December is a magical time to visit Europe, as the continent comes alive with festive cheer and winter wonder. From charming Christmas markets to stunning snowy landscapes, there are countless destinations to explore during this time of year. Whether you’re seeking a cozy winter getaway or a vibrant city break, Europe offers something for everyone in December. In this blog article, we will take you on a journey through some of the best places to travel in Europe during this festive season.
Experience the Enchanting Christmas Markets
December is known for its enchanting Christmas markets, and Europe is home to some of the most spectacular ones. Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere as you stroll through the stalls adorned with twinkling lights and decorations. Let the aroma of mulled wine and freshly baked gingerbread guide you to indulge in traditional treats. From handcrafted ornaments to unique gifts, these markets offer a treasure trove of delights.
The Christkindlmarkt in Vienna, Austria
One of the most renowned Christmas markets in Europe is the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Rathaus (City Hall), this market transforms the city into a fairytale wonderland. Browse through the stalls selling handmade crafts, savor warm chestnuts, and sip on a cup of aromatic Glühwein (mulled wine). Don’t forget to visit the ice-skating rink and enjoy live music performances.
Fairy-tale Markets in Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is another destination that boasts mesmerizing Christmas markets. The Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square light up with festive decorations, creating a magical atmosphere. Explore the wooden stalls selling traditional Czech handicrafts, such as delicate glass ornaments and intricate wooden toys. Indulge in hot trdelník, a sweet pastry, and warm up with a cup of svařák, the local version of mulled wine.
Embrace the Winter Wonderland in Lapland, Finland
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, look no further than Lapland in Finland. This Arctic region offers breathtaking landscapes covered in a pristine blanket of snow. Experience the thrill of husky sledding or embark on a reindeer safari through the snowy forests. For the ultimate winter adventure, try your hand at snowboarding or skiing in the renowned resorts of Levi or Ruka. And of course, no visit to Lapland is complete without meeting Santa Claus himself at Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi.
Magical Northern Lights in Levi
Levi, located in Finnish Lapland, not only offers fantastic skiing opportunities but also provides a chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. As darkness falls, head to the outskirts of the village away from artificial lights, and if you’re lucky, you may be treated to a dazzling display of shimmering greens, pinks, and purples dancing across the night sky. This natural spectacle is sure to leave you in awe.
Snow Village in Ruka
Ruka, another popular winter destination in Lapland, is home to the Snow Village, a unique and enchanting experience. Each year, a team of skilled ice sculptors creates a magnificent ice hotel and various ice sculptures that make up the Snow Village. Marvel at the intricate details of the ice art, spend a night in an ice room if you dare, and enjoy a drink in the ice bar. This frozen wonderland is a true testament to the beauty of winter.
Explore the Festive Splendor of Prague, Czech Republic
Prague transforms into a fairytale destination during December. The city’s historic squares and narrow cobblestone streets are adorned with festive decorations, creating a magical ambiance that captures the essence of the holiday season. The Prague Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the city, provides a stunning backdrop to the winter festivities.
A Stroll through the Old Town Square
The heart of Prague’s Christmas celebrations is the Old Town Square. Here, you will find the centerpiece of the market, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree surrounded by wooden huts selling all sorts of holiday treats. Indulge in traditional Czech delicacies such as trdelník, a sweet pastry cooked over an open flame, or klobása, a delicious grilled sausage. Admire the craftsmanship of the local artisans as they display their hand-blown glass ornaments and intricate wooden toys.
Magical Views from Prague Castle
Climb up to Prague Castle for panoramic views of the city illuminated by festive lights. As you wander through the castle complex, you’ll encounter the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral, charming courtyards, and picturesque gardens. Don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony, a spectacle that takes place every hour and draws crowds of visitors.
Discover the Magic of Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh is a city steeped in history and charm, and it becomes even more enchanting in December. The city hosts a month-long winter festival, which features an array of events and activities that will delight visitors of all ages.
A Month-Long Winter Festival
The centerpiece of Edinburgh’s winter festivities is the Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens. Stroll through the market, browsing the stalls for unique gifts, crafts, and delicious food and drinks. Take a spin on the ice rink or enjoy the thrill of the many amusement rides. The festival also includes various concerts, performances, and fireworks displays, ensuring there is never a dull moment in the city.
Arthur’s Seat and the City Illuminated
For a truly magical experience, hike up to Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano located in Holyrood Park. From its summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Edinburgh illuminated by festive lights. It’s a sight that will take your breath away and leave you with memories to cherish.
Experience the Vibrant Christmas Spirit in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of Christmas destinations, but it offers a unique and vibrant experience during December. The city comes alive with holiday markets, dazzling light installations, and lively street performances.
Festive Markets and Catalan Traditions
Barcelona’s Christmas markets are a must-visit, offering an array of local delicacies, handcrafted gifts, and festive decorations. The Fira de Santa Llúcia, one of the oldest Christmas markets in the city, is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Catalan traditions. Here, you can find everything from traditional nativity scenes to handmade Christmas decorations.
Magic Fountain Light Show
Don’t miss the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, a stunning display of lights, colors, and water choreography. During the festive season, the fountain takes on a special holiday-themed performance that is sure to leave you mesmerized. Grab a hot chocolate or a glass of cava and find a spot to enjoy this magical spectacle.
