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Winter City Weekend Getaways in Europe

Winter City Getaways In Europe

If you are searching for some Winter City Weekend Getaways locations, you’ve come to the right place for inspiration! With locations that have some winter sun to full snow white wintery locations, this small but compact list of destinations has a place for everyone. Each location has something unique to see, eat or do, such as to explore a castle or a foodie tour for the local delicacies. Read on for full inspiration of a place you may not have considered before!

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Madeira, Portugal

Madeira is a beautiful island in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Morocco, which offers great winter city breaks because of the mild temperatures. Usually, winters in Funchal see an average temperature of around 18 degrees, and plenty of sunny days.

There are plenty of things to do in Madeira on a winter city break. Funchal is the largest city in Madeira, where most tourists base themselves. The historical centre of Funchal is walkable and very pretty. One of the most interesting areas in Funchal is Zona Velha, which was restored a few years ago through a very unique project. The area now has over 200 painted doors, with the most intricate topics and designs. In Zona Velha you will also find two 16th century buildings which have stood the test of time and are still standing.

Another great place to see in Funchal, to feel the vibe of the city, is the market. In the morning you can see the fish vendors, with their catch of the day. The rest of the market is dedicated to exotic fruits, vegetables, and flowers. On the upper floor you will find spices, herbs, as well as a few souvenir stalls.

One of the main attractions in Madeira is tobogganing from Monte. The best way to get to Monte is by cable car, from Funchal’s seafront. The journey takes 15 minutes and offers beautiful views over the city and the ocean. Once you reach the top, you can jump in one of the traditional wicker baskets and let yourself be pushed downhill at speeds that can reach 30km/hour. In Monte, don’t forget to visit the Monte Palace with its stunning gardens.

If you want to combine the tobogganing with a tour, check here!

Submitted by Joanna from The World In My Pocket

Funchal-Fort - Winter City Getaways In Europe

Copenhagen, Denmark

Many travelers avoid visiting Copenhagen during the months of winter because it’s known to be cold and dark. Copenhagen indeed has short days and colder weather that includes rain and sometimes snow. However, Danes have created a cozy way to get through the cold season and there is no more inviting place to get through the winter, other than in Copenhagen.

Danish people are all about what they call “hygge”, which translates to “cozy” but in reality, is so much more. Imagine warm lights, lit candles, blankets, and warm beverages. Around Christmas, Copenhagen offers a bunch of Christmas markets and activities where you can enjoy the decorations and a warm cup of “gløgg”. Also, around this time, the famous theme park Tivoli opens up for the season with its impressive Christmas set-up that is always popular amongst locals and visitors. Finally, the winter season in Copenhagen is the season for traditional Christmas lunches or “julefrokoster”, where Danes go out to enjoy “smørrebrød” or the open sandwich, paired with large amounts of alcohol. These festive Christmas celebrations run from November and far into January.

Finally, there are ice skating fields put up in the street food area of “Broens Gadekøkken”, outside the beautiful “Frederiksberg Have”, and, if it’s cold enough, the lakes in the centre of Copenhagen might freeze and allow ice skating as well. All in all, providing a movie-like winter wonderland in the middle of the city.

Submitted by Josephine from Josephine Remo

Reykjavik, Iceland

Looking for one of the best winter city weekend getaways in Europe? If so then look no further than Reykjavik, Iceland.  After all, it’s an incredible city that is easy to navigate and is positively brimming over with exciting things to do. 

Also, because the Northern Lights are best viewed between September and March, you’ll likely see them dancing through the sky while you’re here. However, for the best views of the northern lights, book a tour to more remote parts of the country since the darker skies will make the northern lights even easier to see.

Then, warm yourself up with a quick day trip to the Blue Lagoon. Not only are the waters here a lovely 37C – 40C, but the minerals in the water are sure to rejuvenate your skin. Alternatively, you could always check out Sky Lagoon instead since it was recently opened and is a cool new geothermal pool that sits just 7 kilometers south of the downtown area.  Next, enjoy a bit of adventure as you snowmobile across the Langjökull glacier, or “The Long Glacier” in English. 

In fact, this incredible natural formation extends across 950 square miles, can be over 0.5 kilometers thick in places, and is the country’s second-largest ice cap. 

Finally, warm yourself up with a glass full of Brennivin during an amazing Reykjavik food tour. After all, this iconic local spirit is fondly known by the nickname “The Black Death” and has a strong, spiced flavor that will help you get through those cold winter nights.

