Looking for an escape in the winters? Surely, you’ve listed down the warmest beaches around to let your skin soak up the sun. However, if you are one of those rare souls who find comfort and calm in the silent snow-filled landscapes of winter, then there are some destinations you definitely must put in your bucket for next season. Planning a trip to Europe any part of the year can be exciting. However, you can make it extra special by visiting the continent during the winter season to witness snowfall.
From strolling through bustling Christmas markets to putting up at an igloo, from skiing down the swishing slopes to sipping warm smoothies on the roadside, these snowfall destinations in Europe can be enthralling and enchanting.
While most of Europe receives moderate to heavy snowfall during winters, here’s a list of destinations that look no less than fantasy lands in the winter months.
1. Helsinki and Rovaniemi, Finland
Shorter daylights and surreal scenic beauty make Finland an ideal winter destination. Of course, it’s going to be freezing cold with heavy snowfall, but if you can wrap yourself up comfortably and acclimatize yourself, then the capital city of Helsinki has lots to offer. The Christmas market is famous for the holiday season and the city is mesmerizingly decorated. Visit the many museums in the city and then head to the northern town of Rovaniemi for a wide array of winter activities. Witness the spectacular Northern Lights, try snowmobiling or ice fishing, visiting a reindeer and husky farm; and most importantly, meeting the grand old man himself at the Santa Claus Village. You can even choose to stay at a glass igloo staring up at the sky for that extra punch to your already chattering teeth!
2. Innsbruck and Salzberg, Austria
Often referred to as the ski capital of Europe, Innsbruck in Austria has some of the most colourful Christmas markets. Along with that, you will find options aplenty for winter sports in the many ski resorts dotting the city. Don’t get so engrossed skiing down snow-clad slopes that you forget to visit the many charming monuments of the Hapsburg Empire.
Salzberg is another Austrian city that takes on a fairy-land charm in the winters. The chilly nights lure you in with the aroma of the glühwein (warm wine meant as an after-ski drink). The city houses stunning sites such as the Salzberg Cathedral and Hohensalzburg Fortress that are a traveller’s paradise.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a popular destination throughout the year, famous for its many historic locales; but in winter, it is a quieter yet magical place to lose yourself in. Be it the Prague Castle or the Charles Bridge, every nook and corner seems ready to welcome the frequent snow and the cafes serving winter specialities like zelňačka (a sauerkraut cabbage soup) and svařák mulled wine warm your bones and heart to brave the chill.
4. Tromso or Bergen, Norway
The light and fluffy flakes cover up the entire city like a blanket and look nothing short of magnificent. You will find people skiing in their regular workplaces! Kirkenes, one of the northern-most towns in Norway has just the perfect stay option for you – the famous Snowhotel. Sip vodka from glasses made of ice and stay cosy in their thermal blankets while the temperature is at a plummeting -4 degrees Celsius. Watching the Northern lights and gorging on some amazing seafood are the other temptations to book your next winter trip here. They take their Winter Olympics very seriously and you can find all sorts of sports like dog sledding and snowmobiling. You can even cruise on the Arctic waters.
5. Lucerne, Switzerland
The Swiss Alps need no introduction. The charm and beauty of the glittering white summits have been an all-time favourite with travellers from across the world. While Zurich would be more populated, Lucerne is a quaint little town surrounded by the Alps that provides many opportunities for winter sports. Walking through the Old Town and its Christmas market will transport you to a bewitching land of love and lights. Put on your woollens and make the most of this gem.
6. Paris, France
Paris has been synonymous with romance and art for ages. Combine them with a snow-shrouded wintery landscape and you have postcard-worthy picturesque views all around you of this city of lights. It snows in Paris around the end of January and in February, so Valentine’s Day could be the perfect opportunity for you to drown your hopelessly romantic soul in the chilly breeze. Paris does not receive very heavy snowfall due to its proximity to the sea, so this could be your place if too much snow scares you off. You could hit the Alps once you reach there and put up at a ski-resort to enjoy some knee-deep wading through snow.
So, drop aside those jittery nerves and take a plunge this winter. Ditch the beaches and cities and head to one of these charming destinations to have a truly memorable vacation.