There is no question that winter has arrived in Germany! With that never-ending gray sky, the chilly temps, and the wet rain or snow on the ground, it is easy to just close the front door, kick off those boots, and climb onto the couch with a blanket and the remote control. But with winter also come so many fantastic travel options in and around Germany!
Singles, couples or families: winter is a time to travel. You will find lower prices, smaller crowds, and completely unique experiences all around you. So here is a list of places to go and things to do that are sure to help you shake off your winter blues!
You might want to save Barcelona for the summer, but going to Catalonia’s capital city in the winter months can be a spectacular trip. Temperatures don’t get Germany-cold and what you will save in cash will be substantial. Consider the delicious Tapas restaurants (try Tapas 24) you can visit with some of the best food you will ever eat.
The famous artist and architect Antoni Gaudi’s influence on the city is apparent. Don’t miss Gaudi Park (Parc Güell), Gaudi House Museum (La Pedrera) and the famous church La Sagrada Familia. The Gothic Quarter is an area to explore (try a Fat Tire Bike tour to save the legs).
Like other big European cities, Munich (München in German) will have a fraction of the crowds in winter time (although Christmas market time is busy, but worth it). The Bavarian capital has lots to do if you like historic buildings (see the Glockenspiel at Marienplatz) and churches (learn the story of the Devil’s Footprint at Frauenkirche).
A trip to Munich isn’t complete without a stop at the Hofbraeuhaus to drink big beers and sing German songs (get the Schweinehaxe — delicious pork roasted on the bone) but you may want to try the lesser known Augustiner Braeustuben for great tasting beer and amazing food. Munich can be on the pricey side, so a winter trip can be what the doctor ordered for your wallet.
If you are looking for an elegant city in the Alps, Innsbruck is it. A former host to the Winter Olympics, the capital of the Tyrolean region is the perfect home base for day ski and boarding trips with a resort right from the city center (accessible by tram, take the Nordkette funicular,) as well as historical imperial architecture.
Check out the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) in the old town to see a roof made of pure gold for the marriage of Maximilian I and his wife. The Tyrolean Folk Show is great for the family as well.
What can you say about Rome that hasn’t been said? It has to make your bucket list before you leave Europe. Summer can be extremely hot and busy, while winter temperatures are cool but comfortable.
Think about a winter trip to Italy’s capital to see the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Vatican and endless list of amazing historical sites. Stay in a neighborhood slightly off the beaten path to experience more mom and pop restaurants for the real Lazio region fare.
It might seem odd to leave the cold only to go somewhere colder, but Iceland is so fantastic, the weather doesn’t even matter. The people are so warm, the terrain is so primal, and, if you are lucky, the Northern Lights are so magical, that the frigid temperatures will not even matter!
Fly into Reykjavik, take a shuttle to downtown, and take day trips to see the major sites. If you are lucky enough to have more than a couple days, try getting out to some other towns to stay; small towns, yes, but experiences you will not forget anytime soon!
Again with the cold winter getaway? Yes, but this time, fly into Helsinki, if you have time to hang out for a couple days, do so, but if not, hop on a small plane north to go to Ivalo, then take a short bus ride to Kakslauttanen (www.kakslauttanen.fi/en), for your magical stay in a glass igloo. There are a ton of activities, but really, do you need more than just laying there, looking up?
Prague, Czech Republic
Another amazing town, offering just about everything you could want: a castle on the hill, a river cutting through the middle of things, a funicular, great beer, great food, great people, amazing history, and gorgeous architecture.
Now sprinkle a light dusting of snow across everything, and you have a truly magical experience. Prague is surprisingly walkable (okay, mostly), and is very fitting for the entire family.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
If you have not yet been, Amsterdam is simply one of the chillest cities you will ever visit (and not just because of all the “coffee” shops, which, by the way, you do not have to visit).
Amsterdam is almost completely level, with all those incredibly quaint canals and bridges over them, gorgeous leaning buildings (there is a reason they do that), and amazing history. Amsterdam also happens to be one of, if not the most, diverse cities in all of Europe. Museums, bars, restaurants, canals, tours, and yes, coffee shops. Just awesome.
There’s no bad time of year to go to Paris. Sunny, rainy, snowy, overcast, warm, cold, it just doesn’t matter: the City of Lights is an amazing host.
If it is your first time, you can walk to pretty much all the bigticket sites. If you are done with all that, there is no better Parisian experience than simply sitting at a cafe and watching Parisians go by. Paris also happens to have one of the best Christmas Markets; be sure to climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for a view of the lights lining the Champs-Élysées and the Eiffel Tower all alit.
Story by Bret Helenius and Aaron T. Grogg