Winter is an exciting time of the year with the Christmas holidays and New Year’s, making it one of the most festive and magical seasons. Wrap up warm because all of these destinations I've put together get rather cold in the winter! I have been to all of them and there's no order of preference as each destination has its own particularity which I shall leave for you to discover sometime soon...
If you really want to live the ultimate winter wonderland experience then you must definitely go to Lapland, especially if you want to see the Northern Lights! There are many activities to choose from such as cross-country skiing, snowmobile rides, and either reindeer or husky tours. I first went to Kiruna in Sweden and the following year to Kakslauttanen in Saariselka, Finland and this winter I really want to go somewhere in Norway (Tromsø or Lofoten Islands) as I have fallen in love with the landscape, the peacefulness and the clean fresh air! If you love going out in the wilderness then I'm sure you will not regret this trip.
As Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is where I'm currently living, it's obvious why it's on my list of best places to go this winter. It gets rather cold at this time of the year but there are plenty of things you can do to ease this, such as drinking a vin chaud (mulled wine) at the Champs Elysées Christmas market, visiting some of the extraordinary museums, having dinner or drinks at the heated terrace of a Parisian bistro, getting around on a Vélib, etc. You can also make the most of all the wonderful Christmas decorations and other festive events. Plus, as of mid-January, the winter sales start so it's a perfect time to go to Paris if you're planning on going on a shopping spree.
Read more: 10 Top Things to Do in Paris
Prague is a beautiful small city with its old cobblestone streets, red brick rooftops, and lovely river front making it perfect for a little weekend winter escape. You must definitely go up the Old Town Hall Tower to see the amazing panoramic views over the city and, of course, walk over the iconic Charles Bridge to reach the Castle on the other side of the river, amongst other things.
Helsinki is a lovely cosmopolitan city that can easily be visited in a weekend. Despite the absolute freezing cold temperatures, it's pretty amazing to see all the surrounding water completely frozen, especially when you take the ferry to Suomenlinna and you break through the ice. The contrast between the old and new modern architecture makes Helsinki even more of an interesting place to visit.
I love London during the winter because there is so much going on. You have the amazing 5th of November fireworks and all the beautiful Christmas decorations which are installed around the third week of November. We British just love the Xmas period and get very excited about putting up our Christmas trees and buying our presents for family and friends. There are many Christmas markets, ice-skating rinks and concerts for you to enjoy – find out more here. The big department stores, such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Liberty, have the most beautiful window displays at this period.
Read more: 10 Top Things to Do in West London
One of the greatest things about visiting Budapest in the winter is having the contrast between freezing yourself outside whilst enjoying a hot bath in the open-air. Budapest is renowned for its hot springs and I must say that this is the cherry on the cake to your visit. You can even book yourself a massage or a pedicure for the ultimate treat. See the full list of thermal baths here. There are also plenty of interesting monuments, museums and neighborhoods to visit, such as the Fisherman's Wharf and the superb Parliament building.
Madrid is the perfect European city to visit in the winter because is mostly sunny all year round so your daily visits will not get ruined by a rainy day. The city is just as lively as during the summer (probably even more as practically all the locals leave the capital during the summer holidays) so there are plenty of things for to do. Remember to keep yourself warm with a delicious hot chocolate and churros from the famous San Gines Chocolateria...
Read more: A Weekend in Madrid
New York, New York! When is it not a good time to visit this amazing cosmopolitan city?! It can snow a lot as I'm sure you've seen on the news in the past so do wrap up warm and be prepared for all kinds of weather. If you can't bear the cold temperatures then spend your day at some of the wonderful museums such as MOMA or the MET. Despite the cold temperatures, NYC stays alive and people continue to buzz around so you're guaranteed an exciting time. Like all the other big cities, Christmas is a very magical time and the New Yorkers sure do know how to put on a show!
Read more: New York in 5 Days
For those of us who are mountain lovers, we all get so excited when the winter arrives and the first snowfall happens and the ski resorts open. What more could you want in the winter than a perfect ski/snowboard session through the powder snow on a clear sunny day?! This is pure bliss for me and I would recommend anyone visiting Europe to go to the Alps. Why the French Alps in particular? Because it's France and you'll eat the best food! The fancy places are Megève, Courchevel 1850 and Chamonix. If you're looking for more of a quaint atmosphere and good skiing then head to Tignes, Val-d'Isère, or Serre Chevalier.
Read more: The Best Ski Time in Val d'Isère
What's your favourite winter destination?
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English and French wanderer. Based in Paris. Tasting the world through one escape to another...