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Top 5 Europe winter experiences you don't want to miss

Published March 23rd, 2015

Us Aussies sure know how to do summer in style. We’re a land of bountiful beaches, sunshine and thongs, and the thought of winter fills us with a mixture of dread and curiosity. Embrace the cold and head to a place where winter is done in style with beautiful traditions, unique experiences and yummy food and drink that will leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Tour some of Europe’s most popular hotspots in winter without the crowds. Convinced you yet? Let’s go….

 

Gingerbread cottages in the Swiss snow.

Swiss fondue in Lucerne

Switzerland’s much-loved alpine beauty spot is a jaw-dropping sight all year round, but it’s especially gorgeous in winter. The lakeside city of Lucerne’s medieval landmarks and mountainous setting comes alive with a sprinkling of snow. Take a walk across the famous wooden covered Chapel Bridge, and marvel at the fresco-clad historic houses. A real highlight of seeing Lucerne with Contiki’s Winter Wanderer tour will be the heart-warming traditional Swiss fondue in a cosy inn. This is European winter in all its glory.

 

Prague's Old Town Square lights up for the Christmas Markets.

Prague’s winter markets

Prague’s Old Town in winter is enchanting. If you’re visiting between the months of November and January, you can experience the spirit of Christmas. The Old Town Square is the epicentre of the daily winter markets, complete with a giant Christmas tree draped in a blaze of white lights and school children singing Christmas carols. Sample traditional delicacies, like sausages and pastries, washed down with mulled wine as you shop up a storm for pretty souvenirs and gifts. Contiki’s Winter Wonderland Tour takes you to the heart of the action and gives you plenty of time by yourself to discover the magic of Prague in winter.

 

Snowboarding in Austria

Think skiing in Europe will be too pricey and difficult to organise? Think again. Head off on Contiki’s Ski Austria tour from London, and you’re an easy coach ride away from carving up the slopes of the Tyrolean Alps in the amazing Hopfgarten area. Skiers and snowboarders of all levels can charge runs through the epic alpine scenery all day, before knocking back some well-deserved schnapps fireside at night. Take your winter wonderland experience to a whole new level and take a sleigh ride, or if you’re up for more adventure, get your heart racing on a tandem paraglide off the side of the mountain.

 

Paris wears wintry weather well.

Paris en hiver

Chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) and people watching on the Left Bank, getting up close to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, dinner with champagne and a cabaret show, or views across sprawling frosty Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower - Paris in winter is full of inspiring experiences. If you’re visiting with Contiki, you’ll see all the highlights as well as getting the opportunity to wander round and discover why Paris is the capital of chic all year round. Don’t forget your beret!

 

Marienplatz in the snow

A highlight of Munich is the fairytale-pretty town square and the legendary giant glockenspiel, built into the historic New Town Hall. Springing to life several times a day, the animated lifesize figures of the glockenspiel entertain the crowds below with reenactments of scenes from the 16th century. Grab a glühwein, wrap up warm, and watch the 15-minute show, and if you’ve a head for heights, hike up to the top of the tower for amazing wintry views across the city. On the Contiki Winter Wanderer tour, you’ll also get to visit a traditional Bavarian beer hall and sample some of the local brews.

 

Amy Dalgleish

Wanderlust pommie, currently living the dream in sunny Byron Bay.