16 Best European Christmas Destinations

The holiday season in Europe transforms the continent into a magical winter wonderland. From charming Christmas markets popping up in town squares to historic cities dusting their cobblestone streets with snow, to the aroma of mulled wine and the melodies of Christmas carols echoing through centuries-old architecture, European destinations offer no shortage of festive spirit. Here are some of the best European Christmas destinations to visit.


1Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø, Norway

As one of the best European Christmas destinations, the festive season in Tromsø, Norway is a magical Arctic experience. Known as the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø boasts a breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped mountains and the mesmerising wonder of the Northern Lights as a captivating addition to the festivities. The city is adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations creating a cosy and festive atmosphere that enhances the natural beauty of the city.

A place to embrace holiday traditions, winter activities like dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides are enjoyed across the Arctic city whilst the anticipation of the mystical aurora borealis dancing across the night sky adds an air of excitement. Christmas markets are scattered across the city offering seasonal shopping and holiday cheer. Experience a true Nordic Christmas in Tromsø with a warm, welcoming ambiance and festive excitement throughout the city.


2Zermatt, Switzerland

Mont Cervin PalaceMount Cervine Palace 

Arguably the world’s most romantic winter destination, the charming Swiss village of Zermatt boasts a landscape of horse-drawn carriages, dreamy chalets and quaint cobbled streets that are car free. Tucked into the base of the iconic Matterhorn, at 1,620 metres, the snow-covered hamlet resembles a scene from a fairy tale and due to the elevation the village pretty much always covered in snow during the winter months.

Walking down its charming lantern-lined streets, you’ll be enveloped in cozy Alpine charm as you browse the stalls of the local Christmas market. Sip on hot mulled wine or nibble on raclette around fires lit in antique wood stoves while you admire handcrafted decorations and hunt for unique presents. Make sure to sample Zermatt’s famous holiday chocolate pralines dusted with shaved almonds and sugar crystals.

  Zermatt’s luxury hotels and cozy chalets contribute to the town’s festive allure, many hotels host special Christmas dinners, featuring Swiss specialties so you can savor the holiday spirit in a refined and scenic setting. With its timeless traditions, snow-globe scenery, and abundance of Swiss holiday spirit, Zermatt is one of the best European Christmas destinations to visit.

Discover: Best Luxury Hotels in Zermatt



3Dublin, Ireland

Dublin Christmas

Temple Bar/ Visit Dublin 

The Irish capital comes alive during the festive season offering a magical and joyful experience for all. From the iconic Grafton Street to the charming Christmas markets, Dublin becomes a winter wonderland adorned in glistening lights and festive decor.

Irish pubs play a pivotal role in Dublin’s Christmas cheer, offering a cozy retreat from the winter chill. Open fires, traditional Irish music, and festive decorations make these them an ideal place to savor a pint of Guinness or indulge in hearty Irish cuisine, adding to the overall warmth and conviviality of the holiday experience. Top off your Irish Christmas celebration with a visit to the 18th-century Guinness Storehouse adorned in festive decor to try Dublin’s famed stout. Dublin offers an unforgettable Christmas celebration, one that will long be remembered.



4Lapland, Finland

Lapland Finland

The ultimate Christmas destination, Lapland, and particularly the city of Rovaniemi, is the very essence of festive magic. This arctic wonderland is often dubbed as the official hometown of Santa Claus making it a dreamy spot for families and those seeking an authentic Christmas experience. As one of the best European destinations for Christmas, Rovaniemi is nestled within the Arctic Circle and blanketed in pristine snow during the holiday season.

The Santa Claus Village is a must-visit offering encounters with Santa, his reindeer and the magical Arctic Circle line. Adventurous souls can enjoy activities like husky sledding and snowmobiling whilst witnessing the Northern Lights is a must for all. The Rovaniemi Christmas market exudes a festive ambiance showcasing local crafts and delightful treats within a setting that offers the true magic of Christmas amidst the Arctic beauty and traditions.

