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Celebrate a White Christmas in Europe: France, Italy, and More

“Once upon a time, in a far away land…”

When we hear this familiar first line, one thing always comes to mind: magic. And the “far away land” mentioned? We picture an image of cobbled stone steps, enchanted castles, and medieval-looking neighborhoods.

If you’ve ever been to Europe or have seen pictures of it online, you’ll agree that it’s the embodiment of “far away land,” especially for us Filipinos.

Apart from it being oceans away from the Philippines, it’s also known as the heart of Western civilization where almost everything began, including Christmas. In fact, the first recorded Christmas was held in Rome on December 25, 336. No wonder Europe is on everyone’s bucket list!

We’ve already covered Christmas in Asia, now we’re heading west to the land where Christmas looks like it has stepped out from a fairytale book, and where winter winds mean sparkling white snowdrifts and bustling holiday markets.

Here’s why you should spend the holidays in Europe and how to make the most of it:

Winter Season (December – February)

Europe Christmas

Due to its geographical location, winters in Europe can get really cold, with a low of -5ºC to  -10ºC. Europe is a popular winter destination mainly for the white Christmas experience, snow sports, and the famed Christmas markets. Be sure to pack in your thermal garments, thick coats, snow boots, and gloves!

Winter is also the season when prices are low and the cities are less touristy. There are plenty of activities that can be enjoyed by all types of travelers. Whether you’re going solo or with the whole family, there’s definitely a lot of attractions and special highlights during the yuletide season.

Paris, France

Notre Dame Winter Paris

The City of Light becomes extra magical in the winter season as thousands of twinkling bulbs light up the city’s streets and famous landmarks. Paris offers various festivities that will definitely make your holidays merry and bright!

Climate: Snow is quite rare in the city, but when it does happen, it turns the City of Light into a city of white and doubles the magical atmosphere. Although it is cold, the climate is generally warmer compared to other European cities, with a high of 8ºC and a low of 3ºC.

Budget: Although it’s been named as one of 2019’s most expensive cities in the world, going there on a budget is doable and will still give you that Parisienne dream experience!

Flights from Manila to Paris can cost as low as P39,000. For budget travelers, hostels in Paris cost around P1,300 a night, while hotels can cost as low as P5,000 per room stay.

Getting Around: The best way to see the sights on a budget is either on foot or by taking the Paris Metro. Most of the famed landmarks are within walking distance from each other, and Parisian streets are always a delight to walk along in.

A single metro ticket costs around EUR1.90. You can also purchase a package of tickets for EUR14.90 or a Paris Metro Pass, which gives you unlimited access to trains for a week.

Things to Do

Paris Winter 2

    • Walk along Champs-Elysées: The world-famous shopping street is decked out in Christmas decorations in the winter. Go window-shopping or stop by the many cafés to keep warm. Check out the Arc de Triomphe in the middle of the rotunda.
    • Visit the museums: When the weather gets a little too chilly for your taste, it’s the perfect time to head indoors and enjoy the city’s many museums. Apart from The Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay is also a good one to visit, as it has some amazing impressionist art pieces!

Book Musée d’Orsay tickets here

    • Go ice skating: Skate underneath the Eiffel Tower at the Champs de Mars Christmas market!
    • Marvel at the Christmas lights: Starting mid-November, Paris is aglow with twinkling lights that are definitely a sight to behold. Walk along the parks or streets and feel the spirit of the season.
    • Cruise along the Seine: Nothing beats seeing Paris from the famed river Seine. Ride later in the day and see the city transform into a city of stars as the lamp lights bathe the streets in a golden afterglow. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind and magical experience!

Book Seine Cruise tickets here

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Winter Amsterdam

The “Venice of the North” becomes picturesque in the winter season with the occasional snow that blankets the city, making it look like it came right out of a Christmas card!

Climate: The Dutch capital gets frequent snowfall but not a lot. On cold waves, snow can accumulate on the ground and last for several days. Otherwise, snow is pretty light. The temperature in the winter months ranges from 3°C to 6°C.

Budget: Amsterdam is one of the most expensive cities in Europe but there are ways to make your trips inexpensive. Look for flight promos and hotel deals, and pick only the top attractions you want to experience on your visit. A flight from Manila to Amsterdam can cost as low as P42,000, while budget accommodations are available at P3,500 per night.

