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Posts Tagged ‘Switzerland’

31 Amazing Places to Spend Winter in Europe

Alpine Air

Who doesn’t love the winter season? I’m not much for gloomy, overcast, and rainy weather but I have to admit I love the winter in Europe. White snow, mulled wine, warm scarves, and a breath of fresh brisk air.

Europe is my favorite region in the winter season. It’s why we keep coming back to the continent during December, January, and March. Just because it’s the coldest time of year doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to travel.

Turns out, we’re not the only people that love to spend winter in Europe. Every year millions of vacationers flock to the continent after the best winter destinations in Europe. Here are the must-see places in Europe in winter.

Best Winter Vacations in Europe

Innsbruck, Austria

Things to do in Innsbruck

There aren’t many cities in Europe quite like Innsbruck, so that’s why it tops this list of places to spend winter in Europe. It’s coined itself the title “Capital of Alps” and easy to understand why once you set foot in the city. Flanked by the impressive Nordkette mountain range that towers over the city nature never feels far away. When the mountains are covered in snow it makes it one of the best places to visit Europe in the winter.

It’s the only city where you can ski, explore a grand palace, window shop, and savor a strudel all in one day. There are plenty of things to do in Innsbruck with the Austrian Alps and a city rich in history. In many ways, it’s everything we love about Austria all packed into a modern city and historical city. We love the fact that you can be in a beautiful medieval old town and then within minutes places you in the heart of the Alps with cowbells ringing and fresh Alpine air.

Venice, Italy

Is Venice worth a visit

Love or hate Venice there is no denying its popularity. It is the most beautiful historic city on the planet, but it is also besieged by tourists. The sinking city is a network of 118 islands connected by bridges. Buildings here are old and if you manage to get away from the crowds it feels as if you’ve stepped back five centuries. It is surreal and after several visits, we love Venice.

In our opinion, Venice is best visited in the winter, when the streets are quiet and the air is fresh. The canals of Venice are notorious for harboring a lot of waste and in the summer the smell can get pretty bad; however, in the cooler months there are fewer tourists, less waste, and the smell is at bay. If you were to ask us Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, especially in the winter. There are so many things to do in Venice you’ll have a hard time getting bored.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam European City Breaks

The city of Amsterdam needs no introduction. It is known as the Venice of the North because of its hundreds of canals. Amsterdam is nothing short of impressive and a must see while in Europe in the winter when the crowds die down. Whether you’re into history, architecture, partying, food, shopping, art, or cafes there is something here for everyone.

Our favorite thing to do in Amsterdam is to simply sit canal-side in a quiet neighborhood, like Jordaan and enjoy a cold Amstel. Or you could do even better with a boat cruise. If you’re looking for traditional sights check out the Anne Frank House, Rijksmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum.

Krakow, Poland

winter in europe

Another fantastic place to spend winter in Europe is this Polish City. Krakow is one of the best-preserved cities in Europe because it was amazingly spared destruction in WWII. The city lies in Southern Poland and has an amazing medieval core and Jewish quarter. The central point of the city is the massive Ryenk Glówny (market square).

In the square, you’ll find the amazing Cloth Hall a Renaissance-era market and St. Mary’s Basilica a 14th-century Gothic church. It’s a gorgeous city and best of all it may the most affordable to visit so you get great bang for your buck. In the winter you’ll find holiday cheer and even Christmas markets.

Lech Am Arlberg, Austria

Dresden

If we were to pick one of our favorite ski resort towns in Europe it would definitely be Lech Zurs Arlberg. The village ambiance is tough to beat due to a wide selection of boutique hotels all intimate in size due to strict ordinance laws. You won’t find any mega hotels or foreign investment in this former farming village.

It’s all distinctly Austrian with restaurants, hotels, bars, chalets, and B&Bs run by local families. Everything in the village is modern and luxurious but understated so you won’t be completely gobsmacked here. This charm is what continues to draw regulars from around the world year after year.

Edinburgh, Scotland

winter in europe

It’s tough to argue with the appeal of Edinburgh as it’s one of the most stunning cities in all of Europe, but did you know it’s one of the best winter destinations in Europe? The Scottish capital is full of a long and dark history. The city center split between the jumble of medieval buildings in the old town and the perfectly lined Georgian buildings of New Town. The city in many ways is a mess, but a beautiful one at that! It’s brimming with class, tourist sites, and character, and I assure you there is no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh.

The city contains many contrasts and offers everything from world-class art festivals in the winter to fine dining, rowdy pubs, designer shops, comedy clubs, luxury hotels, and hip coffee shops. It’s almost impossible for any visitor to have the same experience or opinion of Edinburgh. We tried our best to enjoy a bit of it all, but like all visitors, we’ll have to return someday with more time. We’ve visited once in the fall and once in the winter for Edinburgh’s epic Hogmanay Festival. Both seasons are tremendous, and Edinburgh a unique winter European destination.

Narvik, Norway

George Hotel

Norway in the winter is what fairytale books are made out of. Especially the more north you head. We found a fantastic winter home in Narvik where we could spot the Northern Lights and go snowboarding all in one day.

The first night of our tour outside of Narvik included a dog sled at night led by head torches and the Aurora Borealis above us. Our second night was followed up with the Northern Lights over the city of Narvik from atop the ski hill. Both experiences are ones to remember forever!

If you plan to see the Northern lights in Northern Norway I’d advise you to rent a car in order to guarantee your chances. Northern Norway is largely coastal and is comprised of a mix of mountains and islands. The result of the unique landscape and the sea create very localized weather and unpredictable weather.

Narvik is also where you can visit Narvikfjellet, one of Norway’s most famous ski resorts. Off-piste riding is a major draw for Narvikfjellet as their brand new gondola provides access to some big terrain with views of the fjord down below.

Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy

Dolomites

This is the jewel of the ski scene in the Trentino region, and is definitely a must visit place while spending winter in Europe. It’s a well-known resort that is famous for hosting many Italians looking for solid skiing, dining, and relaxation in a very posh environment. In fact, it still holds on to its claim to fame as the summer vacation spot of Austrian Royalty and Princess Sissi. The town is a beautiful little gem set at the base of the Dolomites and has all the charm of a mountain town.

Dolomites Superski Pass Trentino

The town is nearly car-free, and it’s easy to take an evening stroll after a day on the slopes. We spent our evening’s window shopping while checking out the 19th-century architecture with a cappuccino in hand. Charming wooden homes line the streets at the foot of the Dolomites. It is easy to see why the resort town is well cherished in Northern Italy.

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Wengen - Jungfrau

The little mountain village of Grindelwald provides perfect access to two ski areas and numerous hiking trails. High above Grindelwald lies to the Bernese Alps, and a famous mountain face. That mountain is Eiger’s notorious North Face – yup the clothing company you have probably heard of is named after a mountain in Switzerland.

Travel Switzerland

The village has a long main road and plenty of accommodation options to handle a large number of tourists that make the journey up the valley from Interlaken. The village lacks the charm that the surrounding villages have such a Gimmelwald, Murren, or Wengen, but it does provide amazing access to the mountains – great for skiers and those after a solid European winter holiday.

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg Most Beautiful Cities in Europe

Luxembourg City is a mix of the old and new with highrises rising all over the city, and a pleasant old town located in the heart of the city. It’s a melting pot of nationalities and you’ll often hear English on the streets as many foreigners come to work for banks and tech companies based in the city. It brings a pleasant expatriate vibe to vibe to the city and adds to its character.

Things to do in Luxembourg - Hike in Mullerthal Bridge

The city and country embody many quintessential European cities and countries. We were lucky enough to visit during the Christmas season and catch one of the first snowfalls of the season and even take part in Luxembourg’s wonderful Christmas markets. These Christmas markets are almost identical to the ones in German and Austrian cities and are well worth a visit! Make sure to have brunch at the Chocolate House for a delicious and unique hot chocolate when you’re feeling chilly outside. See the best things to do in Luxembourg!

Helsinki, Finland

Winter Palace

There are few cities in Europe that feel as forward-thinking as Helsinki. The Finns have pushed into the modern era and embraced design, food, and art. No place is this more evident than in Finland’s capital. It’s a marvelous city that delighted us with plenty of things to do in the winter.

For such a modern city you never seem to be too far away from nature, even in the winter. The city features a marvelous amount of green space as it’s spread out across a series of islands in the Baltic Sea. When you add in the cities delicious restaurants and Finn’s clear affinity for having a good time you have a brilliant mix. The Finns know how to live life with, “kalsarikannit,” a word to describe sitting at home in your underwear drinking with no intention of going out – that made us laugh.

Senate Square Christmas What To do Helsinki

Helsinki is a wonderful city to explore full of things to do and delicious food to eat. We spent a week here around Christmas time and could not have had a better time exploring a city. Helsinki may not be your typical European city break destination, but it is well worth a special trip to Finland for.

Vienna, Austria

winter in europe

Vienna has been voted the most liveable city in the world several times over and it’s known for its abundantly happy citizens, so it’s no wonder it’s one of the best places to spend winter in Europe. It’s a wonderful city full of historic buildings and palaces. Most notable is the Habsburgs Palace a stunning example of Baroque architecture and awe-inspiring gardens. Vienna opera house is known for being one of the best in the world, and don’t forget to try the famous Sachertorte (chocolate cake).

During the holidays you’ll find world-class Christmas markets and plenty of Glühwein to go around!

St. Petersburg, Russia

st-petersburg, Russa

Another great winter destination ib Europe is Saint Petersburg. The Telegraph compared visiting Saint Petersburg in winter to “stepping into a Russian novel”. Now, who wouldn’t want to experience that? Saint Petersburg in winter is a must-visit destination in Europe and is truly magical at this time of the year. Freakishly cold (so bring a good down jacket), but magical nevertheless.

Saint Petersburg is located on the Neva River so it is notorious for wind chills. It is also dark and gloomy during winter months, but I promise it will be worth it once you see the frozen canals and royal palaces covered in snow. You can actually tour some of the palaces to warm up and get absolutely blown away by their grandeur and beauty. Some of the palaces recommended to visit are Catherine Palace, Yusupov Palace, Mikhailovskiy Palace, and Winter Palace.

Experiencing Russian opera and ballet is another advantage of visiting during winter. While summer is the peak season for travelers, it is the off-season for most of the theatres. So braving the cold will give you a chance to boast about watching famous Russian ballet at Mariinsky Theatre.

If you are more into adventurous activities than arts and culture, consider ice skating and skiing at Victory Park or at the frozen pond at Yelagin Island. Whatever it is you choose, Saint Petersburg will not disappoint. After a cold day outside you can always warm up with a bowl of steaming hot borsch or a plate of traditional Russian pelmeni.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, in my opinion, is one of the best places to visit in Europe in the winter. During the winter the city can often become magical with snow-covered rooftops and streets. This combined with the fact that the city is naturally beautiful with medieval towers, ancient walls, a stunning old town, and cobbled streets make it extremely photogenic and one of the best winter destinations. It’s also only a two-hour ferry ride away from Helsinki!

Tallinn Christmas Lights

One of the highlights of this city is the Old Town, which is in the center of the city. This is full of attractions such as museums, churches and historic landmarks, as well as beautiful restaurants. Within the city are also lots of top places to stay and a good hotel would be the stunning Savoy Boutique. This hotel is located right next to the Old Town and a short walk to many of the cities main attractions. It comes with a lush and elegant design and after exploring would be an amazing place to go back to and escape the cold weather.

Finally, when visiting Tallinn you’ll need to make sure you take a good quality coat, as well as a hat, gloves, and winter boots. During this season temperatures can average between -2°C and -5°C. It can also get very windy, especially at some of the many awesome viewpoints around the city, so wrapping up warm is crucial when visiting to enjoy the city and stay comfortable.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt

Zermatt in the winter time can only be described as a magical winter wonderland. This chocolate box alpine village, under its blanket of snow, is set against the backdrop of the iconic Matterhorn and is a must on anyone’s Swiss itinerary. Whether you’re into skiing or not, you can’t help but fall under the charm of this beautiful village. It will enchant you with its little back roads, its traditional and modern chalets, its lack of traffic (it’s a car-free village) as well as the restaurants and shops that line the main street.

Skiers are spoiled for choice with the kilometers of slopes on offer. A trip up to the Klein Matterhorn or a journey on the train to the Gornergrat is a must for non-skiers. There is a lively après-ski scene and an abundance of restaurants catering to all tastes from traditional Swiss fayre to Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and more. It is also a great resort for families visiting Zermatt although it does come with a hefty price tag.

If you want to be in the heart of the action and are looking for a fun, quirky place to stay, be sure to check out the Unique Hotel Post. We usually stay in self-catering accommodation as this suits our family’s needs perfectly and is a great option

Reykjavik, Iceland

Easter

Any trip to Iceland will start and end in the capital city, Reykjavik. It’s a great city to visit all year round, but during Iceland’s winter months it comes alive! There may not be much daylight in the winter season, but the streets are covered in white snow and are lined with Christmas lights. In the winter you can see the Aurora Borealis, a spectacular show and a sight everyone should see in their lifetime.

There are a handful of festivals in the wintertime like the Dark Music Days in January and Rainbow Reykjavik in February. The most famous festival; however, is the Winter Lights Festival which is held the first week of February. The festival celebrates the winter and the growing sunlight that is returning to Iceland.

My favorite place to stay in Reykjavik is the CenterHotel Midgardur. The hotel is sleek, modern, and centrally located in town. We stayed here after our campervan trip around the Ring Road, and it was nice to be in a comfortable bed and with a hot shower after 10 days sleeping in a van. The best part is it’s reasonably priced for the city so it will help with your Iceland travel budget.

If I were to pick the best time to visit Iceland it would most certainly be in the winter. Just make sure to pack a few coats in your carry on luggage!

Paris, France

winter in europe

While a popular tourist destination over the summer months, Paris holds a little-known secret very close to its chest. In winter, France’s beautiful capital transforms into one of the most stunning cities in Europe and is definitely a must-see destination that should not be overlooked during the colder climate.

Aside from the breathtaking sight of white rooftops and iconic monuments being dusted with snow, there are also many benefits of visiting Paris during winter. Have you ever wondered what it would be like barely having to line up to enter the Musée du Louvre or not having to brave a snaking queue to ascend the Eiffel Tower?

This was my experience and a sign of what you can expect in the winter months, especially after New Years’ and before Easter. Fewer tourists competing for limited space means you can spend less time wasting your day lining up and more time exploring the museums and other popular attractions that make Paris such a desirable winter destination.

Fewer tourists lead me to the next benefit of visiting Paris during winter. Minimal tourists also mean minimal pickpockets, who are notorious for targeting visitors at popular Parisian attractions. Yes, unfortunately, it’s likely there will still be a few prowling about on occasion but I was very surprised at the difference in their numbers between my summer and winter visitors in the same year. It’s much a much more enjoyable experience when you’re able to relax a little and take in the sights of Paris without the lingering pressure of being targeted by pickpockets.

Kiruna, Sweden

Kiruna Sweden

This Swedish city north of the arctic circle doesn’t hibernate in winter; it thrives. The snow is knee deep, the northern lights are often visible, and many locals drive around their snowmobiles. The sun doesn’t even rise for 21 days in December. As the locals say: the days may be short and the nights may be long, but with a bright full moon, it looks a lot like daytime. That’s honestly an attitude we should all aspire to have. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, it’s also simply a fascinating place.

Some winter activities include learning about Sami culture, visiting the Snow Festival (end of January), and drinking glögg to keep warm. For the active visitor, there’s ice skating, dog sledding, skiing, and ice climbing. Uniquely so, the local iron mine is one of Kiruna’s main tourist attractions.

Historically speaking, Kiruna has mostly been a mining town. They found iron deposits in the area, and next to it, they built a city. Now they’ve discovered more iron underneath the city. So what do the Swedish do? They relocate the town eastward like that’s no big deal at all. The mine produces enough iron for six Eiffel Towers a day and is open for visits year-round – despite the frozen conditions in winter.

Speaking of freezing, in the nearby town of Jukkasjärvi hosts the original Ice Hotel. If you ever wanted a stay never to forget, this is it. Every year, the hotel carves snow and ice blocks out of a nearby river. Then engineers and artists build the entire structure from scratch. You’ll sit on it, you’ll drink from it, and you’ll sleep on it.

Bruges, Belgium

Murren

Tucked away in a quiet corner of northwest Belgium is the fairytale medieval town of Bruges. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, narrow cobbled streets weave through its center linking the canals, hidden squares and colorful houses of this beautiful old town. Regarded as one of the best medieval towns in Europe countless Belgian chocolate shops, waffle makers, quirky beer houses, and tiny restaurants fill every corner. Bruges is easily one of the best cities in Europe to visit in the winter.

Dresden, Germany

Bruges is extremely popular with day trip visitors from the surrounding cities, especially at weekends, so we recommend staying at least one night to truly experience its magic. We love the Hotel Acacia, located next to the main square, with its resident parrot, Coco, who greets guests upon arrival at the hotel! Beautiful in every season, Bruges is extra special during the winter when it is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and the Old Town transforms into a festive wonderland complete with a Christmas village in the town square.

Packed with everything festive from delicious food to mulled wine, unique chocolate souvenirs, and ice skating under the shadow of the Belfry Tower, the Bruges Christmas market is one not to miss. Evenings spent wandering through the twinkling Old Town eating, drinking and skating are some of our most magical memories. Don’t forget; it can get chilly in between all those mulled wines and hot chocolates – winter in Europe requires wrapping up warmly, and we always pack a cozy warm scarf to keep the cold winter air at bay!

Dresden, Germany

Neva River

Dresden is a beautiful city to visit at any time of the year but in winter it really comes to life. It has a rich history, grand baroque palaces and museums decorate the city center, stuffed with a wealth of treasures and art collected by the most notable ruler of Saxony, King Augustus the Strong. The winter means Christmas markets for Dresden. Each market is unique and reflects its neighborhood and origins.

The largest market on the Altmarkt square is also the oldest in Germany. The Streizelmarkt is built from the ground up each year but resembles more of a village than a temporary festival. Gluhwein, Gluhbeer, and Jagertea are the drinks of choice here. Be sure to try a selection since each stand has its own unique flavor.

