19 Best European Christmas Destinations for 2024

Looking for the BEST European destinations to visit for Christmas? Here are 19 of the top festive spots for 2023, including the best things to do, foods to try and places to stay for each one.

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With its vibrant Christmas markets, dazzling light displays, and snow-dusted landscapes, Europe truly comes alive during the festive season. With so many magical European destinations on the cards, choosing where to celebrate Christmas is no easy task!

Hopefully, this list will make it a little easier for you to decide which enchanting European Christmas destination to visit in 2023!

1. Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg, with its fairytale-like ambiance, stands out as one of the most enchanting Christmas destinations in Europe. The city’s historical charm, combined with delightful German traditions, creates an atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a truly unique way.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Hamburg:

  1. Explore the Christmas Markets: Hamburg’s Christmas markets transform the city into a festive wonderland. With a magical backdrop of historic buildings and twinkling lights, the markets feature stalls adorned with handmade crafts, local delicacies, and festive ornaments.
  2. Attend a Classical Concert: Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Hamburg’s classical music scene during the holiday season. Enjoy a concert in one of the city’s iconic venues, such as the Elbphilharmonie or the Laeiszhalle.
  3. Cruise on the Alster Lake: Experience the charm of Hamburg’s Alster Lake as it becomes a winter wonderland during Christmas. Enjoy a boat tour and witness the beautifully lit lakeside scenery.

Top 3 foods to try in Hamburg at Christmas:

  1. Traditional German Christmas Dinner: Indulge in a hearty German Christmas feast featuring roast goose or carp, served with potato dumplings, red cabbage, and rich gravy.
  2. Stollen: Treat your taste buds to Stollen, a traditional German fruitcake enriched with nuts, dried fruits, and powdered sugar. It’s a popular sweet treat during the Christmas season.
  3. Lebkuchen: Delight in Lebkuchen, a type of gingerbread cookie, often heart-shaped and decorated with icing. These spicy-sweet cookies are a festive favorite in Germany.

Where to stay in Hamburg at Christmas:

  • The Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg: The Atlantic Kempinski offers a luxurious and festive retreat after exploring Hamburg’s Christmas celebrations. Located in the heart of the city, with easy access to the Christmas markets and cultural attractions, it ensures a memorable holiday experience.

2. London, United Kingdom

London transforms into a vibrant winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s blend of traditional charm and modern festivities creates an atmosphere that captures the spirit of Christmas like nowhere else. It’s also home to some of the best in Christmas light displays in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas activities in London:

  • Explore Christmas Lights: Take a stroll along Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Carnaby Street to witness London’s famous Christmas light displays. For a fully immersive experience, join a London by Night Tour With Christmas Lights and Live Guide or a Tootbus Christmas Lights Tour.
  • Visit Winter Wonderland: Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is London’s most festive extravaganza. Featuring ice skating, charming Christmas markets, thrilling rides, and live entertainment, it is a truly quintessential London Christmas experience.
  • Attend a Christmas Show: London’s West End theatres come alive during the holidays with special Christmas-themed shows and performances.

Top 3 Foods to Try in London at Christmas:

  • Roast Turkey with All the Trimmings: You can’t leave London without trying a traditional British holiday feast. Succulent roast turkey served with stuffing, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, and cranberry sauce.
  • Mince Pies: These sweet pastries filled with spiced mincemeat are a beloved Christmas treat in London. They are best enjoyed with a dollop of brandy butter or whipped cream.
  • Christmas Pudding: Indulge in the rich and fruity Christmas pudding, traditionally served warm with a generous pour of brandy sauce or warm custard.

Where to Stay in London at Christmas:

  • The Ritz London– From the festive decorations to exquisite holiday menus, The Ritz offers the most splendid Christmas experience in the city. Its central location near Buckingham Palace and the West End makes it an ideal base to explore London’s Christmas festivities.

3. Prague, Czechia

Prague, with its fairytale-like ambience, is easily one of the most enchanting Christmas destinations on the continent. The city’s historic charm, paired with delightful Czech traditions, creates an atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a truly unique way.

