Winter is the best time of the year to experience the true heartbeat of Europe!

Unlike any other time of the year, Europe's cities and people truly reveal their charming personality as they celebrates le good life during winter. Every country flaunts its rich indoor amusement destinations in the form of museums, theatres and concert halls - not to mention the bookstores and inimitable café- and pub culture that will leave you feeling warm on the inside! Christmas markets pop up everywhere and you see cityscapes dress up in twinkling lights and the most stunning display of decorations.

Take some well-deserved time to uncover the hidden marvels of some of the most spectacular destinations throughout Europe this winter! It’s time to make magical memories to last a lifetime with Expat Explore…

England

The cold and wet of winter is actually quite seasonally appropriate in this region of Europe over the festive season! Embrace the weather by making sure you have the right gear and indulge in the fantastic culture and history England has to offer; we guarantee you’ll fall in love!

There is no end to cathedrals, theatres, museums and galleries around England. In fact, it's known to be the culture capital of Europe. All through winter you’ll see the locals wrap up warm to brave the cold for a dose of culture, theatre and music festivals or to go pub-crawling. Serving British pale ale and hearty meals, pubs in England are an institution and constitute a quintessential English experience!

Venturing to smaller cities like York and Liverpool offers a picture-perfect display of green hills, century-old villages with cathedrals and typical English cottages. In winter time the streets come alive with cheerful lights, Christmas trees and carolling.There’s also an abundance of excellent festive food, such as Chocolate Yule Log, mince pies and plum pudding! England should most definitely be on your winter-travel list!

Frozen Facts

It is estimated that there are more than 2,500 museums in the United Kingdom. The British Museum, Museum of London, Science Museum and National Gallery are some of the many museums that are free to enter!

Scotland

Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit Scotland. We're talking dramatic Highlands, Scottish castles and one of the hippest capitals in all of Great Britain - Edinburgh. Even though the weather is perfectly unpredictable, Scotland offers sensational entertainment such as music carol shows and Scottish Christmas Markets. The celebrations in Edinburgh run from 20 November through to 4 January and involves ice rinks, a fairy-lit Big Wheel and the Star Flyer - a whopping 60-metre Christmas Carnival ride. On Princess street you can join families gathering for the annual pantomime at King’s theatre, which runs from late November (this year's theme has been announced as Jack and the Beanstalk).

The biggest event on the festive calendar, however, is the rip-roaring three-day party over new year’s eve known as Hogmanay. It's known to be one of the greatest street parties in the United Kingdom, with enormous celebrations, fireworks, fabulous Scottish traditions, live bands and even a national sing-along!

Frozen Facts

January and February are known to be the coldest months in Scotland. Daytime temperatures max out at a chilly 5 degrees! Ski season on the peaks and mountains of the Scottish Highlands runs from November to April.

Wales

In winter Wales bring the magic! Located only 2 hours’ drive from London, Wales is one of the most unspoilt areas in all of the United Kingdom. Imagine outstanding natural beauty with lush green hills, hundreds of castles and fortresses and some of the finest private- and botanical gardens in the world!

Cardiff, one of Europe’s youngest capitals, was voted one of Britain’s most sociable destinations and during the festive season the city dresses up in its most vibrant and colourful outfit to impress its visitors! It also hosts a 42-day Christmas Market that runs from November to the end of December and hosts a Winter Wonderland and Ice Kingdom featuring life-size ice sculptures. While there, have a bite of traditional favourites like Welsh rarebit, Welsh crempog (pancakes) or the well-known Welsh cakes. Yum! Visit Wales this year for a somewhat off-the-beaten-path experience and immerse yourself in the Celtic spirit!

Frozen Facts

Weather in Wales is quite unpredictable year-round and in January you can expect average temperatures of about 6 degrees. The period after Christmas is known to bring snow.

----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----

Great Britain Christmas
7 Days

England, Scotland, Wales

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Great Britain New Year
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Great Britain Tour
7 Days

England, Scotland, Wales

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France

The magic of France in wintertime is something you have to experience for yourself! Walking along the Seine in crisp morning air; buying a packet of roasted chestnuts to warm your hands, and sipping a cup of hot chocolate as you watch the world's most fashionable nation go about their day - these are a few of things that should be on your French winter holiday checklist.

Paris is called the City of Lights for a reason, and the city truly comes into its own over the festive season. Some of the most beautiful sights to behold when Christmastime rolls around is the famous tree at the Galeries Lafayette; Disneyland Paris in all its festive finery; and the world-renowned holiday lights that line the Champs-Elysees.

French winter food is yet another reason to brave the brisk weather. Mushrooms and truffles appear at markets; not to mention the amazing array of festive foods, like foie gras and tempting chocolates, that line the shelves of its delis and corner stores. Put France at the top of your travel wish list this festive season and experience the magic of its wintertime façade.

Frozen Facts

Over winter, Paris does not close down at all. Public transport runs and most of the shops, restaurants and attractions stay open until late.

