In Europe, there is an endless number of places for an endless number of adventures. If you are visiting at the end of the year, here are Best European Cities to Visit in December.
There are the Rovaniemi safaris where you can go for reindeer rides, the ski resorts in Vienna where you can go skiing, and Budapest where you can go for thermal baths.
Whether you’re visiting Europe for a week or just a weekend, you are guaranteed to have an amazing time with so many areas to explore. You can even pay a visit to Santa’s own home in the Arctic circle!
Prague, Czech Republic
Also known as Europe’s gothic fairy tale, Prague is a city of endless adventures. When you walk by the cobblestone alleys, you feel the frosty winter reminding you of its past. The snowy spires give your eyes dazzle as you feel yourself getting immersed into a winter fairy tale. This is a dreamland for those who love it dark and cold.
Another Gothic marvel is the Prague Castle which you can stroll through at your own pace. The city’s rich tradition and history can be seen through its markets. The scene of Prague is not fulfilled until you wear your skates for some classic ice skating at the Ovocný Trh Square.
Wander through the glitzy shops, hotels and bars of Wenceslas Square and eat all the hot, sugar-coated pastries or Trdelník as they call it and mulled wine till your heart feels warm. Some of the Czech delectable treats include the spit-roasted ham which makes your heart ooze out love.
The most captivating site is set in the Old Town Square. Instagram users will love the Prague Astronomical Clock, and wondrous Týn Cathedral set in the Square as it creates amazing backdrops in Christmas behind the giant Christmas tree. The little markets in wooden huts are filled with festive materials ranging anywhere from craft items to Christmas ornaments. The city dives itself in native scenes, animal stables, lights, and music.
Home to Hans Christian Andersen, Copenhagen looks like a fairytale city come to life, especially in the winter. The city radiates in an atmosphere like never felt before. Indulge in the exciting lights, the thrilling rides, and the dainty stalls selling gifts and traditional products. The entire 19th-century Trivoli Garden is illuminated in lights and romance.
An entire winter culture month is embraced in the city in February. Stroll around in the strange venues, culinary events and art shows and add figure skating to your list because you can’t forget to visit the Frederiksberg Gardens.
The Danish use the word “hygge” to define coziness. This concept is truly realized during the winter when the locals spend their leisure time as they relax and finish hot chocolate. These hyggelige cafés bring out the inventive design and spice up your pictures as well as your conversations—dine-in style with plenty of mulled wine and mini pancakes.
If you truly want to enjoy the cousin, make a reservation for a meal at noma, although you will have to book it months before.
Shop around the appealing Christiana Christmas Market, Nyhavn Christmas Market, and Kongens Nytorv market for all your goodies needed to make a Christmas home.
A favourite honeymoon destination in winter, Budapest is a city that brings together various activities. Getaway with the city’s ornate thermal baths and marvelous boat cruises on the Danube river. When in the mood for love, stroll with your partner through the beautifully lit streets under the dazzling night sky. Trams all-around light up the roads and spread a fairytale aura. Carry on endless shopping around the popular retail streets, pavements and general markets.
Feel the architecture of the buildings as you wander around town. For a lively history lesson, learn about the history of the Romans when you pass all the way to the Old Town area from Castles Hills.
Nightlife is abuzz and is slowly turning into a custom among the Hungarian folks. Budapest is a dream for couples who prefer to enjoy the night. The “ruin pub” is a night-time drinking area that resides in fashioned and decorated up abandoned buildings. Visitors of December get to enjoy the Vörösmarty Square because of the Christmas market infiltrated with crafts, goulash and grilled sausages.
The Chimney Cake displayed is an eye candy waiting to be gulped down with warm and spicy drinks. Along with the Christmas special Nutcracker ballet, the Hungarian State Opera House also features folk concerts and majestic classical musicians. You can’t leave the city without visiting the 13th century Matthias Church of the Trinity Square region.
Rovaniemi is a big hit for people with kids. Even you included if you are excited to meet the man behind all your childhood peachy joy and laughter, Santa. Of all the activities you can perform in this city, visiting Santa’s place has to be at the top of your list. This is the capital of Lapland, otherwise known as the “official” home of Santa. Santa Claus Village is the area located on the Arctic Circle.
This includes the Main Post office of Santa Claus, Santa’s reindeer, and of course, Santa. Meet the jolly gift-giver himself and follow the footsteps of the elves in the Hiking Area of the Arctic Circle. Have your pick from local stores and workshops for souvenirs straight from Santa also known as “Christmas Treasures”.
This is just the beginning, though. There are some stupendous sites all over the city. Head over to the Arktikum museum along with other museums and Korundi House of Culture to dive into the history of this wonderland. Kids will love the fascinating sights of the science center. The very view of the city skyline is pleasing with the snow-covered landscapes and cheerful trees. Finland in winter, in a word, is cold.
Their thermometers have readings below 0°, a travel top would be to pack your clothes thoughtfully. The chilly atmosphere, however, means snowmobile safaris, husky and reindeer rides and ice sculptures! Rovaniemi too is a place to relax with steaming saunas and cultural soul-warming food.
