Top Winter Destinations in Europe – PART ONE
It is almost December and you are maybe seeking a perfect winter destination for your next vacation. If you are a passionate skier this is your favorite time of the year and you will enjoy our recommended ski resorts. And if you simply love to wander around interesting cities this is the time when it’s less crowded and much cheaper. Plus, you get to see amazing Christmas decorations. So, we are bringing you our top winter destinations in Europe.
Get ready, pack some warm clothes and get going.
Skiing in Austria
If you are a fan of skiing and want to do it in an affordable way there is a bunch of ski resorts in Austria that you can visit and enjoy.
Gerlitzen is a ski resort in the sunny Carinthia region, in Southern Austria. It is known as a family-friendly ski resort and the only one in the region that is certified as convenient for families with kids and for beginners, but best suited to intermediate skiers. It is a large resort with 40 km of trails, 15 lifts (1 gondola, 7 chair lifts, 7 surface lifts). There are 5 km of cross-country ski trails, too. This sunny resort has an average of 53 sunny days per season (the average for all ski resorts in Austria is 42 sunny days).
Season: December 1 – March 31
Accommodation: There is really a lot of hotels and apartments on the Gerlitzen itself as well as in the surroundings. You can also find a bunch of places via Airbnb.
Read more about trails, opening hours, accommodation, and prices at Gerlitzen here.
How to get to Gerlitzen?
Book a flight to one of the nearest airports. The very nearest one is in Klagenfurt, only an hour’s ride away. From Klagenfurt take a train ride to Villach and then a taxi to Gerlitzen. Or you can drive, of course. If you cannot find a direct flight to Klagenfurt, you can also get there via Graz or Salzburg or even Vienna.
Nassfeld, one of the largest ski areas in Austria, is also set in the Carinthia region, about an hour south-east from Gerlitzen, on the border with Italy. It is one of the sunniest areas in the Alps and offers stunning 61 sunny days per season. Suitable for active skiers and families, this ski resort has about 110 km of mainly north-facing trails served by 30 mountain railways and lifts and a free ski bus. The longest piste is the 8 km long Carina run. The vertical drop from the summit to the base is 1212 m. You can find various activities in Nassfeld besides just skiing, you can go for a horse-drawn sleigh ride, toboggan runs, alpine wellness, and muchmore.
Season: December – April
Accommodation: There is a variety of accommodation that you can find at Nassfeld, everything from hotels to farmhouses.
Read more about this sunny ski resort here.
© Pnapora/ CC BY-SA 4.0
How to get to Nassfeld?
As we already mentioned, Nassfeld is only about an hour from Gerlitzen, therefore the nearest airport to Nassfeld is also Klagenfurt from where you can get a car, shuttle bus or taxi ride to your final destination.
Vienna Christmas Markets
In case you need a break from skiing or you’re really not a fan of this activity, you’d probably prefer exploring cities and enjoying their Christmas decorations. Vienna and its amazing Christmas markets are perfect for that! The main event is the Christkindlmarkt in the heart of the city, where you will find seasonal decorations, handmade items, and endless options of gifts. Also, you can try different traditional dishes while you are here, it would be a shame not to! And if you visit in the evening you will hear different carol singers.
We don’t want to make this blog only about Vienna’s Christmas markets, so if you want to read more check out one of our previous blogs.
How to get to Vienna?
You can easily book a flight to Vienna from anywhere around the world. Or if you are already in Europe you can even get there by car or bus, there are regular bus lines through all of Europe. More info can be found here.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, also has one of the best Advent scenes in Europe. With more than a million visitors, 500 music events, street performances, and exhibitions, you will be astonished by so many interesting, funny, and original things. Don’t skip trying some of the traditional culinary specialties and sweet delights, made especially for Advent. And go ice skating in the ice park on King Tomislav Square. There is much more to say about the amazing Advent in Zagreb but you can read about it here. Every spot is at a walkable distance from another.
Museums in Zagreb
While in Zagreb you can also check some of the amazing museums that they have there. And there is a lot, really. Our favorites are the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is the biggest and most modern museum in Croatia, and the Museum of Arts and Crafts which exhibits objects in 20 different collections ranging from the Middle Ages to today.
For more cultural places in Zagreb read one of our previous blog posts.
Snow Queen Trophy
In case you are visiting Zagreb in January go to Sljeme on the mountain Medvednica and see a World Cup alpine ski race called Snow Queen Trophy.
How to get to Zagreb?
Zagreb also has its own airport so getting there is not complicated. Also, you can get there by bus or car. Check this website for more info.
Skiing in Italy
Austria is not the only popular and affordable skiing destination in Europe. There are some cool ski resorts in Italy, too. One of them is the Kronplatz region in South Tyrol – the northernmost region of Italy. This ski resort is set at 975 to 2.275 m above sea level and boasts a very impressive 1375 m of vertical descent. Kronplatz offers 40 skiing trails, 114 km long and most of them are quite wide and suitable for families with kids and beginners, too. This resort has 31 lifts including 21 gondolas/cable cars and 5 surface lifts.
Kronplatz is surrounded with 13 touristic places, some of them are Bruneck/Brunico, St. Vigil/San Vigilio, Olang/Valdaora, Reischach/Riscone, Rasen/Rasun, St. Georgen/ San Giorgio and St. Lorenzen/Lorenzo. So, you know where to look for your Christmas presents and some good times besides skiing.
Season: November – April 22
Accommodation: Kronplatz offers everything from deluxe five-star hotels to rustic guesthouses, family-run bed & breakfasts, apartment hotels, private rooms, youth hostels, or campsites.
Read more about this Italian ski resort here.
© Chroustik2/ CC BY-SA 3.0
How to get to Kronplatz?
The nearest airports to Kronplatz are in Bolzano in Italy and in Innsbruck in Austria, both something under two hours away. You can get to Kronplatz by car, bus or train from both airports. Venice and Verona’s airports are not much farther if those are more convenient for you.
We wrote about Budapest a few times (here and here), we just can’t get enough of this beautiful city on the Danube river. You are probably wondering why we consider it to be a perfect winter destination. First, you have to see its Chrismas markets. The oldest one is set on the Vorosmarty Square and is pretty glorious. It’s a place where you will get introduced to Hungarian customs, folk music and dance, as well as arts and crafts. And it’s all perfumed with the scent of mulled wine, fresh ‘langos’ bread, and good old Hungarian stew.
We also recommend enjoying Budapest’s various spas or thermal baths – the Széchenyi Baths are probably the best of the best. There are two open-air thermal pools and 15 indoor pools. Bathing in the outdoor pools while it is snowing outside is an amazing experience!
Budapest is also famous for its cruises on the Danube river and its historical sites. And you should know that there are special cruises around Christmas time. It’s a unique experience where you will get the chance to see Budapest covered in snow and Christmas lights from the boat.
How to get to Budapest?
It is pretty easy to get to Budapest. Budapest has its own airport, and you can also get there by bus or train since it is well connected with European capitals. Or go by car, it is not complicated at all and the roads are fine. Budapest is connected to Vienna and Bratislava by boat, but unfortunately, you cannot travel this way in the wintertime. Check this website for more info.
Have you already decided which one of the top winter destinations in Europe you are going to visit? In case you need help exploring the cities that we mentioned download our Cultural Places App and find guided tours through them and enjoy your visit.