Top 3 Christmas activities in Prague:

  • Visit the Old Town Square: Prague’s Old Town Square transforms into a festive hub with its Christmas market. With a magical backdrop of the Astronomical Clock and the Tyn Church, wooden stalls are adorned with handmade crafts, local treats, and Christmas ornaments.
  • Attend a Classical Concert: Experience the grandeur of Prague’s classical music scene during the holiday season. Attending a concert in one of the city’s historic venues, such as the Municipal House or St. Nicholas Church.
  • Watch the Lighting on the Laterns on Charles Bridge: Every year in the lead-up to Christmas, the gas lamps on Prague’s Charles Bridge are lit by hand by a “lamplighter”. Come around dusk to witness this historical tradition.

Top 3 Foods to Try in Prague at Christmas:

  • Traditional Czech Christmas Dinner: Indulge in a hearty Czech Christmas feast featuring succulent roast duck or carp, served with bread dumplings, sauerkraut, and rich gravy.
  • Trdelník: Treat your taste buds to trdelník, a sweet pastry made from rolled dough, grilled to perfection, and coated in a cinnamon-sugar mix. Served hot, it’s a popular street food item during the Christmas season.
  • Medovník: Delight in medovník, a layered honey cake made with spiced honey dough and creamy filling. This delectable dessert is a festive favourite in Czechia.

Where to stay in Prague at Christmas:

  • Aria Hotel Prague- The music-themed Aria Hotel offers a cozy yet chic retreat after exploring Prague’s Christmas festivities. The hotel is in the heart of the festivities, with the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge in easy walking distance.

4. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, with its fairytale-like ambience, stands out as one of the most enchanting Christmas destinations in Europe. The city’s historic charm, paired with delightful Austrian traditions, creates an atmosphere that encapsulates the essence of Christmas in a truly unique way.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Vienna:

  1. Visit Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market: Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace transforms into a winter wonderland, hosting a magical Christmas market where visitors can explore wooden stalls adorned with handmade crafts and local treats against the backdrop of the splendid palace.
  2. Attend a Mozart Concert: Experience Vienna’s classical music legacy during the holiday season by attending a Mozart concert in one of the city’s opulent concert halls, immersing yourself in the grandeur of Austria’s musical heritage.
  3. Explore Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt: Vienna’s City Hall Square (Rathausplatz) turns into a festive spectacle, featuring an enchanting Christmas market with dazzling lights, ice skating, and a delightful array of traditional Austrian delicacies.

Top 3 Foods to Try in Vienna at Christmas:

  1. Wiener Schnitzel: Indulge in Wiener Schnitzel, a classic Viennese dish consisting of breaded and fried veal or pork cutlet, served with lemon wedges and lingonberry sauce, capturing the essence of Austrian culinary tradition.
  2. Sachertorte: Treat your taste buds to Sachertorte, a sumptuous chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam, coated in velvety chocolate glaze, and often served with a dollop of whipped cream, epitomizing Vienna’s rich dessert heritage.
  3. Kaiserschmarrn: Delight in Kaiserschmarrn, a fluffy shredded pancake sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with preserves. This heavenly dessert offers a delightful taste of Austrian comfort food, perfect for the festive season.

Where to stay in Vienna at Christmas:

  • Hotel Sacher Wien: A symbol of Viennese elegance, Hotel Sacher Wien offers a luxurious retreat after immersing yourself in Vienna’s Christmas festivities. With its central location near the State Opera and Belvedere Palace, the hotel provides a perfect blend of opulence and convenience for a memorable holiday stay.

5. Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg, often referred to as the “Capital of Christmas,” undergoes a magical transformation during the holiday season. The city’s unique blend of tradition and modern festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a way that is truly unparalleled.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Strasbourg:

  1. Explore the Christmas Lights: Wander through Strasbourg’s enchanting streets and squares, including Place Kléber and Place Broglie, adorned with captivating Christmas lights and decorations. For a more immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to discover the city’s most stunning displays.
  2. Visit Christkindelsmärik: Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, one of the oldest and most iconic Christmas markets in Europe, offers a quintessential Christmas experience. Explore the market’s charming stalls, savor traditional Alsatian treats, and bask in the festive ambiance.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Strasbourg’s rich musical heritage shines during the holiday season. Enjoy a Christmas concert in one of the city’s historic venues, such as the Strasbourg Cathedral, where the majestic sounds of carols and classical music fill the air.

