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Europe in January presents an offbeat time to explore! As the New Year begins, the continent is adorned with the remnants of the festive season, blanketed in snow, and brimming with cultural activities. Here are some of the best places to visit in Europe in January to check off cities, towns, and amazing festivals along the way.
Best Places to Visit in Europe in January | Best European Cities to Visit in January
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The crisp winter air is invigorating, and the chilly temperatures are easily combated by the warmth of indoor cafés and museums in Europe in January.
The landscapes and cityscapes become a winter wonderland, adding a touch of magic to iconic landmarks and hidden gems alike. While the more popular destinations have their charm, the quieter places provide a chance to experience Europe from a unique, unhurried perspective.
You can cozy up in a cabin in the Scandinavian countryside, ski down the snow-capped Alps, or simply wander through Europe’s historic cities, where streets are quieter, and attractions are less crowded during this time!
Regardless of the cold, January in Europe is marked by an array of exciting events such as winter carnivals, music festivals, and cultural celebrations.
So bundle up, pack your adventurous spirit, and embark on a journey that promises to be a feast for the senses. Europe in January is not just a destination, it’s an experience waiting to be savored.
Read: Europe in November | Europe in February | Best places to visit in Europe in winter
1. Paris, France | Romance, moody, and New Years!
Paris in January is quiet, cold, and cloudy, but that makes it amazing to find cheap flight tickets and accommodation. In fact, it is the cheapest time of the year to visit Paris! So why not book a room with an Eiffel Tower view and relax after the Christmas madness?
With crowds gone and temperatures still relatively low, it’s an ideal place for romantic walks through its cobbled streets or to explore a variety of cultural attractions.
Take some time to stroll around the Latin Quarter or Montmartre for stunning views of the city’s architecture.
Then, explore some of Paris‘s many museums such as The Louvre or Musee d’Orsay for a dose of art and culture.
When it comes to food, January is an ideal time to indulge in some French cuisine. Try the crepes with Nutella at one of the city’s famous cafes or have a gourmet meal at one of the Michelin-starred restaurants.
For something a bit different, consider visiting the Catacombs of Paris – an underground network of tunnels and caves filled with skulls and bones from centuries past. An eerie yet unforgettable experience!
Paris in the New Year is amazing too!
Whether you’re looking for romance, culture, or art, there’s something to keep visitors entertained during their stay in Paris.
🖤 Resources: Paris in a day | Amsterdam Paris Brussels itinerary
2. Edinburgh, Scotland | Festivals, whisky and a castle
- Average temperatures: 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (39.2 to 41 F)
- January events/festivals: New Years, Hogmanay
- Where to stay: Moxy Edinburgh Fountainbridge
Edinburgh in January is cold and a little gloomy, but the festive streets make up for it!
One of the biggest events in January is the Hogmanay, a traditional Scottish two-day celebration that starts on December 31st and ends in the early hours of January 1st.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy during this time such as New Year’s Eve parties, concerts, and firework displays.
Other things to check out include visiting some whisky distilleries for a taste of Scotland’s famous national drink or exploring Edinburgh Castle for a glimpse of Scotland’s history.
When it is too cold outside, you can hit museums and galleries such as the National Museum of Scotland, The Writers’ Museum, and Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also join guided tours to some of the city’s hidden gems like secret gardens and underground tunnels.
The temperature during the month of January usually ranges from 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (39.2 to 41 F) so make sure you pack warm clothing!
🖤 Resources: 4 days in Scotland itinerary
3. Munich Bavaria, Germany | Three Kings Day, museums and cheapest time to travel
- Average temperatures: -2 to 4 degrees Celsius (28.4 to 39.2 F)
- January events/festivals: Three Kings Day
- Where to stay: Hotel München City Center
January is one of the cheapest times to visit Munich, as many people tend to stay away from the cold weather. The temperature usually ranges from -2 to 4 degrees Celsius (28.4 to 39.2 F).
One of the biggest events in January is Three Kings Day, a religious festival that celebrates the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. This is an exciting time to be in Munich Bavaria as it’s vibrant and rich with cultural activities such as parades, music, and dance performances.
You can also explore some of the city’s historical sites like Munich Residenz or take a day trip to one of Bavaria’s beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle.
Munich is also home to many world-class museums such as the Deutsches Museum, so don’t forget to add them to your Bavaria itinerary.
If you’re feeling a bit chilly, why not warm up with some traditional Bavarian food? Munich’s restaurants and pubs are full of hearty dishes such as schnitzel, pretzels, and sausages.
Or just grab some coffee and cake and enjoy the city’s cozy atmosphere!
January may be cold but Munich is still a great place to visit for a unique cultural experience. From festive celebrations to historical sites, there’s always something for everyone in this charming German city.
