BEST CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE FOR FAMILIES.
Are you looking for the best Christmas in Europe location for your family? Below we have a compilation of personal stories and recommendations, from experienced travellers from around the globe.
We have an additional list of the best destinations for Christmas in Europe here, as well as things to do at Christmas in Europe and the best markets to visit at Christmas in Europe. Be sure to do your research as Europe Christmas destinations options are truly endless. Every city has so much to offer!
EUROPE CHRISTMAS DESTINATIONS FOR FAMILIES.
FINNISH LAPLAND, FINLAND.
Lapland, in Northern Finland, is one of the most family-friendly Christmas destinations. There is nowhere better to get into the Christmas spirit, especially in December, than the home of Santa Claus himself. Santa even has an official hometown in Lapland, Rovaniemi.
As well as being the hometown of Father Christmas, Rovaniemi is very family friendly. Most of the centre of town is pedestrianised around Lordi Square and there are numerous hotels, AirBnB’s and restaurants to cater for families. Rovaniemi also has several family-friendly things to do in town including three museums and an Angry Birds park. Of the three museums, two are of interest for families with young kids.
Arktikum is the museum dedicated to the Arctic Circle and the inhabitants of it, including indigenous people and animals. There are lots of different areas with interactive section for kids. Pilke, conveniently located beside Arktikum, is a museum dedicated to showing people how intrinsically important the forests of the Arctic Circle are to the people and animals. Again, there are plenty of interactive areas for kids, with a lumberjack caterpillar for kids to climb up into.
A short bus ride out of town you’ll find two places to visit Santa Claus, Santa Park and the Santa Claus Village. Not only can you meet the big man himself, but there are lots of other things to do with kids in both places. There is plenty of things to do in Rovaniemi with kids.
Whether you are in Rovaniemi or visiting the wider Lapland area, most towns and resorts have the opportunity for families to meet Santa Claus. You can also enjoy meeting reindeer and huskies and going on safari rides with them. Kids can try their hand at snowmobiling, there are plenty of ski resorts in Lapland and older kids can also enjoy a Northern Lights hunt. Lapland is an amazing place to visit with kids and one of the most family-friendly European Christmas destinations.
Cath – Passports and Adventures
Looking for a new location for your Christmas family vacation? Krakow has a lot to offer as it is one of the most family-friendly Christmas destinations in Europe. With a broad range of activities for all ages and great food and luxurious accommodation that can easily fit your budget, Krakow ticks all the boxes for a family holiday escape.
With family rooms and apartments starting at under 50USD a night, book early to get a room near the Old Town. The Sheraton Hotel, for example, would be one of the best places to stay with its amazing location at the base of Wawel Castle, making the logistics of visiting attractions easier with young ones in tow. You can also rent an apartment in the area for as low as $600 per week with the advantage of having a washing machine and a kitchen.
Designed to be kid-friendly, the city’s transportation system is reliable and equipped to handle strollers. Most of the restaurants in the city are also family-friendly and are equipped with facilities that will make every dining experience pleasurable for all members of the family, from special kids menus, children play area, and feeding and changing facilities. Massolit Books & Cafe, Oberza Sasaidow Restaurant, and Wierzynek Restaurant are among the most recommended restaurants for family.
During your stay, make sure to visit the Christmas Market with its line of wooden stalls that are filled with authentic Polish crafts, food, and drinks. Every single member of your family will fall in love with the quaint Christmas decorations, the delicious assortment of fudge, and the thick hot chocolate. To add some magic to the festive atmosphere, take a carriage ride around the Old Town. And, don’t forget to fill up on padja (open sandwiches) and grilled cheese.
Other places of interest that are open all year round are Wawel Castle with its dragon legends, the crypt of the Franciscan monastery with its mummified residents. The Groteska children’s theatre, where traditional wooden puppets portray well-known fairytales. To add to the fun, take your family to the Park Wodny Aqua Park which has a big collection of slides. For a bit of nature, head to Jordana Park, where you can take your children around the lake with rented paddle-boats and canoes.
By Karolina – Lazy Travel Blog
MADEIRA ISLAND, PORTUGAL.
The Portuguese Madeira Island is a perfect Christmas destination for an entire family. Weather in Madeira around Christmas and New Year’s Eve is very pleasant, on average around 20C.
If you are lucky, you will have a chance to enjoy the outdoor hotel pools, and for sure, you will come back home sunbathed. This makes Madeira a perfect destination for those in the Northern Hemisphere, who would like to escape the snow and cold…but not the great Christmas spirit!
