20 Christmas Europe Breaks For Every Budget

Edinburgh Christmas Sign

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Ski, sun, and Christmas markets! There are a variety of reasons to visit Europe during winter. I’ve found myself (Gemma) drawn to the Skyscanner app… Confessionally, I’ve set a few email alerts for flight price drops in the hope that we can squeeze in one of the following sensational Christmas Europe breaks recommended by fellow tinsel-loving travel bloggers.

Whack up the heating, light a cinnamon candle, and get ready to be whisked into serious winter wanderlust with the following tried and tested winter holiday ideas for Europe.

You may also like our guide to Christmas markets in Europe.

Christmas Europe Breaks

1. Alsace, France

Wine, Wine, and More Wine!

France’s Alsace region in the east is a dream when December comes around.

The joint German-French influence creates an area that offers incredible food, stunning architecture, local beer and wine, and a true appreciation for Christmas.

Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are bustling, the entire town is dressed up, and holiday cheer is everywhere.

Then, as you leave Strasbourg and head into the smaller villages along the wine route, the Christmas markets are smaller but packed with locals and tourists alike.

Colmar is second to Strasbourg in popularity; it looks like a fairytale Christmas village.

In all the towns, the stalls sell everything from pretzels and mulled wine to handmade ornaments and homeware.

Each one has its cup that you must purchase to get mulled wine or beer at the stands (I adored the glass mugs from Kayersberg) – you can return them at the end to get your money back.

Oh, and did we mention that this is all located along the wine route, meaning there are plenty of wineries to pop into along the way?

We recommend flying into Basel and hiring a car – driving through all the villages is the best way to see the area, and remember to visit the Christmas markets.

Joyeux Noël!

 By Kelly & Sean | A Pair of Passports

Vin Chaude sign in Alsace Region, France

Does mulled wine make a city one of the best European winter breaks?

2. Andermatt

Snowy Swiss Alps

One of Europe’s more expensive winter destinations is the Swiss Alps, but it is worth saving up for.

In 1864, a local hotelier in St Moritz, in the Swiss Alps, offered a money-back guarantee to a few British holidaymakers, offering a winter trip to his local hotel that would be just as rewarding as the summer trip they were enjoying.

The bet was placed, the visitors enjoyed their trip, and the hotelier never had to make payment.

Like this, winter ski vacations in Switzerland and St Moritz became popular as the capital of the wealthy and glamorous world of alpine skiing holidays.

But consider Andermatt for your next Christmas vacation rather than the crowded and expensive St Moritz, one of the best places for Christmas in Europe if you are a ski fan.

A tiny village after the Oberlap Pass, Andermatt has remained the choice of adventurous and off-piste skiers instead of the après-ski fans.

The village is all walkable and reachable by train and now features a fabulous and sleek hotel, The Chedi, complete with a ski school, in-room fireplaces, and the most stylish spa with an outdoor pool.

Enjoy Christmas markets, skiing, and the postcard-perfect landscapes of a snow-capped mountain.

—-> Sounds like one of Europe’s perfect winter snow breaks to me! Has anyone skied here? Share your experience in the comments below.

 You might also like our ski trip packing list.

By Mar | Once in a Lifetime Journey

Snowy buildings at Andermatt Swiss Alps

Andermatt: snug & snowy Xmas breaks in Europe!

3. Austria, Vienna

20 Christmas Markets

Austrians take their Christmas markets seriously, making it one of the best European cities to visit in December.

During the festive season, every city and town has a Christmas market. As the capital, Vienna tops them all with a profusion of markets.

The city has 20 official Christmas markets and many smaller markets.

It’s enjoyable to see the city – warming yourself with a cup of gluhwein and shopping for traditional handicrafts and ornaments.

For non-drinkers and children, there is a non-alcoholic version of the gluhwein.

The biggest of the markets is in front of Vienna’s City Hall, the Christkindl Market.

The festive cheer spills out into the nearby park, Rathaus Park, where the trees are decorated with giant ornaments, and there is entertainment for the children.

By Shobha | Just Go Places 

Vienna in Winter December Christmas World on Rathausplatz

4. Barcelona

& The Yuletide Poo

Barcelona is beautiful at Christmastime.

