The 5 Best Christmas Holiday Destinations in Europe
Imagine exploring an exciting European city with your loved ones this Christmas. You might spend your days rugging up and heading out to explore the towns and villages, shopping in markets and sitting in cafes as you watch the snow gently fall on the cobbled streets. When night arrives, you’ll snuggle up in front of the fire with cups of mulled wine and biscuits. Or, depending on your preference, head out to explore the night life!
Personally, I can’t think of anything better. Let’s explore some of the best European holiday destinations, so you know where to go if you fancy a change from the warm Australian Christmas.
Ljubljana in the Slovenian Alps
The Slovenian Alps are an absolutely breathtaking natural wonder, and the area is glorious at Christmas. Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and is a medium-sized city located deep in the Slovenian Alps. Although it has grown in recent years, it still has that small, medieval feel and old-world charm. The streets are lined with Christmas markets from mid-November, giving it that European Christmas feel.
Lake Bled is located just outside of Ljubljana. It is famous for its distinctive central round island and Bled Castle. If you can brave the cold, you can take a traditional ‘pletna’ boat out onto Lake Bled to take in the scenery while eating a piece of traditional vanilla and cream cake called ‘Kremsnita’. Yum!
2. Vienna in Austria
Vienna is the city of palaces, and if you spend Christmas in this beautiful spot, you definitely won’t be short of amazing architecture to marvel at. You’ll be able to take some truly amazing photographs, as the areas surrounding the palaces is usually adorned with Christmas decorations and glittering lights from mid-November.
This city is also a culinary temptation, as Christmas markets selling all kinds of traditional Austrian food dot the city. From roast chestnuts to the best strudel or gateau you’ll ever lay your hands on, you’ll be spoilt for choice. And if you want to work off some of that delicious food, take a walk in the evening to see the Christmas lights. Start at the State Opera Building, moving down Kärntner Straße to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, then along the Graben and up Kohlmarkt to the Hofburg Palace. Absolute heaven!
3. Munich in Germany
Munich is an excellent choice if you want a traditional Christmas as well as access to the restaurants, cafes and museums that larger cities offer. From the end of November, Munich puts on its Christmas Market on Marienplatz, which dates back to the 14th century. The market features a 30 metre tree decked out with over 2,500 candles, and the atmosphere is joyful and cosy. There is a nativity exhibition, lots of carols, puppeteer shows and, of course, some seriously amazing food (and mulled wine!)
The restaurants and museums of Munich are also open through Christmas. You can visit the famous Hofbrauhaus for a pretzel and a beer before exploring the Nymphenburg Palace or the Oktoberfest Grounds. It doesn’t get more German than that!
4. Prague in the Czech Republic
Christmas really kicks off in Prague with Advent, when the city and its many historic squares are richly adorned with lights and Christmas decorations. Prague is also known as the City of a Hundred Spires, so it has some fantastic gothic cathedrals for you to explore, as well as the famous Prague Castle.
Prague has many Christmas markets selling traditional items, with the medieval feel of the town making the markets in the Old Town Square the most popular. Here, you can pick up some fabulous souvenirs for your friends and family back home, including hand carved wooden toys, traditional Czech glassware and some delicious sweets. These markets are also the perfect place to sample traditional Czech food, like barbecued pork with sauerkraut, blood sausages, Czech muffins and fruit dumplings.
5. Lucerne in Switzerland
Lucerne is for the snow junkies out there! With over 15 winter sports resorts in the vicinity, you’ll be spoilt for choice with skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing in the Swiss Alps.
Lucerne really comes alive with lights and events at Christmas time, with numerous Christmas markets, a giant ice rink holding ‘Live on Ice’ shows, and the glittering Christmas Hotel Seeburg for your viewing pleasure. On the stunning Lake Lucerne, you can take a traditional steamboat out for a trip while being pampered with traditional culinary delicacies and taking in the beautiful wintery lake panoramas. I’ve also heard rumours that Santa may visit at the front of the Hofkirche in Lucerne at the beginning of December, so keep an ear out for those trumpets and you won’t miss him!
Sampling the beauty of touring Europe at Christmas time
If you need a change from the regular Australian summer Christmas, I’d highly recommend a trip to Europe. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you can enjoy the stunning scenery, traditional food and gifts, and gorgeous Christmas atmosphere that these villages, towns and cities have to offer.