Chestnuts crackle more than an open fire, jingle bells echo via the air and snowflakes melt on your finger strategies. Winter in Europe is as magical as it appears on the silver screen.
Regardless of whether you are a Enjoy Essentially fan or favor The Holiday’s quaint British countryside, I can assure you will uncover the Christmas spot of your dreams on this continent.
I’ve lived right here my whole life – from Austria to Russia – but winter has usually been much less about travel and extra about spending time with my household. This year I decided it was ultimately time to discover the finest winter destinations in Europe. To really discover.
Eager to see as a great deal as achievable for the duration of my restricted time off I began researching my solutions. That is when I stumbled upon Contiki’s European Magic trip although browsing STA Travel. It was a 9-day bonanza that would take me to eight nations. From the Eiffel Tower to the Venetian canals, from Munich’s beer halls to Amsterdam’s Red Light district it was the best snapshot of winter Europe.
I was a tiny nervous about going. I’m not a significant fan of group holidays or rapidly travel, each of which the itinerary was complete of. But extended story quick – this adventure ended up becoming a single of my favourite trips of 2017! Have you ever been on a Contiki trip? If not (and even if so), would you be interested in a detailed assessment? Let me know in a comment under.
All I’m going to say for the time becoming is that a) I very suggest this trip and b) you need to book it by way of STA Travel. Their authorities will be capable to book your flights to match in with your itinerary and you can safe your location on a tour with a deposit from £60. That’s sufficient about the logistics even though. Let’s speak about these stunning winter destinations we got to discover for the duration of our trip about Europe…
We began our journey in planet-renowned Amsterdam – a city I’d visited several occasions prior to. I know it has a reputation for wild parties and crazy nights in coffee shops (which sell almost everything but coffee). But there’s a lot extra to it than mindless enjoyable.
That is not to say you shouldn’t take benefit of Amsterdam’s extraordinary nightlife. Just make confident you have sufficient power left more than for a bit of exploring. My favourite factor to do is just take a stroll along the canals and admire the gable homes that line them. Verify out De 9 Straatjes although you are at it, a single of the city’s quirkiest neighbourhoods complete of independent cafes and old bookshops.
The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual winter occasion you shouldn’t miss. Renowned artists from all more than the planet transform the city into a twinkling spectacle that attracts thousands of guests. My favourite way to love it is on a river cruise like the a single Contiki organised for us. The open bar was especially beneficial as this was the initial evening of our trip and most folks have been travelling solo!
To get a really feel for what the trip was like do not overlook to watch the video above. I’m immensely proud of it – it is almost certainly my favourite video I’ve ever developed. With extra than fifty on my YouTube channel that is saying a lot…
>> You can uncover the itinerary of this whole journey for free on TraveLibro right here! <<
two. Rhine Valley
Germany’s Rhine Valley is like one thing straight out of a storybook. The Rhine river meanders in between forests and vineyards, overlooked by the occasional Medieval castle. If a single of Khaleesi’s dragons occurred to fly overhead you’d almost certainly just sigh and say: “I guess they’re actual then, huh?”
On our Contiki tour we only got to go to a single of the regional towns. It is named St. Goar and it appears deceptively calm. I say deceptively for the reason that this wine increasing area presents really a handful of possibilities to get rowdy. Don’t miss the chance to attempt the renowned regional ice wine and probably acquire a bottle for somebody particular. They much better be particular, for the reason that a single bottle charges extra than €30!
Speaking of presents, you can acquire 3 other fantastic souvenirs in St. Goar. They are hand-painted beer steins, wooden cuckoo clocks and Birkenstocks. I didn’t acquire something but was seriously tempted by a handful of of the restricted edition beer steins.
We didn’t get to go to it on the trip but although you are in the location you also need to have to see Eltz Castle, pictured above. It is a single of the most gorgeous castles I’ve ever observed in my life and a single you shouldn’t miss.