Submitted by Victoria from Iceland Trippers

- Winter City Getaways In Europe

Zermatt, Switzerland

One of the best places to visit in Europe for a winter weekend getaway is the mountain village of Zermatt, in Switzerland. In the very south, close to the Italian boarder, that lovely place is hidden in the end of a deep valley surrounded by famous mountain peaks. It may only be a village, but in Winter it offers more activities than some big cities. 

Zermatt calls itself “Home of Winter” and for whoever who likes winter sports, it is the place to be: Already for the 3rd time, the destination was chosen Best Ski Resort in the European Alps and in 2022, Zermatt was even awarded with the Traveler’s Choice Awards by TripAdvisor in the category “Best of the Best Destination for Skiers in the world”. 

Besides great skiing, the area offers fantastic snowshoe and winter hikes. The Matterhorn Glacier Trail, one of the best hikes in the entire area, takes you along the bottom of the world-famous Matterhorn mountain and through the “left over” of a glacier.  

From the Gornergrat viewpoint at 3089 meters above sea level, you are able to see the Swiss national Symbol, the Matterhorn and 28 other mountain peaks above 4000m.  

Exploration of the village center with its traditional houses and great restaurants and bars is very pleasant, as the charming village is car-free. 

Looking for a very special place to sleep: High above Zermatt, you can spent the night in an amazing Igloo Village. Famous Swiss cheese Fondue and some Home-made Glühwein (mulled wine) belong to the overnight packages. 

Submitted by Linda from Hiking The Alps

Winter City Getaways In Europe - the top the swiss mountain in Switzerland

Bratislava, Slovakia

A really amazing destination for a Winter City Weekend Getaways in Europe is definitely Bratislava! Especially around Christmas time, the capital of Slovakia is a real insider tip, and a real highlight for many travellers. In winter, the city center shines in beautiful lightnings, there are numerous charming Christmas markets to discover, and the overall ambiance is truly picturesque. In addition, there are fewer tourists in winter than in the rest of the year. Perfect, therefore, if you want to get to know Bratislava from its quiet and most authentic side.

Top Tip: You can also enjoy the Sightseeing Bus for exploring easily in Bratislava!

 When traveling to Bratislava in winter, you can expect numerous interesting attractions! The best way is to walk along the Danube, where most of the sights are located, and enjoy the beauty of winter. The most beautiful view of the city is from the UFO, a viewing platform that is also open in winter.

Another highlight in Bratislava is, of course, the breathtaking small the old town, where there are numerous historic buildings. Interesting are also the many statues, such as the famous Gaffer, which can be discovered in the city center! Very worth seeing is the Bratislava Castle, a beautiful white historic castle with a beautiful garden and a fantastic view of the city.

Submitted by Martina from PlacesofJuma

Winter City Getaways In Europe

Galway, Ireland

Galway is a beautiful city in the west of Ireland that is teeming with culture, character and charm. It’s the perfect place to spend a weekend, as there is so much to see and do. Throughout the winter there is constant festive cheer and buzzing energy throughout the city.

The streets in Galway are lined with brightly colored shops and pubs, and there is always live music playing somewhere. The food is fresh and delicious, and you can’t visit without trying the famous oysters. For a hearty Irish dinner and a pint to warm you from the cold, make sure to dine at the wonderful Cellar Bar.

In the winter, you can experience the Sub Zero Ice Bar in Galway, shop at the Christmas Market in Eyre Square, and wander up and down the streets to take in the holiday lights. For a truly unique winter activity in Galway, brave the cold to join the Christmas Day swim at the Blackrock diving board. 

Make sure to explore the Latin Quarter and walk through the Spanish Arch. View the gorgeous Galway Cathedral or spend some time at the Galway City Museum as well. You can also take many great day trips around Galway to experience some of the beautiful nature in the Wild Atlantic Way such as the popular Cliffs of Moher.

In the winter in Galway, you can expect a low temperature of about 38°F (3°C) to a high of 48°F (9°C). While the weather is mostly mild, it’s often grey and rainy.

Submitted by Janelle from Make The Trip Happen

Winter City Getaways In Europe

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is a city located in Austria. It is known for its beautiful architecture, gardens, for Mozart, its palace and fortress. The city hosts the annual traditional Christmas market in the city center. Another special Christmas market is the Hellbrunn Christmas market located in the Hellbrunn palace boundaries, which is known for its special ambiance and fairy tale-like vibes.

