Prague, Czech Republic
Whatever time of year you visit, Prague is a city brimming with culture and beauty. During the winter, however, the atmosphere is a little more magical.
Prague is home to one the best Christmas Markets in all of Europe. The main markets are held at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Despite all of the beautiful souvenirs available at stalls, the Christmas markets are about much more than shopping. Local delicacies of all kinds can be sampled, many of which are prepared and cooked right in front of you.
And if you want to spend the night out, Prague has a thriving bar scene where you can sample some of the city's best local brews.
If you're thinking about visiting Budapest, you have to make it a winter trip! Hungary's capital takes on an otherworldly appearance with a fresh coat of snow. Most notably, seeing the parliament surrounded by ice drifts for the first time is truly unforgettable.
You can't leave Budapest without skating in the picturesque central park, which has an enormous outdoor rink with Vajdahunyad Castle as the backdrop. And if you’re looking for a break from the cold, you can warm yourself up by soaking in one of the city's renowned thermal baths.
Bergen is a popular tourist destination and for very good reason. This colourful Nordic Village in the midst of mountains and fjords is beautiful all year, but it is absolutely breathtaking in the winter when it is covered in fresh snow and the Northern Lights are visible.
For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a Fjord cruise, which is available throughout the winter and is the best way to discover this truly magical place. Bergen is also an excellent starting point for a variety of fun winter activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding.
Abisko is about as far north as a train can take you in Europe, and as a result, temperatures here can get very cold. In fact, the sun doesn't rise in Abisko for several weeks between December and January. That same darkness, however, is what makes Abisko such a great place to visit in the winter.
While no one can guarantee seeing the northern lights, because of the area's unique climate and the darkness that the season brings, your chances of seeing the magical Aurora Borealis are higher when you visit Abisko in the winter.
Visiting Iceland's capital city, and by extension the rest of the country, is the ultimate winter experience. Winter in Iceland is unlike any other, with activities ranging from whale watching to bathing in geothermal pools like the Blue Lagoon to gazing at gigantic glaciers and chasing the northern lights.
This is especially true if you use Reykjavik as the starting point for your ring road road trip, which circles the entire country and allows you to see all of its incredible natural beauty.
Iceland is generally quite expensive, so connecting with other travelers on GAFFL and sharing costs with them can help you save a lot of money, especially if you're traveling alone.
Estonia's enchanting cobblestoned capital is stunning in the winter. While it's true that the city is lovely all year, Tallinn's medieval architecture comes to life after a snowfall, adding another layer of picturesque charm to the city.
Tallinn has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most notable of which is Tallinn's cultural and tourist hub, the walled old town. During the holidays, you can visit the Old Town Christmas Market, enjoy the beautiful lights and glowing tree, ice skate, or simply relax at a local bar or cafe if the Baltic chill is too much for you.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Danish concept of hygge, it is essentially a synonym for comfort and coziness. Think big wooly sweaters and warm drinks, which is why winters in Copenhagen are the perfect time to visit.
During the holiday season, the city is at its most inviting, with a variety of activities ranging from visiting Tivoli Gardens and experiencing its dazzling Christmas markets to strolling along the Nyhavn, Copenhagen's waterfront and entertainment district, which becomes even more stunning during this time of year.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention glögg, a warm mulled wine traditionally consumed in the winter, especially around Christmas. So, if you're going out for a night of drinking in Copenhagen, don't forget to get yourself a mug of glögg.
Anyone who enjoys Christmas and all it has to offer should really visit this winter wonderland. While Rovaniemi is charming in its own right, the real draw is just outside the city. The Santa Claus Village is where you can meet Santa in the flesh. You'll also receive a special passport stamp and have the opportunity to interact with adorable reindeer. Visiting Rovaniemi is truly like any kid's dream come true.
Hallstatt's beauty is amplified during the winter months. The 12th century churches and alpine homes look a lot more photogenic when layered with a blanket of snow.
The Dachstein Mountains simply look better with snow caps, and the mountain's reflection looks even more pristine when the Hallstätter See is frozen.
And if you want to get the absolute best views of this winter wonderland, hike up to the Hallstatt Skywalk which sits high above the town.
Hallstatt is also a great place to visit for anyone who enjoys winter sports. You can go skiing, snowshoeing, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride while you're here.
Germany is famous for its many beautiful Christmas markets, and Nuremberg's is the best of them all. This centuries-old market, which has been around since the 1500s, has over a hundred stalls with countless seasonal delicacies and souvenirs for you to choose from. While in Nuremberg, you can wash down your local gingerbread snacks with hot mulled wine, also known as glühwein.
Aside from the Christmas Market, the rest of the city is stunning. The medieval architecture you're surrounded by makes for great photo opportunities, and the cobblestone streets near the Nuremberg Castle are a lovely place to take a winter stroll.