The holiday season is upon us and a lot of people are looking to spend quality time with their friends and loved ones. 

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Europe has a lot of great places to visit, especially during the winter period and we will try to give you the best choices out there. So here are the 15 best European places to visit in December.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

A Square in th City of Prague

Prague is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and it’s especially popular during the winter periods. One of the biggest contributors to that is the city’s Christmas markets which are located on the Old Square.

It gives you a unique experience of Prague’s flavors and local delicacies. Grilled sausages with a glass of world-famous Czech beer is something you can’t miss if visiting Prague.

For accommodation, try to stay in the center of the city also known as Prague 1. All of the historical buildings and the best places for sightseeing will be right nearby. Opera houses and ballets are also in full motion when December comes so don’t miss out on some of Prague’s great musical history.

2. Vienna, Austria

One of the easiest choices for a trip in December is definitely Vienna. If you are looking for culture, exploring museums, opera houses, sightseeing, and history or just plain old shopping and enjoying the food and drinks this is the place to go. City’s first district is stunning and a visit to Stephansplatz is a must.

Just down the street from that great cathedral is Vienna’s biggest opera house, Albertina. During the winter times, Albertina will live stream their Operas and concerts to the people on the streets so you can enjoy while strolling around. Museum Quarter is also right nearby and there is a lot of exhibitions for everybody. Arts and history and the natural museum are right across from each other and have one of the biggest collections in the world.

For shopping and food Mariahilferstrasse is not going to let you down. The most popular street in Vienna includes stores of all kinds and a lot of restaurants and coffee places where you can just sit, relax and enjoy this beautiful city.

3. Zermatt, Switzerland

Snow-capped mountains in Zermatt Switzerland

This small town in Switzerland is a great place for a December getaway. Surrounded by mountains this ski resort is one of the biggest tourist locations in Switzerland with its highest peak standing at 4,634 meters.

If you are a thrill seeker and enjoy extreme sports, or just want to stay at a town that looks like it came from a fairytale this is your place to be this December. With a lot of cable cars and a train that can take you on a sightseeing tour in no time you are for sure going to enjoy this wonderful place.

After warming up with a hot cup of tea do not expect to stay hungry. Swiss cheese is world-famous for its high quality and for dessert a high variety of chocolates are definitely one of the best treats in that country.

4. Budapest, Hungary

Hungary’s capital city is rich with history and culture, but it is also a modern city with a lot to offer. You can go days on end exploring its streets and cultural heritage, spend December days in lovely cafes and small corner pubs or go on wild parties.

St. Stephen’s Basilica light show is definitely a sight to see, its old architecture combined with modern light shows and 3D animations is something you don’t want to miss out on.

While strolling down the streets make sure to try a Langos which is Hungary’s most famous street food. This flatbread with garlic and cheese will keep your stomach warm on those cold December days.

5. Barcelona, Spain

The winter festivals in this city in Spain are a sight to see. Ranging in a variety of carnivals and fairs which last throughout the whole of December and later you will for sure not have a boring moment in this city. Handcrafted figurines sold by the local craftsman are a perfect Christmas present or a decoration for your living room. 

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With its warm weather even in the winter period don’t expect to see a lot of snow, but for those who want to stay away from the cold Barcelona is the perfect place for a December trip. And if you can get your hands on a homemade paella which is a seafood delicacy this trip will be perfect.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

Boats in Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Also known as the Venice of the north, a visit to this city is a great choice for a Christmas vacation. With its many Christmas markets and festivities, it’s a winter wonderland but probably the most interesting tradition is the St Lucy’s Kayak parade.

A stream of small boats traveling through the city canals carrying a great number of Christmas lights is a magical sight.

Various markets of Copenhagen give you a new perspective on street food and drink so make sure to try some of their craft beers and numerous twists on popular fast foods  Definitely one of the best places in Europe to visit in December.

7.  Rovaniemi, Finland

The City of Rovaniemi in Finland covered in snow

Where else to spend some time off in December then the home city of the Santa Claus? This Finland city that stands in the Arctic Circle is a guarantee for a good time. Taking rides with reindeers on the thick snow of the Arctic or for the more modern of us driving a snowmobile throughout this snowy landscape could be a perfect winter escape.

