40 best winter city breaks in Europe (2023/4 guide)


Are you looking for winter city breaks in Europe?

When the thermometer dips in Europe, the shutters don’t go down in its cities.

Some bask in the warmth of winter sunshine, whereas others come alive with snow and Christmas markets.

Dozens are all-weather, with lots of museums and attractions that are perfect for winter.

I love finding a deal on my winter city breaks, or heading to specific places that are ideal for the cooler months (Reykjavik in Iceland is a personal favourite).

Whatever your reason, you’ll find the perfect city on this list! 

Let’s take a look at our favourite winter city breaks, with tips on how to visit each.

I’ve wrote full guides to many of these destinations, so you can click through to any that you find interesting for more information.

Table of Contents

What are the best winter city breaks in Europe?

There are so many incredible winter city breaks in Europe, but we’ve managed to whittle this list down to our favourite 40!

They are:

  1. Munich, Germany
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Krakow, Poland
  4. Basel, Switzerland
  5. Cabeça, Portugal (village)
  6. Porto, Portugal
  7. Wroclaw, Poland
  8. Prague, Czechia
  9. Brussels, Belgium
  10. Strasbourg, France
  11. Nuremberg, Germany
  12. London, England
  13. Paris, France
  14. Venice, Italy
  15. Berlin, Germany
  16. Budapest, Hungary
  17. Edinburgh, Scotland
  18. Dublin, Ireland
  19. Bucharest, Romania
  20. Ljubljana, Slovenia
  21. Stockholm, Sweden
  22. Helsinki, Finland
  23. Oslo, Norway
  24. Copenhagen, Denmark
  25. Riga, Latvia
  26. Vilnius, Lithuania
  27. Tallinn, Estonia
  28. Warsaw, Poland
  29. Tromsø, Norway
  30. Barcelona, Spain
  31. Lisbon, Portugal
  32. Valletta, Malta
  33. Antalya, Turkey
  34. Istanbul, Turkey
  35. Rome, Italy
  36. Malaga, Spain
  37. Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  38. Paphos, Cyprus
  39. Dubrovnik, Croatia
  40. Beirut, Lebanon (not actually in Europe, but it’s close!)

Christmas city breaks in Europe

One of the top reasons to visit Europe in winter is for the amazing festive cities.

Some of these cities have beautiful Christmas markets and others are decked out in incredible lights.

If you’re looking for a festive city break in Europe, here are my favourites!

1. Munich, Germany

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The charming city of Munich comes alive in the festive period.

With beautiful Christmas markets and the charming old city, the beautiful Marienplatz glinting in a soft winter glow and plenty of indoor attractions, winter in Munich – and the whole of Bavaria – has a certain charm about it. 

Munich has a glorious Christmas market, one of the best in Germany, and you could easily spend an entire Christmas trip just walking around! 

Things to do in Munich in winter

  • Immerse yourself in the festive spirit by exploring Munich’s charming Christmas markets, such as the Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz.
  • Stay indoors and enjoy the city’s rich cultural offerings by visiting museums like the Alte Pinakothek and the Deutsches Museum.
  • Warm up with hearty Bavarian dishes like sausages and stews at traditional beer halls and restaurants.
  • Have fun on the ice at outdoor ice skating rinks like the one at Karlsplatz (Stachus) or the Olympic Ice Sports Center.
  • Relax and unwind in Munich’s thermal baths, like the Therme Erding (the world’s largest spa!) as a soothing way to beat the cold.

Weather in Munich in the winter

High temperature3°C (37°F)2°C (36°F)3°C (37°F)
Low temperature-2°C (28°F)-4°C (25°F)-5°C (23°F)
Rain/ snow days151312

2. Vienna, Austria

Traditional christmas market in Vienna, Austria

The capital of Austria, Vienna is one of the best cities in Europe to visit in the winter.

Charming Christmas markets span across the city, and the entire architecture is decked out in a soft glow from all the lights. 

All of the city’s museums are open throughout the year, as are attractions like Belvedere Palace and the Hofburg.

And of course, you can enjoy performances like Vienna Opera throughout the winter months! 

Things to do in Vienna in the winter

  • Explore Vienna’s enchanting Christmas markets, such as the Christkindlmarkt in front of City Hall and the market at Schönbrunn Palace.
  • Take advantage of Vienna’s rich cultural scene by visiting iconic attractions like Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum to appreciate art, history, and architecture.
  • Attend a classical music concert in the city where legends like Mozart and Beethoven once performed.
  • Experience the Viennese coffeehouse culture by indulging in a cup of rich coffee and a slice of delicious Sachertorte or other traditional pastries.
  • Glide at popular outdoor ice skating rinks like the Vienna Ice World in front of City Hall or the Eislaufverein, a historic ice skating club.

Weather in Vienna in the winter

High temperature2°C (36°F)2°C (36°F)4°C (39°F)
Low temperature-3°C (27°F)-4°C (25°F)-2°C (28°F)
Rain/ snow Days151514

3. Krakow, Poland

Old city center view with Adam Mickiewicz monument, St. Mary's Basilica and birds flying in Krakow on the morning

Poland’s top tourist destination and its ex-capital, Krakow has a lot to offer. The city centre is incredibly welcoming during the winter and has a stunning Christmas market that will really get you into the festive spirit. 

Poland has great festive vibes every December, so whether you’re purchasing gifts for your loved ones or just enjoying some mulled wine as you gaze at the twinkling lights, you’ll love the magic of Krakow in winter. 

One of the main appeals of visiting Krakow in winter is that you can do a skiing day trip! Podstolice Ski Resort opens in early December and it’s just 20 kilometres from the city. 

Things to do in Krakow in winter

  • Visit Krakow’s Christmas markets and enjoying local crafts and treats.
  • Wander through the historic Old Town, admiring the architecture and visiting iconic sites like St. Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle.
  • Take a day to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum to learn about the history of the Holocaust.
  • Enjoy skiing or snowboarding in the Tatra Mountains near Zakopane for an exhilarating winter sports experience.
  • Descend into the unique underground world of the Wieliczka Salt Mine, marveling at the salt sculptures and chambers.
  • Warm up with traditional Polish dishes at local restaurants, savoring pierogi, bigos, and other hearty options.

Weather in Krakow in winter

High temperature2°C (36°F)0°C (32°F)1°C (34°F)
Low temperature-3°C (27°F)-5°C (23°F)-5°C (23°F)
Rain/ snow Days141311

4. Basel, Switzerland

switzerland - basel, christmas market

Beautiful Basel sits snugly in the northwestern corner of Switzerland, close to the borders of France and Germany.

Its unique position means that it has cultural influences from all three countries, and this flavour is just one of the things that makes it such a great country to visit any time of year. 

It’s a bit chilly in Basel in the winter – although it’s not as cold as many other Swiss cities, thanks to its low altitude. Snow is a possibility, but that only adds to the magic of Basel’s historic architecture. 

In fact, the weather matches its festive atmosphere perfectly.

In fact, the end of November/ December is the perfect time to visit this Swiss city – its Christmas markets are widely regarded as some of the best in Europe and, of course, there are plenty of all-season attractions. 

Things to do in Basel in winter

  • Explore the Kunstmuseum Basel, one of the oldest public art collections in the world, featuring an impressive range of works from the Middle Ages to contemporary art or Fondation Beyeler, with modern and contemporary art in a stunning architectural setting.
  • Take a relaxing boat cruise on the Rhine River, enjoying the city’s winter scenery from a unique perspective.
  • Warm up with exquisite Swiss chocolate and cosy hot beverages at local cafes and chocolatiers.
  • Wander through the enchanting Christmas market at Barfüsserplatz, where you can find handcrafted gifts and festive treats.

