Full guide to spending Christmas in Europe (for 2023)

Vienna, Austria - December 03, 2019: Wooden kiosk with traditional homemade sweets and cookies on annual Christmas market held in different parts of the Vienna, Austria.

Is there anything more magical than spending Christmas in Europe?

Christmas markets, lit with thousands of fairy lights, spring up in cities around the continent. 

The air seems to be permanently scented with mulled wine.

Whether you’re in the mountains or the medieval villages, Christmas envelops the atmosphere.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or not; the sense of joy around this time of year is palpable, wherever you are in Europe. 

But, while a European Christmas should be on every avid traveller’s bucket list, there are quite a few important things to know before heading to the continent in December! 

I’m a European local, and have spent many a Christmas both in the UK (where I’m from) and travelling around the continent. 

So, I know all there is to know about Europe during Christmastime! 

Here’s my full guide. 

Table of Contents

History of Christmas Celebrations in Europe

Gingerbread Hearts Merry Christmas

Christmas festivities in Europe can trace their roots back to ancient winter solstice celebrations.

These found their way into early Christian rituals. 

In the Middle Ages, Germany and Austria started the tradition of Christmas markets.

The same era witnessed the emergence of Spain’s “Los Reyes Magos” processions. 

Moving to the 13th century, Italy introduced the ‘Presepe’ or nativity scenes, with St. Francis of Assisi creating the first one in 1223.

The Victorian era in the United Kingdom added its own charm with traditions like carol singing, festive crackers, and Christmas cards.

In the northern regions of Europe, older pagan practices, such as the Yule log and the burning of a Yule goat, were integrated into Christian narratives, adding a unique Scandinavian flavour.

Meanwhile, Eastern Europe embraced Orthodox Christian traditions, featuring grand Christmas Eve liturgies and elaborate twelve-dish suppers.

Best places to visit during Christmas in Europe

So, you’re planning a trip to Europe during Christmas.

Great idea!

But where exactly is best to go?

As a European, here are my top picks for places to visit during the festive period.

1. Nuremberg

One of the most beautiful landmarks in Nuremberg - Schöner Brunnen in the foreground, and the Frauenkirche in the background, pictured during Traditional Christmas market in the town.

Bavaria’s second-largest city, Nuremberg is a vibrant hub of over half a million residents.

History’s at every step here; admire the medieval Imperial Castle, along with Weissgerbergasse street with authentic wooden facades. 

There’s also lots of more sombre World War Two history here. 

The city comes alive in the Christmas season, hosting one of the globe’s most visited markets. 

As the last days of November tick away, Nuremberg unveils a cornucopia of stalls, brimming with a delightful array of charming Christmas decorations – with handcrafted gifts and local culinary treats.

Don’t miss trying the delectable Nuremberg gingerbread cookies

Throughout the Christmas Market days, the city stages a variety of artistic performances, including nativity plays, scenes, historic stalls and parades with thousands of lights. 

2. Vienna

Traditional christmas market in Vienna, Austria

Starting from mid-November, the grand square beneath Vienna‘s Town Hall becomes the setting for the beloved Christkindlmarkt, also known as the Vienna Christmas market. 

Hundreds of vibrant stalls dot the square, offering an array of delectable local cuisine, an impressive collection of Christmas goods such as candles, Christmas tree ornaments, and a variety of arts and crafts. 

Should the pre-Christmas shopping frenzy ever prove overwhelming, escape to the spectacular Mariahilferstrasse, Vienna’s renowned shopping street.

At the heart of the Christkindlmarkt, the Wiener Eistraum is a majestic ice rink, surrounded by the romantic glow of the illuminated City Hall Park. 

Visiting with kids? A Christmas square equipped with carousels, a Ferris wheel, and a slide is all set to entertain them.

During Advent weekends, the Vienna City Hall offers a musical prelude to Christmas, hosting the International Advent Singing. 

