Discover the perfect winter destination in Europe with our list of places to visit in December. Plan your trip to Europe and winter EU experience ⛸🛷
December enrobes Europe in yuletide cheer and postcard-worthy winter wonderlands. From the dazzling Christmas markets of Germany to the exotic Canary Islands and all across the continent, these are the 25 best places to visit in Europe as the year winds down.
Best Christmas Destinations in Europe
If you’re seeking that picture-perfect White Christmas, look no further than these fairytale places embracing the holiday spirit.
Prague, Czech Republic
With its cobblestone streets and medieval buildings coated in powdered sugar, Prague assumes storybook splendor when December comes to town. On the Old Town Square, the delightful Christmas market tempts you with roasted sausages, sweet trdelník pastries, and mugs of warming svařák (mulled wine). Afterward, skate hand-in-hand across one of the pop-up ice rinks or admire the spectacular lights draped over the 14th-century Charles Bridge. With low winter crowds and cheaper airfares, December invites romantic getaways to the Golden City of a Hundred Spires.
It’s nearly impossible to resist Munich’s charm amidst the holiday hullabaloo. At one of Germany’s oldest and grandest Christmas markets, Marienplatz dazzles with twinkling lights, artisanal treasures, and tempting treats like stollen fruitcake and gingerbread hearts. Sip mulled wine while listening to festive music in front of the Rathaus’s lofty Christmas tree. Beyond the market, Munich entices with its princely palaces dripping in Rococo opulence, world-famous beer halls, and proximity to fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle—an easy day trip.
As classical music wafts from Vienna’s lavish coffeehouses and concert halls, the imperial Habsburg city truly comes alive for the holidays. At the sound of the Christkindlmarkts’ opening chime, locals and tourists flock to bask in hot punch, festive handicrafts, and sweet treats like apfelstrudels, nut rolls, and Lebkuchen. Couples can glide across one of the pop-up ice rinks hand-in-hand before touring the resplendent palaces and museums. From waltzing at imperial balls to cheering at equestrian shows, Vienna brings Old World nostalgia to the season.
Deemed the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg exudes medieval charm and yuletide magic. Along cobblestone lanes draped in twinkle lights and garlands, the aroma of gingerbread and mulled wine draws you into the bustling Christkindelsmärik. At the towering tree before the Cathedrale Notre Dame, children gasp with delight as lively animatronics recount the Nativity story. Cross under glowing arches into Place Kléber’s spacious square to discover craft stalls brimming with nutcrackers and glass-blown ornaments—perfect for holiday shopping.
Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe
If you prefer beach getaways over snow globes, winter nurtures idyllic escapes across Southern Europe and the Mediterranean islands. Leave your parkas behind and unwind beneath sunny skies and palm trees this December.
Canary Islands, Spain
Average December temps: 64°F (18°C)
For Europe’s warmest winter weather, head south to the sun-kissed Canaries. The volcanic isles hold spring-like temperatures all year long, even when snow smothers the mainland. Laze beachside on Tenerife’s golden shores, adventure deep into Lanzarote’s surreal lava fields, or roam La Palma’s pine forests along ancient pilgrimage routes. When the sun goes down, liveliest islands like Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura crank up the festive fun with holiday lights, parties, and celebrations well into the new year.
Average December temps: 61°F (16°C)
While Central Europe shivers, Cyprus basks in mild Mediterranean warmth throughout winter. Base yourself along the southern coastline to comb heavenly beaches and venture inland to paddle the UNESCO-listed Troodos Mountains’ tranquil trails. At archeological wonders like the Copper Age Choirokoitia settlement, couples and families can delve into mythology and ancient history. And while Cyprus’s sleepy resort towns offer a tranquil ambiance, the vibrant harbor of Larnaka pulses with tavernas, bars, and holiday happenings into the wee hours.
Average December temps: 59°F (15°C)
Myth and adventure collide on sun-splashed Crete. Beyond the luxurious resorts and palm-lined promenades, the rugged Greek isle tempts with snow-dusted mountains, hidden gorges, and ancient ruins from lost civilizations. Base yourself along the northern coast to chase balmier beach weather and embark on scenic drives over the sensational White Mountains. From the bustling old Venetian port of Chania to the imposing Knossos palace, Crete brings history and paradise together this December.
Best European Cities to Visit in December
Seek holiday enchantment and fewer crowds by exploring these cities decked out in their festive finest. Discover seasonal magic from London to Barcelona and everywhere between across December.
London dazzles all December as crisp air and mulled wine awaken Christmas cheer across town. Regent Street glitters with one mile of twinkling lights above as shoppers dash between Harrod’s opulent displays. At chilly Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, the festivities carry on with carnival rides, ice skating, shows, and food stalls deep into the night. Make spirits bright with front-row views of London’s extravagant storefronts on an open-air bus tour or descend into Harry Potter’s magical Diagon Alley to discover Hogwarts dressed in full holiday regalia.