Weather in Basel in winter

High temperature6°C (43°F)4°C (39°F)8°C (46°F)
Low temperature0°C (32°F)-1°C (30°F)-2°C (28°F)
Rain/ snow days16 days14 days12 days

5. Cabeça, Portugal

Portugal isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind when you think of the most festive places in Europe, and I’m cheating a little here as Cabeça is actually a very tiny village. 

However, in the last few years, it has developed prestige as “the Christmas village”, hosting a glorious festive market, shops selling seasonal products, carol singers and glorious decorations and lights. 

For two weeks in December, Cabeça – otherwise a very sleepy place year-round – becomes a winter wonderland, and one of the most Christmassy places in not only Europe, but the entire world. 

You can get to Cabeça from Porto or Lisbon (you’ll need to take a bus to Seia and then change to a taxi for the last 20 minutes to Cabeça), and it’s worth visiting one of those cities while you’re here too – see below for my Lisbon entry!

Porto in winter is fairly cold, but you can still enjoy most of its attractions, including the Liveria Lello which inspired Harry Potter, the Ponte de Dom Luis I bridge and, of course, port tasting. 

Things to do in Cabeça in winter

  • Witness the rustic winter wonderland transformation of Cabeça during Christmas, drawing visitors from across Portugal.
  • Explore pop-up stores and market stalls offering festive goods, artisanal products, and traditional treats.
  • Wander through the village streets adorned with homemade decorations, including lights, fern-swaddled frames, and moss-covered stars.
  • Engage in craft workshops creating decorations from local materials like pine cones, woollen baubles, and wooden angels.
  • Indulge in mountain cuisine at pop-up restaurants, savoring traditional dishes like “Caldo Verde” (Vegetable Soup), “Morcela” (Black Pudding), “Alheira” (Garlicky Sausage), and “Pica Pau” (Seasoned Fried Beef).

Weather in Cabeça in winter

High temperature12°C (54°F)11°C (52°F)11°C (52°F)
Low temperature6°C (43°F)5°C (41°F)6°C (43°F)

6. Wroclaw, Poland

Poland. View of Wroclaw

The storybook city of Wroclaw in Poland is a magical city any time of year, but Christmas cheer just gives it that extra appeal.

It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with gorgeous coloured buildings lining historic streets and church spires protruding over the horizon. 

It also has one of the best Christmas markets in Poland; a really busy affair full of charming stalls selling locally made Polish products, traditional seasonal food and of course, plenty of mulled wine. 

Things to do in Wroclaw in the winter

  • Explore the enchanting Christmas markets in the Old Town, where you can find handcrafted gifts, local treats, and festive decorations.
  • Take leisurely walks along the picturesque Oder River, enjoying the serene winter landscapes and charming bridges.
  • Immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural scene by visiting notable museums like the Wroclaw Panorama and the National Museum.
  • Indulge in hearty Polish cuisine at charming local eateries such as Pierogarnia Stary Młyn, where you can enjoy traditional pierogi and other comfort dishes.
  • Attend engaging performances at theaters like the Wroclaw Opera House and music venues like Stary Klasztor.

Weather in Wroclaw in winter

High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)4°C (39°F)
Low temperature-3°C (27°F)-5°C (23°F)-4°C (25°F)
Rain/ snow days7 days6 days6 days

7. Prague, Czechia

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

Prague, with its colourful buildings and charming atmosphere, is an ideal city to visit in the colder months.

Home to delicious food and fascinating history, this city is popular for Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square, which is home to a charming Christmas market. The city is absolutely stunning, and if it snows, it looks even more aesthetic. 

Here’s all you need to know about visiting Prague in winter!

Things to Do in Prague in Winter

  • Be enchanted at the Christmas markets, among the best in the world.
  • Discover the historical beauty of Prague Castle, a stunning complex of palaces, churches, and gardens.
  • Take leisurely walks across the iconic Charles Bridge, enjoying its picturesque views of the Vltava River and cityscape.
  • Immerse yourself in Prague’s history by witnessing the intricate displays of the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square.
  • Savor authentic Czech dishes at local eateries like U Medvídků and Lokál, enjoying classics such as goulash and trdelník (chimney cakes).
  • Experience engaging opera, ballet, and drama performances at the historic Estates Theatre, where Mozart once conducted.

Weather in Prague in winter

High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)5°C (41°F)
Low temperature0°C (32°F)-1°C (30°F)-1°C (30°F)
Rain/ snow days5 days5 days4 days

8. Brussels, Belgium

Grand Place in Bruxelles light up in a light show every 30 or 60 minutes in December

Brussels is Belgium’s capital, and it’s one of the most popular cities to visit in winter thanks to its huge market, Winter Wonders. 

This is more than just a Christmas market; it has Christmas-themed rides and experiences, tailored specifically to create the most festive atmosphere possible!

All-weather attractions in Brussels include the Brussels City Museum, the Museum of Natural Sciences and the Choco-Story Brussels. Plus, the city’s streets are wonderful for exploring in cool, crisp winter weather. 

Things to Do in Brussels in Winter

  • Explore the stunning architecture of Grand Place, adorned with dazzling lights during the holiday season.
  • Take a stroll through the enchanting Winter Wonders market, where you can find artisanal crafts, seasonal treats, and a giant Christmas tree.
  • Immerse yourself in art and culture at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
  • Indulge in delectable Belgian cuisine at renowned restaurants like Chez Léon and Taverne du Passage, savoring dishes like moules-frites and waffles.
  • Attend a performance at historic venues like the Brussels Opera House and Bozar, where music, dance, and theater come to life.

Weather in Brussels in winter

High temperature6°C (43°F)6°C (43°F)7°C (45°F)
Low temperature2°C (36°F)1°C (34°F)1°C (34°F)
Rain days12 days12 days9 days

9. Strasbourg, France

Buildings near Strasbourg Cathedral before Christmas - France

France’s Strasbourg is a beautiful Medieval city that’s fantastic all year round.

It has a few great attractions, including a gothic cathedral and amazing local wine. Of course, you can enjoy this throughout the year – but it’s the perfect winter city break for another reason. 

Its Christmas market is largely considered to be one of the best in the world.

In fact, it’s not so much a market, but an explosion of festivities, a concerted citywide effort to decorate the entire city and offer countless outlets to purchase gifts and festive food and drink. 

Things to Do in Strasbourg in Winter

  • Wander through the magical Strasbourg Christmas Market, one of the oldest and most charming in Europe set against the backdrop of the stunning Cathedral.
  • Explore the enchanting streets of La Petite France, a picturesque neighborhood known for its half-timbered houses and canals.
  • Immerse yourself in history at the Alsatian Museum, which showcases the region’s heritage through art, artifacts, and exhibits.
  • Indulge in traditional Alsatian cuisine at cozy restaurants like Le Gruber and Chez Yvonne, enjoying dishes like choucroute and tarte flambée.
  • Attend festive concerts and performances at venues like the Strasbourg Opera House and Zénith de Strasbourg, adding a touch of culture to your winter visit.

Weather in Strasbourg in winter

High temperature5°C (41°F)5°C (41°F)7°C (45°F)
Low temperature0°C (32°F)-1°C (30°F)-1°C (30°F)
Rain/ snow days8 days7 days7 days

10. Nuremberg, Germany

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.

