Best Places to Visit in December in Europe

Best Places to Visit in December in Europe 2024? Top Destinations for Families, Couples, and Solo Travelers Draft

Are you planning your Easter weekend in an affordable European destination? Enjoy one of the European cities before they get flooded with crowds. In ‘Where to travel in Europe for April’ guide, you’ll find some of the best destinations this month, including accommodation and activity suggestions.

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Where to go in Europe in December

December is a magical time to explore Europe with its vibrant Christmas markets, and warm atmosphere. Although there are countless charming cities, I have selected a list of the most impressive destinations for this December.

In addition to a short trip through picturesque towns, I offer you suggestions for excellent markets and accommodation and practical advice to get there. No matter what your ideas are, you will indeed find a suitable place to travel in Europe in December.

Let’s start!

1. Lapland, Finland

And where do you go in December if you are not in the land of Santa Claus? Although the average temperature drops to -9 degrees Celsius (15 F), the warm atmosphere and friendly locals will quickly warm your soul.

Things to do in Lapland

  • Sleep in an igloo – only in this region you will have a unique opportunity to sleep in an insulated sleeping bag with a view of the Arctic beauty;
  • Husky safari – definitely the most unique way to explore Lapland!
  • Cruise on an icebreaker – this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience available only to visitors to Lapland;
  • Snowmobiles – another winter attraction that you should not miss;
  • Watch northern lights – this location offers an ideal setting for astronomy lovers.
Book Northern Lights Wilderness Tour here

Book Northern Lights Wilderness Tour

How to get to Lapland

Lapland is a vast region with several cities, each with a unique charm, making it the ultimate place to travel in Europe in December. The largest and busiest airport is Rovaniemi Airport, and the flight to Helsinki takes 2 hours. Another airport also available is Kittila Airport, located in the northern part.

Considering that you will be travelling in December, I recommend you choose a plane rather than a car, because the winter conditions here can be harsh. In addition, this region has short daily hours.

Where to stay in Lapland

In addition to the fact that ice hotels are the most attractive offer, you can find accommodation for everyone’s taste and pocket.

Nova Skyland Hotel

Nova Skyland Hotel offers luxurious suites and Nordic cottages with excellent heating even in December. Next to the resort, there is a restaurant, free parking, and beautiful family rooms. If you are arriving by plane, the hotel also offers transportation to and from the airport.

Book Nova Skyland Hotel here

Relax and unwind at Nova Skyland Hotel

Have a great time at Nova Skyland Hotel

For more options, check out:

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark is the perfect option for where to travel in Europe in December!

Have you seen Copenhagen and its Christmas markets? It is absolutely worth experiencing, with its beautifully decorated streets, the smell of mulled wine and warm traditional pastries. This magic starts on November 3rd and lasts until December 23rd, so December is an ideal month for this experience.

Our Guide to One Week in Copenhagen

Things to do in Copenhagen

  • Winter bathing- although it may seem crazy, this is a winter tradition; many locals jump into the cold water by the harbour;
  • Saunas and spas- after jumping into the cold water, you can warm up in one of the beautiful saunas in this city;
  • Bakeries and Christmas treats- try stuffed pancakes, soft with marzipan or Copenhagen snails. For the traditional Danish names of these delicacies, I challenge you to find out by yourself.
  • Ice skating
Book Copenhagen Culture Tour here

Copenhagen during Winter

How to get to Copenhagen

The cheapest flights to Copenhagen are in November, December and January from all major European capitals. The Christmas period might be more expensive, so you should book far in advance. Copenhagen Airport (Kastrup) is only 8 km from the city.

If you have already decided to take the train, check if there is snow at your final destination. You have direct connections from nearby cities, such as Berlin, Hamburg or Stockholm.

Shorter destinations can also be reached by bike. Denmark has phenomenal cycle paths, but don’t count on this in December.

Where to stay in Copenhagen

I prepared some options for everyone’s preferences.

Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden

Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden is a beautiful hotel with an indoor pool and a natural setting, only a kilometre away from the central train station. It is an ideal shelter for couples or smaller groups of 8-10 people.

Book Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden here

Private room at Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden

Have a pleasant stay at Manon Les Suites Guldsmeden

My additional recommendations are:

3. Stockholm, Sweden

Are you ready for fairy lights and twinkling Christmas trees when you travel to Europe in December? Well, welcome to Stockholm, the city that offers some of the best holiday markets in the world! From ice rinks for children and adults to delicious pepparkakor (gingerbread cookies) and the jolliest carols, the Swedish capital offers thrilling experiences for everyone.

