25 best places to visit in Europe in December

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

There’s no better place than Europe in December. 

Sure, the days might be short and the weather a little on the chilly side (although it’s warmer in the south!), but festive celebrations are in full swing. 

Whether you want to embrace the cold weather in Lapland or enjoy both sunny weather and Christmas traditions in the south, there are hundreds of festive destinations to visit. 

Plus, December’s the start of the ski season in Europe, with mountain ranges all over Europe – from the Alps to Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains – welcoming snow-happy tourists in their droves. 

Not a fan of the festive season? There are even some destinations where you won’t notice the holiday spirit much, that focus more on nature, winter sunshine or snowsports. 

I asked some other travel experts to recommend some of the best places to visit in Europe in December, so whether you fancy a festive break, somewhere snowy or some sunshine, you’ll find it on this list! 

Places to visit in Europe in December for Christmas celebrations

December’s not all about Christmas, but it’s a large part! 

Christmas markets fling open their doors at the start of the month (some even at the end of November); cities and towns all over the continent twinkle with fairy lights. 

Visit Rovameni to see Santa Claus, or stroll around some of Germany’s best festive markets

Most major cities in Europe have some sort of winter activity in December; but here are some of the best. 

Read on to discover the most Christmassy places to visit in Europe! 

1. Rovameni, Finland

Dog sledding through snowy landscapes in Rovameni, Finalnd.

It’s hard to find a destination better suited for December than Rovameni, Finland. 

Located in Lapland, the city is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus!

At Santa Claus Village you can meet Santa, explore the Post Office (and mail a postcard – for this year or next!), see his squad of reindeer and enjoy a photo opportunity with the giant snowman!

There are plenty of other things to do in Rovaniemi in the winter: snowmobiling, reindeer sledding, and dog sledding are among some of the best!

Snow is frequent, and temperatures are often well below freezing; you can actually cross the Arctic Circle in Rovameni!

Another reason to visit in December, thanks to the long winter nights, is the high chance to see the Northern Lights (also called Aurora Borealis). 

Venture outside the city, away from light pollution, and be amazed by the vibrant colors dancing in the sky.

If Mother Nature allows, you may be able to see them in the city as well.

For an uninterrupted view, consider staying in a glass igloo, which are kitted out with alarms that wake you up if the Northern Lights are visible – and you can see them while warm in bed! 

By Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveller

2. Óbidos

Festive town of Obidos, Portugal, in December, with festive lighting in the streets.

Portugal might not be the first place you consider when looking for a Christmassy atmosphere – but Óbidos is actually one of the most festive places in Portugal

Óbidos is a beautiful place to visit all year round, with its Medieval castle walls being the main attraction, along with its cobbled streets and colourful homes. 

But the Christmas village is undoubtedly a highlight. With festive decorations, an ice rink and stalls selling hot cocoa, the Christmas Village in Óbidos `Vila Natal` starts annually around the end of November until the first week of January.

There are many activities for children, including the chance to visit Santa!

Portugal still has a pleasant climate in winter, but due to the humidity in Óbidos, it can be blistering cold, so do wrap up.

It won’t snow, but chilly Atlantic winds are possible. Luckily there are plenty of cosy restaurants and places to enjoy a hot drink. 

Sitting just an hour’s drive from Lisbon, it’s an ideal side trip from the capital. 

Despite the Christmas market, Óbidos is much quieter in winter compared to the high season in summer; so you can enjoy the walled city in peace! 

By Marga from Discover Portugal

3. Tallinn, Estonia

Central Market in Tallinn before Christmas with a giant Christmas tree in the middle

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a fantastic winter destination – especially in December.

In December, the entire city is adorned with Christmas lights and decorations.

The Old Town Square includes a large Christmas market selling traditional handicrafts.

Tallinn even claims to be the birthplace of the Christmas tree tradition – with a large Christmas tree at its center!

December usually sees the first snow in Tallinn, the white-dusted streets and serene rooftops only add more charm to the city’s historic old town – which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

December can be freezing in Tallinn and days are short.

Luckily there are a good number of indoor activities!

You can visit a traditional Estonian sauna, try Estonian food in one of the cozy restaurants or learn more about the country’s intriguing history under Soviet occupation in one of the city’s excellent museums such as the Vabamu museum, the TV tower or the KGB prison cells.

