December in europe: 10 Best Places to Visit in Europe in December 2022
9 European Towns That Practically Guarantee A White Christmas
The Christmas spirit is only complete when the world is covered in snow. The lights sparkle more, trees and plants look like cotton wool, and even the stars twinkle brighter. But, with the climate changes we all experience, snow isn’t a certainty.
After looking at locations in Europe that are most likely to have snow and their average snowfalls in December, I was pleasantly surprised that there are quite a few places where a white Christmas is practically guaranteed. These places are a delight to locals and visitors who might have to travel quite a distance, but are rewarded with a winter wonderland in cities that are beautiful and remarkable at any time of the year — only more so when covered in snow.
Not surprisingly, several of these places are in the north of Europe, but there is France, Austria, and Germany too. Here they are:
Kuressaare Castle houses the Saaremaa Museum in Kesklinn (Estonian for “city centre”).
Photo credit: Ingrid Maasik / Shutterstock.com
1. Tallinn, Estonia
The capital and cultural center of Estonia, Tallinn, is located in the north of the country on the Bay of Finland, a part of the Baltic Sea. The old town, called Kesklinn, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a lot of interesting and historical buildings (i.e. the cathedral and over 60 museums). With an average of 18 days of snow in December, you have an excellent chance of a white Christmas.
Estonia is often referred to as the nation of song. Music is important and there is an open arena where a summer music festival is held. In winter, however, it is converted into a playground for winter sports activities like ice skating and snowboarding. All you need is a bit of snowfall to make it perfect.
If you want to be out of the cold for a little while, there is the Estonian Art Museum and Kiek in de Kök, an old watch tower that is part of the Fortification Museum with access to underground tunnels and passages — all giving a unique insight into the history of this city. Tallinn hosts a lovely Christmas market too, with plenty of the local specialty: marzipan.
Pro Tip: Estonian is the local language but nearly everybody speaks a second language, mostly English, German, or Russian. But an aitaeh, “thank you,” is always appreciated. The currency is the euro.
Christmas tree in Vilnius
Photo credit: aleks.k / Shutterstock.com
2. Vilnius, Lithuania
With an average of 18.5 days of snow in December, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is another candidate for a white Christmas. Renowned for the Baroque architecture of the medieval part of town — with castles, a viewpoint of the Three Crosses, and vibrant street art — Vilnius is a fabulous town to visit any time of the year.
Visit the Gate of Dawn and one of the many museums to get out of the cold. Just a few miles out of town, you can enjoy snowfall in the ski resort of Liepkalnis. The Vilnius Christmas market, held from November 27 to January 7, is a must-see because of the enormous Christmas tree and lovely decorations. A small, decorated train takes you around the town and cathedral square.
Pro Tip: Lithuanian is the official language, but 80 percent of the younger generation speaks English; it wasn’t taught under the Soviet occupation. The currency is the euro.
Finland’s National Sanctuary, Turku Cathedral
Photo credit: Jamo Images / Shutterstock.com
3. Turku, Finland
Turku, Finland’s oldest city, is located on the country’s southwest coast and crossed by the Aura River. The river plays an important role in city life. In summer, swimming and sunbathing are popular, but in winter, due to the low temperatures, it completely freezes over. That’s when the fun begins because locals and visitors just strap on ice skates and go on a sightseeing tour of a different kind. They glide past the 13th-century castle and decide which of the cute little streets they are going to explore on foot.
Turku is known for its coffee culture so there are plenty of cafés to warm you with a hot drink. In 1996, Turku was declared the “Christmas City of Finland.” A Christmas market is held in the Old Great Square on the four weekends running up to Christmas.
Old Town Erfurt
Photo credit: Oliver Hlavaty Photo / Shutterstock.com
4. Erfurt, Germany
Erfurt is located in the heart of Germany in Thuringia and in the basin of the wide Gera River. Part of the city is called “Little Venice” because of the over 140 bridges that cross the river. Erfurt also has one of the best-preserved medieval town centers in Germany and, historically, is closely connected to Martin Luther, the protestant reformer.