Nuremberg is definitely one of the most festive cities in Europe; it’s home to the Christkindlesmarkt which is one of the oldest festive markets in the world.

Learn about its unique history as you enter this winter wonderland, the ideal place to go Christmas shopping or try some festive food and drink. 

If you can drag yourself away from the market, Nuremberg offers a Medieval castle, city walls and plenty of WW2 history.  

Things to Do in Nuremberg in Winter

  • Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest and most famous Christmas markets.
  • Explore the medieval charm of the Nuremberg Castle, offering panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
  • Discover the city’s history and culture at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, home to an extensive collection of art and artifacts.
  • Indulge in Nuremberg’s culinary delights at traditional taverns like Bratwurst Röslein and Albrecht Dürer Stube, where you can enjoy sausages and gingerbread.
  • Attend classical music concerts at venues like the Meistersingerhalle Nürnberg, immersing yourself in the city’s musical heritage.

Weather in Nuremberg in winter

High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)5°C (41°F)
Low temperature-2°C (28°F)-3°C (27°F)-3°C (27°F)
Rain/ snow days9 days9 days7 days

All-weather city breaks in Europe

This list of cities is ideal if you want indoor attractions and to visit at off-peak times – they’re much quieter than in the summer months!

11. London, England

Aerial panoramic cityscape view of London and the River Thames, England, United Kingdom

London is a city that does winter very well. The truth is, in London the weather is never really reliable (although snow is rare), which means that virtually all attractions are all-season. 

With centuries of fascinating history, on a winter trip to London you can enjoy the Gothic Westminster Abbey, the giant dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and London’s countless museums (many of which is free).

Plus, it comes alive at Christmas. Expect festive markets, ice skating rinks, Christmas lights and pantomimes (a comic retelling of popular fairy tales, which is a UK Christmas tradition!).

And, London is perfectly positioned for a day trip to other UK cities and regions, like Bath, the Cotswolds, Oxford and Brighton. 

Things to do in London in Winter

  • Embrace the festive spirit with a visit to iconic attractions like Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
  • Explore the historic allure of Covent Garden, adorned with holiday decorations and bustling with shops, eateries, and lively street performances.
  • Discover the treasures of art and history at renowned institutions such as the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Savor traditional British cuisine at charming pubs and restaurants like Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and Dishoom.
  • Experience London’s theatre culture at places like Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Weather in London in Winter

High temperature9°C (48°F)9°C (48°F)9°C (48°F)
Low temperature5°C (41°F)4°C (39°F)5°C (41°F)
Rain days10 days12 days9 days

12. Paris, France

snow in Paris

La Belle Paris! France’s capital city is a beauty any time of year.

Summit up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and see winter lights twinkling below you, pull your coat on and stroll around the Seine, stopping off to warm up at French bakeries or wine bars as you go. 

There are plenty of indoor attractions in Paris, including the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and the Panthéon.

Or, if you want to take in a slightly eerier Paris attraction, you could always descend into the catacombs! 

Of course, in the festive season, there are plenty of Christmassy markets and a whole host of seasonal attractions. 

Things to do in Paris in Winter

  • Take leisurely walks along the romantic Seine River, admiring the city’s picturesque bridges.
  • Discover famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum with few tourists.
  • Visit charming spots like Café de Flore and Le Procope for dining.
  • Immerse yourself in the enchantment of Montmartre’s artistic district.
  • Explore the rich heritage of the city by visiting institutions like the Musée d’Orsay and Centre Pompidou.
High temperature8°C (46°F)8°C (46°F)9°C (48°F)
Low temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)
Rain days9 days9 days8 days

13. Venice, Italy

Photo of the Grand Canal at sunset taken on a clear winter day.

Venice can be cold in winter, but its canals and wonderful history are beautiful year-round! 

Explore St Mark’s Square, cosy up on a gondola or see the colorful Burano Island. One of the main draws of visiting Venice in winter is that there will be barely any tourists, so you can enjoy the attractions crowd-free! 

This is also one of the most responsible ways to visit Venice, as it has big problems with overtourism. 

Venice Carnival takes place on the day before Lent, in February each year. It’s well worth being in town for the Carnival, although be mindful that it can be very busy during this time! 

Things to do in Venice in Winter

  • Embark on serene gondola rides and vaporetto journeys along Venice’s iconic canals.
  • Explore the historic heart of Venice, including St. Mark’s Square and its stunning Basilica, virtually crowd-free!
  • Delight in traditional Venetian dishes like seafood risotto and cicchetti at local eateries such as Osteria da Codroma.
  • Enjoy art at the Gallerie dell’Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
  • Wander through the charming narrow alleys, or “calli,” of Venice.

Weather in Venice in Winter

High temperature8°C (46°F)7°C (45°F)9°C (48°F)
Low temperature1°C (34°F)0°C (32°F)1°C (34°F)
Rain days6 days5 days4 days

14. Berlin, Germany

Germany’s funky capital, Berlin is a perfect destination for fans of the alternative year-round.

It’s hard to think of a city that’s more historic than Berlin.

Every street of the German capital could tell thousands of stories.

Many of these are tragic, dating back to the Nazi occupation and the time when Berlin was divided. Its many museums (Berlin has over 170) tell the stories of its past. 

Some of the most touching are the DDR Museum, Topography of Terror, Stasi Museum, Jewish Memorial and the Berlin Story Bunker. It’s also worth visiting Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery. 

While Berlin has a lot of very sombre tales from its past, it’s a city that’s rapidly moving into the future.

You’ll find this in its funky clubs (some of which go on until 6:00 am), diverse culinary scene (plenty for veggies and vegans, and dishes from all over the world) and the alternative vibe of many of its neighbourhoods, in particular, Kreuzberg.

Berlin’s a city of contrasts, and a little cold weather in November or snow in January doesn’t dampen its spirit at all. 

Things to do in Berlin in Winter

  • Experience the magic of winter markets such as the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas Market.
  • Discover Berlin’s rich history by visiting iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall Memorial.
  • Warm up with hearty German cuisine at traditional beer halls like Hofbräu Berlin and Brauhaus Lemke.
  • Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture at renowned institutions like the Pergamon Museum and the East Side Gallery.
  • Enjoy indoor entertainment by attending performances at venues like the Berlin Philharmonic.
High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)4°C (39°F)
Low temperature0°C (32°F)-2°C (28°F)-1°C (30°F)
Rain/ snow days10 days9 days7 days

15. Budapest, Hungary

Chain Bridge and  Royal Palace  in Budapest at winter day Hungary

A city split in half by the snaking Danube River that winds down the middle, Budapest is the perfect winter destination. Why? Two words: warm spas. 

That’s right, when it’s freezing outside, you can enter into their spa baths and instantly warm up, relax and rejuvenate.

There are so many spas to choose from; Szemcyi is the most popular and hosts “spartys” at the weekend, Rudas has a giant hot tub on the roof and Luckas is a more local spa with chilled out vibes. 

When you’ve finished your spa session, Budapest has a wealth of other attractions that will please any traveller.

Learn about its fascinating history at Buda Castle, visit museums like the Hospital in the Rock and test your logic skills at one of the city’s many escape rooms. 

Budapest is famous for its nightlife, which is lively all year round, and there are also tonnes of restaurants to enjoy, whether you want to sample local Hungarian cuisine or international fare. 