Getting Around: Amsterdam is home to world-class transportation systems, making it easy to get around using public transport. You can go by train, tram, metro, bus, or ferry.

For a smoother and cheaper sightseeing experience, purchase an I amsterdam city card to get free entry to the city’s top attractions, as well as unlimited use of public transport during your stay.

You can also get a GVB day or multi-day pass for unlimited travel around the Dutch capital. Price ranges from EUR8 to EUR36.50.

If you want to experience cruising along Amsterdam’s famed canals, the I amsterdam canal cruise ticket gives you access to a canal boat tour.

Things to Do

Amsterdam Winter

    • Go ice skating: Although it would be a dream to skate on the canals, this deep-freeze phenomenon is a rarity. But there are ice skating rinks around the city that you can enjoy!
    • Stroll along the canals: Amsterdam’s canals look right out of a postcard especially during the winter season. Don’t miss the chance to savor and experience this picturesque sight!
    • Visit the Museums: Amsterdam is home to a lot of famed museums like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh Museum, and Rijksmuseum.

Book Van Gogh Museum tickets here

 

Venice, Italy

Venice Winter

Italy is an ideal place to visit in the winter simply because it’s low-cost season and there are fewer tourists. Enjoy the Colosseum without the crowds in Rome, strut the streets in style in Milan, or be captivated by the remarkable Venice Carnival. There’s just so much to see and do in the Land of Dreams.

The Queen of the Adriatic is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. With the whole city practically floating on water, it remains a beautiful mystery.

Venice becomes even more magical during the Christmas season with its narrow streets and canals donned with holiday decorations, Christmas markets, and concerts held at piazzas and churches.

Climate: Winter in Venice is generally cold and damp. Snow is frequent but not abundant and doesn’t last for very long. The average temperature is below 10°C.

Budget: The cheapest flights to Venice in winter cost around P49,000. Meanwhile, accommodations in the city vary depending on location. Hotels located by the Grand Canal or close to the touristy districts like San Marco are definitely more expensive.

Book a bit farther away from those areas and you’ll find low-cost hotels or apartments at P3,000 a night!

Getting Around: Venice is made for walking. With its maze-like streets and compact buildings, plus the fact that it’s practically on the water, the only way to get around is either by walking, crossing its many bridges, or by riding a boat.

The Vaporetti (water buses) is the cheapest option to get to and from stops. There are day-passes available that entitle you to unlimited rides starting from EUR20. On the pricier side are water taxis, but are faster and will take you right at the doorstep of your destination. A ride normally costs around EUR70 to EUR100.

Things to Do

Doge's Palace

    • Take a romantic gondola ride: A visit to Venice isn’t complete without getting a ride on the famed gondolas. Though they are on the pricier side (about EUR80 for a 25- to 30-minute ride) it’s totally worth seeing the city from the canals. A gondola can be enjoyed by up to six passengers.

Book Venice Gondola tickets here

    • Snap photos of the top sights: Go on a walking tour and see the Rialto Bridge, The Bridge of Sighs, and San Marco Bell Tower!
    • Go island-hopping: Explore Venice’s neighboring islands like Murano (the glass-blowing capital) and Burano (famous for lace and its rainbow-colored houses), and be charmed by the local scene!
    • Visit the Museums: Take advantage of the least crowded season and travel back in time through centuries-old palazzos along the Grand Canal. Inside, you’ll truly experience the wonder and power of the Republic of Venice during the renaissance.

Book Doge’s Palace tickets here

 

Other Popular Snow Spots in Europe

London Winter
London, United Kingdom
Germany Winter
Hamburg, Germany
Prague Winter
Prague, Czech Republic
Tallin Estonia Winter
Tallin, Estonia

Additional Tips

    • Layering is key: Winters in Europe can get brutally cold and dry, so make sure to bundle up and keep warm!
    • Bring your own WiFi: Online maps can help you a lot when you travel. In Venice, for example, you’ll definitely need it to navigate its maze-like streets. Although some places have free WiFi access, most of the time, you’re on your own. So it’s best to have internet access on your phone while you adventure through Europe.

Book a Pocket WiFi for Italy here

 

Go on a fairytale-like White Christmas in Europe! Book now on Traveloka for great deals!