travel guides and tips

Best Christmas Destinations in Europe 2020

Share this post with a friend!

This article may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy and privacy pages for more information

Wondering where the best Christmas destinations in Europe are? I got you covered!

Europe at Christmas is a magical time. There are Christmas markets, fairground rides, mulled wine, snow, grottos and if you are lucky, a chance to see the Northern lights.

Each city in Europe will differ in weather, markets, rides and festivities at Christmas. There are so many cities to explore during the festive period.

Best Christmas destinations in Europe in 2019

Best Christmas Destinations in Europe

Europe at Christmas is a magical time. There are Christmas markets, fairground rides, mulled wine, snow, grottos and if you are lucky, a chance to see the Northern lights

European Christmas destinations

If you are thinking about going on holiday for Christmas then why not check out this list of top Christmas destinations in Europe for inspiration?

It features Christmas holiday recommendations by top travel bloggers and should hopefully inspire you to take the Christmas break you have always dreamed of.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in London

Celebrating Christmas in London is a truly magical and special experience.

The city is filled with festive decorations and lights, Chrismas songs are playing in every shop and several events are going on to get people in the holiday spirit.

Christmas events London

Visiting Christmas markets is one of my favourite thing to do. Winter Wonderland, Winterville and South Bank Christmas Market are the most popular ones. They all offer tasty food and handmade products.

Winter Wonderland is great for thrill-seekers as there are several rides to keep them busy, including roller coasters, a Haunted House and Ferris Wheel.

There are many pop up events going on as well. Kew Gardens is great for any age group. You can walk along a mile-long trail that is filled with different unique decorations.

In the Backyard Cinema, you can watch Christmas movies in a festive setting on comfy beanbags. Chosen by Travel Hacker Girl

Christmas in Brussels

Christmas in Brussels is a magical time. The whole city comes alive with festive cheer and lights.

Make sure to go to the Grand Place to see the massive Christmas tree. Several times a night there’s a fantastic music and light show that lights up the whole square.

Brussels Christmas Market

Brussels has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The Brussels Christmas market takes place on and around Grand-Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine and Marché aux Poissons.

Head to Place Sainte-Catherine for market stalls, a big wheel and ice rink at Marché aux Poissons.

You can find lots of festive treats and gifts at the market stalls as well as traditional Flemish and Belgian food.

Treat yourself to warm waffles, hot dogs, mulled wine and a steaming bowl of ‘carbonade flamande’, [traditional rich beef stew].

Christmas in Amsterdam

After living in London with its full-on festive feeling and Christmas lights everywhere, it took me a while to get used to Amsterdam’s understated festive atmosphere at Christmas time.

I now think it’s really charming and it makes Christmas and New Year a great time to visit.

Visitor numbers are lower at Christmas than the busy peak summer season. So you can take your pick from hotel deals, shorter queues for museums, and fine dining in Amsterdam’s best restaurants. The city is also very beautiful with the canals lit up at night.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Amsterdam Light Festival

This is thanks in part to the special Amsterdam Light Festival that sees the world’s best artist create dramatic light installations over and on the water.

There’s also the iconic ice skating rink outside Rijksmuseum which will put anyone in a festive mood.

Hearty traditional Dutch meals like Stamppot and Hutspot will keep you warm and well-fed.

Especially if topped off with the special Christmas treat of ‘oliebollen’, [raisin-filled doughnut balls].

While the Dutch Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, comes a little earlier (December 5th) than Christmas Eve, there are still many Christmas-shopping opportunities too.

There are several Christmas markets and stalls scattered across the city. Amsterdam in winter truly is special. Chosen by As the bird flies

Christmas in Prague

Prague is a beautiful city at any time of year, but the best time to visit Prague is at Christmas time.

In December, Christmas Markets pop up all over the city in Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square, Peace Square and around the castle. It is one of the best places for Christmas day in Europe.

Although it can be bitterly cold in Prague during the winter, with temperatures regularly below freezing, wrap up warm and have a hot chocolate or warm honey wine (medovina), to keep out the cold.

If it snows, the streets become even more beautiful, and a snowy Charles Bridge first thing in the morning is a wonderful sight.

Prague is quieter during the winter, although a lot of people to come to Prague for the Christmas Markets.

You might be better off visiting the festive markets on a weekday, rather than a weekend. Chosen by Tales of a backpacker

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in Rome

Rome is one of my favourite destinations during the holiday season. At this time the city dresses up with pretty light displays.

