City break ideas for the festive season

When considering city break ideas for the festive season, most tourists are likely to make their decision based on which destination has the most esteemed Christmas markets.


However, there is much more to these cities throughout the festive period. Numerous cities in Europe execute a range of celebrations for the festivities, from century-old Christmas traditions to world-renowned displays and light shows.


With this in mind, we've come up with seven of the top European city-break suggestions that are certain to put you in the holiday spirit.


Turin, Italy


City break ideas Turin


The city of Turin is nothing short of magnificent throughout the festive period, with the city offering various enchanting light displays and thrilling carnivals. The winter is also the perfect time to visit crowd-free attractions in the city and make the most of the high street’s seasonal sales.


Turin is well-known for illuminating the gloomy winter nights during the holiday season with the Luci d'Artista, a collection of modern light displays created by local and foreign artists. To add to the festive atmosphere, Christmas trees can be found all across the city, with Piazza San Carlo housing the most famous display.


If you’re after some Christmas shopping, depending on your inclinations, you can peruse the antique and secondhand bargains at the Balon flea market or the designer brands on the exclusive Via Roma.


To finish off the day, you can visit the city’s prestigious main street, Via Garibaldi, to get your hands on delectable chocolates from the most renowned brands in Turin. Alternatively, you can visit one of the many cafes located on the street and warm up with the city's signature beverage, ‘bicerin,’ a combination of espresso, hot chocolate, and milk.


As well as its festive spirit, the former capital of the Kingdom of Italy is famous for being rich in both culture and history. It is the ideal example of how history and modernism can coexist, and it is a wonderful location for anyone who enjoys sightseeing and educating themselves on historical events. There are numerous historical attractions in the city, including the National Museum of Cinema, Mole Antonelliana, and the National Egyptian Museum, Museo Egizio.


Malaga, Spain


City break ideas Malaga


We can affirm that Malaga is the place to be if you've been considering heading to the Costa del Sol for the festive season. Malaga is a tremendous city to visit all year round, and the festive period is no exception. The city offers a wide range of events, from traditional Christmas experiences and educational attractions to world-famous light displays such as those on the Calle Larios.


No matter what you’re looking to do whilst visiting the city, whether festive or not, you will not be short of options. You can take in the Christmas lights at the Botanical Gardens, visit the world-famous Cirque du Soleil on ice, take advantage of world-renowned tapas bars in Malaga, do some Christmas shopping in the city’s popular high street or follow the city’s special nativity route to witness the displays set up at various locations across the city centre.


The city is also known for its extraordinary art culture and is home to some of Spain’s best museums, including the Picasso Museum, Museo Carmen Thyssen and Centre Pompidou. Due to these attractions being less crowded throughout the wintertime, it is an ideal time to visit these museums and educate yourself on the city’s artistic history.


Berlin, Germany


City break ideas Berlin


If you’re looking for good city break ideas for the festive season, Berlin could be the perfect destination for you. The city is well-known for its lavish Christmas markets and breathtaking light shows that adorn the streets during the winter months.


The city is enchanting all winter long and exudes a unique Christmas atmosphere like no other. Throughout the winter, there are a variety of festive activities to partake in, such as viewing the Ku'Damm Christmas light display, attending world-renowned Christmas concerts, skating around the city ice rinks, or visiting Alexanderplatz for some action-packed attractions like bumper cars, roller coasters and the iconic Berlin Ferris wheel.


Berlin is a city for art and museum lovers. The 170 museums located across the capital present priceless artefacts from all over the world. It’s also a perfect spot for shopaholics, who can take advantage of browsing in some of the largest stores of well-known brands across the globe. Germany’s capital is also a hotspot for Oktoberfest due to its reputation for its beer halls and steins. Whether you’re in the festive mood or not, we can guarantee there is something for everybody in this city!


Brussels, Belgium


City break ideas Brussels


Brussels goes above and beyond each year to provide visitors with a memorable festive experience. This city is a wonderful place for experiencing the holiday season with quaint Christmas markets, gorgeous illuminations, and quirky attractions.


For the past 20 years, the city has hosted the Winter Wonders festival, a 2-kilometre strip of Christmas markets, bustling bars, and pop-up restaurants, from late November until the end of December.