December is a quiet month in Tallinn with fewer tourists around, making prices more budget-friendly than during the peak summer months.

By Ellis from Backpack Adventures

4. Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava Castle with a Christmas tree in the foreground

December time in Bratislava is magical, as the festive feeling flows through the Slovakian capital.

The famous Christmas markets should be first on your Bratislava itinerary.

Here you can try local delicacies such as the famous Bryndzové Halušky and Lokse – both are unique potato dishes with different twists.

Bryndzové Halušky is a savoury flavour, however, the Lokse is sweet and usually served with Nutella or honey. 

You can’t visit Bratislava without a trip to the castle, an iconic landmark in the city that dates back centuries.

The castle is a prominent feature of the capital, as it overlooks the whole city from its position upon a hill.

Another architectural delight in the city is the Church of St Elizabeth, which is unique due to its bright blue colour and Art Nouveau style design.

Visiting the church makes for a great free activity in Bratislava, and if you are lucky when visiting in December, it may be covered in snow!

By Tom from Tom Henty’s Travel

5. London, England

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

London’s a little chilly in December (although nowhere near as much as places further north in Europe!), but it remains a highlight when it comes to festive destinations. 

The biggest city in Western Europe, London has an extensive selection of Christmas markets spanning across the city centre and suburbs (there’s even one in Bromley, the commuter-focused suburb I grew up in).

From Southbank to Winter Wonderland, you can virtually hear jingle bells and smell the mulled wine at every step in the British capital! 

Light displays are abundant throughout the capital; my favourite is the angels on Regent Street. 

If you’re Christmassed-out, there’s plenty more on offer in London too. 

London’s a fantastic city for a winter trip, thanks to its plethora of museums – the biggest and best of which are free. That’s right, you can walk around millennia of the earth’s past at the Natural History Museum or go back in British design history at the V&A museum without paying a penny!

Fancy a winter warmer? While British cuisine is typically the laughing stock of Europe, there’s no denying that you can find delicious food in London, largely thanks to its multicultural population.

Whether you’re craving ramen that tastes like it’s from downtown Tokyo or a classic curry – originally from India but that has merged with British flavours over the decades – London definitely delivers when it comes to its food scene. 

Outdoor activities, bar walking around Christmas markets and ice skating rinks, aren’t abundant in London itself in December, but there are plenty of winter day trips that you can take from the city to enjoy British nature. I highly recommend the seaside town of Brighton! 

 6. Hallstatt, Austria

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

If you’re looking to soak up all the wintertime magic in December, head to Hallstatt, a fairytale town in the Austrian Alps.

The town’s colorful gingerbread houses, perched between pine trees on mountain slopes, look charming year-round – but come December, though, they usually have lights, garland, and even icicles festooning their rafters.

You could spend hours wandering around its Old Town, taking in the stunning views of the adorable old buildings, the turquoise waters of Lake Hallstatt, and the snow-capped Alps.

Beyond its storybook village, there are plenty of things to do in Hallstatt to soak up holiday cheer.

For example, the town throws its own Christmas market on 8th December each year. 

You can warm up with a steaming mug of gluhwein; peruse the vendors’ stalls of wooden toys, hand-made ornaments, or cozy mittens; or admire the life-sized nativity set, hand-carved by a local carpentry school.

If you’re travelling with kids or simply want to maximize the Christmas vibes, visit the Hallstatt area the first weekend of Advent.

In the neighboring town of Obertraun, the children of the area gather on the shores of Lake Hallstatt at night, lit up only by candlelight.

Saint Nicholas himself will silently glide out ashore on a wooden boat; hand out small treats for the waiting crowd, like apples and oranges; and recite a Christmas poem.

And, as quickly as he arrived on shore, he’ll slip back into the night, only to be seen again the following December! 

By Jessica from Uprooted Traveller

7. Vilnius, Lithuania 

Vilnius winter panorama from Gediminas castle tower. Vilnius. Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania is the perfect winter city break for travellers who want to immerse themselves in a true European winter wonderland.

During December, the city is filled with bright holiday energy and festively decorated streets, shops, and restaurants. Coloured lights, Christmas trees, and glittering ornaments are just about everywhere you turn.

There are so many fun things to do in Vilnius, too!

Definitely check out the Vilnius Christmas market, in the center of town, where you can purchase unique gifts and souvenirs, like hand-knit gloves, ornaments, wooden toys, and amber jewels.

