In the first half of January, I'm planning to go on a 3-4 days city sightseeing trip in Europe. I'm looking for a nice location, but I'm not so sure which places are a reasonable choice in winter. I prefer to do some sightseeing, museums and other stuff like this I don't like very much, expect they're extraordinary good.

I would like to visit a city that has a lot of sights that can be visited also during winter and it shouldn't be too crowded. Additionally I should be easy reachable from Switzerland. Because the weather is often not so stable in January I would prefer a city that also offers some indoor activities.

Has anybody a good recommendation? The following cities I don't want to visit: Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, London, Munich, Berlin, Stockholm, Oslo, Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Budapest and every city in Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

  • If you want to sightsee in winter, you should go south, so that the days aren't too short. Nov 2, 2011 at 23:24
  • Do you care about the weather? Somewhere snowy? Somewhere as warm as possible? Or "don't care"? Nov 3, 2011 at 7:45
  • 3
    I think you should be more specific about what you want, not about what you don't want.
    – VMAtm
    Nov 3, 2011 at 7:49
  • 3
    I edited my question a little bit to include that. Nov 3, 2011 at 7:55

7 Answers 7


There are a lot of options. It really depends on your preference, but my list of cities you can always visit no matter what season:

  • Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
  • Maastricht (the Netherlands)
  • Delft (the Netherlands)
  • Brugge (Bruges) (Belgium)
  • Monschau (Germany)
  • Edinburgh (UK)
  • Grenada (Spain)
  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Funchal (Portugal)
  • 2
    Brugges is great, been there in December in the snow, it's beautiful!
    – fredley
    Nov 2, 2011 at 22:25
  • The problem with Edinburgh in January is what to do after 3pm. I'd pick Amsterdam: the days aren't exceedingly short, there's stuff to do indoors, and there's stuff to do after sunset. Nov 2, 2011 at 23:25
  • Monschau is a beautiful spot, but rather for 3-4 hours than 3-4 days ...
    – user766
    Nov 3, 2011 at 7:25
  • @lejohn You are actually right! You could combine it though with Maastricht and Aachen, but then again you need a car to do just that
    – user141
    Nov 3, 2011 at 7:55

Istanbul is far enough to the south to have decent daylight in January. You won't lack things to do in four days.

Or Athens — think of it as a chance to visit it off-season.

  • 3
    +1 for Istanbul, so much stuff to see there you will only have time for a taste. Nov 3, 2011 at 7:46

Go south: Seville or even Gilbraltar. If islands are allowed, why not Valletta?

  • 3
    I was already in Gibraltar so I^m really curious what you would do there 3 or 4 days. Nov 2, 2011 at 21:13
  • Sevilla is my favourite city in Spain. But I'd love to see Valletta. Nov 3, 2011 at 7:47

Well since you ruled out my favourite winter city in Europe (Paris) I will have to recommend another.

San Sebastián (Donostia) in is a place I have only been to in the off season when the tourists were gone and I became instantly addicted.

I found it to be 100% authentic with nobody apparently behaving differently "for the tourists", just living their typical Basque lives. If you haven't spent time in Basque Country before this is a great place to sample it. I never event went to a museum because I so enjoyed just strolling around soaking up the atmosphere and hearing people speak their unique ancient language.

I also enjoyed the several other Basque cities I visited but this is the only place in the world where I tried to leave every day for over a week, checking out of my hostel and going for one last stroll, then coming back every evening and asking for "one more night please"!

Donostia, thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the photo


Kyiv can be very charming in Winter. Otherwise go to Brussels, that's always a good choice.

  • Kyiv is a good idea, it's not too far north so there'll be some daylight. Or perhaps Odessa. Nov 2, 2011 at 23:28
  • 2
    I would not go to Odessa in January. It's much better to go there in spring or summer.
    – user766
    Nov 3, 2011 at 7:26

What about Prague? It's a nice city to visit, there's things to see and do and the winters aren't as cold as in some of the cities you listed. There's definitely enough sightseeing to fill 3-4 days, I won't list all the sights here. Prague in winter is usually just cold, there's rarely any blizzard or bad weather as such; the city functions normally during winter too.

For indoor/evening activities, there are plenty of galleries (eg. DOX is an interesting gallery of contemporary art) and museums to go around; many jazz and blues clubs (eg. Jazz Dock, U Malého Glena) or you could just go to one of the many, many bars/restaurants.


enter image description here

enter image description here

If you like scenic views, good food, very nice people, very beautiful gardens, traditional culture / museums than I would advise Funchal (Madeira). The temperature in winter is very nice and you can get very nice prices at this time of year.

Since it's one of the most southern cities in Europe, even in winter, you can expect to have daylight until later.

Almost all activities that you can do in Spring / Summer are available now, so in general you won't be missing anything and you will get great prices.

Funchal is nice, but rent a car and travel through the island. You will be amazed with the diverse and strong scenic views.

Don't forget to go to Pico do Areeiro, Curral de Freiras (curious fact: though being an island with a max. diameter of 60Km there were people born here that never saw the sea), Serra de Agua (drink the original and famous "poncha" here), Camara de Lobos (try the Nikita drink here), the Market in Funchal, Cabo Girão, and so many other places...

If you like walking there are amazing paths.

Take a look at these images

and these

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.