13 Best Christmas Destinations in Europe in 2023

13 Best Christmas Destinations in Europe in 2023

The best Christmas destinations in Europe are just around the corner. Germany, Scandinavia, and Austria dominate the charts, but they’re not the only great places to visit for Christmas. In truth, every European country is worth spending the holidays in, depending on what you’re looking for.

 

In this ranking, we focused on white Christmas destinations with attention-worthy Christmas markets. If you’d like to relax this Christmas and enjoy snow and a mug of mulled wine while strolling among stalls filled with ornaments, then this article is just for you. 

 

P.S. When visiting different European cities, it's good to know the local customs. Discover the most original Christmas traditions around Europe!

 

 

Best Christmas destinations in Europe in 2023

 

  1. Prague, Czech Republic
  2. Berlin, Germany
  3. Gdansk, Poland
  4. Rovaniemi, Finland
  5. Dresden, Germany
  6. Edinburgh, Scotland
  7. Vienna, Austria
  8. Strasbourg, France
  9. Bergen, Norway
  10. Wroclaw, Poland
  11. Budapest, Hungary
  12. Salzburg, Austria
  13. Reykjavik, Iceland 

 


  1. Prague, Czech Republic 

 

Prague is magical all year round - especially so at Christmas. Its beautiful Old Town attracts tourists from all around the world. When it is additionally decorated with Christmas lights, it is downright breathtaking. 

 

The capital of the Czech Republic is known for its mysteriousness. The traditional architecture, the cobblestone streets, and the famous Charles Bridge stretched over the depths of the Vltava River create an intriguing, secretive ambience. 

 

But what really makes Prague one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe is its Christmas market. Come with extra space in your luggage for all the pretty trinkets you will bring home from your holiday trip to Prague.

 

And if you come for a week and stay for longer, have a look at our Ultimate Expat Guide to Living in Prague to get you started! 


 

  1. Berlin, Germany

 

The capital of Germany is an underrated Christmas destination. It hardly ever figures on lists of the best Christmas places to visit, and I have no idea why.

 

My school in Poland organised trips to Berlin around Christmas time every year. The number of spots was limited, and the frenzy of signing up was comparable to that of a Black Friday sale. Getting to go was the ultimate goal for many of us. 

 

The Christmas market in Berlin is truly worth dying for. After getting some shopping done, you can attend one of the many classical or Gospel concerts organised in the city during the holiday period. 

 

To finish the day, pop into the Botanical Garden to admire the astonishing illuminations pleasing the eyes of visitors from November through January.

 

And if you’re still not tired after all of it, you can sink into Berlin’s (in)famous night scene to enjoy some holiday fun in one of the notorious clubs.

 

We would be surprised if you fall in love with Berlin to the point you start thinking about moving there. Our Ultimate Expat Guide to Living in Berlin will help you take the leap! 


 

  1. Gdansk, Poland

 

Yet another underrated Christmas city break. This city in the North of Poland is officially the biggest one in the whole country, having beaten the capital, Warsaw, this year. 

 

Located by the sea, it entices with its fresh air, beautiful views, and admire-worthy Baroque architecture. Strolling along the Old Town, you will spot one of the biggest Christmas markets in Poland, pulling you in with its many trinkets, ornaments, and local delicacies.

 

And the best part? Gdansk is part of the so-called Tricity - a huge agglomeration consisting of three seaside cities: Gdynia, Gdansk, and Sopot. So by visiting this Christmas destination, you literally get 3 cities for the price of one!

 

Did we mention Poland is also an incredibly affordable destination compared to other European countries? Gdansk is on the expensive side to the locals, due to its popularity with tourists, but foreigners still find it surprisingly cheap. 


 

  1. Rovaniemi, Finland

 

In the heart of the Finnish Lapland lies the home of Santa Claus itself - Rovaniemi. It is one of the best Christmas destinations for families with kids. But not only!

 

Children love visiting the Santa Claus village and the numerous attractions it offers. But Rovaniemi also provides treats for adult travel enthusiasts.

 

A visit to this popular Christmas destination will reward you with a special stamp on your passport. You can also send postcards to your loved ones from Santa’s own post office.

 

Safe to say, this is the most Christmas-y destination you can get. And the cherry on top? Its location in the North of Finland guarantees a breathtaking view of the Northern Lights in winter! 


 

  1. Dresden, Germany

 

The stunning architecture of Dresden makes it one of the best Christmas places to visit. Its Christmas market is a favourite among seasoned enthusiasts of Christmas fairs.

 

The city is so dedicated to celebrating the holidays properly, that it even sports the “Christmas mile”. This wonderfully decorated shopping passage stretches from Pragner Straße, all the way to the other bank of the Elbe River.

 

Another advantage of Dresden is its proximity to Prague. You can tick off two of the best Christmas destinations at the same time - all it takes is a 2-hour drive or a 2.5-hour train ride. 


 

  1. Edinburgh, Scotland

 

When thinking about Scotland, most skip to the summer and road trips along the rolling hills. But in fact, Edinburgh is one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe!

 

After you tick off the many galleries and museums the city has to offer, make sure to stop by the Christmas Market. And if the weather is nice and the visibility is good, you have to take a ride on the Big Wheel.

 

Scotland’s largest Ferris wheel is 46 metres tall and provides stunning views of the city. Its size makes it difficult to miss, but just in case you find yourself unable to locate it, head towards the Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens.