Things to do in Budapest in winter

  • Soak in the city’s famous thermal baths like Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Gellért Baths.
  • Explore iconic landmarks such as Buda Castle and the Parliament Building.
  • Take a scenic boat cruise along the Danube River.
  • Warm up with traditional dishes like goulash and chimney cake, offered at local eateries such as Karaván Street Food.
  • Attend lively folk performances and dance shows, like those at the Duna Palota and the Danube Palace.
High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)6°C (43°F)
Low temperature0°C (32°F)-2°C (28°F)0°C (32°F)
Rain/ snow days6 days5 days5 days

16. Edinburgh, Scotland

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

With a gorgeous castle, connections to Harry Potter and winding Medieval streets, Edinburgh in Scotland is an ideal winter destination. Edinburgh Castle is open year-round, which is a wonderful place to learn about the city’s history. 

Also, you can warm up by sampling some Scottish whiskey or trying some classic wholesome Scottish food. 

Edinburgh has a great vibe at Christmas, with markets and beautiful festive lights. But while it’s wonderful in December, it’s also worth visiting in January and February – it’s such a cosy city!

You could even leave the city and embark on an Isle of Skye 2 day itinerary – the scenery will look very different in the winter, but it’s the Isle of Skye, it’s always a beauty – and there will be barely any other tourists!

Things to do in Edinburgh in winter

  • Walk the historic Royal Mile.
  • Explore Edinburgh Castle, a stunning fortress offering panoramic views of the city.
  • Visit the Scottish National Gallery.
  • Enjoy a traditional Scottish meal at places like The Witchery by the Castle or The Dome.
  • Climb Arthur’s Seat for an invigorating hike and breathtaking views of the city.
  • Take part in Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebrations, ringing in the New Year with a vibrant party.

Weather in Edinburgh in winter

High temperature7°C (45°F)6°C (43°F)7°C (45°F)
Low temperature1°C (34°F)1°C (34°F)1°C (34°F)
Rain/ snow days11 days11 days8 days

17. Dublin, Ireland

The skyline of Dublin City, Ireland looking east along the quays towards the docklands area

The capital city of Ireland is one of the merriest places in the world to visit – even in the coldest months of the year. 

With attractions like Christmas at the castle which is a special market at Dublin Castle on for December (and plenty of history throughout the rest of winter, too), various museums including the National Museum of Ireland, Jamesons distillery and Guinness breweries and plenty of Ireland’s best pubs, there’s always something to do in Ireland’s capital. 

Plus, much like the UK, you can never guarantee good weather in Dublin even in the summer. In the winter, it can be rather wet, but it rarely snows in Ireland.

It’s an all-weather city, ready for any season!  

Check out the best things to do in Dublin in winter here.

Things to do in Dublin in winter

  • Visit the historic Dublin Castle.
  • Explore the literary world at the James Joyce Centre or take a literary pub crawl.
  • Warm up with traditional Irish meals at places like The Woollen Mills or Chapter One.
  • Walk along the picturesque River Liffey, enjoying the view of iconic bridges.
  • Enjoy a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse and learn about the brewing process.
  • Attend a live traditional Irish music session at one of the city’s many vibrant pubs.

Weather in Dublin in winter

High temperature9°C (48°F)8°C (46°F)8°C (46°F)
Low temperature3°C (37°F)2°C (36°F)2°C (36°F)
Rain days12 days13 days10 days

18. Bucharest, Romania

Decorated Christmas tree and lights around the market in Revolution Square in wintertime, Bucharest city of Romania

Romania’s Bucharest isn’t necessarily a popular choice for a European winter city break, but it’s worth considering. The Romanian capital has affordable spas, plenty of attractions and great festive cheer. Plus, it’s not actually usually as cold as you may think – due to global warming, snow is becoming rarer and rarer. 

Bucharest has plenty of Christmas markets and other festive activities right in the city centre.

Other winter activities include learning about the city’s history by visiting the Presidential Palace and Ceaușescu’s Mansion, taking a free walking tour of the capital, warming up in coffee shops or board game cafes, going ice skating or museum-hopping. 

See all you need to know about Bucharest in winter here!

Things to do in Bucharest in winter

  • Visit the majestic Palace of the Parliament, one of the largest administrative buildings in the world.
  • Explore Herăstrău Park, enjoying a winter walk or ice skating on the lake when frozen.
  • Experience Romanian cuisine at local restaurants like Caru’ cu Bere or Lacrimi și Sfinți.
  • Take a stroll through Old Town, admiring the unique blend of architectural styles.
  • Attend a performance at the Romanian Athenaeum, an iconic concert hall with stunning design.
  • Shop for local products at one of the city’s Christmas Markets, such as the one at Constitution Square.

Weather in Bucharest in winter

High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)7°C (45°F)
Low temperature-2°C (28°F)-4°C (25°F)-2°C (28°F)
Rain/ snow days5 days5 days4 days

19. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Aerial panoramic view of Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia in warm afternoon sun.

Ljubljana is a small city, but it packs a punch with attractions and has a fantastic atmosphere! See Ljubljana Castle all lit up at night, explore the Christmas markets and hang out in its many bars.  

Plus, from Ljubljana, you can travel to Lake Bled. Not only might you experience snowy scenes, but the summer crowds aren’t there and prices are a lot cheaper. It’s easy to get to Lake Bled by train or bus! 

Things to do in Ljubljana in winter

  • Explore Ljubljana Castle, taking a funicular ride to the top for beautiful views of the city.
  • Stroll along the Ljubljanica River, enjoying the festive lights and charming bridges.
  • Visit the renowned National Gallery of Slovenia, housing an extensive collection of the nation’s art.
  • Indulge in Slovenian cuisine at local eateries like Gostilna Na Gradu or Gostilna Dela.
  • Skate at the open-air ice rink at Kongresni trg, a popular winter activity among locals and visitors alike.
  • Experience the holiday spirit at Ljubljana’s Christmas Market, a festive gathering featuring unique crafts and delightful food.

Weather in Ljubljana in winter

High temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)6°C (43°F)
Low temperature-2°C (28°F)-2°C (28°F)-2°C (28°F)
Rain/ snow days8 days7 days7 days

Snowy city breaks in Europe

Winter days in these cities may be short, but they’re generally covered in a blanket of snow and subsequently, have a wonderful festive atmosphere!

20. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm City at winter

Like all of Scandinavia, Stockholm freezes during winter. It’s also very dark, with as little as six daylight hours in December. But that doesn’t mean that it’s gloomy! Snow is very likely, so you’re almost guaranteed to have delightful scenes carpeted in white while you’re here. 

Indoor attractions include the ABBA Museum, winter walking tours, winter-focused kayaking, boat trips (these still operate in winter!), countless other museums and of course, the festive markets.

Plus, Swedish saunas are the ideal place to warm up and relax after a long day of sightseeing! 

Things to do in Stockholm in winter

  • Explore the historic Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town, with its narrow streets and charming architecture.
  • Visit the renowned Vasa Museum to see the well-preserved 17th-century ship.
  • Ice skate at Kungsträdgården or enjoy a winter tour of the stunning Stockholm Archipelago.
  • Indulge in Swedish cuisine at places like Oaxen Slip or Smorgastarta.
  • Experience the festive St. Lucia’s Day celebration, a beloved Swedish tradition.

Weather in Stockholm in winter

High temperature2°C (36°F)1°C (34°F)1°C (34°F)
Low temperature-1°C (30°F)-3°C (27°F)-3°C (27°F)
Rain/ snow days10 days9 days6 days

21. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki isn’t the obvious choice for a winter break in Europe – and, let’s not beat around the bush – it’s cold. But it’s also incredibly festive and has an array of attractions, perfect for any off season traveler.