A weekend in Salzburg in winter is a magical experience. Walking down the Getreidegasse and visiting Mozart’s, the world-known classical composers, birth house should be on every bucket list. The fortress and the abbey, located on hills above the city, provide an unforgettable view of the city. The Mirabell gardens in the city center make for a great place to stroll through geometrical perfection on a snowy day.

Visit Europe’s oldest restaurant, the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, and enjoy creative Austrian food specialties. Salzburg is the city of classical music and one can experience outstanding opera plays, musicals and other events, even in winter. The city can be easily accessed because it has an airport. Trains from Vienna or Munich are also frequent with train rides taking about 1 to 2 1-2 hours to Salzburg. The city is well located with many day trip options and more recommendations in this guide to Salzburg.

Submitted by Paul D’Souza from Paulmarina

Winter City Getaways In Europe

Lugano, Switzerland

For some fun at a Swiss location, head to the beautiful location of Lugano in Switzerland. Located in the Southern canton Ticino, Lugano is the perfect place to enjoy a wintery walk, relax by the lake with a hot drink or challenge yourself for a winter’s hike with beautiful views! It’s a great place for your next Winter City Weekend Getaways!

As well as enjoying time shopping in the car-free center, Lugano the stunning place for a walk along the promenade next to Lake Lugano. Here you can walk all the way along the water’s edge from the base of Monte San Salvatore to Monte Bre. In winter time, the promenade is lit up with the pretty lights, passing by the Christmas markets at the city centre too. 

Both of these mountains are also reachable by local funiculars to the top, depending on the winter times you visit as they have special winter timetables. Check this local tour for your visit, alternatively you can also choose to hike up with the correct shoes! 

If there is a bit of a wintery sunset, make sure to walk along the promenade and enjoying a rest on one of the many cute red benches. Sunsets in Lugano are quite special and well worth the wait after a long day of exploring.

Glasgow, Scotland

With world-class museums, stunning architecture, vibrant street arts and a buzzing music scene, Glasgow is one of the best places in Europe for winter city breaks.

Known as the cultural capital of Scotland, there are plenty of interesting places to visit in Glasgow. From history aficionados to culinary experts – Glasgow has something for everyone.

One of the main tourist attractions of this largest city in Scotland is the iconic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. You will find an extensive collection of 8000 objects within its 22 galleries – from famous Renaissance art to a remarkable collection of natural history artefacts. Next, visit the historic Glasgow Cathedral – the oldest building in the city. It is dedicated to Saint Mungo – the patron saint of Glasgow. Take a stroll to the adjacent Necropolis, a Victorian cemetery offering a beautiful panoramic view of the city skyline. Also, Glasgow is famous for urban street art murals by local and international artists. Searching for these colourful street murals all around the city is very exciting.

Head to the famous Riverside Museum on the bank of River Clyde. Here you will find an intriguing collection of transportations from many different eras. From skateboards to vintage cars and baby-strollers to model ships, there are many interesting exhibits that will keep you engaged. Take a stroll along the recreated old streets of Glasgow and learn about the history.

From Glasgow, you can take a day trip to Loch Lomond National Park. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater lake by surface in Britain and a popular attraction in Scotland.

Submitted by Moumita & Sankha from Chasing the Long Road

Top Tip: If you have a whole day spare on a weekend trip to Glasgow, consider a 1 day tour such as this one!

Winter City Getaways In Europe

Seville, Spain

Looking for a quiet weekend getaway this winter? Then Seville might be the perfect destination! The cold, brisk weather is ideal for enjoying wine, delicious tapas, and stunning historical sites.

The average temperatures in Seville during November-February range from 16–20°C (61–68°F), with lows between 6–10°C (42–50°F) at night.

The cooler weather is perfect for sightseeing and enjoying popular attractions with fewer crowds. One of the must-do attractions includes the Plaza de España, a classic Spanish plaza that is full of culture and history. It’s also a great spot to enjoy a romantic sunset with your partner and marvel at the beautiful bridges and canals surrounding the square.

Once you’re finished at the plaza, take a trip to Seville Cathedral, the biggest Gothic cathedral in Europe, so it automatically becomes a must-see attraction. Make sure to head over to the cathedral’s bell tower, La Giralda (don’t forget to book tickets ahead of time). Once you get to the top, bask in some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city and snap some stunning photos.

Getting hungry yet? One of the best things to do in Seville is feast on the delicious cuisine! Head on over to the Mercado de Triana. This is the perfect market for travellers on a budget who still want to experience authentic Spanish food and enjoy fresh local produce.

