Just a little bit left until the most magical and fairytale holiday in the year. The aroma of almond and cinnamon, flashing lights, street orchestras, wooden houses, cute souvenirs, and glitter create a magical Christmas spirit everywhere. The beautiful cities in Europe in December – as gifts in Santa’s bag, so sparkling and festive. I’ve complited a special list of TOP 11 European destinations for Christmas City Breaks,where you will spend an unforgettable Christmas.
Top Destinations for Christmas City Breaks
#1 FINLAND, ROVANIEMI (LAPLAND)
Rovaniemi is full of entertainment, such as the northern lights, a walk over the Arctic Circle and a meeting with Santa Claus. ALL FOR FREE! Be ready that if you want to shake Yolupukki’s (Santa Claus) hand, you have to get bored in the queue, but after you’ll be shown live on the Santa Claus YouTube channel. The gray-haired old man keeps up with the times 😀
For an extra cost, you can ride a snowmobile, team with husky or reindeer, get training at the School of the Dwarfs and have fun with children in the Santa Park. About one hour from Rovaniemi is one of the most northern zoos in the world. Check more tours here.
#2 THE CZECH REPUBLIC, PRAGUE
Nothing transforms Prague more than the expectation of Christmas. Outside smells roasted chestnuts, and light snow on roofs looks like powdered sugar. Go for a walk to Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square; they are decorated with the most beautiful and noisy Christmas markets. Shopping is great on the main shopping street Prshikop, and for the author’s gifts from Czech masters, you should look into the gallery Manes.
If you want to see more, check the most popular tours in Prague.
Only 3 hours away is the tiny medieval Cesky Krumlov city with its gingerbread houses, bridges, and a real castle.
The weather in Prague at the end of December is fine. In the daytime it can be slightly above 0 ° С, at night it can be up to –5 ° С, but don’t expect much snow.
#3 GERMANY, MUNICH
Munich is many years the top European destinations to celebrate Christmas. In the evening, when 2500 lights light up on a 30-meter tree, it becomes obvious: magic came to Munich. Until the New Year, you can enjoy the Tollwood Music event and the Theater Festival but don’t forget to get your tickets in advance. Be sure to take the Christmas tram with mulled wine, gingerbread, and music inside, it’s right at the exit of the Old Town.
There are so many things to do in Munich, check tours here.
From Munich, you can go to Nuremberg – the birthplace of the Nutcracker. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is another fabulous place that is easily accessible from Munich.
#4 FRANCE, STRASBOURG
Strasbourg is rightly called the Christmas capital of Europe. The first Christmas Market in Strasbourg staged back in 1570. During Christmas, more than ten markets are scattered in the squares, houses and shops are decorated with live fir branches, painted balls, and soft toys.
There are also very cool 2-hour tours in the city by Segway. Check here.
A giant Christmas tree installed on Place Kleber close to the “Sharing Village”. You can also have fun at the big ice skating rink for children and adults located at the foot of the Cathedral.
#5 SWITZERLAND, ZURICH
Zurich knows how to meet guests. From the first step in the building of the main station, you are welcomed by the largest Christmas market in Europe and dazzling spruce, covered with Swarovski crystals. It’s also impossible to miss the Verdmühplatz Market. Every day the choir sings Christmas carols near a huge Christmas tree.
Christmas comes to Zurich when 12 thousand lights, similar to shooting stars, light up over Bahnhofstrasse. On the Buerkliplatz, everyone could make candles with their own hands, and the Winter Circus Salto Natale has been giving performances for over 30 years here.
More tours check here.
From Zurich Main Station, you can reach Rapperswil-Jona in 40 minutes to climb the hill with the medieval castle and panoramic views of Lake Zurich and the mountains.
#6 ENGLAND, LONDON
Christmas markets start in London in early November, although to take part in all winter events is not enough even a whole winter. In Hyde Park only, the whole Christmas country of the Winter Wonderland unfolds.
Do not forget to visit the main Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square: there, as well as in the Cathedrals, you can listen to Christmas carols. The most unusual memory of winter will be dinner in the dining room of Hogwarts or a cruise on the Thames with Santa. Check more cool tours check here.
