Where’s The Best European Christmas Vacation?

It’s that time of year again and we are starting to plot and plan to create the best European Christmas vacation.  This time we are looking for a little input from you as well.  We will share our circumstances and requirements with you, as well as what is currently on the table for choices.  Feel free to comment on our choices or add more to the list for us!

It's that time of year again and we are starting to plot and plan to create the best European Christmas vacation.  It will be amazing with your help. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com

We will be meeting up in some fabulous location in Europe for our Christmas vacation and have too many places to choose from.  As we do our research and try and nail down the exact location, we thought we’d let you in on the fun and perhaps you will shed a new light on something for us.

Our requirements for our European Christmas Vacation

  • We want to see some of the best Christmas markets in Europe.
  • It needs to feel like Christmas, so that means decorations, cooler temperatures, traditions, lights, the works!
  • The location needs to be easy access for us from Spain, preferably non-stop flights.
  • We would prefer a non-stop flight from New York, so it is easy for Grandma Linda.
  • Ideally it is a city location with great public transportation and apartments for rent.
  • It would be great if it was a new country or city for us to visit, but not a requirement.
  • We want to experience winter magic with ice skating, hot chocolate or mulled wine.

Sources of Travel Inspiration

Where do you get your ideas for your next travel spots?  We us various resources for our inspiration:

  • Why not watch some of these top travel movies.
  • Use Pinterest or Instagram for photo inspiration
  • We also use various blogs and internet searches.

We’ve Had The Best European Christmas Vacations In…

  • Paris Christmas 2012

    We’ve met up with Grandma Linda in Paris for Christmas as well, and that is where we became addicted to the European Christmas magic!
    Wagoners Abroad Christmas in Paris

  • Vietnam Christmas 2014

    I know it isn’t Europe, but we had an amazing time with Grandma Bev for Christmas in Hoi An Vietnam.  It was our first Christmas as a family spent with Grandma Bev.
    Christmas Eve 2014 Hoi An Vietnam Cinnamon Cruises

  • Ireland Christmas 2015

    2 weeks in Ireland, with one week for Christmas in Cork and the other week for New Years in Dublin on a housesit.
    Christmas in Cork Ireland. Ireland vacation rental - Ivy Bridge Cottage Mallow Ireland

  • Edinburgh Christmas 2016

    Last year, we have a fantastic dream Christmas vacation in Edinburgh with Grandma Linda.  We’d highly recommend this to you for sure, but we want a new experience this year.
    Christmas in Edinburgh. Dinner at Gusto Edinburgh Christmas

  • Christmas 2017 Amsterdam won the prize!

Our itinerary for an Amsterdam Christmas with teens, was an interesting and fun experience for sure!  As you know we have visited Amsterdam several times and it is certainly a top family destination, but this Christmas vacation was one of best!
If you are in Amsterdam at Christmas time, you must go to see the tree at Dam Square.  The entire area is just beautiful and no matter which path you take to arrive and depart, you will be dazzled with beautiful lights and decorations. 

  • Paris for Christmas 2018

    Paris with teenagers is an entirely different experience and I have to say quite enjoyable.  This was our second Christmas in Paris with Grandma Linda, but this time with teens.  We experienced Paris Christmas markets, dazzling lights, museums, food, shops and more!
    Paris Christmas Ornaments at the Eiffel Tower Christmas market

  • New York Christmas 2019

    It was Christmas in New York with teens this year!  Each year we meet up with Grandma Linda somewhere in the world for Christmas.  This time we went to visit her!  It’s been nearly 8 years since we’ve been to New York and we knew we were going to be in for a great time!

    Bryant Park Manhattan New York for Christmas with teens. read more on WagonersAbroad.com

  • Where should we go next Christmas?

2020 was supposed to be a meet up in Brussels.  At the moment it doesn’t seem like that will be possible.  Fingers crossed and we will see what we can do. 

Current Possibilities for Christmas 

So we have put quite a bit of thought and research to our plans and of course do have a budget to deal with as well.  Here are some of our current contenders and it is even possible for us to visit two of them.  Grandma Linda would likely meet us for a week over Christmas.  It is also desired for the Wagoner family to check out a second destination over the New Year Holiday, so we would need easy access from the first location.

  • Prague
  • Budapest – We heard so much about the Christmas markets in Budapest, this may need to go up high on the list.
  • Belgium – Without a doubt, these markets look amazing!  We’ve been to Brussels for New Year’s but need to get back for the amazing Christmas markets.
  • Austria
  • Iceland
  • Germany (Berlin or Munich)
  • Poland (Krakow or Warsaw)

Okay that is our current list, with hopes to narrow it down in the next couple of weeks.  Feel free to chime in on any of the locations in the comments below on why we should go there and what we should do.  Of course you can always add a new destination to the list as well.  Worst case scenario, we have an amazing list of places to go for future Christmas Vacations in Europe!


Additional information for Christmas trips for families

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It's that time of year again and we are starting to plot and plan to create the best European Christmas vacation.  It will be amazing with your help. Read more on WagonersAbroad.com


Getting Around Europe

  • Train – If you are wanting to explore Europe via train, Click here for Europe Rail deals.
  • Bus – There are many options for comfort levels and bus options,  you may click here to Discover Europe by Bus

Using public transportation in Europe

It is very easy to make your way around Europe using trains, planes and buses. There are several different options for each mode of transportation.  The best way to view all options is to check with Go Euro.  They will seek out the best way for you to get from one place to another and then you may filter, but fastest, cheapest, shortest, and so on.  You can look between the different modes of transportation and see which works best for your schedule.  Click the image to begin your search.

