Top Ten Winter Breaks In Europe

February 7, 2020

Why wait until summer to go on holiday? With stunning destinations across the continent you can enjoy a winter getaway in Europe and feel just as rested as you would in the summer. But where to go? We’ve put a list together of some of the best winter city breaks across Europe to help you decide.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Do the Danes not epitomise the word cosy through their hygge mentality and atmosphere during winter? The word ‘hygge’ means a sense of cosiness with feelings of wellness and contentment – surely a great way to feel when on a winter break. For fairytale European winter, the home of Hans Christian Andersen fits the bill. Visit the iconic Little Mermaid statue, stroll the illuminated 19th century Tivoli Gardens and warm up in city’s cosy bars and cafes with a mug of glogg and a warm cinnamon bun.


2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Although the frozen canals are now the stuff of myths, there is still plenty to do in Amsterdam over the winter. Wrap up warm and head out on a canal cruise to see the tall merchant houses and cobbled lanes from the city’s famous waterways. Taste hundreds of types of chocolate at the annual Chocolate Festival in February and shelter from the cold at one of Amsterdam’s many museums. As the sun sets take solace in one of the city’s restaurants – how about dinner with a view at the A’Dam tower?


3. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn’s turreted castles and coastal location make it a charming place to visit. Strolling through the old town feels like stepping back in time, with several UNESCO protected medieval churches and buildings peppering your path. Climb to Toompea Castle for breathtaking vistas of the city in every season but if you’re lucky, winter might just bring with it a dusting of snow – truly magical!


4. Freiburg, Germany

Located at the foot of the black forest, Freiburg is a thriving university town with a charming heritage. The old town is a mix of gabled houses, cobbled squares and traditional cafes to head into when the cold gets too much.

If you fancy heading out of the city, in winter the surrounding black forest becomes frosted in white, with the huge evergreens laced in snow, offering chilly walks or cosy scenic drives.

Each February, the city celebrates Fasnet, a centuries-old tradition of masked and costumed performances in the streets which creates a celebratory atmosphere. Once you’ve joined in the festivities, head inside for some Schnitzel and German beer – a real winter warmer.


5. Colmar, France

For a gastronomical getaway, Colmar is a great place to visit. Situated near the German border in the Alsace region, the cuisine is a blend of French and German influences. Local vineyards produce Riesling and Gewürztraminer wine which complements the food nicely.

It’s a picturesque place with colourful cottages housing local artisans and a grand gothic church towering over the town. Stop by the Fishermen’s Quay, stroll the canals of ‘Little Venice’ and pop by the Market Hall for some authentic Alsatian produce.


If you would prefer to head inside, the Musée Unterlinden houses fascinating medieval statues and artwork from the middle ages to the present day.

6. Salzburg, Austria

Although The Sound of Music and Mozart tours bring a lot of tourism to the city, there’s so much more to Salzburg! This medieval Austrian city boasts incredible mountain views, a maze-like Old Town, a clifftop fortress and a grand cathedral which hosts classical concerts regularly.


To try some authentic Austrian beer, head to Augustiner bräu, a traditional beer hall which only serves the one beer in litre of half litre tankards. There are a variety of kiosks serving food such as bratwurst, pork knuckle and shredded radish to complement the beer nicely too – yum!

7. Bergen, Norway

The Norwegian UNESCO world heritage city of Bergen is an absolute delight to visit in winter. The glassy fjords, snow capped mountains and colourful buildings lining the fishing port make for a picturesque getaway – just make sure you take your thermals! The old quarter is filled with charming boutiques and cafes and you can get a cable car to the top of Mount Fløyen which sits 1000 ft above the city offering beautiful views on clear days. If you’re lucky you might even catch sight of the famous northern lights.


8. Ghent, Belgium

Wrap up warm and amble along Ghent’s canals and rivers, dropping into a café here or there to enjoy some mouthwatering Flemish cuisine.

Visit The Castle of the Counts to explore the medieval fortress which now houses an Arms Museum. Climb to the rooftop for panoramic views across the city where you can see the four medieval towers of Ghent piercing the skyline.


Other places to see in Ghent include the chilling Castle of Gerald the Devil, the charming Citadel Park and the Great Butchers Hall, a restored 15th century butchers hall which now incorporates small restaurants for visitors to enjoy a bite to eat. Flemish stew anyone?

9. Berlin, Germany

If you fancy seeing Berlin in an unconventional way, go on a trabi safari in an iconic east German Trabant car. Or why not visit one of Berlin’s museums– some of them even have their own island on the River Spree. Many sights are outside though such as The Brandenburg Gate, The Berlin Wall and The Holocaust Memorial so make sure you wrap up warm.


Berlin’s winter festivals are great to visit too, from the annual Transmediale festival (alternative arts and culture festival) to eat! Berlin, a culinary explosion across the city at the end of February.

A visit to Berlin isn’t complete without a warming mug of glühwein and some hearty sausage and sauerkraut in a local tavern.  Prost!

10. The French Alps and The Pyrenees

Admittedly it’s a broad listing for a cosy winter break but we just couldn’t pick one resort or destination. The mountainous peaks and backdrops of the Alps and Pyrenees offer amazing places for a winter break. Whether you’re looking to do some skiing or snowboarding or just fancy cosying up and enjoying some hot chocolate and a spa, there are places that cater for all those things, against the magical mountainous backdrop of the Alps or Pyrenees.


DFDS run several ferry routes across Europe. Find out more here.

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