These Are Europe’s Fastest Growing Destinations for Celebrating the Holidays

London is still the top spot across the pond for U.S. travelers during the holidays, but these unexpected cities are more popular than ever from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve this year.

These Are Europe’s Fastest Growing Destinations for Celebrating the Holidays

Lisbon’s pedestrian-friendly Rua Augusta gets decorated each year for Christmas with festive lights.

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When the travel insurance company Allianz Global Assistance looked at where U.S. travelers were planning trips to Europe this year for the holidays, it discovered two fascinating things. Not only are more Americans traveling abroad to Europe in winter 2018 compared to winter 2017 (a whopping 20 percent increase) to celebrate everything from Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but also the cities where people are flying to are changing quickly.

To find out which cities were growing the fastest as holiday destinations, Allianz Global Assistance analyzed the number of customers who booked airfare or travel packages online to Europe from the United States through partners that offer Allianz Global Assistance travel insurance. Allianz specifically looked at trips booked between June 1 to October 15, 2018, for travel during the peak holiday season (November 21, 2018, to January 6, 2019) compared to the same peak dates in 2017.

The most popular destinations—London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, and Madrid in that order—hold the same rankings they did last year. However, the percentage of people traveling to Lisbon this holiday season skyrocketed more than 100 percent since 2017, with Zurich and Barcelona showing increases over 50 percent as well.

In terms of sheer numbers of visitors, Lisbon still comes in as the 12th most popular destination for holiday travel for Americans this year. Yet, its popularity is increasing rapidly, climbing nine spots compared to 2017, when it didn’t even make it into the top 20.

But Zurich’s number two spot shows that Americans aren’t cold-weather averse for the holidays, even though southern European spots with milder weather like Lisbon and Barcelona are gaining popularity.

Here’s the full list of Europe’s 10 fastest-growing holiday destinations for U.S. travelers and the exact percentage increase from winter 2017 to winter 2018.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal (LIS): 103.2%
  2. Zurich, Switzerland (ZRH): 54.8%
  3. Barcelona, Spain (BCN): 50.2%
  4. Paris, France (CDG): 42.7%
  5. Milan, Italy (MXP): 37.4%
  6. Keflavik, Iceland (KEF): 36.6%
  7. Venice, Italy (VCE): 34.2%
  8. London, United Kingdom (LHR): 31.6%
  9. Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS): 22.5%
  10. Munich, Germany (MUC): 19.6%

>> Next: 9 Perfectly Christmassy European Cities Without the Crowds

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at Afar who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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