If you’re visiting the first week in December, you’re in luck! Twinkling Christmas lights are usually switched on around this time, and you’ll also find several festive markets, nativity scenes, and parades around the city.

Submitted by Cristina from My Little World Of Travelling

Serville Spain views above the buildings

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is one of the most underrated capitals in Europe. It is a city full of culture and history, with architecture that could make you think you are in Vienna or another grand European capital.

2 days in Zagreb is the perfect time to see all the tourist attractions at a relaxed pace and enjoy the Christmas Market if you are lucky to visit in December.

Winters in Zagreb are cold, and it is not uncommon to have a few snow days at the beginning of the year. However, the Advent season in Zagreb is magical and makes Zagreb one of the best winter getaways in Europe.

Bundle up nicely and start exploring the city! Start by taking a funicular to the Upper town. This unique vehicle has been connecting Lower and Upper town since 1890! Alternatively, make sure to reach the Lotrščak tower before noon to see the Grič cannon firing signifying noon. Strossmayer Promenade and Plato Gradec are also great to visit, offering the best view of the city and the majestic Zagreb cathedral.

Stroll the cobblestone streets of the Upper town and see St. Mark’s church. Warm up in one of the bars along the Tkalča walking street or with a mulled wine from one of the market stalls.

In case of bad weather, Zagreb has more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world. For the winter period, night falls already around 6 pm. But that’s when the magic begins as millions of Christmas lights illuminate the city!

Submitted by Natali from She’s Abroad Again 

Top Tip: For a 2 hour walking tour that includes the funicular ride, check here!

Rooftops in the city centre

Porto, Portugal

One of the best winter city weekend getaways in Europe is Porto.

Why?

It might be the pleasant temperatures of around 50-60F/10-18ºC during the day that are great for sightseeing. Or perhaps is the mere beauty of this old and colorful town. Or maybe it’s the world-class port that you can only find here.

Altogether, there are plenty of reasons to visit Portugal’s second-largest city. One of the best things to do in town is to simply stroll around. The historic center (the Ribeira) has been listed as world heritage by UNESCO back in 1996, and after a short walk around, you will understand why. It’s beautiful. Some of the highlights here include the Clérigos Tower, the murals in São Bento Station, and the Porto Cathedral.

Besides the old town, the riverbanks at Cais de Ribeira and Gaia on the opposite side of the Douro river are two places you should definitely visit. On your way to Gaia, cross the beautiful Luiz I Bridge and admire Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.

Once you reach the other side of the river, there is only one thing left to do. You may have already guessed it. It’s one of the most typical Portuguese souvenirs, and it’s also the most important thing to do in Porto; taste the real Port wine!

Submitted by Lara from The Best Travel Gifts

Top Tip: Use the local Porto card for your public transport travel that also includes local discounts, perfect for a weekend of exploration!

city of Porto

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is an excellent city to visit for a Winter City Weekend Getaways location, and a weekend is the perfect amount of time to spend in the Slovenian capital.

There are many things to see in Ljubljana that do not need good weather so if you’re visiting in Winter you won’t miss out on the major attractions. One of the best things to do in Ljubljana is take advantage of the abundance of restaurants in the city including lots of traditional Slovenian food as well as world cuisine like pizza, burgers, curry and falafel.

Ljubljana is divided into the old town and new town by a series of bridges which are impressive to visit. The best bridges to cross include the Dragon Bridge (as Ljubljana is known as the city of Dragons), the Triple Bridge and Butcher’s Bridge.

Other things to do include riding the funicular to the top of Ljubljana Castle, taking an architecture tour of Art Nouveau buildings, and visiting Preseren Square to admire the buildings and learn about France Prešeren, one of the great European Romantic poets, whose statue proudly stands in the town centre.

Ljubljana is well-connected by bus and train to other places in Slovenia such as Bled and Istria as well as other countries like Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary.

Submitted by Shireen from The Happy Days Travels 

Top Tip: Enjoy this Ljubljana: City Highlights Walking Tour and River Cruise

the streets of the city of Ljubljana

Lucca, Italy

Looking for a weekend getaway in Italy that’s not too cold, but still feels like winter? Head to Lucca in Tuscany where you can see the snow-capped mountains in the distance, but you will rarely be snowed upon.

One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Lucca, is walk the top of the medieval stone walls that surround the city. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with the sights and the layout of the town. You’ll see the famous towers and churches Lucca is known for, and the Tuscan Apennines dusted in white. Just walk down the ramp when you want to explore something close up.