Munich is synonymous with Oktoberfest in several people’s minds, but it is a fantastic location year round. I especially enjoy their Christmas markets – the a single of Marienplatz is stunning devoid of becoming nauseatingly busy. It is a fantastic location to attempt regional specialties like crispy sausages, Apfelstrudel or Knödel (dumplings) in any type.
But let’s get back to my initial sentence about Oktoberfest. I’d be lying if I mentioned most of my time in the Bavarian capital wasn’t centred about beer. How could it not be? The area tends to make up extra than half of Germany’s beer production. They even have their personal set of beer purity guidelines which was outlined back in 1516.
There’s no way you can come to Munich devoid of going to Hofbräuhaus am Platzl. It is a single of the city’s most visited attractions, so if any person asks your third stein of beer is generally sightseeing in liquid type. You will not be the initial to do so. From W. A. Mozart to Vladimir Lenin, Louis Armstrong to John F. Kennedy, this conventional beer hall attracts folks from all walks of life.
They also serve regional meals. I attempted the pork knuckle prior to I went vegan, and believed it was really great – just do not get the boiled sort. Do not be concerned fellow vegans, you will nevertheless be capable to uncover one thing to snack on. Just about every now and then a waitress will stroll by carrying a tray complete of giant pretzels so choose a single up although you are there.
In terms of beverages I very suggest the Weissbier, which replaces the conventional malted barley with wheat. It is cloudy, comparatively sweet and way also uncomplicated to drink. Yet another regional specialty is Radler – half beer, half lemonade. As our tour guide promptly pointed out, that suggests it is “only half as great as it could be”. But if you are arranging on possessing extra than a couple of beers it may be a sensible option, as they come in a single litre glasses.
Innsbruck was made for winter shenanigans. The picturesque capital of Austria’s Tyrol area has centre-wide Christmas markets, as effectively as a 2,637 metre tall mountain. You can actually go from sipping gluhwein to possessing a snowball fight up on the slopes in half an hour!
For some suitable sightseeing climb the most important tower on Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse. That is also exactly where the renowned Golden Roof is positioned. The Imperial Palace, locally recognized as the Hofburg, is also nearby.
To add some sparkle to your day go to Kristallwelten. Built close to the Swarovski factory in Wattens, the museum holds uncommon creations like an ornate crystal tree by Alexander McQueen. Their garden also functions cute fairytale figures that light up the snow about them.
If you are not into jewellery but want to escape the cold, I’ve got just the factor for you – schnapps. From sweet raspberry-infused liqueurs to clear spirits the regional booze vendors will hold you warm inside out.
As for going up the mountain, it does not come low cost but it is effectively worth it. The Nordkette is portion of Austria’s biggest nature park and a enjoyable location to see even if you are not going to ski or snowboard.
This was my fifth time in Venice but my initial winter go to. We got very fortunate with the climate – it was sunny, warm and definitely magical. December is a fantastic time to go to for the reason that there are fewer vacationers than in the summer season. It is nevertheless genuinely busy but unquestionably extra manageable.
I know Venice is almost certainly not the initial factor that comes to thoughts when pondering of winter destinations in Europe. But mamma mia, is it a great a single! Do not anticipate the similar level of commitment to Christmas markets as you will see in Germany. Alternatively, you can appear forward to some of the finest meals on the planet and a gondola ride in a fluffy sweater.
As I talked about, I’d currently been to Venice 4 occasions prior to going to with Contiki. But you know what? I really feel like I nevertheless have so a great deal left to uncover. I did have a single fairly particular encounter although I was there – and it is all about Bellinis.
Have you ever had a Bellini? You know, a tall glass of champagne mixed with peach juice. It was created in the 1940s by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice. On my most recent trip there I decided to ultimately go to its birthplace and see what all the fuss was about. My mates and I walked via the bar’s inconspicuous doorway and have been greeted by a troupe of waiters in white suites.