The entire city is decorated with Christmas lights. Some shops and hotels also go all out with lights and decorations – Corte Ingles on Plaza Catalunya usually looks amazing!

I also love the unique and somewhat strange Catalan Christmas traditions.

At the city’s biggest Christmas market, the Fira de Santa Llúicia, you’ll find plenty of really cute-looking little logs with faces and hats on the Caga Tió – literally: “the poo uncle.”

Kids cover him in a blanket and feed him in the time leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Eve, the poor log gets beaten until he, err… releases… the presents! Find out more in Two Scots Abroad’s Barcelona winter guide.

It’s a cute souvenir to take home with quite a story to tell.

For classical music fans, there’s usually a concert of Händel’s Messiah at the magnificent Basilica Santa Maria del Mar a few days before Christmas Eve.

Christmas time in Barcelona lasts until January 6th (King’s Day), and there is a huge parade on the evening of the 5th.

Bonus points that make Barcelona a great destination for a Christmas break?

The weather.

It’s much warmer than in most parts of Europe and just cold enough to make ordering a hot chocolate with churros feel right. —-> Still laughing at the Christmas poo. Oooohhh, this must be where South Park Mr Hankey originated from?!

By Edwina | The Traveling German

Tió de Nadal Barcelona Christmas Tradition

5. Berlin in December

Berlin is the perfect place to visit if you want a short break in Europe just before Christmas and want the stereotypical experience.

Strolling through Berlin’s Christmas markets is the epitome of a Berlin visit in December.

Small wooden booths decorated with idyllic ornaments, including sparkling stars and snow-covered fir branches, provide a memorable experience for the entire family as you enjoy an evening stroll with traditional Christmas music echoing around the city.

Berlin is home to several traditional markets that occur annually across the city.

We stayed in the Alexanderplatz district of the city and were a short walk from the market, though it’s safe to say that most of this area turns into one large Christmas celebration throughout December.

The Berliner Weihnachtszeit is a short distance from the Alexanderplatz and offers a romantic and nostalgic experience with gorgeous, historic architecture providing the perfect backdrop to the skating rink.

Could you imagine any better way to spend a Christmas break than taking a romantic ride on the Ferris wheel while enjoying stunning panoramic views across Berlin, with the Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, and Reichstag just a few iconic landmarks you will see?

A visit to Berlin wouldn’t be the same without sampling a fine German brew, and what better time of the year to keep you warm as you nibble on your favorite Wurst and wash it down with a local beer? —> I do not need much encouragement to revisit Berlin. Like Christmas markets? Check out this post on more Christmas markets in Germany.

By Chris | A Brit and a Southerner

A night scene with Christmas decorations in Berlin

6. Bled

A True Fairytale Town

Everyone says Bled in Slovenia is one of Europe’s prettiest fairytale towns.

However, imagine that church on the lake and castle on the hill with snow on the mountains – the epitome of magic, making Bled one of the tops, yet lesser-known, Christmas breaks in Europe.

Don’t think that Bled is just for looking at in winter; there’s lots of action in this normally sleepy town, from skiing to skating and snowshoeing.

On December 25th you can watch a local tradition too. See here to read more about the sunken bell of Slovenia.

Lake Bled Winter Activities

7. Budapest

Enjoy a hot bath as the snow falls around you in Budapest, Hungary, this winter.

Shop ’til you drop at the city’s shopping street, Váci Street (utca), or buy souvenirs at the two biggest Christmas markets, Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market and Basilica Christmas Market.

Go skating under Buda Castle at the Városliget (City Park) ice rink and ride in the festive streetcar. Wrap up, though, as the ride is cold.

Dine on traditional Hungarian stews and drink palinka at Hold Utcai Piac. This is the market the locals eat at.

Budapest Christmas Market in front of St Stephens Bascillica

8. Bucharest

Bucharest, Romania, is known for its lively Old Town, and the fun ramps up a notch or two during winter.

Keep warm, go bar-hopping down the busy streets at night, and shop at Victoriei Street (Calea Victoriei) or in Baneasa Shopping Mall by day.

Catch a Christmas show at the National Bucharest Theater and the lights on Magheru Boulevard (Bulevardul Magheru).

Enjoy a snowy walk through Tineretului Park (Parcul Tineretului), then warm up with mulled wine at Bucharest Christmas Market at Universitatii Square (Piata Universitatii).

Bucharest Christmas Market with hanging decors

9. Edinburgh

I’m biased, but one of the best European cities to visit in winter has to be Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

Princes Street Gardens is home to the bustling Edinburgh Christmas Market, jam-packed with locals and visitors.

Dine on traditional market food such as bratwurst or winter meals with a Scottish twist before shopping your socks off at the high street stores on Princess Street.

Walk two streets back to George Street to see lights illuminating the dark skies.

Do as the locals do, and reserve a table at The Dome for a Christmas cocktail under the massive tree.

Stick around after Christmas for the biggest NYE party in the world, Edinburgh Hogmanay.

Find out more at our sister site, Everything Edinburgh’s festive guides.

Lights wrapped around The Dome Edinburgh At Christmas_

10. Florence

Florence is the perfect city to spend Christmas time in, with lights adorning the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, where festive fans will also find a pretty tree.

Browse the vendors at the Santa Maria Novella Christmas Market.

Enjoy a lavish overnight stay during the holiday season at Villa Cora for elegant decor and a Christmas Day buffet.

Will you choose natale a firenze?

By Natasha & Cameron | The World Pursuit

Christmas Tree at Piazzale Michelangelo with the Dome of Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore on background. Italy — Photo
Christmas Tree at Piazzale Michelangelo with the Dome of Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore on background. Italy

11. Glasgow

Scotland’s biggest city is the best for live music, food, and culture all year round, especially at Christmas.

Did you know that Glasgow is one of UNESCO’s music cities? Check out what gigs are this December at the vintage Barrowlands or intimate Kings Tuts.

Swing by the Glasgow Christmas markets are spread over George Square and St Enoch.

At both markets, you can dine on hot market food, including vegan options, and people watch while you sip on a beer or something harder.

Glasgow’s shops are the best in Scotland.

Spread over three streets, Argyle, Buchanan, and Sauchiehall, busloads of locals arrive every weekend on the run-up to Christmas to buy gifts.

Looking for something more local or vintage?

Get off the tube in the West End and check out the craft shops on Byres Road, Ashton Lane, and Great Western Road.

Feeling fit?

Join the thousands who take part in the Santa Dash each year.

Glasgow is one of the best places to visit in Europe in December for culture. 

Here’s how we’d spend 24 hours in Glasgow.

12. Grindelwald, Switzerland

Top of Europe!

Switzerland is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited in all my travels; it is a magical country with endless beautiful scenery.

Being an Australian, I have always dreamed of having a white Christmas and beautiful snowy winters, and I think everything truly looks more beautiful covered in a layer of snow!

We visited Grindelwald, a majestic village in the Swiss Alps, a few years ago for our anniversary.

Grindelwald looks like the front of a Christmas card, and the whole time we were there, I couldn’t stop telling Dan how I felt like we were living in a real-life snow globe!

Grindelwald is perfect because it has everything: scenery, outdoor sports, adventure, accommodation for everyone whether you are seeking luxury or budget, fine restaurants, and even a train that goes to the ‘Top of Europe’!

We spent our days exploring the mountains, strolling the snow-covered streets, eating excessive amounts of Swiss cheese and chocolate, and relaxing in our outdoor hot tub in the snow.

It truly is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world and a short break we will never forget. <—Grindelwald sounds like one of the cutest Europe trips for couples! Snuggle up, guys.

By Simone | The Aussie Flashpacker

Grindelwald Winter Scene in Switzerland.

13. Krakow, Poland

Winter city breaks in Europe don’t have to break the bank, and Poland’s cutest city is renowned for affordability.

Krakow is one of the most Christmassy destinations on Earth!

It is located in Poland, right between Eastern and Western Europe. It has an airport, so getting there from anywhere worldwide is very easy.

The city is beautifully decorated, with Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments.

It is also one of the cheapest winter breaks in Europe – you can find an apartment in the heart of Old Town for less than $80!

Krakow has a world-famous Christmas Market.

It starts at the end of November and lasts until Christmas.