Top 3 foods to try in Strasbourg at Christmas:

  1. Traditional Alsatian Christmas Dinner: Delight in a hearty Alsatian Christmas meal featuring delectable dishes such as choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with sausages and meats) and bûche de Noël (Yule log cake), which are cherished Alsatian holiday traditions.
  2. Lebkuchen: Indulge in Lebkuchen, gingerbread cookies with a unique Alsatian twist, often adorned with intricate icing or chocolate coatings. These sweet treats are a beloved part of Strasbourg’s Christmas celebrations.
  3. Bredele: Savor the delightful Bredele, an assortment of small, spiced cookies in various shapes and flavors. These homemade cookies are a cherished Alsatian Christmas tradition.

Where to Stay in Strasbourg at Christmas:

  • Regent Contades, BW Premier Collection: The Regent Contades offers a charming and cozy Christmas retreat with elegant holiday decorations and a warm ambiance. Its central location near Strasbourg’s Christmas markets and cultural attractions makes it an ideal base for exploring the city’s festive spirit.

6. Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, situated in the heart of Lapland, transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s unique blend of traditional charm and modern festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the spirit of Christmas like nowhere else.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Rovaniemi:

  1. Explore the Arctic Christmas Lights: Venture into the Arctic wilderness surrounding Rovaniemi to witness the breathtaking Northern Lights, a natural light display that adds a celestial touch to the holiday season.
  2. Visit Santa Claus Village: Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus, and a visit to Santa Claus Village is a must during the Christmas season. Meet Santa himself, explore the Christmas-themed attractions, and send your Christmas wishes from the Arctic Circle.
  3. Try Winter Activities: Embrace the winter wonderland by participating in a range of activities, such as husky sledding, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. Rovaniemi offers an array of exciting adventures to make your Christmas truly memorable.

Top 3 foods to try in Rovaniemi at Christmas:

  1. Lappish Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Lappish Christmas meal featuring dishes like sautéed reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce, as well as hearty fish dishes like gravlax.
  2. Gingerbread Cookies: Enjoy the warmth of freshly baked gingerbread cookies, a beloved Christmas treat in Rovaniemi. These cookies are often beautifully decorated with icing.
  3. Karelian Pies: Savor Karelian pasties, or pies, filled with rice porridge or mashed potatoes, a Finnish specialty often enjoyed during the Christmas season.

Where to Stay in Rovaniemi at Christmas:

  • Arctic TreeHouse Hotel: The Arctic TreeHouse Hotel offers a unique and cozy Christmas retreat in the midst of Rovaniemi’s enchanting winter landscape. You can enjoy the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own Arctic TreeHouse suite, creating a memorable and magical holiday experience.

7. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, the charming capital of Estonia, undergoes a remarkable transformation into a vibrant winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s harmonious blend of time-honored traditions and contemporary festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a truly unique manner.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Tallinn:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander through Tallinn’s Old Town, Town Hall Square, and Freedom Square to witness the city’s enchanting Christmas light displays. For a fully immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to discover the most picturesque illuminations.
  2. Visit Tallinn Christmas Market: Tallinn’s Christmas Market in the heart of the Old Town is a quintessential experience. Explore the market’s stalls filled with handmade crafts, enjoy local holiday treats, and revel in the festive spirit.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Tallinn boasts a rich musical heritage, and during the holiday season, the city’s churches and concert halls come alive with Christmas-themed performances and carol concerts.

Top 3 foods to try in Tallinn at Christmas:

  1. Estonian Christmas Dinner: Indulge in a traditional Estonian Christmas feast featuring dishes like blood sausage (verivorst), sauerkraut, black pudding (mulgipuder), and gingerbread cookies (piparkoogid).
  2. Gingerbread Cookies: Enjoy the heartwarming flavors of freshly baked gingerbread cookies, adorned with intricate designs and spices that evoke the holiday spirit.
  3. Kama: Savor kama, a traditional Estonian dessert made from roasted barley and rye flour. It is often enjoyed mixed with yogurt or buttermilk, creating a delightful and nutritious treat.

