We all have a list of destinations we would like to visit one day. These “bucket list” places may be located in tropical spots or in cooler climates. You may also want to travel to a certain city or country at a specific time of the year for one reason or another. For example, many people dream of traveling to New York City during Christmastime. For me, however, it’s on my list to visit various destinations throughout Europe during the winter. With its castles, historic sites, famous filming locations, and more, Europe during the winter months has a magical appeal to it. While I don’t have a set date for the trip, I do have a growing list of places I want to visit. Take a look at my European winter travel bucket list below, which consists of cities and specific attractions.
- Reykjavik, Iceland – No matter the time of the year, I think visiting Iceland would be a wonderful experience. It seems as if the country is its own little world. This Nordic location is known for its glaciers and volcanoes, giving it the nickname “The Land of Fire and Ice,” and Reykjavik is the capital. In addition to the marvelous landscape, what draws me to this country is its Viking history, geothermal pools, and the Winter Lights Festival held in the capital city every February. Light installations and outdoor activities are the main attractions, as the country celebrates the last full month of winter and the lighter days ahead.
- Abisko, Sweden – Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Abisko is known as one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, especially if you are on a budget. Complete with reindeer, sledding, cross-country skiing, and snow, this village is a winter-lover’s dream. It is also close to the world’s first ice hotel, The Icehotel, in the village of Jukkasjarvi, Sweden. Fun fact: this hotel has been rebuilt every year since its opening in 1990. Now, whether or not I would like to spend a night there is still up in the air, but I would like to see it in person and take a guided tour.
- Rovaniemi, Finland – Known as the official hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is also located in the Arctic Circle and has attractions like the Santa Claus Village, Northern Lights tours, and a wildlife park. This city thrives on Old St. Nick and everything associated with his story. But what really sets Rovaniemi apart is its period of Polar Twilight, sometimes referred to as Polar Nights, from September to March. The sun only appears for a couple of hours each day. When it is not shining, a bluish glittering color covers the sky and pretty much everything else.
- Nuremberg, Germany – Christmas markets can be visited in many countries throughout Europe, but Germany is known for having some of the best, and the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt can’t be missed. First held in the 1500s, the market is based on the idea of Christkind, where children were given gifts on December 6th, St. Nicolas’s Day, before it was switched to Christmas Eve. This idea derives from the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther helped make the switch in gift-giving days. Visitors can shop at multiple stores within the market and catch a holiday concert or two at the Lorenzkirche church. While there, you can also tour the Nuremberg Castle and the city’s toy museum.
- Innsbruck, Austria – Considered to be the “capital of the Alps,” Innsbruck is often surrounded by snow-covered mountains. While there, you can ski in the Austrian Alps, shop, and explore the Hofburg, or The Imperial Palace. Innsbruck is a rich mixture of both the modern and historic. What more could you want in a winter destination site?
This is just a sampling of all the places I would like to visit during the winter months of Europe. In addition, cities in Italy, which are a little bit warmer, are on my bucket list. Who knows where I may end up, whenever I am able to travel to Europe?