🖤 Resources: 3 days in Munich itinerary | Best places to visit in Germany in winter
4. Andorra | Extreme winter sports, skiing and more
- Average temperatures: -2 to 1 degree Celsius (28.4 to 33.8 F)
- January events/festivals: Ski Trip to Grandvalira Resort, Soldeu Andorra
- Where to stay: Andorra Park Hotel
If you’re looking for a winter adventure, look no further than Andorra! Located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, it’s one of the most popular destinations for extreme winter sports.
The temperature during January usually ranges from -2 to 1 degree Celsius (28.4 to 33.8 F). With an altitude of about 1,500 meters (4,921 ft), Andorra is an ideal place to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
You can also visit some of the best ski resorts in Europe like Grandvalira or Pal-Arinsal for a chance to explore Andorra’s beautiful mountain scenery.
If you’re looking for something different, consider joining one of the many snowshoe tours or dog-sledding experiences available in the area.
Andorra is also home to some of Europe’s most beautiful and untouched nature spots, so don’t forget to check out its trails!
January in Andorra may be cold, but it’s still a great time to visit for some exciting winter sports and breathtaking landscapes.
🖤 Resources: One day in Andorra itinerary | Fun facts about Andorra
5. Monte Carlo, Monaco | Enjoy the winter sun
- Average temperatures: 8 to 12 degrees Celsius (46 to 54 F)
- January events/festivals: Ice skating at Port Hercules
- Where to stay: Hôtel Nice Excelsior
For a pleasant winter trip head to the Principality of Monaco and its capital city Monte Carlo! It is relatively pleasant (around an average temperature of 11 degrees Celsius (51 F)) and is one of the warmest places to visit in Europe during this time of year.
One of the best things about visiting Monte Carlo in January is that you get to enjoy all the attractions without having to battle with crowds or high prices. This makes it the perfect place for a romantic getaway or just to relax and unwind.
You can also take part in some of the amazing activities such as ice skating at Port Hercules, taking a drive through Monaco’s famous Grand Prix circuit, or stroll along La Condamine and admire all the luxury shops and restaurants that line its streets.
Don’t forget to also check out some of the city’s iconic sites like the Prince’s Palace, Monaco Cathedral, or the Oceanographic Museum.
January is a great time to visit Monte Carlo for its beautiful weather and take advantage of delicious cuisines at three-star Michelin restaurants.
🖤 Resources: Milan to Monaco day trip
6. Prague, Czech Republic | Historical architecture and tasty local food
- Average temperatures: -1 to 3 degrees Celsius (29 to 37 F)
- January events/festivals: Prague Christmas Markets (until the first week of January)
- Where to stay: Grandium Hotel Prague
Prague is one of the amazing European destinations to visit in January. It may be cold but it’s a great time to explore historical sites.
The temperature averages around 0 degrees Celsius (32 F) and the city is much quieter during this time of year.
You get to explore Prague at your own pace without too many people crowding the streets, making it a great time for photography.
You can also enjoy some of the cultural events and activities like the Prague Christmas Markets (open until the first week of January) or visit attractions such as Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.
When you’re feeling hungry, there are plenty of local restaurants serving up traditional Czech dishes such as goulash or trdelník (pastry roll). You can also find international restaurants that are a bit pricier, but still delicious.
If you’re looking for a unique experience, consider visiting one of Prague’s microbreweries for a taste of Czech beer.
Or take a day trip to Kutna Hora to explore the famous Sedlec Ossuary and its unique decorations made from human bones.
No matter what you choose to do, there’s always something interesting to explore in Prague in January!
🖤 Resources: One Day in Prague | Where to stay in Prague first time
7. Zurich, Switzerland | Snowy Panoramas, Luxury Shopping and Culinary Delights
- Average temperatures: -1 to 4 degrees Celsius (30-39 F)
- January events/festivals: Meh Suff! Winter Festival
- Where to stay: Storchen, Hotel Adler
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, has its own unique charm in the month of January. This city offers breathtaking views of the nearby mountains in January.
The cityscape, blanketed in a layer of pristine snow renders it an enchanting winter wonderland.
Apart from the scenic beauty, Zurich is a paradise for shoppers. The Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most exclusive shopping avenues, is a must-visit. Here, you can find everything from high-end fashion brands to Swiss watches and chocolates.
For the adventurous at heart, the Uetliberg mountain offers a network of hiking trails. A brisk hike to the top will reward you with panoramic views of the city and the distant Alps.
There are also many ice skating rinks in the city where you can enjoy the cool weather! Most of the rinks are open until the first week of March in Zurich and nearby areas.
The temperature in January averages between -1 to 4 degrees Celsius (30-39 F), so don’t forget to pack warm clothes!
