Europe is a varied and culture-rich continent that has something to offer all year round. International visitors who want to avoid the crowds and heat of the summer season may choose to travel to Europe during the winter instead.
Some of the experiences tourists can expect in Europe during the winter include:
- Visiting some of the world’s best museums and art galleries
- Exploring historical cities and shop the finest designers
- Spending time outdoors skiing and ice skating
This page includes travel advice for the most renowned winter European destinations. Remember that if you’re a non-EU citizen, you will need a visa or travel authorization in order to enter Europe. The ETIAS program — expected to be implemented by 2021 — will make it quick and easy to get your travel documents in order.
Winter in Germany: Nature, Art, and Christmas Markets
There is plenty to do in Germany during the winter months. Art lovers and party-goers alike will easily find Berlin their ideal destination. The German capital is a creativity hub, where you’ll be able to visit modern and contemporary art exhibitions and take part in world-class music festivals and concerts.
Every German town will also have traditional Christmas markets. An afternoon at the local Christmas market will likely turn into a fun an delicious experience.
Nature lovers will also be able to explore the Black Forest, with plenty of scenic routes as well as slopes and rinks for skiing and snowboarding.
Italy: Culture, Food, and Winter Sports
On top of the world list for the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Italy is dense with art cities, romantic destinations, and fine dining. A winter holiday in Venice, Rome, or Florence will likely make memories for a lifetime.
No matter what Italian region they decide to visit, foreigners can expect to taste mouthwatering meals at local restaurants and trattorie, as Italian food is known internationally as one of the best cuisines in the world.
The Northern regions (like Valle d’Aosta, Trentino, and Piemonte) will also give winter sports aficionados the chance to ski on the slopes of the Italian Alps.
Why Visit Hungary During the Winter?
Hungary has become one of the most popular destinations for a winter vacation in Europe. A stroll around the streets of the capital Budapest will allow you to admire fine examples of a variety of architectonic styles: from gothic to imperial, renaissance, and ottoman architecture, the historical buildings in Budapest amaze visitors at every corner.
The city is lit up with festive decorations around Christmas and tourists from other regions and abroad flock to the capital to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the public squares and picturesque local pubs. And since the Hungarian temperatures can become quite rough during the winter, tourists and locals alike often decide to warm up and relax in one of the famous Budapest spas and pubic baths.
But Budapest is not the only reason why Hungary is worth applying for an EU visa waiver. Take time off the capital to soak up the warm sun on Lake Balaton during the day and admire the volcanic hills surrounding the town. Ice skating and ice fishing are also popular winter activities among locals.
A trip to Aggtelek National Park to visit the Aggtelek Karst cave is a must to get a sense of the Hungarian limestone landscape. These caves hide plenty of stalagmites and stalactites, a fun spectacle for the whole family.
Sweden: Beyond Stockholm
It would be hard to match the sight of the northern lights in Sweden. To maximize your chances to catch the natural phenomenon, make sure to include a trip to the Swedish Lapland in your itinerary. The village of Abisko, for example, sits north of the Arctic Circle — the closer you are to the poles, the better the atmospheric conditions for the Aurora Borealis.
In the Lapland, you can also decide to take part in a local ‘winter safari’ to spot wildlife like moose, wolverines, wolves, brown bears, lynxes and musk oxen, and drive your own dog slide.
Stockholm is a charming city known as ‘the Venice of the North’ for its canals. The city is made of 14 islands and over 30,000 more islands surround it in the Stockholm Archipelago. Stockholm architecture becomes even more photogenic when reflected on the water.
In the Swedish capital, you will also be able to enjoy art galleries, a strong coffee culture, and safe and multicultural streets.