In this list we have everything from warmer places, to European Christmas market and beautiful landscapes. In this list you will find great places to travel as a solo traveler as well as family.
Without any further ado, let us start with some warm weather, food food and beaches: the Canary Islands!
We have created a map for you with the best places to visit in Europe for Winter.
At the end of this article, we even added a map with itinerary ideas for you. Keep scrolling!
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. One excellent alternative to Canary Islands in Winter is Cyprus – also on this list.
There are the following islands to choose from:
Gran Canaria and Tenerife are the most popular ones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is located in-between Old and New Town, so a perfect compromise for me. They also offer family-rooms, and I really enjoyed their family-friendly vibes in general. It feels really cozy and like home!
Bring super warm clothing, it gets easily -5 degrees in Berlin.
To warm up regularly, I recommend to write down some nice cafes, bars and restaurants. Those usually offer hot coco or coffee. Another “PRO” of this: You can try several different delicious cake. Cafés usually offer cakes here in Berlin.
Now that I’m writing this, don’t miss trying cake in Germany – in general!
How to get to Berlin?
It actually goes without saying, Berlin is well connected. You can catch flights from Paris, Amsterdam, London, Madrid and anywhere. It is a hub!
Talking about Germany, do you know Schloss Neuschwanstein? Of course you should. I mention it several times in my guide to best cities to visit in Germany.
It’s the real-life Disney Castle.
It is a magical place, both in winter and summer.
Include this as well in your European Winter Itinerary. In winter times, it may be even more fairyland-like. The snow-covered mountains, landscape and castle…that’s a bit of magic there, I can tell you that!
This one is definitely recommended for couples and families.
Talking about Germany and Schloss Neuschwanstein, head over to Germany – obviously.
Munich is a beautiful city! Wide, nostalgic buildings and a rich and proud Bavarian culture. As said before, it is just a day trip away from Schloss Neuschwanstein and very well known for its famous Oktoberfest at the end of September and beginning of October.
It actually goes without saying, but here are the MUST visits:
KLM, the Dutch Airline, is based here, and they have sometimes really sweet offers. You can check their official website here. FYI, KLM is a great Airline. It is really recommended, I always love taking them!
When looking for an apartment, I recommend the B&NOB Sosial Spaces. Stylish apartments in the very city center! There is also incredible luxury hotels dotted around the city center. Here is a complete guide on the top luxury Amsterdam hotels.
You can also chose between crazy party hostels up to upscale Boutique Hostels.
I never thought I would fall in love with such a touristy city. But once you have been here, there is no way around it. The touristy parts are mainly on Piazza San Marco and the main street taking you from Piazza San Marco to the train station.
Go left, go right. And get lost!
It is a big part of the Venice experience. Therefore, my best recommendation for Venice would be: don’t plan too much, just enjoy.
Strasbourg is located in the Eastern part of France, right at the border with Germany.
It is a true European hidden gem! Make sure you read my insider guide I wrote when I was in town for 7 days in Strasbourg. The most beautiful area here is “La Petit France“. It is an area with old buildings and canals wandering through the old town.
Zagreb is the capital of gorgeous Croatia. Croatia is actually known for its thousands of islands. Sure, those are the best destinations in summer.
For winter, I enjoy Zagreb. With all the cafés, the busy nightlife, street art and culture, it is a kind of unexpected joy to be here.
You should include this destination in your itinerary when traveling in the Balkans and East Europe.
15. London (free museums)
Another top city to visit in Europe during winter is: LONDON! With all their free museums, it is perfect for families and couples. And if you think “nah, museum are boring”, think again! London has museums for EVERYTHING.
Sicily has a mild climate in winter, yet it can get fresh. Here you can find the average climate in Sicily and all other destinations.
It’s worth it to rent a car and drive all over Sicily – from Palermo to Catania to tiny villages. Although some places remain closed in the off-season, the beauty if the country remains. Take advantage of this!
And yes, you can find accommodation all year long, don’t you worry!
The photo below shows the tiny, beautiful Castelmola, Italy.
18. Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian capital has two sides to it. The hills and the center itself.
I stayed at a camping site in the hill, overlooking the city of Oslo. Okay, I know, it’s to cold in winter for camping but there are a few hotels around the hill side as well.
My nightlight in Oslo was the boat tour as well as the beautiful white Opera House. I sat here at the seashore for hours, reading the books of Jo Nesbø.
If I were you, I’d keep an eye on the events of the opera house.
