No one celebrates Christmas as Europe does. The country is awash with Christmas markets, decorated churches, the aroma of gingerbread and mulled wine and a lot of fiestas. If you’ve not decided where to go for Christmas celebration in Europe, this is the time to plan a getaway with your family or friends. To make your choice easy, we have listed out 15 best destinations in Europe where you can celebrate Christmas to make your holiday a memorable affair.
1- Copenhagen, Denmark
Nobody celebrates Christmas quite like the Scandinavians. In December, the Danish capital transforms into a huge Christmas card. Copenhagen represents the concept of hygge during Christmas – a special feeling of a cosy home, nice people around you and a relaxed and happy atmosphere. One of the finest Christmas customs in Copenhagen is the annual Saint Lucy’s Kayak Parade. Several kayaks are decorated with Christmas trees and twinkling lights as they sail across the city harbour through the canals.
Take a stroll through Tivoli. Being the oldest amusement park in the world, it is the best place for children and adults with likings for decorations, sweets and lots of rides! Another fun-filled activity in Copenhagen is ice skating.
2- Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is the most popular place to visit in Europe in Christmas. The Dutch truly know how to celebrate Christmas and in Amsterdam, the Christmas spirit travels through each waterway, road and square. In Dam Square, a 20-meter-tall tree is decorated with 3km of lights and you’ll witness carollers, jugglers and artists to keep you occupied. In and around Amsterdam, there are Christmas markets to gratify all tastes, whether shopping or eating.
During the Amsterdam light show, where lights illuminate the waterways, your Amsterdam twilight cruise will be significantly more fantastic. Additionally, you can visit Amsterdam’s Ice Village in Museumplein, where you can go ice skating, buy Christmas novelties and eat and drink the best Dutch delicacies.
3- Paris, France
One of the best places to visit during Christmas in Europe, Paris brings alive the Christmas artistry, style and gastronomy. The well-known markets buzz with shopping, live choir and several events during this time. The marketplaces are packed with appealing chalets that complement the Christmas atmosphere.
You will be overwhelmed by various Christmas art and decoration items available at these markets. The food is heavenly and the normal French cheddar, wine and champagne are boastfully included in the food courts. Furthermore, the sparkling city view at dusk will give you some remarkable memories.
4- Prague, Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, Prague is a beautiful place to celebrate Christmas in Europe. The destination has an interesting history filled with annual traditions that draw tourists every year. Moreover, Gothic architecture adds to the Christmas zest. Your day begins with a snow-covered city on a cold wintry morning but it gets merrier when you start looking at Prague’s impressive bistros for the best cup of coffee or hot chocolate in the city.
From noon, the biggest Christmas markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square start filling up with people. And from dusk, the celebrations begin with a grand feast while a huge Christmas tree gets decorated. The markets are full of irresistible wonders, vintage souvenirs and the best delicacies. Visitors to Prague can also enjoy live nativity scenes, ice skating, and other Czech Christmas traditions throughout December.
5- Rome, Italy
Christmas in Rome is about light shows, rituals and shopping. The Eternal City is the best place to witness Christmas flair. Since Rome is significant to the Christian faith, Christmas is an interesting time to visit the city. But Christmas in Rome is much more than traditional elements and the nativity scenes.
Apart from the endless Christmas lights at Via del Corso, there’s a whole different world to experience! Vendors in their colourful clothes line up the lively squares at Campo de’ Fiori, where you can purchase baked goodies and handcrafted items. Explore decorated cafes and restaurants. Likewise, there’s a beautiful Christmas market in Piazza Navona. It’s not loaded with sellers but you can still find treasures and treats for everyone.
6- Krakow, Poland
Voted as the best city to celebrate Christmas two years in a row, Krakow is the next on the list. Krakow’s Christmas fairs were once Poland’s best-kept secret but now it entices tourists from all over. During this time of the season, each alcove and corner of the city is decorated lavishly with outdoor entertainment and more.
The festive spirit, markets and enthusiasm are the ones that astound tourists. Plus, world-class DJs and classical concerts throughout the day will keep everybody’s spirit high. Do not forget to stop by the tasty treats lined up on the side lanes and you can even choose your choice of themed entertainment.
7- Barcelona, Spain
Unbelievable but true, Barcelona offers much more Christmas romance than one can imagine. Saturated with celebrations during Christmas, the regions around the churches witness an influx of visitors. The whole city looks like little heaven of hues and lights, celebratory sounds and mount-watering aroma. Foodies and party lovers will cherish this spot.
All through the celebration season, food vendors draw endless crowd towards potato fritters, printen or gingerbread, Christmas cakes and rolls – all line up the boulevards. You will even locate some exceptionally pretty artful souvenirs at the colourful stalls. There’s even a part devoted to ‘Las Sardana’, where locals perform the folk dance in the street and relish epicurean delights to their heart’s content.