Another great destination in Finland is Ylläs, where you have the opportunity to experience the warmth of a sauna gondola—an ingeniously converted cable car that offers guests a 20-minute ride while enjoying a steamy sauna session along with a range of other activities such as husky-sled rides and staying in glass igloo hotels.


5Colmar, France 

Colmar christmas markets

Dates: 23rd November to 29th December 2023

This northern town in France has been attracting visitors from all over the world due to its architecture, culture and unique atmosphere for many years. The Christmas season is no exception, which is why it is one of the best European Christmas destinations. The Christmas market in Colmar spreads through several small villages that make up the town. Each of the six Christmas markets are themed uniquely, are located right in the heart of the historic town centre. 

Set against a backdrop of fantastical half-timbered buildings and beautifully adorned canals. The lights and decorations will transport you into a Christmas fantasy as you walk among the stalls and wooden chalets. Meander down cobblestone streets and discover craftsmen making wreaths and toys by hand in little workshops. Colmar’s Christmas Markets has a quainter, old-world Alsatian feel about is. It is among the most well-known Christmas market not only in France, but it is also one of the most photographed in Europe.

Where To Stay: La Maison des Têtes One of the best hotels in Colmar, conveniently located for the Christmas markets and offers the perfect blend of Alsatian tradition and modern luxuries. 


6Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm christmas

Visiting Stockholm at Christmas is like stepping into a winter fairytale. The Swedish capital transforms into a captivating wonderland draped in snow and adorned with twinkling lights. Stroll through the cobblestone streets of Gamla Stan where the historic buildings are lit up and ooze a festive vibe. The Christmas market in Stortorget, the main square of Gamla Stan, showcases traditional Swedish handicrafts and seasonal treats.

For those seeking panoramic views of Stockholm’s winter beauty, a visit to Monteliusvägen, a scenic walking path along Södermalm, is a must. The Swedish concept of “fika,” or taking a break for coffee and pastries, takes on a special significance during the Christmas season. Stockholm’s cafes and bakeries offer a delightful array of seasonal treats.

For the ultimate festive celebration, the Lucia Day celebrations illuminate the darkness with the lantern procession heralding the holiday season. Stockholm at Christmas is a magical blend of Nordic traditions, warmth and holiday cheer that will truly mesmerise you.


7Bruges, Belgium

Bruges Christmas

Jan Darthet via Visit Berlin 

Standing out as one of the best European cities for Christmas, Bruges is the epitome of festive magic. Renowned for its picturesque mediaeval architecture and charming cobbled streets, Bruges transforms into a whimsical winter wonderland with twinkling lights adorning the historic buildings.

One of the highlights of a Christmas visit to Bruges is the enchanting Christmas markets. The main market square, Grote Markt, turns into a winter wonderland with stalls offering local crafts, handmade gifts, and delicious seasonal treats like Belgian chocolates and waffles, whilst horse-drawn carriage rides and ice skating adds to the merriment.

For breathtaking panoramic views of the Christmas-decked city, a climb to the top of the Belfry Tower is a must. The illuminated cityscape from above offers a stunning perspective, capturing the essence of Bruges during the holiday season. Bruges is a true holiday gem where the spirit of Christmas comes alive against a stunning historical backdrop.

Related: Top Things To Do In Bruges


8Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg, Austria, graces the list of the Best European Christmas Destinations with its enchanting blend of Baroque architecture, musical heritage, and a timeless festive atmosphere. Nestled against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps, Salzburg transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season.

The historic Old Town of Salzburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site, becomes a focal point of the city’s Christmas celebrations. Salzburg’s connection to Mozart resonates during the Christmas season, with the Mozarteum University of Music and the iconic Mozart’s Birthplace draped in festive decorations. The city’s churches, including the Salzburg Cathedral and St. Peter’s Abbey, host special Christmas concerts, infusing the air with the harmonies of classical masterpieces. Salzburg one of the best European Xmas destinations where history, culture and the festive spirit blend seamlessly.


