Winter holidays in Europe can be magical: Christmas lights and winter markets, mulled wine, and some of the best skiing stations in the world make for an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re after a romantic escape, cultural activities or winter sports, there’s something for everyone during Europe’s coldest months.
Additionally, if you plan well in advance, you can find the best fares and even avoid the crowds that flock to the main European destinations during the summer. Planning ahead is also important to make sure that you get the right European travel authorization to enter the continent.
Europeans are also famous for celebrating New Year’s Eve in style. From the traditional countdown in charming public squares to private retreats in the stunning European nature. New Year’s in Europe is likely to create memories that will last a lifetime.
On this page, you’ll find travel advice for spending New Year’s Eve in Europe. Find out what the most famous parties are as well as how to celebrate in quieter haunts.
The most popular NYE celebrations in Europe
Major European cities celebrate the end of the year with amazing firework shows. You can enjoy these amazing spectacles with thousands of locals on the streets, in parks, or on the riverbanks of Europe’s most famous cities. Here are some of the most popular locations:
Fireworks on the water: NYE in London and Paris
Two of the most famous and visited cities in Europe, London and Paris have much in common, including the iconic rivers — the Thames and the Seine respectively — that cross them. There’s nothing quite like leaving the old year behind with Londoners and Parisiennes while the fireworks reflect on the water.
- Where to watch the fireworks in London: although locals will tell you that everywhere is good, the best spots are in Central London (postcode SE1) on the Thames’ riverside. To ensure safety and avoid overcrowding, the area is cordoned and you must purchase a ticket in advance in order to access the best locations. The ticket is about £10.
- Where to watch the fireworks in Paris: Paris is truly magical on NYE with its many bridges and landmarks like the Tour Eiffel lit up by colourful fireworks. An original and truly unmatched way of celebrating is to book a seat on a boat tour. You’ll be able to enjoy a festive menu made of the finest French dishes and orchestra entertainment.
European NYE street parties: Budapest and Brussels
Continental Europeans like to wear warm clothes and heavy coats to spend the last night of the year in the city streets. If you join them, you’ll be able to hear the church bells accompany the midnight countdown and make new friends as you dance the year away in the square.
Brussels doesn’t shut down for the Christmas holidays and offers cultural activities all over town in the last days of the year. On NYE, there are more than 60 DJs getting the parties started in several locations. If you choose to finish up the celebration in a pub or trendy bar, you’ll be able to do so while sipping on famous artisanal Belgian beers.
NYE celebrations (Szilveszter in the local language) in Budapest take many forms. Typically, locals will have a warm and delicious dinner before starting a long and entertaining pub crawl. The most famous street parties are in Vörösmarty Square, Szent István Square, and Nyugati Square.
Where are quieter locations for New Year’s Eve in Europe?
Not everyone appreciates the fuss of a wild NYE party. Some people prefer to spend an intimate evening with friends, their family, or their partner. Many European countries offer the possibility to have a special night without having to put up with the crowds.
A charming NYE in snowy Switzerland
Switzerland is famous for its breath-taking mountain landscapes and 5-star establishments. Whether you’re passionate about skiing and would like to spend your winter holidays on the slopes or appreciate fine dining and luxury accommodation, Switzerland has something to offer to you.
If you’re travelling with your family, Swiss towns will make for fun winter activities like ice skating and kid-friendly museums.
Bonfires and Northern Lights in Iceland
Icelanders are warm and welcoming people that effortlessly make you feel at home. If Reykjavik organizes the expected fireworks display, local communities lit up bonfires in several locations to honour a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.
This is also the ideal time to watch the Northern Lights. Although the natural phenomenon can occur anytime between late August and April, it’s during the coldest months that you’ll get the best chances.