TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER: 20 AMAZING CITIES.
December may not seem like the best time to visit Europe, but it can be, if you pick the right city. You can find fewer crowds, a more relaxed atmosphere and sometimes lower prices. We’ve put together a list of 20 amazing cities in Europe to travel to in December. A mix of festive cities, foodie cities and even a few warm cities too.
This post is part of the Lotus Eaters Travel, travel advice series. Check out more posts like how to pack for wild camping, what to do if your passport gets damaged and what you need to know about travel insurance.
Is it worth visiting Europe in December
Traveling to Europe in December: 5 cities for Hygge
1/ Vienna, Austria
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR CULTURE
Vienna, the capital of Austria, is an excellent choice if you’re traveling to Europe in December. We recommend traveling here, particularly if you enjoy museums and cultural activities. Of course, the famous opera house sits in the centre of the city, but there is far more to Vienna than just the opera house.
2/ Sofia, Bulgaria
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER TO TRY NEW FOOD
Visiting Sofia in December is a enchanting experience. The city is turns into a winter wonderland, with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a cozy atmosphere. The Christmas markets are a must-visit, offering traditional Bulgarian crafts, delicious food, and heartwarming mulled wine.
For the full December experience, you can also tie in a visit to nearby ski resort, Borovets. Perfect for December in Europe.
3/ Belgrade, Serbia
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR AN ALTERNATIVE SCENE
Belgrade can be a charming city, when you scratch under the gritty surface a little more. We spent a six weeks in Belgrade during the winter months and loved visiting the cozy pubs, the smoke filled bars and the restaurants serving hearty Serbian fare. The city is lit up for the festive period throughout December, offering a sheen of twinkling lights.
Belgrade is also a great city to visit for traveling to Europe in December if you’re on a budget. The average pint of beer costs less than 2 Euros here. Find out more about visiting Belgrade here.
4/ Budapest, Hungary
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR NIGHTLIFE
Budapest is one of our favourite cities in Europe, especially for nightlife and partying. It feels like a bohemian fairy tale at the best of times, but in December it really shines. The weather will be freezing, but wrap up warm and enjoy one of the many fancy (and good value) restaurants in Budapest, take romantic strolls around the park, visit museums and warm up at the thermal baths.
5/ Trondheim, Norway
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR COFFEE CULTURE
When it comes to Hygge, Trondheim has a lot to offer, especially in the winter. December in Trondheim is cold – expect temperatures of -4 degrees centigrade. Pack your winter coat.
In Trondheim, you can visit the beautiful old town of Bakklandet – meandering streets packed full of coffee shops, where the smell of cinnamon rolls wafts out into the street. Take time to walk near to the Fjord, blowing the cobwebs away before warming up in one of Trondheim’s breweries.
Traveling to Europe in December: 5 cities for wine and good times
1/ Porto, Portugal
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR PORT TASTING AND FIREWORKS
Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal. Although it is half the size of Lisbon, it packs in plenty of fun activities. December in Porto is fun – you’ll find the usual Christmas lights and markets, but it still maintains some of the fun and frivolity that you can find in warmer months.
Porto is all about wine and good times, even in December. Cruise by the Port houses along the river, taking your time to sample the local specialties. Sample chocolate, coffee and other local delicacies in many of the cities cozy eateries. The best bit, is that temperatures hover at around 14 degrees centigrade during the day.
The big event for December in Porto is new years eve – watch the spectacular fireworks display over the river. Find out more about things to do in Porto here.
2/ Dubrovnik, Croatia
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR REDUCED PRICES
You might think about Dubrovnik as a summer city. Whilst it is lovely when the sun is shining, it can also be a wonderful city to visit come rain or cooler weather. That said, Dubrovnik doesn’t really get that cold – with temperatures hovering at around 14 degrees centigrade during the day in December.
The best bit about visiting this city in December, is that prices drop significantly. Accommodation in the beautiful old town is normally pretty expensive, but in December it is less so. Bars and restaurants even reduce prices slightly in the winter too. Plus, you’ll have the old town to explore and recreate all of your Game of Thrones fantasies (Game of Thrones was filmed in Dubrovnik!)
3/ San Sebastian, Spain
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR WINE AND PINCHOS
We love San Sebastian in Northern Spain. In summer, you can swim in the sea and drink wine in the streets until the wee hours. In December, things are a little quieter, but certainly not sedate. You can still walk the streets of the old town, enjoying the gastronomical sensations of wine and pinchos in the many chic tapas bars.
San Sebastian hosts a traditional Spanish new years eve celebration in December – fireworks and music see in the new year. Temperatures linger at around 12 degrees Centigrade during the day.
4/ Bordeaux, France
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR FRENCH CUISINE
Bordeaux is the wine capital of France and December is a great time to visit. Accommodation prices will be lower than the summer and restaurants are less hectic.
One of our favorite restaurants in Bordeaux is Le Chien De Pavlov – the blind tasting menu costs around 35 Euros. A delightful way to spend an afternoon in Bordeaux in December. Nose around the Musée d’Aquitaine and the spectacular Grand Théâtre, before heading out for more wine and indulgence.
Visit nearby Saint-Émilion to continue your wine and gastronomy French epic.
5/ Lucca, Italy
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR ITALIAN ROMANCE
Oh Lucca, a wonderful and romantic city in Italy. Less popular than nearby Siena, but equally as enchanting. Lucca’s historic center, enclosed within its imposing Renaissance walls, is transformed into a mesmerizing realm during the holiday season.
