There’s nothing quite like winter in Europe. As the days get shorter, the cities become illuminated with the bright colours of Christmas decorations, the warm cosy cafés fill up and the cities get covered in snow. It is a sight that needs to be seen, an experience that begs to be lived. Stuff of movies, if you ask us. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and picked a handful of cities not to miss this (or any!) winter.
Sitting quietly at the bottom of an enchanted Swiss valley surrounded by no less than 72 awe-inspiring (erm, possibly frozen) waterfalls, Lauterbrunnen has long been the postcard-perfect place to make winter something to look forward to. Lean back, hang on to a nice steamy cup of hot chocolate and admire the idleness of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, or brave out to explore the quaintest of mountain villages in this real life winter wonderland.
Tip: If the skies are clear go to the Top of Europe! Jungfraujoch can be easily accessed from Lauterbrunnen by an incredibly scenic train ride all the way to the top – the views nothing short of breathtaking!
This German city, located in the heart of Bavaria, offers endless Christmas markets for you to get lost in and potentially empty your wallet faster than you’d like! Escape the winter chill by finding refuge at Hofbrauhaus, the oldest and most famous beer hall in existence or head to the Bavarian National Museum to get your culture fix, they have the largest nativity scene exhibition in the world. Whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the very typical pork knuckle washed down with a couple of beers – prost!
Tip: Go on a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, the original inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. The sight of it covered in snow makes it worth the trip alone.
Anyone who’s visited the Czech Republic will agree that when it comes to medieval beauty there aren’t many cities like Prague. The historical capital of Bohemia boasts beautiful architecture that make any walk around town look like a trip to Disneyland. If you get tired of shopping at the traditional Christmas markets (you wouldn’t, would you?) go find an ice rink and skate the day away or sit back and munch on a warm trdelník whilst life goes by!
Tip: Walk up to the castle and enjoy one of the best views the city has to offer. What’s more, there’s a Starbucks right there! Grab a hot drink and let the stunning view of the Old Town sink in!
There’s a reason Zakopane becomes such a popular destination in the winter: snow! And lots of it. Surrounded by the Tatra Mountains – also know as the ‘Polish Alps’ – Zakopane is a heaven for both thrill seekers and lovers alike. If skiing and snowboarding don’t appeal to you, hop on a snowmobile and go for an unforgettable adrenaline-packed ride! For those seeking the peace and quiet only the mountains can offer, the hearty typical food and delicious mulled beer are certain to provide the ideal company to appreciate the spectacular snow-capped mountain scenery.
Tip: Ever wanted to ride a husky sled? Well, this is your chance! Dog sledding is extremely popular in Zakopane and you’ll be able to either lead or be led by these cute dogs on a track in the snow.
It’s like a step back in time. During winter Bruges transforms itself into an authentic fairytale. This quaint little city is as romantic a place as it gets, the picturesque views from the bridges over the canals don’t lie. Wander the medieval streets in search of the tastiest Belgian chocolate or hang out near the central square Christmas markets. Make sure you sample some of the countless beer flavours Belgium is famously known for – the chocolate one would probably not be that inappropriate, ’tis the season after all!
Tip: For the ultimate romantic winter experience look for one of the many horse-drawn carriages around the Markt (central square) and experience this unique city from a completely different perspective.