Christmas Market Dresden

Beautifully handcrafted decorations from the nearby Erzgebirge mountains can be taken home as a souvenir. The Streizelmarket is opened with the Stollen Parade. Stollen is a traditional fruit cake, coated with a mixture of powdered sugar and butter. A huge stollen is paraded through the city on a wagon pulled by horses accompanied by a marching band and fanfare. Outside of Christmas ice skating is possible at the winter festival and the museums which are quieter than other times of year beckon visitors out of the cold.

Stay at the Vienna House QF Hotel, an elegant hotel in the heart of Dresden’s baroque old town, a central location, without compromising a restful night’s sleep. Five of Dresden’s Christmas markets and many museums are situated within a few minutes walk of the hotel.

Annecy, France

the Unique Hotel Post

Annecy is a small Alpine town within the Haute-Savoie region of France. It is located at the northernmost tip of the Lac d’Annecy, set against the stunning backdrop of the mighty French Alps. This means that despite its small size, there are many reasons to visit all year round. But for us, Annecy in winter is extra-special.   Lac d’Annecy is the third-largest in France and boasts the position of being Europe’s cleanest lake.

The views of the lake from Annecy town, set against the backdrop of the snow-covered Alps in winter, are particularly magnificent. As well as offering easy access to a number of ski resorts and alpine trails, the historic Vieux Ville (old town) is a picture-perfect place to visit in winter with Insta-worthy photo opportunities galore.    Visiting during winter means that you can enjoy numerous seasonal delights around the old town of Annecy itself. The Christmas markets are always something special. Afterwards, visit one of the numerous restaurants in the town and enjoy some local cuisine. Annecy is a cheese-lovers dream, and local cheese-based specialties tartiflette and raclette will feature on many menus.

Finally, strolling around the lake or over to the town hall to watch the spectacular light show will help to work off some of those cheese and wine calories.   Our top hotel pick in Annecy is Les Tresoms Lake and Spa resort, overlooking the lake. A spa hotel is a perfect place to relax and warm up after a day in the Alpine temperatures. To stave off the cold during the mountain winters, we are never without our Icebreaker merino wool underlayers. Both the leggings and long-sleeved tops help to stop the cold seeping through.

Lviv, Ukraine

lviv, Ukraine

The first time I visited Lviv, Ukraine was in the wintertime and it was love at first sight. The city looked beautiful, like a fairy tale! The clear blue sky, the snow crunching under the feet, and shining in the sun was pure magic. Lviv is a place where you easily have one of the best winter vacations in Europe

Often there is so much snow that the streets are blocked, but that just adds to the atmosphere. Even the crazy cold (like -20°C) didn’t bother all that much. And when I was starting to feel uncomfortable, I could escape to one of the cozy cafes that are in abundance in Lviv. The beauty in Lviv hides inside, and there are few places where the interior will make your jaw drop – some of them are the Opera, House of Scientists, or Ethnography Museum. Since Lviv is also crazy cheap, you can have great culinary experiences at a low cost. Just remember to take warm merino wool socks with you as winters in Lviv can get cold!

During one of my visits, I discovered by accident the George Hotel. As it turned out it’s the oldest hotel in Lviv, full of history and a long list of noble names that stayed there. Not to mention the interior that is stunning too. With your breakfast, you will get live piano music to make the start of the day even more enjoyable.

Lisbon, Portugal

Alpine Air

Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is a very warm place in Europe in December. Blue skies and sunshine are still plentiful and the relative lack of tourists makes this a great time to visit. As long as you wrap up, the mild winter temperatures mean you can still enjoy the numerous outdoor cafés and strolling around the city to admire it from various hilltop viewing spots.

Even on grey days, Lisbon is far from gloomy. The city is renowned for its light, which reflects from the wide Tagus River and the limestone cobbled paving. Vibrant street art, colorfully painted tile-clad buildings liven up the cityscape even further.

The aroma and smoke of roasting chestnuts permeate the streets and in the weeks surrounding Christmas, innovative decorations dominate Lisbon’s squares and major thoroughfares. Depending on which month you choose to visit, you’ll encounter various food and winter markets. Christmas also brings a cycle of concerts to the city, some in the squares, others in theatres and churches.

As you’d expect from a capital city, Lisbon has many fabulous palaces and museums including the Gulbenkian, the National Museum of Ancient Art and the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology where you can take shelter on rainy days. Even the metro stations form an underground art gallery. Shopping is also a pleasure, whether you prefer element-proof shiny malls, traditional independent shops, indoor markets, unique boutiques, treasure trove antique shops or quirky shopping centers with concept and design stores, such as Embaixada.

Nightlife still spills out onto the streets in winter, except on rainy evenings, although there are plenty of warm, cozy drinking and eating spots if it’s too chilly for you. The New Year’s Eve celebrations with fireworks over the Tagus River are worth braving the cold for.

The best place to stay in Lisbon is George Hotel., perfectly located for shopping, sightseeing, nightlife, and views.

Prague, Czech Republic

Annecy

Overrun with tourists in the warmer months, Prague can feel downright deserted in winter. Snowfall will muffle your footsteps as you explore the Old Town and Castle Districts. Our favorite street, Novy Svet, is a vintage wonderland of embellished doorways specifically crafted to distinguish its residences from one another. At the bottom of the steps leading to Thunovská street, you can duck into a low barrel-ceilinged medieval townhouse repurposed into a cozy coffee bar. The fabled Charles Bridge is shrouded in mist rising from the Vltava, and the city skyline takes on a mysterious air in the milky light so beloved by painters through the centuries. Shopkeepers and servers have all the time in the world for pleasantries in the winter, and locals are happy to reach out with offers to share a meal or recommend an experience. 

Go prepared with practical footwear – warm boots perfect for tromping around in cold and damp conditions. The Clarion Hotel Prague Old Town is a great place to stay. It is tucked away on a quiet side street only a five-minute walk to Dlouhá Street. First-time visitors to Prague should definitely consider coming in the off-season for a more authentic, slice-of-life experience in one of Europe’s most magical destinations.

Lapland, Finland

winter in europe

Finnish Lapland is the winter white paradise in Europe. Freshly fallen snow sparkles during the day and reflects the moonlight at night. The trees are transformed into nature’s best interpretive ice sculptures while the hues of the northern lights dance overhead. Yes, the temperature is really cold, but you won’t be able to resist venturing out into idyllic winter beauty only found in Lapland.   Rovaniemi is the most popular spot to start your trip to Finnish Lapland

Lapland Finland Northern Lights

The town is easily walkable and has numerous companies offering trips to explore the forests and trails all around, whether by snowmobile, dog sled, or reindeer sleigh.   Once you’ve adjusted to life north of the Arctic Circle, head to the untouched wilderness of Luosto to snowshoe and watch the Auroras light up the sky. If snowshoeing isn’t for you, the area also has downhill and cross-country skiing. Either way, there’s something truly unforgettable about exploring the snowy wilderness on foot without the humming of a motor to disrupt the silence.  

Finnish Lapland

Afterward, return to your very own log cabin, bookable through Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi. They’re surrounded by wilderness and come with their own fireplace and sauna!   Having a great time in the extreme cold means having the right gear. Regardless of where your Finnish Lapland adventures take you, be sure to pack a pair of thermal underwear[. Tour operators will provide you with proper Arctic boots and snowsuits, but you’ll need the right layers underneath to keep warm.

Andermatt, Switzerland

Dresden

Andermatt, Switzerland is a postcard-perfect winter destination. Think snow-capped mountains, ski slopes, and thermal baths. After foreign investment and much restoration, the once small skiing village is now a significant Alpine resort destination. Joining the nearby skiing area of Sedrun, it has become the largest ski area in central Switzerland. If you love hitting the slopes, then you’ll be spoilt for choice as there are over 120kms of runs.

Switzerland

Yet with all the refurbishing and development, it still has that quaint village charm that you can enjoy at any time of the year. You’ll definitely want to visit at Christmas time as the sleepy snowy town comes alive with a jovial Christmas Market. There is a magical fairytale-like quality as lights are displayed along the streets in a wonderfully festive scene.

If you want to experience luxury, you’ll definitely want to stay at the George Hotel. My favorite thing about the Chedi is the indoor or outdoor heated pools. I love taking a thermal bath among the pristine winter scenery. Although the Chedi spa is very pricey, it is definitely one of the most luxurious you’ll ever experience. If you’re wanting the perfect alpine escape, give Andermatt a try. It really is a beautiful and charming winter destination.

Borovets, Bulgaria

Skiing in Bansko

Borovets in Bulgaria is a great destination for those who want to experience a ‘proper’ European winter on a budget. Just 90 minutes’ drive from Sofia Airport, the resort is small enough to be walkable but large enough to have all the conveniences and entertainment that visitors would expect from a modern-day tourist town. International restaurant chains have started to creep into the resort but most places are independent, traditional Bulgarian eateries offering hot stews, traditional soups, and freshly baked bread.

Summer is a beautiful time to visit Borovets, but the region really comes to life in the winter, when snow blankets the mountains and wolf cubs can be seen playing in the pine forests. The resort has a great selection of ski and snowboard runs from beginner to expert, as well as off-piste skiing and of course great apres-ski. For visitors who don’t fancy skiing, snow-shoeing, skidoo safaris, and husky sled rides are also available. Budget apartments are widely available, but if you’re looking for a relaxing holiday why not try the upscale Hotel Rila at the bottom of the main slope for ski-up affordable luxury?

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary

Traveling to Europe in the winter is the perfect time to visit, and Budapest is one of those cities that is truly special. There are way fewer tourists in town which have several benefits: cheaper accommodation rates, less crowded attractions, more tolerable temperatures, making it overall more enjoyable.

Our first visit was just after Thanksgiving when the Christmas markets were set up throughout the city. As you wander around the city checking out all the things to do in Budapest you’ll continue to stumble upon Christmas markets. Which is also a great place to pick up a unique gift for those back at home.

If you happen to be going to Christmas markets in Germany or Austria you’ll find that the prices are much cheaper in Budapest. We stayed at the Kempinski Budapest Hotel, which has a Christmas market on one side of the hotel and the Budapest Eye Ferris Wheel on the other side. It’s the perfect location for exploring the city. Don’t’ forget an umbrella, it may be winter but the temperature varies in Budapest. You could have snow one day and the next day rain.

Graz, Austria

Murren

The beautiful Austrian city Graz is a true gem. It’s the second largest city in Austria and the capital of Styria. Back in 1999, Graz was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites – and this is definitely not surprising. The cobblestoned streets, cute buildings, and the amazing landscapes are unique. In the winter is when this city really starts to sparkle.

Best winter places in Europe

Not only does it host 14 (!) truly Austrian Christmas markets, but also adds the snow a special atmosphere to the rather old, traditional, and sleepy city. Entering Graz during winter will put an immediate smell of roasted almonds into your nose. Followed by some mulled wine odor and the views of perfectly lit Christmas trees. Once the sun sets in Graz, the whole city will be put into an almost cold, but still warm-ish orange. Then, the atmosphere is truly magic. People start gathering in the streets, they wander to the various markets, get their first mulled wine and maybe snack on some grilled sausage, as this is a typical dish to eat on a Christmas market.

Then, it is also the perfect time to get to the Schlossberg. This mountain lies on top of the city and functions as the perfect lookout for those that are sunset-lovers just like myself. Within five minutes the funicular will take you to the top. The mountain is 123 meters high and during Christmas time it is home to one of the most romantic Christmas markets I have ever seen. It’s called “Aufsteirern” and is somehow a mix of medieval market and a magic Christmas play that takes place right around you.

Every Friday, they meet at the “Wunderland” Christmas market. It’s located in the cool and upcoming district Lend and combines some proper old Austrian and German music with the Christmas atmosphere. Could it get any better? My tip – Don’t forget to pack mittens! How else can you hold a mug of mulled wine outside in the cold?

Milan, Italy

Milan Two Week Must See Italy Itinerary

Not many people are aware that my hometown Milan is actually a great winter destination. Summers are very hot, and spring and autumn are very busy with festivals, trade fairs, and other events – but December-February is low season and you’ll be able to find great deals on flights and accommodation.

The city does get cold – but the good thing is that you can go skiing about an hour away! Milan has the reputation of being an expensive city, but as a matter of fact, there are plenty of places to visit in Milan for free. You can visit many churches, museums on the first Sunday of each month and there are even some Christmas markets – my favorite is the one near Navigli.

Milan

Shopping is also reason enough to visit Milan – the city is famous for its expensive boutiques but there are also many artisan and young designer shops, where you’ll be able to snap up unique pieces of clothing/accessories at bargain prices. Areas like Brera, Porta Ticinese, and Isola are great places for a spot of pre-Christmas shopping.

If you happen to visit the city in January or February, even better – that’s when the sales are on! Milan also has some amazing restaurants from all over Italy and beyond. Milanese dishes are actually perfect comfort food for winter – my favorite is risotto alla Milanese with saffron, delicious in its simplicity. PanEvo restaurant makes the best one in town!

Malbun, Liechtenstein

Malbun, Liechtenstein

You may not have heard of Malbun as a place to spend winter in Europe, but I guarantee you it’s a beautiful secret waiting to be explored. We’ve been on a mission to explore some of the smallest countries in the world. It’s what recently brought us to Luxembourg and took us through Swaziland last year.

On our grand tour of the Alps, we visited Austria and Switzerland so it only made a chance to stop by the country sandwiched right in between the two. Liechtenstein has an area of just over 160 square kilometres making it the fourth smallest country in Europe with a population of only 38,000 people!

Off Piste Malbun Liechtenstein

Malbun is a small town in the alps that is great for a winter vacation in Europe. It’s here you can enjoy the best things to do in Europe in the winter – snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and fondue dipping! We even went for a winter walk in the woods with llamas!

We spent two full days in Liechtenstein and thought it was the ultimate place for families. The mountain and town is big enough to have some fun in, but also small enough to let your children run wild and free!

What to Pack For Your Winter Trip to Europe

Dolomites Superski Pass Trentino

We love to travel during the winter months and have spent a lot chasing the snow around the world. Learn from a few of our tips and check out our Europe Packing list or ski trip packing list before your winter trip.

Thanks For Reading

Annecy

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20 Travel Destinations In Europe To Visit In 2021

Aya Sophia

The Continent of Europe offers a lot of destinations for all interests and tastes. From sandy beaches to winding mountain trails, from blue coastlines to historical sites dating back to thousands of years, Europe has it all. If you are planning to go to Europe, let me help you out. Here are some of the best travel destinations in Europe you can go for.  

Cheapest Countries To Visit In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

A lot of people believe that when it comes to cheap travel, Europe is not the place to look out for. But, this is not true. Here are some of the cheapest countries Europe has to offer.  

1.Bulgaria

Bulgaria is among the cheapest countries in Europe and with good reason. To start things off, Bulgaria is 80% undiscovered by travelers. Due to this the accommodations, entertainment, and flights here are cheaper than in the majority of the travel destinations in Europe.

2. Romania

If you are looking for a cheap destination in Europe, Romania wins the race. Especially if you head towards the Carpathian mountains. Romania provides a lot of beautiful and mesmerizing sites, and that too at a low cost. 

3. Poland

Poland is only cheap for a few months. Therefore, you should not visit Poland in the summer if you are looking for a cheap trip. The ideal time to travel to Poland is in March and April. 

Best Road Trip Destinations In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

Want to discover the most beautiful places and landscapes in Europe? We have selected for you the best road trip destinations Europe has to offer. So, here we go. 

From Dubrovnik To Pula (Croatia)

The journey will start from Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is a wonderland that is most suitable for road trips. The city has inspired a lot of moviemakers and celebrities to have their holidays there. 

Madeira – Along The Island (Portugal)

You may think that Madeira is one simple island. But, this is not the case. Madeira consists of numerous islands, but the best of these islands is the island of Porto Santos. The Island is famous for its golden sand beach. This is the perfect destination for a road trip because it is peaceful and offers a lot more than just sand and water. 

Honeymoon Destinations In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

Those who seek romance should know that Europe conjures an unforgettable allure. This makes Europe the best continent for honeymooners. Thus, here are the best travel destinations ins Europe you can go for with your love. 

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy is made for love birds. Florence provides a heap of a small-town charm thanks to the pint-sized city center and the winding cobblestone streets. The city offers a lot of mesmerizing destinations for newlyweds. 

Santorini 

Santorini lures couples with its magnificent scenery. Here you can spend your honeymoon hiking in the caldera or you can swim in the famous Aegean sea. 

Family Destinations In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

From touring the colosseum in Rome to playing football in Madrid, Europe provides attractions and activities for tourists of all interests and ages. If you are looking for a suitable family-friendly destination in Europe, let me help you out. Below are some of the best travel destinations in Europe for families. 

London

In case if you didn’t know, London is the world’s most beautiful capital city. The city attracts tourists from all over the globe with its London dungeon, London zoo, and London eye. The majority of the top attractions in London provide guided tours. This makes London the best place for families. 

Amsterdam

The second most suitable family destination is again the capital city. This time we go all the way to Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands offers a lot of kid-friendly attractions that include ARTIS Amsterdam Zoo and Zandvoort beach. 

Unique Places To Visit In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

Europe offers a lot of unique places for tourists. Read on below to find out more about the best and unique travel destinations Europe offers. 

Mantua, Italy

Love Italian art and architecture, Mantua Italy is the best place to go to. The place has a lot of hidden surprising and hidden gems. This place is the best for people who are not fond of crowds. 

Cuenca, Spain

Cuenca is a seriously underrated hidden gem in Spain. This medieval city is on the Casa Colgados with hanging houses that seem to dangle off the side of the rock. 

Best Travel Destinations In Europe For Solo Trips

Travel Destinations In Europe

Traveling solo is always fun. The good thing is that Europe is a continent that always lends itself to solo travelers. The journey itself tends to be short and straightforward. Therefore if you are interested, here are some of the best solo travel destinations in Europe. 

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Just forget the Dutch capital’s reputation for being stoner tourism. The capital ticks all the boxes for solo travelers. The city is safe, gentle, progressive, and friendly for tourists.