No trip to Zurich would be complete without tasting Swiss cuisine. Traditional dishes like fondue and raclette are especially comforting in the cold January weather.
With a rich cultural heritage, Zurich also offers many museums and art galleries to explore. The Kunsthaus Zurich is a treasure trove of modern and contemporary art that should not be missed.
Meanwhile, the city’s vibrant nightlife promises a fun-filled end to your day.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or an action-packed city break, Zurich in January offers something for everyone.
🖤 Resources: 2 days in Zurich itinerary | Things to do in Zurich in winter
8. Amsterdam, Netherlands | Weather, Festivals, and Things to do
- Average temperatures: 5 to 6 degrees Celsius (41 to 42.8 F)
- January events/festivals: Amsterdam Light Festival
- Where to stay: Ambassade Hotel
Amsterdam is cold and slightly wet in January, and you can expect average temperatures to be around 5 to 6 degrees Celsius (41 to 42.8 F) during the day. It can be a grey month for some but there’s plenty of activities to enjoy during your stay.
In December and January, the city centre lights up during Amsterdam Light Festival – you can check out cool illuminations on foot, bike, or boat! It’s a great time to be in Amsterdam as the city comes alive with cultural events and markets.
Other activities to enjoy in January include winter sports like ice skating and skiing at nearby slopes or taking a scenic boat ride along the canals for a different perspective of the city.
After dark, you can take in some of the nightlife in Amsterdam’s many bars, restaurants, and clubs. We enjoyed street food in the city too (yummy and affordable)!
Prefer to stay indoors? Consider visiting one of Amsterdam’s many museums such as the Rijksmuseum or Anne Frank House to learn more about the city’s culture and history. Don’t forget to book admission tickets ahead of time.
🖤 Resources: Zaanse Schans Windmills tour | Best cities in the Netherlands
9. Tromsø, Norway | Northern Lights, and a Cool Winter Break
- Average temperatures: -1 to -5 degrees Celsius (23 to 30 F)
- January events/festivals: Northern lights
- Where to stay: Radisson Blu Hotel
January is a great month to visit Tromsø in Norway. This region offers some of the best views of the spectacular Northern Lights as well as a unique winter experience.
The city itself is home to many cultural and historical attractions such as The Polar Museum and Tromso Arctic Cathedral. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy too, like skiing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding.
If you’re looking for some nightlife, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes to choose from. Plus, January is an ideal time to go on a whale-watching trip, with the chance to spot some of Norway’s iconic wildlife.
You can also get on the Fjellheisen Cable Car to experience the beauty of Tromsø from above.
Tromsø is a unique destination offering a great combination of outdoor activities and cultural attractions.
🖤 Resources: Europe bucket list | Best Europe winter tours
10. Reykjavik, Iceland | Northern Lights, spas and unique activities
- Average temperatures: -3 to 3 degrees Celsius (27 to 37 F)
- January events/festivals: Northern lights
- Where to stay: Center Hotels Plaza
Hit the capital city of Iceland in January! Reykjavik is cold and the city looks like a winter wonderland during this time of year, with snow-covered landscapes that are perfect for photography.
There are high chances of chasing Aurora Borealis in January – a phenomenon usually seen from October to late April.
Reykjavik and nearby is one of the best spots to experience the Northern Lights, and you can join guided tours for an unforgettable experience.
If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, consider joining winter expeditions to explore Iceland’s natural beauty such as lava tubes, ice caves, and more.
Reykjavik makes for an amazing base to explore the Golden Circle in winter waterfalls on the southern coast, and beyond.
Other popular activities include taking relaxing dips in hot springs, geothermal pools, or spas such as the Sky Lagoon, Blue Lagoon, and Secret Lagoon – but make sure to book in advance!
You can also visit some of the unique museums like the Phallological Museum, or enjoy a show at the Harpa Concert Hall.
🖤 Resources: Iceland winter tours | 3 days in Iceland itinerary
11. Lisbon, Portugal | Weather, festivals, and things to do
Lisbon’s winter temperatures start to appear in December but January is still mild enough to explore the city. Average temperatures during this time range from 11 to 15 degrees Celsius (51.8 to 59 F), making it a comfortable place to visit even in winter.
If you’re visiting Lisbon in January, you will love to know that it is the cheapest month to fly, and with amazing deals on hotels and day tours you will be spoilt for choice. With fewer crowds, you can visit popular museums and historical centres with ease!
Lisbon is a haven for art enthusiasts, offering a plethora of galleries and museums. Immerse yourself in a unique cultural experience by visiting renowned establishments like the Castle of Sao Jorge, Jerónimos Monastery, or Centro Cultural de Belém.
As you explore the vibrant art scene in Lisbon, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an array of captivating masterpieces that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.