Snowfall in December is consistent, and although it doesn’t stay long, it’s enough to dust the beautiful buildings with a layer of powdered sugar. After being canceled last year, the Erfurt Christmas Market returns to the medieval old town’s Domplatz (Cathedral Square) in 2022.
Christmas market in Riga, Latvia
Photo credit: Lisa A / Shutterstock.com
5. Riga, Latvia
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is located on the Baltic Sea. The port town was a member of the Hanseatic League and has an average of 15 days of snowfall in December. Riga’s Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage Site mostly because of its Art Nouveau and wooden architecture. Imagine all the elaborate Art Nouveau designs covered in snow to be marveled at in a pedestrian-only zone without having to watch out for cars.
Old Riga Christmas Market returns this year with the Lighting of the Christmas tree in Doma Square (Cathedral Square) on November 27.
Pro Tip: The official language is Latvian, also known as Lettish. English is mostly spoken by the younger generation but rarely outside of Riga. You are well-advised to learn a few courtesy words. The currency is the euro.
Innsbruck under the mighty Austrian Alps
Photo credit: Alexandros Stefaneskou / Shutterstock.com
6. Innsbruck, Austria
Innsbruck, the capital of the state of Tyrol in Austria, is located in a privileged position. Along the Inn River and surrounded by the high mountains of the Karwendel, it’s protected on the one hand, and on the other, preserving the cold and snow when it arrives. This location is also the reason that Innsbruck is such a popular winter sports area, having hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice in 1964 and 1976.
With an average snowfall of 8.3 inches in December, there is a very high chance of a white Christmas. Innsbruck is rather small but full of beautiful historical buildings and guild houses along the river promenade. The best-known attraction is probably the 15th-century Golden Roof crowning a building in the Old Town. It was created to celebrate the wedding of Emperor Maximilian I and consists of 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles. Innsbruck has a beautiful Christmas market too, staged right under the Golden Roof.
Pazaislis Church and Monastery in Kaunas, Lithuania
Photo credit: A. Aleksandravicius / Shutterstock.com
7. Kaunas, Lithuania
Kaunas, the second largest city in Lithuania, is located on the confluence of the Nemunars and Neris rivers and has been designated as one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2022. The most important attractions are the 14th-century castle and, in the streets of the old town, plenty of murals and gigantic street art; Charlie Chaplin among them.
Another attraction is not one but two original funiculars, first opened in 1935. An interesting museum is The Devil’s Museum. This extraordinary museum stores over 3,000 exhibits of horned creatures. There is a tradition that visitors may bring a devil for the ever-growing collection.
With an average of 16 days of snow in December, a white Christmas is very probable in Kaunas. To warm up in the cold, try the traditional dish called cepelinai, which is a big potato dumpling filled with pork and served with sour cream and bacon sauce.
Grenoble during winter, Haute-Savoie, Frankreich
Photo credit: Sabine Klein / Shutterstock.com
8. Grenoble, France
Located in the Isere department in southeast France, Grenoble calls itself the “Capital of the French Alps” because it is surrounded by mountains, making it the location of the 1968 Winter Olympics. There are on average 15.5 snowy days in December and the temperatures are well below zero, so the snow and cold are pretty much guaranteed.
Skiing and winter sports are popular in Grenoble. A main attraction is going up from the town center to Bastille Hill in spherical cable cars called Les Bulles, “the bubbles.”
Grenoble’s Christmas market is a delight and lasts until Christmas Eve. It’s a combination of entertainment, a lively atmosphere, and gourmet food, as can be expected in France.
