European Cities to Visit in Winter
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So, travelling the world… it’s pretty popular. And as a result, one of the biggest emerging trends is off-season travel. This isn’t for everybody, but it has an attractive suite of benefits, like cheaper flights, hotels, attractions and happy hour deals—but also one of the biggest draws of all: A more favourable tourist to local ratio. Off-season travel is as close as you can get to living in a city without living there. ❄️
- Prague, Czech Republic: A winter wonderland with breathtaking views of snow-dusted Gothic architecture.
- Munich, Germany: Cozy charm and bustling Christmas markets.
- Paris, France: A poetic European winter dream as snow covers the iconic landmarks.
- Dublin, Ireland: A perfect winter getaway, offering comfort foods and cultural beauty.
- Budapest, Hungary: This European city comes alive with festive markets and twinkling lights.
- Helsinki, Finland: A stunning Nordic wonderland with ice skating and cozy cafés.
- Seville, Spain: This winter vacation offers a delightful contrast from its typical scorching summers.
- Venice, Italy: Iconic Venetian traditions fill the streets for Carnevale.
- Hallstatt, Austria: Delight in this snowy, fairytale-like winter village.
- Zurich, Switzerland: Experience the magical Swiss Alps and festive cheer.
Photo: Rachael in Paris for Flytographer. Alexandra and their friends capture memories in Paris with a friends photoshoot.
A boat sauna, architecture and farmer’s markets
The city’s stunning scenery and culture couldn’t stay a secret for long, so low-season winter is the time to experience Prague when it’s a little less crowded. During a snowfall, head to Petrin Hill for magical winter views of the city. The iconic Charles Bridge and Prague Castle wear a coat of frost that sparkles all day. ✨✨
When you’re not roasting sausages over fire pits at a holiday market or ice skating at one of the 15 best outdoor rinks in Prague, steam off your cares at this boat sauna. And for those seeking a touch of romance this time of year, take a stroll along the snow-dusted Vltava River. Whether wandering through historic streets or taking in panoramic vistas from high vantage points, Prague in winter casts a spell that lingers long after you’ve bid the city farewell.
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Christmas markets, mulled wine and winter sports
This fairytale European city comes to life in the winter months and boasts some of Germany’s best Christmas markets. Head to Munich’s Marienplatz for a traditional German Christmas market filled with the spirit of Bavaria. Browse hand-painted glass holiday decorations or partake in freshly roasted chestnuts and warm up with a steaming mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate. 🌰 🌰
Of course, your winter holiday is not complete without paying a visit to a ski resort. Just a short hop (by plane) over the western arm of Austria from Munich lie the famous Swiss Alps. Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are common pastimes for tourists and locals alike, so it’s a wonderful excuse to practice your German! ⛷️
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Shops, cafés and fewer tourists at the Eiffel Tower
Visiting Paris in the winter adds a layer of enchantment to the City of Light. The iconic landmarks, like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, take on a special allure against a backdrop of occasional snowfall or a crisp winter sky. ❄️
Winter in Paris also means indulging in the warmth of charming cafés, sipping rich hot chocolate or enjoying a cozy meal of French onion soup or hearty cassoulet. The quieter season allows for more intimate moments at museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, where you can admire world-renowned art without the usual crowds. 🖼️ A Parisian getaway in winter is a poetic experience, and one of the best European cities to visit in winter – the city’s seasonal festivities create an unforgettable visit. If you are planning to be in Paris over New Year’s Eve, be ready for one of the best fireworks shows in the world off the Arc de Triomphe. 🎇
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Feeling romantic? Why not browse the best places to propose in winter around the world? 💍
Photo: Olga in Paris for Flytographer. Kristie and their partner capture memories in Paris with a couple photoshoot.
Castles, culture and a pint with the locals
Dublin takes on a festive allure in the colder months. The city’s pubs offer a cozy spot to warm up, inviting visitors to enjoy hearty Irish stews, traditional fish and chips, and, of course, a pint of Guinness by a crackling fireplace. 🍻 The season also hosts a variety of cultural events and performances perfect for a winter vacation! From concerts to theatre productions, this European city offers a glimpse into Ireland’s rich artistic scene.
