Summers inspires poetry, spring inspires romance, but what about winter? Some cities are simply better to travel to during the winter. If you have never been to Europe in winters, then you are missing out on a whole lot of things, be it the sleigh rides through the countryside or the snow painting the entire city white. Moreover, just about every major European city becomes packed with tourists during the summer months so it makes sense that you plan your travel plans during winter to witness the magical snowfall and the cold bluish air.
From savoring on some warm hearty food in a quaint little café to lounging in outdoor thermal pools, winter can be a fun experience. Not to mention, there’s no better time to wear those jackets and overcoats which you have been longing to wear all these years. Furthermore, those who are fond of snowfall can travel during winter and enjoy winter sports in these destinations. Take a look at some of these European destinations which take on a brand new appeal in winter, and what you can do while there.
- Rovaniemi, Finland
Renowned for its Christmas festivities with Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is one of the top snowy places to visit in Europe during winter. Rumour has it that Santa Claus is a native of this place and he hangs out in arctic circle grotto. To relive this legend, there’s even a person in the guise of Santa Claus with whom people can get their photographs clicked with. Additionally, there is an entire village dedicated to the lore of Santa Claus which houses reindeer and always has a festive aura. A more enchanting sight is not to be found elsewhere! The infamous Artikum museum also gives an unparalleled insight into the lives and culture of the people residing in this region. The place is very cold especially in winters and the temperatures are known to dip to -14 degrees as well. If you’d rather be outside, do check out the delightful snow-lined streets and rooftops or you could even opt to go ice-skating.
- Budapest, Hungary
An extremely popular place, especially among Indians, Budapest can get pretty cold in winter while experiencing frequent snowfall as well. Budapest is replete with lots of picturesque locations and that is why a large number of Bollywood movies are shot there. Do make it a point to visit the famed central park, Varosligeti Mujegpalya, which boasts of an enormous skating rink. You can even take this opportunity to skate with your better half hand-in-hand while enjoying the chill in the air. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can warm yourself up by taking a dip in the city’s many outdoor thermal baths. Budapest is never short on nightlife and the effervescent Ruin pub is open throughout the year where you can have the ultimate drinking and party experience at night. The pub is not just famous for its exotic drinks but is also renowned for its exquisite interiors. Ice Skating is one of the popular winter activities in here while other winter sports like skiing and trekking are also prevalent in various parts of Budapest.
- Abisko, Sweden
What’s there to do when it’s forever dark, cold and desolate? Eat, drink and be merry. Winters in Abisko can get incredibly chilly, but those willing to endure the cold will enjoy grand lake vistas and marvelous medieval architecture. Lying in the northernmost corner of Europe, Abisko is one of the most unique winter tourist attractions. If you choose to go there, do make it a point to visit the famous ice hotel in the village of Jukkasjärvi, aptly named Icehotel! The hotel is completely made of ice and has aesthetically made walls, roofs, and ceilings. The best part about this hotel is that it is rebuilt each year with snow and ice, including the beds and windows. Talk about commitment!! Abisko is also characterized by chilling winds and tranquil ambiance. The sun doesn’t rise in winters here and if you are lucky enough, you might get to witness the majestic Aurora Borealis. Besides being awe-struck looking at the aurora borealis, tourist can partake in activities like skiing, hiking, ice skating, go dog sledding, while also exploring the various national parks.
- Copenhagen, Denmark
Refined, sophisticated and cultural, Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a delight for people who love to travel and enjoy the streets garlanded with fairy lights, bordered by fresh cut pines & decorated with ornaments. Copenhagen is known to have one of the world’s best bars, cafes, and restaurants and the Noma restaurant, in particular, is known to serve up the most exotic and appetizing cuisine. Described by many as a fairytale-like city especially in the winter, the city’s natural beauty really comes to life under a blanket of snow. Traveling to Copenhagen in winter allows tourists to soak in the sights and sounds of the city at a slower pace and really embrace the culture and the people. Some of the top attractions which need to be added to your checklist include Christiansborg Slot, Tivoli amusement park, and Rosenborg Castle. While you’re here, it would be a crime to miss out on Copenhagen’s winter culture month, Wondercool, which is famed for its art shows, off-beat venues and a bunch of culinary events.
- Innsbruck, Austria
Among other places to see in Europe in winter, Innsbruck has got be the most magnificent sight to look at in winters. Although relatively unheard of, make the mistake of ignoring this city at your own risk. Known as the ski and snowboard capital of the world, cold-weather enthusiasts are known to flock to this part of the world owing to its vintage and Old World charm. A former two-time host of the Winter Olympics, the last being in 1976, Innsbruck has a slew of alpine resorts which will surely captivate your senses. It’s also known as the home of Swarovski Crystals so do make it a point to visit its beautiful headquarters while you’re there.