Switzerland

The mental picture you have of Europe in wintertime - snow-capped mountains, rustic log cabins with smoke tendrils escaping from a roughly hewn chimney - all originated from Switzerland. It is one of Europe's most popular winter destinations, quite simply because this region becomes so astonishingly beautiful when temperatures drop.

But Switzerland also boasts a lively culture. Whether you're visiting Switzerland to enjoy an active holiday on the slopes or are enjoying a European city break, you'll have plenty of opportunity to indulge in some delicious local fare. Fondue is synonymous with Swiss culture, so make sure you try this warming wintertime staple at least once with chunks of steaming bread and a snifter of schnapps. Alternatively, try your hand at raclette - another interactive dining experience that involves melting lashing of local raclette cheese onto fragrant boiled potatoes, pickles and onions. Get out your cosy scarfs and mittens, Switzerland's winter wonderland is just waiting to be discovered by imaginative travellers with a yen for exploring without the clamour of summertime crowds.

Frozen Facts

Snowy season in Switzerland last from late December to March. On the Swiss Alps, located above 2500 metres, snow is a given all year round!

Germany

Germany is renowned for its festive spirit, but the country is wunderbar throughout winter for other reasons as well...

Boasting many stylish hotels, restaurants, shopping destinations and interesting museums that provide plenty of indoor diversions. Seasoned travellers can enjoy tours of Berlin's trendy lifestyle hotspots, while those with romance in mind can head to Heidelberg's charming nooks and crannies. Foodies can look forward to an amazing array of German wintertime staples, including the country’s ubiquitous gingerbread and spice-laden glühwein. But there’s more - an abundance of homemade products like Black Forest ham, honey, schnapps and craft beer . From the end of November up until Christmas, the country is all about sparkling lights, Christmas trees, handicrafts and sweet treats. In fact, there are so many markets to choose from that some visitors partake of market cruises on the Rhine and Danube to enjoy as many enchanting market settings as they can in a short amount of time.

Would you like to know more about Germany’s singular wintertime attractions? Get in touch so we can tell you all about it!

Frozen Facts

Wintertime in Germany is synonymous with gingerbread & spice-laden glühwein.

The Netherlands

Despite the bracing winter weather, the Netherlands remain a popular European travel destination year-round, and with good reason - throughout the centuries, the Dutch have learned how to make the most of the darker winter days and visitors can look forward to an array of seasonally appropriate vacation pastimes. Amsterdam, for instance, is annually transformed into a riot of light when world-renowned light artists are invited to show off their extraordinary works throughout historical Amsterdam for the months of December and January.

Holland's natural splendours also remain firmly in place throughout winter and many outdoor enthusiasts flock here to take advantage of the popular hiking destinations like the hills of Veluwe and the fantastic forests in the Green Heart of the country. Alternatively, you could stay within city limits and simply lace up your skates at one of the skating rinks dotted throughout the major Dutch cities and warm up with koek en zopie (wintry snacks and drinks typically enjoyed during ice-skating in Holland) afterwards.

These are just a few of the wintertime treats that await in the Netherlands. Get in touch so we can fill you in on the rest!

Frozen Facts

There are more than 6000 16th, 17th and 18th century architecture in Amsterdam, many of them serve as history and art museums. The oldest of the lot is the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder, a 17th century canal house and church in central Amsterdam.

Belgium

Winter visitors to Belgium will find plenty to keep them occupied! Bruges, as one of the historic and medieval towns in all of Europe, is a perfect destination for Christmas travels and offers a wide array of galleries, museums, historical buildings and shopping destinations. Not to mention the famous Belgian breweries, which can be explored to your heart's content no matter what the weather conditions may be!

Food lovers are also spoiled for choice when it comes to hearty Belgian wintertime fare. Look out for Stoverij, a hearty beef stew made with lashings of beer and served with frites or bread for dipping; or indulge in a cup of rich Belgian hot chocolate aside a steaming plate Belgian waffles. These are just a few of the wintertime marvels that makes Belgium such a wonderful place to visit. Get in touch to find out more about the seasonal delights that await on our winter coach tours of Europe.

Frozen Facts

Every winter, the heart of Brussels is transformed into a 'Winter Wonders', a much-loved festive event featuring a magical Christmas market, illuminated Big Wheel, street activities and a skating rink.

----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----

Europe Christmas Taster
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France, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium

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Italy

How you choose to spend your time in Italy during winter will depend greatly on where your travels take you - Italian Alpine resorts will give you the full white Christmas experience, while destinations further down south actually feature many fine, clear days that may not be warm, but are certainly not frosty. Either way, wintertime is a wonderful opportunity to explore Italy’s ‘great indoors’ in its churches, galleries and museums where some extraordinary art is preserved. In fact, did you know that Italy is home to more artistic masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world? Visiting these Italian museums in winter means you can take your time to enjoy the serene ambience of these age-old spaces. While you're at it, try to include a visit to one of Italy's beautiful theatres - the country's opera-, theatre- and symphony seasons are at their peak in winter, when Italians flock indoors to get back in touch with their cultural roots. Over the festive season, try some traditional Tortellini in brodo (Pasta parcels in broth), and enjoy a slice of Panettone (Italian Christmas cake) for dessert!