Winter scenery of the Old Town in Helsinki, Finland
Photo credit: Oleksiy Mark / Shutterstock.com
9. Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is located on the Baltic Sea. It gets very cold in winter and the Baltic Sea freezes over, which brings out the locals to walk, skate, ski, or cut a hole in the ice to fish. Join in the fun, but mind any warnings as to the thickness of the ice. With an average of 16.5 snowy days in December, you can enjoy a wintery Helsinki with lots of activities inside and outside.
Another fun thing to do is go sledding. They have special plastic sleds called pullka that you can buy everywhere for a mere €10 to just join the locals in the parks. After the outdoor fun, a visit to a public sauna to warm up after a few hours in the Designmuseo design museum.
Also, visit Helsinki’s Art Deco train station.
Pro Tip: You can enjoy the Helsinki Christmas Market in Market Square until December 22.
Best Places in Europe for a white Christmas
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas this year or just an escape from the ordinary, why not consider a last-minute trip in search of some guaranteed snow?
To find a truly white Christmas in Europe, it’s best to head to the Alps or to Scandinavia. The further north you are, the stronger the chance of snowfall. Here are a few of the best destinations to consider to find snow in Europe for Christmas…
Located way up north in the small village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland, the Icehotel is the world’s first hotel made of natural ice and snow.
It’s not only an incredible accommodation option, but an ever-changing work of art. Every year the Icehotel is reborn in a new style. As well as being surrounded by ice and snow, you can indulge in some fantastic wintry activities here.
See the northern lights, try your hand at ice sculpting, or take a reindeer sled ride. It’s seriously festive!
Plenty of cities in Europe have a strong chance of snowfall at Christmas. One of the most picturesque is Salzburg, where the narrow medieval streets of the Old Town create the perfect backdrop to a white Christmas.
Although snowfall isn’t guaranteed, the surrounding Alps will be seasonably white and provide a great excursion for skiing or other snowy activities.
For those looking to enjoy the festivities, don’t miss out on the famous Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) on Cathedral Square, which runs from 17 November to 1 January.
All too often overlooked, Tallinn is a beautiful city all year round, but in the winter there’s also a pretty good chance of snow. It’s also home to a 500-year-old Christmas market, and some seriously strong Christmas traditions.
Reputedly the birthplace of marzipan, Tallinn goes crazy for the almond delicacy around Christmas, so it’s a great stop for anyone with a sweet tooth. Hunt it down at the markets or head to the Kalev Marzipan Room, a museum and shop where you’ll find hundreds of marzipan figurines on display.
For families with young children, is there any better place to take a Christmas holiday in Europe than to the home of Santa himself? Head to Finnish Lapland to stay in a cosy hotel or log cabin in a snowy paradise.
Resorts like Santa’s Lapland, Nordic Experience, Father Christmas Village and SantaPark offer up plenty of winter activities from dog sledding to skiing, alongside the chance for a personal visit with Father Christmas in his workshop. Is there any better option for a white Christmas in Europe?
Snowfall in Iceland is a common sight over Christmas time. And in the capital, Reykjavík, you’ll find plenty of things to do on a day out. The city centre is filled with restaurants, shops and museums to keep you busy.
Visit one of the biggest attractions, the National Museum of Iceland, where you can delve deep into the history of the country with a range of artefacts from the Viking settlers on show.
And at the end of the day, head to Hallgrimskirkja Church, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Check out some more amazing things to do in Iceland on your next visit.
After Oktoberfest, Berlin goes into full festive mode with its Christmas markets and decorations lighting up the streets.
If there’s no snow, you can get your skates on at one of a number of ice rinks dotted around the city. At Potsdamer Platz, you can ice skate for free, try your hand at curling or ride down the 12-metre toboggan run!
Don’t forget to try the local delicacies on offer. Mulled wine, bratwurst and roasted almonds are all served up in traditional wooden huts within the markets.
Krakow is a relatively cheap destination, ideal for holidaymakers looking to get away on a budget. With a market beer costing £1.47 and a meal up to £10.35 on average, you’ll find value for money wherever you are in Poland’s second-largest city.
