This blog post contains affiliate links and ads. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. The words and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Read more info on our Disclosure policy.
Christmas in Europe is spectacular in all sense of the word. It is what you envision when you are a child, and it is what you dream of going to when you become an adult. No wonder people from all around the world make it a must to visit any part of Europe during the festive season.
Whether you are in a mission to mail an official letter to Santa Claus or you are on a hunt for the sunniest place to be in Europe during Christmas, you’ll find all the best European Christmas destinations in this article.
Read More: 10 Best Christmas Markets in Europe
Here are the best destinations to spend christmas in Europe
Christmas in Lapland, Finland
The town of Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland transforms into a lovely festive village once the Christmas season arrives. Although this part of the world experiences long days of no sunlight during this time of the year, the residents have found an effective way to break the dark days.
Streets and homes are filled with bright lights, holiday decors and white snow. Reindeer herding is an activity which you must definitely partake. After going on a sleigh ride, visit Saint Nick at the Santa Claus Village and have the kids (or even yourself!) live the magical childhood dream and sit down on Santa’s lap.
Check out how the elves at the SantaPark work hard in creating Christmas presents in the underground toy factory. Lastly, pay a visit to the famous Santa Claus Main Post Office, drop a letter to the jolly old guy and have it officially mailed!
Christmas in Manchester, England
Christmas in Manchester is as magical as it can get. Widely-visited European Christmas markets dominate the streets of the City Centre, giving you the perfect venue to do your Christmas shopping.The festive goods being sold stretch from traditional food to home ornaments. Be sure to order a warm glass of mulled wine to really be in the festive spirit.
Head to Lightopia, an artistic celebration of light, movement and form. Be wowed by carefully crafted installations that are unique to Manchester, England. Afterwards, buy tickets to see any of the Christmas shows and concerts scheduled to happen during the season. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Opera House is a perfect family-friendly choice.
Father Christmas will be at the Ice Village, so be sure not to miss him. An ice skating rink is at the same venue, so don’t miss the opportunity to have some wholesome fun with the family.
Christmas in Reykjavik, Iceland
One of the best places in Europe for Christmas is definitely Reykjavik. If you are thrilled at meeting Santa Claus in Christmas villages around the world, be even more thrilled to know that Iceland has 13 of them. The first Yule Lad makes his appearance 13 days before Christmas and the others follow suit every succeeding day after that.
December may be a dark season in Reykjavik literally, but it is a charming coincidence to have Christmas at the same time. This natural phenomenon makes the festive lights and bright decors shine even more – plus the high chance of seeing the Northern Lights is a true cause for excitement.
Fancy having to pick and chop your very own Christmas tree? You can do so at the Christmas tree forest in Reykjavik. Don’t worry – for every tree cut down for the festive season, the forestry is set to plant 30 equivalent more.
Christmas in Bergen, Norway
Bergen has made it to our list of best European Christmas destinations primarily because of one word: gingerbread! The Gingerbread town or the Pepperkakebyen in Bergen, Norway welcomes thousands of visitors from around the globe during the Christmas season. Imagine knowing that the whole town is contributing to the formation of edible gingerbread installations. That’s the Christmas spirit right there!
Quite new to the European market scene is the Bergen Christmas Market. It’s their third time to have one this year, and it’s all happening at the City Centre or the Festplassen. You can buy Christmas gifts, handmade ornaments and festive foods from different countries in this bustling market.
The traditional lighting of candles on Mount Fløyen is also something to look forward to. From there – if the thickness of the snow permits – you can go and sled your way back to the town center.
Christmas in Dresden, Germany
One of the best places to spend Christmas in Europe is at Dresden, Germany. The holiday season in this side of the world is undeniably romantic. The opportunity of being with your loved one, strolling at night along those historic buildings and visiting Germany’s oldest Christmas market certainly has quite a warm charm, don’t you think?
The Striezelmarkt is said to be the first genuine Christmas market not only in Germany but around the globe. Now on its 585th year, the Striezelmarkt still has not lost its shine, offering numerous activities for visitors of all types and ages. This includes a dance night, a stollen festival and a Christmas carol evening, to name a few.
Christmas in Dresden is perfect for families, too. Bring your kids to the Wichtelhaus or the elves house and witness an exhibition dedicated to Advent. A cinema onsite will fill the children’s minds with festive stories and fairy tales enough to keep the holiday spirit alive in them for a long while.
Pay a visit to the Christmas Display Bakery and see chefs in action making the traditional Dresden Christstollen which is also known as the Striezel. A stollen is a German bread enjoyed by many during the Christmas season. Locals will tell you that you are not just eating a piece of bread; you are partaking of a centuries-old tradition adn a piece of German history.
Christmas in Budapest, Hungary
Christmas in Budapest, Hungary is very family-oriented. The Advent & Winter Festival in Városháza Park, specifically, has numerous free activities for families to enjoy. This five-week festival hosts events such as puppet shows, Bible taletelling, visual painting shows and nativity plays. For the adults, there are enjoyable activities which include concert watching, ice skating and craft shopping.
The Danube Symphony Orchestra performs special festive concerts at the Danube Palace during the Christmas season. The Budapest Operetta Theatre also conducts ballet performances at the shows.
One of the main highlights of being in Budapest, Hungary during the Christmas holidays is hearing Advent songs being played at the churches. Several of the churches in the city, including St. Stephen’s Basilica, hold concert performances for everyone’s enjoyment.
While you are there, be sure to drop by the Vorosmarty Christmas Fair. It is one of the most popular Christmas Markets in Europe.
Christmas in Vienna, Austria
They say you haven’t seen the real beauty of Vienna, Austria if you haven’t seen it during the Christmas season. We couldn’t agree more. If you find Vienna charming as it is during the rest of the year, multiply that charm thrice and you’ll see a Vienna that’s filled with bright golden lights and enticing food aroma.
The works of Mozart and Johann Strauss are celebrated during this festive season at the Kursalon in Vienna. Opera singers and ballet dancers perform traditional masterpieces in this Christmas concert which runs for weeks.
Make sure to indulge in fine food when you visit Vienna during Christmas. If you haven’t tried the popular Sacher Torte cake yet, it is high time you do so. One forkful and you will understand why this 1832 recipe is well-loved all around the world. Other items you definitely have to try are Austria’s ginger biscuits and, of course, mulled wine or Glühwein.
Christmas in Malaga, Spain
If you want to see the best display of Christmas lights in Spain, come to Malaga. If you are not fond of snow and the cold weather during the holidays, come to Malaga! There are several things that can possibly entice you to visit this side of Spain, but I believe its beauty really is for you to discover.
The Malaga Christmas Show is undoubtedly the star of the season. Head to Calle Larios and witness led lights come to life every single night during Christmas. They change the theme of the show every year, and for 2019 the lights speak of the beauty of a magical forest.
The lights installments in Calle Larios feature angels adorning towering trees of lights, giving you an impression as if you’re going inside an enchanted forest. These lights (all 730,000 if them,) when it’s time, dance to the tune of Christmas songs that fill the air. Shows happen daily at 6:30 PM, 8 PM and 9:30 PM.
Come to the sunniest Christmas Market in Europe and experience a kind of festive season that’s different from the usual snow-laden fairs you get to see on this side of the world. At the market, you can buy artisanal products and crafty gift ideas. As for me, I’d come for the local delicacies such as mantecados, polvorones and borrachuelos.