Delight in the Romantic Atmosphere of Vienna, Austria
Vienna is renowned for its elegance, classical music, and rich history, and it becomes even more enchanting during December. The city’s Christmas markets are legendary, offering a wide array of handcrafted gifts, mouthwatering treats, and a festive atmosphere that will transport you to a winter wonderland.
Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt Tradition
The Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz is the most famous Christmas market in Vienna. The aroma of roasted chestnuts, freshly baked gingerbread, and spiced punch fills the air as you wander through the festively decorated stalls. Explore the market’s offerings, from intricate crafts to traditional Austrian delicacies such as Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte.
Ice Skating and the Giant Advent Calendar
While in Vienna, don’t miss the opportunity to go ice skating at the Wiener Eislaufverein, the oldest ice-skating club in the world. Glide across the ice under the twinkling lights and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Another highlight is the giant advent calendar at the Palais Ferstel, where a new window is revealed each day, adding to the anticipation of Christmas.
Get Lost in the Fairy Tale Village of Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, a picturesque village nestled in the Austrian Alps, is straight out of a fairy tale. With its charming Christmas market and idyllic snowy scenery, Hallstatt offers a romantic and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Christmas Market in a Winter Wonderland
Hallstatt’s Christmas market is a hidden gem that captures the essence of the holiday season. The market square is transformed into a winter wonderland, with stalls selling local crafts, delicious food, and warm drinks. Take a walk by the lake, marvel at the snow-covered mountains, and enjoy the tranquility of this enchanting village.
Winter Activities in Hallstatt
Embrace the winter spirit by taking part in outdoor activities in and around Hallstatt. Lace up your ice skates and glide across the frozen Obertraun Lake or go for a peaceful walk through the snow-covered forests. For a more adventurous experience, try your hand at snowshoeing or skiing in the nearby Dachstein West ski area.
Experience the Festive Spirit in Berlin, Germany
Berlin, the vibrant capital of Germany, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and festive cheer during December. The city boasts some of Europe’s most dazzling Christmas markets, where you can immerse yourself in the joyful atmosphere and indulge in delicious treats.
Charlottenburg Palace Christmas Market
One of the most iconic Christmas markets in Berlin is located at Charlottenburg Palace. This royal setting creates a magical backdrop for the festivities. Explore the stalls filled with handcrafted ornaments, unique gifts, and traditional German delicacies. Enjoy a cup of glühwein (mulled wine) as you admire the beautifully illuminated palace and listen to live music performances.
Winter World at Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz transforms into a winter wonderland during December with its Winter World attraction. This bustling market offers a variety of activities for all ages, including ice skating, curling, and tobogganing. Savor traditional German street food like bratwurst and kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) while enjoying the lively atmosphere and dazzling lights.
Explore the Medieval Charm of Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a hidden gem that oozes medieval charm. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town is even more captivating during December, with its cobblestone streets and Gothic architecture adorned with Christmas lights. Experience the unique traditions and warm hospitality of this enchanting city.
Christmas Market at Tallinn Town Hall Square
The heart of Tallinn’s Christmas celebrations is the market at Town Hall Square. Browse through the wooden huts to find handmade crafts, traditional Estonian food, and warm drinks. Try the local specialty, black pudding, or indulge in gingerbread cookies and warm honey wine. Listen to live performances of Christmas carols and immerse yourself in the festive spirit.
Medieval Christmas at the Estonian Open Air Museum
Step back in time and experience a medieval Christmas at the Estonian Open Air Museum, located just outside Tallinn. The museum showcases traditional Estonian rural life, and during December, it transforms into a festive village straight out of the past. Witness traditional handicrafts being made, taste traditional dishes, and participate in old-fashioned games and activities.
Revel in the Beauty of Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, often referred to as the “Pearl of the Danube,” offers a magical experience during December. The city’s stunning architecture is enhanced by festive lights, creating a romantic and enchanting atmosphere. Explore the Christmas markets, soak in thermal baths, and savor the delicious flavors of Hungarian cuisine.
Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market
The Christmas market at Vörösmarty Square is the oldest and most famous in Budapest. Stroll through the stalls adorned with twinkling lights and discover a wide variety of local crafts, handmade gifts, and mouthwatering Hungarian delicacies. Warm up with a cup of spicy mulled wine or indulge in chimney cake, a sweet pastry covered in sugar and cinnamon.
Thermal Baths and Spa Retreats
Escape the winter chill and find relaxation in one of Budapest’s thermal baths. The city is famous for its numerous thermal springs, and visiting a bathhouse is a beloved tradition among locals and tourists alike. Soak in the warm, healing waters of the Széchenyi or Gellért Baths, surrounded by stunning architecture and a tranquil atmosphere.
In conclusion, Europe offers a plethora of enchanting destinations to explore in December. Whether you’re seeking the festive atmosphere of Christmas markets, the tranquility of snowy landscapes, or the vibrant energy of city celebrations, there’s a perfect European destination for you. Embrace the magic of December and create unforgettable memories in one of these captivating European cities. Experience the charm of Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt, the winter wonderland of Lapland, the fairy-tale atmosphere of Prague, the festive spirit of Barcelona, the romantic allure of Budapest, and so much more. Europe in December is a truly magical experience that will leave you with cherished memories that last a lifetime.