Most enticing is Alexander Street, which has been dubbed the Christmas street of the city. Once the lights are on here,  you know that the festive period is coming! Also, visit the plethora of museums and beautiful Helsinki Cathedral. 

There’s another reason for visiting Finland in winter too – and that is saunas.

Finnish saunas are among the best in the world, and a relaxing afternoon warming up after a day in the freezing Finnish winter climate is the ideal way to relax. 

Many travellers visit Helsinki as a stop on a larger trip up north to Lapland and Santa Claus Village.

It’s obvious why this region is one of the best places to visit in Europe in winter, but many people don’t know that instead of flying, you can take an enchanting overnight train that whizzes through the frozen Finnish countryside while on search of Santa. It’s the ideal festive break!

Things to do in Helsinki in winter

  • Visit the unique Temppeliaukio Church, excavated directly into solid rock.
  • Explore the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, accessible by a scenic ferry ride.
  • Enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna experience, such as at the famous Löyly.
  • Ice skate at the Railway Station Square or take part in other winter sports.
  • Explore Finnish design at the Design Museum or shop at Helsinki’s Christmas Markets.

Weather in Helsinki in winter

High temperature1°C (34°F)-2°C (28°F)-2°C (28°F)
Low temperature-4°C (25°F)-7°C (19°F)-7°C (19°F)
Rain/ snow days11 days10 days7 days

22. Oslo, Norway

Oslo Skyline winter morning

Like other Scandinavian cities, Oslo is cold in winter – as in, it can get to -25°C/ -13°F. The weather does not mess around here. But there are so many wholesome winter activities that it makes the freezing climate worthwhile. 

For example, one of the best things to do in Oslo in the winter is to go cross-country skiing – it’s so easy to access, you can actually take a metro there!

Plus, there are walking and bike tours tailored for winter, more cosy cafes than you could visit in your lifetime, and an abundance of extraordinary museums and other indoor attractions. 

The festive markets are in full swing in December, making this a magical time to be in Norway’s capital. 

Things to do in Oslo in winter

  • Visit the iconic Oslo Opera House, known for its remarkable architecture.
  • Explore the Vigeland Sculpture Park, featuring more than 200 sculptures.
  • Ski or snowboard at the nearby Oslo Winter Park.
  • Take a tour of the Royal Palace or enjoy the art at the Munch Museum.
  • Experience Norwegian cuisine at local restaurants like Maaemo or Arakataka.

Weather in Oslo in winter

High temperature1°C (34°F)0°C (32°F)1°C (34°F)
Low temperature-4°C (25°F)-5°C (23°F)-5°C (23°F)
Rain/ snow days8 days9 days7 days

23. Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik the capital city of iceland in winter view from above

Iceland is famous as a bucket-list destination, with gorgeous waterfalls, incredible wildlife and unique experiences like swimming in between two continental plates.

But why would you visit in winter, when you only have a few short hours a day? 

I can think of at least two reasons.

One of which is the Northern Lights – the darker Iceland is, the higher the chance you have of seeing the lights flash by. The other is the relentless cheer that Reykjavik seems to have, even when it’s one of the darkest places on earth. 

There’s a certain magic to visiting Reykjavik at this freezing time of year. Not only will it be covered in snow, but you’ll really see how Iceland is one of the happiest places on earth, even in the depths of winter. 

Attraction-wise, find a few museums, including the quirky Icelandic Phallological Museum – which is exactly what you think it is.

Plus, enjoy the streets of the city, its many bars and restaurants, and do excursions like whale watching, which run in winter.

The Blue Lagoon and other hot springs stay open all year and winter day trips to the Golden Circle and other natural attractions are certainly possible – so you could venture further afield if you want to get out of the city.

However, Reykjavik is ideal for a slow-paced break in January, February or December with cosy mornings followed by lunchtime sunrises and hot spring soaks as you look on a mid-afternoon darkening sky.

Things to do in Reykjavik in winter

  • Enjoy the breathtaking Northern Lights, best viewed during the winter months
  • Relax at the Blue Lagoon, a famous geothermal spa
  • Explore the Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic church known for its unique design
  • Take a tour of the Golden Circle, including Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall
  • Indulge in Icelandic cuisine at places like Dill or Fiskmarkaðurinn

Weather in Reykjavik in winter

High temperature3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)
Low temperature-2°C (28°F)-3°C (27°F)-2°C (28°F)
Rain/ snow days14 days13 days13 days

24. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark - January 5, 2011: Nyhavn (New Harbor)in winter. It is waterfront, canal, entertainment district in Copenhagen in Denmark. It is lined by colorful houses, bars, cafes, wooden ships

Home of hygee, Denmark is frosty during the winter period – but it’s anything but miserable. Hygee is the Danish concept of cosiness, and nowhere is it more apparent than in Copenhagen. 

As well as the many Christmas markets – the best of which are in Tivoli Gardens – Copenhagen is lined with cosy cafes, places to try traditional Danish food and even the brisk Scandinavian coastline is right at your doorstep. 

Generally, snow is highly possible in January and February.

However, the winters are becoming warmer each year.

Things to do in Copenhagen in winter

  • Visit the enchanting Tivoli Gardens, especially during Christmas for a festive experience.
  • Explore the historic Rosenborg Castle, which houses the Danish crown jewels.
  • Stroll along the famous Nyhavn harbor which is lined with colorful buildings.
  • Enjoy Danish pastries and cuisine at local eateries like Copenhagen Street Food or Fætter Fætter.
  • Ice skate at the Frederiksberg Runddel or explore the city’s many museums and galleries.

Weather in Copenhagen in winter

High temperature5°C (41°F)3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)
Low temperature1°C (34°F)-1°C (30°F)-1°C (30°F)
Rain/ snow days10 days10 days6 days

25. Riga, Latvia

When you’ve got a capital city that’s the birthplace of the Christmas tree, you know that it’s a must-visit during winter!

Riga is great during the festive season, with a magical market and usually a blanket of snow over the wonderful cityscape.

But it’s worth visiting in January and February too.

Wrap up warm, and you can see sights like House of the Blackheads and the Riga Dom Cathedral from the outside. Or, enter into its many cafes serving hot wine and hot chocolate (or Balsam, Riga’s favourite alcoholic beverage!). 

There are museums for literally every taste, too.

Whether you’re in to modern history, cars, chocolate, natural history or religion – you’ll find an indoor exhibition that’ll enthral you in Latvia’s capital. 

Things to do in Riga in winter

  • Explore the beautiful Riga Old Town, known for its medieval architecture.
  • Visit the impressive Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church.
  • Experience Latvian cuisine at local restaurants like Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs or Lido.
  • Attend a performance at the Latvian National Opera.
  • Take part in winter activities like skiing or snowboarding at Baili Ski Resort nearby.

Weather in Riga in winter

High temperature1°C (34°F)-1°C (30°F)0°C (32°F)
Low temperature-4°C (25°F)-6°C (21°F)-6°C (21°F)
Rain/ snow days12 days9 days7 days

26. Vilnius, Lithuania

Aerial view over Old town with Gediminas Castle Tower, churches and Three Crosses on the Bleak Hill at sunrise, Vilnius, Lithuania, Baltic states.

Lithuania’s capital city is still a bit of a hidden gem, but it’s well worth visiting if you want a snowy city and fun atmosphere.