19. Stockholm, Sweden
Moving on in Scandinavia. Here is my guide to one week in Stockholm with itinerary. Stockholm is surrounded and basically build on water. It is the same story as Venice, yet it’s not that touristy. Get lost in the narrow streets, taste different pastries and wander the museums of Stockholm.
A must-visit is the ABBA Museum, the Swedish legend. The Drottningholm Palace and the Royal Palace can also not be missed.
There is a tourist bus around the city. However, the more fun way to explore Stockholm is by Archipelago cruise. Stockholm is beautiful. I think it’s more special to visit during the colder months.
Why? It’s a big part of the Swedish culture, it’s less crowded plus it gives you reason to enter more of their design-led cafes, restaurants and museums.
Good to know: Stockholm is VERY cold in winter! Make sure you stay warm and wear warm clothing.
At the moment, Craft beer is very trendy around Europe. And Copenhagen is certainly a hot spot for this. Try to visit a craft beer tour, even if you are not that into beer itself. It is really interesting.
I already covered Lisbon in this list. But let us not forget about Porto. It is the pearl of the North. Porto and its hilly neighborhoods are one of my favorite hidden gems in Europe.
With time moving on, more and more tourists discover Porto. Make sure you come here before it gets too busy.
The main highlight of Porto is, quite obviously, tasting a real Port wine. There are numerous wineries in the area. You can even take a cruise to the wineries. Make sure you wander along the rivers bench and take some photos of the Dom Luís I Bridge.
Good to know: There is a small cable car bringing you from the bottom of Dom Luís I Bridge up. In my opinion, it’s not worth it the money.
22. Lyon (the better Paris?)
It is the Little Paris.
Maybe even the “better Paris“? It is definitely less busy than the world famous Paris. Many locals come here to live since it is still a big city, but not too overwhelming.
Even in winter times you can wander the old town, go shopping and dive in one of the finest cuisines of the world. Many Michelin-star awarded chefs like Paul Bocuse are from Lyon or live here. So?
Lyon is a foodie paradise!
Talking about food. Head over to the local market “Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse”. Here you can eat like a queen and king. From the Basílica Notre-Dame de Fourvière you have a beautiful view over the city.
If you are planning to come by car to Lyon, this is where you can also park for free! When you start to get cold feet, head over to Puzzle Café, downtown.
It’s a small, cute, hip café with creamy coffee, design-led magazines and super tasty pastries.
23. The French and Swiss Alps
This list would not be complete without skiing and snowboarding. The best spot to do so is the French and Swiss Alps. In Europe we say, “Skiing the big four: France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy”.
You can also go for skiing in the Pyrenees. There you can choose between the French Pyrenees, the Spanish ones or Andorra.
24. Budapest (Spa’s and Nightlife), Hungary
First time I visited Budapest it was in February. Deep winter. Everything covered in white, fluffy, cold snow.
I visited the “museum of terror” (it was super interesting!) and I ate my way through different restaurants. My highlight however was the Széchenyi Spa.
Although it was freezing outside, I visited the SPA. It has an indoor and outdoor area. You can be outside with a lot of things to do. And you can jump inside into the warm when it’s getting to cold. When you are done with the Széchenyi Spa, there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, spas, bars and indoor experiences.
I recommend taking a walk up or take the small train to the Budapest Castle. There is an Art Gallery inside. Nearby you can also find the Citadella, a fortification located upon the top of Gellért Hill in Budapest.
From both points you have wonderful views over the city.
Looking for some nightlife? Well, in Budapest you will find it. There are rural bars and numerous nightclubs. Here is a guide to nightlife in Budapest.
Generally said, every flight under 100€ is a great deal, under 200€ is totally fine. A flight inside of Europe should not be more than 200€.
As for trains, there is no generic rule. I am sorry. I would live to give you an estimate for train travel, but it is so diverse. I recommend you to check out RailEurope. They list all trains around the different countries.
This way you can get a better understanding of the prices and rates.
A word of advise though: Keep an eye on special weekend deals or day-tickets. Sometimes you can get some fantastic deals!
Food: General speaking, you can find a daily menu for around 10€-15€, while dinner is around 20€.
This way I receive a small commission of your booking and can maintain this website – with NO extra cost for you. =)
And again, another awesome website I love to use is Airbnb. Here you can rent a full apartment from locals directly. You can also just rent a room inside an apartment. I wrote up a big guide on 42 alternatives to Airbnb too.
Packing List for European Winter
Wherever you go, you will need a jacket. Even in the South with Canary Islands, a light jacket is a must. The closer to the North you are, the more and warmer clothe you will need.
The most important items on your packing list are:
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