You are looking for the best Winter Destinations in Northern Europe with recommendations, highlights and important travel tips? Here we go. In this article, travel bloggers from all over the world recommend the most amazing Winter and Christmas time Destinations in Northern Europe with iconic world-famous sights, beautiful landscape and exciting things to do.
Here you will find European Winter Destination classics like Stockholm, Tallinn or Copenhagen, but also beautiful city trip destinations off the beaten track like Gothenburg or St. Petersburg to inspire your next bucket list entries. JOURNICATION helps you to find your Winter holiday destination in Europe for 2023!
Winter Destinations in Northern Europe – The most amazing cities
All Northern European Winter Destination Highlights at one glance
Here you find the Highlight Winter Destinations in Northern Europe with the best things to do at a glance 📷
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This article covers Winter Destinations in Northern Europe as well as the European Christmas Time Highlights marked in dark red on the map.
Winter Destinations in Western Europe – Recommendations by Travel Bloggers
Finnish Lapland, Finland
One of the best winter and Christmas destinations in Europe has to be Finnish Lapland. Each year, thousands flock to Lapland with kids to visit Santa in his Arctic Circle home. But, it’s not just for families, Lapland is a great destination for solo travellers, couples and groups of friends.
Finnish Lapland is traditionally thought of as the region of Santa and the capital of Rovaniemi has the prestige of being called the Official Hometown of Santa, as well as playing host to his Underground Cavern. While Santa is one of the main reasons people visit Lapland, there is lots more on offer.
Lapland is normally blanketed with snow from late November, and this turns it into a winter wonderland. Activities to be enjoyed by all include husky safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, ice skating and ice fishing, ice hotels, seeing the Northern Lights, and more. No matter what your interests, there is something for everyone in this part of Finland.
Finnish Lapland is a great destination for the festive season thanks to the snow, Father Christmas and all the winter activities you can partake in. Hotels often hold a gala dinner where you will be visited by Santa after his epic trip around the world. Christmas is an exciting time of year to visit Lapland and a trip everyone should make at least once in their life.
Explored by Cath from Passports and Adventures
Stockholm is an excellent destination to visit during the winter months. It has some great museum and indoor entertainment, great food and of course one of European’s best Christmas markets set in the historic old town!
Between the end of November and through December, Stockholm’s historic quarters Gamla Stan turn into a winter wonderland with an explosion of colours and delicious scents from the festive Christmas markets. A must-try is Swedish pastry called Fika! Visit also the free ice rink in Kungstradgarden, which is also a part of the Christmas set-up.
Apart from the festive activities, Stockholm boasts some great museums. One of the best ones is Vasa Museum, which showcases a 17th-century Viking ship salvaged from the sea! There is also the Iconic Abba Museum and Fotografiska Museum that often displays controversial and thought-provoking collections from world-class photographers. sA visit to the Royal Palace, one of Europe’s oldest palaces, is also a must! You can find it in Gamla Stan and the best time to visit is during the change of the royal guards that put on a true spectacle!
After a whole day of sightseeing and experiencing Stockholm, make sure to stay in a hotel with a Swedish sauna. An excellent mid-range hotel choice is Hotel Kungstradgarden.
Explored by Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Winter Destinations in Northern Europe: Gothenburg, Sweden
As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg, is perfect for a winter break. There are four unique Gothenburg Christmas markets scattered across the city. Including Haga Christmas market which is perfect for foodies, Kronhuset, which is the oldest and most traditional one and Roda Sten Art Christmas market which is the most modern and great for purchasing local designer goods. There is also a wonderfully unique singing Christmas tree choir, where the performers are arranged on a platform in the shape of a Christmas tree.
However, the largest and most popular Christmas market in Gothenburg is held at Liseberg theme park, which is turned into a winter wonderland, and covered in more than 5 million Christmas lights (all sustainably powered by Liseberg’s own wind turbine!). There are plenty of festive things to do at Liseberg such as a unique ice skating show, Santa’s workshop, roller coaster rides, 80 Christmas market stalls and plenty of Swedish Christmas favourites such as glogg (sweet mulled wine) and Pepparkaka (gingersnap biscuits). If you are hungrier, make sure to book the 4 course Swedish Christmas buffet dinner, where you can try pickled herring, saffron buns, cured salmon as well as a traditional gottebord for dessert (a long table full of sweets and chocolates).
Explored by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
Europe has many beautiful cities to visit at Christmas and Copenhagen is one of the best to celebrate the festive season. Once winter arrives so do the Copenhagen Christmas markets which offer visitors a true taste of Scandi hygge – the feeling of a warm and happy atmosphere.
Wooden chalets are beautifully decorated with sprigs of evergreen foliage and lit up with the twinkle of fairy lights bringing the magic of Christmas to life. Aromas of traditional Glogg, fill the air and tempt visitors to try the warming spiced wine along with local dishes. With several areas of the city to wander through, Nyhavn harbour is a popular (but expensive) place to eat and drink while the main shopping street of Stroget is where several Christmas markets can be found as well as Danish brand stores and the most famous café in Copenhagen – Café Norden – a must for a Danish pastry and coffee.