Want to chill out instead? You can enjoy a romantic dinner by candlelight at one of Lisbon’s many traditional restaurants.
With mild weather, you can also embark on guided walking tours, quite comfortably! So take your time to wander through the charming streets, discovering hidden galleries and stumbling upon unexpected artistic gems.
🖤 Resources: 3 days in Lisbon itinerary | Best Lisbon souvenirs
12. London, UK | Beat the crowds, warm up to the cool weather
London winters can be dreary, but January can still provide some beautiful days. Average temperatures are around 7 to 8 degrees Celsius (44-46 F), making it the perfect time for a stroll through Hyde Park or a visit to one of London’s many museums and galleries.
The city is bustling during this winter season, with a number of events and activities taking place including New Year’s, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park (until 1st January), and January Blues Festival.
If you’re looking for cultural activities, January is the perfect time to explore London’s iconic landmarks such as Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace. Plus there are lots of free museums and markets to check out when London is cool and wet.
Or take an afternoon tea cruise (covered boat) along the Thames and marvel at the city’s stunning skyline.
Don’t forget to head to one of London’s many pubs and bars where you can sample some traditional English delicacies such as fish and chips or steak and kidney pie in the evening!
🖤 Resources: London itinerary 4 days | England itinerary 10 days
13. Seville, Spain | Weather, festivals, and things to do
Seville is a beautiful city all year round, but it’s particularly special in the winter months. The weather is overall very mild which makes outdoor sightseeing and exploring easy (as compared to the hot summer season).
One of the best ways to enjoy Seville in January is by taking part in the Cavalcade of the Three Kings. On the 4th and the 5th of January, the cavalcade rides through the streets of Seville with lots of pomp and show bringing joy (and candies) to children.
At other times of the month, you can explore the city’s many attractions including the stunning cathedral, Plaza de España, and Alcazar Palace. Plus, take advantage of Seville’s vibrant nightlife with plenty of tapas bars, restaurants, and live music venues to choose from.
Take a stroll through one of Seville’s many parks or take a cruise on the River Guadalquivir – you won’t be disappointed with the stunning views.
For those looking for something special, why not take a cooking class and learn to make traditional Spanish dishes like paella or tapas?
🖤 Resources: 2 days in Seville itinerary | Where to stay in Seville first time
14. Dublin, Ireland | Perfect city break!
- Average temperatures: 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 46.4 F)
- January events/festivals: Dublin Holiday Show, Temple Bar TradFest
- Where to stay: Hendrick Smithfield
Dublin makes a great city break at all times of the year! January, although cold, the temperatures in Dublin are not super severe, with temperatures ranging from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (35.6 to 46.4 F).
Despite the chill, you can still enjoy plenty of activities and attractions during your stay.
Visit one of Dublin’s many museums or take a tour of iconic sights such as Phoenix Park or the Guinness Storehouse. You can also enjoy a traditional Irish evening at a pub with live music and dancing!
If you’re looking to learn more about Dublin’s culture, then make sure to check out this annual five-day fete of music and culture in January (late January). Temple Bar TradFest attracts over 30,000 guests every year!
Don’t forget to pack a warm coat and gloves, as well as your best camera so you can capture the stunning sights.
🖤 Resources: 2 days in Dublin itinerary | Belfast or Dublin
15. Rovaniemi, Finland | Winter Activities, Santa Claus Village
- Average temperatures: – 30 to -15 degrees Celsius (- 22 to 5 F)
- January events/festivals: Backcountry Skiing Adventure in Finland, Arctic Trek
- Where to stay: Scandic Rovaniemi City
Europe in January doesn’t just have to be about BIG cities. Rovaniemi, Finland is a great place to visit for an unforgettable winter experience.
Temperatures range from – 30 to -15 degrees Celsius (- 22 to 5 F) during the months of December and January, so make sure you pack your warmest coat!
The area around Rovaniemi is stunningly beautiful in the snow, and you can explore it on a number of activities. Take part in ice fishing or enjoy some cross-country skiing – Finland has many trails suitable for all levels of experience.
You can even go husky sledding or take a snowmobile safari to get deeper into the forests and mountains in winter.
Christmas or not, you must pay a visit to the Santa Claus Village (located about 8 km or 4.9 miles) and enjoy the beautiful site. After New Year’s you can expect the crowds to disappear!
So if you’re looking for an adventure and want to explore Europe in January – then make sure to add Rovaniemi, Finland to your list.
🖤 Resources: Best places to spend Christmas in Europe
16. The Algarve, Portugal | Warm weather, and plenty of things to do
The Algarve in Portugal can be a great place to visit in January. Although it is the coldest month, but with temperatures ranging from 12 to 17 degrees Celsius (53.6 to 62.6 F), you’ll still get plenty of sunshine during your stay.
