There’s no question that summer in Europe is glorious. It is a time when tourists flock to every part of Europe. But there’s something special about visiting Europe during winter. From skiing in the Alps, to chasing northern lights to walking into a lane decorated for Christmas and New Year, the place looks magical. Here are few places which you must visit in Europe during the cold cold months:
Rovaniemi – Lapland
Can’t really think about winter without Christmas. And what better place to celebrate it than in Santa’s village. Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland in Northern Finland and it is the place to go if you want to visit Santa Claus. Just outside Rovaniemi you’ll find the Santa Claus Village, official home to good ol’ Saint Nick. Almost right on the Arctic Circle, when you visit the village you can meet Santa, get a special stamp in your passport and hang out with Rudolph and its fellow reindeers. It’s hard not to get swept up in this fairy-tale place.
But there is so much more to do in Rovaniemi. Immerse yourself in the snowy stillness with a ride on reindeer-pulled sledge or get your adrenaline pumping with a speedier husky safari. Visit the Ranua Wildlife Park and watch arctic fox, snowy owl and even polar bears in their natural habitats. An equally big attraction is an attempt to catch the aurora borealis, more popularly known as the northern lights.
You can’t miss to visit somewhere called Iceland in winter. The darkness of the long winter nights is overcome with the dancing northern lights. The city doesn’t just endure the winter, but locals embrace and celebrate it with the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival. Held in early February, this free annual event is designed to coax people outdoors with imaginative and striking light displays. If you’re looking to warm up however, head to one of Iceland’s geothermal pools, like the ever-popular Blue Lagoon Spa. Here you can soak in the outdoors, letting the toasty mineral waters work their magic. And if the geothermal pools don’t do the trick, the local Icelandic schnapps ought to warm your bones.
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Amsterdam does not need any introduction. This ever-popular destination in the Netherlands always impresses with its picturesque canals, but winter somehow makes this city even more beautiful.
In December, Amsterdam’s canals turn into a glittering art gallery thanks to the city’s annual Festival of Light. Take a boat trip and admire the myriad LED installations and sculptures. Afterwards, stop at a street stall and feast on freshly made oliebollen (sugar-dusted dumplings) or stroopwafel (waffles with sweet syrup). Of course, when the canals freeze over you’re better off strapping on some skates. The rest of the time there’s the major ice rink just outside the classic Rijksmuseum. And yes, while Amsterdam is often beloved for its partying, coffee houses and red light district, it’s also a city of culture too. Spending some time in the city’s world class museums and art galleries is clearly one way to beat the cold.
Visit the Royal Palace and admire the towering Christmas tree outside, twinkling with over two miles of fairy lights. For a jaw dropping experience, book a ticket for the World Christmas Circus which features 25 horses and breathtaking trapeze artists amongst its world-class performers.
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Did you think we will talk about winter and snow without talking about Switzerland! If you have not watched enough Bollywood movies to know how stunning Switzerland is – well who are you? The rising Alps makes it the perfect winter wonderland.
The resort town of Interlaken sits on a narrow stretch of valley, sharing grounds with Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. The place is popular for its old timber houses and parkland lining the Aare River. The scenery created by mountains in the background, dense forests, alpine meadows and glaciers, makes this place picture perfect. What’s great about Interlaken is that it has activities for everyone. You can head up into the mountains, visiting peaks like Eiger and Jungfrau. Then there’s all the fun to be had on the slopes, with snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. You can also try paragliding and skydiving to get a top view of the gorgeous Alps.
This tiny Nordic village, hidden away within the fjordlands of southern Norway, is Disney’s Frozen come to life. Rows of colorful homes line the 12th-century wharf of Bryggen, where fishermen haul in their catches to be sold in the historic fish market. The views from on top of Fløyen Mountain are spectacular, but walking through town is just as fun. Look out for the statues that mark various alleyways and shops peddling authentic Norwegian wares like reindeer skins and hand-knit sweaters. And of course you have to be here to see the Northern Lights during their peak season.
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