9Gstaad, Switzerland

Gstaad Palace Switerland

The magical town of Gstaad is one of elegance and glamour, a luxurious winter destination that is one of the best European ski resorts. One of the best European Christmas destinations, Gstaad has attracted a wealth of famous names for decades. Ernest Hemingway, Audrey Hepburn and David Bowie all regarded Gstaad as their favourite winter destination whilst the likes of Paris Hilton and Madonna still frequent this fairytale Christmas destination.

The best way to describe this European Christmas destination is a blend of old-world glamour and Alpine vibe. Traffic free cobbled street lined with traditional swiss chalets, luxury boutiques. The ski scene in Gstaad is nothing short of A-list with palace hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and impeccable skiing opportunities. As the night falls, the buildings light up and create a magical setting.

Where to stay in Gstaad : Gstaad PalaceSet on a hill overlooking town of Gstaad, and  view of the majestic Swiss Alps. Le Grand Bellevue –  located in a park in the centre of Gstaad and is home to Michelin-starred restaurant.

Discover: More Hotels in Gstaad


10Vilnius, Lithuania

Go Vilnius Tourism 

Offering an exciting assortment of festive activities, Vilnius captures the spirit of the season and is an incredible festive destination. The UNESCO-listed Old Town of Vilnius, with its cobblestone streets and Gothic architecture, transforms into a winter wonderland adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. The heart of Vilnius’ Christmas festivities lies in Cathedral Square, where the city’s main Christmas Market takes center stage. The square is adorned with a towering Christmas tree, and the market stalls offer a delightful array of handmade crafts, local treats, and traditional Lithuanian souvenirs

Magical concerts and performances are held across the city immersing the Lithuanian capital in the holiday spirit. Vilnius is also the ultimate ice skating spot with outdoor rinks scattered across the city adding a dash of winter adventure to the festivities. There is no doubt that Vilnius is a hidden gem when it comes to festive destinations in Europe but one that will definitely be memorable.


11Rome, Italy

christmas in rome italy

Discover the magic of Christmas in Rome, an unrivalled European destination for the Christmas season. Rome’s timeless beauty takes on a festive glow with twinkling lights, charming markets and classical decorations adorning ancient landmarks. The heart of Rome’s Christmas festivities lies in St. Peter’s Square, where the Vatican City comes alive with the grandeur of the annual Christmas tree and the life-sized Nativity scene.

Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s most iconic squares, hosts a vibrant Christmas market that captures the essence of Italian holiday traditions. Rome’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, becomes a winter wonderland during Christmas. The Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon are adorned with Christmas lights, creating a magical ambiance for evening strolls. With its rich history and a blend of timeless traditions, Rome at Christmas offers an unforgettable experience making it one of the best European Xmas destinations.


12Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana christmas

Radiating festive charm and enchantment, Ljubljana is a hidden gem amongst European Christmas destinations. As the snow gently falls over red-roofed buildings and the ice-blue Ljubljanica River in Slovenia’s storybook capital, Ljubljana becomes a festive fairy tale come Christmastime. For over a month during Advent, Prešeren Square dazzles with sparkling lights as the city’s central open-air market offers warming drinks, sweet and savory treats, and artisan gifts at wooden cottage stalls.

Explore the Ljubljana Christmas Market where the scent of mulled wine and traditional Slovenian delights fill the air. Glide on the festive ice rink and revel in lively entertainment with the stunning backdrop of Ljubljana Castle completing the magical atmosphere. On New Years Eve, fireworks are launched from the Castle hill. Experience the warmth and joy of the season in Ljubljana, a destination renowned as one of the best European Xmas destinations.


13Reykjavik, Iceland


Experience Christmas magic in Reykjavik, a destination that encapsulates the excitement of the festive period as the dazzling lights illuminate the city creating a festive atmosphere like no other. The entire town glows under strings of bright Christmas lights with main streets like Laugavegur transforming into a winter wonderland market full of local handicrafts and art.