The area has many beautiful beaches that are perfect for exploring – whether you’re looking for a more relaxed experience or want to take part in some of the activities on offer such as golfing, hiking, and mountain biking. You can swim at this time but with a wetsuit.
And don’t forget to visit one of the Algarve’s many hidden coves and secret beaches!
There are tons of cute towns sprinkled all across the region, and with lovely cafes (minus the crowds) you will enjoy the wonderful views all to yourself!
The Algarve celebrates the Three Kings Day with grandeur in Silves. The celebration of St. Luis is also very popular in the small town of Querença.
Also, check out the region’s festivals such as the Al Mutamid Music Festival and other traditional events.
There are also plenty of historical and cultural attractions to explore, such as the castle in Silves or the old town centre in Faro.
So if you’re looking for a warmer destination in January – then the Algarve is definitely worth considering. With its beautiful scenery and wonderful festivals – Portugal is an amazing place to visit and explore during this time of year. Get ready for your perfect winter escape!
🖤 Resources: 10 days in Portugal itinerary | Portugal bucket list
17. Vaud, Switzerland | Hot air balloon festival at the Château-d’Oex, thermal baths, toboggan fun park, and snowboarding
- Average temperatures: -4 to 8 degrees Celsius (24.8 to 46 F)
- January events/festivals: International hot air balloon festival, winter sports
- Where to stay: Mandarin Oriental, Geneva
Vaud is a wonderful wine-producing region in Switzerland, located along Lake Geneva.
Typically average January temperatures range from -4 to 8 degrees Celsius (24.8 to 46 F). Although it may be cold, there are still plenty of activities you can enjoy while visiting throughout this month.
One of the biggest events in January is the International Hot Air Balloon Festival at Château-d’Oex, where you can witness a spectacular array of hot air balloons take flight.
You can also visit the many thermal baths in Vaud for some relaxation or enjoy fun activities like tobogganing and snowboarding.
For those looking for nonadventurous activities, consider joining guided tours to some of the historical sites like the Château Chillon, or take a day trip to Lausanne for some shopping.
You can also experience true Swiss hospitality by visiting some of the local restaurants and pubs serving up hearty dishes such as cheese fondue, and rösti.
From hot air balloons to thermal baths, there’s always something for everyone in this charming Swiss region.
🖤 Resources: Best places to visit in Switzerland in winter | 5 days in Switzerland itinerary
18. Bruges, Belgium | Picturesque castles and canals
- Average temperatures: 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (35 to 42 F)
- January events/festivals: New Year Concert
- Where to stay: Bryghia Hotel
Bruges is a small medieval city in the northwest of Belgium, and January is one of its best months to visit. The city’s cobblestone streets are as romantic as ever in wintertime, and the snow-capped canals make it a perfect backdrop for your photos.
The Grote Markt is a must see. This is where Christmas markets are set up, and up until New Year’s Day, you will also find an ice skating rink where you can hang out!
Visit the stunning Belfry Tower for its breathtaking views of Bruges, or take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride around the city’s picturesque streets lined with historical buildings.
With average temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius (35 to 42 F) Bruges can be cold but still beautiful!
The canals also provide an opportunity to explore this unique city, however, keep in mind boat tours are not possible in January.
If you’re looking for something more lively, Bruges is known for its beer, so be sure to sample some of the local ales!
And if you love shopping, there’s no shortage of stores offering antiques, souvenirs, and tasty treats.
🖤 Resources: 3 days in Belgium itinerary | Brussels or Bruges
19. Dubrovnik, Croatia | Ancient walled city and minus the crowds
- Average temperatures: 7 to 11 degrees Celsius (44 to 51 F)
- January events/festivals: Dubrovnik Winter Festival (November to first week of January)
- Where to stay: Hotel Dubrovnik Palace
January is a great time to visit Dubrovnik as it’s less crowded and the weather is mild.
Average temperatures range from 7 to 11 degrees Celsius (44 to 51 F), which is perfect for exploring the city’s winding streets and ancient walls.
Take in the views of the old town, or take a walk along the city’s walls to explore its medieval fortifications. For a truly unique experience, take a cable car up Mount Srd for panoramic views of Dubrovnik from above!
The city also has plenty of cultural attractions such as the Franciscan Monastery and Rector’s Palace, where you can learn about Dubrovnik’s history. There are also plenty of museums, churches, and galleries to check out.
Dubrovnik is known for its local cuisine, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to sample some of Croatia’s traditional dishes such as Ćevapi (sausages) or Bosanski lonac (meat and vegetable stew).