Our Guide to One Week in Stockholm

Things to do in Stockholm

  • Christmas Concerts and Markets: 2 markets are waiting for you, one in the old town and one in Skansen (open-air museum).
    Enjoy the sweet concerts in the markets, cathedrals, or the Grand Palace Hall.
  • Watch or join the little masked children at the Lucia procession.
  • Visit museums and churches
  • Christmas Lights/ Light Cruise: Don’t miss this spectacle where almost the whole city shines.
  • Julbord (Christmas Buffet)- is a popular tradition in Sweden that brings family and friends together to enjoy a hearty and elaborate meal during the Christmas season. Be part of the magic.
Book Stockholm: All-Inclusive Pass here

Stockholm - Where to Stay for first time travelers

How to get to Stockholm

The nearest airport is Arlanda, 37 km from the centre, and you can get there by train or bus. You also have night trains to the nearest metropolises, which, if booked earlier, cost much less. For the most convenient approach, take a train from Copenhagen or Oslo to Stockholm.

Where to stay in Stockholm

Bank Hotel, Member of Small Luxury Hotels

Bank Hotel offers luxurious interiors at affordable prices. It is located 200 metres away from the main city square and captivates with its royal red colour, excellent breakfast, and helpful staff. What I specifically love about this place is that it comes alive during the winter, making it the perfect destination for where to travel in Europe in December.

Book Bank Hotel here

Make yourself at home at Bank Hotel, a Member of Small Luxury Hotels

Enjoy your time at Bank Hotel, a Member of Small Luxury Hotels

For more options, find accommodation in these areas:

4. Colmar, France

If you’re wondering where to travel in Europe in winter, Colmar is one of the most famous destinations for the Christmas holidays. Since summer, people have been buying a ticket and finding accommodation for December. This is a small place in France, with half-timbered houses enriched with colour.

Our Guide to One Week in France

Things to do in Colmar

  • Take a Stroll Through the Parc du Champ de Mars- the most famous park decorated with Christmas decorations;
  • Explore Tanner’s District with picturesque houses and wander through the famous La Petite Venise Canal;
  • Visit the Colmar Christmas Markets: an unmissable experience, packed with sweet treats and crowds of people through cobbled streets;
  • Stop by the Bartholdi Museum;
  • Visit the Toy Museum of Colmar.
Book Colmar Tour here

Colmar - Christmas city in Alsace, France

How to get to Colmar

Your best option is to land in either Basel or Strasbourg, 60-70 km from Colmar, and catch a train there. Reserve your train tickets online to save money and time.

Where to stay in Colmar

Suites Residences Spa

Suites Residences Spa is an utterly exclusive apartment with a kitchen and a beautiful city view. Places are limited here, and since almost everyone wants to travel to Europe in December, you should act fast. There are also separate apartments with a spa or family rooms suitable for a family vacation.

Book Suites Residences Spa here

Experience comfort at Suites Residences Spa

Have a wonderful stay at Suites Residences Spa

For design lovers, choose the first hotel, then for groups, the second and third for a family-friendly trip:

5. Vienna, Austria

Voted as the most livable city for 2023, Vienna is an ideal weekend destination, especially in December. The Christmas magic starts on November 11th and doesn’t stop until the 26th. In addition to all the beauties of the Christmas markets, Vienna is the cradle of classical music and beautiful architecture expressed through many palaces.

Our Guide to One Week in Vienna

Things to do in Vienna

  • Explore the city’s famous Christmas markets – the most famous is the market across Rathaus Hall, i.e. Christkindlmarkt;
  • Attend a classical concert or opera performance at venues like the Vienna State Opera or the Musikverein;
  • Visit the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace which captivates with its decorations and sparkling details;
  • Explore the Belvedere Palace- a place you should not miss, it also offers a Christmas market in the courtyard where you can try fabulous Austrian cakes and sweets, as well as mulled wine.
Book Vienna Bus Tour here

Vienna Austria

How to get to Vienna City

Flights to Vienna are frequent and affordable, especially if your starting point is one of the Balkan countries. If you decide on a scenic drive by train, start from Budapest, Zurich, or Salzburg.