Enjoy a meat ragu in one of Lucca’s many trattorias, washed down with a glass of chianti. At new years, Lucca comes alive with a large celebration in the main square. But throughout December, it has a magical atmosphere of indulgence and romance.
You can also pair a visit to Lucca with nearby Pisa – found only a 30 minute train ride away.
Traveling to Europe in December: 5 cities for Christmas markets
1/ London, England
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR LONDON AT ITS BEST
London, the vibrant capital of England, embraces the festive season with aplomb. Skate on a pop up ice rink at the magical Somerset House, browse crafts at one of the many Christmas markets or shop in flashy department store Liberty.
In December in London, there are Christmas lights everywhere. Londoners love Christmas and pubs throng with party goers, London becomes even more lively than normal. Average high temperatures are around 8 degrees centigrade – wrap up warm.
2/ Prague, Czech Republic
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR OLD WORLD CHARM
Prague and Christmas Markets are basically synonymous. The Old Town Christmas Market is an extravaganza or Christmas crafts, festive ornaments and local delicacies. Prague boasts old world charm, where medieval castles can be explored by day and beer enjoyed by night.
Prague is typically cold in December, temperatures can drop below zero and you can get snow. Pack a thick coat!
3/ Bratislava, Slovakia
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR CASTLES AND CHRISTMAS
The Slovakian capital, Bratislava, boasts a rich history and a vibrant cultural scene. During December, the city’s Hlavné námestie, or Main Square, transforms into a captivating Christmas market, with wooden stalls offering traditional Slovakian crafts, local delicacies, and warming spiced wine. Explore the market’s festive offerings and discover the unique charm of Bratislava’s holiday spirit.
Be sure to visit Bratislava Castle, perched atop a hill with an impeccable view of the Daunbe River in winter.
4/ Talinn, Estonia
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR BALTIC MAGIC
Nestled on the shores of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn, Estonia’s charming capital, boasts a medieval Old Town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During December, the city’s Town Hall Square transforms into a picturesque Christmas market, with wooden stalls offering traditional Estonian crafts, local delicacies, and warming mulled wine. Take a moment to soak in the enchanting atmosphere of the market and immerse yourself in the heart of Tallinn’s festive spirit.
5/ Edinburgh, Scotland
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR FESTIVITIES
Edinburgh, Scotland’s historic capital, is renowned for its stunning architecture and lively festivals. During the winter months, the city’s Christmas markets, spread across various locations, offer a delightful blend of traditional Scottish crafts, festive food and drinks, and captivating performances. Immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Edinburgh’s holiday season and discover the city’s unique charm during this special time of year.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is a world-renowned New Year’s Eve celebration, known for its vibrant atmosphere, spectacular fireworks, and unique traditions. The festivities take place over several days, culminating in a massive street party on New Year’s Eve.
Traveling to Europe in December: 5 warm cities
Where in Europe will be warm in December?
Europe in December is not particularly hot, but you can find a few cities that are warmer than others. Look to the South, to countries such Portugal, Spain and Malta. The islands of Gran Canaria & Tenerife are also popular for warm weather at this time of year.
Here are five great cities to for traveling to Europe in December.
1/ Lisbon, Portugal
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR ESCAPISM
Lisbon temperatures hover at around 12 degrees centigrade, just pleasant enough to spend your days exploring the best sites of the capital of Portugal. Visit one of the many museums, dine in some of the upmarket restaurants and perhaps even enjoy a Fado show.
2/ Istanbul, Turkey
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR EASTERN EXTRAVAGANCE
Istanbul, the captivating city straddling Europe and Asia, offers a rich tapestry of cultures, flavors, and historical treasures. December in Istanbul is a magical time, as the city prepares for the New Year with festive decorations and lively celebrations.
In December, Istanbul is a little quieter than other months meaning you can explore the famous sites of the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and Hagia Sofia with less crowds. Plus, you can get the best seats at the rooftop bars in Istanbul. Expect temperatures to be around 8 degrees centigrade during the day.
3/ Malaga, Spain
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR CITY SUN & PICASSO
Malaga is a really surprising city. Although it can be found on the Costa del Sol, it does not have the vibe you might expect. Instead, discover cobbled streets with upmarket tapas restaurants, exotic hammam baths and museums. The Picasso Museum is one of Malaga’s greatest hits and the perfect place to explore for a few hours in December.
Expect mild temperatures of around 15 degrees centigrade, just warm enough to enjoy a cold glass of vino blanco outside.
4/ Palma, Mallorca
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR RELAXING
Palma de Mallorca, the vibrant capital of the Balearic Islands, offers a blend of stunning beaches, charming architecture, and a relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle. December in Palma de Mallorca is a delightful time to visit, as the city enjoys milder temperatures and a festive atmosphere.
Weather in Palma in December tends to be mild and sunny, with temperatures of around 15 degrees centigrade.
5/ Palermo, Sicily
TRAVELING TO EUROPE IN DECEMBER FOR ITALIAN SPIRIT
Palermo is vibrant, bustling – it is Sicilian. If you want somewhere to visit in December for mild weather and a bit of spirit, then Palermo could be the one for you. Explore ancient ruins, modern food markets and cuisine with diverse influences.
Temperatures are expected to be around 16 degrees centigrade throughout the day, with 10 degrees at night.
Written by Emma
Wine Lover. Yogi. Hiker. Writer.
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