Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by Cody Livingston
The holiday season is officially over in January. This is also the time when you’ll find cheaper prices and fewer crowds. Europe is gorgeous throughout the year, both in winter and summer. The trick is to know where to travel at different times of the year. If you want to avoid the jam-packed airports and heavy traffic of the holiday season, January is a great time to visit Europe. You might miss out on some magical experiences but you can take advantage of fewer crowds, cheaper prices and picturesque winter wonderlands. Here is our list of 15 best places to visit in January in Europe:
1. Tenerife, Canary Island
With spectacular beaches and mild warm climate, Tenerife is an ideal place to travel in Europe this winter. In January, the largest of the eight Canary Islands, Tenerife experiences an average temperature of 17 °C, with the maximum touching 20°C and the minimum dropping down to 14°C. A part of Spain, Tenerife homes volcanoes like the famous 3,700m tall Mount Teide or the 2,400m tall Roque de los Muchachos, where adventure-loving tourists you can go hiking. The city of Laguna and Teide National Park are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tenerife that you should not miss while on a holiday. For history lovers, there is the History and Anthropology Museum of Tenerife that speaks about the island’s past. Take time to go off-roading on the dunes or try the local cuisine. If you’re here in January, make sure to check out the Canary Islands International Music Festival.
Average Temperature: In January, the maximum day temperature will touch 21° C, while the lowest will drop down to 15°C.
Top attractions: Cathedral of San Cristóbal de La Laguna, the Church of the Conception of La Laguna, Cueva Pintada Museum, Pico del Teide & Santa Ana Cathedral and Cave of the Guanches
2. Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon, the Portuguese capital is a great city for a winter break in January in Europe. With the maximum temperature hitting 15°C this month, it is time to beat the summer crowds. Since it is an off-peak season unlike June to August, finding budget accommodation within the city will be easy. Also, you can experience the slow pace of the city. In Lisbon, do explore the local cuisines like Bacalhau à brás, Carne de Porco Alentejana and Caracois.
Get to the top of the Torre de Belem, the 16-century fortification and a UNESCO Heritage Site to admire the panoramic view of the ocean. You can also go surfing around Lisbon all year long. There are numerous surf spots dotted around the city but some remain closed in the colder months. January is also synonymous with the winter sale in Portugal and if you want to take the advantage, go to Avenida da Liberdade with its plenty of luxurious fashion stores, such as Burberry, Miu Miu, and Gucci or try the Chiado neighbourhood with its numerous cafes and quaint little shops.
Top Attractions: The National Museum of Ancient Art, the National Azulejo Museum, Pena Palace, Tower of Belem & Castelo de S. Jorge and Jerónimos Monastery
Average Temperature: In January, the maximum temperature hits 15°C and the minimum can drop down to 8°C.
3. Barcelona, Spain
If you want Barcelona all to yourself, January is the right time to visit here. In the first month of the year, the city on the coast of northeastern Spain is relatively free from mass tourism but perfect to experience the rich culture of this Catalan capital. It does get a bit cold up in the north but it’s always great to be here. The city is worth a visit all year long. The average temperature at day time is between 10 and 15°C, with January and February being the coldest months and some snow. But, it happens only at every alternate year with only a few snowflakes, nothing you can’t handle. Barcelona is less crowded in January with low hotel and flight prices. It is a magnificent seaside city with rich culture, fabled architecture and a lively drinking and dining scene. La Sagrada Familia – the landmark Gaudí-designed church, Park Güell with its sculptural structures and Casa Mila are some of the must-visit attractions in the city.
Top attractions: Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Vicens, Sagrada Família and Casa Batllo
Average Temperature: In January, Barcelona experiences a minimum temperature of 9°C, which can go up to 15° C.
4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
It is always a different experience to celebrate the New Year in Amsterdam but if you have missed it, you can always visit in the latter days of January when the entire city is filled with art installations for the Amsterdam Light Festival that ends on January 19. There are over 30 different light installations to explore around the city if you are visiting during this month. You can also try ice skating at Ice Amsterdam at Museumplein. The Dutch capital city also celebrates National Tulip Day on January 18, when you can admire a variety of tulips or pick some in Dam Square.
The 17th-century canals and the 19th-century Defence Line of Amsterdam, two UNESCO World Heritage Centers that you should not miss in this city. An alpha-world city, Amsterdam’s main attractions include its historic canals, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Concertgebouw and the Anne Frank House. The city is also famous for its nightlife with its red-light district and cannabis coffee shops.
Top attractions: The Royal Palace of Amsterdam, Natura Artis Magistra, Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, Vondelpark and Museum het Rembrandthuis
Average temperature: In January, the temperature in the Dutch capital will be between 1°C and 6°C, making it one of the best city breaks in January.
