There’s no doubt that most major European cities are popular destinations to visit during the hot summer months. What about winter? If you’re willing to embrace the chilly temperatures, Europe can be just as "hot" as a destination as it is during summer, but the charm and environment you’ll experience will be completely different. To help you choose where to go, here are a few great wintertime destinations you shouldn’t miss.
Innsbruck, Austria, is a perfect example of a European city that is not that popular during the summer, but during wintertime, it becomes a "must-go" destination. With the first snow of the season come the skiers and other cold-weather outdoor sports junkies looking to enjoy the beautiful combination of the Austrian Alps with the Old World charm that Innsbruck has. The views here are stunning both from the city out to the mountains and from the mountains into the city. The city offers all-inclusive packages for its ski resorts and wintertime attractions.
When you think of Germany and winter, the first thing that comes to mind is its Christmas markets. Germany's markets offer something for every type of traveler, from food to handcrafted toys, and many other Christmas related items.
Berlin is known as the "capital of all Christmas markets," and among its varied selection, you’ll find the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche) Christmas market. There you’ll feast on the local winter cuisine, including warm fruity ciders, glazed fruit and, of course, the typical grilled sausages that are famous all over Germany – many of them prepared by the country’s top chefs. You’ll also find over 170 craft and market stands offering countless decorations, toys, ornaments and accessories. Also, the market counts a wide variety of entertainment that includes jugglers, fire artists, acrobats, dance groups, choirs and music ensembles.
Cologne is Germany’s second most popular city during Christmas. Similar to Berlin, Cologne offers a Christmas market experience that is worth experiencing at least once in your life. Among the best markets to visit are the Fairytale Christmas Market, the Market of Angels at Newmarket, and the Cologne Harbour Market - which sits alongside the city’s chocolate factory.
Trust me, just imagine yourself visiting a Christmas market, located next to Cologne Cathedral (the largest in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the surrounding traditional architecture of the city. You’ll feel like you have landed in another world!
Zurich, Switzerland, is one of the most popular destinations to access and enjoy the snow-topped Swiss Alps. Even if you’re not up for the thrill of descending snowy hills on skis and snowboards, you’ll enjoy your time walking around the cobblestone streets and medieval churches around the city. And just outside, the majestic Lake Zürich offers vistas that contrast the imposing Alps dramatically. Don’t miss the famous Swiss chocolate!
No matter what time of the year it is, Paris, France, will always be the "City of Light". It is easy to avoid the winter temperatures by visiting sights like Musée de Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Rodin, Centre Pompidou and Versailles, among many others. Not only will they be comfortably warm, but they’ll be much less crowded than during summer. Of course, do not miss enjoying the exterior sights of Paris like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Élysées and many more. Just make sure to wear warm clothing.
Prague may have harsh winters, but if you’re willing to brave the colder climate of the Czech Republic, you’ll have the opportunity to experience some of the most magical Christmas markets in Europe and some of the best classical concerts – and without the crowds!
Prague’s picturesque architecture, surroundings and many charms transform from its famous bohemian summer aura to a fascinating fairytale-like city with snow topped cathedrals, castle, bridges, towers and other historic buildings. No matter which time of the year you go, the city finds ways to awe almost every visitor.
So pack your fuzzy and warm winter clothing to get these unforgettable winter experiences.
What other city you think should be added to the list?
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Norbert Figueroa is an architect who hit the pause button on his career in 2011 to do a round the world trip. He's been blogging for over three years at globotreks.com, where he shares his travel experiences, budget travel tips, and a good dose of world architecture. From hiking Mount Kilimanjaro to diving with great white sharks, he is always on the search of adrenaline and adventure. Norbert is originally from Puerto Rico and he is currently based in Milan, Italy... when not roaming around the world, that is. He has traveled to more than 80 countries in 5 continents and his goal is to travel to all 193 U.N. recognized countries. Follow Norbert on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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