The weather in winter can be quite chilly, with temperatures dropping down to the single digits. And, beware – the sun will set as early as 4pm on some winter days.

However, the wintery chill and snow add an enchanting touch to the already charming city!

If it snows, you could try sledge riding down the Hill of Three Crosses!

Despite being less crowded at this time of year, Vilnius is anything but dull. The chill in the air, the snowfall, and the festive decorations and music make it all feel like a fairy tale.

By Monica from This Rare Earth 

8. Lugano, Switzerland

Christmas tree in Lugano

For a stunning but small location to visit in December in Europe, Lugano in Switzerland, located in the Ticino canton, could be your next destination!

Although it snows a lot in Swiss winter, don’t expect snowman-building weather here. 

Lugano can have a sprinkle of snow but mostly it’s just a little cold and sunny combined, making it great for a winter trip with sunshine!

During December, Lugano hosts a local Christmas market right in the city centre that has numerous stands selling local treats, festive drinks and wintery decorations/souvenirs.

Many cafes and restaurants also provide blankets and heaters to keep you warm while visiting.

When not visiting the Christmas markets and city, there are other local highlights, including a funicular to the top of Monte Brè for some wintery city scenery from above. The viewpoint is stunning and reachable for all.

Alternatively, book a visit to a local spa, such as at Villa Sassa, for some well-deserved chill time. 

Need to refuel after all that exploring? Don’t miss the highly-rated pizzeria Acqua e Farina. It’s such a great place for pizza that even locals find it hard to choose just one from the menu!

By Zoe from Together In Switzerland

9. Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf at Christmas, with brightly lit up carousel

With plenty of winter charm and festivities, it’s worth visiting Düsseldorf in December.

Renowned as the fashion capital of Germany, Dusseldorf is a vibrant and modern city, while still retaining its historical charm.

The modern and unique architecture stand in contrast to the 18th-century buildings, and are a highlight to see anytime of the year.

And while it doesn’t boast warm temperatures, Dusseldorf’s chilly climate adds to the festive atmosphere.

The Christmas Markets that are found throughout the city offer a variety of handcrafted gifts, delicious seasonal treats, and of course, mulled wine to sip.

With seven Christmas markets spread throughout the city, there are plenty of options to shop for that perfect gift and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Or head to Königsallee Boulevard, known as Kö to the locals, which is the city’s upscale shopping street. Here you’ll find designer boutiques, luxury brands and well-known shops.

Also worth visiting are Dusseldorf’s numerous museums, which offer a chance to escape from the weather and warm up indoors.

The Kunstpalast Museum boasts an impressive collection of classical and contemporary works, while the NRW Forum showcases experimental art and multimedia installations.

What makes Dusseldorf a great place to visit in December, is its perfect balance of holiday spirit without the overwhelming crowds found in larger cities.

By Erin from Wanderlust with Kids

10. Prague, Czechia

The beautiful Christmas tree and Tyn Church in the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is dreamy as it is, but it becomes all the more enchanting during the holiday season, perhaps with the first dusting of snow. 

Prague is pretty cold during December and snowfall gradually increases towards the end of the month.

The temperatures range between -3 to 2 degrees Celsius – but don’t worry, the festive air will keep you warm!

December is a month of celebration – yet the city is not as crowded as it is during the peak summer season.

Visit the Czech capital city in December to experience these celebrations, not as many tourists (although it is one of the most renowned European cities for its Christmas markets) and lower prices. 

Keep in mind that the prices do tend to go higher as Christmas approaches, so try to book in advance if you’re visiting later in December. 

While you’re exploring the stunning city, don’t miss Prague Castle. 

Home to the president of the Czech Republic, it has been the residence of several monarchs in the past.

It is one of the most impressive buildings in the Czech Republic and also has a lot of cultural and historical importance.

Also, don’t miss the many other beautiful and unique Prague monuments – the city has a ton of quirky architecture!

Don’t miss the Charles Bridge – every day in December, a lamp lighter dressed in historical clothes, lights the gas lamps on this bridge manually!

Then there are the enchanting Christmas markets in Prague.

These markets are filled with wooden toys, souvenirs, delicious food, winter clothing and much more.

The Old Town Square has some of the biggest Christmas markets with various musicians lighting up the atmosphere with their performances.

