12 best places to spend Christmas in Europe
If you want to experience the festive period in the most cosy and traditional way possible, you need to spend your next Christmas in Europe. Twinkling Christmas markets, mugs of mulled wine, iconic sites bathed in snow – this continent really is a winter wonderland in the holiday season. You can even catch some seasonal sun, if that’s more your vibe. Here’s our countdown of the most festive places in Europe to spend Christmas this year…
12. Vilnius, Lithuania
Lithuania might not have been high on your travel bucket list, but if you knew about Vilnius’s dainty pebbled streets lined with boutiques and cafes, it probably would be. The holiday spirit is alive and kicking here, with over 50 decorated Christmas market houses adorned with sweets, treats and handmade gifts. At the centre of Cathedral Square, you’ll find the Vilnius Christmas ‘tree’, which is actually a TV tower decorated with 70,000 lights. It’s a sight to behold after dark, which makes this city one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe.
11. Sicily, Italy
Italy isn’t just about sun-kissed piazzas. Visiting Sicily at Christmas time will give you a feast of snowfields, rich foodie traditions and squares that come to life with trees, roast chestnuts, bonfires and musicians. This is Italy, so expect most of the festivities to happen at the dining table. There’s plenty of seasonal produce to tuck into, with endless antipasti on Christmas Eve and pasta, roast meat and seafood on the big day itself.
10. Salzburg, Austria
Looking for a fairytale Christmas market? Look no further than the melodic city of Mozart. Salzburg Christmas market dates back to 1491, with traditional folk dances and songs. It’s no surprise Salzburg does Christmas so well, when this is the city that birthed the Christmas carol, `Silent Night.’
9. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik at Christmas comes alive with the sound of traditional carols and fairs. Stay fuelled with roasted almonds, sugared orange peels and arancini, as well as quince and ‘kotonjata’ (a rich local cheese). The old city is seriously stunning – this place is a UNESCO heritage site for a reason – and you’ll feel like you’re living a fairytale as you stroll the stone streets with thousands of lights guiding your way.
8. London, UK
If you’re looking for a more traditional Christmas celebration, there’s no better city to experience it than London. England’s grand old capital is one of the loveliest cities in the world during the festive period and definitely one of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe. There are countless things to do in London at Christmas. Sink a pint in a cosy pub in front of a roaring fire; head to Hyde Park’s very own Winter Wonderland; stroll the Southbank or buy Christmas decorations at Liberty London department store. Check out the world-famous London Christmas lights before seeing a festive show at the West End – from A Christmas Carol to The Nutcracker ballet.
If you’re looking for a warm vacation spot in December, Malta is an excellent choice. This European jewel is a mesmerising place during Christmas as its churches are ablaze with dazzling lights and nativity exhibitions pop up across the island. The Maltese adore Christmas time and you’ll find festive vibes everywhere. Visit the quiet little town of Birzebbuga and you’ll find a Christmas tree stretching seven storeys into the sky. And if you’re looking for some winter sun, the weather in Malta at Christmas can reach nearly 20 degrees. All of these reasons and more make Malta one of the most adorable Christmas getaway destinations in Europe.
6. Aarhus, Denmark
The second oldest city in Denmark is a compact Christmas haven with narrow streets and stores selling unique craft items, making it an ideal destination during the winter holidays. Then there’s ‘Den Gamle By’, an open-air town museum located in the heart of the city’s botanical gardens. With 75 historical buildings, at Christmas the museum becomes a yuletide gallery, where you can see how Aarhus residents celebrated Christmas hundreds of years ago. You’ll also be hard-pressed not to find something to hang on your Christmas tree in one of the cute festive stores.
5. Hallstatt, Austria
This is as authentic as it gets. Come for the festive lakeside paradise blanketed in snow, stay for the cookies and mulled wine. Hallstatt Christmas market has alpine flair and as you stroll the markets you can enjoy smoked fish straight from the nearby lake.
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
There’s something uniquely charming about Amsterdam’s sprawling canals and gabled houses styled in all sorts of crooked angles. Amsterdam at Christmas just accentuates the city’s many charms – hot waffles, great coffee, Sinterklaas, mulled wine, holiday concerts and Dutch good spirits: what’s not to love?
3. Lapland, Finland
It’s the home of Santa Claus, so what more could you want? Wear your thermals and get ready to see reindeer up close, try sledding with huskies and meet elves in igloos – these are just some of the many things you can do in Lapland for Christmas. The package holiday experience may be a bit exhausting for some, but even big kids will enjoy the magical family vibes.
2. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague Christmas markets are famous worldwide thanks to their brightly decorated wooden huts heaving with handicrafts and Christmas treats. Christmas in Prague is a snowglobe of trotting horses, steaming mulled wine and iconic Christmas markets. Head to the aptly-made Wenceslas Square and Old Town Square, widely rated as having some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world.
1. Paris, France
The top spot has to go to the City of Lights, which shines even brighter at this time of year. From vintage funfairs to festive boulevards and sparkling light shows, this starry-eyed city has it all. If you’re looking for Christmas vacation ideas for couples, you can’t go wrong with Paris as there are countless romantic restaurants and hotels. And it’s great for traditionalists too, with the La Defense Christmas Market hosting 300 craft and food stalls along the twinkling streets, making it the best place to spend Christmas in Europe.