Here, choirs from around the globe serenade audiences with Christmas and Advent songs in a variety of styles, from gospel to folk-inspired melodies.

3. Strasbourg

Buildings near Strasbourg Cathedral before Christmas - France

Holding the distinguished title of France’s Christmas capital, Strasbourg, the heart of Alsace, comes into its own during the festive season.

The city becomes a spectacle of lavish decorations and imaginative lighting each year, as the entire city centre is taken over by the country’s oldest Christmas market.

Over the course of five weeks, nearly two million visitors flock to the city, drawn by the daily performances, choir concerts, and chamber ensemble recitals held in various churches and auditoriums. 

The city’s central square is adorned with an awe-inspiring, 30-metre-high Christmas tree, dressed in a dazzling array of colourful ornaments. 

Even without a thick blanket of snow, the wafting aroma of cloves, almonds, and mulled wine is a constant reminder of the imminent arrival of Christmas.

The vibrant decorations and hundreds of twinkling lights transform Strasbourg into something straight out of a fairytale, giving the Alsatian capital an ethereal glow. 

No other city in the country can match the warmth and festive cheer of Strasbourg, a unique blend of German and French traditions that truly embodies the spirit of Christmas!

4. London

London, UK - December 30, 2015: Christmas lights decoration at Oxford street and lots of people walking during the Christmas sale, public transport, buses and taxies

As the festive season sweeps over London, it breathes a magical warmth into the city’s chilly, dim winter atmosphere. 

England may not be famed for its traditional Christmas markets, yet London’s city centre is generously sprinkled with them.

Winter Wonderland, perhaps the most well-known of these, is a treasure trove of delights with exhilarating rides and a bounty of stalls offering delectable treats.

My favourite part of Winter Wonderland is the Bavarian village, where you can enjoy a bite of traditional German bratwurst, ( or veggie alternatives!). It’s a slice of German Christmas right in the heart of London!

5. Edinburgh

aerial view of Edinburgh with princess street and Edinburgh castle (old town) covered in Snow in Edinburgh, Scotland

December in Scotland may be marked by short days and often dreary weather, but the Scots have turned Christmas into a luminous celebration to combat the gloom. Trust me, nobody does it better! 

At the Edinburgh fair, you can savour traditional Christmas dishes, warming up with a glass of mulled wine or cider. 

Try European cuisine with French fondue, Spanish churros and German bratwurst; or opt for Scottish haggis instead! 

The fair houses stalls laden with Christmas decorations and gifts are perfect for last-minute Christmas shopping. 

Post-feasting, head over to the ice rink or the mini funfair designed to delight the young ones. 

For older guests, a grand chain carousel offers a breathtaking view of Edinburgh’s panorama. 

Snow’s not likely, but it’s magical nonetheless!

6. Cabeça

Known as “Cabeça, Aldeia Natal” in Portuguese, or “Cabeça, the Christmas Village”, this destination has earned global renown for its entirely natural Christmas decorations.

Its remote location in Portugal, perched on a winding granite hill surrounded by mountains and valleys, is part of its unique charm.

Christmas time in Cabeça is an enchanting period when the residents make full use of their privileged location. 

Each year, the 200 villagers transform their homes in the Serra de Estrela mountain range into a rustic festive spectacle, illuminating their buildings with countless lights and ornaments.

As well as its splendid decoration, Portugal’s Christmas Village hosts a range of events for visitors. 

These include choral concerts, craft workshops, and cooking classes. 

Expect a warm, festive atmosphere, traditional food, and handmade crafts awaiting your arrival on the winding mountain roads of Serra da Estrela!

7. Tenerife

Aerial view with Puerto de la Cruz, in background Teide volcano, Tenerife island, Spain

Fancy a warmer Christmas? Choose Tenerife!

This sun-kissed island defies the traditional snowy backdrop often associated with Christmas – but you’ll see that the festive spirit certainly prevails! 

During December, cities across Tenerife become a riot of colours and lights. 

