For those of you who are into the cosier aesthetic and thrive in times of hats and scarves, what better time to book your city break than in the chilly winter months? Each European city has its rollout of festivities throughout the year, but it just so happens the best ones take place during the winter months. Ice skating and Christmas markets are perfect examples.
Best European Winter Destinations
European city breaks usually cost less in the off-season than during the summer. If you prefer the cold to the heat, you might want to visit multiple cities in one trip rather than one big summer vacation. Here’s our list of the best places to visit in the winter, which we’ve compiled based on the unique winter activities each of them offers.
What’s not to love about being in a cosy pub with a hot whiskey on a cold winter’s day? Not only have the Irish adapted to the colder months, but they thrive in it, making the capital city a great winter destination. Bars and restaurants usually adjust their menus to heartier meals that will warm you from the inside, like beef stew or homemade soda bread with soup, so you won’t be cold for long. Also, make sure to enjoy Ireland’s favourite beverage during these frosty times, the humble cuppa tea.
There’s a rollout of Irish festivals and traditions throughout the winter months, the best one being Trad Fest. Every January, join the joyful celebration of Irish music and culture in Temple Bar. The traditional music of Ireland can be heard in the best pubs in Dublin, located on the famous cobbled streets of Temple Bar. Plus, don’t miss the magic of the Christmas lights in Temple Bar, another reason to add the famous street to your list of places to visit in Dublin during winter.
Maldron Hotel Kevin Street is a new hotel in the heart of Dublin city centre, just a ten-minute stroll from St Stephen’s Green and Temple Bar, making it the perfect place to warm up before you head out for a day of winter activities!
The Düsseldorf air during the winter months is coated with the scent of roasted almonds and mulled wine. Their Christmas markets are located in the Old Town area known as Altstadt. They’ve become famous due to their rollout of 7 themed Christmas worlds within the markets so you’ll never be bored! Around every corner is a new set of costumes, food and drink offerings, complemented with Christmas lights, an ice rink and a giant Ferris wheel overlooking the Rhine.
If you’re looking for a hotel in Düsseldorf near the Christmas markets, Hotel Nikko Düsseldorf is located just a 20-minute walk away.
Düsseldorf has one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe, with over 8,000 Japanese living and working there. Thanks to the settled Japanese, their culture and food have followed them. In 1993, the EKŌ-Haus opened in Düsseldorf’s Niederkassel district. As a religious and cultural centre, it has a Buddhist temple, a Japanese garden and a traditional Japanese-style house with a tea room. Learn about Japanese culture with a self-guided tour of the traditional Japanese house and temple. There are exhibition and event rooms in traditional Japanese style next to a Buddhist temple. Take part in Buddhist festivals, tea ceremonies, concerts or courses in traditional Japanese arts.
Galway is a city on Ireland’s west coast, at the very edge of Europe, along the scenic Wild Atlantic Way.
If you’re hoping to explore the Wild Atlantic Way while on your winter tour, Maldron Hotel Oranmore Galway is located along the famous coastal route. It’s also just outside Galway city centre, with free parking, making it the perfect hotel in Galway to rest your head. Staying here would allow you to explore the Wild Atlantic Way throughout the day and then return to the city just in time for the nightlife.
For those travelling in a couple, you need to visit The Claddagh Ring Museum. It is the birthplace of the famous Irish Claddagh Ring, which is a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship. There’s a showing every 20 minutes that takes you through the tale of Richard Joyce and his incredible love story that led to the creation of one of the most world-renowned rings.
For the classical music lovers out there, Music for Galway Midwinter Festival kicks off every January. It’s a three-day midwinter festival that will delight music lovers with recitals from chosen composers. This popular festival brings people together every year to enjoy great music in a welcoming and comfortable setting. Venture to Galway this January and discover its charms away from the craze of the summer festivals.
Galway Christmas Markets roll out every year in Eyre Square. You’ll find entertainment, live music and international cuisine. Our hotel is just a short stroll or drive from Eyre Square, making it the ideal spot to unwind after visiting the Christmas markets.
Best UK Winter Destinations
You’ll definitely need to add the fourth best city in the world to your Christmas hit list. Also, noteworthy to mention, it was voted the friendliest city, so why not spend the jolliest time of the year with the merry Glaswegians?