5. Monte Carlo, Monaco
Monte Carlo conjures images of a glamorous bygone era and this Mediterranean port has been a timeless playground for the famous and elites for more than 150 years. If you are here at the end of January, do not miss the Monte Carlo Rally. The rally might not be as exciting as the main event but still brings parties and excitement to the city. While you’re here, be sure to check out the iconic Monte Carlo Casino, from the James Bond movies. Stop by the Oceanographic Museum to learn about the diverse marine life or go for souvenir shopping at the Metropole Shopping Centre. Monte Carlo holds extraordinary experiences for the travellers.
Top attractions: Casino de Monte Carlo, Cathedrale de Monaco and Jardin Exotique
Average temperature: The average temperature in January is between 8° C and 12° C, making Monte Carlo one of the best European cities to visit in winter.
6. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is popular for its Christmas markets, but you can enjoy its rich history and culture in January without the holiday crowds. The city looks pretty in winter with its charming streets and imperial architecture basked in twinkling light. Stop into a local cafe to experience its rich coffee house culture after a day of touring the city. If you’re visiting Vienna for the New Year, try following the New Year’s Eve trail, Silveterpfad that takes you to different stages with live music. The city squares turn magical with endless stalls selling souvenirs and hot mulled wine. Winter in Vienna is amazing and the whole atmosphere, in general, is very different than other times of the year which is why it is enlisted as one of the top places to travel in Europe in winter.
Top Attractions: Albertina, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Schloss Schönbrunn, Mozarthaus Vienna, Hundertwasserhaus and Hofburg palace complex
Average Temperature: The average temperature in Vienna in January is between 0°C and 4° C.
7. Munich, Germany
Southern Germany is lovely throughout the year, but it is especially majestic during winter when it turns into a snowy wonderland. It is the ultimate cold-weather playground where you could enjoy sledding down a mountain or cosy up in a luxe hotel or relish your drinks in a tavern. You can base yourself in the city of Munich and opt for the day trips to several nearby places such as Salzburg or Austria. You can also visit the former house of the royal family Munich Residenz, which is also the largest city palace in Germany. January is also the best time to visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, situated on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Fussen in southwest Bavaria and renowned as an inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at Walt Disney World. It looks even prettier and magical, completely covered in snow.
Top attractions: Neuschwanstein Castle, Schloss Nymphenburg, Schloss Dachau Marienplatz, Theatinerkirche, BMW Museum, Deutsches Museum and Linderhof Palace
Average temperature: In January, Munich experiences a minimum temperature of 2° C and maximum of 7° C.
8. Gstaad, Switzerland
January is a good time to visit western Switzerland with tons of great skiing opportunities, fitting every level — from beginners to experts. With its celebrity-ridden ski resorts, it’s easy to forget that Gstaad is just a village with a budget-friendly side and plenty of cows. So what makes it so popular amongst the super-rich? There’s the skiing, of course. And the Swiss tax and banking regime also play a big role. Gstaad is located in a valley at the heart of the Bernese Oberland, surrounded by smooth slopes. And hence, skiing is a must-try activity while you’re here. You can even go for night skiing at Rinderberg that stays open late. The nearby town of Château-d’Oex hosts a nine-day hot air balloon festival in January every year and the majestic snow-capped mountains make a perfect backdrop for the hundreds of colourful balloons decorating the blue sky.
Top attractions: Wispile, Gruyeres Castle and Col du Pillon
Average temperature: The maximum temperature in Gstaad in January will drop down to -3° while the maximum will reach 5° C
9. Sierra Nevada, Spain
Home to Europe’s southern-most ski fields, Sierra Nevada boasts warm sunshine and the longest ski season in Europe. If you want to go skiing without frigid temperatures, this is the best place to be! The mountain range in Spain is only a 1-hour drive away from Granada, where you can reach from London via air and with a two-hour drive, you can reach the beach. While you’re here, be sure to check out the stunning Alhambra in nearby Granada that dates back to the 13th century, which served as the home to King Charles V and Queen Isabel during the 16th century. You can also hire a car and drive from Granada stopping along the mountain road and taking scenic pictures of nature around.
Top attractions: Lanjaron, Mountain Scenery in Berchules, Route to Pico de Veleta and the Mountain Village of Trevelez
Average temperature: In January, Siera Nevada will witness the minimum -7° C, which can go high up to 3° C
10. Rovaniemi, Finland
With white snow all around, Rovaniemi is one of the best places to visit in Europe in January. While on a winter day, get around on a snowmobile or a reindeer sleigh. While on a stay in this city located between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, try hands in snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or ice fishing. Rovaniemi is also great for walking tours with several museums, where you’ll learn more about the history and culture of this Finnish town. You can buy a Culture Pass to visit Museum Arktikum and learn about the history of Lapland and Arctic research, get a glimpse of northern contemporary art in the Korundi House of Culture and get familiar with the northern forests at Science Centre Pilke. Rovaniemi is the official town of Santa Claus, where Christmas can be experienced year-round in places like Santa Claus Village and SantaPark.
