The frigid chill of winter is right around the corner, but there’s no need to face the final months of the year with trepidation and fear. Get yourself a winter getaway booked, and you’ll have something to look forward to other than eating too much at Christmas and the endless barrage of festive cheer. You’ll find plenty of gluttony and joy in these cities, so get yourself there once the snow starts to fall.
It feels somewhat silly starting off this piece with one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet, but hear us out. Dubrovnik might offer a real-life sardine experience in summer, but wintertime on the Adriatic coast is a whole different kettle of fish. The red roofs of the old town regain their whimsical romance and charm, and the lack of crowds allows the character of this famous city to shine through. It doesn’t get particularly cold either, which is a plus.
North Wales Coast
You’ll probably need a decent raincoat, but the charms of the North Wales coast are embellished during winter. Conwy remains its glimmering jewel, a gorgeous little town bursting with history and striking architecture, from the intimidating 13th-century castle to the bright-red smallest house in Great Britain, which ironically is hard to miss. Elsewhere, Llandudno’s personality shines brighter when given space to breathe, and the old Queen of the Resorts takes off its summer skin and becomes a gorgeous little hub of activity. Braver explorers can take to the Wales Coastal Path, the world’s first coastal walking path to span a nation’s entire coastline. The North Wales section runs for around 60 miles, from Offa’s Dyke in Prestatyn to the university town of Bangor.
While many of Europe’s most magical winter getaways involve plummeting temperatures and at least two layers of socks, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. If you are looking for a bit of sun to brighten up your winter, head south to Andalusia. More specifically, head to the famous old city of Cadiz and explore the warren-like streets of its old heart, gorging on all the fresh seafood you can find before enjoying a spot of flamenco in the evening and maybe even a sunset cocktail by the beach. Cadiz is by no means off the beaten path (it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe, after all), but it remains relatively quiet compared to Malaga, Seville, Granada and other Andalusian spots. It also happens to be beguilingly beautiful.
At some point in the not-too-distant future, the world will latch on to the beauty of Liechtenstein. Yes, it is small; there really is no point repeating that over and over again, but good things come in small packages. Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital, is a delightful town surrounded by rolling hills, which is just about the perfect setting for drinking all of the wine. Liechtenstein is one of Europe’s most underrated wine destinations, and a crisp glass is best enjoyed during the snowy winter months. Also, it means we get to say Liechtenst-wine, and we never met a pun we didn’t like.
Rome, Rome, Rome. The name inspires a myriad of emotions, images of history and romance alongside paying a little too much for ice cream after you’ve just found out that you’ve got no euros left in the budget. Just us? Well, we all make mistakes. Rome is a great place to bring in the new year, with a wide variety of celebrations to go alongside that famous food and the inherent joy that one gets from simply being in Rome, expensive ice cream or not.
Coming to Rome for NYE and looking for fireworks? Well, you’re in luck. The big blossoming bangers are centred over Via dei Fori Imperiali, the famous street that runs through the heart of the city, as well as the Circus Maximus and the Piazza del Popolo. But hold on, you’re in Rome, why are we talking about fireworks? Even in winter you should be eating yourself into a coma and exploring the myriad of Rome’s neighbourhoods!
If a place gets more than 100 days of fog annually but still manages to retain a sense of beauty, you know it is worth paying attention. Attention is exactly what the Slovene capital of Ljubljana deserves, and the shimmering nature of the city might just be best experienced in winter. Ljubljana is an alluring city on its worst day, and there aren’t many adjectives strong enough to describe how it is on its best.
Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? Okay, we can understand if Germanic festive bundles aren’t your thing, different strokes for different folks and all that, but still; Vienna in winter is another thing altogether. The Austrian capital is a city designed for winter, a mass of grace and elegance that truly blossoms as the temperature tumbles. The market isn’t too shabby either, and if you aren’t into that then there is plenty of beer, wine and food to entice even the most curmudgeonly of Christmas traveller.
Experiencing Prague in winter is nothing short of a fairytale. The city is often shrouded in a delicate blanket of snow, transforming the picturesque streets into a winter wonderland. Despite the chilly weather, there is a warmth that radiates from the glow of Christmas markets dotted around Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. Here, the scent of mulled wine, Trdelník (a traditional Czech pastry), and local delicacies fill the air, inviting visitors to indulge. The historic Prague Castle, a sight to behold in any season, adopts an even more magical aura under the soft winter light. Despite the cold, the city’s beauty and the charm of its winter traditions make visiting Prague during this season an unforgettable experience.
Venturing to Lucerne in winter offers a truly spectacular experience. The city’s stunning landscape, adorned with a blanket of snow, presents a mesmerising sight. The shimmering Lake Lucerne, framed by snow-capped mountains, offers a captivating backdrop to the city’s historical architecture. The striking Chapel Bridge, a symbol of Lucerne, provides an awe-inspiring view when illuminated against the dark winter sky. The city’s charming streets bustle with life, hosting delightful Christmas markets where the smell of Swiss cheese, Swiss chocolate and mulled wine wafts through the crisp winter air. A visit to Lucerne in winter offers a magical experience, where every corner of the city is imbued with a special kind of winter charm.
And last but not least, we head back up north to the Estonian capital, for a truly enchanting experience in Tallinn. The medieval cityscape, dusted in snow, transforms into a picturesque scene straight out of a storybook. Warm lights twinkle from the windows of the towering Toompea Castle, creating a pleasing contrast against the surrounding winter whiteness. Shoppers congregate at the Christmas market in Town Hall Square, which serves as a vibrant heart of seasonal activities. Here, the air is filled with the tempting aroma of gingerbread and mulled wine. Or, for those feeling especially adventurous, you can join the locals for an invigorating day of winter swimming!