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 14 hacks for booking hostels like a pro, and cheap flights searchers, you will save a fortune!
Take YOUR chance.
Update: find 25 more European Winter Destinations, including map, packing list and budget estimation.
Colder weather, ok, BUT….
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…)
- music festivals
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.
First, let’s check that you packed everything you need with the smartest hostel packing list.
Besides our own travel itinerary service, we recommend following guides:
Update November, 2017: Identifying Cheap Flights
Looking for cheap flights to, well, anywhere in the world?
Have a close look at Kiwi.com.
We just discovered this incredibly awesome search engine for flights.
You can search with a date range and even with a radius search. This makes it incredible easy now to get an idea of cheap destinations to fly to.
And not just that.
You can even insert a radius for departing cities. I just love this new toy!
Have a look yourself: Here is our full review of Kiwi as a flight booking engine.
Let us talk about the destinations we recommend…
1. Interlaken (Winter sports and 5% hostel discount!)
We LOVE Interlaken!
It is the European sports capital.
We enjoyed it 100%, and so will you. Whether you come here during Winter or Summer, you can join endless adrenaline-filled activities.
Things to do in Interlaken:
Action packed and beautiful nature to soak in. We enjoyed hiking, paragliding, kayaking on the lake. That’s more something for the warmer months. We even went up the famous Schilthorn, known from a James Bond movie.
Here is a list on top things to do:
- Balancer slope glider
- Bungee Jumping (even in winter!)
How to get to Interlaken:
Book a flight to Zürich, Geneva, Bern or Milan.
With Kiwi.com you can draw a circle around Interlaken. It will show you the cheapest air fare in the area.
If you are here for the sports activities, you may not need a car. Many of the tour providers offer pick-up service.
Accommodation in Interlaken:
Find all hotels, apartments and hostels directly here and compare rates.
In Interlaken, we highlight Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof. It is the only 5 Star Hostel in town.
We got you a 5% discount at the Backpackers Villa Sonnenhof – no promo code needed!
This discount comes in pretty handy, right?
How to apply the discount?
All you need to do is booking directly through this provided link. The discount will be applied directly.
Download the Kiwi app here.
2. Prague (romantic + nightlife)
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.
We visited the Prague Castle and only saw 8 more tourists around. It looked even more stunning.
Not into Castles? There is a lot more to it.
Things to do:
- Castle Tour
- Ghost Tours with Pub Crawl
- Dinner Cruise on the river
- Visit the Jewish Quarter
- Get lost in the old town
- wander the Charles Bridge
- Take a selfie with the John Lennon wall
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!
For secrets to Prague, download the 5 Secret Tips to Prague for free. (we included a few bars and cafés.
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!
How to get here:
Prague has its own airport. Many airlines offer this destination. It is also well connected by train (check train connections here). Hence, it is easy to get here!
Kiwi.com is especially amazing. You can select a date-range. Let’s say the full month of February.
It will show you all best options.
Where to stay:
The prices for hostels and hotels 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.
It is the only 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.
Here you can find all hostels in Prague.
Have a romantic city break. Find all accommodations for couples here.
- Family + Friends:
An apartment is your best bet. We love Airbnb for this. Here you can get a 35€ discount on your first stay.
You can also book with Booking.com This is recommend since you can cancel for free.
Find all apartments here.
- Luxury Option
The #1 luxury option is Alchymist Prague Castle Suites. It lets you travel back in time, just look at the photos!
It is cozy and very affordable, making Prague a top European winter destination.
Looks cold, right?! This winter photo of Prague was taken by us back in 2011.
3. Budapest (Romantic City Break)
Party and Fiesta! But also perfect for a romantic city break.
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!
Things to do
We even went to Szechenyi Spa, the biggest outdoor spa in Budapest. Although there was snow everywhere, we had great fun jumping from one hot tub to another.
You can get your tickets for the outdoor spa here.
You can even get a skip-the-line ticket for the spa.
We visited the Museum of Terror, had a drink at rural bars and got lost in the famous nightlife.
Make sure you join a pub crawl as well!
It’s only 15€.
How to get to Budapest
The airport is very well-connected. You can come here fast and easy from all major cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris.
The train connection is also very popular. The train takes you around the country. Especially a train ride from Vienna is quite scenic. Find train connections to Budapest.
Where to stay
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.
Compare all hostels in Budapest.
Budapest is great for couples. Relax in a spa, dine in fine restaurants and have a good time in one of the many bars out there.
As for accommodation, here you can find the top hotels to choose from.
- Family + Friends
An apartment is a great option for families and friends. There are plenty to choose from. Get one located around the parliament. This is the main area, and you can easily get around.
Find all apartments in Budapest here.
Airbnb fan? Here is a 35€ discount on your first Airbnb stay.
- Luxury Option
Get wow-ed at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, the 5 Star Hotel in the city center.
Find all prices of Hotels and Hostels in Budapest here.
4. Hamburg (totally underrated!)
Everybody in the world knows this city by name. But it’s yet in the shadow of big, famous Berlin.
Let me tell, Hamburg is a true hidden gem!
We have been several times to Hamburg now.
The best time we have been there was during New Years Eve.
It was cold, snowing, and people were celebrating all night long! The colder months do not scare people to stay indoors, and you can still enjoy all the 5 Secret Tips to Hamburg.
Instead, they go out to the bars, cafés and don’t let the cold weather put them off. Plus during Christmas you can enjoy the festive markets as well.
Things to do
To get an idea of what is going on in Hamburg during winter, simply check out the Instagram of Superbude Sankt Pauli.