Over Christmas, the main annual market is held in Old Town Krakow, with traditional food, snacks and handmade gifts all on show, available to buy.
If you’re looking to try something different, head just outside of Krakow where you can ride a festively themed horse-drawn sled. As long as there’s snow on the ground, these excursions run throughout winter and often conclude with a forest bonfire and a taste of the local produce.
Cover for your next winter holiday
If you’re planning to go away during the festive period, don’t forget to have travel insurance in place to cover your next trip. It’s also worth finding out about our winter sports travel insurance if you’re looking to hit the slopes and try winter sports activities.
About the author
Jason Davis is Avanti Travel Insurance’s Senior Content Executive. As a specialist travel insurance provider, we aim to keep up-to-date with travel trends, all while offering tips on how to make the most of your holiday.
Why Europe is not frozen without Russian gas. And how much longer will it last?
Photo credit, AFP
Even dead Europeans are helping the EU to reduce gas purchases from Russia
Europe saves light and heat, dims factory and crematorium stoves, turns off street and storefront lights. All in order to survive in the gas war that the Kremlin unleashed against the EU even before the invasion of Ukraine. Does she manage?
A third of the heating season is over, and the results are impressive. The 27 countries of the European Union with a population of 450 million have managed to cut their gas consumption by a quarter, and now the Europeans are almost sure that they will survive this winter without blackouts.
How did they manage it, what did it cost and how long will the money and patience last?
- Russia’s oil and gas decline. How the war in Ukraine is changing the future of global energy
- Survive without Russian gas. Europe agrees cold wintering plan
First round for Europe
Gas was not subject to European sanctions, unlike oil and coal, because the EU did not want to give up cheap and relatively clean fuel. However, Vladimir Putin himself turned on the tap: during the invasion of Ukraine, Kremlin-controlled Gazprom, under various pretexts, cut gas supplies to the EU by 80%.
Given the fact that the EU bought 40% of all gas in Russia, and finding alternative suppliers even at exorbitant prices was not easy, the Europeans were faced with the specter of rolling industrial shutdowns and mass unrest of the freezing population.
But that didn’t happen. For five main reasons.
1) Russia did not completely cut off supplies.
2) The gas storage facilities were filled almost to capacity.
3) People and businesses were helped with subsidies.
4) The weather in October and November was record warm.
5) Europeans have learned (or were forced to) save gas.
Of these reasons, only the last one – the reduction of gas consumption – is entirely at the mercy of the EU countries. From now on, the Europeans are going to focus on it in order to win not only the first winter gas battle with the Kremlin, but the entire energy war.
“Now we have to focus on preparing for next winter. Not for this winter, but for the next one. We are safe this winter,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this week.
“Of course we paid a high price for this,” she added.
Image copyright, Reuters
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EU countries have allocated 600 billion euros to fight the energy crisis, of which almost half came from Germany, the EU’s largest economy and the main importer of Russian gas before the war. With plans by the non-EU UK to spend nearly €100bn in subsidies to households and businesses, the Kremlin’s gas war has already cost Europe €700bn, think tank Bruegel has calculated.
A second winter of such generosity is nowhere to be found, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine plunges Europe into an economic crisis faster than other countries, barely recovering from covid. It would be possible to achieve energy independence from Russia at the expense of other suppliers or green energy – but this is long and expensive.
Therefore, the main task of Europeans now is to save money.
“By reducing consumption, we are reducing electricity bills, emissions, and damage from the Russian gas games,” said European Commissioner Vice President Franz Timmermans. “Nothing will work without demand reduction.”
How Europe saves gas
The EU agreed to save money back in the summer, when it realized that after a year of slowly turning on the gas valve, Putin switched to sudden movements.
By May, Russian gas supplies had halved compared to peaks three years ago, to 250 million cubic meters per day. And already in early July, they fell to a historic low, below 80 million. At the end of July, 27 EU countries decided that Russia as a reliable supplier of energy resources was lost for them forever, and pledged to reduce gas consumption by 15% compared to the average over the past five years.
