Winter time is the time when we cosy up in chunky knits, boots and scarfs. It gets darker and much colder, but that doesn’t mean we should snuggle up indoors with the fire on and a hot chocolate (though that idea is also quite appealling).
Getting out and about in the Winter can be just as fun and excting as in the Summer, with a number of activities such as ice skating, snowboarding or skiing, as well as all the cute Christmas markets to meander around. Oh and drinking copicous amounts of hot chocolate and mulled wine – always a winner!
Here are a few locations in Europe that you could consider exploring this winter.
To satisfy your sweet tooth: Bruges, Belgium
What could be a more inviting winter location than the chocolate capital of the World? Granted, that is actually Brussels (being the capital of Belgium). However, you can hop on a train and within 1 hour, you’ll be in the quaint town of Bruges (also spelt Brugge).
As soon as you step off the train, you can almost smell the sugar. There are chocolate and waffle shops on every street. It is almost illegal if you leave and don’t have a waffle or chocolate.
As well as discovering one of the many chocolate shops (of which there are over 2,000 in the country), you could also have a good beligan beer in one of the many Breweries.
Then to burn Known as the Venice of the North, with its winding canal and cobbled streets. It is a location you could spend hours wandering around, with so much to do.
Whats on this Winter?
If you are planning a trip to Bruges this winter, their Christmas market starts on November 25th. It will have an ice rink, great food and drink as well as craft stalls.
For your fashion fix: Milan, Italy
As many a fashionista would known (I am not one of them), much of high end fashion brands were born in Milano. Hello Prada and Armani. So if this is your thing, then you will certainly get your fix here.
Milan is also known for one of the most famous opera houses in the World (step aside Sydney) and has other amazing buildings such as the Milan Cathedral situated in the main square, and the Pegasus gallery next to it.
If visiting around Christmas time, there are some festive and winter activities to get involved in. There are some small markets n the main square as well as further afield, though these are definately not on par with cities in Germany for example.
If you’re keen, there are some ice rinks in the city from December onwards. Get your skates on, then cuddle up with a good warm coffee. Better yet, why not tired out the crazy cat cafe, for a cuddle and a coffee.
If none of that ticks your boxes, then you know you can count on exceptionally good Italian food!
For some fresh pow pow: the mountains of Bulgaria
If you are a proper snow bunny, then you will likely want to visit the mountains to snowboard or ski this winter.
However, if the thought of paying to visit the premium ski locations such as France or Switzerland, why not go to Bulgaria?
A few years ago, I stayed in Borovets in Bulgaria, and had 2 days boarding in fresh pow pow. It was so much cheaper than any other mountain location, and for someone who is relatively new to the sport, it was a great decision. Plenty of learner slopes and not too busy.
When you are done in the mountains, you could always swing by for a tour around Sofia, the capital city.
For Vienese charm: Vienna, Austria
Austria is a beautiful country. From the hills of Salzburg to the incredible lakes of Hallstatt and delightful opera houses in Vienna. Throw in some yummy food: Hello Schnitzels and Sacher cake, and it makes for a pretty awesome trip.
I took a trip to Vienna on a whim with my sister, when we were in Bratislava. We basically saw that you could easily get a train there and went, “hey, shall we go to Vienna for the day!”
It turned out to be a great decision. Vienna was much more vibrant in winter, than its neighbour in Slovakia. There was a quaint little Christmas market, and carriage rides on horses around the city.
If you are planning a trip to Vienna this winter, then check out the Vienmese Christmas market at the city hall, from November 17th.
Whilst you are there. Did you know that Vienna has one of the oldest operating ferris wheels in world?
The Wiener Riesenrad is defiately worth a ride on.
It is always a good idea: Paris, France
Paris is one of those classic cities that can be visited many times of the year, and still looks beautful.
I have visited Paris many times. In autumn, with beautiful golden trees, in spring with incredible colours in bloom, and in winter, where it is bare, but where lights make it feel so magical.
There are a number of things to see and do in Paris. If it is a Christmas market you are after, then there are a bucket load of them. The most famous one being at the Champs-Élysées.
You can also get your fix of ice skating at a number of locations, including at the Eiffel Tower.
And if that wasn’t enough, you’ve got incredible french pasteries and hot chocolates to entice you further.