Whilst the displays are rather small, compared with those in many European cities, they make the city’s monuments sparkle in a magical aura.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

In December, Rome is full of Christmas events. Several churches build impressive nativity scenes and iconic spaces such as St Peter’s square and Piazza Venezia see the arrival of huge Christmas trees! The festive period is also great in Rome for music lovers.

The opera house always has a rich programme at this time of year and the city’s auditorium adds to the offer with performances to suit most musical tastes.

The space in front of the auditorium becomes an open-air ice skating rink as well, making Rome at Christmas fun for all ages.

Christmas in Abisko, Sweden

One of my favourite and very festive places that I’ve spent Christmas was Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland. It’s also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights.

For me, I associate two things with Christmas, one is fluffy white snow and the other is Santa Claus. Abisko National Park delivered on both of these and made me feel like a child again!

Arriving in Swedish Lapland with snow everywhere was a real winter wonderland experience.

Northern lights Sweden

The branches of the evergreen trees covered and hanging low due to the weight of the snow.

It’s traditional in Sweden for Santa to deliver the gifts on Christmas Eve. So sat in one of the traditional Sami huts, drinking mulled wine he popped in to visit!

Abisko National Park is definitely one of the best places to go on holiday for Christmas.

As a bonus, it also delivered the best Christmas present ever – seeing the northern lights, 4 night in a row, just wow! Chosen by Becky the Traveller 

Christmas in Tyrol, Austria

The Austrian Tyrol is a place where Christmas traditions have remained the same for centuries.

The cities and villages come alive with age-old customs such as St Nikolaus visits and Krampus (a scary devil-like figure) runs.

From the capital of Innsbruck to ski resorts in remote valleys, there is something to suit everyone’s taste during Christmas in Tyrol. Tyrolean Christmas markets are well-known for their authenticity.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas market Austria

Spending an afternoon or evening at the Innsbruck Christmas Markets is a must.

You’ll never forget the romantic atmosphere when Rattenberg, Austria’s smallest town, is entirely lit by candlelight and fires.

The cold during Christmas in Tyrol is driven away by bright festive lights, mugs of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and beautiful music.

There are also fun activities such as ice skating or sledging to keep you entertained.

Christmas in the mountainous Austrian province is a really special experience for the whole family. Chosen by Travel Tyrol

Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia makes for a great city break and is absolutely delightful during the holiday season.

Sofia is compact enough to be able to see its major sights within a weekend. It’s easy and relatively quick to get to the city centre from the airport.

Sofia is absolutely beautiful under a layer of snow. It’s most impressive Orthodox cathedrals look even more romantic dusted in white.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

And, best of all, Sofia has its own German-style Christmas Market! So you can soak up the festive vibes while enjoying a Glühwein (always a must for us during the holiday season).

Getting inspired? You can read more about how to spend a winter weekend in Sofia here. Chosen by Travel Breathe Repeat

Christmas in Belfast

One of my favourite places for a quick Christmas holiday is Belfast, the quaint and compact capital of Northern Ireland.

Belfast has plenty of festive and seasonal excitement to make for the perfect Christmas weekend away in the UK.

Most of the festivities in Belfast would centre around the Belfast Christmas Market, which is an annual winter event (Nov-Dec).

It is similar to the continental markets elsewhere in Europe. Only this market is set under the magnificent backdrop of Belfast City Hall.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in Northern Ireland

Then directly opposite are the shopping streets of Donegal Place are full of buskers, and quaint sculptures, and the local festive bustle of the holiday season.

However, the best times in Belfast are likely had in the old Cathedral Quarter.

It’s famous for its many pubs and traditional bars, and the ‘craic’ (Northern Irish for banter), of a night out in the run-up to Christmas. Chosen by Live Less Ordinary

Christmas in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, is one of the most exciting cities in the Mediterranean.

Especially with the arrival of Christmas, this wonderful city, declared UNESCO World Heritage site, has a lot to offer for tourists and visitors.

Twinkling lights and Christmas trees are part of the decoration. In addition, there are plenty of concerts available.

The Christmas markets, elegantly decorated gives you the option to try hot wine and other local specialities.

While in the rest of Europe is covered with snow, here you can feel a mild winter and cosy atmosphere.