Image copyright, Getty Images
Gas pipeline pipes to Hamburg from a new LNG terminal on the North Sea coast in Germany. Europe urgently replaces Russian pipeline gas with marine supplies of liquefied
In the first two months of the heating season – in October and November – gas consumption in the EU decreased by 24%, the ICIS research center calculated. The fall in demand in the two industrial powers of the EU – Germany and Italy – exceeded 21%. Britain, which said goodbye to the European Union, shrank more modestly – by 19% In November.
How did they do it? Voluntary-compulsory.
Up to 40% of gas demand in Europe comes from people: they heat gas, heat water and cook food. About 30% is consumed by industry.
Demand in industry is reduced mainly by force, while the population is mainly voluntarily, since subsidies for people are incomparably higher than for factories and businesses, and prices are lower.
Energy-intensive industries, which account for slightly more than half of all industrial demand for gas, were the first to save money: metallurgical and cement plants, manufacturers of glass and ceramics, fertilizers and other petrochemicals.
If the situation does not improve, the temporary decline in demand risks becoming permanent and undermining the industrial base of the European Union. Some companies will move to other countries, for example, to the USA, where oil and gas are produced in abundance, which means that energy supply is cheaper, more accessible and more reliable.
Less energy-intensive businesses and the public sector have easier choices. Relaxing regulations, renewable energy, or simply breaking habits will allow them to reduce their consumption.
It’s great to light up the town hall or the fountain in the central square, it’s nice to sit in a well-heated library or in the office, it’s fun to stare at night shop windows. But as it turned out this fall, in order to end the war in Europe, Europeans are ready to give up all these energy-consuming habits.
In France, Spain and other countries, it is now illegal to light up closed stores and keep the doors open during the day when the heating or air conditioning is on. Street lighting is dimmed, in public buildings it is no more than +19°C, and then only during the day, and there is no hot water in the toilets.
Even the dead help the common cause of reducing dependence on Russian gas.
German crematoria have proposed their plan – how to burn the same number of dead with 80% gas savings. Turn off part of the furnaces, transfer others to round-the-clock mode, and reduce the temperature to 750 ° from 850 °.
All this needs only the permission of the authorities, Reuters quotes the head of the Union of German Crematoria Svend-York Sobolevski.
Image copyright, Getty Images
Lighting is no longer in fashion in Europe. Berlin Cathedral and Berlin TV Tower
Reuters gives another example of optimizing energy consumption on the border with the afterlife. According to the agency, the Diocese of Roermond, in light of the energy crisis, allowed three hundred of its priests of the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands to skip mass or two – in order to save money.
The population is not yet obligated to save money and is not even offered – only advised. And that’s not for everyone. In Great Britain, for example, the previous government refused to pay for a social advertising campaign and only after the change of prime minister agreed to send letters to the British by mail about the ways and benefits of energy saving.
Meanwhile, according to industry experts, reducing the temperature in British homes by just 1°C saves up to 7% of gas. A similar measure is relevant for many large economies in Europe, where they heat mainly gas – primarily for Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.
“The first cold test”
Therefore, not industry, but people – Europe’s only hope to reduce dependence on Russian gas.
Now the population is supported by subsidies and limitation of gas tariffs. Because of this, many do not see the need to save. Prices for light and heat, if they grow, then not much, and people do not feel the need to reduce consumption. The market mechanism for the destruction of demand is stalling.
“Many countries continue to mistakenly subsidize energy consumption where demand reduction is required,” laments European Commissioner Timmermans. “This approach is fraught with risks. If state support dries up, market confidence will be undermined, sanctions against Russia will become more difficult, and emissions neutralization will cost more.”