Try “Trdelnik”, a delicious pastry which you can find in any of the Christmas markets or “Svařák” a popular mulled wine.

Staying in Prague until New Year’s Eve? Good idea! It’s a popular destination right at the end of the year, with some incredible fireworks. You could even book a boat ride to watch the fireworks from the water!

By Lavina D’Souza from Continent Hop

11. Luxembourg

LUXEMBOURG CITY / DECEMBER 2019: Celebrating the Christmas time in the city

December in Luxembourg? Expect fewer tourists and a winter wonderland awaiting your arrival.

The month brings with it a shimmering blanket of snow, making Luxembourg a top contender for your European winter escape.

Dive into charming Christmas markets, where you’ll find festive magic minus the dense crowds.

While Luxembourg may be small in size, its offerings are vast and varied. Winter unveils affordable thrills—think exhilarating hikes, ice-skating, and scenic bike tours. Join the locals at Guillaume II’s ice rink, a winter favorite.

For a sprinkle of festive charm, meander through the Christmas markets. Iconic festive spots include Place De La Constitution and Place De Paris. And while you’re at it, treat your taste buds to traditional delights—smoked pork with beans and crispy potato fritters stand out.

No trip would be complete without a journey to the iconic Vianden Castle, where history and impressive architecture intertwine.

Wondering where to stay in Luxembourg? Consider Mama Shelter Luxembourg for a mid-range cost or Hotel Le Place d’Armes for luxurious a choice.

By Paulina from Paulina on the Road

12. Vienna, Austria


Vienna is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe to visit in December.

The entire city becomes a fairytale, dressed in festive lights, decorated with baubles and tinsel and filled with wonderful Christmas markets. 

The main attractions in December in the Austrian Capital are the Christmas Markets.

There are several big ones, located in front of the town hall, in the courtyard of Schonbrunn Palace, in front of Karl’s Church or at the Belvedere Palace, but also many small stalls which sell Mulled Wine all over the city.

In the markets, you’ll find many different traditional Austrian Christmas foods, as well as plenty of beautiful handmade decorations for the tree.

The main Christmas market, in front of the city hall, also features a large ice rink, where you can ice skate between giant decorations.

This is even more special at night when the lights in the trees surrounding it are all lit.

The weather in December in Vienna is generally very cold, so make sure to wear layers and thermals – especially if you want to spend time walking around the Christmas markets!

Snow and temperatures under 0 degrees are normal for this time of the year as well.

Need to warm up? Head to the smaller churches around the city centre – in the evenings they often host carol concerts!

By Joanna from The World in my Pocket

Skiing destinations in Europe in December

The ski season begins in December in Europe (sometimes as early as November in the Alps) and resorts all over France, Switzerland, Austria, Bulgaria and even Spain throw open their doors. 

There are hundreds of skiing destinations in Europe; but here are some of the best that you might want to visit for festive cheer and plenty of snow! 

13. Bansko, Bulgaria

Wooden chalet, houses and snow mountains landscape panorama in bulgarian ski resort Bansko, Bulgaria

December is the wake-up month for Bansko, Bulgaria. As the chance of snow increases, Bansko comes alive!

The ski season usually starts around 15th December – when the whole town kicks into high gear.

Nestled in the UNESCO heritage site of the Pirin mountains, Bansko is not only a fabulous ski resort but a well-preserved ethnographic Bulgarian town.

As you walk down the cobblestone streets, you’ll be enchanted by the 19th-century stone churches, authentic houses and inns from the Revival period of Bulgaria, and of course traditional mehanas ready to fill your belly with delicious Banska Kapama (sauerkraut and various types of meat cooked for hours in a clay pot).

Don’t forget the world-renowned wine!

If you come in the second half of December, chances are you’re going to ski.

With 15 ski lifts and over 75 km of slopes, Bansko is the best place for winter sports in Bulgaria; some of the lifts go as far up as 2530 m.

That’s right, when it comes to skiing, Bansko gives the Alps a run for their money! 

By Simon from Backpack Moments

14. Morskie Oko, Poland

Winter Mountain landscape of Morskie oko in Tatra national park at sunrise. Icy Sea Eye lake in Tatra mountains

If you want a winter hike while visiting Europe in December, Morskie Oko, located in the stunning Tatra Mountains in Poland, is highly recommended!

Morskie Oko, sitting in the mountains, is much colder than other destinations in December, with heavy snowfall being likely. 