Not only does it have one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, but the city is one of the snowiest capitals in Europe, with frequent snowfall from December to March each year. This makes the Christmas market especially festive!

Enjoy spas, take a look at snowy streets from rooftop bars and go back in time in Vilnius’s many historic attractions and museums. 

Lithuanian Restoration of the State Day is February 16th, which is a wonderful time to be in the city, with lots of celebrations and festivities.

Things to do in Vilnius in winter

  • Visit the stunning Vilnius Cathedral and the historical Gediminas’ Tower.
  • Explore the unique neighborhood of Užupis, often compared to Montmartre in Paris.
  • Enjoy Lithuanian dishes at restaurants like Ertlio Namas or Lokys.
  • Stroll through the Vilnius Christmas Market in the Cathedral Square during the festive season.
  • Ice skate at the rink in Lukiškės Square.

Weather in Vilnius in winter

High temperature0°C (32°F)-2°C (28°F)-1°C (30°F)
Low temperature-5°C (23°F)-7°C (19°F)-7°C (19°F)
Rain/ snow days13 days11 days9 days

27. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia - December 17 2020: Aerial view to Christmas market in Old Town. Medieval houses with red roofs at evening

Home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, Tallinn is another incredible snowy Euroepan capital. With fairy lights strung over every street corner, the city feels wonderfully festive throughout the year.

You’ll have to pull on a coat to properly see the city, but the architecture is so beautiful, and there are so many adorable cafes to grab a drink in, that the frosy weather is worth it! 

Things to do in Tallinn in winter

  • Explore Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with medieval charm.
  • Visit the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Kadriorg Palace.
  • Enjoy Estonian cuisine at local eateries like Rataskaevu 16 or Olde Hansa.
  • Take part in winter activities at the Nõmme Snow Park.
  • Shop for local handicrafts and enjoy seasonal treats at Tallinn’s Christmas Market.

Weather in Tallinn in winter

High temperature1°C (34°F)-1°C (30°F)-2°C (28°F)
Low temperature-5°C (23°F)-7°C (19°F)-8°C (18°F)
Rain/ snow days14 days13 days9 days

28. Warsaw, Poland

Photo showing the panorama of Warsaw

The chilly capital of Poland has long been known as a snowy European destination, although it tends to be snowy for a lot less time each year.

Nonetheless, the gorgeous city centre makes it well worth visiting any time of year.

See attractions like the Royal Castle in Warsaw or venture into musems that range in topics, from the POLIN History of the Jews in Poland, to the Warsaw Uprising Museum, to the Neon Museum in the alternative neighbourhood of Praga. 

Festive markets are popular, of course, and as Poland is typically a very Christmassy country, you won’t be short of seasonal cheer in its capital. 

Things to do in Warsaw in winter

  • Explore Warsaw’s Old Town, including the Royal Castle and Wilanów Palace.
  • Visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the POLIN Museum of the History of the Polish Jews.
  • Enjoy Polish cuisine at restaurants like Zapiecek or Stary Dom.
  • Ice skate at the Old Town Market Square or take a winter walk in Łazienki Park.
  • Attend a concert at the Grand Theatre or the Warsaw Philharmonic.

Weather in Warsaw in winter

High temperature2°C (36°F)1°C (34°F)2°C (36°F)
Low temperature-4°C (25°F)-5°C (23°F)-5°C (23°F)
Rain/ snow days8 days7 days5 days

29. Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø is located in northern Norway, and. is somewhere to visit if you want an extreme winter city break, that’s covered under snow and has overwhelming festive cheer! 

While Tromsø is substantially smaller than many cities on this list, it’s arguably one of the most worth visiting, thanks to near-guaranteed snow (this is the gateway to the Arctic, after all!), chances to see the Northern Lights and a plethora of wintery attractions that’ll warm any soul. 

Try out dog-sledging, visit the Arctic Museum and Arctic Cathedral (and see the Tromsø Cathedral, the northernmost protestant Cathedral in the world!), go on a wintery whale-watching tour and learn about Sami culture.

It’s freezing, but it may well be the winter capital of the world – so definitely add Tromsø to your winter travel bucket list!

Check out my full guide to Tromsø in winter!

Things to do in Tromsø in winter

  • Experience the mesmerizing Northern Lights in one of the best places in the world to view them
  • Visit the iconic Arctic Cathedral and the Polar Museum
  • Take a whale watching tour or go dog sledding for an adventurous outdoor experience
  • Enjoy Norwegian dishes at local eateries like Emmas Drømmekjøkken or Fiskekompaniet
  • Join a Sami cultural experience to learn about indigenous traditions

Weather in Tromsø in winter

High temperature0°C (32°F)-1°C (30°F)-1°C (30°F)
Low temperature-4°C (25°F)-5°C (23°F)-5°C (23°F)
Rain/ snow days15 days13 days12 days

Europe winter city breaks for winter sun

Want to escape winter? Check out these warmer cities in Europe in winter, mainly located in Southern Europe.

30. Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona’s where the art of Gaudí meets the rhythm of Catalonia.

With a mild temperature of 15°C (59°F) in February, Barcelona may not be beach weather, but you’ll still find plenty of sunny days!

Winter in Barcelona doesn’t mean missing out on any of its famous sites.

From the awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia to the colourful Park Güell, the city’s landmarks remain open, welcoming, and far less crowded.

Take your time to explore the Gothic Quarter’s narrow alleys, visit world-class museums like the Picasso Museum, or take a day trip to nearby Montserrat.

The city’s renowned food scene is in full swing, with tapas bars and local eateries serving mouthwatering Catalan dishes, perfect for warming up on a crisp winter day.

Check out my full guide to Barcelona in winter by clicking here.

Things to do in Barcelona in winter

  • Visit iconic landmarks like Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló.
  • Stroll down Las Ramblas, a lively street in the city center, or explore the Gothic Quarter.
  • Enjoy Catalan cuisine at local restaurants like Cervecería Catalana or Can Solé.
  • Experience the magic of Christmas at the Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona’s most famous Christmas market.
  • Attend a flamenco show at venues like Tablao Cordobes or visit the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.

Weather in Barcelona in winter

High temperature15°C (59°F)15°C (59°F)15°C (59°F)
Low temperature9°C (48°F)9°C (48°F)8°C (46°F)
Rain Days3 days4 days4 days

31. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal skyline at Sao Jorge Castle at sunset.

Beautiful Lisbon is a wonderful city to visit year-round. With incredible architecture, beautiful beaches close by, great nightlife and plenty of attractions, there’s so much to love about Lisbon. 

And just wait until I tell you that the temperature hit 17°C (about 63°F) when I was there in January one year! It’s definitely one of the warmest capital cities in Europe.

Personally, I’d much rather be in Lisbon in 17°C/ 63°F than the toasty 40°C/ 104°F it can get to in the summer months. 

Of course, it can be colder and rain – but you’re much more likely to have some days of sunshine than in other countries in Europe! 

Attraction-wise, you can enjoy virtually all of Lisbon’s highlights in the winter.

Visit a range of museums, take a train to the beautiful Sintra, explore incredible churches and take in its epic coastline. There’s so much to enjoy in Lisbon in the winter months! 

Things to do in Lisbon in winter

  • Explore the historic Belém Tower and Jeronimos Monastery.
  • Ride the iconic Tram 28 through the city’s picturesque neighborhoods.
  • Savor Portuguese cuisine at places like Ramiro or Cervejaria Liberdade.
  • Visit the Lisbon Oceanarium, one of the largest indoor aquariums in Europe.
  • Stroll through the vibrant LX Factory area, filled with art, dining, and shopping.

