13 Best Winter City Breaks in Europe You Must Try in 2023!

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You can enjoy the best winter city breaks in Europe by taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the season while browsing handmade crafts and unique gifts

That’s because the holiday season in Europe officially begins with the arrival of Christmas markets, and extends well into the following months.

Some are complete with lovely decorated trees and twinkling lights lining the streets. Others offer invigorating winter sports and attractions.

Read more below to learn which cities are best and beautifully transformed into winter wonderlands. They are great destinations for a winter getaway to Europe!

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Best Winter City Breaks in Europe

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn where to take the best winter city breaks in Europe, including;

Why You Should Visit Some of The World’s Most Visited Countries in Winter

Christmas markets mark the beginning of Christmas in Europe.

And, you can visit most of them throughout the winter season.

You can expect to see these cities transformed into winter wonderlands, with artistically adorned trees on every corner of the central streets and lights that spark beauty in every cobblestone street. 

Breathe in the savory and spiced smells that waft through the air!

Engage with craftsmen who share their trade at the winter markets, and are eager to show and tell you the story of their hand-crafted wares.

In fact, you can find well-made souvenirs and gifts on a budget, as well luxurious ones to impress friends and family when you return home from vacation.

Some winter events in Europe even offer online markets that allow you to support craftsmen and artisans without being there in person. 

But the in-person experience is like no other.

Whether it’s the spicy mulled wine in Prague or some delicious sweets in Cologne, you’ll create memories for a lifetime in the cities below.

1. Salzburg, Austria

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A bustling Christmas Market in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria is full of color at Christmas time.

You can especially enjoy this beautiful scene in the city centre and at Christmas markets.

The picturesque city of Mozart and The Sound of Music comes alive during Christmas! Experience a snow-strewn versions of Silent Night on location, as the hymn was composed and sung initially nearby.

Here, market stalls resemble those first set up in the 15th century. The emphasis here is on quality over quantity.

So, expect to see hand-created offerings rather than commercialized candles.

You might also want to attend the free daily concerts in front of the Salzburg Cathedral at 5 p.m. to maximize your Christmas spirit.

Or join in yourself by singing songs at the Tuesday singalongs.

Salzburg is an enchanting place to visit in wintertime, from it’s Christmas markets, to historic architecture, to epic museums.

And carols are among the things that make Salzburg fun and fantastic.

2. Province of Belluno, Italy 

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A winter wonderland in Alta Badia, in the Province of Belluno, Italy

If you like winter sports, you have to visit Dolomites at least once in your lifetime.

It has become a true outdoor playground to ski!

The trails here are groomed by experts on a regular basis. And. the breath-taking, stunning scenery makes this place one of the most amazing must-visits in Europe.

Corvara and Alta Badia are the Province of Belluno in Italy. They offer outstanding cross-country ski areas with perfect trails and a variety of other amenities.

You see, Italy is well-known for more than its culture, fine dining, and wine.

The ski holiday Italy experience is another reason why you’ll want to visit this area in the wintertime.

Mont Blanc and Matterhorn are one of the most popular points of attraction for ski lovers.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a day to enjoy the view, breathe in the fresh air, and take some pictures.

And, if you ponder how you’ll travel because you’re not a fan of flying, think no more. You can take time to enjoy the road by train, be it day or night.

This experience is an essential part of the best winter city breaks in Europe.

3. London, England 

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A dusting of snow frosts Westminster Abbey in London, England

If you’ve never been to the United Kingdom, the winter is a perfect time.

You can visit the majestic Westminster Abbey or the royal town of Windsor to see some of London‘s most spectacular historic monuments.

If you go to London by train, while you’re on your way, take some time to find out more about the city online.

Don’t leave without visiting a Burberry store, especially if you’re a lover of fashion. And, don’t miss London’s Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland or the lovely Christmas at Kew

You’ll find plenty to see and do, if you’re traveling about on foot.

Plus, there’s something even more magical about London – Hogwarts in the Snow.

If you know a “Potterhead,” maybe they would like to join you in this amazing trip.

From mid-November and into February, it’s a true winter wonderland in the UK, especially in its capital.

When you visit London in winter, you will experience the thrill of Christmas and Chinese New Year.

And those are just a few of London’s must-see winter festivities!

4. Cologne, Germany

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Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany offers fantastic places to visit in the winter. It’s truly one of the best winter city breaks in Europe.

Better yet, it’s ideal for shopping and getting into the Christmas spirit early. You can visit the Christmas markets by rail from late November until before Christmas.

Be prepared to shop in the beautifully adorned downtown Cologne for unique Christmas items. It makes for an unforgettable holiday experience.

You’ll discover six markets you don’t want to miss–and the most enchanting Christmas market in Cologne–located near the Cologne Cathedral on the plaza, Of course, the cathedral is a must-see for everyone.

Here, more than 150 booths make a lovely Christmas village.

Plus, the majestic church makes the city look out of this world and adds a romantic touch to this Christmas market.

So, don’t forget your smartphone or camera, because you’ll most likely want to take pictures.

5. Berlin, Germany

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A festive Christmas Market in Berlin, Germany

Whatever you choose to do in Berlin, Germany, don’t expect to get bored or relax.

At Christmas, this city is a must-visit, esepcially if you’re looking for fashionable, breathtaking Christmas presents.

The city also delivers a more modern take on tradition, with around 80 mesmerizing markets, among which one is designated for dogs!

Spandau is the largest market in Berlin in terms of scale.

Weihnachtszauber on the Gendarmenmarkt square is the most visually appealing if you’re into arts and crafts.

