There’s something about winter that makes me want to walk everywhere; preferably with a hot chocolate in hand, and preferably around a beautiful European city that’s laced with baroque architecture, masses of culture and a mega Christmas market!
So, with so many cities to choose from, which ones would make it into my High Five…
5 OF EUROPE’S MOST BEST, AND MOST WINTERY, CITIES
Brrrrrr for Budapest! Pack up your thermals if you want to head here (trust me, you do want to head here), as winter temperatures go as low as -5°C. This city is an architectural gem, with plenty of neoclassical and art nouveau buildings to cast your beady eyes over.
Take a scenic boat ride up the Danube, explore the many museums, and warm yourself up in one of the 15 public thermal baths – Budapest has been known as the “City of Spas” since 1934, as it has more thermal and medicinal water springs than any other capital city in the world!
Picture the quintessential winter city in your head and you’re pretty much seeing Salzburg. Snow covered mountains, theatrical buildings, cobbled streets and horse drawn carriages make this city a must see in the winter months.
This whole place is a UNESCO World heritage site, so you can guarantee there’s going to be some pretty special things to see and do. Visit the awe-inspiring Gothic Cathedral where Mozart was baptised, stroll into Mozart Square for a peak of the famous statue by Ludwig Schwanthale, and stroll up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, built in 1077, for the best views of the city.
This place is also synonymous with Christmas markets — kids are dressed as angels, hand baked goods at every step, and Christmas choirs make this place a fairytale. Guaranteed you will regress to your ten-year-old Santa believing self when you see this city do Christmas.
Berlin seems to be a city that suits grey and cold weather. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing; it helps to create a certain type of haunting but appealing atmosphere that makes this city one that wants to be discovered. This doesn’t mean that Berlin doesn’t get festive though — these guys can give Salzburg a run for their money when it comes to festive and winter markets. The Germans did invent the Christmas Tree after all!
If you’re looking for some top-notch partying for your winter getaway then Berlin is a winner. Home to some full-on Carnival madness in February – floats, fancy dress and non-stop street parties — this city is also host to some of the best nightclubs in Europe that open for days, not just nights.
If you do happen to be awake enough during the daylight, there’s plenty to keep you occupied – check out the Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island (does what it says on the tin), stroll through the many parks, pick up some bargains at the flea markets, see some awesome street art, and make it your mission to find the best bratwurst in town.
The famous brown cafes, scenic river walks, bicycles aplenty and some of the most famous museums in the world, make Amsterdam a sure thing for this High Five. Perfect winter warmer activities!
Amsterdam brings out the big guns when it comes to museums; The Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, Rembrandt House…if you’re not already an art fan, these will make you want to buy an easel and watercolours ASAP.
You’ll be pleased to know that this city takes its nightlife seriously, so after a day of feeding your brain cells with all that cultural stuff, you will definitely find a cosy bar or sweaty club to suit your needs. Whether it’s supping on some Heineken for a few hours rewind, or dancing until 6am to minimal techno, Amsterdam delivers.
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Perhaps one of our favourite cities in Eastern Europe, Prague is stunning in summer but she’s even more beautiful when the snow falls, coating the old style. She may be old and lived through several wars but her young hip soul attracts thousands of tourists ever year… Why? It’s got to be that seven story club that completely over whelms everyone when they step inside.
And if it’s not that… well it’s the grand old Prague Castle. Take a walk around the grounds of the castle and admire the view looking over the rest of the city. Seriously, it’s ridiculously gorgeous. It’s city porn at its highest. Check out the most overhyped attraction in all of Prague… the Astronomical Clock, goes off every hour and people seriously wait for the most anticlimactic chime in the history of clocks. But the point is, this clock is the most beautiful clocks in Europe. So you just have to say you have seen it do its thing.
If you are up for something a little more spooky before you head off on your serious pub crawl. Why not explore the catacombs that lie underneath the Old Town Hall. And if you still have time, why not get some ink? If you are wanting to get that tattoo in a different country, this is the perfect place to do it. Heaps of artist to choose from, but you can’t go past One Love or Bobek Tattoo.