Where to stay in Vienna

The Leo Grand

Superb 5-star hotel, ideal for travellers who want luxury and refinement, but above all, modernity and design. All rooms have wooden furniture and elite details, and the hotel also has a restaurant. Still, since the Leo Grand is located 300 metres from the main centre, you can also try some local specialties from the Christmas market stalls.

Book The Leo Grand here

Enjoy your stay at The Leo Grand

Have fun at The Leo Grand

And if you are not in this category, we have something for you too:

6. Budapest, Hungary

Possibly the most festive destination for this period and an all-time favourite for where to travel in Europe in December! The area around Budapest eye lights up in the colours of the Christmas celebration. In this period, the two parts of the city seem to have been translated into each other.

Our Guide to One week in Budapest

Things to do in Budapest

  • Warm up in Budapest’s famous thermal baths – even in winter, this is a significant hit and attraction, with a water temperature of 30 degrees Celsius (86 F). During the weekends, you can also enjoy a party;
  • Take a romantic Danube River cruise;
  • Explore Buda Castle– the residence of all kings is an ideal place to see how the atmosphere of the main square escalates during sunset;
  • Visit Vajdahunyad Castle in the City Park;
  • Enjoy a classical music concert, opera, or ballet.
Book Budapest bike tour here

Tour around Budapest with friends

How to get to Budapest

You can often find a cheap flight to Budapest, especially on a weekday. You can get from the airport to the city by bus 100E.

Alternatively, the metro is the second oldest in Europe and offers unforgettable excitement and beautiful vistas.

Where to stay in Budapest

A Golden Star Modern Luxury Apartments, Budapest

Deluxe modern apartment with a city view from the terrace. The whole setting is styled in beige and black tones, creating a modern yet cozy atmosphere, ideal for a group of people or family.

Book Golden Star Modern Luxury Apartments here

Relax and unwind at A Golden Star Modern Luxury Apartments and Suites Budapest

Have a great time at A Golden Star Modern Luxury Apartments and Suites Budapest

For other categories, check these suggestions:

7. Amsterdam, Netherlands

This city is not only synonymous with cycling and beautiful canals but also a magical Christmas experience and festive New Year’s Eve celebration. One of the best Christmas markets is the Christmas Village on the Museumplein or the Winter Parade.

Our Guide to One Week in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam

  • Amsterdam Light Festival– it is a unique event that starts at the end of November and lasts until January. The whole city is decorated with light installations and artwork along the canals;
  • Ice Skating;
  • Canal Cruises;
  • Christmas Concerts and Performances – Amsterdam has a vibrant arts and cultural scene, especially during the holiday season. Enjoy any of the following concerts and events at the Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Koninklijk Paleis and Nieuwe Kerk;
  • Local Cafes and Pubs – All cozy places decorated for Christmas are open for a break from daily walks for tea, beer or mulled wine;
  • Visit Museums;
  • Check out the Red Lights District (remember – no pictures!)
Book Amsterdam Red Light District Tour here

Red Light District in Amsterdam

How to get to Amsterdam

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (IATA: AMS) is the primary international airport serving Amsterdam, 9 kilometres from the centre. Although most direct flights land here, they are more expensive. For budget-friendly options, book a flight to Eindhoven and then catch a train.

Where to stay in Amsterdam

Hotel TwentySeven

Newly opened 5-star suite hotel 11 km from the airport. Hotel TwentySeven is a modern, cozy place with subdued lights and a city view, ideal for a solo travel to Europe in December.

Book Hotel TwentySeven here

Private room at Hotel TwentySeven

Have a pleasant stay at Hotel TwentySeven

Other options include:

8. Prague, Czech Republic

Ever wondered what Prague looks like in winter? Check out this place to stay in Europe in December and leave your imagination to rest!

The most picturesque old town with a beautiful snowy and illuminated Charles Bridge and an atmosphere of Vánoce (Czech Christmas). The Christmas spirit is enriched with Advent, St. Nicholas Day, giving treats to children and singing Christmas carols. Simply put, in the winter, Prague is a mix of old-world charm and festive holiday decorations.

Our Guide to One Week in Prague

Things to do in Prague

  • Explore the famous Christmas markets– the most famous markets are in the old town and Wenceslas Square. Treat yourself to the traditional chimney cake here and take a New Year’s picture;
  • Visit the stunning Prague Castle, which offers a panoramic view of the whole New Year’s atmosphere;
  • Spend time in the Old Town Square;
  • Take a scenic boat cruise on the Vltava River;
  • Savour traditional Czech dishes in local restaurants- warm up with soup, goulash or mulled wine.
Book Prague Bus Tour here

See Prague in the most convenient way through the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

How to get to Prague

Vaclav Havel Prague Airport is the most convenient getaway to the city, just 17 km from the city. There are also international trains that depart from Germany, Austria, Slovakia or Poland.

