahead.

So give it a read.

We also included approximate costs of accommodation, transport to get here as well as ideas for itineraries.

Read: best Christmas Markets in Europe.

Getting around Europe

The best website to score cheap flights is kiwi.com and for public transport check Omio.com

I wrote up a full review about Kiwi.com. It covers how you can score cheap flights, plus how to find even more winter destinations around you.

I also included HOW to book and all the other websites I check out BEFORE purchasing anything.

Update: I also included now the newsletter I recommend to score cheaper flights.

Kiwi Review for Flights

Without any further ado, let us start with some warm weather, food food and beaches: the Canary Islands!

1. Canary Island (it is warm here!)

Our #1 European winter destination is Canary Islands.

Although, geographically speaking, it is Africa, the Canary Islands are part of the kingdom of Spain.

Enjoy warm weather, long beaches and amazing Spanish culture. considering Spain in winter? Then read our guide to one week in Spain here.

There are the following islands to choose from:

  1. El Hierro
  2. La Palma
  3. La Gomera
  4. Tenerife
  5. Gran Canaria
  6. Fuerteventura
  7. Lanzarote

Gran Canaria and Tenerife are the most popular ones.

I especially felt in love with Fuerteventura.

It’s a semi-desert island.

It is perfect for nature lover, surfers, kite-surfers and beach-goers. The culinary scene is also not to miss.

You can

  • climb volcano’s
  • relax at white and black beaches
  • drive a vehicle through the dunes
  • and explore hidden beaches and even a small grand canyon.

However, if you prefer nightlife, then Tenerife and La Palma in Gran Canaria are the places to be.

How to get to Canary Islands?

Check out the flights to Canary Islands here.

Just draw a circle of the islands, simple as that.

You can also take a ferry to the Canary Islands, BUT: it takes around 1 1/2 days just to get there. Unless you want to bring a vehicle and stay long-term, it is not really an option.

Smart tip: Fly first to Madrid or Barcelona. From here you can score cheaper flights plus you can visit a major city in Spain.

Also smart: Rent a car. It is the easiest way to get around without the hassle of a public bus. Discover Car Rental is a reliable website for renting you car in Europe.

Fuerteventura, Canary Islands

2. Lisbon, Portugal

Let us continue this amazing list with another sunny and warm city.

Lisbon is also a fantastic choice during the colder month.

July and August are the busiest months, it is tourist-packed over summer. In winter you can enjoy the city at a slower pace. Soak in the culture, and get lost in the culinary scene and nightlife.

In the area around Lisbon you can also go surfing all year long. A wet suite is necessary though, but your surf school will share the required details.

There are many surf spots dotted around Lisbon. Some of them however remain closed in the colder months. Keep this in mind.

Here is our guide to spend 7 days in Lisbon.

Lisbon is sunny all year long

Things to do in Lisbon over winter?

How to get to Lisbon?

Lisbon has its own big airport. Therefore, it is fairly easy to get here. You can find cheap flights to Lisbon with Kiwi.com

Where to stay in Lisbon?

Stay central! My personal recommendation is the Lisboa Pessoa Hotel.

Enjoy breakfast and dinner on the roof top terrace. It comes with an amazing view over the city.

There are also plenty of cute Airbnb apartments in Lisbon. Check them out here.

More on a budget? Then here’s a few cool hostels in Lisbon too:

  1. Sunset Destination (best hostel for solo-travelers)
  2. Hub Lisbon Patio Hostel (top pick for backpackers)
  3. Lisbon Calling (awesome for couples)

Lisboa Pessoa Hotel

3. Granada – Sweet sun & Alhambra Aura

If you are expecting cold destinations in South Spain, Granada is the place!

Granada in winter is COLD!

However, Granada is sunny all year long. It stands out like a painting. The old town Albaicín climbs up the mountain, the majestic Alhambra rules the panoramic view from every point in the city.

In the background, you see the snow covered peaks of Sierra Nevada.

The highest mountain on the main land of Spain is snow covered all year long – even in summer. The contrast is spectacular.

At winter times you can still expect sunny but cold weather, super tasty food and south Spanish culture to fall in love with.

Important: Get your ticket to Alhambra as soon as you can! It is almost impossible to get tickets for the same day. Since this is a must-visit, you should get your tickets to Alhambra here.

Granada with its beautiful panoramic view

How to get to Granada?

Granada has its own airport as well as a well-connected train station.

You can come here from all major destinations around. Easiest way would be to get here by train from Madrid or by flying from Barcelona.

Check all flights to Granada here.

Where to stay in Granada?

