The 8 Best European Winter Getaways

By: Freelance Contributor

Some people actually prefer snow (as hard as that is to believe), yet the majority of winter dwellers crave a warm weather adventure to restore their bounce for life. Out in the big world are opportunities for everyone to experience life according to their own wish list. It could be skiing in the awesome Alps of Switzerland, laying on a white sand beach in the Mediterranean, or sipping coffee on a terrace in Italy. Whether you are seeking warm or cold weather getaways to escape the work cubicle, we have it covered. Time to de-stress and bring out the inner child. Take advantage of inexpensive locations to hook up with your fantasy trip. Everybody has one. The low tourism season always means low rates, so no reason to deny yourself a holiday. With so many global places eligible as vacation destinations, we went in blind to come up with our favorites for a top ten list, and here they are:


8. Andalucia, Spain

Andalucia is the ‘mother’ of Spanish folklore. It is the place where you get to live the magic of the authentic bullfighting and of Flamenco. This Spanish destination offers golden sand beaches and high ethereal mountain ranges while whisking the imagination to the days of Don Juan and Carmen, who were both born here. Andalucia is crossed by the great Guadalquivir River with an engaging history. It’s the friendly locals, the variety of landscapes, and interesting fauna which keeps travelers returning again and again. Seville, the Andalucia Capital, is one of the most beloved places by visitors due to its overall ambience and incredible landmarks.  The sky touching cathedral, Torre Del Oro, and the old district Barrio Santa Cruz are only a few of many must see places in Seville. Costa De Sol beckons with its fine sand beaches made popular by tourists. The Mediterranean coast revels in smooth climates, great food and entertaining culture. For sport enthusiasts, Andalucia embraces everything from skiing in the Sierra Nevada to surfing in Tarifa and always in the most ideal conditions.

Andalucia, Spain

7. Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø as a vacation spot may not come to many people’s minds immediately, however, this unique little place deserves to be explored. The city enjoys a midnight sun from May to July. During this time, the sun will always be above the horizon. Cable cars are readily available to whisk you away for one stunning panoramic view of the world.Other popular areas to view the sizzling horizon are on the Tromsø Bridge and in front of the Arctic Cathedral, either way, taking in the midnight sun is just the beginning. Tromsø is one of the best places to experience the angelic wonders of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). From the September through March, visitors can be enlightened by perfect atmospheric conditions in the Aurora Borealis belt called Tromsø.  For outdoor lovers, Tromsø offers plenty of sunshine, good weather, and continuous thrills into dark. There is an exciting husky safari, ice kick sledding, and ice fishing. Light and darkness have never worked together quite as well as they do in this special landscape. Tromsø’s most visited attractions include the Botanic Gardens, the Arctic Cathedral, and the Tromsø Museum. Be prepared to be inspired on this travel journey.

Tromsø, Norway

6. Vienna, Austria

“Let’s have a coffee” is a phrase you’re likely to hear a lot in Vienna. With a legendary coffee culture, many relationships and business decisions have been pondered over coffee. Vienna is a romantic’s dream with its baroque palaces and glittering shops. There is something almost ageless about this old historic city. The city bends time coupling old history with the dynamics of a youthful city. A city famous for its trappings of an imperial capital now also includes a rich electronic music scene and vibrant dance clubs.  Between multitudes of street performers, and glamorous balls, this is a city full of flavor. You should not miss the carnival season in Vienna, officially called ‘ball season’ the city hosts elegant and wonderful balls to attend. In the summer, take in one of the area’s many open-air film festivals for a change of pace. Vienna also boasts of over 21 markets, characteristically Viennese hut-like shops which are open daily. There is a large variety available from the dirt cheap to the upscale. Every market offers all the trimmings from coffee to butchers. Grab some kraut and stroll down to the Schloss Schonbrunn palace for a bite from history.

Jorg Hackemann /
Jorg Hackemann /

5. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Enamored by this beautiful city, George Bernard Shaw described Dubrovnik as “For those who seek paradise on earth”. Words do not give justice to this well-preserved city in Croatia. Often called “The Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik overlooks ancient monasteries, baroque churches, and aristocratic palaces to make for a wonderful getaway. Old town is the first stop in Dubrovnik, a place famous for Stradun and the patron St. Blaise. Watch the world go by in a coffeehouse and escape the gloom of winter. Soak up the sun at a hidden beach unknown to tourists, or check out Dubrovnik’s spectacular and dramatic Dalmation Coast. For those who have never heard of Dubrovnik, it’s the filming location for the widely popular HBO show “Game of Thrones”. In the series, Dubrovnik is used to create ‘King’s Landing” and locations used include St. Dominic Street, Lokrum Island, Sponza palace and Knezev dvor. Hotel Belvedere hosts not only the filming location for this beloved show, but also has some interesting history. Outside of old town, high on a steep beach, this 1986-built hotel was forced to close within 6 years because it was the primary target of the Yugoslav army as the hotel had served as a refugee shelter.

