10 Enchanting Activities You Can Do on a European Christmas Holiday
Christmas time in Europe is like nothing else on Earth (especially when compared to Christmas in Australia!). From snow-covered Gothic cathedrals, to beautiful Christmas markets and alleyways dotted with choirs singing carols, Europe at Christmas time is something everyone should take the time to experience at least once.
1. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage
A favourite activity around the world, there is nowhere better to ride a horse-drawn carriage than when being towed through the magical streets of a European Christmas town. Whether it’s in Austria, Prague, Paris or Helsinki, you’ll be able to capture the true atmosphere of your location at Christmas time by travelling in the most traditional way possible. Giddy up!
2. Go dog sledding
They say that dogs are man’s best friend, and this really doesn’t ring truer anywhere else than in Europe. An authentically traditional way of getting around (especially in Scandinavian countries like Finland and Norway), you can now go on a dog sledding tour to see beautiful snowy Christmas landscapes that you just wouldn’t see anywhere else.
3. Visit a traditional European Christmas market
Europe is packed full of beautiful Christmas markets, filling village squares, adorned with lights and selling magical gifts and absolutely delicious food. The perfect way to do your Christmas shopping, the cities of Paris, Prague, Berlin and Salzburg are all famous for their traditional Christmas markets.
4. See the Northern Lights
The beautiful (and elusive) Northern Lights are notoriously hard to see, but are always worth trying for. Their alluring mysticism has captivated the imagination of the traditional Sami people for thousands of years, as the colourful ribbons of purple, pink and green dance across the sky. The best time to see them is January to March, so Aurora hunting is a marvellous Winter activity!
5. Stay in the ICEHOTEL
If you’re wanting to double your chances of seeing the Northern Lights as well as being there at Christmas time, you could also stay in a glass villa at the ICEHOTEL when visiting Finland! This stunning hotel is located in prime positioning within the Aurora Zone, and gives you the perfect opportunity to relax, stare at the beautiful stars in the Northern Sky, and if you’re lucky watch the dancing ribbons of light.
6. Tour the cathedrals
At Christmas time, the magnificent cathedrals of Europe are decorated to the nines with stunning lights and Christmas displays. There’s no better time to experience these awe-inspiring constructions than when they’re in full swing with celebrations. You might even be able to catch a traditional Christmas service or a stunning vocal choral arrangement!
7. Stay in a ski chalet
If cities aren’t really your thing and you’d prefer to spend Christmas surrounded by nature and the possibility of winter sports, staying in a chalet style hotel could be right up your alley. These traditional, luxurious chalet’s dot the mountains of the Swiss Alps and the Austrian countryside.
8. Visit a palace or two
Europe is home to some of the most amazing castles and palaces in the world, whether they’re from the Gothic, Renaissance or Medieval eras. At Christmas time they light up with decorations, festivities and a lively atmosphere, so it’s the perfect time to experience the grandeur and luxuriousness of a time that once was.
9. Ride the famous Glacier Express
The Glacier Express is one of the most scenic train rides in the world, with panoramic window views that glide through the stunning Swiss Alps. You’ll travel through stunning mountain scenery that will make for amazing photos - no matter the weather!
10. Visit the home of Santa Claus
Santa Claus is said to reside in the Finnish town of Rovaniemi – a city that lies on the border of the Arctic Circle. It doesn’t get more Christmassy than Rovaniemi, where the entire town lights up in winter to welcome visitors to the home of Santa Claus. You can visit Santa’s Village, write him a letter, and even meet him if you’re lucky!