The cold and wet of winter is quite 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 culture and history that England has to offer. We can 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. They'd be willing to do anything for a dose of culture, theatre and music festivals. Or take part in the best winter-warmer, pub-crawling. Serving British pale ale and hearty meals, pubs in England are the ultimate English experience!
Venturing to smaller cities like York and Liverpool, offers a picture-perfect display of green hills and century-old villages. All around you you'll see cathedrals and typical English homes. In winter time, the streets come alive with cheerful lights, Christmas trees and carolling. There’s also an abundance of excellent festive food. You can indulge in some Chocolate Yule Log, mince pies and plum pudding! England should most definitely be on your winter-travel list!
It is estimated that there are more than 2,500 museums in the United Kingdom. Some even have free entry: The British Museum, Museum of London, Science Museum and National Gallery and many more!
Winter is one of the most beautiful seasons to visit Scotland. We're talking dramatic Highlands, Scottish castles and the hippest capital in Great Britain - Edinburgh. Even though the weather is unpredictable, Scotland offers great entertainment! You can bless your ears with music carol shows. Or, you could wander through the Scottish Christmas Markets. The celebrations in Edinburgh run from 20 November through to 4 January. The favorites include ice rinks, a fairy-lit Big Wheel and the Star Flyer. Who wouldn't want to go on a 60-meter Christmas Carnival ride? On Princess street, you can join families gathering for the annual pantomime at King’s theater. This annual show runs from late November (this year's theme is Cinderella).
The biggest event on the festive calendar, however, is the three-day party over new year’s eve! Of course, we're talking about Hogmanay. It's known to be one of the greatest street parties in the United Kingdom. You will be entertained by endless celebrations, fireworks and fabulous Scottish traditions. To add to the splendor there are live bands and even a national sing-along!
January and February are the coldest months in Scotland. Daytime temperatures max out at a chilly 5 degrees! From November to April you can enjoy the Scottish Highlands and their snow-capped peaks.
In winter, Wales brings the magic! Located only 3 hours’ drive from London, Wales is one of the best kept secrets in all of the United Kingdom. Imagine outstanding natural beauty with lush green hills, hundreds of castles and fortresses. Then, add 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 colorful outfits to impress visitors! It also hosts a 42-day Christmas Market that runs from November to the end of December. You could also wander over to the 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. You can't help but immerse yourself in the Celtic spirit!
Weather in Wales is quite unpredictable year-round. In January you can expect average temperatures of about 6 degrees. Want to see snow? The period after Christmas is the best time.
----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----
The magic of France in wintertime is something you have to experience for yourself! Walking along the Seine in the crisp morning air and buying a packet of roasted chestnuts to warm your hands. You sit at a cafe and sip 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! The city truly comes into its own over the festive season. One of the most beautiful sights to behold when Christmas time rolls around is the famous tree at the Galeries Lafayette. Of course, Disneyland Paris in all its festive finery is nothing short of spectacular. And the world-renowned holiday lights that line the Champs-Elysees. To top all this splendor off, one of France's two government-regulated sales periods occurs in winter, in January!
French winter food is yet another reason to brave the brisk weather. Mushrooms and truffles appear at markets. Yum! Not to mention the amazing array of festive foods, like foie gras and tempting chocolates. Put France at the top of your travel wish list this festive season and experience the magic of its wintertime façade.
Over winter, Paris does not close down at all. Public transport runs and most of the shops, restaurants and attractions stay open until late.
Snow-capped mountains, rustic log cabins and smoke tendrils escaping from a chimney, this is the dream of typical European winter. Well, this dream becomes a reality in Switzerland! It is one of Europe's most popular winter destinations. Why? This region becomes so astonishingly beautiful when temperatures drop that it calls any travelers name.
But Switzerland also boasts a lively culture. You could visit Switzerland to enjoy an active holiday on the slopes. Or why not enjoy a European city break? Here, you'll have plenty of opportunity to indulge in some delicious local fare. Fondue is synonymous with Swiss culture. Warm, fresh bread dipped in a pot of melted cheese? Yes please! Make sure you try this warming wintertime staple at least once with a snifter of schnapps. Alternatively, try your hand at raclette. This is an interactive dining experience that involves melting 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! Best part is that you can explore without the clamour of summertime crowds.
Snowy season in Switzerland lasts from late December to March. In the Swiss Alps, located above 2500 metres, snow is a given all year round!
Germany is known for its festive spirit! But the country is 'wunderbar' throughout winter for other reasons as well.
Germany has an abundance of history and culture, you could spend hours in any of the museums and leave warmed and informed. Seasoned travelers can enjoy tours of Berlin's trendy lifestyle hotspots. While those with romance in mind, can head to the charms of Heidelberg. Foodies can look forward to traditional German wintertime staples. Who wouldn't want to warm-up with traditional gingerbread and spice-laden glühwein? And there’s more, homemade products like Black Forest ham, honey, schnapps and craft beer. From the end of November up until Christmas, the country is all about the festive season. Wherever you turn you will see sparkling lights and Christmas trees. The markets will also be overflowing with handicrafts and sweet treats! In fact, there are so many markets to choose from that some visitors enjoy market cruises along the Rhine and Danube.
Would you like to know more about Germany’s singular wintertime attractions? Get in touch so we can tell you all about it!
Wintertime in Germany is synonymous with gingerbread and spice-laden glühwein.
The Netherlands remain a popular European travel destination year-round. And it's with good reason! The Dutch have learned how to make the most of the darker winter days. Visitors can look forward to some of the best winter vacation pastimes. Amsterdam is annually transformed into a riot of light. Light artists from around the world join to show off their best works. So, for the months of December and January Amsterdam is a light spectacle.
Many outdoor enthusiasts flock to Holland to take advantage of the popular hiking destinations. A favorite hiking spot is the hills of Veluwe, or you could wander through forests of the Green Heart of the country. Not in the mood for outdoor exploring? Stay within city limits and enjoy the skating rinks dotted throughout the major Dutch cities. Warm up with koek en zopie (wintry snacks and drinks typically enjoyed during ice-skating in Holland). These are just a few of the wintertime treats waiting for you in the Netherlands. Get in touch so we can fill you in on the rest!
There's a variety of 17th and 18th century architecture in Amsterdam. Many of these buildings now 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.
Winter visitors to Belgium will find plenty to keep them occupied! Bruges is one of the historic and medieval towns found in Europe. It is a perfect destination for Christmas travels, as there is something for the whole family. Bruges has an array of galleries, museums, historical buildings and shopping destinations. Not to mention the famous Belgian breweries. These brews will warm up your day, whatever the weather conditions may be!
Food lovers will enjoy all the elements of the 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 famous rich Belgian hot chocolate. Why not top it all off with a steaming plate of Belgian waffles? These are just a few of the wintertime marvels that make Belgium such a wonderful place to visit. Get in touch to find out more about the delights that await on our winter coach tours of Europe.
Every winter, the heart of Brussels is transformed into 'Winter Wonders'. This much-loved festive event features a magical Christmas market, Big Wheel, street activities and a skating rink.
----- Winter breaks to fantastic Europe Countries -----
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.
Italy boasts 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 -----
The Czech Republic in winter is romantic, beautiful, snowy and, most importantly, fun! Get ready for charming Christmas markets that dazzle with twinkling lights, Gothic architecture in all its snowy splendour and plenty of outdoor activities. The perfect opportunity to take the most spectacular photos!
If 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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!