From a financial standpoint, winter is the best time to visit European countries. Airfares and hotel rates in Europe usually tumble in winter – from January to March. There is a smaller crowd in popular destinations, which means shorter lines at famous sights, giving you more time to explore.
If you’re wondering where to visit, here’s Travelmath’s top European winter destinations that won’t cost a fortune:
Porto is about 196 miles north of Lisbon. Winter temperatures are pleasant, hovering around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. And 40 to 50 degrees at night. You’ll get to enjoy all the year-round activities that Porto has to offer including surfing.
Porto is suitable for those who like wine bars, wineries, medieval architecture, history, gastronomic delights and staying at luxurious hotels. The famous Yeatman Hotel costs $313 per night for two in winter. The same room category commands almost $500 per night in summer.
It’s close to Douro Valley, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Portugal and the oldest wine region in the world.
The City of Lights is a magical place even in winter. There are heated terraces, winter gardens and cozy outdoor areas for those who like outdoor bars and cafes. Paris Visitor Bureau rounded up 10 winter terraces you should visit:
- The Ice Cube Bar at the Galeries Lafayette
- The Chocolate Bar at the Jardins du Marais
- The Terrace of the Cafe de L’Homme
- Le Perchoir at the BHV Marais
- The Westin Paris-Vendome
- The Terrass’ Hotel Terrace
- The Bulls at Novotel Paris Les Halles
- The Garden of the Hotel du Collectionneur
- The Cafe Richelieu
- The Courchevel Chalet of Fouquet’s
The average temperature is at a high of 45 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 54 degrees in March, the average low is 37 degrees in January and 41 in March. There are many reasons to visit Paris, but the most convincing reasons are the museums and cafes. Take advantage of affordable winter rates at hotels like Hôtel Luxembourg Parc, which usually goes for $450 in summer for two occupants, and only $240 in winter. Additionally, there are many flight options to Paris, and most are discounted during off-peak season.
Budget-conscious skiers should choose Bratislava as the gateway to a ski slope in Europe. Austria and Switzerland may cost an arm and a leg for skiing but not in Slovakia. Located less than 200 miles from Bratislava is Jasna, Slovakia’s top ski resort.
There are slopes for every level in this family-friendly resort. Check out Eko-šport Resort Björnson in Demanovska Valley. Enjoy the chalet-style accommodation with views of the mountains, and an on-site restaurant that serves traditional Slovak food and Slovak beer.
The third Saturday in January is The National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. That’s the start of tulip season, which runs until the end of April. At Dam Square in Amsterdam, visitors can pick free tulips and enjoy the festival organized by Dutch tulip growers.
Besides tulips, Amsterdam is home to an extensive network of canals, hundreds of bridges, world-class museums, and historic breweries. Don’t miss Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum if you’re a first time visitor. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is an essential hub for all major airlines around the world. It’s also served by low-cost airlines like Norwegian and EasyJet. The B&B Keizers Canal is only $113 per night for two in winter.
Besides Hogmanay (celebration of the New Year) and Edinburgh Festival Fringe (in August), Edinburgh is known for its medieval gothic and renaissance buildings, cozy pubs and Edinburgh Castle. The best time to visit is also the most crowded and expensive. So we suggest going in winter.
This walkable city is easy to get around. Pack good walking shoes and walk the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Enjoy an afternoon tea at your hotel after your walk or go for a guided whiskey tasting tour.
Edinburgh is served by over 20 airlines. It’s only a seven-hour flight from New York City. The Principal Edinburgh George Street Hotel is $164 per night for two in winter and costs $255 per night in summer.
If you like coffee, dessert, museums and classical music we recommend taking a trip to Vienna. Vienna can be snowy in winter, but with warm coats and proper shoes, you will enjoy the city’s cozy cafes, concert halls, and world-class museums.
Schlosshotel Römischer Kaiser Hotel is $146 per night in winter. It’s $250 in summer.
Heard about the ruin bars and bathhouses of Budapest? In Budapest, the capital of Hungary, you can stay warm in the many coffee houses, and ruin bars and bathhouses. Ruin bars are housed in abandoned stores and buildings in Budapest’s old Jewish quarter. The first and most famous ruin bar is Szimpla Kert (started in 2001). These bars do not have signs and look like ordinary houses from the outside, but the atmosphere inside is inviting and hip.
Budapest has over 100 bathhouses, and the most popular are Gellert and Szechenyi.
Budapest is affordable year-round, but in winter, you’ll get a bargain. Eurostars Danube Budapest Hotel is $80 per night in winter.