We all love a summer holiday – the sunshine, the sand, the cocktails – but taking a trip in the winter can be just as fun. Getting wrapped up and exploring another city, town or coast is a delight during the winter months and there are some amazing places to stay across Europe. Read on to see some of our favourites.
1. Tallinn, Estonia
Winter in Estonia lasts from late November until late March and temperatures can dip to as low as minus 30 degrees centigrade. As long as you’re wrapped up warm, exploring the capital, Tallinn, is a real delight. Stroll through the Old Town which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it’s one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, warm up in one of 60 museums in the city or climb St Olaf’s Church for fabulous views across the city to the sea.
2. Zugspitze Igloo Village, Germany
Truly embrace the winter spirit and stay in an igloo on top of Germany’s highest mountain. Stay over 2,600 metres above sea-level in the most popular ski region in Germany and take in the views across no less than four countries. Enjoy a spot of skiing, hit the spa or just snuggle up in your igloo with your holiday read and fully relax.
3. Bergen, Norway
In the winter, Bergen is an enchanting place to visit. Whether you’re strolling past the historic waterfront buildings of Bryggen, riding the funicular up to Mount Fløyen or taking a fjord cruise through the winding waterways surrounded by majestic mountains, you’ll be amazed at the natural beauty of the place. Be sure to visit Pepperkakebyen, the world’s largest gingerbread town, featuring thousands of gingerbread structures made by local school children which create a biscuit based replica of the city.
Iceland is a great place to visit over the winter. Whether your enjoying the new year’s eve celebrations in Reykjavik, bathing in the volcanic waters of the Blue Lagoon or gazing at the night sky to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, spending a winter break in Iceland is a magical experience.
Amsterdam is charming in the winter, with its sparkling festive lights, Christmas markets and frozen canals if the temperature dips enough. See Amsterdam illuminated with hundreds of creative light installations at the annual Light Festival, enjoy a spot of ice-skating outside Rijksmuseum and warm up with coffee and pancakes in one of the city’s cafés. You can also visit some of the city’s world-famous art galleries and museums on their own little island, aptly named Museumplein.
6. Rovaniemi, Finland
Just outside the small city of Rovaniemi in Finland, is Santa Claus Village, the official home of Father Christmas. Enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride, get a special stamp in your passport and meet the big guy himself! Located in the Artic Circle, make sure you wrap up warm to ward off the freezing temperatures.
7. Interlaken, Switzerland
Interlaken in Switzerland is the ideal place to enjoy winter sports and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. The town sits in a valley and enjoys all the facilities you would expect of an authentic Swiss town with great links to the alpine peaks which surround it. Ride the highest railway in Europe up to Jungfraujoch, explore the St Beatus Caves which have been there since the 6th century or enjoy some thrilling winter sports like skiing and snowboarding against the awe-inspiring backdrop. Then warm up with bubbling cheese fondue or raclette after a day spent exploring.
8. Copenhagen, Denmark
The Danes love their hygge, and you will find cosiness and comfort in abundance if you visit in winter. The famous Tivoli Gardens become even more mesmerising in winter, with dazzling lights, Christmas markets and festive foods. Visit the colourful 17th century waterfront buildings of Nyhavn and enjoy a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants there. Go ice-skating at Frederiksberg Runddel, take a day trip to nearby Kronberg Castle or relax in one of the city’s relaxing saunas. Then head back to your hotel, get your cosy slippers on, your holiday book in hand and indulge in some truly hygge relaxation.
9. Blois, Loire River
The hillside city which looks over the Loire River is the perfect place for a winter break. Stroll the cobbled streets, visit the grand Gothic cathedral and explore the former royal palace, Château Royal de Blois, which displays artwork from the 16th to the 19th century. Why not drive 30 minutes to visit Château de Chambord and explore its vast gardens via a horse-drawn carriage for a fairytale.
Enjoy some warming Beef Bourguignon, washing down with a rich French red wine, or for a real treat book yourself a table at the Michelin-starred restaurant L’Orangerie du Château.
10. Lake Bled, Slovenia
This alpine lake becomes a winter wonderland during winter. Flanked by the snow-capped Julian Alps, the clifftop castle and island church reflect off the glassy water of the lake, creating a fairy tale scene which wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film. Indulge in the local speciality of Bled Cake, a rich cream cake which complements a hot chocolate perfectly. Climb to the castle or take a pletna boat to the island Church of the Assumption of Maria for beautiful views across the lake and forests beyond.
DFDS run several routes across Europe. Find out more here.