A girl holding a polaroid picture in Krakow in wintertime.

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11 reasons why Europe is better in winter

Published July 12th, 2016

Think Europe in winter is a big no-no? Wrong. A magical dusting of snow (at least in parts), low season perks and a wanderlust-worthy stack of must-dos (yes, indoors AND outdoors) make the chillier temps a heck of a lot more appealing. But that's not all. Here are 11 reasons to seriously consider a wintertime tour of Europe that'll give you a whole new perspective on what it's all about.

Mulled wine and hearty eats

Forget goon. Show those frosty little fingers a good time - wrapped around a freshly poured mug of mulled, mulled wine. This red wine + epic spice repice = the welcome tingles of sensation rushing back into your limbs. #heaven! The eats are just about as wholesome as a bear hug too. Think insanely flavoursome stews, juicy rotisseried meats and deep-fried deliciousness. From gooey, cheesy fondue in Switzerland to face-sized schnitzels in Vienna - topped off with hot chocolate and churros in Spain - your heart will be toasty in no time. 


 

A photo posted by joeyeat (@joeyeat) on


Christmas markets

Christmas in the movies always looks so... magical! Snow-topped and sweat-free, everybody's dreamt about a white Christmas like that before. Sigh. Step right into where Europe does festive feels best: the Christmas markets. Dose up on ginger bread, beautiful souvenirs and one-of-a-kind gifts in an atmosphere high on pretty fairy lights. Prague, Vienna, Belgium, Budapest, Stockholm, Denmark, Amsterdam and all over Germany. They're everywhere - typically kicking off in November.



Warm up in thermal springs

Sliding into a warm bath is one of life's luxuries. The only thing better? Making it a historic bathhouse in Europe, in the peak in winter. Traditional Turkish baths are everywhere in Istanbul, there's the Szecheyi Baths in Budapest and so many more hot tempters from Italy and France to Switzerland and Slovenia - some outdoor, some indoor. And then there's that mega insta-worthy Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Can anybody say, "ahhhhh".


 

A photo posted by bluelagoonis (@bluelagoonis) on


Pints in cosy pubs

The UK is famous for its pubs. But they take on a whole new atmos once the temps drop outside. Practice your coat-on, coat-off etiquette bar-hopping between cosy pint-fuelled hubs of social intoxication. In the UK alone there are 60,000 to choose from. Beyond the land of the Queen, Germany does much the same in the form of its historic, stein-charged beer halls which sprinkle out into many a neighboring beer-lovin' nation too. 


 

A photo posted by Nameless (@ancestorsimulation) on


#fairytale Instagram shots

Snow flakes falling on medieval streetscapes. Like a scene out of a glittery snow globe, fairytales come to life as real as they ever will in European winter. Step into the almost-fantasty scenes in storybook-like Tallinn, Estonia, ride a horse and carriage into the Old Town in Krakow, Poland, or get your enchanting glimpses on foot trudging through snow around the sprawling Prague Castle. Your instagram feed will never be the same again. 

blog_tallinn_winter.jpg

Tallinn topped with snow in winter.
Snow-topped europe = fewer crowds.


Feasts fit for Santa 

Cya prawns, snags on the barbie and chilled beers. If you're in Europe on Christmas Day, the feast is bound to be more epic than your mind could even comprehend. Better yet, if you're on tour with Contiki, they'll make sure you have a feast fit for Santa (along with an automatic squad/'family' to celebrate with). BYO Christmas tunes. 


See another side of Europe - and cheaper - with our kick-ass Contiki Europe winter tours on sale this month!

Plus, here's more inspo:

How to stay friends on tour - and after

A broke girl in Paris

Top 10 free to-dos in Berlin


Snowtime sports 

Snowtime = ski time! Europe brags some of the sweetest slopes on the planet. No joke. France, Italy and Switzerland promise epic thrills (and spills) - plus plenty of choice when it comes to places to crash and that all-important apres-ski action. They're probably the most famous. But side-step off the beaten track a bit for more slopes with less tourists in gems like Slovakia, Bulgaria and Norway.


 

A photo posted by Liz Schere (@lizbelike) on


Indoor cultural escapades

A region of great culture, history and art can't throw it all to the elements. All over Europe, a rich tapestry of cultural to-dos will keep you warm and comfortable within the confines of four walls whatever the weather may look like out the window. Museums, art galleries, palaces, cathedrals, theatres, concert halls... they all offer shelter and culture in one neat package. 


 

A photo posted by Petar Petrov (@fullofpete) on


Sun down south

Just have to squeeze a bikini in that suitcase? Okay, okay... at least peel off a winter coat layer? Go south for your best bets. There's still a shore or two promising a few rays of warmth to scrape in. Cyprus is one of the warmest options, averaging a nice 24 degrees in the sunniest of sunlight hours and 14 degrees by night. Errr, no guarantees as to water temps though! #sorrynotsorry

Fewer tourists rampaging

No need to photoshop that annoying tourist (or should we say hundreds of them?) out of the picture. The stampedes thin out post summer-sizzle time. That means shorter lines, shorter lines and shorter lines. The importance of which just can't be spruiked enough. It also just makes everything easier, more enjoyable and gives you a truer peek at the local life, like you really want. 


 

A photo posted by Ainsley Ds (@ainsleyabouttheworld) on


More moola in your pocket

Travelling in low season always puts more moola back in your pocket - or for some, means you can actually afford to go in the first place. #Winning! Get cheaper rates on tours, accommodation, flights and entrance fees at the museums and sights. Every little bit adds up! Are you at a point where your money sitch is going to make or break your holiday plans? You know the answer: do Europe in winter!


 

A photo posted by Amanda Medeiros (@amandmed) on



Thinking a snow-capped Europe sounds pretty good? You're right! Get it on sale with our Contiki Europe winter tours on sale now, until 31 July.


 

Tijana Jaksic

The one thing Tijana always knew she wanted to do was travel to experience other cultures around the globe. She has danced with locals in the streets of Cuba, bartered for too many scarves in the markets of India, and traversed the wonders of Europe from the castles of Edinburgh to the mosques of Istanbul. Writing about this incredible world only ever makes her list grow longer, and one day, she hopes she'll even make it to Antarctica.