 

And, of course, after spending Christmas in Edinburgh, you have to stay for Hogmanay! The Scottish celebrate New Year’s Eve like nobody else, and it’s an experience everybody has to participate in at least once in their lifetime. 


 

  1. Vienna, Austria

 

Vienna has so much to offer, it deserves an article of its own. First of all, there are multiple Christmas markets scattered throughout the city. The main one, Christkindmarkt, is located at the square with the town hall.

 

Those with a sweet tooth will be tempted by toffee apples and roasted almonds. The hungrier ones will find salvation in hearty goulash soup and fried sausage.

 

While you move from one Christmas market to the other, admiring Vienna’s architecture, look out for the art exhibits gracing the streets during the festive season. Step into one of the churches or the cathedral for a special advent concert.

 

When will you realise, Vienna waits for you? 


 

  1. Strasbourg, France

 

The capital of Christmas. This stunning city in the heart of Alsace is worth visiting at every time of the year, with its fairytale-like houses and canals crisscrossing the streets.

 

But at Christmas, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the historic centre transforms into a true Winter Wonderland. Christmas lights, Christmas markets, and Christmas music turn Strasbourg into one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe.

 

After having your fill of the picturesque views, head for a festive mass at the Gothic cathedral. And if it leaves you wanting more, then Colmar, another one of the great places to visit for Christmas, is just an hour's drive away. 


 

  1. Bergen, Norway

 

Have you seen the film Frozen? If not, you might at least be familiar with it, given its popularity.

 

Did you know that the kingdom of Arendelle, where the plot of the film unveils, was inspired by a real place? This place was Bergen, a city in the West of Norway.

 

Its colourful houses indeed make it an ideal setting for a fairytale. But what really makes it one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe is the world's largest Gingerbread Town.

 

Every year, the citizens of Bergen come together to create a beautiful town made entirely of gingerbread structures. Over the holiday period, you can admire gingerbread houses, gingerbread churches, and all kinds of other buildings - all of them edible!

 

If you happen to visit before Christmas, make sure to attend the Festival of Lights held annually on the 25th of November. But don’t worry if you can’t make it. 

 

Those who visit Bergen in December can take part in the traditional lighting of candles on Mount Fløyen. It takes place every Sunday running up to Christmas. Once on top, you can admire the breathtaking views of the city stretching out below, and then sleigh your way down. 


 

  1. Wroclaw, Poland

 

We’re back to the cheap holiday destination that is Poland. This time, we move to the South-West of the country, to the beautiful city of Wroclaw.

 

Wroclaw’s famous Christmas market is among the oldest in Europe - it dates back to the 16th century. It is fairytale-themed, so prepare to be thrust into the world of winter princesses and elves.

 

The stunning architecture of Wroclaw attracts many tourists all year round. You may be familiar with the adorable, colourful townhouses lining the historic main square. 

 

Paired with Christmas lights and the hustle and bustle of the fairytale-like Christmas market, they are precisely what makes Wroclaw one of the best Christmas places to visit in Europe. 


 

  1. Budapest, Hungary

 

Budapest is famous for its numerous historic sites and unique ambience. Hungary gets some of the harshest winters in Europe, so it’s the perfect destination for those wanting to experience a white Christmas. 

 

Once you get all the sightseeing out of the way, stop by the Christmas Market and enjoy a festive langos - the Hungarian delicacy often compared to a pizza, with a variety of topics. 

 

In the evening, dress up in your warmest clothes and hop on a cruise along the Danube River. Enjoy this magical experience and watch the glittering lights of the city pass you by as you sip mulled wine. 

 

And if you decide that you'd like to spend every Christmas in Budapest and make it your new home, make sure to check out our Ultimate Expat Guide to Living in Budapest! 


 

  1. Salzburg, Austria

 

Salzburg is the hometown of Mozart. But did you know that it’s also the birthplace of one of the most well-known Christmas carols, Silent Night? 

 

The city pays homage to its Christmas heritage every year - its decorations are unrivalled, and its location, nestled among snow-capped mountains, makes it a true Christmas paradise. The baroque Old Town figures on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

 

Salzburg is also where you can experience the Austrian tradition of vibrant parades featuring Percht and Krampus - iconic Christmas characters in the local folklore. They’re nowhere near as warm and fuzzy as Santa Claus, but if you’ve been good, you have nothing to fear. 


 

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland

 

Last but not least, the grand finale of our best Christmas destinations in Europe. Get ready for extreme temperatures, because Icelandic winters are truly unforgivable. But the experience of spending Christmas in Iceland is worth paying that price.

 

As the northernmost capital in Europe, Reykjavik and its surroundings are perfect for watching the Northern Lights. Safe to say it’s the best kind of Christmas lights you can imagine.

 

Iceland is magical all year round, but its winter landscapes are downright breathtaking. It’s a place that must be visited more than once, at different times of the year, and the festive season is definitely one of those times. 
 


There you have it - the ranking of the best Christmas destinations in Europe, according to Europe Language Jobs. Do you already know where you will be spending your Christmas this year?

 

Of course, Europe is full of great places to visit for Christmas. At every turn, there is a charming city or town, so this list is not exclusive. We encourage you to discover the best cities to be in for Christmas on your own and choose your personal favourites.

 

Planning to move abroad in 2024? Start by finding a job abroad and make the next year your year!

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