I love the area of Albaicín, it is the old town climbing up the mountain. If it is snowing, I would stay however in the city center, below Alhambra.

My personal recommendation: Stay at Casa Bombo!

The Casa Bombo comes with a STUNNING view to the Alhambra. This is especially awesome at night since it is illuminated!

I stayed here back in 2015; long time, still awesome in 2020 – I checked! The staff was amazing, super helpful. The breakfast was super delicious and the neat design was 100% Granada.

It simply loved it here!

Smart tip: They have a superior double room in a tower with private terrace. From the bed you have the BEST views.

Therefore, try to book the room “Double Room with Private Terrace”. I included here a photo for your reference 🙂

For the traveler on a budget, check out the best hostels in Granada Spain.

Casa Bombo in Granada

This is the room with the private terrace at Casa Bombo.

The room is on the left hand.

The only “con” of this room? The bathroom is downstairs. I did not care a bit. It’s worth it the view!

Private Terrace at Casa Bombo in Granada

4. Sevilla (Sun, culture, food)

A short train ride away from Granada, in direction Lisbon, this is Sevilla. Or in English: Seville.

The capital of Andalusia is Sevilla. When visiting Granada, include Sevilla in your plans.

The connection is easy, direct and fast via train or bus. Check Omio.com for schedule and prices.

Sevilla is a synonym for bull fights and flamenco. Expect nothing less!

Things to do in Sevilla:

  • visit the impressive cathedral in the cities heart
  • Giralda Tower
  • Real Alcazar of Seville (Europe’s oldest Royal residence)
  • Plaza de España(this is where they filmed partially Star Wars)
  • Try Tapas and have a cold caña (beer)

Sevillas Cathedral and Old Town to admire in Winter

Here is a short video of Star Wards with Plaza de Espana. Once you walk along here, you will recognize it, no doubt.

Therefore, click on the short video and get a glance:

How to get to Sevilla?

As mentioned, the train connection is great. You can come here from Madrid, Granada and Lisbon.

There is also the Sevilla Airport. It is well connected to the rest of Europe.

Find your flights to Sevilla here.

Where to stay in Sevilla?

I have been several times to Sevilla. The most enjoyable area was around Old Town. My recommendation is Palacio Pinello.

It has an unbeatable location and the interior design is absolutely beautiful.

Palacio Pinello in Sevilla

Also, if you are considering Andalusia for your trip, check out the guide by Rick Steves. It covers all the must-sees and some insider tips as well.

Guide Book for Traveling Spain in Winter
Guide Book for Traveling Andalusia in Winter

5. Barcelona (my beloved home)

Further up north, a bit colder, yet magnificent. This is my home: Barcelona.

You can find all my articles on Barcelona here. I recommend to read my 12 tips to prepare before travelling for Barcelona.

It’s worth it to visit all year long (except New Year’s Eve. New Years Eve is nothing too special in Barcelona, in my opinion).

The temperature at day time is around 10-15 degrees, the coldest months are January and February. It can happen that there will be snow. BUT…that only happens every other year, and it’s just a few snow flakes.

Seriously, if you are used to snow, this is nothing!

In the colder months you can enjoys less crowded Barcelona; less tourists, lower prices. If you are lucky, you can find flights to Barcelona for less than 10€ and accommodation prices drop as well.

What to do in Barcelona in winter?

There’s plenty:

  • Skiing and snowboarding (3 hours outside the city)
  • Learn to cook paella at a local cooking class
  • Join a walking tour
  • Admire Sagrada Familia
  • Take epic photos at Park Guell

Here is my full list of things to do in Barcelona.

I also summed up the best things to do in Barcelona at NIGHT.

Where to stay in Barcelona?

My favorite area is El Born. I wrote up a huge guide on where to stay in Barcelona for first-time visitors.

I included maps for all types of travelers – from families, couples, solo-travelers.

My #1 recommendation for accommodation here is Casa Bonay. It is a beautiful, hipster hotel. Find more of the coolest hotels in Barcelona here with lesboutiquehotels.com

It is located in a typical Barcelona Apartment with hydraulic floors and high ceilings.

Traveling more on a budget? Find the 3 coolest hostels in Barcelona here.

Cheap hostels in Barcelona are:

Roof top terrace at Casa Bonay

How to get to Barcelona?

Barcelona is one of the best connected airports in Europe. You can fly here from anywhere, basically.

Go over to Kiwi.com and find your flights.

There is also fast trains from Madrid and Paris. Again, I always check Omio.com to see the train schedules.

One Week In Barcelona - Complete Guide