Due to this, the area won’t be too crowded – and while winter hiking is great fun, it’s advisable to walk with a guide. 

There are some fantastic things to do in the area around Morskie Oko, too.

Visit Zakopane, the Winter Capital of Poland and enjoy skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding!

Since Morskie Oko is remote, you might have to take multiple modes of transportation to reach it. 

From Krakow, take a train or bus to Zakopane. 

From Zakopane, take a public bus to Palenica Białczańska.

By Reshma from The Solo Globetrotter

15. Val d’Aran, Spain

Val D'Aran in North Spain (Vielha)

High in the Pyrenees mountains (around a six-hour drive from Barcelona) sits the Val d’Aran, a beautiful area of Spain with a very rich culture. 

Val d’Aran centres around Vielha, a (very) small city. In December, it’s one of the few places in Spain where you’re highly likely to find a blanket of snow!

We visited Vielha in December a few years back and loved the ski-town atmosphere that it had. From Vielha, you can take a bus to Baqueira Beret, the biggest ski resort in Spain (lots of people stay in Vielha for a skiing holiday). 

We also took a bus up to Les, which is right by the French border, and spent a dreamy afternoon at their spa – they have an outdoor hot tub which is surrounded by snow-dusted mountains. 

Buses also run around the other villages; we visited Bagergue, a sleepy village with beautiful architecture and a high-altitude cheese factory (Hormatges Tarrau). 

One of the most interesting things about Val d’Aran is that, despite being part of Catalan and speaking Catalan, they actually have their own language, Aranese. Many people we met in the region spoke five languages: Aranese, Catalan, Spanish, English and French (due to their proximity to the border!). 

Definitely listen out for this while you’re there (the people at the tourist office are very friendly and happy to answer any questions) and also, don’t forget to try pinchos, traditional local bar snacks! 

16. Mayrhofen, Austria

Mayrhofen Austria, covered in snow

With over 60 cable cars and chairlifts, Mayrhofen in Zillertal is a hidden gem of winter skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, snowshoeing and high-altitude Spritz drinkers.

Beyond the impossibly cute alpine village draped in lights, I love this area because it’s at the end of a very long valley that most people skip and it feels much more local than the famous Austrian ski towns.

Plus, the steepest groomed slope in Austria is here. It’s called Harakiri and it’s got a 78% gradient! (Not for me!)

I love visiting Mayrhofen in summer, but December is special because of the variety of things to do and the guarantee of snow on the Hintertux glacier.

Too many times I’ve planned a December mountain trip to be greeted with slushy pistes and only a few runs open.

The Mountopolis ski area offers gentle things like winter walks with amazing views for skiers and non-skiiers alike! 

My top three things to do include skiing and snowboarding, visiting the Nature’s Ice Palace and taking the kids to the indoor heated Mayrhofen Adventure pool with slides and jacuzzis.

The Ice Palace takes about an hour but you literally ride a boat through an underground cave of ice. You can take a private tour or go stand-up paddleboarding also.

By Morgan Fielder from Crave the Planet

17. Gudauri, Georgia

Snowboarding in Gudauri, Georgia

If you want less crowded and off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Europe in December, consider Gudauri ski resort in Georgia.

With its location against the backdrop of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range, Gudauri is one of the most unique places to visit in Georgia during winter!

The resort, at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level, basks in abundant sunlight, and its slopes extend beyond the tree line – the slopes are actually ideal for free riders and extreme sports enthusiasts.

Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Gudauri offers tobogganing, paragliding, and helicopter tours.

Gudauri is conveniently located close to Tbilisi, the capital (around 2 hours by car).

The driving route leads along the Georgian Military Highway- you can stop to see several landmarks along the way, including the Ananuri Fortress and Georgia-Russia Friendship Monument.

Reaching Gudauri is viable via public transport from Tbilisi’s Didube Bus Station, renting a car, or arranging a direct transfer from Tbilisi Airport through a travel agency.

By Baia from Red Fedora Diary

18. Interlaken, Switzerland

Interlaken in Switzerland, kayaking on the water and surrounded by mountains.

Looking for the best places to visit in Europe during December? Look no further than Interlaken, Switzerland!

Well known to the world’s population of adrenaline junkies, Interlaken is a charming city situated between two crystal clear lakes – Lake Brienz and Lake Thun.