Explore the colorful alternative community Christiania
For me a trip to Christiania, a short train journey from central Copenhagen, is a must on any trip. It is an alternative community devoid of Copenhagen’s laws and known for its street art and certain “habits” of the residents. At Christmas it hosts its own festive market with products all handcrafted by locals as well as music and food stalls. It is very different from the markets in the city centre and worth a look.
Tivoli Gardens is another must see at Christmas in Copenhagen. As the nights draw in Tivoli fun fair is lit by thousands of lights and hosts cute wooden huts selling everything from Christmas baubles to traditional Danish wooden toys. It does cost to enter but it is an iconic Copenhagen landmark to see.
At the end of the day head back to your hotel – I can recommend Scandic Kødbyen near to the central train station – enjoy a Carlsberg beer and soak up the magic of Christmas in Europe. Here you’ll find more recommendations where to stay in Copenhagen.
Explored by Angie from Where Angie Wanders
When it comes to winter destinations, there is nowhere else I can think of that is more beautiful and charming than the city of Tallinn. As the capital of Estonia, it’s naturally the country’s center of culture, history, and tradition. And come wintertime, the place simply bursts with the purest blanket of snow, magic, and festivities.
There’s so much to explore in Tallinn, including a bustling Christmas market in the iconic Old Town. You can find anything from handmade hats and shawls, delicious doughnuts, warming Glogg, and the most enchanting decorations. The market usually opens from the end of November until the beginning of January. Plus, the medieval buildings in the Old Town themselves are adorned in flashing Christmas lights, which make for quite a surreal sight!
Do not forget to get to the Kohtuotsa platform to witness an incredible landscape of the city. With spectacular spires and orange roofs covered in snow, it’s truly captivating. If you’re up for some outdoor adventure, head over to the country’s tallest natural waterfall: Jägala Waterfall. In winter, there are icicles all around the waterfall which shimmer gorgeously under the sun. It’s an overall beautiful city you shouldn’t miss during winter, and epitomizes the allures of Eastern Europe. I would say that three days is ideal for staying here and exploring all that this place has to offer.
Explored by Cazzy from Dream Big, Travel Far
Winter Destinations in Northern Europe: Riga, Latvia
Riga is one of the best winter destinations in Northern Europe. The city is worth a visit at any time of the year, but going off-season in winter can be especially rewarding.
Even though Riga is still not on the radar of most travellers to Europe, it receives a fair amount of visitors in summer. Going in winter is perfect if you don’t want to battle your way through the crowds to see the main sights.
In addition, Riga was one of the first places in the world to set up a Christmas tree. In front of the House of the Blackheads, you can find a stone marker claiming that the first Christmas tree in the world was installed in Riga in 1510. While Tallinn claims the same record, and we will likely never know which city was first, the tradition is closely linked to both cities. If you visit Riga in December, you cannot just see the Christmas tree, you can also explore the Riga Christmas market.
While you’re here, make sure to visit the House of the Blackheads. The Brotherhood of the Blackheads played an essential role in the history of Riga, and you can learn more about this association of young merchants while visiting their guild house.
Another highlight of Riga is to try traditional food. Latvian cuisine is hearty and heavy on potatoes and soups – the perfect food to warm you up on a cold winter day.
Explored by Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights
St. Petersburg, Russia
Many people are afraid of Russian winters. Indeed, frosty weather does not allow you to wander outside as long as in summer. And the days are short. However, even in winter, there are dozens of fun things to do in St Petersburg.
The main winter holidays in Russia are New Year and Christmas. Keep in mind that Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January because the Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar. Preparation for the New Year and Christmas holidays begin in December. Streets, squares, and embankments put on their festive decorations. Everything glows in the dark: shop windows, bridges, houses!
When in St Petersburg for the winter holidays, do not miss visiting Palace Square, the main city square. It is the place for the main winter holidays sight — New Year Tree. Each evening, locals and city guests come there to enjoy its merry atmosphere. You might also want to see the frozen Neva River. It is a truly unforgettable view.
Do not miss the opportunity to find gifts and tasty things at Manezhnaya Square. It is where the largest Christmas market takes place. Take a cup of hot tea from a samovar, grab a pryanik (Russian gingerbread), buy a colourful shawl — and you are ready to stand up to all cold winds. If you like active holidays, opt for outdoor skating rinks at Sevcable Port or New Holland Island.
To sum up, if you dare to visit Saint Petersburg in winter, you will be rewarded for your audacity.
Explored by Anna from Travel Cultura
More amazing Winter & Christmas Destinations in Europe
In this article, Travel bloggers from all over the world revealed their insider tips for Winter & Christmas Time Destinations in Western Europe. You learned about highlights and amazing things to do during this beautiful season. This article is part of a series covering the most amazing Winter Destinations in Europe. Get inspired and expand your Europe travel bucket list with the tips and infos of the whole series:
- Winter Destinations in WESTERN EUROPE – Highlights
- Winter Destinations in EASTERN EUROPE – Highlights
- WARM WINTER Destinations in Europe – All Highlights
- Winter Destinations UK & IRELAND – Highlights
If you’re looking for more top Winter Destinations in Western Europe, have a look at JOURNICATION’s city guides:
- Things to do in STOCKHOLM for ONE DAY
- Best things to do in RIGA – Itinerary for one day
- Best things to do in TALLINN – Itinerary for one day
- Things to do in MOSCOW for one day
What is the destination you put on your bucket list now? Let us know in the comments!