Tresco, Scilly Isles

Scilly isles are earning a reputation for being the subtropical paradise. Tresco is a great choice for solo travelers. It provides affordable cottage rentals and hotels with pools. 

Safest Places To Visit In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

Whenever you go on a trip, safety must be kept optimum. Here are the safest destinations in Europe you could go for. 

Basel, Switzerland

Being a vibrant and culturally exciting city with renowned major attractions, Basel is among the safest places you can go to in Europe. Basel has the lowest crime rate in all of Europe. 

Geneva, Switzerland

Imagine a place that provides beautiful scenery, an extraordinary shopping experience, and is among the safest places in Europe. Welcome to Geneva. 

Historical Places In Europe To visit

Travel Destinations In Europe

Hello, history lovers! If you are looking for a historical destination, turn your gaze towards Europe. Here are some of the best Historical places Europe has to offer. 

Colosseum, Italy

Ever heard of the mighty Roman empire. The Colosseum is the symbol of power the Romans possessed. Built-in Rome, the largest city in the world at that time, the Colosseum does not require any presentation. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. The Colosseum could hold between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators gathered for the famous gladiatorial contests. 

Stonehenge, Britain

Is it a burial mound or a pagan prayer site? How could the Druids transport these huge and massive sarsen stones? Even 5000 years after construction, archeologists are unable to understand why this magnificent monument was built. 

Hagia Sophia, Turkey

Hagia Sophia has been the symbol of power for two of the world’s greatest empires, the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Although the great Christain church was turned into a mosque by the Ottomans after Sultan Mehmed the 2nd conquered Constantinople (Istanbul), and later turned into a museum in the 20th century, the Aya Sophia remains Istanbul’s most cherished landmark. 

Destinations For Food In Europe

Travel Destinations In Europe

Europe is the best place for all foodies. The continent offers a lot of food destinations. Here is a list of some of the best food destinations in Europe. 

Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza is known best for the quality of food. The destination offers a lot of delicious food. Ibiza is a heaven for all food lovers. 

Cornwall, England

Cornwall is the best place to go to when you want to eat the best food. The place is full of restaurants that offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Therefore, Cornwall is a must-visit place when going to Europe. 

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U.S. COVID-19 Travel Guidelines

airline

Temporary Travel Restrictions

Anybody, with the exception of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and immediate family members, who has been in the following countries during the past 14 days may not enter the United States at this time:

  • China
  • Iran
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • European Schengen Region (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vatican City)

Additionally, the U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to temporarily limit all non-essential travel, including leisure travel, across land borders. Air travel between the United States and Canada and Mexico is allowed.

 

Mandatory Testing Requirement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will require all air passengers to present a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the United States.

Air passengers will be required to get a viral test within the three days before their flight departs to the United States and provide written documentation of their laboratory test to the airline.

Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers or documentation of recovery before they board.

If a passenger does not provide documentation of a negative test or recovery, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger.

Mandatory Mask Requirement

All travelers shall be required to comply with recommended CDC guidelines and wear masks in airports, commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, intercity bus services, and other modes of public transportation.

Mandatory Quarantine Requirement

Travelers entering the United States from a foreign country shall be required to comply with recommended CDC guidelines regarding periods of self-quarantine or self-isolation. For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel resources page here.

Many states and cities have issued guidelines based on specific, community needs. Travelers planning to visit the USA should consult the official state and local government resources below.

Click here for information about specific airline and hotel guidelines.

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10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December 2021

Alps

Are you planning your winter vacation and want to know the best places in Europe to visit in December? Did you know that 713 million tourists visited Europe in 2018—the majority of them in the summer months?

There’s no doubt that Europe is a great place to visit when the weather is warm and sunny. But what about winter in Europe? Is it worth visiting during the colder months?

Absolutely! Many would argue that European cities are stunning after a fresh snowfall. And with fewer tourists around, you’ll enjoy shorter lines (maybe even discounted rates) at many attractions.

From skiing in the Alps to chasing the Northern Lights across Scandanavia, there’s no shortage of amazing activities at the outdoors during the wintertime. With countless historical sites, museums, bars, and cafes, there’s plenty to see and do indoors too.

The only thing left to decide is where to plan your winter destinations in Europe vacation. In this post, we’ll reveal our pick for the best places in Europe to visit in December.

Ready to feel inspired? Read on to discover your ideal European winter destination. Also, read about the places in Europe where the temperature is warmer.

Copenhagen

Copenhagen Denmark: Exploring The City MarvelsCopenhagen Denmark: Exploring The City Marvels

Copenhagen (in Denmark) is ranked the 7th most expensive city in the world, making it off-limits for many travelers. But if you’re headed to Europe in December, add this beautiful Scandanavian city to your list.

Tourism drops off during the colder months—and so do the prices. Many hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions offer discounted rates, making it one of the best places in Europe to visit in December.

As the birthplace of Hans Christen Andersen, you’ll quickly see why Copenhagen inspired so many fairy tales. The colorful architecture of Nyhavn looks even brighter against the snow. And the Tivoli Gardens and winding, frozen canals look almost magical in the muted winter light.

When you need to warm up, head into any bar, and grab a glass of Glogg, a spicy red wine served hot. If it’s in your budget, book a 20-course meal at Noma, one of the world’s best (and most expensive) restaurants.

Explore these family-friendly tours in Copenhagen.

Dublin, Ireland

7 Days Ireland Itinerary What To See & Do7 Days Ireland Itinerary What To See & DoRock of Cashel

The Emerald Isle holds unique appeal during the winter months when its cozy pubs are extra warm and inviting (read the post for seven days in Ireland itinerary).

Every year on December 21, the capital hosts the “Smashing Times City of Dublin” Parade. This colorful extravaganza is a celebration of the winter solstice and a party you can’t miss.

Speaking of parties, stick around until New Year’s Eve when Dublin goes wild with holiday events. Enjoy Luminosity, a spectacular 3D light show, or get into the rhythm with the world’s most massive Celtic drum concert.

Want to keep the good times rolling all night? Walk into any one of Dublin’s 700 pubs for a pint of your favorite malted beverage.

When in Dublin, here are some guided tours to do.

Venice, Italy

2 Days In Venice Italy Itinerary2 Days In Venice Italy ItineraryBridge of Sighs

Over 600 cruise ships dock in Venice every year, unleashing 30 million tourists upon the glorious sinking city. If you want to avoid the teeming masses and have the town all to yourself, book a ticket to Venice during winter. 

Nicknamed La Serenissima (“The Serene”), Venice becomes quite peaceful and quiet when the weather turns colder. The famous canals become enshrouded in mist, and the narrow alleyways are empty and hauntingly beautiful.

Enjoy the rare chance to see St. Mark’s Square and Cathedral without the crowds. Take a day trip to the nearby island of Murano and visit an ancient glass-blowing factory. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites in the distance.

Bonus tip: The winter bring Venice’s “acqua alta” or high water season. Bring a pair of wading boots in case the high tide creates some localized flooding around the city. Here is the post for two days in Venice itinerary.

If you are looking for a guide or small groups to take you around then see these.

Granada

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Is there anywhere in Europe where the sun shines during the winter? Yes!

Although it’s cold and dry, Granada (in Spain) is sunny virtually every day of the year. Book your tickets to the Alhambra well in advance and enjoy your tour of the stunning Moorish castle without hoards of tourists.

Granada is the gateway to the Sierra Nevada, Spain’s highest mountain range. The peaks are often covered in snow year-round and are a Mecca for snowsports during the winter months. The beautiful cities of Sevilla and Ronda are also nearby, providing plenty of opportunities for culture-packed day trips.

To warm up in the evenings, go on a tapas crawl and enjoy the delicious cuisine and wine of southern Spain.

Popular tours with a guide can be seen here.

Transylvania

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

Ready to follow in the footsteps of the real Dracula? One of the best places in Europe to visit in December is Transylvania (country of Romania). Not one of your common places to visit, right?

Winter is the perfect season for a tour of the area’s legendary castles. Set against gray skies and bare trees, Bran Castle (the supposed home of Dracula) is sure to appear extra spooky.

Tour the medieval towns of Brasov, Sighisoara, and Vlad Tepes and enjoy learning about the region’s fascinating history. Take a romantic stroll through the beautiful village of Sibiu, which glows with festive lights each holiday season.

Or, for a unique experience, book a night at a hotel made entirely of ice!

Book ahead for the Draculas Castle.

Berlin, Germany

What To Do in Berlin in 3 DaysWhat To Do in Berlin in 3 DaysAmazon sculpture in Berlin

Germany is known for its Christmas markets, and Berlin alone has over 60 of them. This exciting city comes to life over the holiday season, when twinkling lights take over virtually street and square.

But Berlin’s appeal goes far beyond its spectacular Christmas markets. Sign up for a free walking tour and watch as Berlin’s history comes to life. You can even drive an authentic Trabi car along the old Berlin wall.

If the weather is too cold outside, Berlin has an impressive 175 museums to entertain and educate you. From World War II history to contemporary art, there’s a museum for every interest and taste.

Speaking of taste, warm up those cold German nights with a glass of hot mulled wine or a visit to a beer garden (Biergarten).

Explore Berlin with a Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour.

Prague, Czech Republic

3 Days in Prague What To See & Do3 Days in Prague What To See & DoThe Astronomical clock

Perhaps one of Europe’s most romantic cities, Prague is especially magical during the months of winter.

Fresh snow on the St. Charles Bridge and the medieval church spires of the Old Town is a sight you’ll never forget. At night the city lights glow off the ice and frigid, slow-moving waters of the Vltava River.

Prague has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, but there’s plenty more to see and do. Sign up for a ghost tour of the city’s creepiest sites, or take a day tour to the fascinating “bone church” of Kutna Hora.

If creepy isn’t your thing, stick with a tour of Prague Castle or the beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral. Czechs drink more beer (per capita) than any other nationality, so do as the locals do and grab a pint at any pub.

Taste the Bohemian food with locals.

Interlaken, Switzerland

10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December10 of the Best Places in Europe to Visit in December

What Queenstown is to New Zealand, Interlaken, is to Europe. This “sports capital” offers endless thrills to outdoor enthusiasts, especially during the wintertime.

Surrounded by mountains and glaciers but nestled right on the shores of Lake Interlaken, this alpine town is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Skiing and snowboarding are staples here, but that’s not all there is to do.

Adrenaline junkies can go paragliding, bungee jumping, and skydiving, even in the dead of winter! If you prefer to stay on the ground, rent a pair of snowshoes or take a leisurely cruise across the lake. Here is a post for what to do in Switzerland.

Book ahead for the day trip to Jungfraujoch.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Day trips Reykjavik Iceland - Golden Circle and Other WondersDay trips Reykjavik Iceland - Golden Circle and Other Wonders

If you want the ultimate winter experience in Europe, head north—and keep going.

Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region, the majority of it sitting above the Arctic Circle. The capital city, Rovaniemi, is known as the “official” residence of Santa Claus. As you might expect, there are rides with sleighs, reindeer, and an entire Santa-themed village.

That is also an extraordinary chance to see the Northern Lights in person. Just be sure to bundle up, as December temperatures are rarely above freezing.

No matter how cold it gets outside, don’t worry—you can stay warm and look cute during your visit.

Go after the Northern Lights Hunting With Lappish BBQ.

Athens, Greece

The 13 Best Hotels in Athens, GreeceThe 13 Best Hotels in Athens, Greece

Is all this talk of snow and ice making you cold? Don’t worry—you don’t have to freeze if you visit Europe during December. This lengthy post describes more than 40 things to do in Athens, and this one describes all the day trips from Athens.

Winter is an ideal time to visit the Greek capital, without the hoards of summer tourists. Stroll around the Acropolis and other ancient sites and enjoy having them (mostly) to yourself.

The air tends to be cleaner this time of year, too, and prices drop all over the city. Temperatures remain comfortably in the 50s throughout the winter season, which means you can leave your snow coat at home!

Get on an Athens Food Tour!

The Best Places in Europe to Visit in December: Now You Know

From December through March, Europe transforms into a winter wonderland.

Don’t let the shorter days and cooler temperatures deter you. Winter in Europe is the ideal time to visit many destinations. From Christmas markets to sleigh rides to steaming mugs of hot chocolate, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Now that you know the best places in Europe to visit in December, what’s next? All that’s left to do is find a flightbook a room, and start packing!

Are you lucky enough to be visiting Europe during the holiday season? Click here to learn which European cities take Christmas to a whole new level.

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14 Safest Destinations To Travel To Right Now (In The Midst Of The Coronavirus)

Atlantic Ocean

The quick spread of coronavirus can partly be attributed to air travel, so a list of the safest destinations to travel to is pertinent right now.

Coronavirus AKA COVID-19 came from Wuhan in China and has since spread to almost every corner of the world. The biggest hotspots are currently in China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran – definitely not the places you should be visiting right now. The quick spread of the virus can partially be attributed to air travel, which leaves us wondering what that means for our upcoming travel plans.

While there are numerous sites on the internet that show just how far the new coronavirus has reached, there is not much information available on which countries (still) stand essentially unaffected by it. If you are looking for travel inspiration, you might want to consider one of the countries we have presented below. And remember: it is now more important than ever to be mindful of safety measures, so make sure you travel with disinfectant and wash your hands regularly.

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14 Run Away From Crowds On Lofoten Islands, Norway

lofoten travelvia IG/Pinterest

Not many make it as far north as visitors of the Lofoten Islands do. Thanks to their insanely picturesque setting, the islands are a huge Instagram star and they might become a must-visit destination on every Norway travel itinerary. Pack your warmest clothes and see it before everyone else decides to do the same.

13 Adventure Awaits In South Africa

couple admiring the cape town viewvia Love Hard, Travel Often

South Africa is located right at the tip of the continent and you will definitely feel that when you will gaze into the ocean south of Cape Town. Far away from all the virus’s hotspots, you should feel safe in South Africa. Don’t miss out on visiting the famous Kruger National Park.

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12 Now Is The Perfect Time To Visit Hungary

budapest parliament and woman walking towards st stephens basilicavia Leeds Bradford Airport/Pinterest

While Italy is closing down entire towns and the virus is slowly creeping towards Central Europe, Budapest in Hungary has reported no cases of coronavirus so far. The city of Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Its unique charm and aesthetic will definitely leave a great impression.

11 New Zealand: Tucked Away At The Edge Of The World

group of young people on a hike in new zealandvia Tour Radar

Usually a downside to traveling to New Zealand, its remoteness is what makes it a compellingly safe vacation spot in times of a global health crisis. After seeing the natural beauty of the country and the laid-back lifestyle of its local people, you will most likely never want to leave.

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10 You Can Feel Safe In Orderly Switzerland

switzerland countrysidevia Pinterest/IG

Switzerland is the political haven in Europe, but it could be a healthy one as well. If coronavirus were to sneak within the Swiss borders, this country would be on top of it. The photo above shows incredible views at the Alpine village of Lauterbrunnen.

9 Canada Has More Living Space Per Capita Than Most Other Countries

young family in alberta canadavia Travel Mad Mum

While it is a fact that Canada has been reporting cases of coronavirus, you have to keep in mind that the country has infinite amounts of space. Now is the time to see what Canada is all about besides cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

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8 Azores, Portugal: Breath-Taking Islands In The Middle Of The Atlantic

young woman walking through a garden in azores portugalvia Flickr

No one, not even a dangerous virus, will find you in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores is comprised of nine absolutely stunning islands and if you are one to hike and see natural wonders, these Portuguese hidden gems are the go-to place for you to visit.

7 Poland Has Had No Confirmed Coronavirus Cases So Far

krakow poland and a girl in warsaw polandvia Pinterest/IG

Poland is a huge Eastern European country with so many picturesque cities you could easily tour the country for a few weeks before seeing it all. Krakow’s well-preserved architecture will send you time traveling, while the country’s capital Warsaw is one of the best history teachers in Europe.

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6 Paradise On Earth Now More Than Ever: Hop On One Of The Small Caribbean Islands

st lucia infinity poolvia vietravel

Visit one of the smaller islands in the Caribbean, such as Aruba or St Lucia. Islands such as these do not see insane amounts of arrivals and departures. Huge airports where thousands of people transfer on a daily basis are the riskiest in terms of health right now.

5 Consider Argentina: South America Has The Least Cases Of Coronavirus

argentina girl travelingvia Pinterest

First contact with Argentina will most likely be the bustling city of Buenos Aires, a city with more cultural and architectural heritage than you can possibly learn about in just a few days. The country is so big you will never struggle with running into impossibly large groups of tourists.

Related: A Travel Guide To Argentina: Tourists Should Plan Their Trip Around These 11 Things

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4 A True Cultural Gem, Chile Is A Great Country To Visit Right Now

chile easter island and national parkvia Trendopic/IG

Chile is one of the smaller countries in South America, but that doesn’t mean it is not absolutely amazing. In fact, its landscapes are incredibly versatile, ranging from dry deserts to some of the most beautiful glaciers in the world. Some lucky travelers even make it to Easter Island.

3 A Safe And Relaxing Vacation In Malta

Malta woman at the beachvia Sand In Our Hands

Another island country, Malta is right at the top of Mediterranean destinations right now. Not only is it safe and small, but it is also not packed with tourists all year round. While you can’t swim in the winter, the temperature is nonetheless warm – warmer than most other European destinations, at least.

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2 Costa Rica: Go Where It’s Warm

costa rica travelsvia Pinterest

Embrace the tranquil lifestyle waiting for you in Costa Rica. This is where it’s incredibly easy to relax, notice what is most important in life and let go of all the rest. The authorities are closely monitoring any incoming flights from virus hotspot countries and so far, the country is completely safe.

Related: 15 Unreal Jungle Photos Captured By Tourists In Costa Rica

1 We Are Loving Iceland’s Isolated Location Right Now

green canyon in icelandvia Two Wandering Shoes

If you were ever planning on visiting this famous Nordic island, now is the time. You won’t encounter such dramatic landscapes anywhere else. While Iceland reported one case of the virus, the patient is in isolation, so you should consider yourself safe when you step foot on Icelandic soil.