If you want to get out of London, go to the Cotswold Hills, where for almost three hundred years nothing has happened. Here you can endlessly enjoy the idyllic landscapes and toy houses.
#7 AUSTRIA, SALZBURG
Austria’s main Christmas destination is Vienna but this year Salzburg is definitely not worse. Not only Mozart was born in this musical capital but also Joseph Mor, the author of the world’s main Christmas song Silent Night, Holy Night, which will turn over 200 years on December 24th.
The most magnificent Christmas market of Salzburg attracts tourists with smells of hot baking and spicy punch near the Cathedral. Join the processions of Krampus and Bakhtov – furry devils with huge horns that punish the naughty.
You can go also to Vienna. This city is transformed when festive markets grow in the squares and streets. The main Christmas Market is located at the Town Hall, where you can find the “Vienna Ice Dream” – a 3,000 m² skating rink with music and illuminations.
You can check more tours from Salzburg here.
#8 BELGIUM, BRUGES
In Bruges, it’s very easy to be happy and it’s not just thanks to a looooot of chocolate that you will enjoy here. It is nice to look at the cute little things at the fair and not think about anything bad. If you suddenly freeze, sit with a mug of famous beer in a bar, or stir tiny candies in a giant cup of milk to taste the most delicious hot chocolate in your life.
There are some interesting tours with locals, you can check here.
From Bruges go to Ghent. There will be fewer people than in Bruges and a much more medieval charm. Get lost on the old streets, go to the fair and try the “Gents noses” – fruit candies that are sold only in Belgium.
#9 HUNGARY, BUDAPEST
To feel the atmosphere of Christmas in Budapest is very simple. Go to the spicy smell of baking and you will find yourself in the square of Vorosmarty, in the heart of the city, where the giant Christmas market takes place. Here you can taste fragrant a roll with cinnamon, and also listen to an evening concert. If you want to add luxury glance – look at the coffee in Gerbaux, one of the most famous cafes in the world.
For sure you have to visit Szechenyi SPA – the largest public bath! Check more options here.
A half-hour drive from Budapest, you will be greeted by the tiny city of Eger. In winter, its baroque buildings seem even more beautiful, and its thermal springs are even warmer.
#10 THE NETHERLAND, VALKENBURG
Mostly, tourists come to Valkenburg to see the old castle and relax in the thermal SPAs, but in December, the most interesting things happen not in the city, but under it. Limestone was once mined in caves deep underground, and nowadays here sellers in costumes of elves and gnomes offer souvenirs, sweet almonds, and mulled wine according to an old recipe.
The city has also a lot of exirting things to do: Santa’s Village, the Fairy Forest Park and the Fairy Tale Parade on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
From Valkenburg you can take a trip to Maastricht, where there is another Christmas market – the Magical Maastricht. Here you can ride a ferris wheel or go ice skating and watch one of the performances of the Magic Culture festival.
#11 CYPRUS, NICOSIA
The capital Nicosia maybe doesn’t have snow during Christmas, but it is, of course, a festive place to be with warm family traditions, special and interesting customs, many events for all and delicious tastes.
The Fairyland Christmas Market in Nicosia opens its doors to visitors with access to 15,000 square meters of Christmas spirit. The fair offers many interesting events for adults and children and presents concerts of popular Greek and Cypriot singers.
During holidays you have a great opportunity to rent a car (left-hand traffic) and visit fabulous Christmas cities as Limassol, Paphos or Larnaca. Another option is to take some tours, check here.
READ ALSO: “WINTER HOLIDAYS IN CYPRUS“
In addition, if you wish to make a day trip to the Troodos Mountains in winter, you can even go skiing or snowboarding on one of the four ski slopes, and also feel the almost Tyrolean atmosphere of mountain villages.
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This is not a sponsored post. All the websites and companies I have included here are based on my personal travel experiences. Please note that some of these links are an affiliate, and with no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission that helps me run this website and helps me share my adventures and travel tips which can help you.