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Posted by Royal Sundaram on 18 Jun 2015
“Snow flurries began to fall and they swirled around people’s legs like house cats. It was magical, this snow globe world.”
~ Sarah Addison Allen, The Sugar Queen
Where to go this winter?
Some European countries and cities are better to visit in winter than in summer. The European winter has many forms. While the polar regions of Norway and Ireland are covered in snow and sunless days; the Mediterranean offers light sunshine and cool breeze. When you want to visit these places, it is a good idea to keep your itinerary light. While London and Venice can be considerably expensive in the winter, places like Salzburg and Tallinn can be the perfect vacation destination and prove to be comparatively cheaper. Make use of the well connected train network to explore places close to accommodation. Plan your trip in advance to get the best of your finances and travel insurance plans, and ensure that you are prepared for any contingency.
It is a good idea to find quaint destinations where you can interact with locals and create some lasting memories, because as the famous author George RR Martin says, “Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
Here are a few uncommon but postcard perfect destinations that would knock your breath away at first sight. A vacation in these places ensures that you aren’t lost in the crowd and neither do you have to put up with never ending tourist queues. The experience of the culture is meant to be rich, relaxing and positively romantic. Most cities in Europe, especially the ones listed below are entwined with ancient streets meant for long walks, laced with brightly lit cafés, where you can meet the locals to experience the soul and culture of the city. Lastly, do not be afraid to try the local cuisine, they are predominantly made from fresh produce!
1. Tallinn, Estonia
Estonia was formerly part of the Soviet Union. There is a common misconception that this city is all dull and grey. In reality, this city is a charming mix of medieval and modern cultures. Why is it a winter destination? The answer is simple – a visit at this snowy time of the year can be very romantic. The line of quaint cafés, restaurants and galleries will warm your heart from within.
• Places you cannot miss: The 12th century St Olaf’s Church is a great place to start, since it offers the best vantage point in the city. The Museum of Occupations draws out the details of the Soviet-monitored Tallinn. The Baroque Kadriorg Palace was the summer residence of the Russian Tsar Peter 1. Today, it is an art museum and a home to impressive foreign collectables from Europe and Russia.
• Getting there: Although you can simply fly from London, you could also choose to take a train and a ferry to reach Estonia via Copenhagen and Stockholm. The trip from London takes roughly 3 nights with lots to see on the way.
2. Salzburg, Austria
It is the ultimate Christmas destination, boxed in beautiful snow. After all, it is the birth place of Mozart and it was the city where ‘Silent Night’ was written.
• Places you cannot miss: Hohensalzburg Fortress, built in 1077, gives you a glimpse of the magnificent city. A Ludwig statue sits in the center of Mozart Square. It was unveiled in 1842 in the presence of Mozart’s sons. The skyline of the city is dominated by church spires, distinctive domes and medieval towers.
• Getting there: Located on the German-Austrian border, it can be reached in two hours from Munich and in three hours by train from Vienna. It also has a modern airport connected well with London, Amsterdam, Gatwick, and other major destinations in Europe.
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
For a fairytale winter vacation, the city’s bars and cafés give you moments of cozy warmth as the snow flurry unfolds outside.
• Highlights: The 19th century Tivoli amusement park is a romantic destination in the heart of the city. The place keeps you alive with heart-warming glittering lights and mugs of body-warming glögg. Copenhagen is easy to know, the transport system is well laid out and you won’t get lost since the locals speak fluent English.
• Getting there: The city is located almost in the centre of Europe and has the infrastructure that makes it easy to reach via bus, train, flight, ferry or even a cruise ship!
4. Budapest, Hungary
This Hungarian capital paints a picturesque and romantic image of couples skating in the frosty air. The central park of Városligeti Műjégpálya has an enormous outdoor rink that is loved by the millions who visit this place. And after the exciting chilly experience of skating, take a dip in the ornate thermal baths that Budapest is so well known for.
• Highlights: Budapest is in reality two cities in one. While Buda is now packed with beautiful buildings, bustling nightlife and also romantic riverside walks; Pest is a livelier place, with pavement cafés and designer shops.
• Getting there: You can reach the city by train, bus, car or flight. It is a well connected city that can be reached easily from major destinations across Europe. The international airport is 16 km from the city centre and there are a line of quaint hotels that you can call home for a few days.
5. Abisko, Sweden
This is a place for the lovers of frost and snow. The spectacular scenery it offers makes it the highlight of any romantic trip to Lappland. This is a city where the sun doesn’t show its face for several weeks in the months of December and January. However, the beauty of the mystic darkness makes it the best place in the world to be star struck by the magnificent aurora boreali.
• Places you cannot miss: The 75 sq km National Park set in the southern shores is home to the breathtaking lake Torneträsk. This view is framed by the Lapporten, a neighboring hill formation that is dubbed as the “legendary gate to Lappland.”
• Getting there: Although this tiny village like city is barely 200 km above the Arctic Circle, it is fairly easy to reach. You can either fly to Kiruna and then take an hour and half’s train ride; or you can simply board an overnight train from Stockholm. This place is filled with romantic hotels to make your trip a grand one.
No matter where the road decides to take you, it is important to plan in advance. While landing from different continents, it is a good idea to fix a budget and also get a travel insurance plan covering your extensive trip. Although we hope for the best time, there is no harm in being prepared to cope with any sort of travel contingency. Try booking in advance to get the cheapest travel rates and the best hotel packages to make your winter European adventure a memory of a lifetime.
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