Europe in winter

Visiting Europe in winter is great for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is incredibly cheap. Hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are all off-peak prices. So if you are contemplating a European  holiday on a budget; winter is the best time for you. Secondly, snow. Enough said. Who doesn’t love a White Christmas?!  For people watchers and atmosphere addicts, a trip to Europe during winter will have you hooked, you will never want to visit during any other season again.

Here are some of the best places in Europe to visit during winter.

Berlin, Germany.

No one does Christmas better than Germany, with historic markets full of gluhwein (mulled wine), German sausages, gingerbread, pretzels, and candied nuts on almost every corner. The most famous being Gendarmenmarkt. A 1 Euro entry fee will offer sit-in restaurants, bars and entertainment. Eating (and for that matter drinking) at the markets is incredibly cheap. You can eat lunch and dinner on the go, leaving lot’s of money for gluhwein (the perfect way to keep warm), hot chocolate, or beer. It’s the best way to take in the cheerful atmosphere and magical winter wonderland that is around you.

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Prague, Czech Republic.

Home to possibly the best Christmas tree you will ever see Prague also has Christmas markets that will give Germany a run for its money. Trdelník is a traditional pastry cooked over hot coals, covered in cinnamon sugar and sometimes Nutella. This will become a staple of your diet in Prague, I promise. Prague is generally a cheap tourist destination in Europe and Christmas time, although certainly very busy, is no exception. Food portions are huge, beer is cheap and the baroque rooftops are beautifully contrasted against grey skies.

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Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Winter in Amsterdam is quiet, there are almost no crowds and this is due partly in fact to the freezing temperatures it reaches. Cold air drifts off the canals and there is no escaping it. The locals are used it, still riding their bikes absolutely everywhere. Rug up and huddle in some tea shops to keep warm. Wandering the streets admiring the beauty of the city and the Dutch architecture is also a great way to keep warm.

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Edinburgh, Scotland.

Edinburgh has this old historic charm about it that undoubtedly makes it an underrated European destination. There are a so many things to do which make exploring this sleepy, snowy town so much more charismatic. Edinburgh has a dark history full of filth and violence, it is truly fascinating and visiting during winter brings that history to life.

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Rome, Italy.

The best time to visit Rome is during winter. Fountains freeze over and there are little to no crowds, which means you can get more out of your day by eliminating wait time in lines. Accommodation costs are at a minimum and you get a greater sense of Roman life as the stresses of summer (crowds, tourists and the heat) all but disappear. Not to mention the dappled light and sun spurs make for some spectacular shots.

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Europe is beautiful. No one can deny that and winter offers a great excuse to head indoors and absorb the culture of a city. Be it museum, galleries or a local craft shop. Sometimes it is so cold outside you find a cosy spot in a warm café or bar and simply watch the snow fall and the world go by.

Amsterdam, I love you!

Amsterdam is my favourite city. There I said it. I wish I could say it was hard to admit as I have such a deep, profound love for New York and Paris; but it’s not hard to say at all. The city is profoundly beautiful and has an engrained sense of ease with the flow of traffic and friendliness of it’s people. As a native English speaker, I found it very easy to communicate with absolutely anyone and everyone. Need directions? No problem, just ask. Need something specific with your food, just ask.

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As the Dutch founded New York City (then known as New Amsterdam) the similarities to the equally  beautiful city is uncanny. Amsterdam is similar to New York in architecture and aesthetics, except Amsterdam is cleaner, friendlier, smaller (thus making it easier to navigate) and less crowded. To say this city is picturesque doesn’t do it justice. It’s a city, just like Paris, that you will very happily explore and “get lost” in for hours. Every bridge is better and more scenic than the last. Every street offers more charm and character than the last. 

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Environmental laws in regards to plastic bags and the cost of cars makes Amsterdam not only a clean city but an incredibly easy to navigate and charismatic one. There are as many bicycles as there are people and they certainly have become synonymous with all that Amsterdam is, among other things of course. 

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A special mention to the hotel we stayed at, Hotel De Hallen. I cannot recommend it enough. Using a 100 year old tram depot building they couldn’t change much so worked around the history of the structure. The result is a modernised retro building which blends together eclectic furniture and sculptures which adds character that no other hotel can offer. Incredibly helpful staff will assist you with anything you need, along with a tram stop only a short walk away as well as a bus which you can take to the airport. There is also a great breakfast place for coffee on the go, called The Breakfast Club. Walk out the hotel doors and head to the left. You can’t miss it.

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