While the temperatures stay balmy, the streets come alive with musicians, carol singers, parades, and street artists after dusk falls each day.  

Celebrating Christmas in Tenerife certainly breaks away from the usual!

Christmas Day sees families gather for a sumptuous dinner before heading out to the Midnight Mass. 

Here, you’ll witness a unique ceremony featuring people dancing in traditional costumes before a depiction of Jesus. 

In Santa Cruz, Tenerife’s capital, indulge in an open-air concert under the twinkling starlit sky. 

The day’s celebrations are crowned with spectacular fireworks displays across the island.

8. Prague

Prague down town center at winter Christmas time, classical view on snowy roofs in central part of city.

Is there anywhere quite as Christmassy as Prague? 

Imagine stepping into a village with charming red-roofed houses – that’s what the traditional Christmas market feels like. 

Here, indulge in Christmas shopping, picking up decorations, crafts, and unique gifts. 

Workshops take place under a glowing Christmas tree. 

The market bustles with activities and as the evening draws in, school choirs fill the square with the sweet harmonies of carols.

Prague’s global reputation as a city of music is on full display during Christmas. 

The city resonates with performances from choirs, orchestras, and dancers showcasing their talents. 

The festive season witnesses an upswing in the number of shows scheduled in various theatres like the National Theatre of Prague or Karlin Theatre. 

Classic performances, such as the renowned Nutcracker Ballet and Swan Lake, assure an unforgettable cultural experience. 

9. Wrocław

Aerial view of Ostrow Tumski with church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew from Cathedral of St. John in the winter snowy morning in Wroclaw, Poland

Wrocław, with its enchanting landscapes and whimsical dwarf figurines nestled amid vibrant architecture, delights visitors throughout the year. 

However, when the streets begin to twinkle with endless decorations and the aroma of spices wafts through the air, the city’s allure escalates exponentially!

Amid the forest-fresh scent of Christmas trees, the comforting aromas of mulled wine and chocolate gingerbread, the city brims with attractions and surprises.

Solny Square transforms annually into a bustling marketplace. 

The stall offerings range from cloud-like puff waffles, crisp potato pancakes, and baked hams, to distinct halva, highland cheese, and chocolate gingerbread. 

In the mix, you’ll also find unique Ukrainian ceramics, rustic wooden Christmas decorations, and natural cosmetics. 

On holiday weekends, the square pulsates with the energy of youthful artistic performances, the melodious strains of Christmas concerts, and mesmerising magic shows. 

10. Lake Bled

Amazing sunrise at the lake Bled in winter, Slovenia, EuropeAmazing sunrise at the lake Bled in winter, Slovenia, Europe

Lake Bled, with its natural charm enhanced by the neighbouring Postojna Cave, stands as the crowning jewel of Slovenia. 

The town gets its name from the signature lake where Blejski Otok, a petite island, is the home of an iconic baroque church. 

Come winter, the lake resembles a scene straight out of a postcard.

The Bled Winter Fairytale, as the local Christmas Market is fondly known, sets up camp on the Lakeside Promenade. 

Here, wooden stalls, bedecked with a constellation of twinkling lights, play host to a broad variety of festive goodies.

From enticing food and warming drinks to charming gifts and handcrafted trinkets, there’s something to put a sparkle in everyone’s eyes here!

For those keen on venturing into the heart of Slovenia’s pristine nature, Bled is strategically located. 

The 1.6-kilometre long Vintgar Gorge, the magnificent Triglav National Park, and Lake Bohinj, the country’s largest natural permanent lake, are all within easy reach. 

Are you a thrill seeker? You won’t be left out – the region is a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. 

From skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and ice-climbing, the possibilities are endless!

11. Bucharest

Wooden traditional Christmas houses in the market of Bucharest, in winter holiday, Romania

The winter chill of Bucharest may seem formidable (although its winters are nowhere near as cold as they used to be!) but the warm, twinkling glow of the Christmas Markets on Constitution Square will mkae you forget about your chilly feet! 