🖤 Resources: Best Dubrovnik food tours | 10 days in Croatia itinerary
20. Canary Islands, Spain | Warm places to visit in Europe in January
- Average temperatures: 15 to 20 degrees Celsius (59 to 69 F)
- Where to stay: Hotel Tigaiga (Puerto de la Cruz)
If you’re looking for warmer temperatures in Europe, the Canary Islands are a great option.
This archipelago is located just off the coast of Morocco and consists of seven main islands with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) in January – making it a perfect time to visit to escape the cold!
In the Canary Islands, you can explore stunning volcanoes, natural parks, and botanical gardens or discover the unique culture of each island. Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote is particularly known for its volcanic landscape!
Tenerife also boasts the distinction of hosting Spain’s most popular natural park and one of the world’s most frequented: the Teide National Park.
Here you will also find the third tallest volcano on Earth and the highest peak in Spain, making it an idyllic getaway for nature enthusiasts seeking mesmerizing landscapes and awe-inspiring beauty.
Other than natural beauty, don’t forget to check out some of the local restaurants for a taste of traditional Canary Island cuisine such as papas arrugadas (boiled potatoes) served with mojo sauce or conejo en salmorejo (meat dish) – delicious!
You can also join local tours such as whale and dolphin watching (in January). And don’t miss out on the nightlife in Tenerife or Gran Canaria – there are plenty of bars, clubs, and live music venues to choose from.
🖤 Resources: 10 days in Spain itinerary | Spain bucket list
21. Santorini, Greece | Moderate weather, food and fun!
By David & Intan from The World Travel Guy
- Average temperatures: 9 to 14 degrees Celsius (49 to 57 F)
- January events/festivals: Feast of St. Basil (Ayios Vassilios)
- Where to stay: Villa Dima or La Perla Villas
The island of Santorini Greece is famous for its beautiful white buildings, luxury hotels with infinity pools and hot tubs, and panoramic views of the Aegean Sea. This can be a great place to escape winter because Santorini has very moderate weather and it’s never truly cold.
Like many places in Greece, Santorini Island has amazing food, scenery, and more. It’s full of iconic sights, and many of the best things to do in Santorini are free, such as strolling the historic towns, taking pictures, relaxing on the beach, and seeing the sunset.
Even though there aren’t any white sand beaches in Santorini, there are lots of nice black sand beaches like Perissa, which also has high quality accommodation and restaurants.
You can get to Santorini or any of the Greek islands by flying from Athens or taking the ferry from Piraeus. Flying to Santorini is the easiest, fastest, and most expensive (but usually recommended) way to get there.
There are direct flights to Santorini from many international cities in Europe, including Frankfurt, London, and Rome. The flight time to Santorini from Athens is only 45 minutes!
22. Syracuse, Italy | Escape the cold, and explore the rich historical town
By Steph from Big World Small Pockets
Syracuse in Sicily is an amazing place to visit in Europe if you’re looking to escape the cold!
Situated in the southeastern corner of Italy’s most southerly region – if you’re going to get the warmth anywhere in Europe during the colder months, it’ll be here!
But it’s not just the warmth that Syracuse (or Siracusa as it’s known in Italian) offers, because this amazing spot also boasts a UNESCO-listed old town, a gorgeous coastline, delicious local food (of course!), and some amazing day trips. All of these make visiting Syracuse undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Sicily.
The UNESCO-listed Old Town is called Ortigia and is actually an island, connected to the rest of the city by a bridge. Over 2500 years old, wandering the ancient streets here to marvel at the historic buildings and castle is a must.
Boasting plenty of amazing restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars – don’t miss the sunset-watching, Aperol-sipping spot of Mikatu.
If you want to get away from the crowds, however, then heading on a day trip out of Syracuse is the way to go. Top picks include the Barque beauty of Noto – accessible by train in under an hour – or the white sand beach of Fontaine Bianche – reached by train in 20 minutes.
And when it comes to places to stay, the charming Maestranza72, which is located in one of Ortigia’s historic buildings, is a great option. Maecò Ortigia B&B is another top pick with a slightly lower price tag.
🖤 Resources: 10 days in Italy itinerary | Best Italy souvenirs
23. Istanbul, Turkiye | History, food and beyond
By Paul from Anywhere We Roam
- Average temperatures: 3 to 9 degrees Celsius (37 to 48 F)
- Where to stay: Pera Palace Hotel
With ancient churches, timeless mosques, grand baroque palaces, and a history that spans Greek, Persian, Roman, and Ottoman influences, Istanbul is an enchanting destination and the perfect European winter escape.
It’s a city that effortlessly combines respect for iconic historical attractions with vibrant neighborhoods that burst with young energy.
Winter, when the crowds are fewer and the summer heat has rescinded, is one of the best times to visit the attractions of Istanbul.
Explore the atmospheric Hagia Sofia and experience centuries of history in the largest interior space in the world.