Its stunning alpine scenery makes it one of the top destinations to visit year-round, but it especially shines in December!

Picture a thick, glittering blanket of snow covering charming Swiss chalets, picturesque churches and antique streetlights – framed on all sides by towering, snow-capped mountains.

Add a piping hot mug of hot Swiss chocolate…and you’ve got the picture of Interlaken, Switzerland in December.

There are many things to do in Interlaken in December, but the number one attraction in this Swiss mountain town is hitting the slopes.

Be warned however, if you’re not a strong skier, it’s recommended to sign up for some lessons from an expert. The slopes of the Swiss Alps are not for the fainthearted!

If skiing isn’t your strong suit, don’t fret – Interlaken has tons of exciting activities to enjoy during December.

Gear up for a winter kayaking excursion (pictured below), get ready for adventure while night tobogganing down the alps, or stay nice and cozy inside for a chocolate-making class by Funky Chocolate.

In Interlaken in December, the possibilities are endless!

By Madison from Madison’s Footsteps

Winter sun in December in Europe

If you’re craving more mild temperatures, head south! 

These European destinations still have festive traditions, but they’re also often warm enough to walk around in a light jacket – or maybe even a t-shirt if you’re really lucky!

From Spain to Greece, here are Europe’s best winter sun destinations. 

19. Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain - Dec 16, 2017: People having fun in christmas spirit on Christmas fair with carousel on Modernisme plaza of the city hall of Valencia on 16th of December, 2017 in Valencia, Spain.

Fancy visiting somewhere festive, but still with a chance of sunshine? Head to Valencia in December!

As winter settles in most parts of Europe, average temperatures in Valencia range from 8 to 17ºC.

This makes it an ideal escape from the harsh winter climates found elsewhere on the continent!

During December, Valencia comes alive with twinkling lights, charming Christmas markets and beautifully decorated streets.

Christmas in Valencia is a big deal – and locals celebrate it by meeting up with friends and family in cafés throughout the whole month of December.

The iconic Plaza del Ayuntamiento hosts a grand Christmas tree, an ice rink and the New Year’s Eve party.

One place you cannot miss is the City of Arts and Sciences.

This futuristic architectural complex is a must-visit sight in Valencia any time of the year, but during December, it also hosts the best Christmas market in town.

If you want to do Christmas shopping, stroll through the historic Old Town.

Visit the famous Central Market for delicious local delicacies, and admire Valencia Cathedral and other architecture along the way.

Also, indulge in the local cuisine with every chance you get!

December is an excellent time to savour traditional dishes, such as churros, buñuelos, and candied almonds.

By Lara from Valencia Revealed

20. Barcelona, Spain

Christmas Market in Barcelona

While Barcelona won’t be as hot as, say, Malaga in December, it still basks in warm weather and remains an inviting city to visit at the end of the year! 

It’s an underrated Christmas market destination, with multiple across the city – the most famous being the Market of Saint Lucia, which has a history spanning back to the 18th century and is located in front of Barcelona Cathedral. 

Do learn about Caga Tió, the Catalan log that poops candy at Christmas, while you’re in the markets – it’s a tradition unique to the area!

Sunshine is common in Barcelona in December, and Gaudi’s fabled architecture glimmers under the low-lying light. 

You might not be able to laze back on Barceloneta Beach, but you’ll definitely enjoy walking along it, perhaps taking in a beautiful winter sunrise!

And, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you could take a quick dip in the Med; it’ll be chilly, but it’s much warmer than the sea in the north. The air temperature is usually mild and it hardly ever snows!

While there are plenty of festive things to do in Spain’s second-largest city, this is actually Barcelona’s low season. In the summer, the city buzzes with tourists; you can expect long queues at popular attractions and high prices for accommodation and flights. 

But in the winter, Barcelona has an entirely different vibe; more intimate and exclusive. Most attractions are still open, and while beach clubs may be closed, you can guarantee that you’ll still be able to locate some fantastic (local!) tapas and Spanish wine.

If you want to experience Barcelona more as the locals do, December’s a fantastic time to visit!

21. Alacati, Turkey

Windmills in Alcati, with bright blue skies

If you’re looking for the best places to visit in Europe in December, then Alacati on the Aegean Coast of Turkey is a great choice.

Alacati is a beautiful Greek town located on the Turkish Riviera.