Dubrovnik is not only a summer destination with incredible beaches but a perfect choice while waiting for Santa! Chosen by Safari Nomad

Christmas in Athens

The capital of Greece, Athens is rarely considered as a destination to visit over the Christmas holidays, yet Athens at Christmas can be a perfect winter escape. 

There is more to Athens than just the Acropolis, with its vibrant nightlife, historic timeline, as well as numerous opportunities for short day trips.


Athens also gets all dressed up for Christmas. The weather is usually warm and you can enjoy the sunshine while sipping coffee in one of the numerous outdoor cafes.

Christmas in Greece

Or, you could head out towards the Athenian Riviera where you can soak in the gorgeous Aegean Sea views.

You can celebrate the festive season in one of the beautiful 5-star hotels, savour traditional Greek sweets and learn all about Greece’s fascinating holiday traditions. 

Athens is less crowded during the winter, this means that you can experience the Acropolis and all the historical sites with fewer tourists. See you in Athens for Christmas! Chosen by Passion for hospitality

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in Lapland, Finland

The home of Santa is surely the best destination for a Christmas getaway?

Christmas in Lapland is a truly magical experience with dreamy snowscapes, reindeer rides, wondrous northern lights and sparkly Christmas lights.

Ultimate guide to Lapland

The best place to stay in Finnish Lapland at Christmas is surely the Santa Claus Holiday Village?

This huge Christmas village has high-quality Christmas themed accommodation, activities, restaurants, shopping and lots and lots of Christmas trees.

It’s a brilliant place for the family and for couples looking for an extra special festive holiday.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in Edinburgh, UK

One of our most favourite places to go to during the festive season is Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.

Edinburgh is a good idea at any time of year but I think it’s an especially good idea at Christmas. There are so many things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas time.

The whole town centre comes to life and turns into a truly magical, festive, winter wonderland.

Christmas market Edinburgh

There’s the fantastic Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens, the rides (oh the rides!), the lights, the entertainment, the atmosphere.

There’s something for everyone, kids will love the helter-skelter rides, the ice-skating and the pantomime.

The adults will love sipping on a mulled wine at the Christmas market, drinking a glass of bubbles in the iconic Dome on George Street.

Evenings and weekends tend to get very busy at the Edinburgh Christmas market, so we strongly recommend visiting during a weekday. Chosen by Scottish Bucket List

Christmas in Helsinki

Helsinki, also known as the Christmas city, is a wonderful place to enjoy your holidays.

The traditional cold-weather is softened by the warmth of restaurants and colourfully lit shopping windows.

It really sets the perfect festive mood for good food and drinks, relaxing and spending time with family and friends.

Here you can enjoy all the traditional Christmas activities that you may be used to, such as ice skating, carol singing concerts and Christmas market shopping.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

Christmas in Finland

It has the added value of the Finnish sauna lifestyle that sure makes for an even more friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Despite the Christmas festivities, there are plenty of things to do and see during the holidays.

The Tourism Office also offers a list with updated openings time for most restaurants, museums and attractions around town so you won’t miss anything you want to see. Chosen by Family off Duty


Christmas in Zakopane, Poland

To us, a festive Winter break is all about snow-covered peaks, colourful decorations, warm drinks and delicious sweets to fuel our adventures. Zakopane, a small town in the South of Poland, has it all!

Located at the foot of the beautiful Tatra mountains, it is a heaven for nature and Winter lovers, with scenery worthy of a fairytale. The atmosphere and architecture will instantly put you into a festive mood.

There are plenty of activities for people of all ages: museums about the area’s history, a street market, a vast offer of Winter-related sports, and even an Aqua Park!

There are easy hikes and even easier cable cars to take to get to the top of the mountains for some truly stunning views. Chosen by Two Find a Way

Bansko, Bulgaria

If you are looking for ski holidays this Christmas then Bansko could be the cheap Christmas ski holiday you are looking for! There are many affordable hotels, guesthouses and lodges in Bansko.

If you are creating your own trip, you can find some great Bansko hotel deal deals on sites such as HotelsCombined.

Many of the hotels have added amenities such as swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, spa facilities and free shuttle buses to the gondola.

Skiing in Bulgaria

The price for ski rental and lessons in Bansko will vary depending on if you have booked a package, or if you are negotiating your own lessons and rental and what time of year you are going to Bansko.

You can book your ski packages in advance through a wide variety of ski companies.

The upside is that everything will be arranged for you and you can waltz up to the ski hire and be on your way to the slopes in no time.