Dubrovnik, Croatia


4. Kas, Turkey

On the southern side of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, two hour’s drive southeast of Fethiye, is a historic fishing village called Kas. Now a major tourist attraction, Kas has charm and the activities are endless with some of the greatest diving in the entire Mediterranean. Beautiful harbors and tiny-pebbled beaches are only a fraction of Kas’ appeal. There is an unhurried ambiance to the village, letting time float unnoticed amongst daily routines. White-washed houses sit quietly at the wall of mountains before facing the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Bring out the explorer in you by visiting the ruins of the ancient town of Antiphellos or cross the water to the Greek island of Megisti; only a day trip away. Kas also offers boat trips to neighboring villages like Kalkan. If adventure isn’t your calling then spend time relaxing and drinking Turkish coffee in one of their many waterfront coffee-houses. Turkey itself is an enormously cultural rich and diverse country, with a wide variety of interaction for everyone. This is one destination which should be visited at least once in a lifetime.

Kas, Turkey

3. Sorrento, Italy

This southern city of Italy is a treat whatever the weather, with Capri and Naples easily accessible from here. This is the ideal place to taste authentic Italian cuisine and is also the place where gelato was born. The amazing scenery combined with authentic old-world delicacies promises a good time for everyone. The stunning Amalfi Coast is in Sorrento so many tourists flock to this coastal paradise. The intensity continues with Naples so close by. Naples is Italy in the extreme. This is the birthplace of Sophia Loren, modern pizza and also the Camorra, ‘family of organized crime’.  Still, this region of Italy is loaded with travel thrills including the Pompeii ancient Roman sites nearby and Paestum with its old Greek temples. With Sorrento as your sunny springboard you can jet around this part of Italy and never be bored. In fact, you will probably wish to bask lazily on one of the many fine sand beaches in the area, drinking fine wine and taking in a spectacular sunset. The Sorrento people have gone out of their way to make this quaint cliff-ledge town a relaxing and safe place for tourists from all over the world.

Amalfi Coast

2. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a city split down the middle by the beautiful Danube River. On one side is Buda characterized by curvy rolling hills, the famous Castle district, and historic Ottoman relics. The other side is Pest marked by spread out, tree-lined boulevards, trendy ruin-style bars and vanishing apartment blocks. Budapest is full of magic waters as they bubble constantly into the 118 springs and boreholes around the city. It’s known as the city of spas, and for fans of the pampered type, this winter getaway promises an impressive array of spa baths. Choose from the 1913 neo-baroque style Szechenvi Spa or the Rudas Spa, a 16th century Turkish pool draped by original Ottoman architecture. Afterwards, enjoy Budapest’s amazing city history, engaging culture, and natural beauty. Take in Roman ruins at the Aquincum Museum, or wander through Statue Park to see the 300 foot dome of St. Stephen’s Basilica. Escape to Margaret Island, which was used as a harem during the Turkish occupation. The island once called “Island of the Rabbits” is now a serene green park in the middle of the Danube, so get ready to stroll on its medieval ruins and romantic pathways.

Budapest, Hungary

1. Innsbruck, Austria

If you are looking to extend your winter recreation then rope in some friends and head off to the best of winter destinations in the Karwendal Alps. Ski like a professional down the peaks with crisp air and stunning Alpine landscapes, or try your energy with cross country skiing in these magnificent mountains. Bring lots of energy here, as this has been home of the winter Olympics. Rent a traditional chalet at one of the many resorts and prepare for a fun-filled Alpine vacation. Austria may seem intimidating at first, but no worries, the locales are happy to help you navigate the locale. This Austrian town is chalked full of medieval centers, cathedrals, castles, and fine museums with more attractions to visit and things to do other than just skiing. You certainly won’t go hungry in Innsbruck with an endless variety of restaurants and pubs to feed the most ravenous appetite. Innsbruck is officially an internationally world renowned winter sports center. It is also the halfway point between Verona, Italy and Munich, Germany; perfect for an extended travel journey. While you are in Innsbruck, take in the Alpine Zoo or University Botanical Gardens. Tourism is the number one industry here making Innsbruck desirable for visitors.

Innsbruck, Austria