Top attractions: Pilke Science Centre, Korundi House of Culture, German Soldier Cemetery and Museum Arktikum
Average temperature: In January, the temperature in this Finnish town will be between 8° to -16° C.
11. Prague, Czech Republic
There is no bad time to visit Prague but the city transforms into a winter wonderland in January with snow-dusted St. Charles Bridge and Old Town’s church spires. Add some of Europe’s best Christmas markets outside of Germany and you have a holiday frontrunner, where even the weariest traveller will succumb to the trdelník (fried dough) and a glass of mulled wine. Prague is renowned for its historical buildings covered in red roof tiles and during winter this snow-covered architecture is a vision straight from the fairy tale. For the best view of the city, try the Prague Castle viewpoint or the Petrin Lookout Tower. January also sees fewer tourists, which means photos opportunities are even better when you can have Charles Bridge or the grounds of Prague Castle mostly to yourself.
Top attractions: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Old Town Square and St. Vitus Cathedral
Average temperature: In January, Prague will experience a minimum temperature of -1° C, which will go up to 3° C in the daytime.
12. Bergen, Norway
With vibrant wooden structures, scenic harbour and sweeping views of the surrounding fjords – Bergen has all the makings of an idyllic Nordic village. Seeing the famous fjords is a must for any visitor. While you’re here, you can also visit the UNESCO’s World Heritage site of Nærøyfjorden, voted the world’s most unspoiled tourist destination by National Geographic. Bergen looks beautiful in the summer but it’s only during the winter months that you get to view the Northern Lights. So if you’re going to be in Scandinavia in January, you might as well tick this off your bucket list. Remember to check out Oslo, where you can take a fjord cruise or get a glimpse of vast Nordic history at the Viking Ship Museum. While you’re there, visit the old-fashioned café Frognerseteren that has views of the Oslofjorden and serves delicious apple pie, hot chocolate and Norwegian waffles.
Top attractions: Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, Mount Fløyen (Fløyfjell), Grieg Museum and Hanseatic Museum
Average temperature: In January, the average temperature in Bergen will be between 0°C and 4°C.
13. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia with a real-life fairy-tale setting. A visit to here during December is perfect to see the Baroque architecture surrounded by Christmas lights but you can decide to dodge the crowds and book a trip after the holidays in January when the city won’t be filled with overly-excited tourists and you’ll have a lot of room to stroll the pedestrian-only Old Town and sip coffee in peace by the riverside cafés. Ljubljana is also the perfect base for Slovenian day trips so make sure to add Lake Bled and the Julian Alps to your itinerary.
Top attractions: Ljubljana Castle, Dragon Bridge and Tivoli City Park
Average temperature: While in Ljubljana in January, you will experience a maximum temperature of 3°C, which will drop down to -2° C at night.
14. Venice, Italy
Venice gets overcrowded during peak season and attempts have been made recently to limit the number of tourists visiting the city. And this makes January the best time to venture the north-eastern city of Italy, which is also known by the nickname La Serenissima (The Serene). You’ll find the canals quiet and shrouded in mist and hotels at discounted rates. You can visit St. Mark’s Basilica in peace and click photographs. Travelling to Venice during winter allows you to experience the city at a much slower pace where you can soak up the rich history and culture. The city’s unique architecture and canals turn magical and the lack of crowd lets you experience it completely. A holiday in Venice in the first month of the year is one of the best European City Breaks in January.
Top attractions: Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica, Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square
Average temperature: In January, the minimum temperature in Italy will be 0°, but the maximum can go up to 7° C.
15. Palermo, Sicily
Palermo in Sicily is another sunny destination to visit in January and it’s worth it to rent a car and drive all over Sicily while exploring its tiny villages from Palermo to Catania. However, someplace remains closed during the off-season. The gorgeous island of Sicily in the heart of Mediterranean has long seduced travellers with its diverse landscapes and cultural treasures. Sicily’s varied landscape with sparkling seas and sky-high mountains keeps the travellers awestruck. It makes for a stunning backdrop of outdoor activities. Whether it’s Etna in Catania or the sparkling Golfo di Castellammare in Palermo – every scenery makes a dramatic first impression in the mind of a visitor.
Top attractions: Mount Etna, Valley of Temples, Stromboli and Island of Ortigia
Average temperature: While in Palermo in January, you will experience a warm climate, where the temperature drops down to 16°C at night and goes up to 20°C in the day time.
So what are you waiting for? Plan a January holiday in magical Europe and get ready for an extraordinary experience – one that you will cherish for a long time!