4 thoughts on “Where’s The Best European Christmas Vacation?”

  1. Hello Heidi,

    I have always enjoyed following your family’s adventures over the years, but I usually keep a low profile in the comment department. I do, however, have some ideas for this topic, as our family has been to many of the places on your list during the Christmas break. Here’s our take on some of the places that you mentioned:

    Iceland: AMAZING New Year’s Eve fireworks and bonfires. If you make reservations at the restaurant, Perlan, they have a package for dinner, including a bus ride to the HUGE bonfire, and then return to the restaurant to watch the fireworks on the roof with 360 degree views of the surrounding areas. Hands down the best fireworks we’ve ever seen, and we travel every year at this time. Having said that, there are very few Christmas markets in Reykjavik, almost non-existent, so if you are looking for that, you will be disappointed. It is, however, Iceland and there are many cool things to do in the winter which we enjoyed, such as snow mobile riding, an excursion to the inside of a glacier (very cool), geysers, waterfalls, thermal baths and pools, and of course the northern lights. One place we stopped that was really fun was Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal baths, which is a hotel with a geothermal pool, where they also bake rye bread under the ground. That was pretty awesome and delicious. A know before you go tip: In Iceland they are very strict about the pre-showering before entering any thermal pool. Most people shower and dress in a traditional open area locker room situation. (males and females are separate) They do have a few closed stalls for showering and changing, but you might have to wait in line to use them. Just an FYI since you are traveling with teens.

    Germany: We have not spent extended time in Munich or Berlin during this time, I do know that they have many of the things you are looking for such as Christmas markets and ice rinks. We have spent some holiday time in some of the smaller German cities such as Cologne, Heidelberg, and Passau, all of which have that quaint town feel with lots of Christmas markets. If you get a chance to spend some time outside of the big cities of Germany, those are a few that my family has enjoyed. If you happen to travel to some of the German towns along the Rhine, hop over to Strasbourg, France and you can visit France’s oldest Christmas market. It’s very festive. My kids have said that every town they have visited in Germany during Christmas break was great, and they are looking forward to going back. It has everything you are looking for.

    Amsterdam: There are only a few Christmas market stalls. I wouldn’t really classify it as a city that I would visit if I wanted to go to Christmas markets. There is a little ice skating rink, nothing significant. It’s more of a little rink for kids. It’s a great city and my kids would go back in a heartbeat, but I wouldn’t plan on visiting during Christmas if you are looking for the European Christmas market, crisp weather, ice skating, mulled wine drinking vibe.

    Budapest: This city has a lot of what you’re looking for, similar to Germany. There are quite a few Christmas markets to explore with a variety of delicious food and drinks, and of course of the stalls with trinket shopping. One of the favorite things my kids loved to eat were the Chimney cakes. They are not to be missed. Budapest also has a HUGE, football stadium size, outdoor ice skating rink at City Park, not like the small little ice rinks for little kids that you find in some Christmas markets. The city also decorates one of its trams with Christmas lights, and it’s fun to ride the Christmas tram or spot it as it goes by. They also have a really big indoor food market, and a funicular at the base of the Chain Bridge, which is fun to ride and gives you great views of the city. Lastly, Budapest is known for its thermal baths, and they have open hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which is helpful when being away from home for the holidays, since most other places are closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We visited the Szechenyi Baths on Christmas Day, and it was great. Overall, this was one of my kids’ favorite places to visit during the holidays.

    So, that’s my take on the places you mentioned. We haven’t been to Prague, Poland or Belgium yet, but I hope this is helpful. Looking forward to reading about where you finally choose to go.


    1. Hey Christine, thanks for popping out of the “low profile” for us! This is great information. I can’t wait to dig in more and really determine if our criteria has a priority of what vibe we are really looking for. At a minimum, it looks like we could have some plans for the next few years! Thank you so much!

  2. Last year we drove from London through France to Alsace, then to Austria and stayed in Telfes (south of Innsbruck) which was gorgeous. We then went south to Venice & Tuscany and back through the French Alps. Austria was stunning. I would consider going again.
    Our favorite holiday we’ve had living in the UK was to Lapland in Finland year in 2015. It meets almost none of your criteria, but it was amazing. We flew from London to Helsinki and Helsinki to Kittila. We stayed in the ski resort area of Levi (pronounced with a short e). We did hire a car. We stayed in the Holiday Inn apartments (650E for the week, I think/slept 6). We had ski mobile ride to Father Christmas’ workshop in the woods that was amazing. Our youngest was 9 – but all of us enjoyed the snowmobiling! Reindeer sleigh ride was fun, the Husky sleigh ride was memorable and scenery was stunning (spoiler – they weren’t huskies, just random dogs and the had horrible, horrible gas, lol). Some us of skied, some sledded…
    It is in the artic circle and we did see the northern lights. It had a small market, but it was less than 10 stalls. Ravaniemi is a much larger city and a bit more southern. I think it has a big Christmas market. Hands down everyone’s favorite holiday since we’ve been here.

    1. Oh that is great Natalie. The Lapland is high on our winter list too, but likely not this year. Even though we have teens, we’d love to experience Father Christmas and the Reindeer! Now time for me to go investigate more.

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