Where to Stay in Tallinn at Christmas:

  • Schlössle Hotel: The Schlössle Hotel offers a charming and cozy Christmas retreat in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town. With its historic atmosphere and exquisite holiday décor, it’s the perfect base for immersing yourself in Tallinn’s Christmas festivities.

8. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, the historic capital of Scotland, undergoes a vibrant transformation into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s fusion of traditional charm and contemporary festivities creates an atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a unique and enchanting way.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Edinburgh:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Meander through Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Princes Street, and George Street to experience the city’s captivating Christmas light displays. For a more immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to discover the most picturesque illuminations.
  2. Visit the Christmas Markets: Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets, such as the one in Princes Street Gardens, are a delightful experience. Explore the market stalls filled with handmade crafts, indulge in local holiday treats, and immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Edinburgh offers a rich cultural scene, and during the holiday season, the city’s concert halls and churches host special Christmas-themed performances, carol concerts, and traditional Scottish music.

Top 3 foods to try in Edinburgh at Christmas:

  1. Traditional Scottish Christmas Dinner: Enjoy a traditional Scottish Christmas feast featuring haggis, neeps, and tatties, followed by clootie dumpling or cranachan for dessert.
  2. Shortbread: Relish the delightful flavors of buttery shortbread cookies, a beloved Scottish treat, often decorated with intricate patterns and enjoyed with a cup of tea.
  3. Black Bun: Delight in black bun, a rich and fruity pastry that is a traditional Scottish dessert, typically served during the holiday season.

Where to Stay in Edinburgh at Christmas:

  • The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte Hotel: The Balmoral offers a luxurious and festive retreat for the holiday season. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location near Edinburgh’s Christmas festivities, and views of the iconic Edinburgh Castle, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in the heart of the city.

9. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary, comes alive with the spirit of Christmas during the holiday season. The city’s fusion of timeless traditions and contemporary celebrations creates a magical atmosphere that captures the essence of the season in a truly unique way. Budapest is also renowned for its captivating Christmas light displays, making it one of the top destinations for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Budapest:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander through Budapest’s iconic landmarks, including Andrassy Avenue, Vorosmarty Square, and St. Stephen’s Basilica, to witness the city’s enchanting Christmas light displays. For a more immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to explore the most beautifully lit areas of the city.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Budapest’s Christmas Markets, particularly the one at Vorosmarty Square, offer a delightful experience. Explore the charming stalls filled with handcrafted gifts and delicious Hungarian holiday treats, and immerse yourself in the festive ambiance.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Budapest is known for its rich musical heritage, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like the Hungarian State Opera House or Matthias Church.

Top 3 foods to try in Budapest at Christmas:

  1. Hungarian Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Hungarian Christmas meal featuring dishes such as roasted carp, stuffed cabbage rolls (töltött káposzta), and beigli, a sweet pastry roll filled with poppy seeds or walnuts.
  2. Kürtőskalács: Enjoy kürtőskalács, a popular Hungarian treat known as chimney cake. This sweet, spiral-shaped pastry is often coated with sugar and cinnamon, making it a delicious holiday dessert.
  3. Bejgli: Delight in bejgli, a traditional Hungarian Christmas pastry roll filled with nuts or poppy seeds. It is a beloved holiday dessert that captures the essence of Hungarian Christmas traditions.

Where to Stay in Budapest at Christmas:

  • Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest: The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decor, central location in the heart of Budapest, and proximity to Christmas festivities, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this enchanting European city.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark, embraces the enchantment of winter during the Christmas season. The city’s harmonious blend of tradition and modern celebrations creates an atmosphere that captures the true spirit of Christmas in a distinctive way. Copenhagen is renowned for its captivating Christmas light displays, making it a premier destination for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Copenhagen:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Stroll through Copenhagen’s iconic streets, including Strøget, Tivoli Gardens, and Nyhavn, to witness the city’s enchanting Christmas light displays. For an immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to discover the most dazzling areas.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Copenhagen’s Christmas Markets, especially those in Tivoli Gardens and Nyhavn, offer a delightful experience. Explore the charming stalls filled with handcrafted gifts and delectable Danish holiday treats while immersing yourself in the festive atmosphere.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Copenhagen has a rich musical heritage, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like the Royal Danish Theatre or Christiansborg Palace.