Next: The Safest (And Most Dangerous) Destinations In Europe

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a family visits tokyo, japan on vacation

Next Here’s Where Families Can Go To Make The Most Out Of A Trip To Japan

About The Author Cape Town Anja Grčar (80 Articles Published)

Anja Grčar is a writer, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As a travel enthusiast, she makes sure she visits at least two new destinations each year and loves to share her knowledge with the readers of TheTravel. When she is not traveling, you will find her reading, drinking coffee and chatting away with her many international friends.

More From Anja Grčar

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The 34 Most Romantic Places To Visit In Europe In 2020

Airbnb

Europe is my favorite continent. It is full of historical sites, medieval towns, beach resorts, incredible nature and fantastic food. There are so many nice towns in Europe perfect for a romantic getaway. On this post, 33 travel bloggers share the most romantic places in Europe. If you are looking for a trip with your other half keep reading for some inspiration.

34 Romantic places in Europe recommended by travel bloggers

1. Castle Wernberg, Germany 

Castle Wernberg, Germany -The most romatic places in Europe

Castle Wernberg, Germany -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Jim and Corinne of Reflections Enroute

No matter what time of year or what occasion you want to celebrate, Castle Wernberg is one of the most romantic places in all of Germany. Eating and sleeping in a real castle, complete with moat made us feel like royalty. From the moment we stepped across the bridge and entered the courtyard, we were pampered.

There are two restaurants, a spa, and beautiful stone-walled bedrooms to enjoy. We took a cooking lesson from their famous 2-star Michelin chef and then indulged in an amazing four-course dinner. If you’ve always dreamed of being treated like a king or queen, this experience is for you.

2. Montreux, Switzerland

Montreux, Switzerland -The most romatic places in Europe

Montreux, Switzerland -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Arzo of Arzo Travels

 

While Switzerland has many cute towns and cities that are somehow romantic, one of the most romantic places is a little town called Montreux, located at the shores of Lake Geneva. While I cannot say that Montreux has trillion of amazing romantic restaurants it has one thing that makes the places incredible romantic and which no other place has in Switzerland: The most beautiful promenade. 

 

The promenade is special as there is no other place that is so beautifully decorated with flowers, which come in all different colors and shapes, as the promenade of Montreux – it seems this place is made for romantic strolls while looking at Lake Geneva and the mountains.

 

Strolling along the promenade during the day or at sunset/sunrise is one of the most romantic things you can do. Many benches along the way will allow you to sit down and have a wonderful chat – great views always guarenteed.

And I would not be surprised to hear that one or the other has proposed to its partner – right there, at the promenade.

3. Algarve, Portugal

Algarve, Portugal -The most romatic places in Europe

Algarve, Portugal -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Tom of TravelTomTom

If you are looking for the most amazing coastline in Europe then head to the south of Portugal. The high cliffs and endless small hidden beaches of the Algarve will amaze you and your lover for sure. This beautiful region is perfect for a van trip and watching the sunset from out of the back of your van parked somewhere deserted in the dunes is hard to beat. With a van you can drive from one romantic little beach to the other the next day.

Most beaches have stairs leading down from the surrounding high cliffs and some can only be reached by boat or after a little swim. The sunsets are amazing, but so are the sunrises if you are an early riser and good weather in summer is guaranteed. Another great thing about the Algarve is that is has a couple beautiful cute little towns, like Tavira and Sagres and prices are very moderate compared to other European destinations.

4. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana -The most romatic places in Europe

Ljubljana -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Rashmi and Chalukya from GOBeyondBounds

 

Ljubljana the capital city of Slovenia is a charming city in eastern Europe. The city though small, is packed with historical buildings and several iconic bridges spanning the Ljubljanica River that separates the old town from the newer part of the city.

 

As you walk the bridge into the old town it’s like a time warp, there are several historical buildings, monuments, and a great marketplace and above all this, dominating the city skyline is the Ljubljana Castle. The Ljubljanica River is lined with cafes, restaurants, patisseries, bakeries, gelato shops and much more with outdoor seating and light music in the background.

 

The Ljubljanica riverside promenade is a lovely place for romantic evenings where you can enjoy the golden reflection of the illuminated city in the calm waters of Ljubljanica and watch as the world goes by. You can even take a day trip to one of the beautiful lakes of Slovenia the Lake Bled or to the coastal town of Piran and Portoroz.

5. Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Tuscany, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Jeremy and Kate of Our Escape Clause

Rolling green hills, ancient cities, and one of the best wine regions in the world–there is no limit to the amount of romance that can be found in Tuscany.

If you visit with your beloved, be sure to wander through classic Tuscan towns such as San Gimignano, Lucca, and Siena, to indulge pasta and gelato together every single day, and to admire artistic masterpieces and stunning architecture throughout the region.

Of course, no romantic trip to Tuscany could overlook Florence: easily one of the most romantic cities in the world, be sure that you and your partner take time to explore Florence’s markets, climb to the top of the Duomo, and watch the sunset from Piazzale Michelangelo.

As for the Tuscan countryside, there are plenty of ways to explore it–but we’re partial to exploring either by horseback or classic Vespa!

Be sure to follow up with a private wine tasting at a vineyard afterward–after a couple of glasses of Chianti Classico, we can virtually guarantee that you will be tempted to ship home not only a few bottles of wine, but some local olive oil, truffle oil, and balsamic vinaigrette for you and your love to remember your trip to Tuscany by!

6. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany -The most romatic places in Europe

Berlin, Germany -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Stefan and Sebastien of Nomadic Boys

We love Berlin. It’s one of our favourite destinations in Europe. It’s also a very romantic destination for couples. As a gay couple we felt particularly welcome and safe in Berlin because it’s such a lax, liberal and extremely forward thinking city.

Some of our favourite romantic things to do in Berlin include watching a classical show at the Charlottenburg palace with dinner, climbing the Fernsehturm Berlin TV Tower at Alexanderplatz and having a romantic drink there at sunset, checking out a show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast famous Theatre and our favourite, walking around the city.

There are many world famous sites here, which you can reach on foot or by bike. A few must-not-miss favourites of ours include the Brandenberg Gate- a symbol of the reunification, the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstrasse in the Kreuzberg area, which is focal point for memories of the former Berlin Wall, and the area around the Reichstag.

7. Cagliari, Italy

Cagliari, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Cagliari, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Claudia of My Adventures Across The World

Not many people have acknowledged that, but Cagliari is one of the most romantic cities in Italy. Located on the hills and overlooking the gorgeous Mediterranean sea, Cagliari is packed with lookout points from where it is possible to catch amazing sunset and sunrise views.

A mere urban hike grants a splendid sight over Poetto beach, which, by the way, is a lovely beach to go for a walk in any season. There are many lovely restaurants and cozy cafés and wine bars around town. There, it’s possible to enjoy a glass of wine and a fabulous meal with music played in the background and cozy lightning.

The top choice is Ristorante Lo Scoglio, which offers seafood and fish dishes cooked to perfection and has a fantastic terrace overlooking the Gulf of Cagliari.

8. Sintra, Portugal

Sintra, Portugal -The most romatic places in Europe

Sintra, Portugal -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Gina and Zeke of Jet Set and Forget

One of the most romantic destinations in Europe is Sintra, Portugal. Located 45 minutes north of Lisbon, this city has a collection of 19th century Romantic architectural monuments and is surrounded by mountains that dip down towards the coastline of Portugal.

It is the perfect city to visit either day or night, or you can spend an entire weekend exploring the different areas. Not only can you see historic sites dripping in Portuguese history, but the coastline of Sintra is the most westernmost point of Europe.

You can embrace your loved one overlooking the Atlantic Ocean; share a Pasteis de Nata after your lunch at Quinta da Regaleira; and finish off the day watching the sunset from the colorful Pena Palace.

If you are so lucky to attend a wedding in Sintra, you will not be disappointed. They have an ample collection of wedding venues that will leave you breathless. If you have yet to fall in love with Portugal, this city will be sure to make that happen!

9. Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro -The most romatic places in Europe

Sveti Stefan, Montenegro -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Alexis and Bertaut of World Travel Adventurers

Sveti Stefan is a tiny islet in Montenegro and one of the most romantic places we’ve ever visited. It’s rich history dates back to the 15th century, when it was a fortified village built to defend against the Turks. It became a haven for pirates of the Adriatic Sea and later a playground for the rich and famous in the 1970’s.

Now it is home to the exquisite Aman Sveti Stefan resort, which has restored its old world charm and romance. Sveti Stefan is only accessible to guests of the Aman resort, so you feel like you have the entire islet to yourselves. You can walk with your lover down cobbled lanes surrounded by ancient walls crawling with ivy. Enjoy complimentary wine tasting in a candle-lit courtyard.

Peer out at the dazzling blue Adriatic Sea from the pool terrace. Cuddle up in one of the cozy seating areas overlooking the pink sand beaches and stunning sea. Indulge in a couples massage and then relax the day away on the resort’s private Queen’s Beach, where Queen Marija of Serbia spent her summers in the 20th century. However you spend your time at Sveti Stefan, it’s guaranteed to be romantic!

10. Saint Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg, Russia -The most romatic places in Europe

Saint Petersburg, Russia -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Yulia of The Foodie Miles

The city on Neva River as Russians refer to Saint Petersburg is, hands down, the most romantic city in the whole country. Its architectural style is so drastically different from other uniform Russian cities built during Soviet era, that falling in love with Saint Petersburg is really the only option one has.

From its many canals to gorgeous castles and palaces to fountains, every corner in the cultural capital of Russia is overflowing with luxury, opulence, and grandeur. For a perfect romantic getaway you can take a boat through canals, plan a visit to one of the palaces, or, my personal favorite, watch the bridges open at night for cargo ships to pass by at night. Check the timetable beforehand and make sure you are on the right side or you are risking not being able to get home until the morning, when the bridges close back down.

By the way, if you are traveling to Saint Petersburg in June, you’ll be able to experience white nights, and what can be more romantic than wandering around a city as majestic as Saint Petersburg till the wee hours of the morning in broad day light?

11. Malta

Malta -The most romatic places in Europe

Malta -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Charlie & Kristina of Map Trotting

Thinking of soulful sunsets and romantic cruises in the Mediterranean? Then head over to the tiny island of Malta.

Hugged by the rugged coastline, surrounded by azure seas, this rocky isle is still off the radar of most travellers. Located between Sicily and the North African coast, Malta can be a little rough around the edges but very warm in both climate and local attitude.

From top class restaurants to sunset boat trips in the Mediterranean sea, Malta can offer a great romantic getaway at any time of year.

Whether you are looking for a lazy day in the sun, sunset stroll along the rocky coastline, a BBQ on the beach or an active afternoon in the sea, you can have it all in Malta.

How about hopping on a private chartered boat and being whisked away to Malta’s sister islands of Comino and Gozo for a wander? All while swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear Blue Lagoon and exploring spooky caves. Let’s not forget a romantic lunch aboard with a glass of bubbly.

12. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary -The most romatic places in Europe

Budapest, Hungary -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Rob and Taiss of Together to Wherever

Budapest, Hungary, is just oozing with romance. Not only are there lots of romantic things to do in this beautiful city, but there’s something in the vibe it gives off that just makes you want to get close and cuddly with your other half. If the striking architecture doesn’t do it for you then the breathtaking, dramatic views all around should do the trick. Or, maybe, some steamy baths will ignite that spark!

Strolling along the Danube, with the breeze whisking through your hard and the sun’s rays dancing on the water, you’re sure to be swept away by the charming views across the river. That same enchantment continues as you walk over The Chain Bridge or even take an evening dinner cruise down this shimmering waterway.

For the most dreamy views of Budapest, take your partner up to the Citadel. Enjoy some mulled wine or chimney cake with ice cream (depending on the season) and gaze out, hand in hand, over the sweeping landscape. Alternatively, for the ultimate relaxing time together, you can get flirty at the thermal baths. The steam rooms may get you all “hot and bothered” so make sure to get the VIP package if you go to the  Széchenyi Thermal Baths and enjoy some alone time on the hammocks upstairs.

You just can’t go wrong with romance in Budapest!

13. Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Verona, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Randi and Michael of Just a Pack

Verona’s romantic charm lies in its winding knot of streets, its many piazzas and the incredible art and architecture that surrounds you wherever you look. And, of course, the mouth-watering Italian food. After all, what’s more romantic than pizza and gelato?

You’re probably familiar with the line “In fair Verona, where we lay our scene” from everyone’s favourite Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet. It’s set in Verona, and if you truly want to embrace your inner romantic, bring along a love lock for you and your s/o to attach to the gate outside Juliet’s house (Casa di Giulietta).

Verona, like many Italian cities, is inherently romantic regardless of its Shakespearean associations. Historical and artistic heritage alone give Verona a dreamy atmosphere that embodies the timelessness of love; a modern day Renaissance romance.

Classically Italian terracotta buildings, shutters open and vines creeping up the walls, line the cobbled streets. By exploring these streets you’ll happen upon secret gardens, hidden churches and stunning sculptures that will leave you feeling inspired by the beauty of the world.

Wandering the maze of streets aimlessly (hand in hand, of course) is a great way to discover a cute little trattoria to share a bowl of spaghetti, like those adorable dogs in “Lady and the Tramp”.  Veronas 1st century amphitheatre is a perfect romantic spot to enjoy an evening opera performance, all the while marvelling at how many people have stood there before you. Afterwards, a walk along the Castelvecchio bridge, watching the sun set over the Adige River, is a great way to end a blissfully romantic day.

14. Chamonix, France

Chamonix, France -The most romatic places in Europe

Chamonix, France -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Delphine of LesterLost

Where do you find ideas for dates? When you travel as a couple, do you do anything that counts as a date? In my view, some travel destinations are incredibly romantic and don’t need the usual things associated with dating such as flowers or a new outfit…

My husband and I visited the Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France. Located in the French Alps, the Aiguille du Midi stands at 3,842m and is the closest you can get to the Mont-Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. Incredibly, the mountain top is built with viewing platforms, restaurants, a shop and even a museum. You access the Aiguille du Midi through a cable-car and for a few hours, you can wander at very high altitude and admire the most beautiful beautiful panorama in the Alps. The grandeur and mystery of the mountains, with their sharp edges and eternal snow is a moving spectacle, and the perfect place to quietly reflect on the beauty of nature with your partner.

The most thrilling and romantic moment of my visit was the “Step in the Void”, where we stood in a glass cage, facing the Mont-Blanc in all its majesty. The instant was slightly overwhelming, because we were standing above the void, but also because holding hands made it very special.

15. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon- The most romatic places in Europe

Lisbon- The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by James of Worldwide Shopping Guide

While many people think of Paris when they think of romantic city, for me Lisbon is Europe’s most romantic city. Stretched out over seven hills, the city is perfect for strolling around leisurely. Look out for miradouros, which literally translate as ‘golden views.’ These are spots around the city which have exceptional views: perfect places to stop, relax, and take a photograph together.

If you need a little sustenance to keep you going as you explore Lisbon’s sights, stop into one of the thousands of little cafes dotted around the city for a bica (espresso) and a pastel de nata. Although Pastéis de Belém claim to have the most original recipe, there are plenty of other pastelarias and cafes that are making equally good (if not better) Portuguese custard tarts.

Finally, after a romantic seafood dinner, take in a fado show. Fado is a traditional Portuguese style of music that’s incredibly soulful and passionate, and an essential experience when you’re in Lisbon for a romantic break.

16. London, England

London - The most romatic places in Europe

London - The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Laurence of Finding the Universe

I think London is one of the most romantic cities in Europe. The city just lends itself to romantic activities, if you’re willing to put a bit of effort in. It’s hard to beat watching the sunset over the city skyline from Primrose Hill, or wandering through Hampstead Heath, arm in arm with your significant other, or just picnicking in Hyde Park on a lazy summer afternoon.

I also love to explore London’s south bank with my wife, in winter time especially, when the temperatures drop and you need hot roasted chestnuts from the vendors to keep warm as you wend your way between the light festooned trees.

This is without even mentioning all the romantic restaurants you can dine at, the extensive selection of theaters to visit and all the little old streets you can explore with your partner. Truly, romance is definitely to be found in the UK’s capital! For more ideas on visiting London, check out my two day London itinerary for inspiration.

17. Capri, Italy

Capri, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Capri, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Katy of Untold Morsels

If you feel the pull of the sea, then Capri is one of the romantic places in the world. This small island
in the Bay of Naples, off the Italian mainland, has inspired myths and legends, poets and artists over
the centuries. The beautiful Sirens are said to have lured seafarers to their deaths on its rocky shores and the Roman
Emperor Tiberius built a beautiful villa high above the sparkling blue seas.

When you visit, hire a traditional gozzo boat and skipper for an intimate tour of the island by sea. The
dramatic shoreline holds many treasures including the famous Blue Grotto and Faraglioni rock formations.
Your captain will remind you to kiss your loved one as you pass through the middle of the Faraglione di
Mezzo – it’s good luck!

On shore, explore the beautiful Gardens of Augustus with sweeping views of the coastline. Then relax in one of the
many glamorous bars and restaurants overlooking the sea and wait for an incredible Capri sunset.

18. Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic

Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic - The most romatic places in Europe

Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic - The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Elena of Passion for Hospitality

Marianske Lazne is a famous spa town in Karlovy Vary Region of Czech Republic. During the Golden Era, during the second part of the 19th century celebrities, members of Royal families and European rulers would flock here to indulge in its curative carbon dioxide springs.

 

The town with its neoclassical buildings and pavilions, famous springs and vast natural beauty is an ideal place for a romantic escape. Marianske Lazne is a utopia for outdoor adventure enthusiasts offering majestic views, a ski resort, wildlife, numerous hiking and biking trails and a 18 holes Royal Golf Club Marienbad which was inaugurated from the very beginning by HM King Edward VII.

 

For an ultimate romantic holiday, escape to the luxurious Rubezahl Marienbad Luxury Historical Castle Hotel & Golf set on a hill overlooking the lush Slavkovsky forest. Grand staircases, lavish interiors, plush fabrics and a fairytale setting are just a few of the reasons why you will feel and be treated like royalty. On the grounds of this luxury castle hotel you will also meet the renowned folkloric character Rübezahl — his 3.5 meter granite statue is one of the highlights of the region.