Explore the charming Christmas markets offering unique Icelandic gifts and seasonal treats and enjoy ice skating at Ingólfstorg Square. You may also witness the spectacular Northern Lights, painting the winter sky with an ethereal glow and contrasting against Iceland’s blanket of snow. Embrace the Icelandic holiday traditions, indulge in local cuisine and let Reykjavik enchant you with its winter wonder.

Related: Top Luxury Hotels In Reykjavik



14St. Moritz, Switzerland

St Moritz things to do in switzerland

Renowned as the town that founded winter tourism, this elegant destination in Switzerland’s Engadin Valley is home to the world’s oldest ski resort. As one of the best destinations in Europe, St Moritz, is an exclusive winter playground for the rich and famous. A destination popular with celebrities, billionaires and royalty, St Moritz is as prestigious as ski destinations get.

This magnificent alpine town boasts year-round sunshine, the perfect conditions for navigating the three different ski regions totalling 350 kilometres of slopes across three dramatic mountains. Skiing at St Moritz offers access to 5 main areas; Corviglia, Corvatsch, Furtschellas, Diavolezza and Lagalb. This European ski destination is also known to offer what is called “Champagne climate” due to the sun shinning 322 days a year along with the dry air. St Moritz has a lot to offer in addition to skiing with winter activity taking place on Lake St Moritz, the frozen centrepiece to the town hosting ice skating, polo and horse racing on ice.

St Moritz also boasts gourmet restaurants, excellent shopping, it also has somewhat of a reputation for its parties, with some of the world’s most exclusive reservations and the best apres-ski atmosphere. Head to Dracula for the exclusive parties, King’s Club if you want to let loose, and El Paradiso mountain club has been St. Moritz most exclusive reservations. 

Where to stay in St. Moritz: Badrutt’s Palace – this luxury hotel has been the staple with the celebs and A listers since 1890’s. Carlton Hotel St. Moritz – Overlooking Lake St. Moritz and the Swiss Alps, it enjoys a prime location.



15Nuremberg, Germany 

Nuremberg Christmas Market

Thought to date back to 1530, or at least officially dating back to 1628, Nuremberg in Germany, stands proudly among the Best European Christmas Destinations, offering a festive experience deeply rooted in tradition and cultural richness. Renowned for its centuries-old Christmas market, the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, the city creates a magical ambiance that enchants visitors with its medieval charm and warm holiday spirit.

At the heart of Nuremberg’s Christmas festivities is the Hauptmarkt, where the Christkindlesmarkt unfolds against the backdrop of the Frauenkirche and the iconic Beautiful Fountain. This historic market, dating back to the 16th century, features more than 180 wooden stalls adorned with red-and-white striped roofs, offering an array of handmade crafts, traditional ornaments, and seasonal delights. The market’s ceremonial opening, led by the Christkind (Christmas Angel), marks the official beginning of the holiday season, captivating visitors with its time-honored spectacle.

The city’s Old Town, surrounded by medieval walls and charming half-timbered houses, provides a picturesque setting for festive strolls. The Gothic architecture of the St. Lorenz Church and the Imperial Castle accentuates the city’s historical allure, casting a magical glow during the winter evenings



budapest christmas markets

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, emerges as one of the Best European Christmas Destinations. The city, straddling the Danube River, transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for those seeking a memorable Christmas celebration. At the heart of Budapest’s Christmas festivities is the Advent Feast at Vörösmarty Square, the city’s main Christmas market.

Budapest’s historic landmarks, including Buda Castle and Matthias Church, are bathed in festive lights, casting a magical glow across the city. The iconic Chain Bridge, connecting Buda and Pest, becomes a picturesque passage for evening strolls, offering panoramic views of the illuminated cityscape. The Budapest Christmas Trams, adorned with thousands of sparkling lights, traverse the city, providing a unique and festive way to get around the city.

The thermal baths, a signature aspect of Budapest’s culture, take on a special charm during the winter months. Széchenyi and Gellért Baths provide a rejuvenating escape, soak in warm thermal waters while surrounded by the city’s winter beauty.

Related: Best Christmas Markets in Budapest



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