Top 3 foods to try in Copenhagen at Christmas:

  1. Danish Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Danish Christmas meal featuring dishes like roasted pork with crispy skin (flæskesteg), red cabbage (rødkaal), and rice pudding with cherry sauce (risalamande).
  2. Æbleskiver: Enjoy Æbleskiver, a classic Danish Christmas treat, which are spherical pancakes served with powdered sugar and raspberry jam.
  3. Pebernødder: Delight in Pebernødder, small spiced cookies that are a beloved Danish holiday tradition, often flavored with cinnamon and cardamom.

Where to Stay in Copenhagen at Christmas:

  • Hotel d’Angleterre: The Hotel d’Angleterre offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With elegant holiday decorations, a central location in the heart of Copenhagen, and proximity to Christmas festivities, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this charming Nordic city.

11. Bruges, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium, is a picturesque winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s blend of timeless charm and modern celebrations creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the true spirit of Christmas in a way that is utterly unique. Bruges is also renowned for its captivating Christmas light displays, making it a top destination for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Bruges:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander through Bruges’ historic streets, including the Markt and Burg squares, to experience the city’s enchanting Christmas light displays. For a more immersive experience, consider joining a guided Christmas lights tour to discover the most picturesque illuminations.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Bruges’ Christmas Markets, especially the one at the Markt square, offer a delightful experience. Explore the charming stalls filled with handcrafted gifts and indulge in delectable Belgian holiday treats while immersing yourself in the festive atmosphere.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Bruges boasts a rich cultural heritage, and during the holiday season, the city’s churches and concert halls host special Christmas-themed concerts and performances, including beautiful carol concerts.

Top 3 foods to try in Bruges at Christmas:

  1. Belgian Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Belgian Christmas meal featuring dishes like roasted game, stoofvlees (Flemish beef stew), and delectable Belgian chocolate desserts.
  2. Speculoos: Enjoy speculoos, spiced shortcrust cookies, often shaped into windmills or Saint Nicholas figures, and a beloved Belgian holiday treat.
  3. Waffles: Delight in Belgian waffles, often served warm with a variety of toppings, such as whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and fresh fruit.

Where to Stay in Bruges at Christmas:

  • Hotel Dukes’ Palace Bruges: Hotel Dukes’ Palace offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location in the heart of Bruges, and proximity to Christmas festivities, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this charming Belgian city.

12. San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain, is a captivating winter destination during the Christmas season. The city’s unique blend of tradition and modern celebrations creates an atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a special way. San Sebastian is also known for its delightful Christmas light displays, adding to the festive charm of this coastal city.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in San Sebastian:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander along the elegant boulevards of San Sebastian, such as the La Concha Promenade, to experience the city’s enchanting Christmas light displays. Stroll through the historic Old Town (Parte Vieja) and enjoy the festive decorations adorning the streets.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: San Sebastian’s Christmas Markets, especially those in the city center and La Bretxa, offer a delightful experience. Explore the market stalls filled with artisanal gifts and savor local holiday treats while immersing yourself in the festive ambiance.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: San Sebastian is a cultural hub, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like the Kursaal or the Victoria Eugenia Theatre.

Top 3 foods to try in San Sebastian at Christmas:

  1. Basque Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Basque Christmas meal featuring dishes like bacalao a la vizcaína (Basque-style codfish), marmitako (Basque fisherman’s stew), and postres navideños (Christmas desserts) like turrones and polvorones.
  2. Basque Pastries: Enjoy Basque pastries, such as tejas and canutillos, which are delightful Christmas treats known for their delicate textures and flavors.
  3. Cider: Savor the local Basque cider, a popular beverage during the holiday season, and join in the tradition of “txotx” at a cider house (sagardotegi).

Where to Stay in San Sebastian at Christmas:

  • Hotel Maria Cristina, a Luxury Collection Hotel: Hotel Maria Cristina offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location near San Sebastian’s Christmas festivities, and views of the La Concha Bay, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this charming coastal city.

13. Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden, transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s harmonious blend of traditional charm and modern festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the essence of Christmas in a truly special way. Stockholm is also known for its captivating Christmas light displays, making it one of the top destinations for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Stockholm:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander through Stockholm’s enchanting neighborhoods, including Gamla Stan (the Old Town), Kungsträdgården, and Djurgården, to experience the city’s captivating Christmas light displays. Enjoy the beautifully decorated streets and historic architecture.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Stockholm’s Christmas Markets, especially those in Gamla Stan and Skansen, offer a delightful experience. Explore the market stalls filled with handcrafted gifts, enjoy traditional Swedish holiday treats, and soak in the festive atmosphere.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Stockholm boasts a rich musical heritage, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like the Royal Swedish Opera or the Stockholm Concert Hall.

Top 3 foods to try in Stockholm at Christmas:

  1. Swedish Christmas Smorgasbord: Indulge in a traditional Swedish Christmas feast, including dishes like herring, gravlax, meatballs, and lutfisk, along with a variety of sweets and desserts.
  2. Saffron Buns: Enjoy saffron buns, known as “lussekatter” or “St. Lucia buns,” a beloved Swedish Christmas pastry flavored with saffron and typically enjoyed on St. Lucia’s Day.
  3. Gingerbread Cookies: Delight in gingerbread cookies, or “pepparkakor,” a classic Swedish Christmas treat often shaped into hearts and stars, and decorated with icing.

Where to Stay in Stockholm at Christmas:

  • Grand Hotel Stockholm: The Grand Hotel offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location in the heart of Stockholm, and views of the Royal Palace and the Old Town, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this Scandinavian capital.

14. Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland, transforms into a captivating winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s harmonious blend of traditional charm and modern festivities creates a magical atmosphere that captures the spirit of Christmas like no other. Helsinki is renowned for its enchanting Christmas light displays, making it a top destination for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Helsinki:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Wander through Helsinki’s picturesque streets, including Esplanadi Park, Senate Square, and Market Square, to experience the city’s captivating Christmas light displays. Enjoy the beautifully adorned streets and the scenic waterfront.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Helsinki’s Christmas Markets, particularly those at Senate Square and the Old Student House, offer a delightful experience. Explore the market stalls filled with handcrafted gifts, savor traditional Finnish holiday treats, and immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Helsinki has a rich musical tradition, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like the Helsinki Music Centre or the Helsinki Cathedral.

Top 3 foods to try in Helsinki at Christmas:

  1. Finnish Christmas Feast: Indulge in a traditional Finnish Christmas meal featuring dishes like ham, casseroles, rutabaga casserole, and a variety of fish dishes. The dessert often includes gingerbread cookies and rice porridge with a hidden almond.
  2. Gingerbread Cookies: Enjoy gingerbread cookies, known as “piparkakut,” a cherished Finnish Christmas treat often shaped into festive figures and decorated with icing.
  3. Mulled Wine: Savor warm and spiced mulled wine, known as “glögi,” a popular Finnish holiday beverage, typically served with almonds and raisins.

Where to Stay in Helsinki at Christmas:

Hotel Kämp Helsinki: Hotel Kämp offers a luxurious and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location in the heart of Helsinki, and views of Senate Square, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this Nordic capital.

15. Bergen, Norway

Bergen, Norway, undergoes a captivating transformation into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s harmonious fusion of traditional charm and modern festivities creates a magical atmosphere that captures the spirit of Christmas like no other. Bergen is also renowned for its enchanting Christmas light displays, making it a top destination for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Bergen:

  1. Explore Christmas Lights: Stroll through Bergen’s historic Bryggen Wharf, Torgallmenningen Square, and the city center to witness the captivating Christmas light displays. Enjoy the beautifully illuminated streets and the unique atmosphere of this coastal city.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Bergen’s Christmas Markets, particularly those at Bryggen and Festplassen, offer a delightful experience. Explore the market stalls brimming with handcrafted gifts, savor traditional Norwegian holiday treats, and immerse yourself in the festive ambiance.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Bergen has a rich musical heritage, and during the holiday season, you can enjoy special Christmas-themed concerts and performances at venues like Grieg Hall or the Bergen Cathedral.

