Winter is a long and dark time, so we’ve enjoyed sprucing it up a bit with festive lights and delicious treats since the dawn of time. They still call Christmas Jul in Scandinavia, a term that’s been with them ever since the old Norse traditions and Yule celebrations, predating the Christian festivities by thousands of years.
Some countries are just bit better at decorating their streets and small towns during these darkest months. The wonders of winter shine even brighter when you get to experience it in the middle of a snowy Christmas market, mittens on and mulled wine in hand, with a day of skiing adventures still fresh in mind.
Here are the three most magical cities to visit this winter to make the festive season as memorable as possible.
#1 Munich, Germany: For old traditions
The Christkindl market in Marienplatz, Munich, is famous all over the world and keeps tourists trekking back to the city between November and December to experience the festive feeling. Although the city is beautiful at any time of the year, it’s especially charming when the streets light up with the glorious markets, and every passerby carries a handcrafted cup of mulled wine, with its warming aromas reaching your nose from afar.
Visit the market to pick up artisanal handcrafted wooden toys for children, freshly baked gingerbread or even complicated gingerbread houses – everything that will warm your Christmas heart.
#2 Salzburg, Austria: To be close to the Alp
Celebrate the festive season to the sound of classical music and baroque drama by visiting Salzburg in Austria. The architecture is striking but pair it with a fine layer of Alpine snow and a crystal blue frosty sky, and you’ll see why so many people fall in love with this city during the winter time.
Have several cups of Viennese hot chocolate and try some Kaiserschmarrn, the Austrian version of pancakes, and let their warming food fill you with festive vibes.
Any charming city close to the alps is a great alternative for a winter holiday. This catered Chalet La Petite Pia has you right in the action and will allow you easy access to hit the slopes first thing in the morning. If you’re an avid skier this region is for you, if not, enjoy the snow from the warmth of a hot tub or by a roaring fire.
#3 Vilnius, Lithuania: For its medieval charm
Another city that is gorgeous at any time of the year is Vilnius. This city looks magical as the snow first hits the cobblestones. You won’t be short of Christmas shows or events with plenty to do for all the family such as the free Christmas in the Capital and several performances of The Nutcracker.
Eat dinner at Old Town’s Ertlio Namas if you enjoy menus with authentic recipes from the 17th and 19th century – before having a relaxing walk to see the frozen River Neris which is also located in the middle of the Old Town.
While these are city experiences for Christmas-lovers, you can easily map out an even more wonderful winter trip by going further up north – the home of Santa Claus in Finland, for example. For something a little closer to home enjoy these charming cities and treat yourself to a warm pair of knitted mittens to fit in with the locals.