In the Romanian capital, an array of Christmas markets await you, boasting everything from merry-go-rounds and ice-skating rinks to a cornucopia of Romanian culinary treasures and handmade traditional crafts.

Indulge in Romanian cuisine, whether it be sweet bread, homemade jams, cakes or even the traditional Romanian dish known as mămăligă.

 This staple food, adored by locals and foreigners alike, is the perfect hearty meal to beat the winter chill.

Towering over the vibrant market scene is a colossal Christmas tree, standing sentinel by the open ice rink. 

If you’re visiting with kids, don’t miss the House of Santa Claus. 

Santa’s assistants are there to guide children in crafting their very own Christmas decorations. 

As the evening draws in, the marketplace resounds with the harmonious melodies of Christmas carols. 

These performances, held every evening, are the perfect cap to a day spent in this magical, festive wonderland.

12. Bansko

Bansko, Bulgaria - February 3, 2022: Winter resort with ski lift gondola cabins and snow mountains and trees after snowfall

Bansko, perched 925 metres above sea level amidst the Pirin Mountains, is a destination of unrivalled charm and scenic beauty. 

Initially gaining fame as a ski resort, it now offers a myriad of attractions and activities throughout the year. 

But winter, undoubtedly, is when Bansko really comes alive.

Skiers and snowboarders flock to its pristine, snow-covered slopes spanning over 70 kilometers, with 13 lifts ready to whisk them to the mountaintop. 

Off-piste enthusiasts are also drawn to Bansko, for the excitement and adrenaline-pumping thrills it offers.

Once you’ve finished on the slopes, take a stroll through the cobbled streets of the Old Town; it’s like a step back in time. 

Christmas in Bansko is a spectacle. 

If you’re in the mood for relaxation, check in to one of the town’s numerous prestigious hotels; I’d recommend one with a spa. 

Despite the high-end offerings, Bansko remains affordable, making it the perfect choice for a Christmas getaway – but do book early to avoid dissappointment. 

13. Tallinn

Part of the Tallinn Skyline in the winter showing St. Nicholas' Church, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and part of Town Hall Tower

Tallinn, Estonia’s enthralling capital, transforms when the darker days of the year set in. 

As the city is bathed in twinkling Christmas lights, the squares and streets come alive with magnificent Christmas trees – it was actually where the Christmas tree was supposedly first created. 

The heart of the festive action is in Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its beautifully preserved medieval architecture and charming cobbled streets. 

It’s a sight to behold at any time of the year, but takes on a special magic during the Christmas season.

Raekoja Square, the city’s central market since the Middle Ages, becomes the hub of Christmas celebrations. 

Festively adorned stalls pop up around the square, offering an array of local souvenirs, traditional Christmas decorations, and food and drinks.

Sample some Estonian Christmas specialities, including black pudding, sour cabbage, gingerbread, and a variety of flavoursome hot wines.

The Christmas spirit isn’t confined to culinary treats. 

If you’re in Estonia with younger visitors, there are merry-go-rounds and other engaging activities to keep them entertained. 

The city authorities work tirelessly to ensure a rich roster of events. 

There’s a large stage set up in front of the Christmas market, hosting an assortment of concerts and performances that add an extra touch of magic to the atmosphere.

14. Riga

Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is enchanting during the Christmas season. 

This Baltic gem is one of the largest in its region, and its distinct charm is magnified as the holidays approach. 

Visitors are drawn to its historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which enchants all with its beautiful squares, churches, and historic buildings.

Wandering the streets of Riga during this time will allow you to fully admire the unique architecture while also soaking in the festive atmospher – the city houses several notable museums such as the Riga Art Nouveau Centre and the Cosmos Illusion Museum.

Riga’s Christmas market is considered among the most popular in Europe. 

Luring visitors from across the continent every year, it’s set in the heart of the Old Town.

At the Christmas market, you can browse stalls selling traditional Latvian dishes, artisanal handicrafts, Christmas trees, and a wide array of festive decorations. 