8- Vienna, Austria
Considered as one of the best places to celebrate Christmas in Europe, Vienna in Austria is known for exquisiteness and style that it carries while observing Christmas. It feels like paradise when you’re are in Vienna during this time. The squares are loaded up with brilliant Christmas delicacies, bistros with unique eateries and twinkling lights beautifying the city’s architecture.
You can enjoy naturally prepared dishes and bakery items at Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt, try ice-skating in Rathausplatz, visit the Snow Globe Museum or be a part of the fantastic Christmas concerts. In case you’re keen on visiting some other season, make a point to indulge in Christmas gaiety while visiting Vienna!
9- Budapest, Hungary
Given the chance that you are in Hungary throughout the Christmas occasion, make sure you visit the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival that happens at Vorosmarty Square. This will be a different experience for you. The magnificent square situated at the core of Budapest turns into a joyful space adorned with wooden stalls, customary snacks and platforms for neighbourhood entertainment.
If you are a foodie, we suggest you taste the honey cakes and biscuits made out of traditional Budapest ingredients and the glimmering mulled wine. The aroma of these goodies will lure you into the market square.
10- Brussels, Belgium
Christmas in Brussels is bold and over-the-top. Chocolates, coffee, mountains of cakes & pastries and world-famous concerts take the centre stage. The Christmas market goes on for over a month at the Grand Place, the Place de la Monnaie, the Marche aux Poissons and the Place Sainte-Catherine. The market brims with charming little stalls that offer traditional art and craft items, European treats, endless chocolates, a festive area with rides and an ice dome for some skating.
But the showstopper is the monstrous Christmas tree decorated by the light and sound show. No wonder, Brussels would probably be one the best spots to spend your Christmas holidays.
11- Berlin, Germany
Christmas in Berlin is memorable. The city is festive, fun-filled and historical and there are exciting things to do for first-timers. Christmas markets are the top reason that draws visitors in Berlin. Among the many, Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is great because of its position between two gigantic churches. Find anything from hot drinks and beer to gluhwine, meats, candy, pretzels and more.
Next in the line are Alexanderplatz market that has an ice skating rink, Ferris wheel, scores of stalls with endless food and drinks and the tiny Potsdammer Platz market. The park here has memorials and historical information about the city as well as a zoo, trees, trails and beautiful landscapes.
12- Venice, Italy
Christmas in Venice is cold, quiet and gorgeous. The canals, gondolas, piazzas and architecture are lit up with Christmas decorations. The streets are less crowded and locals doing their Christmas shopping – the holidays make for a fantastic time to visit. Festive songs are performed at special concerts in churches and piazzas throughout December and church bells resound all day on Christmas Day from the famous bell tower at St. Mark’s.
Spend Christmas in Venice and you’re promised a marvellous culinary experience. It is customary for Venetians to relish a multi-course fish dinner on the Christmas Eve. And not to forget, no Christmas holiday in Venice is complete without a trip to the Island of Murano. The island transforms into a riot of colourful lights and glass decorations. There is even an enormous Christmas tree made totally of Murano glass, which is not to be missed.
13- Bern, Switzerland
Nothing speaks Christmas like the glacial winter wonderland of Switzerland. The feel of Bern’s medieval old town decked out in golden lights is overwhelming in Europe. There are, obviously, incredible Christmas markets, a lot of calm bistros where you can sip up on hot cocoa and enjoy endless shopping if your Christmas list is long enough.
When you initially land in Bern, go for a guided stroll through the 800-year-old city to get familiar with Bern’s top attractions such as the 12th-century Clock Tower and the Gothic Basilica. However, for the best winter action in Bern, hit the hills of Gurten for some sledging activity you’ll ever witness.
14- Algarve, Portugal
Spending Christmas in the Algarve is a fantastic way to enjoy the festive season. It’s more sandy beaches than snow-covered windscreens. Whether you want to know more about Portuguese Christmas customs or merely hoping to escape the UK winter, it’s a wonderful alternative Christmas and there’s surely something for the entire family to enjoy. A lovely atmosphere hovers over the city.
Loule, the brand new shopping destination is the talk of the town. Many of the streets on the Algarve are decorated with Christmas trees and lighting. Witness non-stop events and attractions every December – from Christmas parades and festive concerts to handcrafted nativity scenes. There’ll be fun guaranteed for the whole family with mesmerizing ballet performances. Head to Faro and get a chance to show off skating skills on the ice rinks and spend a fantastic day at Zoo de Lagos.
15- Reykjavik, Iceland
While it may look like a tiny city with not much going on, Reykjavik is one of the best places in Europe for celebrating Christmas with your loved ones who do not mind the cold temperature. Though December is the darkest time of the year in Iceland, the dark days are lit up with countless Christmas lights. The edge of the world truly turns into a hub of joy and friendliness during Christmas time and every bit of it is lit up with festive lights. The streets are filled with the aroma of freshly baked goods and the sound of Christmas carols echoing from the houses!
If you want to experience Europe exceptionally, definitely consider soaking up the Christmas spirit in one of the cities of your choice this December.