All over the world, the holiday season is celebrated in many different ways and an overarching feeling of warmth and joy permeates this time of year. If you’re looking for an exciting place to ring in the New Year or experience the Christmas/holiday season, you might want to check out these iconic holiday destinations in Europe, each with its own unique architecture, cozy charm, and wonderful winter activities.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a beautiful city to visit any time of year, but during the holiday season the stunning Medieval buildings seem to have a special warm glow. It’s easy to imagine yourself snuggling up with a hot chocolate by the famous clock tower or in a cozy cafe off a side street. If you’re near the clock tower in the Old Town Square, peruse the city’s most famous Christmas market. Or if you’re looking for a more low key vibe check out the markets at Wencelas Square, Peace Square, Havel Market, or Republic Square.
Edinburgh brings a similar feeling of warmth to mind. Here the buildings are so medieval looking that they might as well be a Christmas village display. Edinburgh is a festive place to enjoy some Christmas cheer with many holiday exciting events taking place. A German-style Christmas market is held each year at Princes Street Gardens, and a more traditional Scottish market extends into George Street. Between Nov. 16 and Dec. 30, the Royal Botanic Gardens just outside the city’s historical center offer holiday light displays, trails and music. And don’t miss the annual Torchlight Procession on Dec. 29, a lively parade with fire performers, street theatre, pipe bands, drummers, and more.
Sitting on the border of France to Germany, Strasbourg is a true standout in the lineup of quaint French cities. Made unique by German-influenced Medieval, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture, Strasbourg, thrives in the winter months. Here the oldest Christmas market in France, Christkindelsmärik, runs Nov. 24 through Dec. 24. The market is nearly 450 years old and offers the perfect opportunity to search for unique gifts or souvenirs for your loved ones. At this market you can try Strasbourg snacks like bretzels (soft bread pretzels), gingerbread, mulled wine, bredeles (star-shaped biscuits), and other tasty holiday treats.
According to CN Traveler, Bruges is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. Cobblestone streets give way to historical monuments, and enchanting Christmas markets are a must to explore. Each year the Winter Glow festival, running Nov. 24 through Jan. 7, guides visitors through 10 installations of special holiday lighting displays and projections in the historic old town. Go ice skating, see the city’s canals, walk over romantic bridges, and enjoy the romance of the winter season.
Germany may hold the record for hosting some of the best holiday festivities in the world. Christmas markets here are called Weihnachtsmarkts, and in Nuremberg, one of the country’s oldest and most impressive markets has tourists and locals wandering from glowing stall to stall as the sun sets over this underrated city. Time Out, rates this city one of the top 20 best Christmas destinations in the world and it’s easy to see why when you smell gingerbread and mulled wine drifting through the Gothic streets.
Featured Image: Christmas Market in Stare Mesto, Prague (Photo by ecstk22)