Weather in Lisbon in winter

High temperature15°C (59°F)15°C (59°F)16°C (61°F)
Low temperature9°C (48°F)8°C (46°F)9°C (48°F)
Rain days10 days10 days8 days

32. Valletta, Malta

Marsaxlokk village harbor of Malta, illuminate by sunset light

While Valletta is quite a small city, it boasts a few attractions worth visiting, such as St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the National Museum of Archaeology, Fort St Elmo and Casa Rocca Piccola.

Its Mediterranean location gives it gorgeous weather throughout the year, with some of the warmest temperatures in all of Europe!

Plus, the fact that Malta is quite petite means that it’s easy to explore other sights from Valletta.

Drive straight from the city and explore places like the Dingli Cliffs and Blue Grotto Viewpoint.

While the weather isn’t quite as warm as the rest of the year, there’s still so much to see in Malta in winter!

Things to do in Valletta in winter

  • Visit the majestic St. John’s Co-Cathedral.
  • Stroll the historic streets and gardens, such as the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
  • Enjoy Maltese cuisine at local eateries like Rubino or Legligin.
  • Explore the National Museum of Archaeology.
  • Take a harbour cruise or explore nearby cities like Mdina for a day trip.

Weather in Valletta in winter

High temperature17°C (63°F)16°C (61°F)16°C (61°F)
Low temperature11°C (52°F)9°C (48°F)9°C (48°F)
Rain days8 days8 days7 days

33. Antalya, Turkey

Harbor in Antalya old town or Kaleici in Turkey. High quality photo

Located on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast, Antalya is mostly well-known for its all-inclusive hotels and gorgeous beaches, which can be jam-packed in the summer. 

But did you also know that Antalya is a great city break destination any time of year?

In fact, it’s one of the most historic cities in Turkey, with an incredible amount of ruins. It was part of the ancient Lycia region, which predated the Romans. 

So there are tonnes of things to do in Antalya in the winter.

Plus, hotel rooms and flights can be very cheap and if you fancy a stroll on the beach, you’ll virtually have it to yourself!

It’s definitely a bit chillier, but Antalya generally has plenty of winter sun as well. 

If you’re exploring this area of Turkey, I’d recommend checking out Kas too, which is lovely in winter.

Demre, a nearby town to Kas, is where Santa Claus is originally from – you can’t get more Christmassy than that! 

Things to do in Antalya in winter

  • Visit the stunning Düden Waterfalls and the Hadrian’s Gate.
  • Explore the historic Kaleiçi, Antalya’s old town, with its beautiful Ottoman architecture.
  • Enjoy Turkish cuisine at local restaurants like Van Kahvalti Evi or 7 Mehmet.
  • Take a scenic drive to the nearby Olympos and Chimera.
  • Relax in a traditional Turkish bath or hammam, such as the Antalya Hamamı.

Weather in Antalya in winter

High temperature16°C (61°F)15°C (59°F)16°C (61°F)
Low temperature10°C (50°F)8°C (46°F)10°C (50°F)
Rain days8 days9 days7 days

34. Istanbul, Turkey

Although Istanbul is considered to be one of the biggest cities on the continent, it’s actually partly in Europe and partly in Asia.

In the winter season, it can have mild weather, although snow isn’t impossible either.

However, winter in Istanbul is short, and there are plenty of attractions you can enjoy, whatever the weather!

Pull on your coat and gloves and take a walk along the Bosphorus, maybe even doing a cruise to see Istanbul’s sights from the water.

Take in some of the city’s best museums, including the Museum of Innocence and Topkapi Palace.

And of course, the city’s most famous mosques – the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – are open year-round. 

Things to do in Istanbul in winter

  • Visit iconic sites like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.
  • Explore the bustling Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar.
  • Enjoy Turkish tea and sweets at local cafes like Pierre Loti Hill.
  • Take a cruise on the Bosphorus to see the city from a different perspective.
  • Attend a Whirling Dervish show or enjoy a traditional Turkish meal at places like Nevizade Street.

Weather in Istanbul in winter

High temperature11°C (52°F)9°C (48°F)9°C (48°F)
Low temperature5°C (41°F)3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)
Rain days1299

35. Rome, Italy

View of Colosseum in Rome and morning sun, Italy, Europe.

A cradle of civilization, Rome is one of the most historically important cities in the world. While it has long, hot summers, its winters can be notably chillier – snow isn’t unheard of. 

However, it’s usually quite a bit warmer than destinations in the north, and the winters are relatively short. Plus, even if it is chilly while you visit, its history isn’t weather dependent!

Attractions like the Colosseum, Trevi fountain and St Peter’s Basilica are open year-round.

Plus, you can visit Vatican City and see a whole other country in a few hours! 

If the weather is really bad while you’re in the Italian capital, there are 83 museums, and as you’d expect, incredible Italian restaurants are at every street corner. 

Things to do in Rome in winter

  • Explore historic sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon.
  • Visit the Vatican Museums, including the Sistine Chapel.
  • Enjoy Italian cuisine at renowned eateries like Roscioli or Pizzarium Bonci.
  • Stroll through beautiful squares such as Piazza Navona and Piazza di Spagna.
  • Take in art and culture at the Galleria Borghese.

Weather in Rome in winter

High temperature13°C (55°F)12°C (54°F)14°C (57°F)
Low temperature4°C (39°F)3°C (37°F)3°C (37°F)
Rain days8 days7 days7 days

36. Malaga, Spain

Sitting in the south of Spain, Malaga rarely gets cold.

In the winter, it’s definitely cooler, but many people prefer these climates to the scorching weather of the summertime! 

There are plenty of beaches to enjoy – this is the Costa del Sol, after all – and while the sea is quite chilly this time of year, it’s perfect weather to hike along the beach. 

Malaga has a gorgeous old town, with bucket-list attractions like the Alcazaba, Malaga Cathedral and the historic Roman Theatre. 

Check out my full guide to Malaga in winter!

Things to do in Malaga in winter

  • Visit the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle for panoramic views of the city.
  • Explore the Picasso Museum and the Carmen Thyssen Museum.
  • Enjoy Spanish tapas at local spots like El Pimpi or La Tranca.
  • Take a relaxing walk along the Malagueta Beach or explore the Málaga Park.
  • Visit nearby towns like Ronda or Nerja for a day trip to experience more of the region.

Weather in Malaga in winter

High temperature17°C (63°F)17°C (63°F)18°C (64°F)
Low temperature9°C (48°F)8°C (46°F)8°C (46°F)
Rain days5 days5 days4 days

37. Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Cathedral La Seu at sunet time, Palma de Mallorca islands, Spain

Winter in Mallorca is definitely a lot cooler than the summertime, but that shouldn’t put you off visiting!

It can be ideal weather to not only get out and about and enjoy the many activities of the island but also take in the sights of Palma de Mallorca itself. 

One of the most underrated but beautiful cities in Spain, Palma de Mallorca is unassuming at first glance.

But once you’re there and have a chance to walk down its winding streets, enjoy a cocktail in one of the plazas, or glance into the island’s distinct history by exploring its cathedral, you’ll be enchanted!

Things to do in Palma in winter

  • Visit the stunning Palma Cathedral and the Royal Palace of La Almudaina.
  • Explore the charming Old Town, filled with narrow streets and hidden courtyards.
  • Enjoy Mallorcan cuisine at local eateries like La Bóveda or Ca’n Joan de s’Aigo.
  • Take a scenic drive to nearby villages like Valldemossa or Sóller (or take the historic train to Sóller!).
  • Stroll along the Paseo Marítimo or explore the marina.