Most of Portugal’s citizens are Christians, so Christmas is an important holiday. Kids and parents alike will enjoy strolling through beautifully decorated streets. TukTuk “Christmas Lights Watching” tours are also very popular. You will see many decorated Christmas trees, palm trees, Christmas ornaments. As well as tonnes of different Nativity Scenes in different styles.
Kids will love the Christmas Village built for them in one of Funchal’s main parks called Jardim Municipal. The city centre is full of Christmas installations, including a huge, 3 metre-tall Santa Claus. Shops and shopping malls also do not stay behind and kids will have the chance to talk to Santa there. In 2019, there was also a busy fair set up next to the Funchal Marina, with attractions for kids of all ages.
When you visit Madeira Island for Christmas, it’s worth staying New Year’s Eve, as Madeira is famous for its spectacular New Year’s shows. It used to hold the Guinness record for the “Greatest Fireworks Show in the World”. Madeira Island is a great idea for any time of the year, but December is definitely one of the most beautiful periods.
I spent one of the best years of my life living in Baden-Wurttemberg. This stunning region in south-west Germany is home to many beautiful mountains. One of the best parts about them is they are completely accessible to families looking for a great Christmas destination. Not only that, but the beautiful snow scenes in winter means you can have that white Christmas you’ve been dreaming of.
I recommend spending some time within the Black Forest. Head to Feldberg ski resort for some family skiing. Lessons are available for beginners! Alternatively, there is a sledge park at the top of Schauinsland – accessible by cable car. Here you’ll find fun for all ages. There are also multiple castles for you to visit. I recommend Hohenzollern or Lichtenstein Castle. These are great for kids and adults alike. Furthermore, take a visit to Titisee Lake – see it frozen in winter and even go ice skating (dependent on ice thickness).
You can also explore the Christmas markets in either Stuttgart or Freiburg. Stuttgart’s are more extensive, while Freiburg’s are more local and traditional. Close to Freiburg you’ll also find Europa Park – Germany’s answer to Disneyland. While the water rides are closed in winter, there is still plenty to keep the family entertained for the day. There is also a reduced entrance rate during winter. These are just some of the great places to visit in Baden-Wurttemberg.
I highly advise staying in Freiburg. This gives you a good base for many activities. From Freiburg, it is very easy to access the Black Forest by public transport or by car. Alternatively, you could stay close to Stuttgart which has better transport connections with the rest of Germany and further afield.
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.
After living in Amsterdam for seven years, and starting our family with two young boys here, it’s no surprise that I happen to think that Amsterdam is a great family-friendly destination all year round, but I definitely think it’s a special place to visit at Christmas.
Firstly, I recommend visiting Amsterdam at Christmas and/or New Year because it’s one of the quietest times of year to come here so visitors can avoid crowds and queues, and there are even some great hotel deals to take advantage of. But more than that, there’s just a very special atmosphere to Amsterdam at Christmas.
The canals are all lit up at night, Christmas lights and Christmas trees make the streets and houses glow warmly in the dark, and there are also a number of cosy Dutch traditions and foods that are special to this time of year which kids will love.
Oliebollen are huge round doughnut-like warm treats filled with dried fruits or apple chunks and they are served from mobile kiosks that are found all across Amsterdam un the festive season. While traditionally, oliebollen are eaten at midnight at New Year, they’re also the perfect stomach-warming treat after an evening canal cruise taking in the world-famous Amsterdam Light Show which is an annual festival that turns Amsterdam’s canals into an art gallery of illuminations created by renowned international artists.
Another great festive activity for the family is ice-skating on the rink that is temporarily located on Museumplein – but don’t worry, they’ll provide chairs for kids (and adults!) to push and balance with if it’s your first time.
Don’t think you have to come to Amsterdam at the end of December to soak up the atmosphere for kids. In Amsterdam festivities start early as Sinterklass, their version of Father Christmas or Santa, arrives on the evening of 6th December delivering presents to all the kids who have left their shoes out for him.
All across the city, you’ll see children in colourful caps and clothes, dressed up as Sint’s famous helpers, his Piets. This in turn means that once Christmas is here, there is less focus on gifts and more on being with family and loved ones, which is possibly my favourite thing about Christmas in Amsterdam.
There is so much to see and do in Amsterdam, be sure to check out this ultimate planning guide for Amsterdam before you travel!