If you go there, be sure to try Grzaniec Galicyjski.

It is a traditional Polish mulled wine with cinnamon, cloves, and all the other warming spices.

Yummy! Into festive booze? Check out this Christmas cocktails post.

By Karolina & Patryk | Karolina & Patryk

Our Poland Travel Guides

14. London at Christmas

Oxford Street and Regent Street, twinkling in the glow of a thousand lights.

Famous department stores, such as Harrods and Fortnum, were decked out in their Christmas finery with stunning festive window displays, each with their very own Father Christmas.

Children’s pantomimes and the giant Christmas trees at Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden.

There’s plenty to enjoy in London at Yuletide.

Several Christmas markets are dotted around the city, such as Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, and Hyde Park.

Wander around the pretty wooden chalets, selling Christmas gifts and decorations and tucking into tasty treats such as mulled cider, glühwein, and bratwurst.

You’ll also find ice rinks around the city, including the Hyde Park.

At Christmas, London is simply overflowing with festive cheer throughout its bustling streets beautiful parks, and even its museums and art galleries.

I can’t imagine a more exciting city for a short Christmas break.

By Kat | Travel With Kat

London Christmas. Fairground.

15. Malta

Winter in Europe doesn’t have to mean freezing temperatures.

December is one of the best times to visit Malta.

Why? Let me list the ways… fewer crowds, mostly warm weather, low prices, and friendly locals.

Valletta also gets dressed up for Christmas and NYE Celebrations, creating picture-worthy reflections with many shades.

Here are more reasons for you to visit Malta in Winter. <— Christmas breaks in the sun! I’m game for a tan and some tinsel.

By Inma | A World to Travel

16. Munich

Germany at Christmas time is a truly magical place.

The whole country smells of mulled wine and bratwurst, snow is dusting every roof and tree, and a Christmas market is around every corner.

Most people visit the cities of Dresden or Nuremberg for their world-famous confectioneries, but I recommend you visit Munich instead – not just because I live there.

The perfect winter city break should be about more than just a lovely Christmas market.

You’ll want wonderful restaurants, excellent museums, a couple of good day-trip options and some shopping would be nice as well.

Bavaria’s capital has all that and more.

There is a lovely Christmas market in Munich, but you also have roughly 100 museums to visit, while the Alps and their ski resorts are barely two hours’ drive away.

Not convinced yet?

Well then, Munich has one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe, a world-class opera, and a gigantic thermal bath.

You could also attend a Christmas mass in one of the beautiful churches or go skating on one of the ice rinks.

The many fairy tale castles around Munich will look especially beautiful with a little snow, and if everything fails you, there is always the Hofbräuhaus and ancient Bavarian beer culture to get familiar with! <—- Yup, I’m sold!

By Norman | Annees De Pelerinage

Munich at Christmas festive sign.

17. Nuremberg

Nuremberg, Bavaria, is the perfect Christmas city break in Europe.

It is centrally located, has excellent air and rail transportation connections, and has what is arguably the best Christmas market in Europe.

It is one of the best visited – boasting over two million visitors in the four short weeks the market is open yearly.

From the early 1600s, Nuremberg’s Christmas market occupies the Main Square under the towering Frauenkirche (Chruch of Our Lady).

The stalls, with their candy-striped awnings, occupy in neat little rows.

The stalls sell all traditional handicrafts, including little “smoker” men, carved figures holding smoking incense inside, and carved wooden toys.

On weekends, the Nuremberg Christmas market is a mass of people huddling together to stay warm.

During the week, you can explore the market in tranquillity, eat the local Nuremberg sausages (eaten three in a roll), and drink gluhwein (hot mulled wine).

We’ve visited many of Europe’s markets, but Nuremberg is one of the best. Whereas other markets in other cities focus only on tourists, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt still maintains its local vibe.

By Lance & Laura | Travel Addicts

Nuremberg | Christmas Europe Breaks

Where to go for winter holidays in Europe- Bavaria? 

18. Prague: Sip Svařák, See Snow

Prague is one of the most magical places to spend a European Christmas city break.

Prague Castle sits on top of the hill and looks beautiful with a dusting of snow, and the Christmas markets in the Old Town have a festive, celebratory atmosphere.