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about the seasonal events in Italy that overlap with our winter coach tours of Italy.

Frozen Facts

Italy boast more artistic masterpieces per square mile than any other country in the world! Winter is a great time to take advantage of less crowded museums.

----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----

Europe Christmas &
New Year Escape
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France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium

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Italian Christmas &
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Europe Escape
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Czech Republic

The Czech Republic in winter is romantic, beautiful, snowy and, most importantly, fun! Get ready for charming Christmas markets that dazzle with twinkling lights, moody Gothic architecture in all its snowy splendour and plenty of active pursuits to put roses in your cheeks.

It it's adrenaline you're after, the Czech Republic is the place to be. The country is not only home to the world's longest skating track at 11km, but also boasts world-renowned ski slopes and resorts where you can drink in the beauty of its glacial valleys and indulge in the singular delights offered by toboggan runs and bobsleigh tracks. Alternatively, you could board a steamboat cruise to enjoy the country's wintertime vistas from a unique perspective or simply bundle up and explore its wondrous snow-covered gardens.

Frozen Facts

Winter in the Czech Republic lasts from November to March and the weather can be quite crisp and wet! If you’re lucky you might enjoy a white Christmas in Prague, but if not then definitely in January, February or March. Make sure you pack gloves, a winter hat and shoes with water resistant soles.

Hungary

Hungary in wintertime is a decidedly romantic destination, its enchanting city skylines enhanced with sprinklings of snow. Pack a warm coat and scarf and get ready to explore the country's much-lauded cafe culture and fascinating historical destinations. Coffee has been an integral part of Hungarian culture since the 1700s and can be enjoyed at opulent Viennese-style cafes throughout the larger cities like Budapest; while extraordinary collections of ancient art and classic masterpieces await at exquisitely maintained museums like the Kunsthalle.

Alternatively, you could explore the region's thermal gems - known as the City of Healing Waters, Budapest boasts a veritable labyrinth of saunas and steam rooms that take their mineral-infused waters straight from the ground. Otherwise, simply saunter about and drink in the singular ambience of the Hungarian holidays. We recommend that you try Szaloncukor, traditional Hungarian Christmas tree candy, and keep an eye out for the wonderful gingerbread decorations that are available at most festive markets.

Frozen Facts

One of the major winter time attractions in winter are the Hungarian thermal baths. The largest bath in Budapest - the Szechenyi Baths are open over Christmas and have 2 outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools.

Slovakia

Slovakia is definitely one of Europe's hottest wintertime destinations, and it’s easy to understand why - this gorgeous mountainous country attracts winter sports fans and culturally-inclined holidaymakers in equal measure with its chocolate box views and diverting wintertime activities. There are exquisite water parks and plenty of relaxation opportunities in thermal pools, saunas and spas.

The festive season in Slovakia is truly magical - frost paints elaborate crystal portraits on windowpanes and snow crunches gently underfoot as colourful vendors dole out generous helpings of lokše (potato-dough pancakes filled with sauerkraut) and varené víno (mulled wine). You may even run into a family shopping for a live carp that will become part of their traditional holiday feast, alongside oblátky (Christmas wafers enjoyed with honey) and bobalky (dough soaked in milk and honey and topped with poppy seeds). Learn more about Slovakia's fascinating holiday traditions on our winter tours of Europe.

Frozen Facts

The Slovak National Theater is where the Christmas markets and ice skating rinks are located in the festive season. In January the ice rink in front of the Opera house is open to the public and you can rent skates on site!

Austria

If there is one thing that Austria in winter is renowned for, it has to be the skiing - think exceptional weather, jaw-dropping vertical drops, world-renowned Après-ski (social activities and entertainment following a day's skiing), and legendary Austrian Gemütlichkeit and you'll have a good idea why it's considered to be one of Europe's foremost winter playgrounds.

But there's more to Austria than its ski slopes - you can soak up some urban atmosphere in its larger cities by visiting museums, exploring festive markets or indulging in some sweet delights at its famous coffee houses; or simply falling face first into its singular cuisine, which of course includes the famous Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel, Tafelspitz and other Viennese classics. If there is one thing that Austria in winter is renowned for, it has to be the skiing - think exceptional weather, jaw-dropping vertical drops, world-renowned Après-ski (social activities and entertainment following a day's skiing), and legendary Austrian Gemütlichkeit and you'll have a good idea why it's considered to be one of Europe's foremost winter playgrounds.

But there's more to Austria than its ski slopes - you can soak up some urban atmosphere in its larger cities by visiting museums, exploring festive markets or indulging in some sweet delights at its famous coffee houses; or simply falling face first into its singular cuisine, which of course includes the famous Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel, Tafelspitz and other Viennese classics.

Frozen Facts

Austria is one of the countries in the Western world that consumes the most coffee per capita, even more than Italy and France! Viennese coffeehouses are in a class of their own and a cozy get together spot. Try the famous Viennese coffee “Einspänner” when there!

----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----

Europe Christmas & New Year Jewel
14 Days

Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and France

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