And, don’t leave Berlin without seeing the Winter World on Potsdamer Platz because it will undoubtedly get your heart racing. That’s because you’ll find a winter slide that is almost 40 feet high and 230 feet long…Wheeeee!

This market is less about shopping and more about winter activities. In addition to the slide, you can do some curling, ice-skating, tobogganing, and other activities for children and adults alike.

This might fast become your favorite of the best winter city breaks in Europe!

6. Düsseldorf, Germany

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Delicious Zimsterne, or Cinnamon Biscuits, are a popular treat at Dusseldorf winter markets

Düsseldorf, Germany is known for its art scene and fashion industry.

However, for many, this is one of the most fabulous German places to spend the winter, making it among the best winter city breaks in Europe.

Here, you can find a line-up of markets with various themes, imaginative designs, and a great variety of goods to buy for your dear ones.

You may travel to the Altstadt Market, located in the heart of the historic town and modeled after the old burgher homes of Düsseldorf.

Alternatively, you may visit the Renaissance-style kiosks in front of the city hall, the Düsseldorf Rathaus

Whatever you choose to do, ensure you don’t miss the Christmas market in Düsseldorf.

The city will be a delight, especially if you love winter for its sweet offerings, like:

  • Baked apples – or Bratapfel
  • Cinnamon biscuits – or Zimtsterne
  • Potato cakes – or Reibekuchen

7. Paris, France

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Incredible stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, France

If you’re planning a trip to France, don’t leave the country without visiting Paris streets at Christmas.

A vacation to Paris in winter adds an extra dose of magic, since the City of Lights is illuminated by thousands of glittering lamps.

Lights here are breathtaking, and so is Sainte-Chapelle’s stained glass.

You can go to Paris by train to relax knowing you’re not behind the wheel or flying too high to see the mesmerizing surroundings France has to offer. 

Be sure to take time to visit Paris Christmas Markets and buy some presents for your beloved ones. You’ll find plenty of nice options here, from souvenirs to branded clothes.

And who doesn’t love any gift hailing from Paris?

Get yourself something beautiful, too, to remind you of the trip to Paris.

And of course, don’t forget your smartphone or camera. You’ll definitely want to take winter pictures in one of the most popular cities in the world.

It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best winter city breaks in Europe!

8. Prague, Czech Republic

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Snowcapped buildings in Prague, Czechia

In this fascinating winter city, you can replace your cup of mulled wine with a glass of grog – a combination of water, rum, sugar and lemon.

You can see the 15th-century astronomical clock on one side and twin spires of Our Lady Before Tyn on the other. Between is a dazzling pool of holiday cheer between them. 

We’re talking about Prague in the Czech Republic, of course.

It’s an ideal city break for the holiday season because slopes where you can ski and enjoy your favorite winter sports are just a few miles away.

The slopes are must-see points of attraction for families, teenagers, and retired people, because they offer sleek trails, restaurants, and other facilities with a great value for the money.

Skiing during the day on the compact snow and dining at night in an affordable, yet fancy restaurant can be among the most entertaining, yet relaxing winter activities.

And, be prepared for a cuisine that will keep you coming back to Prague.

Some favorites you’ll want to try are:

  • Fresh pancakes
  • Warm sausages fresh from the grill
  • Garlic-and-cheese flatbread


9. Budapest, Hungary

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Christmas illuminations at St. Stephen Basilica

Budapest, Hungary kicks off the Christmas season in mid-November with two Christmas market contenders: Basilica and Vorosmarty Square. The latter, located in the centre of Budapest, is home to the city’s oldest Christmas market.

You’ll discover several food and craft stores and free music evens throughout.

One of the most impressive experiences is the Christmas laser projections on the Basilica.

You’ll also want to enjoy the ice-skating rink that circles a magnificent Christmas tree.

As you can see, this city is best known for Christmas illuminations, markets, and ice rinks. This makes is one of the best winter city breaks in Europe.

So, to ensure you wear your most comfortable clothes and shoes, because you’ll have a lot to explore here!

Related: Why Visit Budapest? Best Reasons You Should Add it to Your Bucket List

Other Not-to-Miss Cities for European Winter Break

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Tumski Bridge in Wroclaw, Poland, coated in snow

Here are some other cities that are perfect for a winter break in Europe:

  • 10. Köln, Germany. If you get here, visit the cathedral because it’s a Gothic marvel that dominates the city in more ways than one.
  • 11. Wroclaw, Poland. Here you’ll see a beautiful candy-colored square with Italian, German, and Hungarian elements that reflect the city’s variety.
  • 12. Strasbourg, France. You can visit France’s oldest and most outstanding Christmas market here in an idyllic setting.
  • 13. Vienna, Austria. Perhaps no other European city has such an Opera and many concerts as this city does in winter.

Related: Revealing the 5 Best European Bachelor Party Destinations in Poland

Final Thoughts on Best Winter City Breaks in Europe

When most people think of visiting Europe in winter, they may think of Christmas markets. But now you know these colorful festivals aren’t the only things to see. 

Similarly, spectacular celebrations commemorate the season with music, centuries-old rituals, delicious food and souvenirs for all, ice sculptures, and mesmerizing city lights. 

In fact, it’s hard to make a case against the best winter city breaks in Europe.

And if you happen to be traveling over the Christmas holiday itself, here’s an Easy 5-Point Christmas Packing List for Your Holiday Travel.

Enjoy your trip!

Next Steps

For more about these winter city breaks in Europe and other inspired travels, read the articles below, next: