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European Winter: Your Own Winter Wonderland

December 8, 2013

You’ve read about them, you see them in movies and on television too: European winter is packed with an unique romantic and festive feeling you can only find there. There are many attractions that will redefine “winter wonderland” to you, and here are our top picks.

Sweden: Igloos in Jokkmokk

Sweden is much more DIY than just IKEA: you can also get your own DIY Igloo in the city of Jokkmokk. So if you’re looking for a different experience and you want to keep the winter while it’s winter (you can always head to a beach at some other time, while building your igloo sure is pretty extreme – think of the selfies you’ll take). It is extreme and you get to sleep in your own igloo for one night. The fee includes dinner, breakfast and your own guide, skis and snow shoes. You are also given reindeer skin for warmth.

Bear in mind that you need three or four people to build the igloo and they recommend that you have a general level of fitness, so that’s where your gym workouts will be going right now.

For the even more adventurous ones, there is a more hardcore version which includes more activities and lasts for 9 days, also being far more expensive.

Norway: Fjords & Northern Lights and Cruises

The Norwegian coast is dotted by beautiful fjords, and from there you are in the perfect place to see the Northern Lights. Tourists are served by many different packages which are made to fit just about anyone’s needs. You can choose activities like dog sledding, snow mobile rides, stays at the Kirkenes Ice Hotel and much more.

If you’re looking for something more festive, you’ll also enjoy the Norwegian Christmas Cruises. These grant you an authentic Norwegian Christmas experience, and depart between the 19th and 23rd December, lasting between 8 and 12 nights.

The atmosphere aboard the ships is very comfy and casual, as these ships are a mix of passengers and freight. If you drink: like in all Nordic countries, alcohol is extremely taxed, and you are allowed – and therefore encouraged – to bring your own bottle for consumption in your cabin.

Finland: Helsinki, The Christmas City

 

If you want something close to Lapland but a bigger city, Helsinki is surely your choice with it’s big celebrations. There is a Christmas parade with the one and only true Santa from Lapland, so you get to see him without traveling too far. You also get to see the Christmas lights in Aleksanterinkatu, which were first done by local shopkeeprs in 1949 to boost the spirits of people after WWII. If you arrive a bit before the 22nd, you will get to see the Christmas Ornaments bazar where you can buy a wide range of contemporary Finish design including plates, jewelry and accessories. After that you will get the more traditional market with about 120 stalls with a Santa’s hut where you can leave a message in the guestbook and tell him what you wish to get for Christmas.

Also in terms of food, nearly all the restaurants during this time add a special Finish Christmas food menu which allows you to try it anytime during your trip virtually everywhere.

Italy: Venice

In Venice, they say romance is best served chilled. While this beautiful city will steal your heart during any given season, Venice’s winter are something else. Before even talking about the city, one of the best things about the Venetian winter is the lack of tourists. At the end of high season, Venice’s residents fill the streets again, and you get to experience La Serenissima in its most authentic form.

During winter, the mist gives the canals a new look, and the empty streets allow you to experience a naked Venice. Gondola rides also enjoy much less traffic, and you also finally live the city’s true nightlife. Without the hordes of tourists cramping every inch of them, Venice’s local establishments offer you a more relaxed and romantic setting.

Additionally, at this time of the year plane tickets and hotels are at its lowest: now you have all reasons to visit Venice during the holidays!

When planning your European winter vacation, log onto Trekeffect to plan your trip and share it with your friends!

Mariya Tugayeva

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Maria Tugayeva
Mariya is a Marketing guru and writer, with a world experience from living and growing up in different countries. Her work quote is: "In a word: pleasure. It's like, my pleasure in other people's leisure." -Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Trainspotting