If cooking dinner for 20 or watching the same old Christmas movies and shows is not exactly your cup of tea, you might want to consider travelling for this year’s winter holidays. Check out 5 of the best European winter road trips you might want to try out on your next vacation!
1. Cologne to Berlin, Germany
Cologne photo by Eric Bauer
A winter road trip across Northern Germany will take you through some of the most charming historic cities in the country, and the excellent condition of the roads here will make for a stress-free drive even when it’s snowing. Be sure to check the Christmas markets and Chocolate Museum in Cologne, go for some quality shopping in modern Dusseldorf, visit at least some of the numerous historical museums and galleries in Bremen and see the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam before finishing up in Berlin. Dress warmly and taste the excellent mulled wine they have in the area, and you won’t even feel the cold.
2. Tuscany’s Hilltop Towns, Italy
Tuscany Hilltops, photo by Thomas Quine
A road trip through Tuscany’s hilltop towns is awesome in summer due to the rich, colourful landscape, but winter is also a great time to come here. Admire the sleepy rolling hills and the stunning architecture you’ll encounter along the way, but mind your weight, as the food in this region is absolutely mouth-watering! Plus, the typical Tuscan cuisine, such as pici or ribollita, can keep you warm for hours! Be sure to include Siena in your itinerary, as it’s magical in winter, with beautiful decorations on the streets and free concerts and shows hosted in the Piazza del Campo.
3. Transylvania, Romania
Sighisoara, Romania, photo by rudresh_calls
Romania is not one of the first destinations that come to mind when it comes to winter trips, but it will be a very pleasant surprise. The region of Transylvania enjoys stunning landscapes, rustic traditional villages and beautiful historic cities, cool castles and delicious food. The Peles and Corvin Castles are a must-see, and you can even check out Dracula’s castle while here – if you’re not afraid of being turned into a vampire, that is. The charming and colourful historic city of Sighisoara should also be on your list, and you absolutely must check out laid-back Sibiu, which usually organises very nice holiday festivities and Christmas markets, with mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and traditional handmade souvenirs.
4. Ring Road, Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall, photo by Moyan Brenn
How does driving past blue icebergs, active volcanoes, roaring waterfalls, bubbling geothermal springs and overall otherworldly landscapes sound to you? Travel the Ring Road in Iceland and you’ll experience something hard to describe in words – and maybe even get to see the Northern Lights! Must-see attractions include the Thingvellir Park, the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, the Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon, and the Crystal Ice Caves, which can only be visited in winter. Be mindful of the weather and road conditions in winter if you embark on this trip, as snowstorms are common and some roads might not be usable.
5. Lapland, Sweden and Norway
Ice Hotel in Sweden, photo by cloudzilla
If you’re interested in a larger-scale winter trip, start out in Lapland, home to ice hotels, the Snow Queen, amazing scenery and lots of reindeer, and then head to Kiruna, Sweden, where the world’s first ice hotel awaits. Try huskie sledding and enjoy any winter sport you can think of, and then head further to Norway to see the fjords and enjoy a traditional Norwegian Christmas, which lasts not just a few days, but a whole season of specific rituals.