It is also a good idea to come by car because the streets rarely freeze, and you can find parking easily or simply prebook it online in one of the public garages.

Where to stay in Prague

Falkensteiner Boutique Hotel Prague

The hotel stands out with its beautiful patio, which in winter has snow and beautiful Christmas decorations, and you can see it from inside sitting next to the fireplace. Falkensteiner Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the city, a few steps from the historic centre. There are family rooms but also rooftop suites.

Book Falkensteiner Boutique Hotel Prague here

Make yourself at home at Falkensteiner Boutique Hotel Prague

Enjoy your time at Falkensteiner Boutique Hotel Prague

If you are looking for something different, here are some options.

9. Barcelona, Spain

How can you combine so much Gothic with a festive Christmas atmosphere? Head to Barcelona and find out how it’s possible!

Mild winter weather will allow you to enjoy December without freezing – you can literally walk around the city in just a hoodie! And if you catch a cold, have a glass of cava (Spanish sparkling wine) or mulled wine bought from the Fira de Santa Lucia Christmas market, with a beautiful view of the cathedral.

One last thing – even though it’s in the middle of winter, don’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses. The country still gets plenty of sunshine, even in December!

Our Guide to One Week In Barcelona

Things to do in Barcelona

  • Visit the iconic basilica designed by Antoni Gaudí, La Sagrada Familia;
  • See the unique architecture at Park Güell;
  • Walking tours;
  • Visit the Barcelona Cathedral;
  • Experience Catalan Christmas traditions – try canelons, nougat, waffle rolls or the wine I already mentioned.
Book Barcelona Bus Tour

Get your Park Güell Ticket

How to get to Barcelona

Barcelona El Prat Airport is your initial destination for getting to the city. You can also choose a bus or go by car if the weather conditions allow it.

Where to stay in Barcelona

Primero Primera

The boutique hotel is set in a garden expected to be like a snowy landscape in December. All suites and rooms in Primero Primera are spacious and stylish, overlooking the garden.

Book Primero Primera here

Experience comfort at Primero Primera

Have a wonderful stay at Primero Primera

Not sold on the recommendation? Also see:

FAQs

Why should I consider traveling to Europe in December?

Traveling to Europe in December offers a unique experience of vibrant Christmas markets, snowy landscapes, and festive atmospheres. Many cities across Europe are adorned with holiday decorations, offering various cultural and culinary delights, making it an enchanting time to explore the continent.

Which European cities are recommended in the 'Best Places to Visit in December in Europe' guide?

The guide recommends several European cities for December travel, including Lapland, Finland; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Colmar, France; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Prague, Czech Republic; and Barcelona, Spain. Each city offers its own charm and distinct activities to enjoy during the festive season.

What travel tips are provided for December in Europe?

The guide offers several travel tips for December in Europe, including:

Booking flights and accommodations in advance, especially during the Christmas period, to secure better prices and availability.

Considering transportation options such as planes, trains, and buses, and checking for weather conditions before traveling.

Exploring various activities and attractions, from Christmas markets to winter sports, depending on the destination.

Being prepared for colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours, especially in northern regions.

Checking for specific events and festivities happening in each city to enhance the travel experience.

Why is Lapland, Finland, recommended for December travel?

Lapland, Finland, is recommended for December travel due to its unique winter experiences and magical atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy activities such as sleeping in igloos, husky safaris, icebreaker cruises, snowmobile rides, and witnessing the mesmerizing northern lights. Despite the cold temperatures, Lapland offers warm hospitality and memorable adventures, making it an ideal destination for a winter getaway.

Map

Let’s explore the map together, where we’ve highlighted the finest hotels and accommodations for your convenience.

Embark on your trip-planning journey with our map, featuring a curated selection of top-notch hotels and accommodations. We believe this map will be a valuable tool to enhance your travel planning experience.

Summary: Where to Travel In Europe For December?

Almost the entirety of Europe becomes Wonderland in winter. The destinations I have offered you for where to travel in Europe in December vary from icy adventures in Lapland to mild winter days in Barcelona. Whatever you are looking for, whether a vibrant Christmas market or simply a relaxing snowy landscape, Europe has the solution for you.

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