Established by Ottoman Greeks in the 17th century, Alacati is known for its unique stone villas, a medieval marketplace, a church-turned-mosque, narrow, meandering streets dotted with boutiques, cafes, and artisan shops, and of course stunning beaches.

The historic Cesme Castle is not very far away.

One of Alacati’s must-visit attractions is the windmill park which has four massive windmills dating to the 1800s.

Even though the windmills are non-functional today, the park provides sweeping views of the Turkish countryside.

December is a good time to visit Alacati because it is the low season everywhere on the Turkish coast.

That means it is a great time to grab some good deals on accommodation and tours. Further, you’ll find Alacati’s attractions literally empty.

Days in December are sunny and average temperatures range between around 8°C – 14°C – never too cold (it snows in parts of Turkey, but not this area on the coast), which means you can spend lots of time outdoors! There may be some rain, so be sure to pack a rain jacket.

By Soumya from Stories by Soumya

22. Lanzarote

Cactus garden in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Looking for a sunny December vacation, that’s not too expensive, with delicious food and wine? 

Then check out Lanzarote!

Lanzarote is the Spanish Canary Islands, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago.

In the winter season, the barometer still sits at a mild 20°C most days – so it’s usually still beach weather!

The most famous beaches are Playa de Famara, Playa de Papagayo, Playa Flamingo, Playa Chica, and Playa de las Conchas.

These beaches have gold sand and crystal clear water to relax, read a novel and have lunch at a nearby local restaurant.

A huge mistake when visiting Spain is not trying the local food – and the Canary Islands are no exception. 

Be sure to taste the Papas Arrugadas, local small potatoes served with Mojo Sauce.

The Estofado is a local stew made with beef, chorizo, chickpeas, and veggies.

Or, try Puntillas de Calamar, fried baby squid.

There’s also a local sweet wine called Malmsey, made from the Malvasia grape variety grown on the island on the volcanic soil.

On a Sunday, don’t miss the Teguise Market, a charming town in the middle of the island where to buy the best local products like handmade wooden items and local food.

The Aloe museum, where to learn everything about the aloe vera in Lanzarote and purchase some of the best natural products, is also worth a visit.

By Valentina from Valentina’s Travel Guide

23. Fethiye, Turkey

Fethiye Turkey, panorama landscape from a vantage point.

Fethiye is a great place to visit in December for a sunny winter getaway.

The weather is still relatively warm, with average temperatures around 17°C – so it’s not uncommon to see people sunbathing or taking long beach ways along the city’s Calis Beach!

Despite the heat, there’s still the sprawling Fethiye Christmas Fair.

This is set up along the beach promenade where you can shop, eat and drink to your heart’s content.

Make sure to try the domuz degil sausage, gozleme and mulled wine.

You won’t find any snow in Fethiye during December, so you can still hike and sightsee outdoors.

Visit the Amyntas Rock Tombs, stroll through the ancient ruins of Lycian City, or take to the skies on a paragliding adventure.

One of the most popular things to do in Fethiye is to take a day trip to Oludeniz Beach, a famous white-sand stretch just down the coastline.

You can take a guided tour or drive there – car hire in Turkey is generally very affordable. 

Fethiye is also much less crowded in December with beachgoers sticking to the hot months of June to August. This also allows for cheaper all-around trip costs including accommodation, food and travel.

By Haley from Haley Blackall Travel

24. Ksamil, Albania

Ksamil, Albania, bright blue water and golden sands

Located in southern Albania, Ksamil is home to some of the best beaches in Albania and has incredible views of nearby islands.

It is an ideal place for December if you’re looking for warmer weather, relaxing activities, and reduced costs.

While December isn’t by any means hot, it’s much milder than most other places in Europe.

In December, Ksamil experiences a high of around 15°C and a low of 8°C.

This makes it among some of the warmest places in Europe during the month!

During and around Christmas, you’ll see decorations and locals preparing celebrations. There are also festivities for New Year’s Eve, including fireworks and live entertainment.

With Albania’s peak season being in July and August, the low season occurs in December, resulting in several benefits.

The two most notable are the less expensive accommodation costs and crowds.

One of the best things to do in Ksamil in December is visit its Four Islands.

These individual islands are located right off the coast of Ksamil and are one of the most popular activities. They are easily accessible by boat, and you can even visit each one in just one day!