And it’s only complemented by the aroma of delicious food wafting through the air and the sounds of cheerful conversation and Christmas carols!

When evening rolls in, the city transforms into an atmospheric wonderland; the old part of Riga especially takes on a magical aura. The city offers affordability alongside its festive charm, making it a delightful destination for holiday travelers.

15. Vilnius

Vilnius winter panorama from Gediminas castle tower. Vilnius. Lithuania

Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, is a destination perfect if you’re seeking an extraordinary Christmas experience. 

During December, the city undergoes a magical transformation, with stunning decorations and extraordinary Christmas markets making it one of the most picturesque in Europe.

The city’s main Christmas market is a spectacle to behold. 

All stalls are uniformly painted white, each booth offering something unique, whether it’s warm and delicious hot chocolate, aromatic mulled wine, large fluffy waffles, or the iconic crispy Lithuanian bread.

Another equally charming but smaller market is located at the Town Hall Square. 

This location is a popular meeting point for locals, as the Town Hall and the surrounding square frequently host interesting events. 

During the winter season, Vilnius provides a wealth of recreational opportunities, particularly for ice-skating and snow sports enthusiasts.

You’ll find indoor and outdoor ice rinks throughout the city, catering to skaters of various skill levels.

Do you prefer to hit the slopes? Liepkalnis hill, the highest in the city, is a prime destination for skiing. 

In the Liepkalnis winter park, you’ll find ten lifts and nine groomed runs. The ski runs cater to different skill levels and extend over a total length of 2.6 kilometres.

16. Rovaniemi

Reindeer with sledding in winter forest in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

Situated in Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi literally epitomises “winter wonderland”. 

Known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, it’s a place where the magic of Christmas is alive all year round – but especially in November and December! 

The festivities are centered on Santa Claus Village, where both young and old can meet Santa Claus himself!

Then there are the Arctic adventures. 

Whether it’s husky dog sledging, an adrenaline-fueled snowmobile tour, or ice floating on the chilling waters, there are plenty of unique activities here!

On clear winter nights, look up! 

The Northern Lights are frequent visitors to Rovaniemi; if you want a higher chance of seeing them, you could stay in a glass igloo or do a Northern Lights-focused tour. 

With various accommodations to suit all preferences, ranging from luxury lodges to quaint cabins, and even an ice hotel, Rovaniemi’s perfect for all.

17. Tromsø

Panoramic view of Tromso Norway Scandinavia Europe

Tromsø is another Arctic winter paradise.

Encircled by snowy mountains and under the enchanting display of the aurora borealis, Christmas in Tromsø feels magical. 

There’s so much to explore in Tromsø. 

Stroll around the Old Town, the harbour, the Polar Museum, the Old Town Cathedral, and the Arctic Cathedral. 

And don’t miss Mack Brewery, one of the highest in the world. 

Tromsø-region is an ideal destination for those who wish to mix Christmas shopping and dining with traditional activities. 

Embark on a reindeer sledging adventure through snow-blanketed landscapes and try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. 

If you’re visiting Tromsø in December, there will be no shortage of festive activities such as seeing reindeer, going dog sledging, or browsing the local Christmas market!

Each year, Tromsø’s city centre streets are festooned with a multitude of Christmas decorations. 

It’s dark – polar nights season – but this only imbues the town with a cosy and intimate atmosphere. 

After your adventures, warm up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate or a Christmas speciality – “gløgg”, a spiced, alcoholic mulled wine.

Where to spend Christmas day in Europe? 

"n"nPicture of the stalls of a candy christmas market displaying candies on loose, of various types, such as lollipops, gummy bears and other sugar variations during winter time in Belgrade, Serbia.