Weather in Palma in winter

High temperature16°C (61°F)15°C (59°F)16°C (61°F)
Low temperature9°C (48°F)8°C (46°F)8°C (46°F)
Rain days5 days5 days5 days

38. Paphos, Cyprus

Cyprus, Paphos embankment, aerial view. Famous mediterranean resort city Summer Travel.

Sitting in the middle of the Mediterranean, it’s no surprise that Cyprus stays warm in the winter months. Paphos, in particular, usually sees highs of 16°C/ 61°F even in January, which is its coldest month. 

Paphos is quite well known as a resort summer destination, but three are plenty of attractions to enjoy all year round. Check out Kato Paphos Archaeological Park and learn about the ancient civilisations of Cyprus, visit Pahpos Fort or just get lost in the old town. 

You probably won’t want to swim or sunbathe during winter, but strolling around the beaches is lovely, and it’s often warm and sunny enough to enjoy lunch, dinner or a few drinks outside. 

Of course, you can also use Paphos as a base to explore Cyprus, seeing attractions like Aphrodite’s Rock and Nicosia, the world’s only divided capital city. 

Things to do in Paphos in winter

  • Visit the ancient Paphos Archaeological Park, including the well-preserved mosaics.
  • Explore the Tombs of the Kings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Enjoy Cypriot cuisine at local restaurants like Ta Mpania or 7 St. Georges Tavern.
  • Stroll along the picturesque Paphos Harbour or take a wine tour of the region.
  • Visit the Akamas Peninsula for hiking.

Weather in Paphos in winter

High temperature18°C (64°F)16°C (61°F)17°C (63°F)
Low temperature10°C (50°F)8°C (46°F)8°C (46°F)
Rain days8 days10 days8 days

39. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Old town and harbor of Dubrovnik Croatia

Visit Dubrovnik in winter, and you’ll wonder “isn’t this one of the most touristy destinations in Europe”?. 

In the winter months, Dubrovnik simply loses its crowds.

No longer is it a hectic destination with swarms of tourists at every single photo spot, but instead it’s calm, managing to show off its historic buildings and incredible beauty in peace. 

Most of Dubrovnik’s attractions, including the city walls and Fort Imperial stay open during the winter, and while the weather is certainly chillier, it’s still warmer than a lot of Northern European destinations, and lovely sunny days aren’t unheard of, even in January. 

Check out my full guide to Dubrovnik in winter.

Things to do in Dubrovnik in winter

  • Explore the iconic Dubrovnik Walls and the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Visit the historic Rector’s Palace and the Franciscan Monastery.
  • Enjoy Croatian cuisine at local eateries like Nautika or Lady Pi-Pi.
  • Take a cable car ride to Mount Srd for stunning views of the city and the Adriatic Sea.
  • Explore nearby islands like Lokrum or take a day trip to the Pelješac Peninsula.

Weather in Dubrovnik in winter

High temperature14°C (57°F)12°C (54°F)13°C (55°F)
Low temperature8°C (46°F)7°C (45°F)7°C (45°F)
Rain days10 days9 days8 days

40. Beirut, Lebanon

Drone footage of Beirut

Ok, Lebanon’s technically not in Europe, but it’s a fairly quick flight from many European destinations, and it’s such a wonderful country that I couldn’t leave it off this list of winter city breaks!

Even in January, Beirut can have high temperatures of up to 18°C/ 64°F.

The city has a certain charm, although it still retains many of the scars from its brutal Civil War and, more recently, the Beirut blast. I recommend doing the Alternative Beirut Walking Tour to learn more about it. 

Also worth visiting in Beirut are Pigeon Rocks and the National Museum. Plus, there are tonnes of restaurants serving the most delicious Lebanese food – I recommend Le Chef, which was loved by Anthony Bordain and saved by Russell Crowe after the Beirut blast. 

Skiing in Lebanon is popular in the winter; in fact, you can ski in the morning and be back down in relative warmth by the sea by the afternoon!

A short drive from Beirut, you’ll reach beach towns of Batroun and Byblos. These are some of the world’s oldest settlements and have incredible ruins, beautiful beaches and fun bars. There’s much more to Lebanon, too, but if you’re just in Beirut as a winter city break, that should be enough to sink your teeth into! 

Things to do in Beirut in winter

  • Visit the historical Mohammed Al-Amin Mosque and the Beirut National Museum.
  • Explore the lively Hamra Street and Beirut Souks for shopping and dining.
  • Enjoy Lebanese cuisine at places like Tawlet or Em Sherif.
  • Take a day trip to the ancient city of Byblos or the beautiful Jeita Grotto.
  • Stroll along the Corniche or visit the Raouche Rocks for a sunset view.

Weather in Beirut in winter

High temperature19°C (66°F)18°C (64°F)18°C (64°F)
Low temperature12°C (54°F)10°C (50°F)11°C (52°F)
Rain days7 days8 days8 days

Europe winter city breaks FAQs

Nuremberg, Germany - December 13, 2017: Christkindlesmarkt at Hauptmarkt platz (Main Market Square) in dusk. Unknown people walk around the market stalls. This is one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany and one of the most famous in the world. The market started back in the 17th century.

Here are some answers to FAQs about winter city breaks in Europe!

What is the best city break in the winter? 

It depends what you’re looking for! If you want somewhere snowy and festive, head to Tromsø in Norway or Helsinki, where you can take a train up to Lapland.

For Christmas markets, check out Prague, Vienna or Nuremberg.

If you want to experience touristy cities without the crowds, Venice is well worth checking out off-season.

Fancy winter sun? Paphos in Cyprus and Malaga in Spain are winners. 

Which European country is best for winter? 

If it’s sun you want, head to Southern Spain or Mediterranean locations like Cyprus and Malta.

But for a great festive vibe, Scandinavian countries are wonderful for snow and Central European countries are excellent for Christmas markets! 

Where is the best place to go in Europe in December? 

It’s Christmas season, so I’d recommend somewhere festive, like Tromsø for snow and wintery attractions or Nuremberg for Christmas markets. 

Where is a good city break in January? 

You probably want to beat the January blues – head to Malaga in southern Spain! Check out all of my favourite places to visit in January here!

Where is warm in Europe in February?

Places like Antalya in Turkey start warming up around this time, and you might even find that locations like Rome and Lisbon have good temperatures from February. 

Here are the best places to visit in Europe in February.

Is Europe worth visiting in winter?

YES! Lots of destinations have mild temperatures and clear skies, and while it’s not scorching hot, there’s still plenty to do! 

Or, you can relish the cold and enjoy a festive atmosphere, indoor attractions and even the chance of snow. 

What is the warmest place in Europe in winter? 

That award goes to the Canary Islands. While they aren’t known for their cities (which is why they aren’t on this list!), they are very much worth visiting in the cooler months! 

What is the cheapest city break in Europe? 

It’s difficult to say as currencies change and it depends on your tastes, but the Baltic states, Bucharest and Istanbul are all very affordable. 

Are you ready for your Europe winter city break?

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

If this list of winter city breaks in Europe hasn’t inspired you, I don’t know what will!

Forget Europe summer, Europe winter is where it’s at!

Whether you fancy snow or sun, Christmas markets or museums, all of these destinations are well worth visiting in their own right.

What adventure will you choose?

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