The magic of Christmas in Europe brings about an abundance of fantastic things to do, taste and see! From white, fluffy snow in the Swiss Alps, to sipping on Belgian hot chocolate at a roadside café or, wandering through a Christmas Market in Germany. Europe is the one continent where you can truly celebrate the wonder of winter.
If you’re feeling adventurous and thinking about travelling to Europe this winter and over Christmas, stop thinking and start planning! Here are Expat Explore’s 5 most favourite things about Christmas time in Europe to entice your travelling spirit…
Winters are lovely for those wanting a movie-like white Christmas! Depending on where in Europe you are exactly, you have a pretty good chance of seeing some snow – particularly if you’re headed anywhere near the Alps! Switzerland is breathtakingly beautiful at the best of times. But a snowy landscape at Christmas time is sure to set hearts aglow, even those with the most Grinch-like views of Christmas! Have a snow fight, make a snowman, or just sit back and enjoy the incredible beauty of it all.
Snow, snow and more snow in a Swiss Valley in the Alps. Isn’t it breathtaking?
Snow activities in Switzerland!
2. Gluhwein OR hot chocolate
Yes, we chose hot drinks as one of the main reasons to visit Europe in winter! Simply because European countries are the experts when it comes to café culture. In countries like France, Germany, Belgium or the Czech Republic you can find cafés and coffee bars in any shape or form. They lure you in on street corners, in alleyways or overlooking squares with century-old buildings, statues and fountains. Sitting in the midst of locals, sipping a cup of hot chocolate is something we can get lyrical about! Flavored teas from all over the world, beautifully rich, creamy cappuccinos and delectable hot chocolate is a winter experience in itself.
European spiced, hot wine is also one of those indispensable winter companions, and it can only be found over the Christmas season. Whether you’re in France, Germany, or anywhere else in Europe, find local mulled wine at a Christmas Market – it’s like festive cheer in a cup!
Visit a local café to warm up during winter in Europe.
Belgian hot chocolate enjoyed with waffles, of course (top left and right); Italian espresso (bottom left), mulled wine at a Christmas Market (bottom right).
Related: exploring Europe’s coffee culture in winterFind out everything you need to know about .
3. Markets and festivals
Many cities in Europe host Christmas festivals and markets. Whether you’re after something special for a loved one’s Christmas stocking, or you’re just eager to soak up that festive spirit, don’t miss markets in places like Paris, Bruges, Interlaken, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam and more!
Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany.
Stockholm, Sweden (top left) Prague, Czech Republic (top right ); Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London (bottom left), Vienna’s magnificent Christmas Village at Maria-Theresien Platz (bottom right)
Related: Take a look at Europe’s best Christmas markets here!
4. Winter food
Depending on the region, there are a range of rich winter delicacies to indulge in. From fondue or raclette in alpine France and Switzerland, and waffles in Belgium to venison and roasted chestnuts in other parts of Europe, there’s usually something yummy on the go in every city you visit! Winter and Christmas treats are reason enough to travel to Europe over the winter months!
Roasted Chestnuts (top left); Waffle with chocolate and cream in Belgium (top right); Swiss fondue in the Alps (bottom left) and Raclette cheese and potatoes (bottom right)
5. The great indoors!
Theaters, opera houses, museums, book shops, palaces, cathedrals, shopping malls – we can keep going? When the weather turns chilly, Europe offers an abundance of indoor activities that are ideal to visit in the winter. And the best part? It gets dark earlier, so you can see them all lit up!
Old Library of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (top left); the beautiful State Opera in Vienna, Austria (top right); the Book of Kells Exhibition at Trinity College in Dublin (bottom left); Kobayashi Ken-Ichiro and IKEDA Riyoko collaboration concert in Budapest (bottom right)
Evening view of the National Theater in Prague, Czech Republic.
Oxford, UK. You might recognise the Bodleian Library from Harry Potter films.
Related: librariesFeast your eyes on the most beautiful theatres and in Europe and the world!
There’re no two-ways about it. Europe is festive in winter and it’s one of the best places to spend Christmas and New Years Eve! Everyone should experience it at least once in their lives. It’s not too late to book an unforgettable trip to Europe over Christmas and New Years. Find out more about our delightful European Christmas and New Year tours .