 

This legendary creature would often disguise himself as a frog, a wolf, a monk or an old grandmother. Those who would come across his path and treat him with kindness, in return would be bless with good health and abundance. Those who would treat him badly would call disaster upon themselves. If you succeed in hopping on one leg 5 times around the statue, you can then make your wish and hope that Rübezahl will grant it. Are you ready for a fairy tale escape to Marianske Lazne?

19. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

 Český Krumlov, Czech Republic -The most romatic places in Europe

 Český Krumlov, Czech Republic -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Natalie of Love & Road

When it comes to romance Český Krumlov is the perfect travel destination in Europe. This tiny picturesque town is perfect for lovers who want to enjoy charming hotels, stunning medieval architecture, art, delicious food and beer. There are many things to do in Český Krumlov and a romantic tour must include a walk through the old town cobblestone alleys, a boat tour at the Vltava River with a delicious South Moravian Czech wine, a visit to the castle and a late afternoon climbing to the castle tower.

 

The Český Krumlov Medieval and Renaissance architecture make this fairytale city an ultimate travel destination in the Czech Republic and although the city is usually packed during the day, it’s after sunset that you can really enjoy its mystery and romance. Most of the travelers visit Český Krumlov as a day trip from Prague, so during night time you and your loved one can have the beautiful old square and castle gardens only for yourselves. Book a table at one of the local restaurants or at the town’s brewery and enjoy a hearty dinner served with delicious Czech beer and celebrated with love.

20. Glen Coe in Scotland

Glen Coe in Scotland -The most romatic places in Europe

Glen Coe in Scotland -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Kathi from Watch Me See

Glen Coe has has been a popular destination long before it served as a film location in James Bond’s Skyfall. But the valley is not just an isolated hideout for Bond and M, but it’s also a perfect romantic getaway if you run from something a little less scary than the world’s villains – city life.

On a cold but sunny winter weekend, my partner and I found ourselves on the scenic drive from Glasgow to Glen Coe. It only takes around 2 hours to get there, but there are so many photogenic stops on the way, that we turn the road trip into our first romantic duty of the weekend. In winter we are almost alone on the road and have every viewpoint to ourselves.

Accompanied by the snowy peaks of Glen Coe, we finally reach our romantic cabin. We light a fire and open a bottle of wine. Together we curl up on the sofa and dream about what the valley holds for us the next day!

PS: One of my favourite romantic things to do, it to try something new together. Near Glen Coe, at the Nevis Range, you can rent snowshoes, pretend you’re in a Mariah Carey video and explore the snowy sloped of the Highlands together!

21. Loire Valley, France 

Loire Valley, France -The most romatic places in Europe

Loire Valley, France -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Jessica of Independent Travel Cats

The Loire Valley is located in north central France and is a perfect place for a romantic getaway. The area is often referred to as the “Garden of France” because it is a major agricultural region of France with lots of vineyards, orchards, and farms, which are irrigated by the Loire River. It is best known by tourists as an area with loads of castles, with hundreds of castles having been built in the past within this region.

 

Today, existing castles open to the public range from ruins to medieval fortresses to beautiful fairytale looking castles. We have personally visited over a dozen of the Loire Valley chateaux, and each is unique so it is easy to find a castle of interest to almost any visitor.

 

Couples can even spend the night in some castles for an even more romantic stay in the area. In addition to the castles, couples can also go wine tasting, visit a number of historical towns such as Amboise and Tours, go canoeing on the river, rent a bike, and sample the many local gastronomical delights from this region.

22. Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Rome, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Andra of Our World to Wander

When I think of romantic places in Europe, my bets are on Rome! Because yes, I actually feel the romance floating in the air each time I visit it. Perhaps you wonder what makes it so special. I would say it’s a mix. A mix of its amazing Roman architecture, delicious food with accompanying wines and proseccos, narrow streets in quaint neighborhoods and the piazzas filled with musicians.

 

If you want to have the perfect romantic day, you might want to try some of Rome’s magical spots. You can start by roaming around the piazzas, don’t miss Piazza di Spagna, Piazza Navona or Campo de’ Fiori. I would recommend walking, but you can also rent a Vespa and feel like a true Italian. Enjoy a glass of wine in any of these places and then head to the charming neighborhood of Trastevere. Here you can try some delicious pizzas at one of the restaurants hidden in the narrow streets.

 

You can end your day by grabbing some Tiramisu and enjoying it at the iconic Fontana di Trevi, the famous fountain. In the evening it gets lit up and it’s the perfect place to rest and bathe in the street vibes.

23. Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain -The most romatic places in Europe

Seville, Spain -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Addie of Addie Abroad

There is just something incredibly romantic about the south of Spain, and Seville, as the capital of Andalusia, embodies this romanticism perfectly. From the narrow streets of the old town to the millions of courtyards in the Real Alcazar, Seville is one of the best places in Europe to wander hand in hand with your partner.

Seville has something for every kind of romantic, as well. If you want to get super cliched, rent a rowboat at the Plaza de España and row around for an hour or book tickets for an intimate flamenco show. If you’re looking for something a bit more alternative, walk across the bridge to Triana, the traditional home of the flamenco dancers, and go ceramics shopping, or go up to the roof of the Metropol Parasol (known by the locals as “the Mushrooms”) to catch the sunset. Oh, and don’t forget about ALL the tapas you can eat while you’re there.

24. Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia -The most romatic places in Europe

Tbilisi, Georgia -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Margherita of The Crowded Planet

I think Tbilisi is definitely one of a kind. The capital of Georgia (the country) is probably the only place in the world where you can enjoy sulphur baths 24-7, where you can go to a techno club in a Soviet swimming pool and where you can enjoy the oldest winemaking culture in the world.

If you are visiting with your significant other, there are so many things to do in Tbilisi – you can hike hand in hand to Narikala fortress or Mtsaminda Park, from where you can enjoy great views over the city, or you can get lost in the narrow lanes of the Old City, finishing with a relaxing walk around the Botanic Gardens. Ah, and did you know that Georgian food is amazing? Eating out is always fun in Tbilisi! My favourite place is Bina 37, a secret restaurant on the 7th floor with a rooftop winery!

25. Santorini, Greece

The best Santorini Beaches

The best Santorini Beaches

contributed by Jennifer of World on a Whim

Santorini, Greece is one of the world’s most popular honeymoon destinations and as such is geared toward any and all things romantic. Daily activities include watching the sunrise from your cave house while breakfast is served to you on a private balcony and riding a vespa around the island until you eventually reach one of it’s many unique beaches like the red beach, Akrotiri.

Plan on having an incredibly romantic meal on a cliffside under candlelight because you will have just watched one of the world’s most epic sunsets and are hungry for some feta cheese and baklava. Cap off the evening soaking in a hot tub overlooking the caldera.

You just may be drinking a bottle of wine that you brought back from a local winery after a wine tasting excursion you went to earlier in the day. Sleep and repeat and meander through the charming streets while enjoying the uninterrupted ocean views with your significant other for the duration of your time on Santorini. Romantic? I think so!

26. Paris, France

Paris, France -The most romatic places in Europe

Paris, France -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Maggie of Mags On The Move

You can’t talk about romantic spots in Europe without mentioning Paris. It’s the OG romantic European city! Yes it’s cliche, but Paris has earned its reputation as the city of love, after all it’s been the setting for countless love songs, books and romantic comedies. Where else can you live out your teenage rom-com fantasies with the Eiffle Tower as a
backdrop (Vegas doesn’t count!)?

There’s plenty to make you feel all lovey-dovey in Paris, after all it’s home to the best food in the world, incredible wines, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and just so much gold leaf, but my favorite spot in Paris is Montmartre. It’s location on a hilltop outside of the city hustle and bustle in the 18th arrondissement makes it perfect for a private stroll with that special someone looking down on all of the city. Montmartre is most known as a bohemian epicenter, attracting artist and lovers for over a century.

If it’s good enough for Picasso and Van Gogh, it’s good enough for me! Montmartre also boasts the only winery in within Paris city limits, The Clos Montmartre, and the winner of the Best Baguette in Paris Grand Prix 2015 (yes, that’s a real thing!), LeGrenier à Pain Abbesses. After all, what’s more romantic than art, wine, and bread?

27. Sighnaghi, Georgia

Sighnaghi, Georgia -The most romatic places in Europe

Sighnaghi, Georgia -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Emily of Wander-Lush

Located in Republic of Georgia’s fertile Kakheti region at the foot of the Greater Caucasus mountains, the red-roofed town of Sighnaghi has a well-earned reputation as Georgia’s ‘city of love’.

Along with neighbouring Armenia, Georgia is the cradle of modern viniculture and has a winemaking tradition that dates back tothe Neolithic period. In Kakheti, the centuries-old method of fermenting whole grapes—stems, seeds, skins and all—in earth enware qvevris still prevails.

Hire a driver and spend the weekend hopping between Kakheti’s wineries. Raise a glass of the region’s signature Saperavi at Pheasant’s Tears, Kindzmarauli and Khareba—all popular cellar doors. Kakheti’s churches and fortresses hark back to a history of kingdoms, conquests and love affairs. Gremi and Nekresi Monastery are both perched high on mountainsides and offer quixotic views of the countryside.

A family-run guesthouse in the heart of Sighnaghi is the best place to base yourself for a romantic weekend. Enclosed by a stone wall that dates back to the 1700s, Sighnaghi is straight out of a picture book. It’s no wonder this is the wedding capital of Georgia—every weekend,the cobbled streets come alive with a procession of bridalparties, honking their way through town for good luck.

28. Ortigia, Sicily, Italy

Ortigia, Sicily, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Ortigia, Sicily, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by David of Delve into Europe

The island of Ortigia is the ancient core of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse, once the most powerful city in the ancient world.

It’s only across a short bridge from modern Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian) and mainland Sicily, but it feels a world apart, as if you’re stepping back in time to another world.

Many of the buildings on Ortigia date from the 18th century, and we loved to wander the narrow backstreets lined with romantic old houses, stopping by at some of the trattoria to eat at the tables outside.

We also loved to stroll along the seafront on the west side of the island, enjoying the balmy late spring evenings and the light breeze from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

But for us the highlight of Ortigia was the gorgeous Piazza del Duomo, one of the most beautiful squares we have visited in the world. We made sure we stopped by for a gelato and coffee every evening, always with a prime view of the stunning Baroque façade of the cathedral which was built around the original Greek temple.

29. Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain -The most romatic places in Europe

Girona, Spain -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Ling & Guy from Travel-Ling

Less than an hour from Barcelona, Girona is a wonderful place to ignite some romance. Between the ambient medieval city centre, to the colourful apartments that sit precariously over the river, Girona has an undeniably romantic charm.

There is a unique vibe to Girona – modern, yet historical. Stroll hand in hand with your loved one through the Old Quarter (Barri Vell) and admire the mixture of Baroque and Romanesque architecture whilst enjoying a delicious coffee from one of the trendy cafes. Or cross the Eiffel Bridge over the Onyar River to share a sweet ice-cream from the famously whimsical ice-cream parlour Rocambolesc.

In fact, any of the bridges along the Onyar River provide the perfect place to stop and share a sweet kiss in between gazing at the colourful reflections of the apartments. And for the ultimate candlelit romantic meal, grab yourselves a sought-after table on the steps of Pujada de Sant Domènec at Le Bistrot. Girona is also the gateway to spectacular beaches and other fairytale medieval villages that are the perfect setting to fall in love.

30. Luxembourg

Luxembourg- The most romatic places in Europe

Luxembourg- The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Kathryn of BoutiqueTravelBlog.com

Known as the green heart of Europe thanks to its many parks and green spaces, Luxembourg city may be one of Europe’s smallest capitals, but it is also one of it’s most beautiful and interesting. The city’s Old Quarter, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must see and a fabulous area to explore on foot, but I also loved the modern architecture of the Kirchberg financial district.

With a population coming from over 150 different nations it’s no surprise that the city has an eclectic culture with fabulous museums and art galleries and a superb culinary scene with cuisines from around the world well represented. If you want to try a local dish go to Am Tiirmschen (32 Rue de l’Eau, Luxembourg City 1449) for their kniddelen (dumplings) with smoked bacon and cream. And be sure to also try the sparkling wine of the Moselle Valley or the local cider, Ramborn.

If you get the chance, hire a car, and get out into the beautiful countryside and visit one or two of the country’s stunning fairytale castles such as Vianden or Bourscheid, both of which are surrounded by dense green forests — the perfect setting for a day spent walking and admiring Luxembourg’s natural beauty.

31. Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria

Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria -The most romatic places in Europe

Rhodope Mountains, Bulgaria -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Stephanie of History Fan Girl

When I think of a dreamy romantic getaway, I don’t think of flower strewn footpaths or cafes stuffed with candles (although both are lovely). Rather, I tend to think of something a little windier, wilder. Something out of a Jane Austin novel or ripped from the pages of Wurthering Heights. The Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria have that wind-tossed romantic feel straight out of a 19th century novel.

However, because it’s in Bulgaria, you don’t lose out on the roses! Bulgaria is famous for it’s rose oil, and after hiking to the local waterfall or photographing some rain-soaked horses, you can go back to your (extremely budget-friendly) spa hotel and get scrubbed head to toe with a rose oil scrub before joining your date for a romantic dinner.

Make sure to enjoy some local wine with your dinner. Known for delicious roses , you can sip to your heart’s content since the bottle will cost half of what it would in western Europe.

32. Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy

Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

Porto Cervo, Sardinia, Italy -The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Collette of Roamaroo.com

Located on the Costa Smeralda or Emerald Coast of Sardinia, Porto Cervo is a picture perfect paradise for lovers. This enchanting destination has been a summer favorite of yachtsmen and sailors, but it’s also one of the most romantic destinations in all of the Mediterranean. With its crystal clear waters,5-star hotels, and gourmet foodie scene, Porto Cervo is the ultimate romantic destination for lovers.

A vacation to Porto Cervo should start at one of its various luxury hotels such as Petra Segreta, the Cervo Hotel, Colonna Pevero, or Cala di Volpe. These hotels cater to the jet set glitterati and are all completely 5-star. For fine dining, indulge your senses at one of its various gourmet restaurants such as Petra Segreta or Spinnaker restaurant. For activities, lovers should rent a boat and head to La Maddalena archipelago, a group of 7 islands nestled between Sardinia and Corsica. While on the boat, lovers can island hop to famed beaches such as The Lagoon, Tahiti, and Spiaggia Testa di Polpo. Finish off a romantic getaway to Porto Cervo by dancing the night away at the world-renowned super club, Billionaire.

33. Castles in Germany

Castles in Germany- The most romatic places in Europe

Castles in Germany- The most romatic places in Europe

contributed by Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped

One of the most romantic places in Europe are the castles in Germany. My husband and I just returned from a weeklong road trip where we visited castle after castle. There are over 20,000 castles in Germany and even several you can spend the night in. In the castle in the above picture, we were able to spend the night in. There are several castles rooms on Airbnb, that is where we the three we stayed in.

 

It’s like a fairytale and every girls dream to feel like a princess. Our top 4 castles are Eltz, Neuschwanstein, Cochem, and Hohenzollern. We personally love road trips where we just have the freedom to go and stop anywhere. Along the Romantic Road you there will be tons of castles to pull off and visit. We also suggest packing a little picnic with and enjoying a glass of wine with a view of a castle. We can’t wait to go back to Germany to explore even more.

 

34. Harry Potter steam train, Scotland

Laurence

Ljubljana Castle

What could be more romantic than taking a trip on what has been described as one of the greatest railways in the world – the 84-mile journey through the Scottish Highlands on the iconic ‘Harry Potter’ steam locomotive.

This is the same train that puffed its way across an enigmatic multi-arched bridge as it took the young wizard to Hogwarts, and in my opinion the view from the top of that bridge is by far the most beautiful in Scotland.

The bridge (in reality the Glenfinnan viaduct) sweeps around the spectactularly pretty shores of Loch Shiel in the picturesque village of Glenfinnan, where mountains rise up on either side and a lonely monument stands guard on its tranquil shore.

For the ultimate romantic gesture I recommend relaxing in one of the nostalgic carriages and gazing out the window as the landscape swooshes past – preferably with a glass of champagne in hand.

It’s a truly unique experience and one that your partner will definitely thank you for.

 

These are the most romantic places in Europe according to Travel Bloggers. Have you been to any? Which on eis your favorite?

 

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Best Luxury Travel Destinations in the Month of December

Angkor Wat

Where will December take you? Where should it? Maybe to a sophisticated city, or a rural hideaway. Or to a beach, a ski slope, or all the way to the South Pole (since the North Pole dwellers will be a bit busy this month). Wanderlust alert! Here are our top picks of the best luxury travel destinations in the month of December.

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where’s the best place to go in december?

First and foremost, December is island time. You could visit a cosmopolitan city island (we’re thinking Hong Kong, Singapore or Manhattan). Or opt for a tried-and-true luxury island beach destination.  Feeling the need for adrenaline-fueled adventures? Head to a gorgeous remote island getaway filled with exotic animals and architecture (we’re looking at you, Chiloe Islands).

Of course, if an island getaway is not your thing, a luxury shopping trip abroad is always a fine idea — what better time than now? You could stroll along one of the iconic shopping streets in the world, or visit one of the great Christmas Markets of Western Europe. Personally, we’re dreaming of snow and a luxury ski trip. The global contemporary art flock will touch down in Miami during the first week of December for Art Basel. And it’s definitely time to make plans for New Year’s Eve. It’s all waiting for you. Let’s go!

our 10 picks for the best luxury travel destinations in the month of December

1. New York City.

New York is always changing, and there’s a vast array of new things to see and do in the city this holiday season. Plus the iconic classics that make for the perfect luxury visit in December. There’s shopping, ice skating, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, and the Radio City Christmas Show. New York City Ballet performs George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, and Alvin Ailey’s in town. The Holiday Train Show is perfect for kids. And the store windows are magical. What’s not to love?