As the centre of great religions and empires over the eons, Christian murals look down to Islamic prayer niches with inscriptions by Crusaders etched into railings.
Be intoxicated by the Grand Bazaar built by the Ottomans shortly after they conquered the city in 1453. Today, it’s still an endless hubbub of activity and a great way to warm up in winter.
For a more serene experience go to a Whirling Dervish ceremony to see the ancient Mevelvi order enchant the crowds with their flowing ritual dance.
Book a stylish stay at the Pera Palace Hotel, one of the finest in Istanbul. The magnificent old building is adorned with neoclassical, art nouveau, and oriental styles with 3 restaurants and a world class spa. It’s the ideal place for an indulgent stay in an excellent location within the centre of Istanbul.
24. Copenhagen, Denmark | Sightseeing and cultural attractions
- Average temperatures: -1 to 3 degrees Celsius (31 to 38 F)
- January events/festivals: Fashion Week
- Where to stay: Tivoli Hotel
January in Copenhagen is cold, yet the city brings its own unique charm during winter, with plenty of activities to enjoy.
Since this is a relatively quiet time of year for tourists, you can take advantage of some great deals on hotels and restaurants. Plus, there are many cultural attractions to explore in Denmark’s UNESCO’s World Capital of Architecture.
If you’re a bit of a history buff, take in the sights and sounds of Copenhagen’s historical center. Or wander around Nyhavn for great views of the city from the harbor (just remember to layer on).
Those looking for some cultural activities, try visiting one of Copenhagen’s many art galleries or museums, such as The David Collection or the National Museum of Denmark.
Trivoli Gardens are amazing all year, and this is where Santa arrives and Christmas markets are set up in December, and they stay open until the first week of January.
Copenhagen Light Festival takes place in February, so if you are visiting the Danish capital towards the end of January, we recommend sticking around for an extra week or so to experience the event.
Whatever your interests are, there’s something to keep you entertained during the winter months in Copenhagen. From educational and cultural attractions to outdoor activities and sightseeing – with its fairytale-like setting, this city will take your breath away!
25. Kotor Montenegro | Old town charm with warm weather
- Average temperatures: 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (41 to 46 F)
- January events/festivals: Tripun Day Festival
- Where to stay: Hotel Porto In
Kotor in Montenegro is a picturesque old town located on the Bay of Kotor. January is one of the best months to visit as there are fewer crowds and the weather is mild.
January celebrates the Tripun Day Festival in honor of their patron saint (Saint Tripun), towards the end of the month.
Average temperatures range from 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (41 to 46 F), and it is so much better than hot scorching summer months for sightseeing.
The old town itself feels like you stepped back in time, with cobblestone streets, old churches, and breathtaking views of the bay. Take a stroll through the city’s winding streets or take a hike up the nearby mountainside for some amazing views of Kotor from above.
Be sure to visit some of Kotor’s traditional restaurants offering delicious Montenegrin cuisine such as ćevapi (grilled minced meat) and pršut (smoked ham).
Or stay in and enjoy some of the local dishes such as burek (savory pastries with beef or cheese filling) or sarma (cabbage rolls filled with minced meat).
January is also a great time to visit nearby sights such as Perast, a small coastal town just 12 km (7.4 miles) away. Here you can explore its many churches, picturesque streets, and spectacular views of the bay.
🖤 Resources: 2 weeks in Balkans | Best Balkan tour packages
26. Granada, Spain | Warm weather, photography, and wonderful city break
By Alyssa from An apple and a Plane
- Average temperatures: 2 to 12 degrees Celsius (36 to 54 F)
- January events/festivals: Celebrations of Three Kings
- Where to stay: Alhambra Palace
Granada, Spain is one of those cities visitors find near and dear to their hearts. Whether it’s the historic neighborhoods, gorgeous narrow streets with restaurants beneath twinkling lights, or the famous Alhambra, it is truly a can’t-miss destination while traveling through Spain.
Its prime location in the Andalucia region of Spain makes it easily accessible to other historic neighboring cities such as Cordoba and Seville.
The Alhambra achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984. It was originally created as a palace, fortress, and city- all in one!
Only a certain number of visitors are permitted to enter each day, so be sure to book tickets online in advance. A passport as identification is checked at the entrance to make sure it matches your booking ticket.
While visitors flock to Granada to visit Alhambra, (for good reason!) there’s certainly more reason to stay!
Check out the famous neighborhoods of Albaicin and Sacromonte. Many free walking tours take you through both neighborhoods and will provide an in-depth discussion on the importance of these places.
With its hillside location facing the Alhambra, one of the city’s best sunset locations can be found in Albaicin at the Mirador de San Nicolas.