A popular thing to do there during the winter is to buy a cup of svařák (warm red mulled wine) from a booth for about a euro and take a wintry walk across Charles Bridge, looking at the old historical houses along the river’s edge.

Or you can curl up in a café with a view of the Vltava river with a cup of coffee and a Kafka book and watch the snowfall.

Ah, winter! <—- Yet another Christmas market break; there are so many choices!

By Allison | Eternal Arrival

Prague, Czech Republic. Christmas Market in Stare Mesto old square, Tyn Church, Bohemia

19. Sinaia, Romania

Sinaia is one of the most stunning European Christmas destinations and winter holidays.

The small, beautiful mountain resort offers plenty of wonderful things in the cold season.

Located in the heart of Romania, The Carpathian Pearl is ideal for winter sports enthusiasts.

Whether riding the gondola up to 2000 m for breathtaking mountain views or to practice skiing, the experience will be unforgettable.

Besides, you will surely wish to visit one of the most spectacular castles in Europe. Peles Castle is the main attraction in town, for good reasons.

King Carol I of Romania fell in love with the place’s surroundings and built a summer residence there.

His castle has become a museum, visited by more than half a million people annually.

The Neo-Renaissance architectural masterpiece is stunning!

Add snow to the image you have already pictured, and the fairytale landscape will be complete. The interiors of the castle will make you breathless, as well.

Each room has a different architectural style, such as Gothic, Venetian, or German,

Overall, the Christmas atmosphere can be felt anywhere in town, whether you go ice skating downtown, admire the holiday decorations on the streets, or simply enjoy a hot chocolate in a rustic restaurant with your loved one. <—– You all know how much I loved our summer European trip to Bucharest; maybe Sinaia will be next on our list!

By Bella | Whisper Wanderlust

Sinaia Romania | Christmas Europe Breaks

Sinaia – one of the Christmas Europe breaks for architecture lovers 

20. Tallinn

One of our preferred Christmas getaways in Europe is Tallinn, the picturesque capital city of Estonia.

Tallinn’s old town was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1997.

Unlike any other capital city in Europe, it has managed to preserve its medieval structure completely and, therefore, has been nicknamed “the medieval pearl of Europe.”

The cobblestone streets are all originals, which, along with the medieval churches, grandiose merchant houses, barns, and warehouses, date back as far as the 11th century.

It’s the perfect Christmas getaway in late December or early January because it’s all covered in snow, making it like something from a fairy tale – the perfect ideal Christmas image you dream of <—- Have you been good this year?

Maybe Santa will send you to Estonia on your Christmas Europe break!

By Stef & Seb | Nomadic Boys

Tallinn Christmas Market at night with fairy lights

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Final Words

I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide on the best European cities for Christmas.

Whether you are seeking snow, spas, sausages, or something to sip, there’s a  short winter break for every type of travel style and budget.

Don’t forget to check out our tips on where to go for New Year’s Eve abroad this year.

Thanks to my fellow bloggers for sharing their top tinsel-clad tips.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to the best European cities for Christmas.

Where is the best place to spend Christmas in Europe? Tell us in the comments.

48 thoughts on “20 Christmas Europe Breaks For Every Budget

  1. Kanika Bakshi says:

    Just amazing! Great list of travel in Europe, thinking of budget Christmas is the right time to visit as it breaks all the budget at that time thanks for the valuable information keep posting such wonderful article.

  2. Cameron Page says:

    My wife and I are excited for the vacation we’ve booked in Europe to Spain and definitely we will go to the Canary. Tenerife is one of our eyeing place for our 1st stop 🙂

  3. adam says:

    Helpful! This article on Christmas Europe breaks for every budget is a snagat to help me while on vacation in Europe later.

  4. Nana says:

    Ooh I miss Europe and its Christmas markets!! I dont feel any kind of Christmas spirit here where I live 🙁
    Good job with the article, I will send it to my mom who LOVES Christmas markets! 😉
    BR Nana

  5. Kristine says:

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational post! This year I’ve already been to some of the markets in London, and last year I was in Vienna 🙂 next year I’m hoping to visit Alsace!

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