AntarcticBarranquilla

Entrance to the New York Public Library

2. Aspen-Snowmass.

We love Aspen in December, and this year there are even more reasons to go. EMP Winter House, from the team behind Eleven Madison Park in New York City opens as a seasonal pop-up in mid-December. Snowmass Village is unveiling the first phase of a $600 million development project. The new 99-room, ski in/ski out Limelight Hotel is home to a five-story climbing wall. The private Snowmass Mountain Club provides members with lockers, parking, and a lounge area right at the foot of the mountain. The Hotel Jerome debuts its new makeover. And from December 17 to 22, catch the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship. The inaugural Snow Polo Gala is sure to be big fun.

Caribbean islandsChiloe Islands

Aspen Snowmass

3. Paris.

There’s never a bad time to visit Paris. December is particularly excellent, though. Paris at Christmastime is filled with magic. Stay at a grand dame “palace” hotel. Shop at some of the most charming stores imaginable. Refresh yourself after a long day with a champagne tea. Or a coffee or hot chocolate at a chic cafe. And then revel in the City of Lights, which will be particularly bright after dark during the holiday season.

Cyclinghotel Phum Baitang

The Champs Elysee in Paris in December

4. St. Kitts and Nevis.

Most luxury guides will send you to St. Barth’s for a December Caribbean vacation. But we urge you to consider an alternative. We visited St. Kitts for the first time earlier this year, and we really love it. Nevis is always high on the list for our jet-setting friends, in part because it’s a hassle-free journey. Both of these Caribbean islands are easier to get to than ever: Delta has a direct flight from JFK to St. Kitts, joining United’s EWR route. Once you arrive, the luxurious Park Hyatt inside the 2,500-acre Christophe Harbor development combines resorts and restaurants with a super yacht marina.

New Year's DayNew York Public Library

The Park Hyatt St. Kitts – Nevis

5. Zermatt.

Zermatt occupies a special place in the hearts of the Swiss, and it’s easy to see why. It provides the gorgeous snowy-mountain scenes that winter dreams are made of. You’ll find horse-drawn sleighs, twinkling lights, glühwein stalls, all in a village nestled in a lovely valley beneath the Matterhorn. Best of all? You’re sure to find snow. No wonder it’s Switzerland’s top ski resort.

Phum BaitangPleneau Bay

Zermatt, Switzerland

6. The Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

Rarotonga is the largest of the 15 Cook Islands. It’s surprisingly easy to get to: Air New Zealand stops over on the way from LA to Auckland once a week on the Saturday-evening flight. The island is dense with greenery and hilly in the center. But it’s ringed by white sand beaches. Win-win! Going stand-up paddle-boarding at night on the Rarotonga lagoon is a magical way to see the coral reefs and marine life. Pineapples, papayas, mandarin oranges, starfruit and bananas are among the local delicacies. There’s also bike riding and snorkeling. Choose from among several five-star properties, including Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa; Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa; and Nautilus Resort. All are on Muri Beach, on Rarotonga’s southeast coast.

Siem ReapSouth Pacific

Rarotonga

7. The Chiloe Islands of southern Chile. 

December is a great month to explore some of the forty islands that make up the Chiloe (pronounced “Chi-lo-ay”) archipelago running down southern Chile’s coastline. Puerto Montt – the gateway to Chile’s Lake District on the mainland – is the regional capital. The largest island in the group is Isla Grande de Chiloe or Chiloe for short. There you’ll find abundant seafood, especially shellfish. The Islotes de Punihuil, a trio of islets in the Pacific Ocean, are home to Magellanic and Humboldt penguins (it’s the only place in the world where the two species are known to share a common breeding ground). You’ll see pelicans, cormorants, kelp gulls and more: there are 110 species of birds native to these islands. Castro, the capital of Chiloe, is known for its colorful palafitos – traditional wooden stilt houses. Its wooden churches look like upside-down boats. The 4-star Hotel Parque Quilquico is a fine place to make your home base.

St. RegisSwitzerland

Chiloé’s Wharf of Souls art installation Photo Courtesy The Wall Street Journal

8. Cartagena, Columbia.

In December, the summer is approaching in this South American city. Once a 16th-century Spanish port, Old Town Cartagena is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its streets are filled with original Spanish Colonial architecture. Special Christmas markets arrive in December. Stay for the New Year’s Eve fireworks. Or use the city as a base to explore the rest of Colombia, including Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park.

Angkor WatAntarctic

Bocagrande and Old Town Cartagena Colombia

9. Siem Reap, Cambodia.

December is the dry season for Siem Reap. You’ll find cloudless skies and comfortable temperatures, ideal for walking tours of Angkor Wat or cycling through the city streets. The lodging options are plentiful. The 5-star hotel Phum Baitang is comprised of 45 stilted villas perched over rice paddies. And you know you’re in the right place when hot luxury travel company 700’000 Heures is running a pop-up hotel inside a traditional Khmer house. Open through April 2019, the temporary hideaway will offer experiences like visiting local markets, riding an oxcart through rice fields, and meeting with archaeologists who are restoring the temples of Ankgor Wat.

BarranquillaCaribbean islands

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

10. Antarctica.

If this is your dream trip, now is the time to go. Tourists can only visit during the Antarctic summer: November to March. It’s the only continent not permanently occupied by humans, making it an incredible experience of the natural world. You can fly from Cape Town, South Africa; Punta Arenas, Chile; and Ushuaia, Argentina. Or sail from New Zealand’s South Island. In December, there are 22 hours of daylight. The penguin chicks will be starting to hatch, and seal and whale sightings are common this time of year.

Chiloe IslandsCycling

Crabeater Seal at Pleneau Bay, Antarctica

That’s it! The best luxury travel destinations in the month of December. Wherever the month takes you, have fun out there.

Come and join our community! For a weekly round-up of insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Sunday Read here. And see luxury in a new light.

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Best Places To Travel Alone In Europe In 2021: BudgetTravelBuff

Alps

Are you a die-hard solo traveler? Looking for some of the best places to travel alone in Europe? You have landed on the right page. Traveling is one and the only thing that gives me ultimate peace. It’s not only about exploring a new place but beyond that traveling gives me an opportunity to meet new people, to learn a different culture, to taste local cuisine and many more.  

PIN IT FOR LATER…

Best Places to Travel Alone in EuropeBest Places to Travel Alone in Europe

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay any extra penny, but I’ll get a small commission that encourages me to deliver more helpful content for you.

However, being a frequent traveler it’s not possible for me to travel with my friends all the time. Hence I travel alone sometimes and it gives me total freedom to do whatever I want during my solo trip. Although you might have to face some challenges while traveling alone to an unknown place. All you need to do is good research on the place where you are going to travel alone.

There are a lot of countries that are really very safe for solo travelers. Today I am going to share with you some of the best places to travel alone in Europe.

#1 Copenhagen-Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark. Being a small city, it is an ideal destination for solo travelers who love to explore a walkable place. The Danish people are very friendly to travelers and always welcome foreign travelers wholeheartedly.

Denmark is one of the safest countries in Europe to travel alone. Even at night, a solo traveler won’t feel insecure in this beautiful place in Europe. The mesmerizing city offers a perfect blend of old and new architecture, beautiful canals, enchanting castles, and some world-class restaurants.

Things to Do Alone in Copenhagen:

  • Keep open your Google Map and explore the old city of Copenhagen with fantastic museums, galleries and take some photos of stunning Danish architecture.
  • Take a boat tour in the city’s canals and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and know more about the city’s rich history.
  • You can take a 3-hour bike tour with other fellow travelers to explore the hidden local attractions by a friendly local guide.
  • While traveling alone in a small city like Copenhagen, the night can be boring sometimes. Copenhagen Pub Crawl is a great option to chill with other like-minded travelers.

Copenhagen | Best cities for solo travel in europeCopenhagen | Best cities for solo travel in europeCopenhagen-Denmark

Where to Stay in Copenhagen:

Copenhagen has plenty of hostels for visitors who travel alone.

#2 Oslo-Norway  

When choosing some of the best places to travel alone in Europe, Oslo just has to be on your list. Norway was considered the world’s happiest country in 2017 by the United Nations. This peaceful European country also has a lower crime rate that made this little country one of the best places to travel alone in Europe. Oslo, the capital city of Norway is not only popular among solo travelers, but it is also a place where you would like to visit with your friends and families.

From magnificent Fjords, spectacular mountains, stunning Scandinavian architecture to vibrant cultural heritage, Norway has a lot to offer its visitors. Most of the Norwegian people speak English and the country has an excellent public transportation system with extremely friendly locals.

Things to Do Alone in Oslo:

  • Norway is famous for its unreal beauty of Fjords that is a must-visit in Norway solo travel. You can discover charming landscapes, panoramic city views in a 2-hour sightseeing cruise in Oslo Fjord.
  • Solo travelers can visit Kirkeristen, a wonderful market of handicrafts and antiquities.
  • Explore the various museums in Oslo like the National Museum of Art, Viking Ship Museum Norwegian Folk Museum, Munch Museum etc.
  • If you are a solo backpacker, visit Oslo in winter. You will find it less crowded with amazing hotel deals and plenty of winter activities.

Norway | Best places to travel alone in europeNorway | Best places to travel alone in europeFjords in Norway

Where to Stay in Oslo:

Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Finding cheap accommodation is quite difficult. Solo travelers can stay in a hostel or apartment that is comparatively cheaper than hotels.

#3 Interlaken-Switzerland

No crime, only cows. Yes, Switzerland is another safest country in Europe. If you are planning to start your solo travel in Europe, without any hesitation book a cheap flight to Zurich. I know Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. No need to be worried. I have a detail travel guide on Switzerland Solo Trip on a Budget where I have described how I traveled 8 cities in 8 days with just $1000.

There are so many beautiful places in Switzerland that you would love to travel alone. I will highly recommend traveling to Interlaken if you don’t have much time. This fairy tale mountain village is arguably one of the best places to visit in Europe for its natural scenic view of stunning snow-capped Swiss Alps, spectacular landscapes and countless waterfalls.

The transportation system is well organized throughout Switzerland. You can buy a Swiss Travel Pass for worry-free travel. You can ride on bus, boat and train with this pass. Even the Swiss travel pass covers the entry fee of most of the museums in Switzerland. While traveling solo in this beautiful country of Europe, Swiss travel pass will be your all-time companion.

Things to Do Alone in Interlaken:

  • Interlaken is a walkable town. Exploring the city on foot is one of the best among the free things to do in Interlaken.
  • If you are an adventure enthusiast, go for paragliding, skydiving, river rafting and many more adventure activities.
  • Hiking is another free thing to do in Interlaken. Enjoy the beautiful scenic view of Interlaken to Harder Kulm hike.
  • Visit the beautiful alpine village Lauterbrunnen. Some of the best waterfalls in Switzerland can be found here.
  • Book a ticket for a day trip to Jungfraujoch, one of the most popular places in Switzerland. The train journey to the top of Europe is itself very scenic. Enjoy a panoramic view of snowy Alps from the top of Jungfraujoch.

Grindelwald, SwitzerlandGrindelwald, SwitzerlandGrindelwald, Switzerland

Where to Stay in Interlaken:

Being an expensive city in Switzerland, it’s hard to find cheap accommodation in Interlaken. If you travel solo in Interlaken try to book a hostel in advance. Check out some of the best hostels in Interlaken for solo travelers and backpackers.

Related Articles on Switzerland Travel:

Related Articles on Switzerland Travel:

#4 Stockholm-Sweden

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden is another safest place to travel alone in Europe. Stockholm is an excellent choice for many backpackers traveling alone. The Swedish are very relaxed and always ready to extend their hands towards strangers.

Solo travelers can explore the city freely without any worry. Stockholm is an amazing stop if you want to spend some quality time with yourself. The city is enriched with wonderful experiences – the parks, the gardens, the harbor, the historic colored houses dating back hundreds of years.

Things to Do Alone in Stockholm:

  • Explore Gamla Stan(old city) and take some picture-postcard photos with the saffron-colored buildings, cobblestone streets under the clear blue sky.
  • It is better to rent a bike and explore the city while traveling alone in Stockholm. The city has bicycle lanes and paths throughout.
  • Visit the famous ABBA museum, Nobel museum, Skansen Open Air Museum etc.

Check out some of the Best Deals in Stockholm:

Stockholm-Sweden | Top pllaces to travel alone in EuropeStockholm-Sweden | Top pllaces to travel alone in Europe Stockholm-Sweden

Where to Stay in Stockholm:

Accommodation in Sweden is pretty expensive. Check out the rates of some of the best budget hostels.

#5 Amsterdam-Netherlands

Are you a party freak? Then you cannot skip Amsterdam while sorting out the best places to solo travel in Europe. It doesn’t mean that Amsterdam cannot be enjoyed if you are not a party lover. Beyond this, Amsterdam is a beautiful city in Netherland that you can explore on foot.

Amsterdam is also known as the Venice of the North for its countless canals and decorated little bridges. The city is popular as a romantic place in Europe. No need to be worried about the transportation system and safety while doing solo travel in Amsterdam as the city is extremely safe for female solo travelers too. The city is well connected with nearby places by bus, tram, metro, and train. Buy a public transport ticket that is valid in all mediums and explore the city.

10 Tips For Visiting Amsterdam as a Solo Traveler

Things to Do Alone in Amsterdam:

  • Getting lost in Amsterdam’s museums is a good choice for solo travelers. Among all the significant museums I will highly recommend buying a ticket for Van Gogh’s museum and get a chance to see hundreds of paintings, drawings and letters by the Dutch master.
  • The best way to explore Amsterdam is to rent a bike and tour along the beautiful cobbled streets and visit the local sightseeing at your own pace.
  • While traveling in Amsterdam don’t miss a scenic canal cruise by night. Discover the city with hundreds of bridges and iconic buildings along the canals.
  • A day in Amsterdam is incomplete without if you don’t experience the popular nightlife scene of the city. Buy a ticket and enjoy free entry to 16 clubs with a free welcome drink.
  • Don’t miss the famous walking tour in the Red Ligh District area of Amsterdam and explore the sinful streets, old church and new markets.

Canals in Amsterdam | Solo trip in european cityCanals in Amsterdam | Solo trip in european cityCanals in Amsterdam

Where to Stay in Amsterdam:

Check out some o the best hostels for solo travelers in Amsterdam where you get a chance to meet other solo travelers:

#6 Prague-Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe. This digital nomad city is extremely popular among honeymooners and couples for its natural beauty and ambiance, but it has a lot to offer solo travelers. You will find fairytale architecture throughout the city with lots of museums, monuments old clocks and bridges.

Prague is a safe place in Europe for solo travelers. Whenever you visit, you will be amazed by the beauty of the Czech Republic. Czech is the official language and widely used in the country. However, most of the Czech people can speak and understand English. Prague has an outstanding transportation system and all the popular sightseeing are within a walkable distance. That’s why I think Prague is one of the best places to travel alone in Europe.

Things to Do Alone in Prague:

  • Explore this one of the most beautiful cities in Europe by foot. Visit the old town of Prague and get an opportunity to see Gothic architecture. The old town square is a popular tourist place where you find some of the best sites of Prague such as Old Town Hall, Astronomical Clock and Gothic Church.
  • Pay a visit to Prague Castle. See the highlights of the castle including the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, and the Golden Lane. To know about Prague castle I will recommend booking a small group tour with a local guide. You can save your time by skipping the line on a busy day in Prague.

Charming Prague CastleCharming Prague CastleCharming Prague Castle

Where to Stay in Prague:

The Czech Republic is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Hence finding budget accommodation for a solo traveler is not a big deal. Check out some of the best hostels in Prague for solo travelers.

#7 Vienna- Austria

Are you fond of art, music, culture? Visit the imperial city, Vienna that is also the capital city of Austria. The city is blessed with amazing museums, stunning architecture, historical places, and sights. Austrian people are very friendly with strangers. Most of the people in Austria speak German, though English is also used in touristy places.

Vienna can be explored by foot and most tourist hotspots are well connected by bus, tram, and train. So the language and transport system won’t be a barrier for solo travel in Vienna. With an efficient transportation system and an endless list of sightseeing for any budget, Vienna is one of the best cities in Europe to travel alone.

Things to Do Alone in Vienna:

  • Explore the largest city of Austria by walking along the Danube river and various museums and monuments. You can also book a day tour with a local guide who will help you to know more about this historic city.
  • Enjoy a day trip to Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens. Following the tour, enjoy the short walk around the gardens and have a glimpse of the Gloriette.
  • Take a boat tour on the Danube canal. Explore the city and enjoy the panoramic view of Vienna from the boat.
  • You must try Austrian foods which are very delicious. I will highly recommend trying their popular dessert Apfelstrudel.

Hofburg Imperial Palace, ViennaHofburg Imperial Palace, ViennaHofburg Imperial Palace, Vienna

Where to Stay in Vienna:

#8 Budapest-Hungary

How can you ignore Budapest when it comes to travel as a solo traveler. Budapest is a charming capital city of Hungary located in Central Eastern Europe. I have enough not to skip this city from the list of ‘best places to travel alone in Europe’.

Being a little city, Budapest is pretty much a walkable place in Europe; the city is very easy to navigate and remarkably there are plenty of free things to do in Budapest for solo travelers. From buses and trams to four metro lines and suburban railway, public transport in Budapest is very easy and money-saving.

Budapest is an ideal solo destination in Europe to enjoy the incredible Hungarian cuisine, rich culture, and vibrant nightlife. Although Hungarian is the official language in Budapest, luckily most of the people can understand and speak English. However, Budapest is a very safe place in Europe for female solo travelers that made I one of the cheapest European countries to live in for digital nomads. Still, you must ensure your basic safety precaution. Be careful whenever traveling to a touristy area.

Things to Do Alone in Budapest:

  • 3 days in Budapest is enough to explore this beautiful city. It is divided by the Danube river – Buda and Pest. Go for a Danube river cruise which offers a fantastic view of the city with World Heritage sites. Enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the city while the sail passes through Watertown, Margaret Island, the Castle Hill, Gellért Hill and the Citadel.
  • Visit the Hungarian Parliament – the landmark building of Budapest. This Gothic Revival-style building is the third-largest parliament building in the world. The interior design is very impressive with a spectacular central staircase and great vaulted hall. Book your guided tour to the Hungarian Parliament from here.
  • Thermal spring bath and Spa treatments are must-do things in Budapest. Enjoy a relaxing ‘me time’ in the stunning outdoor pools. Book your full-day ticket from here.