If there’s any place in Europe that you would want to spend Christmas, it is Tallinn. The city has a UNESCO-protected site, the medieval Old Town that resembles pictures of a child’s storybook. You can never get enough of the Old Town’s vintage churches and merchant houses, especially with its wintery glow in December. The Town Hall Square or Raekoja Plats is an extraordinary scene during the holidays with rich facades, riveting old street lamps and dandy wooden huts immersing in local crafts. The first public Christmas tree was erected right here in Town Hall Square of Europe’s Estonia in 1441.
The Christmas market bursts in delights you would never imagine from handmade wooden ornaments and charming lanterns to woolly hats and chic outfits. Sweet tooths are also in for a treat because you will be visiting the homeland of the beloved marzipan! Tallinn has something reserved especially for Marzipan lovers! The Kalev Marzipan Museum Room is a place where you can assemble your very own tasteful bites. That’s not all.
All of Europe’s winter attractions and cooped up right here. The Estonian Open Air Museum’s Christmas Village has a special area on Harju Street with a captivating outdoor ice-skating rink as well as an array of Christmas-themed events. One travel tip would be to view the city from Toompea Castle. You will catch a glimpse of all the other turreted castles and a vintage city covered in Baltic Snow.
One of Europe’s lively tourist places, the magical city of Vienna has it all to give you the most bang-on winter visit. The city brings back the special ice-skating activities at Rathausplatz’s ice rink. An hour from the city are pleasing ski resorts such as St. Corona and Semmering. Your winter wonderland does not stop there. Familiar with snow globes? You should pay a visit to Vienna’s Snow Globe Museum in the 17th District. We can’t wait to see your reaction.
This city is a place of grace and elegance and pastries! The smell of Christmas snacks, glühwein, sausages and bakes at the Christkindlmarkts will lure you into a spell you wouldn’t mind falling into. Of all the destinations in Europe, this “City of Music” is a dream to music lovers. You will find Advent classical concerts, musical galas, chamber musical events, brass bands and spellbinding choirs, and December means yuletide concerts in the aesthetic churches.
Even if your Eurotrip is short, one travel tip would be to check out “Christmas in Vienna” by the Vienna Boys Choir played at the Wiener Konzerthaus. Art exhibits are abundant here, showcasing the culture of the country. Shopping for traditional handicrafts at the market in front of Schönbrunn is fun as the architecture provides serious backdrops. Christmas in Vienna means twinkling lights, ornamental decor, carousels, workshops and lavish festivities.
One of the hyped places of Europe, you may know Amsterdam for being a “Red Light District” but there are a lot more beauties to it. If you are the kind of person who likes to avoid crowds, then you will love the serenity of this city. Visiting in winter means going in for the Amsterdam Light Festival that happens between December and the middle of January.
Taking a stroll, boat ride, or cruise along the canals, especially the Herengracht, during this time would mean enjoying the city from a vivid perspective. Even though the canals aren’t cold enough for ice-skating, yet there are ice rinks all around the city such as the one near Museumplein.
Among the Christmas markets spread out across the city in December, the Ice Village in Museumplein contains charming as well as sustainable gifts. Love donuts? Then don’t hesitate to try the oliebollens found in stands during the month. These are fried dough balls eaten warm with as much powdered sugar as you want.
If you want to enjoy the nightlife in Europe, your destination has to be Amsterdam. You can start by trying the local beer or gluhwein at a brown bar which is a cozy Dutch bar. Real party people should check out nightclubs such as Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein. One travel tip would be to make an effort to dress well to your clubs.
If you do want to try out the “coffee shops”, visit the Coffee Shop Info Amsterdam. Unlike the smelly dark ones, the place is nicely lit and points you to good shops that sell whatever kind of weed you fancy.
While most countries in Europe are friendly to tourists, there are some particular activities you may want to avoid for your safety and to avoid showing disrespect:
- Do Not Litter: Many cities have particular waste disposal systems which may include the recycling of plastic and glass bottles. Be sure to ask how to throw your trash.
- Calling waiters: Beckoning at waiters is considered rude and inappropriate. There may be times in busy shops where waiters are attending other customers. Instead of waving at them, make eye contact or slightly raise your hand.
- Bicycle lanes: Bicycles are popular in Europe and have their own lanes. You can bicycle in other areas as well except for cobblestoned streets in winter. The tires are not prepared for the cold. Keep in mind that you cannot walk in bicycle lanes.
- Language barriers: Not everyone in Europe knows the English language, especially those living in rural areas. If you are planning to visit for a few weeks, it would be ideal to learn a few words that can help you deal with shopping.
- Giving Tips: Although tips in the U.S. are given according to percentages, handing a large tip is frowned upon. Ask a local in the city to inform you of the tipping guidelines.
Travelling to Europe in the month of December is probably one of the most exciting things to do! Only a grinch would turn down the lively Christmas stores in merry places such as the Czech Republic, Denmark and Austria.