11 wonderful winter city : Want to tick off some bucket list cities while they’re blanketed in snow? Or how about exploring some lesser-known metropolises? Here are a few fabulous winter city breaks for December, January, and February:
The best winter city breaks for 2023/2024
1. Tromsø, Norway
Ever fancied hanging out in a lodge decorated with reindeer hides before zipping up a cable car to catch a glimpse of the ever-elusive Northern Lights? Well, you can look forward to that (and more) in Tromsø.
It’s about as far north as you can get in mainland Europe and is great for a short winter break. The city sits within the Arctic Circle and offers up heaps of awesome activities in the chillier months. This includes fun snowy activities like dog sledging, plus visits to the Polar Museum.
Must try: November to February are prime times for whale-watching in Tromsø.
2. Vilnius, Lithuania
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to brilliant European winter city breaks. The mediaeval city retains its authentic beauty and is packed full of historic gems. Bundle up for leisurely strolls around the city’s pretty UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, and don’t forget to tour the landmark Vilnius Cathedral.
Must try: Want to sample some seasonal treats? Head for Piles Street, the city’s oldest street that’s lined with fabulous restaurants and bars.
3. Zagreb, Croatia
I thought Croatia was a summer destination. Think again. Foodies will especially love visiting Zagreb during the winter.
You’ll discover some inventive treats at Zagreb‘s Hrelić flea market, including eggs in chilli and prosciutto-wrapped frogs. It’s a great place to wander around in the winter, even if you don’t fancy putting your palate to the test. Besides food, Zagreb has plenty of indoor attractions to keep you busy. Pop into the Muzej Mimara museum, climb to the top of Lotrščak Tower for great views, or catch a show at the Croatian National Theatre.
Must try: Planning a city break in December? Zagreb Christmas Market is a magical place to spend an evening. Later, retreat into one of the many bars on Tkalieva Street for a warming pint of local beer.
4. Gothenburg, Sweden
Don’t discount Gothenburg as a city break this winter. Stockholm can get busy in the winter months, but Gothenburg remains reliably cosy for the intrepid traveller to explore. Visit Liseberg, one of Scandinavia’s biggest theme parks, which has a special Christmas market in the mid-winter months. Or take a day trip out to the Gothenburg archipelago to be in awe of the snowy scenery.
Must try: Stop by the Feskekôrka (Fish Church) market hall for a taste of local foods to end the day.
5. Paris, France
Paris is easily one of the best winter weekend breaks in the UK. The so-called City of Love is an idyllic destination, no matter the season. In winter, though, the crowds clear and the city’s iconic streets are often speckled with snow.
While December is the perfect time to visit for a magical Christmas ambience, Paris is also brilliant in February. Museums and attractions are less busy, accommodation is cheaper, and there are heaps of seasonal events to look forward to. This includes the city’s colourful Chinese New Year celebrations and the long-standing Paris Carnival.
Must try: Get your skates on and head up to the ice rink on the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette.
6. Poznan, Poland
This little-known city in Poland is ideal for a winter city break. Why? Because Poznan is packed with culture, food, and cheap local beer.
Check out some of the delis and patisseries that line Old Town and Market Square. History buffs will love exploring the city’s key sights and checking out the museums (many of which are free). Booking a Christmas getaway? Poznan’s Christmas markets are charmingly authentic and as charming as any you’ll find in Germany.
Must try: Visit the Croissant Museum, which celebrates the unique St Martin’s Croissant – a tradition in the region.
7. Bath, UK
With its honey-coloured Georgian architecture, Bath is the perfect destination for a cheap winter break not too far from home. Thanks to its romantic atmosphere, it’s often considered one of the best city breaks in February.
Book an early Valentine’s break to keep costs down and get ready to explore this beautiful city. Walk hand in hand along the elegant Royal Crescent before checking out the pretty Pulteney Bridge.
Must try: Go for a soak in the Roman Baths, which sit slap-bang in the middle of the high street.
8. Berlin, Germany
For the ultimate Christmas break in December, there’s no better place than Berlin. It’s home to some of the best Christmas markets in Germany, plus an array of cultural gems to keep you busy on cold days. Winter also tends to be quieter and cheaper.
Highlights to add to your itinerary include historic hotspots like the Berlin Wall and Museum Island. And, of course, don’t skip visiting a Berlin Christmas market. There are dozens scattered around the city featuring wooden stalls selling everything from gifts to treats. Booking a New Year’s Eve break? Berlin’s nightlife is legendary.
Must try: Warm up and fill your belly with international and local treats at the Markthalle Neun food hall.
9. Tallinn, Estonia
Pack your jumpers and prepare your camera for that perfect fairytale picture shot. Tallinn looks like it’s been plucked from a postcard in winter thanks to its snow-dusted churches and cobbled streets. Estonia’s capital is also jam-packed with culture. Don’t skip exploring Telliskivi Loomelinnak, an area of the city packed with bars, coffee shops, and flea markets.
Must try: Spend a few hours wandering around the city’s Old Town, which is decked out with lights and pretty decorations in December.
10. London, UK
Christmas might bring the crowds to London for its festive atmosphere and Christmas markets. Wait a few weeks, though, and you’ll find the UK capital is one of the best city breaks in January. It’s typically the quietest (and often the cheapest) time to visit, making it ideal if you’re keen to visit its key landmarks without queuing.
London’s free museums are brilliant places to warm up, and there’s something to suit everyone. Fancy a shopping spree? Many of the city’s stores host brilliant January sales, making it a great time to pick up some treats. And, if you want to check out some of London’s best dining spots, you’re more likely to bag a table in January.
Must try: For awesome views of the city in winter, book a slot to visit the Sky Garden, London’s highest (and free) public garden.
11. New York, USA
Strolls around Central Park Shopping on Fifth Avenue. Ice skating at the Rockefeller Center Few cities are more magical at Christmas than New York! While December might bring plenty of festive cheer, New York actually sits at the top of the list for the best winter city breaks in January.
That’s all down to two wonderful events: New York Broadway Week and New York Restaurant Week. Both events could see you catch a show or dine at some of the city’s top venues for a hugely discounted price. Keeping with the theme, January is also a cheap time to visit thanks to affordable flights and lower hotel prices.
Must try: see the Statue of Liberty dusted in snow or visit the iconic Met Museum without the crowds.