Chain Bridge at Budapest- best places in Europe to travel aloneChain Bridge at Budapest- best places in Europe to travel aloneChain Bridge at Budapest

Where to Stay in Budapest:

There are plenty of hostels and hotels to stay in Budapest. Pest side of the city is quite a popular place among solo travelers. Buda side is also a good option to stay in Budapest. Here can see numerous hostels and Airbnbs, nicely located, well furnished at a cheap price.

#9 Munich – Germany

Munich, the capital city of Germany is another great place in Europe for the first time solo travelers. Traveling solo in Germany is very easy and fun. Pretty much everywhere in Germany is very safe for solo travelers. The public transportation system is too good, so there are no worries about being stranded alone somewhere. You can walk most places or take the trams which are very easy to figure out.

There you will find cheap hostels at every corner of the city. From visiting the galleries, joining an alternative street art tour to shopping at the flea markets, Germany has plenty of things to do alone. The locals are generally helpful to tourists, English is widely spoken – Germany just checks all of the boxes for the solo travelers.

Things to Do Alone in Munich:

  • The first thing you should do when you are visiting Munich alone is head to Marienplatz, the main city center. You will notice the unique style of Bavarian culture in this amazing historical location. You shouldn’t miss Hofbrauaus, a traditional beer hall where Hitler gave his first speech.
  • Visit the Dachau Concentration Camp, one of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany. It’s located just outside of Munich and can be accessed by Munich transit.
  • There are many museums in Munich to visit. Deutsches Museum is the biggest natural science museum in Europe, a perfect museum if you are a Science student. BMW Headquarters and Museum is a must-see for any car enthusiasts.
  • Germany has some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. If you visit in winter, you must explore any of these Christmas markets – Munich, Cologne or Nuremberg.

Best solo travel destinations in Europe | Marienplatz, MunichBest solo travel destinations in Europe | Marienplatz, MunichMarienplatz, Munich

Where to Stay in Munich:

It is recommended to stay near Marienplatz, the heart of the city, to access plenty of great restaurants, beer halls, street shows, and architectural wonders. Ample accommodations are available there to suit any budget.

  • Euro Youth Hostel (Budget hostel in Budapest)
  • Wombats Hostel Munich (Mid-range hostel)
  • Hotel Deutsche Eiche (Private room)

#10 Venice – Italy

Venice should always be at the top of your Italy bucket list. Although solo travelers tend to avoid Venice as it has a reputation for being a romantic city. However, despite intimate couples’ gondola rides and the city’s propensity for romance, there are so many things to do alone in Venice.

A two day Venice itinerary is perfect to experience this UNESCO world heritage site which is perfect to explore on foot. The locals are amazing and friendly. Expect to talk to shopkeepers and for people to offer directions if you look a little lost. It is a touristic place, so no need to worry about safety. The transportation system in Venice is either on foot or on water. Waterbus tickets are 7 Euro which is valid for 1 hour.

Things to Do Alone in Venice:

  • Venice is a small city, you can walk it in several hours. Go for a walking city tour, explore the city canals, coloring houses and learn about the city’s history and culture.  
  • Visit St. Mark’s Square, the heart of Venice. Spend some time just by watching people and feeding the pigeons.
  • Venice is famous for its beautiful churches and basilicas. Don’t miss the San Marco Basilica, a magnificent cathedral in Italy. Some other popular churches are Santa Maria Della Salute, Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari, San Giorgio Maggiore.

Best Places to Travel Alone in Europe | Venice ItalyBest Places to Travel Alone in Europe | Venice ItalyVenice, Italy

Where to Stay in Venice:

Finding cheap accommodation can be painful in the historical part of Venice, it’s still much more convenient than trying to stay on the mainland. For cheaper options, try to stay in hostels near the Santa Lucia Station, in the northern part of the city.

  • Generator Venice (Budget hostel in Budapest)
  • Ostello S. Fosca – CPU Venice Hostels (Mid-range hostel)
  • Combo Venezia (Private room)

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Europe Travel: The 15 Coronavirus-Safest Christmas Trips According To European Best Destinations

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Snow Ball With Christmas Tree In It

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Every year around this time, the European Best Destinations (EBD) organization, which is part of the European Commission’s EDEN Network (“European Destinations of Excellence”) working to promote sustainable tourism on the continent, releases its approved list of beautiful European cities that host the best Christmas markets.

It’s no exaggeration to say that practically every European city and town carries on its own traditional end-of-the-year holiday festivities, many of which have been occurring for centuries.

Although the process and the criteria for the selection this year had to be adjusted to account for Covid-19 measures and circumstances according to each country, EBD has unveiled a carefully-chosen list of destinations where it will be possible to enjoy the magic of Christmas while still following strict health and sanitary rules.

MORE FROM FORBES18 Gorgeous Hidden Gems To Visit In Europe When Travel Bans Lift, According To European Best DestinationsBy Cecilia Rodriguez

“Find out which are the safest Christmas markets in Europe for Covid-19,” EBD announced. “Since the start of this worldwide “Covid-19” crisis, we have kept you informed of the situation day after day by following the recommendations of the World Health Organization.” 

The Safest Christmas Markets/Destinations in Europe were chosen on the basis of the following criteria: number of Covid-19 cases per million inhabitants, number of hospital beds per inhabitant, proximity of airports, establishment of sanitary measures, hygiene charts in hotels, shops, restaurants, public transport and public places, provision of hydroalcoholic gels, masks and, last but not least, circulation routes inside the Christmas markets. 

MORE FROM FORBESGlobal Travel Bans: 115 Worldwide Destinations Easing Covid Restrictions Says U.N, What To KnowBy Cecilia Rodriguez

They’re all located in destinations less affected by the coronavirus, up to 80 times fewer cases of Covid-19 and sometimes even no deaths linked to Covid-19 (such as the Madeira Islands, which tops the 2020 list). 

In the safest Christmas Markets in Europe, contactless payment methods are the norm, merchants have protective masks or visors and a signposted route stops visitors from crossing paths.

Among other recommendations, EBD advises travelers to remain vigilant and to remember the gestures, social distancing and mask if possible and necessary and to avoid traveling in case of poor health.

“People over 70, overweight or with respiratory problems should be particularly vigilant,” the organization warns.

Christmas decorations in Madeira, Portugal

Madeira, Portugal, Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Madeira is the safest European destination this winter. With up to 12 times fewer cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than other European destinations and no deaths, the Portuguese island has been selected as the best destination for the Christmas holidays.

In addition to the “Safe and Clean” label established by the Portuguese National Tourist Office, Madeira officials have set up very rigorous health charters to welcome travelers in the best safety conditions while guaranteeing holidays for leisure, discovery and relaxation. 

They impose no quarantine on arrival for travelers that have taken the Covid-19 test before the trip (maximum 72 hours before departure). Scanning at the airport reinforces these security measures and various devices are in place, including hydroalcoholic gels and masks in crowded streets.

Everything is simply and well explained on the Madeira Safe to Discover site. Masks are compulsory in some places but not on the beaches.

Madeira’s Christmas market has been awarded the title of ‘Best Sunny Christmas Markets in Europe’ for its breathtaking tropical scenery, shiny illuminations, exotic fruits and flowers, local crafts and wines.

On several occasions, the market was previously awarded the title of “Best New Year’s Eve Destination in Europe.”

Christmas market dates:  December 1, 2020 to January 10, 2021. (Market Night is held on December 23.)  

Sanitary measures: Passengers flying to the Madeira archipelago must present a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure or they can perform it upon arrival. Masks are not required for beaches, sports activities or nature walks. Here is the form to be completed before travel.

Christmas market in Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia: Best and Safest European Christmas Destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Awarded the title of Best Christmas Market in Europe in 2019, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is second on the list of favorite destination for winter holidays in Europe, with its family atmosphere, magical illuminations, traditional and artisanal products and delicious local delicacies.

To date, Estonia has recorded 18 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected European countries. Hospitals have never been overcrowded and the virus has done much less harm than elsewhere in Europe. More quickly than other countries, Estonia was able to resume “normal” life while applying measures of social distancing, protection (masks) and the provision of hydroalcoholic gels in public spaces.

Christmas market dates: November 15, 2020, to January 5, 2021. 

Travelling to Estonia: An updated list of countries for which entry to Estonia is subject to limitations is available at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Latest info here.

Christmas market in Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Vienna, third on the list of safest places to visit for the Christmas holidays, has also been recognized as one of the safest destinations in Europe. By reacting quickly to the pandemia and by taking a series of sanitary measures, Austria was up to 10 times less affected than other European countries. The number of serious cases of Covid-19 has remained far below the capacity of Austrian hospitals.

During the winter, Vienna has a multitude of Christmas market all around the city to suit every taste for family, food lovers, whether sustainable, vegan or terribly romantic.

From mid-November to Christmas, Vienna’s prettiest squares are transformed into magical spaces full of the Christmas atmosphere. The markets will be organized to ensure Covid-19 safety to make it possible for guests to enjoy a pleasant visit with enough space for everyone.

Christmas market dates: November 18 to December 26. 

Travelling to Austria: Entry from a country with a stable Covid-19 situation is possible without restrictions. The corresponding countries are listed in the Entry Ordinance.

 Sanitary measures: An entry and transit declaration are required. 

Luminous Christmas market in Craiova, Romania

Craiova, Romania: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Off the beaten track, the city of Craiova, Romania’s sixth-largest city and capital of the Dolj Countyin region, offers luminous Christmas markets that are both safe and authentic. If Craiova has experienced significantly fewer cases of Covid-19 than other European destinations, it’s thanks to the preventive measures put in place early by national and local authorities.

“This destination, which brings together internationally-renowned cultural institutions as well as world-renowned artistic events, was able to put its tourist offers on hold in order to be well prepared this winter and welcome you in the best conditions of health and security,” reports EBD.

Romania has more hospital beds per capita than Norway, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Christmas market dates: November, 28, 2020 to January 1, 2021.

Travelling to Romania: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions, with the exception of Luxembourg, Malta and some regions in Spain (Aragon, Catalonia, Navarra, Community of Madrid, Balearic Islands, Basque Country).

Sanitary measures: Travelers coming from countries with an incidence rate of new cases of Covid-19 in the last 14 days less than or equal to that registered in Romania are allowed to enter without restrictions.

Citizens coming from countries with a high incidence of COVID-19 infection should self-isolate at home or quarantine for 14 days.

Latest information here.

Christmas market in Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Prague, Czech Republic 

With 15 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected countries in Europe, the Czech Republic has made it to the list of the safest destinations for this winter holiday.

Recognized as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, the Prague Christmas market will also be one of the safest this year. 

Strict health measures have been taken by the organizers to ensure the safety of visitors, such as signposted routes to respect social distancing, dispensers of hydroalcoholic gel, availability of masks and protective gloves for merchants, plexiglass protection and specific protocols for stalls that sell food and drink. 

Set in the heart of the city is a traditional Czech marketplace where in dozens of wooden stalls merchants offer typical Christmas goods and items such as traditional Czech blown glass balls, products made of glass pearls or straw, hand-embroidered tablecloths, wooden toys, biscuit cutters and many other traditional Czech products. Both young and adult gourmets can enjoy typical Czech Christmas biscuits, hot roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and typical Czech grilled sausages.

Christmas market dates: November 28, 2020, to January 6, 2021.  

Travelling to Czech Republic: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions, with the exception of countries defined as “high risk” from an epidemiological point of view.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form is mandatory for people traveling from countries that are not on the list of those with a low risk of infection

Latest information here.

Christmas in Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

With 13 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 than the most affected European countries, Poland is among the safest countries in Europe.

“As a result of the pandemic, we all want to travel less and make the trips we want unforgettable by discovering exceptional places and a unique atmosphere,” says EBD. “Gdansk is the perfect mix of safety and leisure, relaxation and discovery for this winter holiday.”

Situated in the historical centre of Gdansk, the Christmas Fair is like a fairytale “thank you” to the unique atmosphere and beautiful scenery. Here you will find streets marked out only for this special time of year: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Angel or Christmas Eve Street.

Christmas market dates: November 23, 2020, to January 1, 2021. 

Travelling to Poland: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Poland without restrictions.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form and a Public Health Self Declaration are requested on flights.

Latest information here

Christmas market in Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Considered one of the most beautiful and authentic Christmas markets in Germany, the Dresden Christmas market will also number among the safest in Europe this year, with Saxony, at up to 15 times fewer Covid-19 deaths than other European regions, one of the continent’s least affected by the coronavirus.

Given the pandemic, there is a particularly strong focus to make the Striezelmarkt, Germany’s oldest Christmas market, safe for everybody. 

With glittering lights, twinkling stars, the scent of gingerbread and Christmas carols, Dresden’s Striezelmarkt will boast a unique character for its 586th year. Regional specialties, such as Ore Mountain wood crafts, Lusatian blue-printed fabrics and Moravian stars, are particularly popular.

Christmas market dates: November 26 to December 24. 

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany must either provide proof of having tested negative or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.  

Best Christmas in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

With 13 times fewer Covid-19 deaths per million inhabitants than other European countries, Croatia appears as a safe destination for the winter holidays.

Beyond the early sanitary measures put in place by the authorities, Croatia has a rich offer of tourist apartments, private villas, boutique hotels and small accommodations.

One of Croatia’s secrets was that her capital city Zagreb has one of the best Advent scenes in Europe. The secret is out now: Against strong competition, Zagreb was voted “Best Christmas Market in Europe” by European Best Destinations online polls for three consecutive years. 

Known worldwide as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, along with ViennaBudapest and StrasbourgZagreb will welcome travelers this year with special sanitary standards adapted to the situation — dispensers of hydroalcoholic gel throughout the markets, disinfection of rides and ice skates, masks for vendors and protective plastic for those offering food. “The market is very large throughout the city and you will find the atmosphere that suits you for a safe and relaxed holiday,” according to EBD.

Christmas market dates: November 27, 2020, to January 3, 2021. 

Sanitary measures: Masks required on public transport, taxis, shops and other commercial premises. There are currently no requirements for travelers to produce a negative Covid test or self-isolate on arrival in Croatia. Screening on arrival. 

 Travelling to Croatia: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Croatia without restrictions. Before entering the country, all travelers must complete the Enter Croatia form.

Latest information here.  

Christmas. Baden Baden. Baden Wurttemberg. Germany

Baden Baden, Germany: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

With a population equivalent to Belgium but five times fewer deaths linked to Covid- 19, the Baden-Württemberg region is one of the safest destinations for winter holidays.

Renowned as one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, the Baden-Baden Christmas market is implementing a series of health measures this year to combine safety and leisure.

Situated at the entrance of Baden-Baden’s splendid parks and gardens at the “Lichtentaler Allee,” the Christmas Market draws visitors into a romantic winter fairy tale with entertaining live-music programs and small streets of festive huts, where thousands of shimmering Christmas lights create a festive atmosphere.

“We are currently working into transforming our Christmas Market 2020 into a Corona-compatible market concept,” the organizers said. 

Christmas market dates:  November 26, 2020, to January 6, 2021.

Travelling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or other authority, must either provide proof of having tested negative or get tested within 14 days of entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here

Best Christmas 2020: Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Slovakia, along with Hungary, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic, are destinations seen as safe, with far fewer cases of Covid-19 than elsewhere in Europe. Slovakia has so far recorded 75 times fewer deaths linked to Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most-affected European countries. 

Thanks to these figures and stringent sanitary measures, Slovakia is seen as a safe destination for this winter.

Christmas time in Bratislava, the Capital of Slovakia on the Danube river and uniquely situated on the border of three countries, is connected with glowing streets, Christmas trees and stands full of goodies and craft products.

The Bratislava Christmas Market is located at the Main Square and Hviezdoslav Square in the city centre until December 23. In recent years, the Christmas Market has migrated to other locations of the city center as well, such as Bratislava castle.

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 23. 

Traveling to Slovakia: Entry from EU+ countries is allowed without restrictions from countries classified as “low risk” from the epidemiological point of view.

Sanitary measures: No mandatory Travel Documentation

Latest information here.

Best Christmas 2020: Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Not only is Düsseldorf’s one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany, but one of the safest this year. The capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia region and the second largest city in this region after Cologne has had 10 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than other European regions.

The city offers different Christmas markets to suit families, lovers and foodies.

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 30. 

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or official, must either provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

Best Christmas 2020: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

With 12 times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than the most affected countries in Europe, Slovenia is positioned as one of the safest destinations this winter. Perfect for a break, far from stress in the middle of nature, Slovenia is the European destination most awarded by the European Commission for its commitment to sustainable tourism. 

“Treat yourself to unforgettable memories in Slovenia,” EBD recommends. “You can rent a car and discover other places in the country such as Bohinj, voted best hidden gem in Europe or Soca ValleyRadolca, awarded by the European Commission. 

 You can also treat yourself to a moment of pure relaxation and wonder as you walk through the illuminated streets of Ljubljana.”

This romantic destination, is one of the smallest European capitals and home to a Christmas market considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Christmas market dates: November 29, 2020, to January 5, 2021.

Travelling to Slovenia: Entry from EU+ countries is generally allowed without restrictions. Depending on their epidemiological situation, Slovenia divides countries in three categories (green, yellow and red). For each category, a different set of entry rules applies.

Sanitary measures: Face masks are required in indoor public spaces and public transport vehicles. Travelers from the red and yellow list must quarantine. No quarantine is required for travelers from the green list. No additional documentation is required.

Latest information here

Best Christmas 2020: Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, Poland: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Poland is one of the European countries least affected by the coronavirus, along with Portugal and Greece. There are up to 13 times less deaths linked to Covid-19 per million inhabitants in Poland than in the most affected countries of Western Europe. No hospital has ever been overloaded and Poland has more hospital beds per inhabitant than the Netherlands or Switzerland.

Warsaw, the capital, with a historic center that has been declared a Unesco World Heritage, impresses with its resilience, respect for history and contemporary style. Its history is that of a people capable of facing any situation, of recovering and moving forward.