Consider staying at Alhambra Palace for an excellent location and remarkable views of the Alhambra.
🖤 Resources: One week in Spain itinerary | Day trips from Seville Spain
27. Valletta, Malta | Warm city break with amazing sights
By Moumita and Sankha from Chasing the Long Road
- Average temperatures: 9 to 16 degrees Celsius (49 to 60 F)
- January events/festivals: Valletta Baroque Festival
- Where to stay: La Falconeria Hotel
Malta is a small island country in the Mediterranean Sea, famous for its pristine beaches, all-year-round warm climate, historic towns, and delicious local cuisines. There are plenty of lovely places to visit in Malta for a perfect European gateway in winter.
During this time, the weather is much warmer than in the rest of the European countries, with sunny days and mostly clear blue skies.
Start your Maltese adventure with a visit to the fortified city of Valletta. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and the capital city of Malta.
Wander around the winding streets of this historic city to marvel at the lovely photogenic architecture.
A visit to St John’s Co-Cathedral is an absolute must in the city. Founded in the 16th century, the incredibly ornate interior of the cathedral is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Europe.
Afterward, admire the breathtaking panoramic view of the picturesque Grand Harbour and the Three Cities from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Visitors gather here to watch the ceremonial gunfire that takes place daily at noon.
There are plenty of luxury and budget hotels dotted around Valletta. We would recommend staying at La Falconeria Hotel, which lies very close to the city centre.
Also, take a day trip to explore the atmospheric walled city of Mdina, known as the silent city, and the neighboring historic town of Rabat.
For a beach day, head towards Blue Lagoon on Comino Island or the Golden Sand Bay on the mainland. Both of them are fantastic spots for swimming and sunbathing.
28. Toulouse, France | Escape the cold and enjoy the delicious cuisines
By Kristin of Global Travel Escapades
Another beautiful place to escape the cold is Toulouse, France. The city is the capital of the Occitanie region in the South of France and is known for its delicious culinary dishes!
For example, the most famous dish that the city and region are widely recognized for is cassoulet. For those who don’t know, cassoulet is a slow-cooked stew that typically contains various types of meat, beans, and a few added vegetables! You’ll discover that almost every other restaurant serves the traditional local dish!
Along with participating in Toulouse’s French gastronomy, there are also lots of tourist attractions to check out. A few of the most popular ones include the Place du Capitole, Pont Neuf, and Cúpula de La Grave.
And if you find yourself running out of places to visit in the city, consider visiting a nearby town! Toulouse is about an hour away from several other smaller French cities, such as the medieval town of Carcassonne!
So if you’re ready to pack your bags and escape the cold in Toulouse, be sure to check out the Hôtel Mercure Toulouse Centre Saint-Georges. It’s located right in the heart of the city and there are endless restaurants in the area to help you eat your way through the city!
🖤 Resources: Best weekend trips from Paris
Travel Tips for Visiting Europe in January
Planning a trip to Europe in January can be a rewarding experience, with fewer crowds and amazing winter landscapes. However, it’s important to consider a few things to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
- Dress Appropriately: Europe in January can get quite chilly with snow in many regions. Layering is important, so pack thermal clothing, warm sweaters, and a heavy coat, and don’t forget hats, gloves, and scarves. Waterproof footwear can also be helpful, especially in snowy areas.
- Check Opening Times: Some attractions may have reduced hours or may even be closed in January, especially in smaller towns. It’s recommended to check the operating hours of the places you wish to visit in advance.
- Plan for Shorter Days: Daylight hours are significantly shorter in winter. Plan your daytime activities accordingly to make the most of the daylight.
- Stay Flexible: Winter weather can be unpredictable and could result in delays or even cancellations. Keep your plans flexible where possible and be prepared for potential changes.
- Embrace Indoor Activities: If the weather gets too rough, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy in Europe, such as museums, art galleries, shopping, or simply enjoying local cuisine at a cozy café or restaurant.
- Enjoy Winter Activities: Europe in January is a great time to engage in winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. These can be a fun way to experience the European winter.
- Travel Insurance: It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance, but it is especially important during winter travel when weather-related disruptions are more likely.
Remember, with careful planning and the right mindset, a winter trip to Europe can be an unforgettable experience.
Europe in January is a picturesque snow canvas that boasts a unique blend of beauty and charm. Whether you’re cozying up in a cabin, exploring a quiet city, or taking on the slopes of the Alps, the continent’s allure is undeniable.
There’s a certain magic in the air during winter – a blend of crisp air, bright snow, and twinkling lights – that adds a whole new dimension to the European experience.
So wrap up warm, embrace the chill, and let Europe’s winter wonders captivate your heart. After all, there’s no such thing as ‘bad’ weather, only different kinds of good weather.
Europe Travel Guides