Also, don’t miss the excellent beaches in Ksamil, such as Plazhi Ksamilit and Lori Beach.

In December, you’ll have more freedom to explore to the decreased crowds.

While it may be cooler, you can still enjoy walking on the beach – some hardy souls even swim in the sea in December!

Ksamil has several great bars and restaurants, including Blue Water and Bar One – and the nightlife is still decent in December! 

By Tamara from My Elated Odyssey

25. Saturnia, Italy

Saturnia, hot springs in Italy.

Saturnia is one of my favourite places on this planet.

It has delicious food, excellent year-round weather, and incredible landscapes.

In winter, it’s truly spectacular. While it’s cooler than other winter sun destinations on this list, mild days are possible, and the summer crowds leave a certain serenity, and the golden and silver colours of the pools reflect against the sky.

There are plenty of appeals to Saturnia, including its beautiful little restaurants, quaint wine bars, vineyards, and admire incredible landscapes.

But if you want something truly special and unusual, why not dive into one of the many thermal springs in the region?

As the weather turns colder, the hot waters gushing from geothermal waterfalls become all the more inviting. 

Although not widely known among tourists, Tuscany has plenty of hot springs.

The signs up and down the highway direct you to local thermal springs – look for the word ‘Terme,’ which translates to ‘thermal.’

Before to long, you’ll be sitting in a warm, natural bath outside in the winter, surrounded by tall cypress trees, while a waterfall spouts out warm geothermal water.

Quite frankly, it’s one of the most unusual and beautiful experiences, and it’s a bucket list experience!

In the winter, it’s much quieter and cheaper. In the summer it is packed with tourists!

The most famous thermal spring in the region is Terme di Saturnia in the region of Saturnia. I

t’s the most Instagrammable, photogenic place, but as this one is the most famous, it can get very popular throughout the winter months!

Renting a car and exploring the area is very easy; it’s stunningly beautiful… you won’t regret it!

By Adriana from Wanderlicious

FAQs about visiting Europe in December

Is December a good time to visit Europe?

Certainly! While Europe in December means colder weather in most regions, it also brings festive atmospheres, Christmas markets, and fewer tourists.

Plus, if winter sports are your thing, Europe’s ski destinations are at their prime.

Where is nice to travel in Europe in December?

Europe offers myriad destinations in December.

You’d love the festive vibe of cities like Vienna, Prague, and Strasbourg with their renowned Christmas markets.

If snow-covered landscapes are your preference, the Alps are a dreamy choice.

Where is still warm in Europe in December?

Looking for a milder climate in December? Your best bets are the southern parts of Europe. Places like the Canary Islands, Southern Spain, Malta, and Cyprus offer relatively warmer weather.

Where is the best place to visit in December?

The “best” place is subjective, depending on your preferences.

For a winter wonderland, think of the Alps.

If you’re chasing festive vibes, Vienna or Munich are hard to beat. For milder weather, the Canary Islands offer a respite from the cold.

Is Greece warm in December?

Greece in December is milder than northern Europe but isn’t exactly beach weather.

You can expect temperatures ranging from 10°C to 17°C, with the islands being cooler.

Is Greece nice in December?

Absolutely. While Greece may not offer beach days in December, its mild weather, fewer tourists, and a more relaxed vibe make it a unique time to explore ancient ruins, enjoy local cuisine, and experience authentic Greek culture.

What is Portugal like in December?

Portugal in December tends to be mild, especially in the south. Lisbon and the Algarve region experience temperatures ranging from 10°C to 17°C.

While you might face some rainy days, it’s an excellent time to enjoy Portugal without the tourist rush.

Is December a good time to visit Spain?

Yes, December is a great time to visit Spain, especially if you prefer fewer crowds. While Northern Spain can be chilly, regions like Andalusia remain milder. Spain’s festive decorations and holiday celebrations are an added bonus.

What is the warmest place to travel in December?

In Europe, the warmest spots in December include the Canary Islands, Malta, Cyprus, and certain parts of Southern Spain, like the Costa del Sol.

Where is the prettiest place to spend Christmas?

Europe boasts numerous beautiful Christmas destinations. Strasbourg in France claims the title of “Christmas Capital,” with its enchanting markets. Other contenders are Rothenburg in Germany, Rovaniemi in Finland (Santa’s hometown), and Tallinn in Estonia with its medieval charm.

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