Christmas in Europe
Forget the stress of travelling home and spending endless hours in airports. Instead, why not enjoy Christmas somewhere new this year? With so many European cities to choose from, you don’t have to spend this special time of year at home. From stunning Scandinavian ski resorts to traditional Austrian Christmas markets and fairy-tale castles, Europe offers a festive retreat for anyone this winter. If you’re ready to ditch the cold and snow for sunny afternoons and evenings sipping mulled wine by the fire, check out our list of the top places to spend Christmas in Europe. These destinations will give you that warm holiday feeling without sacrificing any holiday traditions. Who knows? They might even inspire you to book your own trip!
1. Italy: Where Christmas is a Feast for the Senses
If you’re the type who can’t resist indulging in the festive foods like turkey, chestnuts and cranberries, Italy is the perfect place to spend Christmas. This Mediterranean country has a long-standing tradition of celebrating Christmas with food. In fact, it’s one of the few countries in the world that has an official national dish for Christmas, and it’s usually a hearty pasta dish made with a rich sauce of bolognese, mushrooms, wine and more. Italy’s obsession with Christmas food even extends to dessert. In fact, you’ll find a special Christmas menu of traditional sweets in most Italian cafés around this time of year. These include the classic panettone, a sweet bread stuffed with dried fruit; rice-based pandoro cakes; and zuccotto, a festive cream-filled pastry shaped like a giant bun. Christmas in Italy is also a celebration of culture and art. Many museums, churches and other cultural attractions hold special Christmas events with live music, performances and tastings. These festive activities are the perfect way to enjoy the sights of Italy’s stunning cities without the crowds.
2. Switzerland: A Winter Wonderland of Snow and Lights
If you want a Christmas vacation that’s all about the festive atmosphere, head to Switzerland. This country is famous for its renowned Christmas lights and decorations, which are among the most spectacular in the world. Switzerland’s Christmas villages are built to scale models of typical Swiss towns. They’re decorated with stunning Christmas lights and themed decorations, such as cuckoo clocks, cow bells and wooden toys. Big name brands such as Coca-Cola, Disney and Mercedes-Benz have all created special attractions at these Christmas villages. Switzerland’s Christmas lights go beyond the towns. You’ll find spectacular displays of lights on mountains and bridges, as well as on boats on the lakes. You’ll also find Christmas markets in nearly every city in Switzerland. These markets are famous for their fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade treats and gifts.
3. Germany: A Traditional Christmas in the Foyer
If you’re looking for a traditional Christmas vacation, Germany is the place to go. The best place to experience a German Christmas is at home. While many people flock to Germany for the Christmas markets and decorations, staying at home offers a more traditional holiday experience. The German Christmas celebration, or Weihnachtsfest, begins on December 24. On this day, people begin decorating their homes with Christmas trees and other festive decorations. The Christmas tree is usually the focus of the foyer, the first room guests see when they enter your home. The German Christmas tree is different from the ones you see at home. They’re much smaller and have no decorations or lights. It’s their branches that are important. German residents traditionally hang apples, nuts and dried fruit from the branches to symbolize fertility at the beginning of the New Year. They also hang small presents for each child in the family. These are called Christmas Stockings, or Christstollen.
4. Austria: A Festive Wonderland of Glitz and Glam
Austria is the place to go if you’re looking for a glamorous Christmas break. This alpine country is home to some of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe. These markets are brightly decorated with lights, colourful fabrics, handcrafted items and traditional recipes. You’ll find seasonal foods like baked cheeses, pretzels and roasted almonds, as well as holiday sweets like gingerbread and marzipan. Austria’s Christmas markets are also filled with festive activities and shows. You can enjoy live music and dance performances, as well as special children’s shows. Austria’s festive spirit extends beyond the markets, as well. Throughout December, you’ll find Christmas markets in many cities and towns. These seasonal markets are similar to the Christmas markets, but smaller in scale. They’re a great way to explore the local culture and traditions with family or friends.
5. Spain: A Bright Light Festival of Colour and Light
If you’re looking for a Christmas vacation to really get your spirits soaring, head to Spain. This sunny country is famous for its vibrant celebrations. During December, many Spanish towns and cities host colourful festivals, parades and other events. These events are often coordinated with the Christmas season. In fact, many Spanish families bring their children to city halls to have their faces painted with bright colours to celebrate the holiday season, a tradition called El Luminarias. Spain’s most famous Christmas event, La Granada, is held in the city of Granada. During this festive celebration, you’ll find a Christmas market and festive decorations in the city square. You’ll also find a colourful parade, which features costumes and floats made of paper and cardboard. The parade ends with a pyrotechnic show, which lights up the city with bright colours.
Christmas is a magical time of year. You can get into the holiday spirit by spending time with your family, baking delicious treats or going to Christmas concerts. If you want to take your celebration to the next level, there are lots of ways to experience a new Christmas destination. From exploring snowy mountains to admiring Christmas lights and decorations, there are lots of ways to enjoy a fresh adventure this holiday season. If you’re ready to ditch the cold and snow for sunny afternoons and evenings sipping mulled wine by the fire, check out our list of the top places to spend Christmas in Europe. These destinations will give you that warm holiday feeling without sacrificing any holiday traditions. Who knows? They might even inspire you to book your own trip!