While some people use the wintertime as an excuse to jet off to warmer climes, others of us enjoy exploring places that come into their own in the colder weather. Europe is home to some stunning cities that are a delight to explore when snow coats the ground.
If this sounds like the kind of break you’re looking for, check out my three suggestions of top cities to visit during the winter. Should any of these capture your imagination or you’d like some ideas of other places you can travel to over the coming months, visit this website for some tips and accommodation options.
Austria’s Innsbruck is something of a winter wonderland, being so close to many of the country’s top alpine resorts. Although many people who travel here are just passing through on the way to the slopes, I think Innsbruck deserves a closer look.
The city is home to some stunning architecture, much of which dates from the time of the Habsberg rulers. The opulence and grandeur of these buildings won’t fail to impress. Among the must-see landmarks are the Imperial Palace, the Basilica Wilten and the Golden Roof – this is a stunning three-storey balcony that overlooks the main square in the old town.
One of the big attractions of Innsbruck for me is that it’s so close to the mountains. If you want to head off for a longer break this is great, as it means you can combine a cultural trip with some fun activities. Skiing and snowboarding are obviously the main options, but tobogganing, ice skating and even bobsleigh riding are other things you can do.
While most people plan to travel for its Oktoberfest celebrations, there are many more reasons to head to this beautiful German city – especially in the winter when a light dusting of snow can make its most iconic landmarks look really special.
Another reason why I think Munich is a great winter break destination is its Christmas markets. These light up the streets and squares during November and December, with the centre of the action in Marienplatz. There are dozens of stalls selling traditional gifts, delicious local foods and warming mugs of gluhwein.
If you fancy heading out of the city for a day you’ll find picture-perfect scenes in Bavaria, especially if you pay a visit to one of the castles. These look like they’ve come out of the pages of a fairytale with their round towers and pointed turrets and they’re especially beautiful when they’re surrounded by snow-covered hills and forests.
My final selection is the fashion capital of Italy – Milan. This wonderful northern city is nestled close to the Alps and the Apenines and despite getting chilly in the winter it doesn’t typically get too cold, so it’s a great place for a winter stroll along its beautiful streets. Now, Milan is obviously a wonderful spot for shopping, so if you’ve got some cash to spare don’t miss the chance to browse its stylish boutiques.
Milan is also an excellent city to visit if you’re looking for art and culture on a winter getaway, with a whole host of museums and galleries to explore. Among the best are the Brera Art Gallery, the Archaeological Museum and the Gallerie d’Italia.
The food here is delicious, with plenty of wonderful Italian eateries as well as international restaurants where you can sample some of the world’s best cuisine.