December invites travelers to Barcelona to revel in festive sights devoid of summer’s crowds. Stroll tree-lined boulevards all aglow as you shop for unique Yuletide keepsakes. At the Gothic Quarter’s quaint craft stalls, tempt your taste buds with churros dipped in thick hot chocolate. Catch a holiday concert outside the spectacularly illuminated Catedral de Barcelona or pause to admire Gaudí’s dizzying architecture draped in Technicolor lights. With mild coastal weather, Barcelona brings warmth and wonderful cheer this season.
As winter descends upon the grand Hungarian capital, Budapest sparkles with holiday magic. Soak in the steaming Szechenyi Baths and warm your soul as flakes swirl down from the ornate yellow castle high above. Then meander to the plush Christmas market on Vorosmarty Square to discover handcrafted trinkets and sweet chimney cakes dusted in cinnamon sugar. Spend long evenings sipping bold Tokaji wine amid old-world charm or take in the dynamic sights gliding along the Danube’s icy waters.
Best Winter Sports Destinations in Europe
Ready to conquer an epic ski holiday across Europe’s most spectacular winter playgrounds? Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or just learning, these sensational ski resorts deliver thrilling slopes, stunning scenery, and snowy fun.
Boasting 62 incredible ski resorts, the French Alps reign among the world’s premier winter playgrounds. From Mont Blanc’s mighty glaciers to the tree-lined trails of Chamonix, skiers soar down snow-blanketed peaks reaching into the heavens. Cradled by the sawtooth needles of the Mont Blanc massif, Courmayeur also brings ultra-luxury ski-in/ski-out accommodations and sumptuous Italian dining. Wherever you land for your next ski holiday, the French Alps promise exhilarating descents across Christmas card panoramas.
Crowned by the Matterhorn’s unfathomably steep pyramid, Zermatt dims the decadence of St. Moritz and the crowds of Chamonix. This car-free ski resort brings intermediate cruisers and experts alike up to 21 miles of scenic ski slopes dangling high above the valley. While days deliver non-stop snow adventures, Swiss hospitality pampers skiers after hours with cozy lodges, traditional raclette cheese dishes, and hot mulled wine. When the Matterhorn finally loses light at dusk, Zermatt’s hub still dazzles families with fairytale lights, horse-drawn carriages, and holiday cheer.
Tucked within the Dramatic Karwendel mountain range, Innsbruck courts adventure travelers with its world-class skiing and postcard scenery. Hop aboard Nordkettenbahnen’s funicular railway up to the slopes before tackling nine downhill areas spanning all abilities—two directly above town. Between sending fresh powder flying down Olympic runs, refuel Alpine-style on hearty schnitzel and strudel. Then meander Innsbruck’s medieval Altstadt (Old Town) under twinkling lights before crashing at a design-forward ski lodge nearby.
Best Off-the-Radar Destinations in Europe in December
Venture beyond the bucket-list capitals to uncover Europe’s underrated winter gems sparkling with singular charm and far fewer fellow travelers.
Encircled by the twinkling lights draped from its candy-colored buildings, Slovenia’s enchanting capital weaves holiday magic. Under crenelated towers and Baroque facades adorned with festoons, locals sip hot cider and shop the lively crafts market. Cross the famed Triple Bridge illuminated in a warm glow before climbing the hillside path to marvel at the brilliantly lit castle hovering on high. With cheaper prices and lighter crowds than neighbors like Austria, Ljubljana brings wintertime romance and old-world beauty off the well-trodden trail.
Along the icy blue Danube’s curling banks, medieval Dürnstein drapes its 16th-century town in twinkling lights. Beneath the cobalt spire soaring high above, the pedestrianized cobblestone lanes brim with local artisans, kitschy shops, and Instagram-worthy views around each turn. Sip mulled wine on the fairy tale tower before a horse-carriage ride through vineyards frosted in snow. Under two hours from Vienna by train or boat, Dürnstein brings holiday enchantment without navigating the huge crowds of Salzburg and other stars across Austria.
Deemed the “Venice of the Alps,” gorgeous Annecy captivates in winter sans summer’s mobs. Stroll the snowy lakeshore hand-in-hand, glide across the ice-locked canal skating rink, or wander the 14th-century quarter’s lanes all aglow after dark. At the illuminations show each Saturday, a dazzling light spectacle dances across the Alpine-framed lake as Annecy’s castles, bridges, and even the bell tower glow neon. Afterward, hole up fireside in a converted manor house sipping Beaujolais wine from the medieval cellar.
What is the Best Part of Europe in December?
While peak holiday enchantment concentrates in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic come December, the lower latitudes across Southern Europe and the Mediterranean beckon with warmer weather and fewer tourists. For snow adventures, hone in on the Alps rising across Switzerland, Austria, Northern Italy and Southeastern France. Families and solo explorers alike discover delight across countless Christmas markets all aglow from London to Barcelona as well. Ultimately for weather, prices and thinner crowds, venture toward EU countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece instead of summertime hotspots bogged down by holiday tourism like Paris and Rome.
What is the Best Place to Spend Christmas in Europe?