Top 3 foods to try in Bergen at Christmas:

  1. Norwegian Christmas Smorgasbord: Indulge in a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal featuring dishes like ribbe (pork belly), lutefisk, and pinnekjøtt (dried and salted lamb). Don’t forget the risengrynsgrøt (rice porridge) with a hidden almond for dessert.
  2. Gingerbread Cookies: Enjoy gingerbread cookies, known as “pepperkaker,” a cherished Norwegian Christmas treat often shaped into festive figures and decorated with icing.
  3. Mulled Wine: Savor warm and spiced mulled wine, known as “gløgg,” a popular Norwegian holiday beverage, typically served with raisins, almonds, and a cinnamon stick.

Where to Stay in Bergen at Christmas:

  • Grand Hotel Terminus Bergen: Grand Hotel Terminus offers a cozy and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location near Bergen’s Christmas festivities, and views of the charming city, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this coastal gem.

16. Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg, Germany, undergoes a captivating transformation into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s perfect blend of traditional charm and modern festivities creates a magical atmosphere that captures the spirit of Christmas like nowhere else. Nuremberg is renowned for its enchanting Christmas markets and displays, making it a top destination for festive illumination in Europe.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Nuremberg:

  1. Explore Christmas Markets: Stroll through Nuremberg’s famous Christmas markets, particularly the Christkindlesmarkt, to immerse yourself in the festive ambiance. The markets feature charming wooden stalls with handcrafted gifts and delicious treats, all surrounded by enchanting holiday decorations.
  2. Savor Traditional Nuremberg Gingerbread: Don’t miss the opportunity to taste Nuremberg’s famous gingerbread, known as “Lebkuchen.” These spiced and nutty cookies are a beloved Christmas treat in the region.
  3. Attend a Christmas Concert: Nuremberg offers special Christmas concerts and performances during the holiday season. Enjoy the music and the warmth of these festive events at venues like St. Sebaldus Church or the Meistersingerhalle.

Top 3 foods to try in Nuremberg at Christmas:

  1. Nuremberg Sausages: Delight in Nuremberg’s tiny but tasty sausages, often served with sauerkraut and mustard. These sausages are a local specialty and a must-try during the Christmas season.
  2. Fruit and Nut Bread: Try traditional German fruit and nut bread, known as “Stollen.” This sweet and dense bread is filled with candied fruits, nuts, and spices, making it a delightful Christmas treat.
  3. Glühwein: Savor warm mulled wine, known as “Glühwein,” a popular German holiday beverage enjoyed at the Christmas markets. It’s often served with a slice of orange and a cinnamon stick.

Where to Stay in Nuremberg at Christmas:

  • Hotel Drei Raben: Hotel Drei Raben offers a cozy and festive retreat for your holiday stay. With its elegant holiday decorations, central location near Nuremberg’s Christmas festivities, and views of the charming Old Town, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in this historic city.

17. Les Diablerets, Switzerland

Les Diablerets, a picturesque Swiss mountain village, transforms into a winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The village’s blend of alpine charm and holiday festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that captures the true spirit of Christmas. It’s also a perfect destination for those seeking a cozy and snowy holiday retreat.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Les Diablerets:

  1. Ski and Snow Activities: Enjoy the pristine winter landscape by skiing, snowboarding, or taking part in other snow-related activities. The surrounding Swiss Alps offer a stunning backdrop for your winter adventures.
  2. Visit Christmas Markets: Explore the local Christmas markets to find handcrafted gifts, seasonal treats, and unique Swiss holiday traditions. These markets offer a taste of Swiss Christmas spirit.
  3. Cozy Up by the Fireplace: Many accommodations in Les Diablerets provide cozy fireplaces where you can unwind with a warm drink and enjoy the serene ambiance of the Swiss mountains.

Top 3 foods to try in Les Diablerets at Christmas:

  1. Fondue: Indulge in traditional Swiss cheese fondue, a beloved alpine dish. Dip pieces of bread into melted cheese, creating a hearty and comforting meal.
  2. Raclette: Enjoy raclette, another Swiss cheese specialty. Melted raclette cheese is typically scraped onto boiled potatoes, accompanied by pickles and onions.
  3. Swiss Chocolate: Treat your taste buds to Swiss chocolate, renowned for its quality and delicious flavors. Local chocolatiers offer a variety of handmade chocolates perfect for holiday gifting.

