Collected by Clare Olivares , AFAR Local Expert
Places to explore in winter for Christmas
75009 Paris, France
Galeries Lafayette Haussmann is worth a visit if only to stand under its magnificent glass dome. The family business has survived as a one-stop-shopping hub for five generations, thanks to steady innovation and an emphasis on high fashion and...
Budapest, 1051 Hungary
There's no better way to connect with a culture than through food. It's a universal language, tangible and immediate. Street/market food is particularly insightful. I recently spent time in eastern Europe and was pleasantly surprised by the...
Vesterbrogade 3, 1630 København V, Denmark
A fairy-tale town deserves a magical funfair. Tivoli Gardens is one of the country’s most popular attractions, drawing more than four million visitors a year (in a country with a population of around 5.5 million). Youngsters will enjoy the...
V Kotcích 516/15, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czechia
Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin, Germany
With only my nose peeking from my scarf, the smell of toasted almonds, melting sugar, and mulled wine warmed all my senses. Christmas in Berlin made me feel 5 years old all over again and I had the revelation, “This is what Christmas carols are...
Warmoezeniersweg 20, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Went over to Brugge the other day to see the ice sculptures and also had a walk through the city. The main square was lit up very nicely and there was an ice rink right in the center. The weather was cold but the atmosphere was poetic.
Berlin’s Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg is home to one of Berlin's most hip Christmas markets: the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt. Located on the grounds of a former brewery, the Lucia Christmas market is the “Nordic”-themed market in Berlin. You’ll...
Piazza di Santa Croce, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
I studied abroad in Italy and, since they don't celebrate Thanksgiving, my friends and I dove right into Christmas as soon as November came around. I listened to my professor sing in a choir for a Christmas concert, attended the magical tree...
Trg bana Josipa Jelačića, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
An elegant square lined with grand 19th-century buildings, Ban Jelačić is a great spot to feel the city’s pulse. It often plays host to fairs and performances, as well as locals chatting under the sculpture of Ban Josip Jelačić or the...
7 Chome Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0042, Japan
One of the highlights we wanted to see in Sapporo was the White Illumination event in Sapporo in the winter. Odori Park, which is a whole12-block stretch of park that serves as a central landmark of Sapporo, is lit up using thousands of light...
630 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5N6, Canada
I love the lights, the carols, the colors, and the food of Christmas. I have always wanted to take in the famed German and Austrian markets, but I have yet to make the trip. If you are on the West Coast of North America, the Vancouver German...
Gamla stan, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden
A picturesque mid-December afternoon along the Stockholm waterfront as the sun sets in the background. Despite the early darkness, Stockholm was bright and energetic all hours of the day. The air was festive with Christmas celebrations and...
Rue du Parc 2, 4577 Modave, Belgium
The Chateau is gorgeous at any time of the year but at Christmas time it's extra special as each room gets decorated with Christmas trees and beautiful ornaments. We went this past Christmas and I loved it. I cannot wait for next Christmas!
Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Hellbrunn is the ideal destination for a family outing, or anyone really who likes to have fun, as this peculiar palace was built for that sole purpose. The grand structure glows golden in the afternoon sun, but it is the garden that attracts the...
400 Beach Dr NE #173, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
If I were walking blindfolded, I would still know when I'd come within ten feet of the Savory Spice Shop in St. Pete. The seductive scent of the store's treasure chest of spices escapes out the door every time it is open. It lingers to entice...
Praça da Ribeira, nº1, 4050-513 Porto, Portugal
Looking across the Douro in the evening, I watched the night descend and saw a magical sight. The entire area was lit up and looked like a fantasy light display. It could have been Disney World or a Christmas light display. The air was charged...
Staroměstské nám. 1, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město, Czechia
Old Town Square, founded in the 12th century, is the center of Prague. In the middle of it all, the Old Town Hall (which also houses the famous Astronomical Clock), built in 1338, still provides the best 360-degree views of the city. For a...
Calle Acera del Darro, Granada, Spain
I planned my trip to Granada after spending a Christmas at home. While I was expecting winter in the mountain city, Three Kings day was a delightful surprise. Christmas may have passed in California but here in Spain the excitement was building....
Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
Jussi Björlings allé, 111 47 Stockholm, Sweden
Centrally located in Stockholm, the King's Garden is a lively urban garden/park/plaza that connects the harbor with one of Stockholm's main shopping districts. It contains a series of "outdoor rooms" including a formal entrance, fountain with...
Hverfisgata, Reykjavík, Iceland
There's an old tale they tell the children in Iceland about these little elf-like creatures called the Jule Lads who live in the volcanic lands outside of Reykjavik. Traditionally, around Christmas time, they come down and cause all sorts of...
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