Because it’s so near the Arctic, during the winter periods there is almost no daylight but not to worry. A great number of beautiful Christmas lights are there to bring you in the perfect holiday mood. And for the lucky ones you might even get a chance to see the magic of the Northern Lights. If you ever wanted to see how Santa Claus spends his days this is the place to visit.

8. Malta

For those of you looking to escape the cold nights of December, look no further. Malta has sunshine all year round and its mild climate might be a great place to run away from the cold. With a great deal of Mediterranean cuisine and homemade wine, this small island country is a foodies dream come true.

Read more: Best Destinations for Solo Female Travelers in Europe

Alongside a number of winter festivals, you can take a day trip to the island of Gozo and experience a mountain climbing adventure. With Malta being primarily a summer destination accommodation and travel arrangements are a lot easier to find during the winter period.

9. Venice, Italy

This romantic destination is great to visit any time of the year but it will give you a special look at this amazing old city in December. The Basilica of St. Marco is one of its most famous landmarks and getting around the city by gondolas will be a lot easier due to less crowded streets. 

The weather can get colder during the winter period so make sure to dress warmly, while going out to get a famous Italian cappuccino and a bignè al cioccolato which is a croissant filled with chocolate, one of the favorite breakfast food in Venice.

10. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Beautiful city of Amsterdam at Sunset during Winter

The Fairytale architecture of this whole city makes it a unique traveling experience. Winters are cold in the Netherlands but not to worry, the Dutch are famous for their heavy cuisine keeping the cold outside. Ice Skating on the frozen canals of Amsterdam is a treat for the whole family and visiting some of the museums that this city has to offer is not to be missed.

Most notably the museum of Van Gogh holds the largest collection of this famous artist’s paintings. The cities nightlife is not to be ignored so if you are looking for a place where you can enjoy one of the best New Year celebrations do not miss out on this gem of Europe.

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11. Dublin, Ireland

What better to keep you warm than a nice glass of Irish whiskey? The capital of Ireland has a lot to offer, especially if you enjoy spending your time at a local pub talking about nothing and everything with the locals and having a large pint of beer. 

Visiting the Newgrange ancient tomb is a great way to spend some time looking into this country’s ancient history. The Hill of Tara which was the seating of the Irish kings is also something to consider. Also, make sure to check out St. Patrick’s Cathedral which stands in the heart of this city.

12. Lake Bled, Slovenia

This Alpine resort is a jewel of winter nature. Surrounded by mountains and forests this emerald lake represents all off the best that winter has to offer. With an ancient castle looking over this small picturesque town you can enjoy the amazing views with a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate. 

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Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia is just an hour away and is also one of the best places to visit in December. Vogel skiing resort is also right nearby and besides this favorite winter sport also offers a great number of thermal spas and relaxation centers.

13. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This hidden gem of the Balkans has a lot to offer during the winter period. The city center is a world heritage site and its warm and inviting hosts will serve you up with some of the tastiest food and beverage that you can imagine.

Cevapi with kajmak for dinner or burek for breakfast with a small cup of homemade coffee will warm up your heart the same as your belly.

Surrounded by mountains you won’t have a problem with finding ski or snowboarding resorts. This is a place you will want to come back to over and over again.

14. St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg in Russia, as seen from Water

The former capital city of the Russian empire is a cold place for sure but if you decide to take your December vacation there you will not regret it. Rich in history with mesmerizing architecture it will feel like you just stepped into a Russian novel.

December is the season of ballets, concerts, and museums so you definitely don’t want to pass the opportunity to check out some of those. Just make sure you bring enough warm clothes and don’t drink too much Russian Vodka.

15. Edinburgh, Scotland

Dancing Scotsmen on the streets and deep-fried Snickers bars, do you need anything more than that in your perfect December trip? This gothic city in Scotland is full of history and visiting the Edinburgh Castle should be on the top of your to-do list.

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter series there are even more reasons to visit this amazing city. Most of the locations in the books and movies are based on Edinburgh itself and the cafe where this story started is one of the biggest tourist attractions.

Of course, there are a lot of other cities and towns to visit in Europe but we tried to bring you 15 of the best. Visiting any of these wonderful places will not be a waste of your time. Happy holidays and enjoy your vacation.