Are you visiting Europe in the Christmas period, and wondering where to spend the day itself? Here are some ideas, depending on what type of trip you’re looking for: 

  • Belgrade, Serbia: Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7th, which means that on December 25th, the usual vibrant city life continues. Cafes, restaurants, and many attractions remain open for visitors.
  • Rovaniemi, Finland: Known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi offers an immersive Christmas experience. On Christmas Day, you can visit Santa Claus Village or indulge in outdoor activities such as reindeer sleigh rides, husky sledging, or go on a Northern Lights tour.
  • London, England: Despite many shops and restaurants being closed, London’s stunning parks and open spaces remain accessible for a pleasant Christmas Day stroll. Some tours, like the famous open-top bus tours, operate even on Christmas Day.
  • Budapest, Hungary: Although many businesses close on Christmas Day, you can still enjoy the city’s thermal baths, which are usually open. Also, exploring the city’s beautifully decorated streets and landmarks, like the Chain Bridge or Buda Castle, is a magical way to spend the day!
  • Prague, Czech Republic: Prague on Christmas Day is ideal for those looking to enjoy the city’s stunning architecture and landmarks without the usual crowds. While most businesses will be closed, you can still explore areas like the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, or climb up to Prague Castle for an awe-inspiring view of the city.

What is the weather like in Europe In December?

December, 2021. Seville, Spain. Visitors at mobile park with iluminated ferris wheel, other atractions and food stands.

The weather in Europe in December can vary greatly depending on the region. 

Europe’s diverse geography means it experiences everything from snowy winter conditions in the north and central regions to milder, sometimes even warm weather in the south. Here’s a breakdown by region:

Northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)

December is typically quite cold in Northern Europe, with average temperatures often below freezing.

It’s also the season for long nights and short days, with some areas experiencing Polar Night where the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all.

Expect lots of snow, especially in the inland and mountainous areas.

Central Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia)

In Central Europe, December usually marks the start of the winter season. You can expect colder weather with temperatures that often hover around freezing, though it can drop below, especially at night. Snow is common, particularly in mountainous regions.

Western Europe (UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany) 

The weather in Western Europe during December can be quite variable.

Generally, it’s quite cold, especially in the northern parts, but temperatures rarely drop below freezing during the day.

Snow is common in the Alpine regions, but it’s rare in most of the UK and Ireland.

Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus)

Southern Europe typically enjoys milder winters.

In December, temperatures can range from 10°C to 16°C during the day.

While it’s too cold for a beach holiday, it’s often still comfortable enough for sightseeing and exploring.

Snow is rare in these regions, except in mountainous areas.

Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria) 

Eastern Europe can be bitterly cold in December, especially the more east you go.

Expect snow and freezing temperatures in parts of the continent!

Southeastern Europe/Balkans (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Greece)

Winters here are typically milder compared to Northern or Eastern Europe.

In December, temperatures usually range from 5°C to 15°C.

Snowfall is possible, especially in the interior and mountainous areas, but it’s generally not as common or as heavy as in other regions.

How expensive are European Christmas destinations?

Wooden hand made Christmas decorations on a Christmas market in Krakow, Poland.

The cost of European Christmas destinations can vary significantly depending on the country, city, and specific activities you choose.

Here’s a breakdown of different regions and common expenses you might encounter:

Northern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)

Northern European countries tend to have a higher cost of living compared to other regions. Accommodation, transport, and dining out can be relatively expensive.

However, if you plan well in advance and avoid peak travel dates, you’ll find reasonably priced accommodations and take advantage of budget-friendly attractions.

Central Europe (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia)

Central Europe offers a range of Christmas markets and festive experiences generally at good value prices. Accommodation costs, dining, and activities can vary, so it’s essential to research and compare prices in each specific location.

Western Europe (UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria)

Western European countries have a diverse range of Christmas destinations with varying costs.

Major cities like London and Paris can be more expensive, especially during the holiday season, and Switzerland in particular is very expensive.

Accommodation, dining out, and popular attractions can come with higher price tags.

However, smaller towns and cities in these countries may offer more budget-friendly options.

Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus)

Southern European destinations tend to be more affordable during the Christmas season compared to other regions.