Don’t miss the Dublin Winter Lights Festival, which illuminates so many beautiful places during the winter season. The festival transforms Dublin into a mesmerizing wonderland, adorning its streets, iconic landmarks and public spaces with dazzling light installations and colourful projections. ✨
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Sausages, crafts and thermal baths
Love a good soak? Look no further than Hungary’s capital, Budapest. At least 118 thermal springs run under the “City of Spas,” feeding a network of palatial spas, open courtyard pools and 16th-century Turkish baths. Budapest is certainly one of the best European cities to visit in winter, especially if you’re looking for warmth and relaxation amidst the chilly weather. 🛀
Delight in Budapest’s Christmas markets for spiced mulled wine, sizzling sausages, and chimney cake. Vörösmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica host some of the most vibrant markets with festive lights and stalls selling traditional crafts, making it an ideal place to soak in the holiday cheer in this winter wonderland. ☃️
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Reindeer rides, the Northern Lights and sky saunas
If you are craving a winter destination in the Arctic Circle, a Finnish holiday may be for you! First a bit of math: There are five million people in Finland and a purported three million saunas. Fins even have a sauna DAY where you can sauna with strangers/your new friends at their home. So after you go to a traditional Finnish sauna in Helsinki (one is in a Ferris wheel, another is in a Burger King), you can regain your strength by sampling a few of the local delights in old town: Karelian pies, Arctic cloudberries, salmon every which way, and even reindeer and bear in a can (sorry Yogi and all other famous bears). Winter is also the best time to visit the Finnish Lapland, where you can catch the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), see frozen waterfalls and go for a snowshoeing/dogsledding/reindeer sleigh day trip adventure. 🛷 🦌
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Photo: Karolina in Helsinki for Flytographer. Han and their partner capture memories in Helsinki with a couple photoshoot.
Tapas bars, vino and t-shirt weather
Cold weather walks in scarves and mittens aren’t for everybody, that’s why Seville is a balmy addition to the list. The temp hits 18°C/64°F in February and just keeps on climbing from there. Seville is known for its beautiful architecture, so you should definitely get an eyeful of that (check out the Royal Alcazar of Seville, the Plaza de España and the Seville Cathedral for a start). Familiarize yourself with the city’s best share plates, a.k.a. Spanish tapas like chicharrones (slow-roasted pork belly) and anything in a deep-fried croquette. Sample a few and then hit the next spot, rubbing shoulders with locals and hydrating (with Spanish vino—hello, Garnacha, Rioja, Albariño) as you go. If you are itching for a European winter on the Mediterranean, Barcelona is also high on our Spanish off-season bucket list.
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Looking to pair your winter travels with a photo album to look back on? Take a look at how to create a travel photo album with us! 📚
Frosty canals, Venetian masks and Carnevale
Venice transforms into a magical wonderland during the winter months, making it one of the best European cities to visit in winter. The city takes on a new frosty charm with misty canals and fewer crowds, creating the perfect romantic Italian ambiance.
Winter in Venice also means delighting in the Carnevale celebrations! Iconic Venetian masks, costumes and festive decorations fill the streets, and the festivities take place in St. Mark’s Square. Not only is a winter getaway to Venice, Italy, fun, but it’s also a beautiful time to experience Venetian culture and tradition during this historical celebration. 🎭
Explore Venice travel tips from Flytographer travellers.
Ice skating, schnitzel and holiday markets
Nestled in snow-draped mountains is the charming, fairytale-like village of Hallstatt during the winter months. Traditional Alpine houses and the UNESCO-listed landscape paint a mesmerizing scene that seems straight out of a postcard! Hallstatt is one of the best European cities to visit in the winter, especially for winter sports enthusiasts. Delight in activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating, and then retreat to a cozy café for a hearty soup or schnitzel. 🏂 ⛷️
Another highlight of Hallstatt, Austria, in winter is the traditional holiday markets. The town centre transforms into a festive hub displaying twinkling lights, handmade crafts, ornaments and local delicacies. Ice carving competitions and workshops showcase the talents of artisans, adding an artistic flair to the winter festivities in this captivating Austrian gem.
Explore Hallstatt travel tips from Flytographer travellers.
Swiss Alps, frozen lakes and mulled wine
Zurich, Switzerland, emerges as a top-tier destination during the winter months, offering magical snowy landscapes, vibrant festivities and cozy charm. The city’s picturesque setting along Lake Zurich and against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps creates a breathtaking scene. 🏔️ 🏔️ Visitors can delight in many winter activities, from skiing and snowboarding in nearby mountain resorts to ice skating on frozen lakes. The city sparkles with festive cheer during the holiday season, with its markets offering handcrafted goods and local treats like raclette and fondue, and mulled wine.
The city’s vibrant nightlife and culinary scene provide ample opportunities to savour Swiss cuisine in cozy restaurants and trendy bars. Zurich’s blend of natural beauty, cultural richness and winter activities makes it an irresistible destination for those seeking an unforgettable winter experience in Europe.
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Capturing Winter Memories in Europe
From charming markets to a plethora of winter activities against stunning backdrops, Europe in winter is filled with magical moments worth treasuring. And what better way to treasure these memories than through a Flytographer photoshoot? We can’t wait to preserve the beauty and joy of your European winter adventure that will be cherished for a lifetime. ❤️
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Lindenhof Lookout & Limmat River