So, we are very close to the last month of autumn, which means that the winter holidays are just around the corner. And many people start planning in advance how they will spend them. For some people, Christmas is a quiet family holiday when you want to have a quiet time at home. However, some plan grand trips to celebrate this wonderful holiday in a new place. And winter in Europe is perfect for celebrating Christmas. This is the place where it is easiest to believe in miracles.
Many cities in Europe are beautiful at any time of the year. However, at Christmas they acquire a special charm, turning into a real fairy tale. Snow covering the roofs, Christmas trees, the smell of cinnamon and ginger cookies in the air, as well as the hustle and bustle of the best Christmas markets in Europe, will undoubtedly give you an unforgettable experience. This is an ideal time to travel with the whole family, especially with children. And we have chosen the 7 best cities to visit for Christmas in Europe for a magical festive experience.
1. Best cities to visit for Christmas: Prague, Czech Republic
Nothing beats the charm of Prague when it comes to the best cities to visit for Christmas in Europe. Prague boasts the most beautiful and best Christmas market in all of Europe, which is one of the oldest. Celebrating Christmas in Prague with its famous sights and festive streets is a carnival and a real holiday. The street smells of roasted chestnuts, and the light snow on the tiled roofs looks more like powdered sugar. Go for a walk to the Old Town and Wenceslas Squares: they are decorated with the most beautiful and noisy fairs. Here, actors arrange costumed performances whilst sheep and ponies chew hay in the manger. Don’t miss organ concerts in the Church of St. Mikulas, and listen to Christmas carols in the Old Town Hall.
2. Best cities to visit for Christmas: Salzburg, Austria
Snowy Alps, an ancient castle, and noisy fairs are fabulous additions for your Christmas story. Vienna is the Christmas center of Austria, but Salzburg is no less interesting. Not only was Mozart was born in the musical capital, but also Joseph Mohr, the author of the world’s main Christmas song “Silent Night, Holy Night”. In Salzburg, you can hear not only “Silent Night”, but also Alpine melodies that have been heard in the Grand Festival Palace for 60 years during Advent. To immerse yourself even more in the past, take a look at the Christmas Museum. In one place you can see a Christmas tree from the First World War, a nativity scene from 1880, and Christmas decorations from the 19th and 20th centuries.
3. Zurich, Switzerland
In Zurich, residents know how to welcome guests. In the main station building, Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market and a dazzling fir tree studded with Swarovski crystals are waiting for you. You cannot miss the Werdmühleplatzt fair: every day the choir sings Christmas carols on the podium in the form of a huge Christmas tree. Free short concerts are held every day at 17:30 in the lobby of the Opera House. Right in front of the theater is the “Christmas village” with the best skating rink in the city.
4. Best cities to visit for Christmas: Strasbourg, France
Anyone who has been here knows that the real creators of magic do not live in Hogwarts. The locals make sure that every inch of their small town glows and glitters. They have a lot of experience: the first Christmas fair in Strasbourg was organized back in 1570. That is why the city is called the capital of Christmas. You definitely can’t pass by the elegant storefronts of the Carré d’Or shopping district, the 30-meter fir tree on Kleber Square, and the Cathedral, where locals arrange festive concerts.
5. Cologne, Germany
In the pre-Christmas season, the already beautiful Cologne appears to its residents and guests in a special appearance. To get to Cologne before Christmas means to see something that does not happen here at any other time of the year.
The streets are drowning in the light of festive lights, the city is filled with Christmas melodies, the aroma of cinnamon, pancakes, and roasted chestnuts. At this time, one of the largest artificial ice rinks in Europe, the Eiszauber, opens on Heumarkt Square. But the main thing is that Christmas markets are opening all over the city, where you can not just choose gifts for Christmas, but also have a nice time in the atmosphere of a fabulous performance, drink hot wine or taste the local cuisine.
6. Bruges, Belgium
It’s easy to feel happy in Bruges — and it’s not just that you’ll be eating kilograms of chocolate here. When carts with horses pass by, and garlands are strung on each window of gingerbread houses, it’s so nice to look at cute little things at the fair and not think about anything bad. Take a look at the Lace Museum and buy handmade lace Christmas decorations in memory of Bruges. If you get cold, sit down with a mug of the famous beer in a bar that is five hundred years old. Or you can stir tiny candies in a giant cup of milk to taste the most delicious hot chocolate of your life.
7. Best cities to visit for Christmas: Rovaniemi, Finland
If Santa doesn’t come to you with a Christmas mood, visit him yourself in his Lapland homeland. Rovaniemi is full of entertainment. The main ones are the Northern lights, a walk beyond the Arctic Circle, and a meeting with Santa Claus.
Santa Claus Village also has its own post office. Nothing unusual, except that a unique Arctic stamp should be on your postcard by an elf. You can ride snowmobiles, sled with huskies or deer and have fun with children in Santa Park. The best places to watch the Northern lights are the Arctic Garden behind the Arktikum Museum, the top of the Ounasvaara Hill, and a soft warm bed in a hotel with a glass ceiling.
Useful tip: About an hour’s drive from Rovaniemi is one of the northernmost zoos in the world. In Ranua Park, you can admire Arctic animals among the snow-covered coniferous forests, almost in the wild.