There’s something about winter – the holidays, crisp and snowy weather, comfort food, and warm beverages – that simply make it a wonderful time of the year. And thus, there are some destinations that really stand out as a place to celebrate the season, whether to escape the cold, or embrace the Christmas season. Here are five of my top picks for wonderful European winter destinations.
Porto’s balmy weather in winter makes it a perfect getaway. Wander through the historical UNESCO World Heritage Cais da Ribeira district, sample port at the numerous port cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, and yes – even in January! – enjoy al fresco dining.
The Cotswolds, England
England’s Cotswold countryside, dusted with a bit of snow or frost, is particularly enjoyable in the wintertime. Long country walks in the quiet, calm landscape, followed by warming up at a pub with a fire, evoke a relaxing and sentimental feeling about the winter season.
Stuttgart is a joy in the winter season leading up to Christmas. As a town with a bustling Christmas market, you can enjoy gluhwein, ice skating, and shopping the various craft stalls around the town. After, duck into a traditional German restaurant for a beer stein and käsespätzle (German mac and cheese).
Tallinn and Lahemaa National Park, Estonia
Tallinn is a magical place in winter. It’s old town is beautiful year round, but the snow capped buildings add a flair to the city, and make the pastel colors of the buildings stand out. In Lahemaa National Park, an hour from Tallinn, you can visit an abandoned former Soviet submarine station, a frozen waterfall, and go for peaceful walks along bogs (marshlands), a popular Estonian past time.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is fairly busy year round, but in winter it’s one of the best places for Christmas markets, light beers, and tucking into dumplings with goulash. Despite its popularity, Prague is also a very affordable destination.
What is your favorite winter destination? Have you been to any of my favorites?