Best European Cities for a Christmas vacation
Combine a dreamy escape to Europe with the most magical of Christmas experiences in one of our favourite European cities.
From fairytale towns to twinkling Christmas markets, Christmas in Europe is magnificent.
Sparkling sleigh rides and Father Christmas' official hometown are sure to give you a very merry Christmas vacation.
1) Edinburgh, Scotland
Whilst often recommended as a brilliant city to visit in the summer, mostly due to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, there is something charming about Edinburgh during the Christmas season. Like many European cities at this time, it is filled with markets selling food and craft.
But it is the New Year when Edinburgh really comes alive! Scottish New Year, or Hogmanay, is a vibrant, eclectic and heavily-celebrated evening. The streets of the city are lined with thousands of people, taking part in festivities, and Edinburgh Castle looks magnificent lit up.
2) Ljubljana, Slovenia
A city adorned in twinkling bright lights, there is a warmth to Ljubljana in December that spreads far beyond the Christmas markets. Meander down the river on a boat cruise, taking in the sparkling surroundings, and be entertained by one of the many free concerts or plays performed.
The easily accessible city centre is lined with beautiful markets and fairytale creations designed by architect Jože Plečnik. There is also a wonderful light display, created by Slovenian artist Zmago Modic.
3) Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
The official hometown of Father Christmas, Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland has to be the ultimate festive escape. Residing in this stunning snowy town for 363 days of the year, children can visit Santa Claus right up until 23rd December, when he departs on his annual global journey, delivering presents. As well as meeting Santa Claus, the village has a number of attractions to occupy the adults.
Sledge through the streets pulled by huskies on an exciting ride. Pull on your winter boots and embark on a guided walk on snowshoes at the top of Ounasvaara, enjoying the snowy forest. Learn the basics of snow sculpting or head out on a magical reindeer safari.
4) Roros, Norway
This magical Norwegian mining town, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, comes alive during winter. Set against a fairytale backdrop of glistening white snow, this is the perfect place for both adults and children to spend their Christmas. Not only because it was the location that inspired Disney’s Frozen, but it is famed for its wonderful horse-pulled sleigh rides through the wintery streets.
Glide by on the cobbles of this old-timey town, accompanied by the sound of dashing hoofs and jangling bells. After the icy cool air has numbed your face, warm up in front of the glow of a crackling fire.
5) Copenhagen, Denmark
Enjoy this Alpine wonderland, with snow-covered cottages, decorated gardens and the old amusement park draped in thousands of fairy lights. The stalls weave around the garden paths and exude the scent of intoxicating Christmas aromas.
With sweets, candies, chocolate, Danish cookies, biscuits and pancakes, there is sugary delight all around.
6) Oxford, England
Carollers and music lovers will be spoiled for choice in this iconic English city, home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world, which holds wonderfully festive candlelit carol concerts throughout the Christmas period. Many of the country’s finest classical musicians hone their craft in the university’s centuries-old chapels and prestigious college choirs, so this is a chance to see world-class music in some of the world’s most atmospheric settings: from carols by the Bach Choir in the Oxford Playhouse to intimate candlelit services in the colleges’ medieval chapels.
This is also one of the most beautiful times to stroll through the city enjoying the beauty of gardens and quads sparkling by the light of Christmas trees, the Bridge of Sighs crowned with frost, the Harry-Potter-esque magic of the great hall at Christ Church College and the hushed beauty of the city’s museums and libraries.