Christmas Markets, glühwein, and lots of old world charm, Europe is a memorable places to spend the Holidays. Here are our favorite cities to celebrate!
From visiting the countless Christmas markets found throughout most of Europe, to tasting mulled wine and sampling treats, we had quite an eventful Holiday season last year. If we can't be with family and friends, we might as well let these beautiful cities take us in.
Ok, I know Paris is pretty spectacular any time of year. During the holidays though, it has a special different kind of charm. It's when the city truly becomes the City of Lights. Everything just lights up and the decorations are just beautiful. The weather is cold and crisp and the soft yellow glow of christmas decorations are found around every corner. It’s the perfect place to bundle up walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds!
You can't walk anywhere around this city without feeling Christmas. The air smells like cinnamon, gluehwein (mulled wine) and fresh pastries. You see nothing but bright lights hanging over you and in every square are wonderful Christmas Markets full of more delicious smells and crafts. Admittedly half the "crafts" are just cheap reproductions, but the spirit is definitely present. Despite the cold temperatures everyone seems to be outside meandering from one market to the next...with a cup of gluehwein to keep their fingers warm of course!
Only a 2.5 hour train ride from Vienna, is the land of Mozart and the Sound of Music. Welcome to Salzburg. This small historic town is mostly known for a famous composer and movie, yet there is so much more to see and eat, if music really isn't your thing. This entire city gets in the spirit. From the numerous markets around every corner, the lit up Christmas trees lining the streets and the sounds of carolers echoing from the churches, you just can’t help but feel happy here. Even if you're not into musicals or performances, you have to visit a make time
Prague, Czech Republic
From Medieval bridges to fantastic markets, Prague just seems to glow from within. For us, it’s the perfect time of year to visit because of all the treats (especially the Trdlo) and mulled wine that fill all the food carts. There really aren't any markets to visit, but the cold weather, the warm wine and the cinnamon covered pastries give me all that Christmas nostalgia I love. Don't be afraid to try the grilled sausage you find from vendors on the side of the street - it’s the best we’ve ever had!
Trying to see snow covered castles and singing in beer halls, is how I will remember Munich. We spent our days trying to find the best beer halls and when we weren’t swaying liters of beer steins, we took plenty of day trips to see the Bavarian countryside. Our favorite was taking a tour to the Bavarian castles, especially those of King Ludwig II. Weather wasn’t on our side, but nevertheless it was beautiful. There are also Christmas Markets all around...but you have too look deep to find authentic handicrafts not just useless tchotchkes.
Even though we only spent 24 hours in Zurich, it quickly became on of my favorite European cities to visit in the winter. Every street (and not just in the touristy areas) were surrounded by hanging Christmas lights and there just seems to be a “cheer” in the area. The streets were lined with old colorful buildings and around every corner was a lively Christmas Market. Whether you’re spending only a day or weeks, you’ll find plenty to do, see and eat, in Switzerland's financial capital!
If you’re looking for historic charm and picture perfect scenery you have to visit Lucerne. WIth snow-capped mountains overlooking the town and 14th century walls still standing, Lucerne really is the storybook image of a Swiss Town. Make sure to stay in the Altstadt (old town) and spend a day wandering around Mount Pilatus, even if you don't ski. Take the gondola up the mountain and enjoy some of the best views from high above. There is a Christmas Market, but it’s not that great, so instead come here for the scenery and Mount Pilatus!
The only way to travel through Switzerland is by train, specifically the Goldenpass route, which goes from Lucerne all the way to Lake Geneva. As tempting as a quick flight might sound, don’t do it. You’ll miss out on some of the most beautiful landscapes and scenery we’ve ever seen. The trains weave throughout the mountains and if you’re lucky, you’ll see quaint little towns along the way. One of our favorite stops is Interlaken. There isn't much to do aside from skiing, but if you appreciate nature and the warmth that Christmas seems to bring, definitely make this a stop. P.S. Make sure to check the weather if you’re a skier. We visited in December and there was barely any snow on the mountains :-(
As you can see, Vevey is another picture perfect Swiss town. With weather on our side (no snow and clear skiis) we were able to get some pretty incredible photos of Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. The climate in Vevey leads to some spectacular wine as well, so try to visit some wineries in the Lavaux region, you won't be disappointed! If you’re looking for a romantic escape for the holidays, this is perfect!