Beginner Skiing in Bansko | ski runs, hotels and lessons

Christmas in Reykjavík, Iceland

While looking for the perfect Christmas holiday most of us start by considering somewhere warm, tropical even. 

Likely your mind won’t go straight to the frozen landscapes of Iceland. However, not giving the land of fire and ice a chance is a big mistake!

The hip & happening capital city of Reykjavík comes alive in the Christmas season and the cheer flows freely amongst the locals and tourists alike.

From seeking out the northern lights near Reykjavík to soaking in Iceland’s Hot springs, Christmas in Iceland makes for an amazing holiday you won’t soon forget!” Chosen by Adventographer

Christmas in Montreux, Switzerland

Montreux is a Swiss town on the banks of Lake Geneva and it is the perfect destination for a festive break.

This is largely thanks to their annual Montreux Noel Christmas festival. For a month in the lead up to Christmas, everything in Montreux screams Christmas.

Holidays to go on this Christmas

There is a great Christmas market along the banks of the lake and you can even watch Santa fly over the lake three times a night in his sleigh.

UNESCO-listed Chillon Castle celebrates a medieval Christmas and you can catch a cog train up Rochers-de-Naye to meet Santa and his elves.

There are also other events happening around the town such as light displays and an elf village. I’ve never felt so much festive spirit as I did in Montreux, it’s the perfect place for a white Christmas in Switzerland

Christmas in Stockholm

To me, Stockholm is the perfect place to visit during Christmas! In summer the crowds can be immense especially if one or several cruise ships are docked!

In winter the dark nights close in early which adds to the atmosphere of the city and the cold weather offers many opportunities to experience fika and the traditional dish of Swedish meatballs.

As the city is set for winter, there are plenty of indoor activities to do in Stockholm.

My favourite thing to do is to walk around the living museum Skansen and experience traditional Swedish life!

But my absolute favourite thing is to experience the traditional Christmas markets at Gamla Stad and Skansen. Chosen by Wandermust Family

Christmas in Moscow

Ok so Moscow is just outside of Europe, but it’s still an amazing Christmas holiday destination!

Moscow is one of the best places to celebrate Christmas, whether it’s Orthodox Christmas (January) or Christmas celebrated elsewhere in Europe (December).

Around the city, you’ll find various Christmas markets serving a uniquely Russian spin on the Christmas traditions, including glintwine and many birch items!

Christmas in Russia

Although Orthodox Christmas is later than Christmas celebrated in Western Europe, you’ll find Moscow bright and awash in lights.

While walking along Moscow’s avenues, you’ll find the buildings beautifully lit and the stores open ready for both tourists and locals.

If you’re lucky enough, you’ll see Saint Basil’s Cathedral covered in snow! The whole scene is straight out of a Christmas snowglobe! Chosen by Wanderlustingk

Christmas holidays

What did you think of my festive round-up? Have you ever spent a Christmas in Europe? What city did you visit?  Let me know in the comments below!

Love this post? Why not pin it and share it?

Wondering where the best Christmas destinations in Europe are? I got you covered! Europe at Christmas is a magical time. There are Christmas markets, fairground rides, mulled wine, snow, grottos and if you are lucky, a chance to see the Northern lights. Each city in Europe will differ in weather, markets, rides and festivities at Christmas. There are so many cities to explore during the festive period. #Christmasmarket #europe #christmasbreak #festiveholidays #traveltips #Christmasholiday
Wondering where the best Christmas destinations in Europe are? I got you covered! Europe at Christmas is a magical time. There are Christmas markets, fairground rides, mulled wine, snow, grottos and if you are lucky, a chance to see the Northern lights. Each city in Europe will differ in weather, markets, rides and festivities at Christmas. There are so many cities to explore during the festive period. #Christmasmarket #europe #christmasbreak #festiveholidays #traveltips #Christmasholiday
Wondering where the best Christmas destinations in Europe are? I got you covered! Europe at Christmas is a magical time. There are Christmas markets, fairground rides, mulled wine, snow, grottos and if you are lucky, a chance to see the Northern lights. Each city in Europe will differ in weather, markets, rides and festivities at Christmas. There are so many cities to explore during the festive period. #Christmasmarket #europe #christmasbreak #festiveholidays #traveltips #Christmasholiday

DisclaimerThis post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission but come at no additional cost to you. By clicking these links you are supporting Pip and the City and helping to keep the content free. Massive thanks for your ongoing support.