It seems like you have two weeks off this Christmas season and you just don’t know where to go - all you’re thinking about is Europe; somewhere new and not boring. New food, new place and new faces... that will make your break worthwhile. So, where will be your next European winter city break adventure? Here are some of the places you can visit at winter for your ultimate winter holiday.
For most of the year Madrid is a blue skied sunny city but it does tend to get really cool during the winter months. There is occasional snow from November to February but days are long and the heat of the sun can put a smile on your face. It is one of the best spots to go to for your winter break.
The city will make you feel nostalgic and therefore, places like Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Museo Nacional Del Prado and Museum of Lázaro Galdiano can fill your day. At night, it is best to go to Plaza Mayor where all the action is or you can go to Gran Via, a ritzy nightlife street in Madrid.
You may very well afford a high-end hotel during winter in this city because it is off peak and promo packages are being offered. Before you leave, you have to try to eat at the Biblioteca for breakfast a la carte. Dress up a bit and go to La Terraza and be brave enough to order their 23-course menu. Lastly, for modern Spanish meals, Pan de Lujo is the place to be.
People say that Berlin at winter is not a good idea. “It is freezing there, you can’t do anything but stay in your hotel or you’ll have frost bites!” Seriously? If someone told you that Berlin is not a top winter city break destination, then, THEY HAVEN’T BEEN THERE YET.
First – you have to find this drink the locals call “Glühwein”. It is mulled wine with a lot of different spices. It is so good and something different from the regular wine. Drinking in public streets is allowed in Germany and Berlin is filled with Christmas Markets selling all kinds of stuff including Glühwein. That’s the second part, the Christmas Markets. It is festive and fun to roam the streets of Berlin, shopping and also window shopping. You’ll realise that you’ve spent the whole day just looking around – there are so many things to do!
Lastly, the landmarks in Berlin have to be visited. The Deutsche Oper often exhibits the show – The Nutcracker. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner – Hieroglyphs and Waldemar Rösler - A Berlin Impressionist (art galleries) must be on your to-do list in Berlin.
If you haven’t experienced snow, then, Vienna is the best city for your first time. The temperature can go below zero degrees but that’s how it is! Things get active in Vienna even if everything else is snow-capped!
As for hotels, the Boutique Hotel Beethoven is well-recommended. It is a secluded hotel which offers peace and quiet but it is near all the landmarks and attractions in Vienna. Anyway, one of the things to do in the city is to check the State Hall of Austria's National Library. They showcase different collections from scripts found in the 14th century to relic books. You will enjoy that. The Schönbrunn Palace is also a great place to explore and the Imperial Butterfly House will make you remember what life is all about.
Before you leave, try the organic hot chocolate and coffee in Vienna. The Café Central or the Café Korb is centuries old and the most famous coffee shops in the city.
Everything is just “gezellig” in Amsterdam during winter. The term is very local to Dutch people which means a combination of all these words – lovely, relaxing, comfortable and pleasant. There is no exact meaning in English but you get the drift.
Did you know that Amsterdam is one of the most romantic cities in the world? If you go there for a February winter break, you might find couples getting engaged or displaying PG13 affection! But, aside from that, the first order of business is to eat some Dutch winter foods like Snert, Oliebollen and Stamppot. You can find these foods at their Christmas Markets. If you want something posh, go to Vondelpark3, Fa. Speijkervet or Razmataz.
If you are up for a short winter stroll (long walks are not suggested since it can get very cold), then, these places must be in your bucket list: Iced Canals, Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum. You have to book your hotels early to get the best prices.
And there it is the city of love during winter – how romantic! If you are planning to propose to her (or him!) over Christmas, then, go to Paris. Everywhere you look; there is always a hint of love. If you are going there alone or with your family, it will still be a love-filled short vacay. Why? Well, Paris is the ultimate winter city break vacation spot.
It’s not called the City of Lights just because – at night, Paris is so alive and kicking, even with the cold weather, you’d really want to explore the vibrant city. Champs-Elysées is your best bet to stroll around. You will see freshly cut fir trees that will make you feel at home. When weather is not cooperating, you can go to the Passages – this is a shopping complex which is well-covered from snow and rain.
Local food, you say? Epicure (high-end), Midi 12 (affordable) and Il Etait Un Square (somewhere in between) will satisfy your French cravings – no French fries here (joke!). As for monuments and landmarks, the Eiffel Tower is a must-see (you know that already). Notre Dame, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and the Musée d'Orsay are the attractions to see.
This post was written by Andrew Larson, a semi-retired software engineer turned globetrotter and full-time travel enthusiast who now runs Wanderlust 15.