The historic capital is rich in festive activities throughout the last two months of the year, including fascinating Christmas markets, sledge rides and chalets in the fun-packed après-ski village and a variety of mesmerising sound and light performances in the stunning La Grand-Place.


Another well-known attribute that makes Brussels a popular tourist destination is that it is the hub of European culture. There are nearly 90 museums, a number of thrilling hikes and adventure opportunities, and an abundance of trendy restaurants and bars that are all worth visiting.


Budapest, Hungary


City break ideas Budapest


Budapest is another city to add to your list of city break ideas, as this is one of the most popular winter destinations in Europe and showcases a variety of seasonal bazaars.


There are many holiday-themed attractions around the city to get you in the Christmas spirit. The main square of the Óbuda district organises festive events during the course of the four weekends of Advent, including concerts, puppet plays, ice rinks, and markets for folk crafts. The area also hosts a large Christmas tree alongside a life-size nativity scene.


You can also enjoy taking a dip in the Thermal Baths, admire the festive-decorated trams sparkling with thousands of tiny little LD lights, and visit Santuralia in the Aquincum Museum, an event that teaches guests about Saturn, the god of agriculture and time in Roman mythology and his links to Christmas in Antiquity.


The influential capital of Hungary is renowned for being a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, and culture. Budapest offers visitors from all over the world much more than just festive events; tourists come from all four corners to experience its classical architecture, distinctive festivals, rich musical legacy, and renowned underground caverns.


Oslo, Norway


City break ideas Oslo


Visits to the vibrant Norwegian capital during the festive season are a one-of-a-kind spectacular experience. Those on their travels often plan a trip to Oslo during the winter months to experience the city's festive atmosphere firsthand!


You can take in the spirit of the holidays at Spikersuppa's Christmas markets, frolic in the renowned ice rink, ride the Ferris Wheel, or visit the impressive National Theatre to watch a variety of remarkable festive plays and concerts. If you want to get into the festive spirit, you can sit back and listen to the city's own boys choir, Sølvguttenein, perform in the Oslo Cathedral.


Oslo is amongst the best cities in Europe for Christmas shopping. The capital has a variety of shopping centres and main streets, including Aker Brygge, Oslo City, Byporten, Eger, and Glasmagasinet. There is no shortage of shops in the capital so we can guarantee you’ll always be able to find the perfect gifts for your loved ones!


The city is popular amongst tourists for its distinctive modern architectural style and attractions. You can visit stylish cafes and vintage clothing stores in the Grunerløkka neighbourhood, enjoy the birds-eye views from the Holmenkollen Ski Jump Museum, visit the Akershus Fortress or buy some first-grade, internationally renowned Norwegian treats from the Freia Chocolate shop! With a diverse range of activities, you’ll never run out of things to do in the Norwegian capital.


Copenhagen, Denmark


City break ideas Copenhagan


Denmark's capital is an idyllic destination for Christmas lovers, offering tourists an array of Christmas events, from markets, floating lights, museums, and winter swimming. Throughout the city during the festive period, you can enjoy the exclusive ambience of a Copenhagen Christmas, where age-old traditions are mingled with joy, excitement, and positive energy.


Copenhagen exudes Christmas spirit, and its visitors can enjoy a range of holiday-themed activities, including a festive stroll in the Tivoli Gardens, watching the Nutcracker at the Royal Danish Theatre, ice skating along Copenhagen's canals, or exploring the Christmas exhibits at the Glyptotek Museum.


The city of Copenhagen is famous for its breathtaking natural scenery and clear ocean waters. Many tourists visit the city for its famed nightlife, cobblestone streets, amusement parks, exotic museums and antique art galleries. Whilst visiting the capital, you can learn the story behind the official Carlsberg stores in the city where it was originally brewed, visit the world's oldest amusement park ‘Bakken’ and even take part in the city's very own advanced VR experience ‘Limitless Virtual Reality’ to enter a whole new reality!


Given the broad variety of attractions that are available throughout the most famous cities in Europe, visiting any one of the destinations could be the break you need to prepare for the holiday celebrations.


If you’re looking for a winter escape, our group of knowledgeable, experienced travel consultants can assist you in finding the ideal city break to enjoy the festivities.


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