Facing Coronavirus, the Polish capital’s message has been: “Warsaw survived two world wars. We will get through this one too. See you very soon!” 

Warsaw will have two main, safe Christmas markets thanks to measures taken by local officials such as dispensed hydroalcoholic gel, signposted routes to ensure social distancing in the market and contactless payments.

Christmas market dates: November 29 to December 24. 

Travelling to Poland: Citizens of EU+ countries are allowed to enter Poland without restrictions.

Sanitary measures: A Passenger Locator Form and a Public Health Self Declaration are requested on flights.

Latest information here.

The streets illuminated for Christmas in Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, southern Germany: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

DPA/AFP via Getty Images

With nearly five times fewer severe cases of Covid-19 per million inhabitants than in other parts of Europe, Bavaria is among the safest destinations in Europe. 

“Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably the most magical destination at Christmas,” EBD writes. “The city appears to have been built to serve as the backdrop for one of Germany’s finest Christmas markets.”

With preventive measures but also many well-equipped hospitals, Germany has not experienced a critical situation during the pandemic. While measures are still in place for now, Germany is more open to travelers than many other European countries. Social distancing and wearing a mask are mandatory but not the Covid-19 test (except for travelers from countries at risk).  

Christmas market dates: November 23 to December 23. 

Traveling to Germany: According to the Federal Ministry of Health’s Testing Obligation Ordinance, anyone having spent time in a risk area up to 14 days before their entry into Germany, if requested by the designated health office or official, must either provide proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 or get tested within 14 days of their entry into Germany. A country or an area is defined as “high-risk” when there are more than 50 new infections per 100,000 people over the last period of seven days.

Sanitary measures: No special documentation is required.

Latest information here.

Best Christmas markets 2020: Graz, Austria

Graz, Austria: Best and Safest European Christmas destination 2020

Photo: European Best Destinations

Graz, Austria

Austria has remained a safe destination throughout the pandemic thanks to preventive and health measures taken early by the authorities. With up to 10 times fewer deaths per million inhabitants than the most other countries, Austria appears among the safest destination for the winter holidays in Europe.

Austria is welcoming travelers this winter with “the highest health and safety standards while doing everything to guarantee you wonderful moments for the winter holidays,” according to EBD.

 Graz, the capital of Styria and Austria’s second city, is a renaissance gem with a safe and unforgettable Christmas season. Numerous Christmas markets are located within walking distance, the oldest taking place around the Franciscan church. Close by is the Christmas market in front of City Hall with a giant Christmas tree and an old-fashioned merry-go-round for children.

The Eiserne Tor market is run exclusively by local charity organizations and the proceeds go to charity projects.

Christmas market dates: November 20 to December 24. 

Travelling to Austria: Entry from a country with a stable Covid-19 situation is possible without restrictions. The corresponding countries are listed in the Entry Ordinance.

Sanitary measures: An entry and transit declaration is required.

Latest information here.

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10 Best Places to Travel in May

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If you’re ready to get a jump start on summer travel, here are our picks for the ultimate May trip, whether you want to lounge beachside, experience natural beauty, chow down during a food festival, or meander through medieval city centers.

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Looking for a Memorial Day trip or inspiration for a late spring break? May is the best time to take advantage of shoulder season in historic cities such as Stockholm, or if you prefer, to avoid rainy season and enjoy sunny days in Cuzco. Here are the 10 best places to travel.

Spend time in such places as the Moderna Museet (the Museum of Modern Art), one of the myriad museums scattered throughout Stockholm.

Stockholm

May is good for: history buffs

The Swedish capital is made up of 14 islands linked by more than 50 bridges, and it is full of charms for people of all ages. May is one of the best months to go—temperatures are mild and days are long, but the high-season prices haven’t hit yet. If you arrive as early as May 1, you’ll experience May Day, when festivals and parades abound.

Get a sense of Stockholm’s medieval history by wandering the cobbled alleyways of the Old Town (Gamla Stan) and its many historical buildings and sites. Here, you’ll find the Storkyrkan, the city’s main cathedral, and the Museum of Medieval Stockholm, which tells the city’s tale during the age of nobility and knights. Catch the pomp of the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace (12:15 p.m. on weekdays and 1:15 p.m. on Sundays).

A favorite city retreat is Hagaparken, a large royal park just north of the city center. It has lawns, lakes, and woodland, not to mention three regal residences and the Butterfly House with its 700 butterflies flitting about. A great end-point from a long walk is Koppartälten (the Copper Tents), three copper structures painted bright blue and gold that resemble something straight out of a Narnia novel. Constructed in 1787 and once used as royal stables, they were designed by King Gustav III’s theater architect. Today, one of the faux tents houses a café.

Another popular city center oasis is Djurgården, where you can experience rolling Swedish countryside a short bus ride away. Besides being a lovely place for locals to picnic and take summertime walks, the island is home to many historical sites and museums like the Abba Museum, the Spirits Museum (liquor, not ghosts), the maritime Vasa Museum, and more. —AFAR Editors

While different whales migrate through Monterey Bay year-round, May is an especially great time to spot humpback, killer, and blue whales.

Monterey, California

May is good for: sea lovers, whale watchers

Located on California’s central coast about a two-hour drive from San Francisco, Monterey Bay spans 40 miles from Santa Cruz in the north to Pacific Grove; it is teeming with sea creatures, thanks in part to Monterey Canyon, a submarine canyon descending 6,000 feet below sea level. Visitors can witness the migration of different whales year-round, but in May there are opportunities to spot killer, humpback, and blue whales, which migrate through December. Music lovers can also appreciate the increasingly popular music festival, California Roots Music & Arts Festival, held over Memorial Day weekend.

Ranked among the world’s greatest marine museums, Monterey Bay Aquarium is the area’s main tourist draw and welcomes 2 million guests a year. Floor-to-ceiling glass viewing walls allow visitors full views of underwater ecosystems, like the Kelp Forest (where leopard sharks roam) and Open Sea (home to sea turtles and huge schools of sardines). Morning feedings of the African penguin colony and the always-playful sea otters are crowd-pleasing delights.

Active travelers of all levels will find a suitable land or sea adventure in Monterey. To truly immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, grab a kayak, get out on the ocean, and watch the clouds and coastline drift by. Gliding across the waters of Monterey Bay in near silence can be a humbling and serene experience, or it can turn into a bucket-list encounter with playful schools of dolphins or breaching whales. —AFAR Editors

Churchill Downs opened in 1875 and has been home to the Kentucky Derby ever since.

Louisville, Kentucky

May is good for: booze hounds, equestrians of all levels

The Kentucky Derby captures international headlines on the first Saturday in May, with mint juleps, elaborate hats, and edge-of-your-seat horse racing, but it’s the Kentucky Derby Festival that puts on the real show. Although there are events as early as November, the festival ramps up during the two weeks prior to the Derby, and pretty much anything goes: a steamboat race, hot air balloon chase, marathon, and concerts with big-name acts.

The horse race isn’t the only reason to visit Kentucky in May. Cocktail connoisseurs will appreciate the city’s reputation as the center of the bourbon-making universe, with most of the world’s supply coming from the city and its surroundings. In downtown, the elixir bubbles forth from gleaming copper stills at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. Family friendly exhibits take you back to 1783, when bourbon making began, while production tours show how it’s done today. A few blocks away, elegant Angel’s Envy offers tours and tastings of its slightly sweet, port-cask-finished whiskey.

To visit the distilleries like Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark, you’ll have to road-trip into the surrounding countryside. Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail provides itineraries for 19 small craft distilleries or 18 big-name ones, and visitors can get a passport stamp to show that they’ve visited (and opportunities for prizes). If you decide to take the double trail tour, plan on at least a week to visit all 37 distilleries. —AFAR Editors

Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, sits in the Andes Mountains, only a day-trip away from the city of Cuzco.

Cuzco

May is good for: adventurous spirits, hikers

The Andean city of Cuzco was once the heart of the Inca Empire. Situated 11,000 feet above sea level, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most visited cities in Peru. Although May is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s also the beginning of the dry season and hasn’t quite hit high season for crowds yet. The area is the gateway to the Sacred Valley and stunning swaths of the Amazon Basin, as well as Machu Picchu.

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Set in a remote, achingly beautiful corner of the Andes—all emerald peaks, snaking mists, endemic orchids, and meandering llamas—the most famous Inca citadel has the rare power to induce one of life’s pinch-me moments. To work around the crowds, consider a hiking adventure that puts you at the ruins before daybreak. The classic Inca Trail takes you from the outskirts of Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu’s Sun Gate over the course of three nights and four days. Though the trek isn’t easy—the Inca era was clearly the golden age of comically steep mountain staircases—there’s an embarrassment of riches along the way: the ever-shifting terrain, microclimates, flora, fauna, and plenty of Instagram-worthy views (hello, snowcapped Vilcanota Range), to say nothing of the Inca ruins sprinkled throughout. Another way to work around the crowds? Opt for a conservation trip with AFAR Travelers’ Choice Award–winner REI Adventures to help preserve Machu Picchu’s archaeological heritage.

Other amazing ruins to see include the terraced circles at Moray, believed to be an agricultural complex (but no one knows for sure); the stronghold at Ollantaytambo, which served as the base for the Incas’ Spanish resistance; and the underrated house complexes at Winay Wayna along the Inca Trail. All are near Machu Picchu, although some are harder to get to than others. —AFAR Editors

Orcas swim off the coast of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, British Columbia

May is good for: active travelers, road-trippers

Melting snow and blooming trees mark the beginning of spring in British Columbia. Bears come out of hibernation, orcas and humpbacks start their migration north, and restaurants brim with spring seafood (salmon, halibut, spot prawns) and foraged treats (spruce tips, fiddlehead ferns). May 1 marks the start of hiking season on the renowned West Coast Trail.

Vancouver Island—which has the capital city, Victoria, and the wood-shingled surf town Tofino—packs a lot into its 12,000 square miles. Come 2020, there are even more ways to explore. In Tofino, where travelers can surf and kayak, there are new additions to the town’s flourishing culinary scene, such as the Tofino Distillery and the vegan restaurant Bravocados, and new suites at the Pacific Sands Resort. The reigning queen of Tofino hospitality is still the Wickaninnish Inn, however. Its renovated Pointe Restaurant and On the Rocks bar—all wood and ocean-view windows, with a bar fashioned from local marble—will open a new wine cellar and event space in time for World Oceans Day (June 8). A new, nearly 15-mile multiuse trail that stretches from Tofino to its coastal neighbor, Ucluelet, is in the works. Travelers can book cycling tours with Pacific Rim Eco Tours in Ucluelet. The island is also home to 50 First Nations communities, with many offering immersive ways for travelers to connect with Native traditions. Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours is slated to run three trips along the island’s northern coast that highlight various aspects of the Homalco culture.

By the way, Vancouver Island is about 70 miles west of Vancouver. A road trip is one of the best ways to connect with the land and sea: Travelers can rent a car in Vancouver and take the 95-minute ferry to Victoria, or they can take a roughly 30-minute flight from Vancouver and rent a car from Victoria’s International Airport. It takes 5.5 hours to drive the island from end to end. A more enjoyable experience? Opting for the Oceanside Route, which parallels the water as it leads through quaint towns on the island’s east coast. —Serena Renner, as seen in the January/February 2020 issue

Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

May is good for: stargazers

The world’s largest salt desert, located in Bolivia’s high-altitude plateau, is becoming a luxury outpost. And May—the tail end of the wet season and the beginning of the dry season—is an ideal month to visit: The flats, located in southwest Bolivia, are more accessible, and thanks to the mix of sunny and rainy days, travelers may be able to see the salt flats both dry and when they are flooded, which creates the surreal mirror effect captured in countless photos.

In May 2019, the Swiss outfitter Amazing Escapes partnered with Bolivia’s indigenous Jirira community to open Kachi Lodge, the region’s first permanent luxury lodge. The highly sustainable camp, located at the foot of the Tunupa volcano, comprises six solar-powered geodesic domes with wood-pellet stoves, bay windows, and incinerating toilets. Reclaimed wood furniture, traditional bayeta textiles, and artwork from Gastón Ugalde (considered the Andean Andy Warhol) decorate the lodge. Claus Meyer, the Michelin-starred chef behind the destination restaurant Gustu in La Paz, oversees the menu, and dishes are made from native Bolivian ingredients. Guests can stargaze through the onsite telescope, take culinary classes, get an art lesson from Ugalde, or explore with a private guide part of the otherworldly terrain that spans over 4,000 square miles.

—Nora Walsh, as seen in the January/February 2020 issue

Sailing is a popular way to explore the British Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Islands

May is good for: snorkelers

Skip hurricane season (June through November) and visit this Travelers’ Choice Award–winner in spring, when the weather is balmy and underwater visibility is high, revealing colorful reefs and historic shipwrecks.

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Besides, with the reopening of several major resorts in 2020, this is the year the British Virgin Islands fully rebound from the devastating 2017 hurricane season. Richard Branson’s Necker Island reopened after multimillion-dollar renovations in late 2018, unveiling additional accommodations and wind turbines that produce almost all of the resort’s energy. Over on Virgin Gorda, Rosewood Little Dix Bay reopened in January 2020 with midcentury modern interiors that hark back to when the resort first opened in 1964. As for the Willy T, the beloved floating bar and restaurant destroyed in Hurricane Irma? A newer, larger replacement serves up rum-soaked fun just off Norman Island, believed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

There are no direct flights to the islands from the U.S. mainland, but several airlines connect to Tortola via San Juan, Puerto Rico, and other Caribbean hubs. Travelers who fly to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands can ride the ferry to Tortola—part of the local ferry network that makes island-hopping easy and scenic. Those who prefer to plot their own course between turquoise coves and pirate caves will find crewed yachts and catamarans ready to charter. —Kristina Malsberger and Lyndsey Matthews, as seen in the January/February 2020 issue

Coqui frogs are endemic to Puerto Rico—and travelers can spot them in El Yunque National Forest.

Puerto Rico

May is good for: nature nuts

Many consider mid-April to late May in Puerto Rico the sweet spot: Winter crowds clear, prices drop, and official hurricane season (June through November) has yet to begin. Travelers who want to experience the bioluminescent glow of Mosquito Bay (off the island of Vieques) should plan a trip over Memorial Day weekend to coincide with a new moon.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has rebuilt itself better and stronger. With renewed pride and increased self-sufficiency, the island offers a flurry of new enticements. They include new and refreshed hotels: in the Condado district, La Concha, dating back to 1958, has unveiled a $15 million renovation; and El Conquistador in Fajardo, on the eastern end of the island, will fully reopen this year. On the culinary front, Puerto Rico’s most famous restaurant, José Enrique, which features locally sourced ingredients, recently reopened closer to the beach in San Juan. There’s Spoon Food Tours’ modern chinchorreo, a party bus that makes culinary stops throughout the countryside, and the new Ron de Barrillito Visitor Center in Bayamón, where guests can enjoy tours and tastings and fill their own bottles with Puerto Rico’s oldest rum. In the capital, the recently opened entertainment complex El Distrito San Juan lures visitors with a concert arena, restaurants, bars, a dance club, and Puerto Rico’s first urban zip line. And while there’s no zip line in El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. national forest system, visitors will find fascinating species—including the Puerto Rican screech owl and the indigenous coquí frog—that have weathered the storms. —K.M.

Hundreds of restaurateurs and thousands of eaters will gather for the fifth annual Food Zurich festival in May.

Zurich

May is good for: chocolate fans, food lovers

Though Zurich might evoke images of a city full of financiers in business suits, the historic lakeside city in northeastern Switzerland is also a lovely summer stop for travelers. And May is the perfect time to visit: Peak season has yet to strike, the weather is mild, and some noteworthy flavors are on display. First up is Food Zurich, an 11-day culinary fete that offers more than 100 food-centric events: Attendees get to taste both traditional Swiss fare and experimental dishes, take part in cooking workshops, watch talks and demonstrations by lauded chefs (kitchen battles, anyone?), and more. Then, from May 8 to June 7, the seventh annual Street Food Festival will take place. Sushi! Cupcakes! Dumplings! Tacos! And musical entertainment is on tap for eaters, too.

But perhaps the most thrilling event in May isn’t a food festival at all, but a building opening—the Lindt Home of Chocolate in Kilchberg, about 25 minutes outside Zurich by public transit. This May, the 65,000-square-foot complex will open, containing the world’s largest Lindt shop, as well as interactive exhibits on cacao and Switzerland’s chocolate pioneers, a “Chocolateria” where up to 60 participants can learn the art of chocolate making, plus a nearly 30-foot-high chocolate fountain. —Sara Button 

The Infiorata flower fest is one of a number of events taking place across Sicily in May.

Sicily

May is good for: all types of travelers

“One doesn’t come to Italy for niceness,” British novelist E.M. Forster once wrote. “One comes for life.” Indeed, May is a great time of year for a trip to Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, just west of Calabria, the tip of the Italian boot. May still counts as shoulder season; warm days mean the water is comfortable enough to take a dip but the weather is not as toasty as it gets in summer. Starting May 20, 2020, a new seasonal United flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Palermo Airport is opening up the beautiful isle to American flyers with the only daily nonstop option.

Even better? The gem of an island has something for every type of traveler. Love food? Snack on the freshest of seafood (think super fresh prawns and stuffed sardines) or arancini (bites of breaded, deep-fried risotto) or sweet ricotta-filled cannoli. Hiking more your style? Join a guided hiking tour to summit Mount Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage site and Europe’s highest volcano (budding volcanologists, take note: it’s active). Is “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” your theme song? Every May, San Vito Lo Capo, a seaside town with white sand beaches and turquoise waters, hosts an international kite festival. Have an ardent love of arias? Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s opera house, is Italy’s largest and reportedly has perfect acoustics; in May, catch The Merry Wives of Windsor. Consider yourself a flower child? During the Infiorata di Noto on the third Sunday of May, master florists cover a main street in the baroque town of Noto with designs composed entirely of flowers.

We could go on, but you should just book the ticket and let us know what your favorite part was. —Sara Button

This story originally appeared on February 20, 2019. It was updated on February 11, 2020, to include current information.

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