To discover Europe at its postcard-perfect peak, spend Christmas in an Alpine winter wonderland or medieval town frosted like a gingerbread confection. For snow-globe scenery, Christmas markets and once-in-a-lifetime memories, these destinations top our list:
Zermatt, Switzerland: Ring in a White Christmas under the Matterhorn’s mighty pyramid.
Hallstatt, Austria: Find your holiday happy place within the Austrian Alps’ fairytale village.
Strasbourg, France: Dubbed the “Capital of Christmas,” Strasbourg brings Noël nostalgia alive.
Prague, Czech Republic: Meander the cider-scented Christmas markets lining Old Town Square.
Tallinn, Estonia: Wander the magical forests and frozen lakes near this underrated Baltic gem.
Is Europe Cheap in December?
Beyond thinner crowds and cooler climes, December invites travelers to Europe with budget airfares, discounted hotels, and cheaper tours. Compared to packed summer schedules, December airfare costs drop around 27% on average—delivering bigger travel budgets and holiday savings. Hotel rates also plummet from their summertime highs across popular destinations like Paris, London, and Amsterdam. Leverage shoulder season specials by venturing mid-December through early January when tourism lulls between holiday travelers. For the best value overall, narrow your winter escape plans to EU nations boasting favorable exchange rates against the Euro and lower costs of living than Western members.
Is December a Good Time to Visit Europe?
For festive holiday happenings set against stunning winter scenery, December presents prime time to visit Europe. Compared to the jam-packed summer schedule, far fewer crowds leave legendary landmarks blissfully unhurried for deeper exploration. Belgium’s medieval squares, Parisian cafes, and London’s regal landmarks appear even more romantic dusted in snow and illuminated at night. December also concentrates holiday charm with abundant Christmas markets, lavish light shows and seasonal stage performances across European capitals and quintessential mountain villages alike. Beyond the seasonal magic, budget travelers leverage significant savings on lodging, airfare and tours during this shoulder season. Just be sure to pack properly for potential rain or snow depending on your destination!
What is the Warmest Place in Europe in December?
While bundling up proves essential for Yuletide adventures across Germany, Prague, and Vienna, Southern Europe still basks in mild warmth throughout December. Boasting average temperatures around 64°F (18°C), Spain’s sun-soaked Canary Islands top our list for Europe’s balmiest winter weather. The volcanic peaks of Tenerife and Lanzarote hold near-springtime conditions while the surrounding Atlantic keeps Cyprus, Crete and Malta blissfully temperate as well. Within Europe’s mainland, Seville, Spain also trends over 10 degrees warmer than Madrid this time of year.
What is the Best European Country to Visit in December?
Twinkling beneath snow-capped spires and glittering holiday lights, December brings Central European countries like Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic alive with Christmas charm. For families and romance travelers alike, their festive holiday markets, renowned Christmas classics, and fairytale cities promise the quintessential White Christmas experience. Beyond the Yuletide destinations, budget-friendly Poland also brings holiday enchantment without Germany and Austria’s steep prices. In the warmer south, Spain courts culture buffs and sun seekers even in winter with picture-perfect islands like Mallorca and Tenerife or dynamic cities like Barcelona decked out for the holidays.
Best Places to Visit in Europe in December with Family
Treating the kids to new horizons and sumptuous European feasts, December family getaways prove the gifts that keep on giving. These top family-friendly places to visit in Europe this December deliver seasonal magic from London to Lapland that children and kids-at-heart will forever cherish.
Lapland & Rovaniemi, Finland
Snow-frosted forests outside Santa’s hometown deliver once-in-a-lifetime magic across December. Husky sledding and reindeer sleigh rides, the Northern Lights’ dazzling dance, plus ice fishing, snowshoeing and a chance to meet Ol’ Saint Nick himself combine for the ultimate Christmas trip. Just don’t forget those thermoses of hot cocoa!
Copenhagen & Tivoli Gardens, Denmark
Biking along quaint canals strung with glittering lights, exploring storybook castles, and screaming aboard twirling fairground rides…Copenhagen brings snow-dusted merriment guaranteed to delight kids all month long.
Salzburg & Innsbruck, Austria
Bring Sound of Music nostalgia alive surrounded by Austria’s soaring Alps this December. Glide across Salzburg’s postcard-perfect ice skating rinks and cozy up for concerts inside storybook chapels. In Innsbruck, zoom up Nordkette funiculars to sled, ski and soak up stunning views from igloo lodges dangling high in the clouds.
London & Winter Wonderland, England
When December dawns, London’s neighborhoods transform into whimsical winter carnivals full of magic. Kids can sip hot chocolates aboard the Hogwarts Express, glide around Somerset House’s open-air ice rink, and scream aboard twirling fairground rides at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland well into the night.
Prague, Czech Republic
Beneath Prague Castle’s commanding towers, the entire city blossoms into a fairytale stage set come December. Little princes and princesses will adore horse-drawn carriage rides over stone arches lit up in vibrant hues each evening. Sync silly selfie poses on Charles Bridge with street musicians and contortionists as you bounce between Old Town Square’s lively Christmas stalls.