- Visit the Christmas market
- Visit the Elbphilharmonie (majestic concert hall)
- Take a river cruise
- Take photos in beautiful Speicherstadt neighborhood
- Mingle in the nightlife of world-famous Sankt Pauli
- admire the Beatles monument
- have a fish-sandwich at the The Landungsbrücken Piers
How to get here
Easy. Hamburg has a big airport, it is Germany’s door to the world. You can also come via train from Amsterdam or Berlin. It’s only a short ride away from Berlin, and the connections are frequent.
Check out the train schedule here.
Where to stay
Super stylish, check ’em out!
If you are looking for more backpacker lifestyle and budget accommodation, find all hostels in Hamburg here.
- Family + Friends
5. Berlin (Christmas and Snow)
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!
The Christmas Markets in Berlin are beautiful, so don’t miss out!- Anna
Things to do
In our travel guide to Berlin we show you also 5 Insider tips Berlin you cannot miss!
Also, there are many activities and tours around the city, like history walking tours, food tours and museums.
Also, there are free things you can do in Berlin.
Did you know that visiting the City Hall is free of charge? It only requires you to register in the Bundestag website.
How to get to Berlin
(Bear in mind, Berlin has several airports.)
Where to stay
The best hostel in Berlin: Wallyard Concept Hostel
It 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!
Here you can find all prices of hotels and hostels in Berlin.
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!
6. Venice (Romantic City Break +5% discount)
It’s really unbelievable.
I never thought I’d fall in love with such a touristy city. But Venice, well, Venice is different.
Of course it is crowded all year long, don’t get me wrong.
“I never thought I’d fall in love with such a touristy city.”
At the same time, Venice is gorgeous all year long.
Things to do in Venice
I would recommend to stay at least 2 nights here and if you can better 3. This way you have really the time to get lost, taste Venice, take photos and “get bored”.
Get bored, meaning to just wander around, get lost, intent to find the way, get lost again and so on.
This is part of the charm of Venice!
Where to stay
- Family + Friends
I visited We Crociferi in Venice, the best hostel in the city. This 5 Star Hostel is a former monastery and the rooms even come with a canal view.
The readers of Hostelgeeks get an extra 5% discount for We Crociferi.
5% discount for We Crociferi Hostel (Former Monastery)
The coupon code is
How to apply?
- Visit the official website www.we-gastameco.com
- choose your date and room
- apply the discount
Here you can read our full review of the best hostel in Venice.
How about I show you the hostel…
7. Amsterdam (nightlife)
Amsterdam is a classic destination. It is awesome, all year around.
If you are coming the first time over, make sure you add this one to the list.
Things to do
Rent a bike and visit museums. This is the absolute must do.
Other than that, here is my detailed article on 29 fun things to do in Amsterdam.
Where to stay
Those are the 5 Star Hostels here in Amsterdam.
Both are recommended for solo-travelers and couples.
As for families, I would opt for an Airbnb. You can get our 25$ discount for your first stay here.
How to get to Amsterdam
As a main tourist spot, it is very well connected with the world and rest of Europe.
Just check out Kiwi.com to find your best flights.
Here is our full review of Kiwi as a flight booking engine.
8. Andorra (for winter sport and hiking)
This one is quite obvious? Okay, for Europeans maybe.
Andorra is one of the smallest countries in Europe, and the location is unique.
Hiding on top of the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, this makes it THE top location in winter to go snowboarding and skiing.
How to get to Andorra
Where to stay
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.
Here is our video from Mountain Hostel Tarter:
9. Bologna (Foodie-paradise and hidden gem)
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.
BTW: remember, we have a 5% discount for the best hostel in Venice: We Crociferi.
Bologna is a hub for the cheap flights from Ryanair. We scored flights here for less than 10€!
10. Bergen in Norway (landscape and culture)
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)
11. Zagreb in Croatia (landscape and cheap!)
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.
Here you can find details on Christmas time in Zagreb.
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. Here is our full review of Swanky Mint Hostel.
For summer, I highly recommend visiting Hvar and Korcula Island. JUST LOVE THEM!
12. Munich (Taverns and Castles)
Same goes for Munich! Sure, those beer gardens have their charm, but winter is part of the culture. The prices for accommodation are lower than in summer and there is still a lot to see and to do during the winter period.
The prices for accommodation are lower than in summer and there is still a lot to see and to do during the winter period.
Need help to choose a Hostel? Drop us a message.
Beer tours, royal castles are some of the cool tours in Munich.
Also near Munich, you can visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle (Disney’s Castle inspiration).
13. Barcelona (warm during the day, Romantic)
Have you been to Barcelona during July or August?
If not: It is super crowded!
The old town is chock with tourists, the prices are high and the sun is scorching hot.
Even our favorite super local hidden-gem winery is now packed with tourists.
If you have a chance to stop by during the colder months, do it.
It also allows you to check out the 5+3 Local Tips for Barcelona even quieter!
The prices for Hostels are no comparison to the high season in Barcelona. You can save a lot of money, and it is surprisingly sunny for the time of year.
To give you an idea:
- Summer: A bed in a regular hostel is about 25€
- Winter: A bed in a good hostel is about 10€
Also, we know some discounts so you can enjoy the city in a cheaper way:
- 15% discount for a Vespa rental: book directly at www.viavespa.com
- Cooking Classes: Check out a 5% discount to BCN Kitchen
Sure, during the night you will have to wear your jacket, but the welcome winter sun keeps you warm during the day.
Also, here is a useful guide to One Week In Barcelona
.It covers where to stay in Barcelona.
Pro Tip: The hostel prices drop in winter! You can stay at hostels in Barcelona for less than 10€!
This photo shows Anna on a cold winter morning in Barcelona.
Find 8 more cool winter destinations on page 2 including
- Hipster-Capital of Europe
- a cheap destination slightly outside of Europe
- and even an island
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