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7 Best Winter Destinations in Europe

During the summer, major European cities are chock-full of travelers exploring sites and sipping lattes at a street side café. In the winter, not only are cities less crowded, but some places are best explored during the snowy season.

Innsbruck, AustriaPanoramic of Innsbruck, Tyrol, AustriaNot only is Innsbruck gorgeous with the snowcapped mountains glistening in the city’s backdrop, but also this tiny Austrian town offers plenty of skiing in the Austrian Alps. Innsbruck was home to the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics and offers plenty of advanced trails. Snow bunnies and cold weather junkies visit Innsbruck to enjoy fresh powder and Old World charm.

Reykjavik, Icelandwintereurope2Iceland is just as beautiful in the winter as it is during the summer. During the day, soak in the Blue Lagoon hot springs and at night hunt for the northern lights. Auroras are unpredictable, but November through February are the best months for solar activity in Iceland. Iceland has a large literary culture, so you can stay warm in one of the many cafés and bookshops in town.

Christmas Markets, GermanyAnnaberg-Buchholz Weihnachtsmarkt - Annaberg-Buchholz christmas market 15During late November through Christmas, visitors can explore Christmas markets in every major and mid-sized city in Germany. Small historic towns offer ancient and medieval markets, which is like taking a walk through 15th Century Germany. This is the best time to experience the best of German cuisine and Christmas cheer with hot mulled wine, wurst, lebkuchen and sugared nuts.

Rovaniemi, FinlandSanta Claus office in Rovaniemi town that is in Finland in LaplaLocated in Lapland, or the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is home to Santa Claus (or at least an amusement park in his name). From snowmobiling to viewing the Aurora Borealis, these are some of the coolest attractions in northern Finland.

Abisko, Swedenwintereurope5Abisko is the northernmost city in Sweden and located in Lapland. Outdoor enthusiasts try their hand at skiing and husky mushing in and around the Abisko National Park. Keep your eyes open for the northern lights as “she” makes her presence frequently during the winter months.

Swiss Alps, Switzerlandwintereurope6Avid skiers have more than a dozen choices of worthwhile ski resorts in Switzerland. Swiss ski resorts meet every budget from high-end to inexpensive lift tickets and hotel stays. Of course, the more you’re willing to shell out, the more options you’ll have. St. Moritz is one of the prime resorts for those who like to social with the bigwigs.

Dolomites, Italywintereurope7If you enjoy mountain thrills, visit the Dolomites for the best of skiing in Northern Italy. The Dolomites region is a unique part of Italy, as the architecture and language is more German than Italian. You can still eat your pizza, but expect traditional Bavarian cuisine from wurst to boiled potatoes.

photos ©istockphoto

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