Winter is a great time to travel. The crowds are smaller, the air is refreshing, and many places around the globe go all out for the holidays. Without a doubt, Europe is one of the best places to visit during the winter months. While there are plenty of places that make great winter getaways, there are some that are all-out magical. Let's take a look at six European cities that are magical in winter.
Tallinn is located at the northern tip of Estonia, just across the sea from Finland. While it does get cold in the winter, often with the highs below freezing, visiting Estonia's capital city during this time of year is truly a magical experience, as the many charming, historic buildings are clad in snow.
The structures in old town look out of a fairy tale when draped in garland. Plus, the large Christmas tree in the town square is a show stopper. When you're looking to get in from the cold, a hot sauna is a perfect way to get warm and refresh. Finish your day by finding a place by the fire and enjoying a glass of warm mulled wine.
Paris is one of the most romantic places in the world at any time of the year. But it's the colder months when the city of lights really glows — literally. During the winter months, shops and buildings are adorned with twinkling lights. The city doesn't get snow often, but when it does, the light blanket of powder adds a quaintness to the popular travel destination.
While there isn't much snow, it does get cold in Paris in the winter, so walking down the boutique-lined streets is the perfect time to pull out your warm winter coat and flannel scarf. Don't forget to check out one of the city's many Christmas markets while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and a biscuit as you peruse the stalls of local crafts.
Nuremberg is fondly referred to as Germany's Christmas City. A trip to Nuremberg during the holidays is like stepping into a children's storybook. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is one of the world's best known Christmas markets. The stalls smell of mulled wine, fresh gingerbread, and endless Christmas treats.
If you really want to feel like a kid again, visit the Nuremberg Toy Museum. The museum features over 80,000 toys, including dolls, trains, and puzzles. There's a playroom, an outdoor play space, and a cafe, so you're sure to find something that will make everyone happy.
Salzburg is nestled at the bottom of the Alps, and it has some of the most breathtaking views of any city on this list. The small town has an old charm that makes you want to bundle up in your winter parka and enjoy the fresh snow.
There are many things to do in Salzburg in the winter. In addition to the Christmas market, which is one of the best in all of Europe, visitors can enjoy music from one of the city's most famous former residents, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There are many places you can visit to take in a concert, and you can even visit his childhood home and the place he spent his later years. Mozart isn't the city's only claim to music fame. It is also where the Christmas carol "Silent Night" was written and set. Touring your way through the sites that appear in the song is a great way to get in the spirit and have a great appreciation for a Christmas classic.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a city of color and history. The red and turquoise roofs throughout the town pop against the white snow and will give you many opportunities to catch that perfect picture. If you are looking for the truly breathtaking view, it's hard to beat the Prague Castle.
Several Christmas markets dot the town, most open into the new year. Plus, in Prague, you can celebrate an extended holiday season. The season really gets going with St. Nicholas Eve in early December and goes all the way until the Three Kings procession the first week of January.
While in Prague, you can't miss skating on one of the city's outdoor rinks. The rink at Ovocný Trh, The Prague Fruit Market, opens in December and stays open through the beginning of January. Skating is free, and skates are available to rent.
Rovaniemi, Finland, is the official home of Santa. As such, you know that the city is going to be absolutely magical during the winter months. Santa Claus Village is open year-round, but it is particularly special during the holiday season. The village has reindeer, snow sculptures, and even an igloo hotel. If you want to experience the magic, stop by the village to book a sleigh ride or mail a letter from Santa's official post office, complete with the arctic circle seal.
But Santa's not the only magic in Rovaniemi. The city is also a great place to take in the northern lights. n Finland, the lights are visible from August through April.