The weather is cooling down in the Southern Hemisphere and some of us are dreaming of hot cuppas rugged up in a blanket at home. But have you thought about getting out and about and travelling in the chilly weather? Europe is a wonderfully picturesque place to explore in the cooler months (with the added plus of there being less tourists everywhere) and now is the perfect time to start planning a winter getaway. Here are a few lovely destinations to get the inspiration flowing.
Beautiful Hallstatt is a little Austrian village by the water filled with quaint cafes dotted between 16th century alpine houses. It’s so beautiful that the Chinese attempted to make a replica of the village, but of course, nothing could be as stunning as the original. Guided hikes and walking tours are a wonderful way to explore the village, which also has an interesting history of salt mining.
While the hills are alive with the sound of music in Salzburg in the summertime, they’re equally as picturesque covered in a thick blanket of snow. Tuck into a gingery lebkuchen and sip on some mulled wine at one of the whimsical Christmas markets. The Christmas song Silent Night was written in Salzburg – discover the atmosphere for its inspiration here.
Experience the Danish philosophy of hygge at its finest in Denmark. Hygge (pronounced hooga) translates to a cosiness found through enjoying the little things and putting happiness as a paramount goal in life. Wander the frosty streets without a care in the world, feeling the snow fall in your hair, before retreating to a cosy cafe and enjoy a hot cuppa snuggled in plush blankets, all under well-designed lights. The Danish are famous for their design after all.
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For history-lovers, Belgrade is possibly the most exciting city on the list. It’s a city that’s looking towards the future, but is still reminded of its past at every corner – some events recent, some ancient. Soviet-style apartment blocks are scars against awe-inspiring Habsburg masterpieces. It’s also the point where the Sava River meets the Danube. Belgrade translates as ‘White City’, so best explore when it’s covered in snow.
Tallinn is a mix of Medieval and modern, without getting too caught up in the modern. Estonia’s capital on the Baltic Sea, its brightly coloured buildings and cobbled streets are no doubt beautiful, but the Old Town steals the show. It’s one of the best preserved Medieval towns in Europe and as so, is a World Heritage Listed site.
Bled is a little resort town in Slovenia set on a glacial lake. In the middle of the lake is a church where local weddings take place. The church has 99 steps and it’s custom to have a groom carry his new bride up the steps. People have loved the region of Bled for so long that on the little island, there are even traces of human prehistory. Bled can get very busy in the summertime, so winter is not only a picturesque time to visit, but also great to escape the masses.
Cesky Krumlov is perhaps one of Europe’s most stunning cities in winter. You can walk from one end to the other in 20 minutes, but you’re sure to stop quite a few times along the way to marvel at the baroque architecture, a castle and sparkling Vltava River. It’s wonderful to visit in winter when the crowds are gone and the castle is draped in snow.