By now, Charlotte residents know that things can get pretty darn chilly in winter. January is no fun at all and when the freeze arrives, it’s understandable that the only thing anyone feels like doing is cozying up under a blanket and not coming out until April. Of course, that’s one option, but another is to plan a winter getaway to Europe at this time of year. Why? There are fun snow activities, far less tourists, better prices, and a real, palpable Christmas spirit in the air from November to early December. There’s even a bit of sun if you’re lucky!
All throughout Europe, you can find big, bustling metropolises, quaint little towns, and a vast and regular train network across the continent. Of course, there are plenty of European flights options listed by Omio to check out, too. This means that you can get an affordable winter vacation with the same great sights as summer, but with shorter lines. Sounds pretty great, right?
Rovaniemi – Finland
Ever wanted to know what Santa Claus is up to when he’s not delivering presents? He’s hanging out in Rovaniemi. To experience the most authentic Christmas, full of pure, white snow, reindeer transportation, and beautifully lit fir trees, a trip to the north of Finland is a must.
Be warned, this winter wonderland does get very cold, with temperatures of around 15 °F being fairly common, even during the daytime. You’ll probably forget about the cold when visiting Santa at his Arctic Circle grotto, however, or when taking advantage of the ice fishing, snowmobile trips, husky rides, and the chance to see the Northern Lights.
German and Austrian Christmas markets
There are Christmas markets in Europe, and then there are Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. These guys know how to make an awe-inspiring and romantic pop-up market. These can be found in major cities and small villages across both countries, and you’ll definitely find numerous markets to visit in the bigger spots like Berlin, Munich, and Vienna.
Although it’ll be cold, the best time to go is at night, when you can see all the lights twinkle and get the chance to warm up with a glühwein (mulled wine) and bratwurst, and top it off with delicious gingerbread. There are many stalls that sell fun Christmassy items, and sometimes games and live entertainment to keep everyone in a great mood. Go in December (before the 25th) to get the most out of these fantastic Christmas markets.
Amsterdam – Holland
Amsterdam, with all its beautiful canals, cozy coffee shops, and old, cobbled streets, looks like something directly out of a fairy tale (especially if the snow is beginning to fall). It’ll never feel dark and depressing in Amsterdam, as the city’s Light Festival runs from November to January, meaning basically everywhere you go is lit up with warm, stunning lights. The city also has its fair share of winter markets, and you can even go ice-skating on the canals if they are frozen!
Zermatt – Switzerland
If you came to Europe in winter for thrills and spills, then you’re sure to find them in Zermatt. This is where to go for winter sports, as Zermatt has arguably some of the best ski slopes in the world. If that wasn’t enough, you have the view of the epic mountain peak, Matterhorn, which is part of the Alps. You’ll also have world-class restaurants, warm cabins, and great walking trails if you’re not in the mood to ski or snowboard down a mountain.