Prices for accommodation, dining, and attractions can be reasonable, especially in Portugal, Greece, and some parts of Spain.

Italy may have higher costs, particularly in popular tourist cities like Rome or Florence.

Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria)

Eastern European countries generally offer more budget-friendly options for Christmas travel.

Accommodation, dining, and transportation costs tend to be lower compared to Western or Northern Europe.

Christmas markets and festive activities in cities like Sofia or Bucharest can be enjoyable without breaking the bank!

Common expenses in European Christmas destinations 

Wroclaw, Poland. Winter traveling background with famous Christmas Market of Europe.

Common expenses in European Christmas destinations include:

  • Accommodation: Costs can vary depending on the location, type of accommodation, and season. Consider options such as hotels, hostels, or vacation rentals to find the best value for your budget.
  • Dining: Sampling local cuisine and dining out is a significant part of the travel experience. Prices range from budget-friendly street food or casual eateries to upscale restaurants. Look for local dining recommendations or explore markets and food stalls to try delicious, affordable dishes.
  • Transport: Traveling between cities or within a city may involve expenses for flights, trains, buses, or taxis. To save money, spend some time researching transport options and consider using public transport systems, which are often more cost-effective.
  • Activities and attractions: Entrance fees for museums, Christmas markets, and special events can vary. Some attractions may offer discounted rates during the Christmas season, so it’s worth checking in advance. Additionally, some cities offer free or low-cost festive activities such as light displays, concerts, or ice skating.

How to get around during your Christmas trip in Europe

Illuminated underground metro station, public transport in Prague, Czech Republic, departing train from the station.

There are plenty of transport methods for getting around Europe – even in December – and the journey is often as fun as the destination! 

Here are some of the main methods of travel: 


Flying between destinations is convenient, especially for covering long distances or reaching different countries quickly. 

Advantages include speed, especially for intercontinental travel, and accessibility to major cities. 

However, flights can be more expensive compared to other modes of transport, especially during the holiday season. 

Book flights well in advance to secure the best deals and flexibility.


Train travel is my favourite way to explore Europe.

The advantages of train travel include scenic routes, comfort, and the ability to relax and enjoy the journey. 

Europe has an extensive rail network, connecting major cities and smaller towns. It’s often a more sustainable option compared to flying. 

However, train tickets can be pricey, especially for high-speed or long-distance journeys. 

Booking in advance and considering rail passes or discounted fares can help save money.

Although it was taken in summer, check out my Swiss train travel video below:


Buses are an affordable way to travel between cities and even countries within Europe. 

Advantages include lower costs, flexibility, and frequent departures. 

Many budget-friendly bus companies operate throughout Europe, providing comfortable and reliable services. 

However, bus journeys can be longer and less comfortable compared to trains or flights, especially for extended trips.

Car Rentals

Renting a car provides flexibility and freedom to explore at your own pace. 

It’s an excellent option for exploring rural areas or regions with limited public transport. 

Advantages include convenience, accessibility to remote areas, and the ability to customize your itinerary. 

However, consider factors such as traffic, parking fees, and fuel costs. 

Keep in mind that driving in unfamiliar cities may be challenging, and some urban areas have congestion charges or restricted zones.

Don’t want to drive yourself? Check out BlaBlaCar, a ride-sharing app.

Public Transport

Public transport systems such as metros, trams, and buses are efficient and cost-effective for getting around within cities. 

Advantages include affordability, extensive coverage, and frequent service. 

Public transport is a great option for exploring city attractions, especially during peak travel periods when parking can be challenging. 

Familiarize yourself with local transport networks and purchase travel cards or passes for convenience.

Walking and Cycling

Exploring on foot or by bicycle allows you to immerse yourself in the local atmosphere, especially in compact city centres or pedestrian-friendly areas. 

Advantages include cost savings, health benefits, and the opportunity to discover hidden gems. 

