Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
―Norman Vincent Peale
Christmas in Europe is celebrated with lots of joy, laughter, and steaming emotions. It’s absolutely awe-striking to see and experience the extent to which the festivity of this holiday is celebrated and entertained on The Old Continent. It’s an absolute treat not just for locals but for travelers, as well.
Here are some of the best places in Europe to indulge in the holiday joy of Christmas during the month of December!
Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in Austria and it is one of the heartiest places in all of Europe to celebrate Christmas. The highlight is the Christmas Market located at the city hall square. It simply turns the place into a fairyland each year for Christmas celebrations like no others. There’s another amazing Christmas market in Vienna that is decorated each year and is an absolute must-experience – the one that is held right in front of the Schönbrunn Palace. On the markets, you can try the local Christmas drink “Weihnachtspunsch” that consists of lots of ingredients. Some of them are rum, marzipan, dark chocolate, and tea. Bring it on!
You can also enjoy a walk through Rathauspark and be dazzled by the decorations. You can have your own little photoshoot at Belvedere or attend a live advent. Plenty to do and see.
The Christmas markets of Germany are oh so famous and Cologne is the place to be if you want to visit the best ones in the country. The most popular Christmas market in this city is the one that is held in front of the famous Cologne Cathedral and it is expected to entertain a crowd of about four million people each year! Other great Christmas markets of the city include the “Neumarkt” and the “Alter Markt” that were both originally founded in the 1970s. The Alter Markt is located in Cologne’s ‘Altstadt’ which is the old town that calls itself the home of the Heinzelmännchen which were creatures from a local legend. The Angel’s Market is the market that is held in the Neumarkt square which sits a little outside of the immediate city center. All of these Christmas markets offer the essence of the true Christmas spirit that cannot be found anywhere else. The pretty decorations and many joyful stalls bring life to these markets and are an absolute must-visit.
Christmas in Lapland, Finland is may be a childhood dream for most of us. The reason – the Santa Clause Village in Rovaniemi in Lapland. Who wouldn’t like to meet Santa in person? Holiday festivity does not get any better or more real than this. The Santa Clause village has been a major attraction for people all over the world that celebrate Christmas. Many families travel each year during the month of December to experience this fun and authentic holiday center that is able to encapture rightfully, all that is Christmas in its truest essence. Here, you can visit the reindeer of Santa Clause, meet Santa himself, and better yet visit the actual cottage of Mrs. Clause! How exciting is all that? This is the perfect trip for the holiday and is a magical place that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime for sure!
The capital city of Slovenia is Ljubljana and this is the city that is dressed up in gorgeous Christmas lights each year throughout the month of December to celebrate the holiday season. The wooden stalls make a beautiful holiday scenery as they are all set up along the banks of the peaceful Ljubjanica River. They are joyfully decorated with lights, ornaments, and of course, the scents of pastries, roasted chestnuts, and hot mulled wine that is locally known as the kuhano vino in Slovene. All of these festive aromas fill the air in the beautiful city of Ljubljana to wake the Christmas spirit among all the locals and visitors alike. Other than the beautiful decorations and enticing aromatic festive snacks and drinks, Ljubljana also offers some amazing Christmas markets that are definitely worth the visit and are absolutely up to the mark for you to have an amazing holiday experience!
Yet another European destination that is perfect to celebrate the annual joy and holiday festivities of Christmas during the month of December, is Zagreb, Croatia. It is also widely famous for its grand Christmas markets, one of the greatest of which happens to be the Zagreb Advent! The Zagreb Advent has, in fact, been voted to be the best Christmas market in all of Europe for 3 years in a row. This is probably because the Zagreb Advent ups its game and raises the bar each year by introducing new events, activities, and amazing experiences. The festive city of Zagreb is full of Christmas booths and live music for everyone to enjoy. Here, you can satisfy your Christmas cravings with fresh sausages, mulled wine, and schnaps bars. All of these amazing Christmas experiences are sure to stimulate your senses and to keep you warm during the cold, frosty Zagreb winter.
Jungfrau region, Switzerland
One of the traditional Christmas celebrations in the Jungfrau region in Switzerland is the famous Jungfrau railway tour which many people enjoy each year. This mystical ride through the scenic beauty of the area provides an unforgettable experience as you hop on to the Jungfrau Region Railway to Grindelwald. Make sure to explore Interlaken where you can complete your magical Christmas experience with a wonderful horse and carriage ride through the beautiful Swiss town!
In Nice, France, December is the month when winter starts but the climate here is still quite pleasant so this is the perfect place to visit in order to enjoy a “warm winter” vacation. The Christmas decorations enlighten the streets and the weather is perfect for local tours. Christmas in France is rather intimate and here in Nice, you can enjoy some ravishing Christmas meals for lunch and dinner in a cozy setting. Some of the best local restaurants are lit up during this time the year as the perfect way to entertain their guests and welcome travelers as well.
During the month of December, the city of Rome is brought to life and is even more enchanting for travelers to come and explore the Eternal City. There are countless opportunities for exciting things to do and see during the Christmas season. Fun and joyful events take place in the city. You can explore the various Christmas markets of Rome, look for presents in the local stalls or visit a traditional Nativity Scene of Rome, and best yet – go ice-skating! What better way to enjoy the holiday season?
Portugal is home to the biggest live Nativity scene in all of Europe. This Nativity is an absolute must-visit to complete your holiday tour and is sure to leave you with some magical memories. It’s an experience of a lifetime. In the bigger cities of Portugal as Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra, you’ll discover streets and squares full of Christmas lights and decorations, as well as Christmas markets that have gained popularity during the last few years.
Granada Christmas festivities are from December 1st till the 6th of January. This is because of the Spanish tradition according to which the main celebration is, in fact, the “Epiphany” when the three kings bring gifts on January 6th. The pomegranate is the national symbol of Spain. And one of the best ways to get started with your Christmas celebrations in Granada is to count the pomegranates you see and even pick a few and enjoy their unique taste as December happens to be the season when this fruit is the ripest.
Next, you can have a stroll through the streets of Granada and absorb the beauty of the Christmas lights and decorations that have been put up by the locals with such care and joy. Trying traditional holiday food and drinks is one of the best ways to enjoy the Christmas spirit of Granada.
Rising above the city center is the Albayzin neighborhood of Granada, which is a must-visit. And then, of course, a trip to Alhambra and the fountain of gardens which is compulsory in order to complete your Granada experience.
Christmas in Europe is a beautiful scene and a magical experience that seems to come straight out of a fairytale storybook. Each country offers its own unique local customs, decorations, markets, celebrations and cuisines.
Traveling over Christmas in Europe might be exciting but also overwhelming due to changes is usual schedules, extraordinary closures, openings, etc. Don’t worry, I can help you plan an amazing trip to Europe over the Holly season.