Where to Stay in Les Diablerets at Christmas:

  • Hotel Les Sources: Hotel Les Sources offers a warm and welcoming retreat for the holiday season. With its charming alpine decor, central location in Les Diablerets, and views of the stunning Swiss mountains, it provides a memorable Christmas experience in the heart of the Alps.

18. Brussels, Belgium

Brussels comes alive with festive cheer during the Christmas season. The city’s unique blend of traditional charm and modern celebrations creates an atmosphere that truly encapsulates the spirit of Christmas. With enchanting Christmas markets and captivating light displays, Brussels is one of Europe’s top destinations for holiday celebrations.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Brussels:

  1. Explore Christmas Markets: Wander through Brussels’ renowned Christmas markets, such as the one at the Grand-Place. Discover a wide array of crafts, local treats, and festive decorations, all while enjoying the magical ambiance.
  2. Admire the Christmas Lights: Brussels boasts stunning Christmas light displays throughout the city. Take a leisurely walk to admire the beautifully illuminated streets, squares, and landmarks.
  3. Savor Belgian Chocolates: Treat yourself to exquisite Belgian chocolates, known for their quality and delectable flavors. Many chocolatiers in Brussels offer seasonal specialties for the holidays.

Top 3 foods to try in Brussels at Christmas:

  1. Belgian Waffles: Try traditional Belgian waffles, which are delightfully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Top them with a variety of toppings, from fresh fruit to whipped cream.
  2. Moules-Frites: Enjoy moules-frites, a Belgian classic featuring plump mussels cooked in a flavorful broth and served with crispy French fries.
  3. Speculoos: Delight in speculoos, spiced shortcrust cookies that are a beloved holiday treat in Belgium. They pair perfectly with a warm cup of tea or coffee.

Where to Stay in Brussels at Christmas:

  • Amigo Hotel: The Amigo Hotel in the heart of Brussels offers a luxurious and festive retreat for the holiday season. With its elegant decorations, central location, and easy access to the city’s Christmas festivities, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in Brussels.

19. Cologne, Germany

Cologne transforms into a magical winter wonderland during the Christmas season. The city’s fusion of time-honored traditions and contemporary festivities creates an enchanting atmosphere that truly captures the essence of Christmas. Additionally, Cologne is renowned for its spectacular Christmas light displays, making it one of Europe’s most captivating destinations for holiday celebrations.

Top 3 Christmas Activities in Cologne:

  1. Explore Christmas Markets: Immerse yourself in the festive spirit by visiting Cologne’s renowned Christmas markets, including the one at the Cologne Cathedral. Here, you’ll discover an array of crafts, local delicacies, and delightful holiday decorations.
  2. Admire the Christmas Lights: Cologne is adorned with enchanting Christmas lights that illuminate the city’s streets, squares, and landmarks. A leisurely walk through the city is a must to experience the festive glow.
  3. Sip on Mulled Wine: Warm up with a glass of traditional Glühwein, a spiced and mulled red wine that’s a beloved holiday beverage in Germany. Many stalls at the Christmas markets offer this delightful drink.

Top 3 foods to try in Cologne at Christmas:

  1. Bratwurst: Indulge in German bratwurst sausages, especially those sizzling on open grills at the Christmas markets. They’re perfect when served with mustard and a fresh roll.
  2. Stollen: Try Stollen, a delicious German fruitcake with a marzipan filling. It’s a popular Christmas treat that pairs wonderfully with a cup of coffee or tea.
  3. Lebkuchen: Enjoy Lebkuchen, traditional German gingerbread cookies, often intricately decorated and featuring a variety of flavors and shapes.

Where to Stay in Cologne at Christmas:

  • Excelsior Hotel Ernst: The Excelsior Hotel Ernst offers a luxurious and festive retreat for the holiday season. With its elegant decorations, prime location in the heart of Cologne, and easy access to the city’s Christmas festivities, it promises a memorable Christmas experience in Cologne.

Like this list of European cities for your Christmas holidays? Pin it!

Nicola Easterby Bio Image

Hey, I'm Nicola!

I am a travel + food blogger on a mission to discover the best destinations & dishes in the world. Thanks for joining the adventure!

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