Walking and cycling provide a slower-paced and more intimate experience. However, consider weather conditions, distances, and safety precautions, especially during winter months.

Christmas in Europe FAQs

Bradenburg Gate with Christmas tree at winter day with falling snow, Berlin, Germany

What is the best European city to visit in December?

There are many great European cities to visit in December, but some popular options include Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Strasbourg, which are known for their enchanting Christmas markets and festive atmospheres.

Which city is the most beautiful at Christmas?

Many cities in Europe are stunning during Christmas, but some renowned for their beauty include Strasbourg in France, Salzburg in Austria, Cologne in Germany, and Tallinn in Estonia, with their charming architecture, festive decorations, and magical atmosphere.

How is Christmas celebrated in Europe?

Christmas celebrations in Europe vary by country and region, but common traditions include decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, attending church services, enjoying festive meals with family and friends, and participating in local customs like carolling, nativity plays, and Christmas markets.

What is the most Christmassy place in Europe?

Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland is often considered one of the most Christmassy places in Europe. It is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus and offers a range of magical experiences, including visiting Santa Claus Village, witnessing the Northern Lights, and enjoying snowy landscapes.

Where is the Christmas Village in Europe?

One of the most popular Christmas Villages in Europe is located in Rovaniemi, Finland. Santa Claus Village is a charming place where visitors can meet Santa Claus, explore his post office, enjoy reindeer sleigh rides, and experience the enchanting Christmas spirit.

Where is the best place to spend Christmas?

The best place to spend Christmas depends on personal preferences.

Some popular destinations include Vienna for its magical Christmas markets, Lapland for an authentic winter wonderland experience, and cities like Prague, Strasbourg, and Cologne known for their festive atmosphere and beautiful Christmas decorations.

Why is Christmas on the 24th in Europe?

In some European countries, such as Germany, Austria, and many Nordic countries, Christmas Eve (December 24th) is traditionally the main day of celebration.

It dates back to religious customs where the celebration of the birth of Jesus begins on the evening of the 24th with a festive meal and gift-giving.

What is the capital of Christmas in Europe?

Strasbourg in France is often referred to as the capital of Christmas in Europe.

It hosts one of the oldest and most renowned Christmas markets in Europe, attracting visitors with its charming streets, festive decorations, and a rich tradition of Christmas celebrations.

Where is good to visit in Europe at Christmas?

Many European cities offer a delightful Christmas experience. Popular choices include Strasbourg, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Cologne, and Tallinn.

These cities are known for their festive markets, beautiful decorations, and cultural heritage, creating a magical atmosphere during the holiday season.

Do European countries celebrate Christmas?

Yes, Christmas is widely celebrated in European countries.

Each country has its own unique traditions and customs, but the holiday is generally observed with decorations, gift exchanges, festive meals, religious services, and various cultural festivities.

Christmas is an important and joyous time of the year across Europe!

Is Christmas celebrated on a different day in Europe?

Christmas is celebrated on different days in Europe due to varying traditions and religious calendars.

In most European countries, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th, following the Gregorian calendar.

However, some Eastern European countries with a significant Orthodox Christian population, such as Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Greece, follow the Julian calendar.

As a result, they celebrate Christmas on January 7th.

In some countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries, the main celebrations take place on December 24th – Christmas Eve.

Are you ready to celebrate Christmas in Europe? 

Classic postcard view of famous Hallstatt lakeside town in the Alps with traditional passenger ship on a beautiful cold sunny day with blue sky and clouds in winter, Salzkammergut region, Austria

As Christmas approaches, Europe comes alive with a myriad of festive celebrations and traditions. 

From the enchanting Christmas markets of Strasbourg to the magical winter wonderland of Lapland, each destination offers its unique charm and delights. 

Whether you prefer the joyful atmosphere of Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt or the historic beauty of Prague during the holiday season, Europe has something for everyone. 

So, grab a cup of mulled wine, immerse yourself in the twinkling lights, and let the spirit of Christmas in Europe enchant you!

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