Do you know when the cheapest time to travel on budget in Europe is? Winter is a great time to explore Europe on a shoestring budget. Sure, during summer the gardens are open, the parks are green, and the beaches are crowded.
But during a European winter you have the unique chance to see a more „local“ Europe as less tourists are on their way. The prices are down and the hostels are cheaper than ever before – even many of the 5 Star Hostels!
Combining this time of year with the 11 hacks for booking hostels like a pro, and you will save a fortune! This is YOUR chance.
Sure, the weather is cold, it can be snowy, maybe even rainy. And still, there are many events happening during European winter you can enjoy. Christmas Markets, New years Eve (obviously…), carnival, music festivals – here are actually 10 more reasons to travel Europe during winter!
We have created a list of 16 beautiful and cheap winter destinations we think you should check out plus you will find a list of activities and festivals during European Winter.
1. Interlaken (Winter sports and 5% hostel discount!)
We LOVE Interlaken! It is the European sports capital, and we enjoyed it 100%, and so will you. Whether you come here during Winter or Summer, you can join endless adrenaline-filled activities.
In Interlaken, you can stay at Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. We got you a 5% discount at the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. This discount comes in pretty handy, right? All you need to do is booking directly through the provided link, and the discount will be applied directly – enjoy!
Prague in summer, or Prague in winter? Well, here is the thing: both! The city of Prague is obviously different depending on the time of year. We had the chance to enjoy both seasonal times and in winter it was freezing cold, very romantic and less crowded. The prices for hostels in Prague are also lower than usual during the winter period.
As there are less tourists we recommend to stay at a place offering cool social events such as the Mosaic House in Prague, our 5 star hostel in the city. After a long day exploring the cold air of Prague, you will come back to the hostel for concerts, karaoke shows, and more exciting social events. Sounds good, right?! When heading to Prague, make sure you check out first the 5 Things in Prague to avoid!
Another advantage of Prague in winter are the bars. When it is really, really cold, you can always jump into a bar or café, of which there are many cool ones to choose from! It is cosy and very affordable, making Prague a top European winter destination! If you fancy some unique recommendations, you can download the 5 Secret Tips to Prague directly to your inbox for free.
Last but not least: We have a fantastic winter activity in Prague for you! Czech out the Escape Room Nuclear Bunker in Prague. A storytelling real-life game to solve puzzles and riddles. Big plus: It is indoor so it will be warm!
Looks cold, right?! This winter photo of Prague was taken by us back in 2011.
Party and Fiesta! Budapest is known for its great nightlife, beautiful architecture, and the numerous spa’s across the city. The first time we visited Budapest was in February and we had the best time! We even went to an outdoor spa: although there was snow everywhere, we had great fun jumping from one hot tub to another.
The prices are even lower than in Summer, and as the city remains popular throughout the year, you will easily meet people in hostels as well as in the bars. Check out the Maverick City Lodge in Budapest – the prices plus design will knock off your socks!
We love to think about Berlin in winter. Sure, most of the people prefer the summer sitting in a beer garden surrounded by green parks, but a white Berlin is beautiful as well. Snow and winter is without doubt a significant part of the German culture. And hey, have you ever heard about German Christmas Markets? The Christmas Markets in Berlin are beautiful, so don’t miss out! In our Geeky Guide we show you also 5 Insider tips Berlin you cannot miss!
The best hostel in Berlin: Wallyard Concept Hostel is the only 5 Star Hostel in the German capital! The location is great with being close to the main train station, the design is a loft-styled hipster vibe, and the atmosphere is super relaxing. It simply feels like coming home!
We took this photo in a park in Berlin back in 2011. Make sure you pack your winter clothing when traveling to Berlin during winter!
This one is quite obvious? Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and the location is unique. Hiding among the Pyrenees mountains, this makes it THE top location in winter to go snowboarding and skiing.
The Mountain Hostel Tarter is located right there. However, it may be surprising to hear that Andorra is as well a great summer destination. The surrounding mountains offer endless opportunities to go for a hike and mountain biking.
Here you can find our photo gallery Andorra, hiking between the clouds of Andorra.
We loooooove Bologna, and we cannot express this enough. It’s a serious hidden gem, and culinary capital of Italy. The good thing: As Bologna is half-way to Venice and Florence, nobody really stops here. We create a guide with secrets to Bologna.
What do you get?
- A gorgeous 5 Star Hostel, an oasis to slow down, called We Bologna Hostel
- Food, endless food for a locals price
- Lots of history, and monuments/ sights to visit
- An alternative students city with great nightlife
- Food…and again: Food!
Besides Bologna, we also admire Strasbourg, another gorgeous city without the tourist crowds. Our friend Dan wrote up his favorite hidden gems in Europe as well, give it a read to get truly inspired.
7. Bergen in Norway
Same goes for Bergen! Bergen is known for its precious natural surroundings which can be enjoyed in particular during a long winter hike. Good, reliable winter clothing is a must of course.
The Marken Gjestehus in Bergen loves to enjoy the nature of Norway as well, so make sure you check out their website and recommendations before heading to Bergen.
(And yes, also the Swedish capital Stockholm is an absolute highlight for visiting in colder times)
8. Zagreb in Croatia
Are you surprised to read Zagreb here? As Zagreb is located in the inner part of Croatia it is the perfect city break during winter. The bars, cafés, and restaurants are still open, the city is less crowded from the tourist point of view, but the student life is still vibrant and the Christmas Markets in Zagreb is super popular and gorgeous to visit. You can experience a more local Zagreb than you would during summer. These 5 Local Tips for Zagreb will be helpful for you.
No doubt, the Swanky Mint Hostel Zagreb is the best hostel in Zagreb, and also during Winter a cosy place to mingle with locals and traveler, having a drink at the in-house bar.
Find 8 more cool winter destinations on page 2