With dazzling illuminations, atmospheric Christmas markets, snow-covered landmarks, and world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebrations, Europe is at its most magical during the festive season. Here’s how to experience the holiday season in Europe.
Visit Christmas Markets
Germany is the birthplace of the Christmas market (Christkindlmarkt) and Berlin, Munich, and Cologne have some of the best. There are also spectacular Christmas markets in just about every city in Europe, where you can shop for local handicrafts and gifts, tuck into traditional festive foods, and warm up with a steamy mug of mulled wine. London, Strasbourg, Montreux, and Vienna are some of the top destinations.
Have Fun in the Snow
There’s nothing quite like the sight of the Eiffel Tower or Buckingham Palace dusted with snow, but for guaranteed snowfall, head into the Alps or north to Scandinavia. Travel to Lapland in Finland to meet Santa at Santa Claus Village, ride a husky sled, and see the northern lights. Alternatively, plan a festive ski trip into the French Alps or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Swiss Alps.
Take a Festive-Themed Tour
It’s worth braving the cold for a winter sightseeing tour, and festive-themed tours make seeing the sights even more memorable. Set sail on a dinner cruise along the Seine River in Paris or the River Thames in London, with a backdrop of glittering Christmas lights. See the Silent Night Chapel near Salzburg on a special Christmas Eve tour, explore Vatican City on a Christmas tour, or attend a Christmas dinner show at Paris' famous Moulin Rouge.
Don’t Forget Boxing Day
In the United Kingdom, holidays continue with Boxing Day on December 26, and it’s the perfect time for sightseeing. Keep festivities going with a Boxing Day tour from London to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, or Canterbury Cathedral, or indulge in a delicious Boxing Day roast dinner in the Cotswolds.
Ring in the New Year
Whether you prefer show-stopping fireworks, a romantic dinner date, or dancing into the early hours, there are plenty of ways to ring in the New Year in style. Watch London, Berlin, or Paris dazzle beneath a canopy of fireworks; attend a glamorous New Year’s Eve gala in Vienna; or head to Scotland to experience the unique 3-day Hogmanay celebrations.