Image copyright, Getty Images
Hot October and warm November have been replaced by an unusually fierce December in Europe. Edinburgh 9 December
Demand cuts are particularly relevant as the other four factors that allowed Europe to get through the start of the heating season painlessly despite an 80% drop in imports from Russia may soon come to an end.
1) Russia still supplies gas to Europe, but it can turn off the tap completely at any time. The EU promises to approve the price ceiling for gas prices by the New Year, and Putin has already promised to turn off everyone who signs under it.
2) By the next heating season, gas storage facilities will not be 95% full, as this year, but only 65% full, ICIS analysts admit. The main reason is the likely gas blockade by the Kremlin.
3) Subsidies to people and businesses are excluded in the current amount. First, they support demand and do not allow to reduce consumption. Secondly, they simply do not have enough public money. According to the European Commission, 70% of state support is a carpet bombardment with money of everyone in a row, and not the most needy. To save money, the authorities will certainly shift to subsidizing only the poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The bounty festival is over.
4) Warm autumn gave way to cold winter. Northern Europe is experiencing an unusually cold December. Gas consumption in Germany, according to the local regulator, has increased over the past week by 14%. Savings compared to the five-year average are still substantial at about 13%, but lower than the 23% in November and 26% in October.
In general, the picture is similar in Europe.
“Gas demand in the EU and Britain for the week by December 6 decreased by 10% compared to the five-year average. In November it was 22%, in October – 24%, in September – 12%,” writes Tom Marzek, head of gas analysts at ICIS -Mancer.
“Welcome to the first cold test.”
Gas prices in Europe marked the sudden arrival of winter (December 1, 2022)
Expert. ru correspondent
December 1, 2022, 14:00
December is expected to be somewhat colder than usual in Europe, according to weather forecasts
Winter has come. Most often, Europeans are now looking at thermometers hanging outside the window. It is possible that weather forecasts will soon become the most popular sections of newspapers.
The increased interest of the inhabitants of the Old World in the weather can be easily explained: how the winter will pass on the continent directly depends on the thermometer readings.
Here and now – the temperature has dropped, therefore, the consumption of energy and gas will increase, primarily for heating buildings. The gas market is now reacting to fluctuations in thermometer readings faster than the body of the meteorologically dependent person. Simultaneously with the fall of the thermometer, prices for “blue” fuel crept up. The price of the main gas futures in Europe – the Dutch TTF soared on the first day of winter by 5.2%. The last time they were so expensive was more than a month and a half ago – on October 13th. By 8.25 am, futures in Amsterdam fell somewhat and cost 153 euros per MWh.
Meteorologists, fortunately for Europeans, do not predict a severe winter, but the thermometers in December will steadily fall below 0. The last month of the year, according to the forecast of Maxar Technologies Inc. and Marex, will be cooler than the average December for the last five years. This means that a long-term decline in gas prices, explained by a warm autumn, is likely to be replaced by an equally long-term increase.
The more severe the winter and the longer the periods of sharp cooling, the higher the likelihood of all kinds of excesses in the form, first of all, rolling power outages and interruptions in gas supplies to industrial enterprises.
The heating season in most regions of Europe this year started much later than usual. Due to relatively high gas temperatures, little was taken from underground gas storage facilities. Now the gas intake will increase sharply and its reserves in storage facilities will begin to melt rapidly. The lower the air temperature outside the window, the faster the reserves of “blue” fuel will decrease.
It is difficult to say exactly how high gas prices will rise by the middle or end of December. Without much risk of making a mistake, we can say that up to high. If only because already now, on the first day of winter, the price of gas is four times higher than the price of December 1, 2021.
Europeans have switched from piped to mainly liquefied natural gas (LNG) this year and are struggling to speed up the construction of LNG infrastructure. The first floating LNG platform in Germany should start operating before the end of the year.
By the way, Europeans should now follow weather forecasts not only in Europe, but also in Asia. If there is a cold winter in Asia, especially in the north, where the main importers of gas: China, Japan and South Korea, the demand for it will grow strongly.