To my dismay they led us upstairs. There was no one there, save for an older gentleman consuming his lunch and reading a newspaper. “Could we get a table by the window?” I asked. I was met with furrowed brows and a swift shake of the head. Fine. The Bellinis arrived in tiny stemless glasses and with a hefty cost tag of 22€. “Ugh,” I believed. “What a waste of revenue.” My thoughts changed as quickly as the sweet concoction touched my lips. It was as opposed to any Bellini I’d ever tasted prior to.
“It’s regional white peach purée,” the gentleman noted a although later. We began chatting to him and my dismay immediately gave way to wonder. Who was this intriguing man? I quickly discovered out, as he pressed a freshly signed copy of his book into my hands. His name was Arrigo Cipriani – he was the present owner of Harry’s Bar and son of Giuseppe. He is a single of the most exciting folks I‘ve met in a extended time and it is a memory I will not quickly overlook.
Sadly I have no guidance on how to orchestrate a meeting with Arrigo. All I’m saying is, hold your eyes open although you are in Venice and do not be afraid to just get lost…
I knew subsequent to absolutely nothing about Lucerne prior to going to and in a way it is nevertheless shrouded in mystery. That is partly for the reason that we explored it soon after sunset, but also for the reason that it is just a single of these areas. As the dark blue sky hovers more than its wooden bridges and crystalline lakes it is uncomplicated to think it is enchanted.
You may perhaps be questioning why we didn’t get a great deal daylight in this picturesque Swiss town. It is because European days are incredibly quick in the winter. This time of year it gets dark about 4pm! Maintain that in thoughts although arranging your Christmas itineraries and do not overlook that snow is no longer a provided in this portion of the planet. We got fortunate this year with fluffy white blankets stretching as far as the eye can see, but it does not come about each and every year.
Lucerne’s finest recognized sight is Kapellbrücke, Europe’s oldest covered wooden bridge. Do not overlook to appear up as you cross it! The beams help substantial triangular paintings depicting the city’s history up till the 17th century when they have been painted.
As far as this list goes, Lucerne is your final chance to discover these conventional Christmas markets. There’s an impressive selection of them right here. You will uncover almost everything from a handcraft industry to a Christkindlimarkt inside a railway station. Venite on Mühlenplatz even has stands from twenty various nations which will introduce you to conventional Christmas products from about the planet.
In terms of present purchasing you are in luck – Switzerland was produced for it! You can get something from scrumptious chocolates to the world’s most renowned watches, and even Swiss army knives for the adventurers in your life.
This was my second trip to Paris and I really feel like I ultimately got it! It is nevertheless not my favourite city, but I unquestionably felt the magic in the air. Not even the heavy rain could cease me enjoying a stroll about the Eiffel Tower and exploring its cosy cafes.
I also got to go to the planet-renowned Moulin Rouge which was extraordinary. If you choose to go I’d potentially advise against booking the complete dinner and just attending the show. The meals wasn’t terrible but you can unquestionably uncover much better in Paris.
If you want to see some opulent Christmas displays do not miss Galeries Lafayette. The posh division shop has a single of the largest decorated trees I’ve ever observed. The decorations are on par with these on New York’s Fifth Avenue or Harrod’s in London.
But my favourite factor to do in Paris is to just stroll about. Oh, and to consume even though that is just me in common. To combine the two head more than to Rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter – a wonderful, narrow, crowded industry street. These are Hemingway’s words from “A Moveable Feast”, not mine, but I agree wholeheartedly. It is my favourite street in the French capital and it appears stunning about Christmas, with ropes of fairy lights strung overhead.
Lastly, if you’d like to go out for a drink someplace slightly off-the-beaten-path I’ve got you. Attempt the eclectic and sign-much less Bubar or Latin-themed La Pirada for some of the strongest extended drinks you will ever uncover.
Have you ever been to any of these stunning winter destinations in Europe? Or have you visited them for the duration of the summer season? Let me know in a comment under, I enjoy reading your thoughts!
Disclaimer: My trip was sponsored by STA Travel and Contiki. As usually, all opinions and terrible puns are my personal.