No matter if you’re looking for an adventurous, romantic, lazy or educational getaway, you never have to look far in Europe. From world-class dining to untamed nature, our continent’s huge variety of sights, sounds and flavours never fail to enthral tourists from all over the world. But while many visitors opt for a summer holiday and avoid the dead of winter, the brave who go against the flow are rewarded: many cities actually become more scenic and exciting when Jack Frost pays Europe a visit.
Don’t believe us? Let’s break the ice and convince you with Wimdu’s neat infographic, which introduces you to seven European cities that are best enjoyed in the snow. These destinations are merely the tip of the iceberg, but may motivate you to bundle up for a wintry trip!
1. Chamonix, France
You may know Chamonix in France for its snow-stopping ski slopes, which boast everything from gentle nursery slopes to a hair-raising Vallée Blanche glacier run. When you’re not shredding powder on the resort’s pistes, however, you’ll find that the non-skiing scene is just as – if not more – appealing. Whether you’d like to master a new winter sport, such as snowshoeing or mountaineering your way up Mont Blanc, or indulge in fine dining and spa days, this winter wonderland has something special in store for solo travellers, starry-eyed romantics, families, daredevils… you name it.
2. Innsbruck, Austria
The capital of Austria’s Tyrol region is worth visiting at any time of year, but is particularly stunning during the winter months. When you’re not admiring its breathtaking view of the snow-covered Alps while skiing down the surrounding 250km of slopes, be sure to treat yourself to a meal in one of its scrumptious restaurants, take a sip of its famous Glühwein and uncover the gems of its cultural centre. Oh, and why not keep the kids entertained with the city’s wealth of child-friendly attractions and activities?
3. Prague, Czech Republic
From seeing Prague’s famous astronomical clock and castle to visiting the city zoo, the capital of the Czech Republic is widely celebrated for its range of cultural – and often unusual – landmarks. In winter, its vibrant Christmas festivities and ice skating rink in the Old Town Square make it an even more desirable destination for a couple’s weekend trip and for larger groups, who always rave about the city’s lively bar scene.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
If venturing off the beaten path sounds like your cup of tea, Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik is the ideal destination for nature lovers, quirky culture enthusiasts and adventurous families. Bundle up and head to the harbour for whale watching, or opt for a thrilling session of horse riding, quad biking, snowmobiling or dog sledding. If you dare to put your taste buds to the test, you could even try Iceland’s national dish of Hákarl, which consists of fermented shark.
5. Rovaniemi, Finland
You may know Rovaniemi in Finland as the official home of Santa Claus, which is why visiting this striking spot with children is an absolute snow-brainer. In addition to strolling through the magical Santa Claus Village, where you can also cross the Arctic Circle, compelling night safaris, a wildlife park and an amethyst mine will keep you entertained and engaged… you may even forget how cold it is because you’re having so much fun!
6. Tallinn, Estonia
The capital of Estonia is rarely explored by tourists, despite its eclectic mix of authentic and awe-inspiring attractions. Most notably, its ski facilities are a dream come true: they’re not only gorgeous, but also entirely free. Supplement your low-budget ski holiday with a stroll through the city centre, which is peppered with remarkable art and architecture, as well as an open-air history museum. What’s more, its old-world castle and churches, such as the twelfth century St. Olav’s Church, will give you an authentic insight into this charming city’s extensive and tumultuous past.
7. Tromsø, Norway
Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about my personal favourite: Tromsø, the biggest city in northern Norway. This snowy spot is perfect for witnessing the dazzling display of the northern lights, attracting thousands of adventurous visitors every year. Another must-see event is reindeer racing, a prevalent – and somewhat surreal – pastime of the locals. If you’re a real dare devil, brace yourself: along with going fishing and snowmobiling, you could also sign up for the Polar Night Half Marathon, which takes place in early January every year.
Instead of lazing around at home this winter, the reward of opting for a cold snap in the above cities outweighs the freezing temperatures that you’ll have to endure. It’s time to take a leap of faith and face up to winter!