The holiday season is an exciting time every year. It’s the time when your family gets together, and you can enjoy a lovely and relaxed atmosphere. And while unwinding at home and taking the time to have a breather is excellent, it’s also a good idea to try doing something a little different every now and then. One of the best options is to choose a foreign country to visit and experience the joys of the holiday season there. You’ll get a change of scenery and try things that are entirely new, from the local cuisine to the beautiful sights you can admire.
Europe is lovely during the winter season, and there are many things you can do when you’re visiting. From having a ride on the cable car to enjoying the numerous winter markets, practising winter sports or simply strolling around picturesque cities, travelling during this time means you might very well have a trip that you remember for the rest of your life. Here are a few spots you should consider adding to your itinerary…
#1 Chamonix, France
Located in the Haute-Savoie department in southeast France, Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, better known simply as Chamonix, is a commune renowned as one of the oldest ski resorts in all of France. In 1924, it was also the site of the first Winter Olympics, and as the fourth-largest commune in France, you can be confident that you won’t become bored vacationing in Chamonix.
It goes without saying that if you’re a lover of winter sports, there’s perhaps no better place to visit. The slopes are perfect, and you can find something to fit all proficiency levels. So even if your family or friends aren’t as adept as you, they can still give skiing or snowboarding a first try. However, don’t believe that there’s nothing else to enjoy. If you’re not a fan of the sports, you can always stroll around to enjoy the festive decorations strewn throughout the city. The après-ski is particularly nice in Chamonix and includes live music and cabaret shows. You can book a treatment at a local spa to enjoy a day of pampering or visit the Crystal Museum or the many galleries in the Chamonix valley.
#2 London, England
London is a fantastic place to visit all year round, making it one of the best choices for a winter getaway. If you prefer quiet, quaint and relaxing spots during Christmas, you should probably skip London because the city is bright and bustling throughout. So, if you’re the type that wants to have some fun and try something new every day or risk getting bored, London is the place for you. The squares are designed for the holidays, so you can enjoy some mulled wine in Covent Garden while having a look at the installations and decorations that change every year. In the nearby Trafalgar Square, you can have a look at the giant twinkling tree that has been a yearly gift from Oslo since 1947 as a symbolic token of gratitude for help during World War II. And in Borough Market, you can sample some traditional Christmas favourites, including mince pies and Christmas pudding.
If you’re travelling with children, you can’t miss out on pantomime shows. Most performances take place shortly before Christmas, but you can still catch a few into the new year if you’re planning to extend your trip. And although people of all ages can enjoy them, you should know that the theatre is in high gear all through winter, with plenty of options to choose from, ranging from Shakespearean classics to postmodern, experimental shows. And if you’re still debating how to reach the city, taking a train to London is the best option. Make sure to book your trip in advance for a more affordable price. Since you can travel from any European city, you can make the journey part of the process, as you can enjoy some truly spectacular sights en route.
#3 Antwerp, Belgium
When you’re thinking of places to visit in Belgium, Brussels is likely the first on your list. And while there’s no denying the charm of the capital city, there are other spots you shouldn’t miss out on either. Antwerp, the largest city in Belgium by area and the second-largest metropolitan region, is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. Located on the river Scheldt and linked to the North Sea, it lies roughly 40 km from Brussels and 15 km from the border with the Netherlands. You can take a train to Antwerp from several other cities, including Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague. You’ll reach your destination in roughly 1.30 hours. Depending on the route you have to take, you won’t have to make any transfers as well. The travelling experience is very comfortable, and you have the advantage of flexibility, as you have the option to choose a departure time that suits your schedule.
While in the city, you can neglect to try the local cuisine. You have the option to choose between Michelin-star restaurants, as well as vendors selling the most amazing street foods. During the Christmas season, there are also several open markets where you can test some of the most famous Belgian chocolate treats. And due to the city’s multicultural nature, you can also sample cuisines from different parts of the world. Visit the Antwerp Christmas Market to look at the beautiful decorations or have some fun on the Ferris wheel or covered ice skating rink. If you plan to stay in the city a little longer, you can enjoy the fireworks extravaganza that takes place every year on December 31st, right by the river.
When you’re thinking about travelling during the holiday season, you want to make sure you have a trip that’s extra special. After all, Christmas only comes around once a year, and nothing can match the festive atmosphere felt during this time. It’s only natural that you’d want to create memories that last. If you take a trip to Europe, create a rough itinerary before you leave. This way, you ensure you can visit as many spots as possible and don’t miss out on anything.