Winding your way through the cobbled stone streets is the best way to discover the nooks and crannies. Holiday lights twinkle in every square from the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro to Piazza Napoleone where you can ice skate on the manmade rink beginning in late November.

Best of all, in wintertime you can sample the traditional Tuscan comfort foods available in the Lucca restaurants specializing in “menu tipica” or typical food of the region. This area is know for a variety of hearty soups like ribolita (vegetable and bread soup), farinata (kale and polenta soup), and pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup). Buon appetito!

Submitted by Denise from Chef Denise

Top Tip: Check this 2 hour local walking tour to explore Lucca more! It’s great to combine the food recommendations with a tour on our Winter City Weekend Getaways post.

the piazza del anfiteatro in Lucca, Italy with christmas lights

Rovaniemi, Finland

Nothing says winter getaway quite like spending 3 days in Rovaniemi, Finland. Located about 500 miles north of the capital of Helsinki, Rovaniemi is known for Aurora Borealis sightings and being the birthplace of Santa Clause.

If you want to visit the man in the big red suit, head to Santa Claus Village where you’ll be able to take pictures with him and see his workshop with letters sent to him from people all over.

Outside of visiting Santa, there are plenty of things to do in Rovaniemi. For instance, stay in an igloo with a glass dome roof for a chance to catch the northern lights from your bed. There are plenty of resorts around Rovaniemi with this option, just keep in mind they are often remote, and not near the city center.

As for tours and excursions,  a lot of them are centered around hunting for the northern lights. You can do this via dog sledding, snowmobiles, snow trains, and a few other ways.

Although Rovaniemi is a hot spot for seeing the northern lights, visibility is not always granted. However, sighting or not, Rovaniemi is a beautiful place to visit in the winter.

To get to Rovaniemi, you can fly into Helsinki (HEL) and then take the one hour flight to Rovaniemi (RVN). There is also a train that runs from Helsinki to Rovaniemi which takes about 11 hours. Some cities fly directly to Rovaniemi; otherwise, there will be a connection in Helsinki.

Submitted by Timpani from Like the Drum

Istanbul, Turkey

Finding the perfect winter weekend getaway in Europe is difficult. That is because the cold weather can often make sightseeing difficult. But there are a few cities where you can still enjoy the best of what the city can offer. One of those cities in Europe is Istanbul.But Istanbul isn’t just a city in Europe, it is actually a city that rests in both Europe and Asia. With both eastern and western influences, the city is truly unique in its own way. You’ll find historical buildings like mosques and palaces but at the same time some of the most modern facilities and nightlife venues in Istanbul.Though Istanbul can get quite cold in the winter (nearly freezing), one of the reasons why it is worth visiting then is because many of its attractions are indoors. Places such as mosques and museums are perfect for those cold winter days, as they are sheltered from the elements. Visitors can also see some of the underground cisterns that were used to store water during the Roman and Byzantine era.When it comes to visiting Istanbul in the winter, make sure you don’t miss Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, and the Basilica Cistern. These indoor attractions are equally stunning in the winter, and your experience might be even better because of the fewer tourists.

Submitted by Sean from The Turkey Traveler

Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius is the capital city of Lithuania, one of the 3 countries that make up the Baltic States. There are many things you can do in Vilnius such as exploring historical sites related to World War II, hiking the Gediminas Castle Tower, and trying out local cider bars. But the best thing to do in Vilnius during winter if you only have a weekend is to head to Trakai Castle which is only a 40-minute drive from downtown Vilnius.

Trakai Castle is on one of the islands in Galve Lake. It’s connected by a footbridge to the mainland. However, the most spectacular part is when the lake freezes and visitors can walk on the frozen water. There will be signs that say if it’s safe enough to walk on the frozen lake. Some locals head to Trakai Castle to enjoy the solid water and put on their skating shoes. The castle also features a small museum about its purpose before it became a popular destination in Lithuania.

Vilnius is a great city in Europe to explore because it doesn’t get way too touristy while the cost of spending a weekend here is a lot less than what a trip to Paris or London would cost. If you are looking for a 2-week trip in Europe, you can easily cover the trio destination of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

Submitted by Elizabeth of Two Week Traveller

Top Tip: if you have the time, check this tour exploring Vilnius: Then and Now Old Town Tour!

Vilnius city center with green trees

Thanks for reading our Winter City Weekend Getaways post! We hope you are inspired for a visit this winter!

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