Glasgow is known for its art and cultural scene, so if you are looking to hit the theatres during pantomime season, you’re bound to be spoilt for choice here! The Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are based here, as well as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. With no shortage of Christmas time plays, from big shows featuring familiar faces to smaller local productions, there’s bound to be a seasonal nutcracker. Find a list of upcoming Glasgow shows and tickets on What’s On Stage.
Maldron Hotel Glasgow City is the perfect winter retreat near the theatres. This hotel in Glasgow city centre, is within walking distance of all the city has to offer, including the Pavilion, King’s Theatre and Royal Theatre.
During the Christmas season, Glasgow has Scotland’s biggest ice rink on the grounds of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. The Ice Experience at Elfingrove is the UK’s most magical skating experience. The Elfingrove ice rink is fully covered with a see-through roof, which has a stunning light show projected onto it while you skate. During your 60-minute skating experience, you can take a well deserved break to grab a seasonal hot chocolate from Elingrove’s Mallow Cafe.
There’s one thing Manchester is widely known for, and that’s football. The National Football Museum is a great activity even on a cold winter’s day. It displays important collections of football memorabilia including the original ‘Laws of the Game’ from 1863.
For those who are guilty of last-minute Christmas gift-buying, visitors travel from all over the world to shop in Manchester and it’s easy to see why. Manchester Arndale and The Trafford Centre as well as high street destinations like Exchange Square and Market Street offer a wide range of international brands alongside the best of British at department stores like John Lewis and Marks and Spencer. You’re bound to pick up some quality gifts here for your loved ones.
If you plan on exploring the city, why not stay in one of the city’s newest hotels right in the heart of Manchester City Centre? It is very conveniently situated within walking distance of the National Football Museum, countless shops and Oxford Road train station.
Ouseburn’s Victoria Tunnel has been Newcastle’s number one thing to do on Trip Advisor for several years running. The preserved 19th-century waggonway will keep you sheltered during the winter months, and it will give you a glimpse into Newcastle’s history. It stretches from the Town Moor to the Tyne River (just under 4km). Between 1842 and 1860, it transported coal, but in 1939, it was converted into an air raid shelter to protect thousands during World War 2.
Europe’s biggest touring Halloween show, ‘Festival of The Dead’ visits Newcastle every year and offers a mashup of circus, clubbing and carnival. Underground circus acts, performers, musicians and artists with remarkable talents are featured in the show. You should definitely join the fancy dress event if you love Halloween and want to see some eerie performances.
During your winter city vacation, if you need a hotel in Newcastle upon Tyne, Maldron Hotel Newcastle is a 4-star hotel in a prime location in the heart of Newcastle City Centre, only steps from a ton of restaurants, bars and shopping.
Newcastle also hosts a very special art trail, which has Illuminated Sheep scattered throughout the greater Newcastle region. This brand new visual arts experience is to celebrate the arrival of the Lindisfarne Gospels in the North East of England and is inspired by the Gospels’ themes of light, sheep and pilgrimage. Artist Deepa Mann-Kler creates a flock of 30 illuminated sheep that appear in a handful of key Northumberland locations. The event encourages visitors to explore the region’s rich landscape, heritage and culture to #FindTheFlock.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
When visiting Belfast, you’ll be immersed in the history that shaped the city, from the murals on the walls to the historical buildings. Winter is a great time to visit Belfast because it’s the best time of year to do their famous Black Cab Tours. While on the tour, you get taken on a trip around Belfast by a driver who is well seasoned when it comes to the knowledge of its turbulent history. The tour will take you past many of Belfast City’s murals which are arguably the most well-known politically themed murals in Europe and the UK. This is a perfect way to spend a day for those of you wondering what to do in Belfast when it’s raining, as you can just chill in the car for the whole duration.
In the heart of Belfast, Maldron Hotel Belfast City is conveniently situated. Shops, historical sites, and an unlimited number of bars and restaurants are all within walking distance. Also, in December, when the Christmas Market is in full flow, our hotel is under half a kilometre away. So, if you’re looking to get away as a group and hit the city’s bar or as a couple exploring its rich history, Maldron Hotel Belfast City is the ideal place to stay.
Whether you decide to explore Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way in Galway, visit the Belfast Christmas Markets or EKŌ-Haus in Düsseldorf, Maldron Hotels always have a place for you.
Check out our full list of hotel locations today and start planning your winter getaway!