Everyone has a certain destination and a certain time of year they love to visit it. For me, there’s nothing better than Europe in winter. Most of the tourists have left, the weather is chilly and even though a few extra layers are needed, I get a better feel for what it’s like to really live there. I didn’t think I was alone, so I asked a few travel writers and bloggers to share their favorite European winter destinations. First, my pick.
London is one of those great cities of the world that is a joy to visit any time of year, but especially in the winter. We planned a quick 4 day escape in January to get out of town and explore more of the British capital without the throngs of camera laden tourists. Entry to every museum was a breeze and the rustic meals and hearty puddings were always a warm end to a perfect day. The best part though was the little things like bundling up and trundling through endless side streets in search of the perfect pub or letting ourselves get lost and just watch the endless stream of humanity rush past. The windy days and cool temps may not be for everyone, but for me there’s nothing better than London in the winter.
Stephanie from Twenty-Something Travel picks…
During the summer Italy becomes absolutely clogged with tourists, but most of them clear out during the winter months which means travelers have a totally different experience. Rome in particular has fairly mild weather and is far enough south to escape the damp chilliness that pervades most of Europe. You can explore the Coliseum, the Forum and even the Vatican in relative peace. I particularly recommend visiting in December, when the entire city is decked out for Christmas.
Iain from Mallory on Travel picks…
Selva Wolkenstein (Val Gardena)
No great surprise that I chose a winter sports destination as my favourite, what is possibly more unexpected is that it is not one of the adventure capitals of the world. Great mountain resorts such as Chamonix, Banff, Zermatt or Queensland would top many people’s lists.
Selva Wolkenstein located in the Italian Süd Tirol and in the heart of the Dolomites is possibly not so well known but it is still included in the list of the six “Leading Mountain Resorts of the World.” Despite its inclusion it still has the feel of a well kept village and has not grown too big for its boots.
It is located slap bang in the middle of some amazing and rugged scenery, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to the Südtirol Gardenissima, the world’s longest Giant Slalom race. Touring the Sella Ronda is a highlight for any skier, great piste bashing in some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the Alps.
So much to love, this winter playground definitely gets my vote!
Isabelle from Isabelle’s Travel Guide picks…
The Black Forest
One of my favorite winter destinations within Europe is the Black Forest in Germany. I was there a couple of years ago with my family to celebrate a white Christmas. The Black Forest, a wooded mountain range in the southwestern Germany, has everything for a perfect winter getaway. You can go out hiking, cross country skiing… or just enjoy the coziness of sitting by the fire with a piece of delicious “Schwarzwaldtorte” (Black Forest Cake). What I love most is the “Deutsche Gemütlichkeit”, the snugness, that feeling of being at home.
The Black Forest is also one of the 28 finalists for the New 7 Wonders (just like Uluru in Australia) and is the largest European forest, often referred to as “Europe’s green lungs”.
Jeff from EuroTravelogue picks…
Salzburg and Innsbruck, Austria
Steeped in traditions dating back to the 1200s, the enchanting Christmas markets or Christkindlmarkt of Austria have lured visitors and residents to picturesque Alpine villages with their festive lights, beautifully decorated stalls
and tantalizing aromas for centuries. The Christmas markets herald in the season of Advent with the promise of savory delectables, hand-crafted gifts, and my favorite, those tantalizing confections of pure delight!
Although Christmas Markets can be found throughout Austria and the rest of Europe, two of the most popular are in Salzburg and Innsbruck. The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt is located in the city center at the Domplatz and Residenzplatz and is open from November 17 to December 26. Innsbruck’s famous market is located in the Old City (Altstadt), and transforms the town square with its famous Golden Roof. The Innsbruck market is open from November 15 to December 23.
Despite the frigid Alpine temperatures, you can’t help but feel warm and cheerful as you stroll along these magical marketplaces. If you plan to visit Austria during the holidays, be sure to visit at least one Christkindlmarkt, and while you’re there be prepared to fall under their Christmas enchantment!
What’s your favorite wintertime destination in Europe?