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24 Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

24 Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

European cities are usually last on the list of places to go to for warm winter destinations. Truth be told, if warmth is what you’re looking for, a trip to the tropics sounds more sensible.

But before eschewing what many regard as a chilly continent in favor of sweltering alternatives, know this: there’s more to Europe than just freezing France, juddering Germany or the uncomfortably cold UK, and it has several decently warm cities during winter…and there’s a lot more than you might actually know about!

To promise you the warmest holidays, I selected 24 of the best warm winter destinations in Europe.

Visiting these cities during the winter months has several advantages, including cheaper fares, fewer tourists, and a respite from ridiculously hot summer weather without having to freeze your socks off.

Winter is a great time to visit any of the cities on this list if you’re aiming for a more relaxed travel experience.

I’ve also included the best accommodation options for various budgets, so you know where to spend the night!

Best Warm Winter Destinations in Europe

1. Limassol, Cyprus

A Picturesque Street in Limassol, Cyprus

Despite its reputation as a summer destination, Limassol is a winter excursion not to be missed! The region is one of  Europe’s greatest winter sun destinations, with temperatures dropping to a comfortable 13°C at night. 

The historic fishing harbor’s winding stone alleyways snake outwards, with structures dating back to the Middle Ages. Limassol is a winter retreat you won’t regret, with its beaches, grand European castles, and Greek ruins.

In addition to lower accommodation prices and flights, there is a long list of archaeological and cultural sites to visit during winter, along with bustling nightlife and great food.

Outdoorsy travelers will find plenty to do during their visit. Cycling, hiking, bird watching, horseback riding, sailing, air sports, snow skiing, and tennis are just some of the more active excursions available.

One can also explore the wine routes in the region for a deep look into the heart of Cyprus’ wine industry, or take a cultural excursion along the Byzantine church routes and take photos of the region’s majestic monasteries. 

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2. Palermo, Italy

Town Hall in Palermo, Italy

Do you want to spend your winter in the sun while being linked to the rest of Europe? Palermo, Sicily’s sun-kissed capital, is one of the best winter destinations Europe has to offer. It is famous for its culture and gastronomy as well as being the fifth biggest city in Italy.

Winter is also a great season to visit the island because of the numerous sunny days – as composer Richard Wagner famously mused, Palermo is a great winter destination.

Palermo’s winters are moderate, with temperatures reaching a balmy 20°C on certain afternoons, thanks to the warm Sirocco winds that sweep in from Africa. This means you can enjoy everything from the unbelievable street cuisine and fantastic wine, to the stunning picture-perfect blue ocean, no matter the time of the year. 

If the sun doesn’t shine, there’s absolutely no reason to fret. Palermo has a diverse range of culture, fashion, history, and art to explore.

In the winter, the seasonal flora and fauna are especially lovely, and the spectacular ancient Roman monuments and Greek temples are less crowded.

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3. Canary Islands, Spain

Corner Road at Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands are one of the warmest winter destinations in Europe, and its perpetual promise is a pleasant climate all year. The average temperature in the winter is approximately 20 degrees Celsius, and it seldom rains.

The weather is ideal for touring and seeing the area’s stunning volcanic scenery.

The Canary Islands’ natural richness includes unexpected regions sculpted by volcanoes, such as Timanfaya National Park on Lanzarote, Mt. Teide (Spain’s tallest peak), and breathtaking views from El Hierro.

Athletes from all over the world go to the Canary Islands to take advantage of the warm temperature and practice at any time of year. You’ll discover the ideal sceneries for a range of outdoor sports here, whether you’re hiking, scuba diving, cycling, or windsurfing.

Aside from great weather, volcanic landscapes, and beautiful beaches, the Canary Islands also offer fascinating cultural attractions. San Cristóbal de La Laguna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Tenerife, while César Manrique’s art merges with the natural surroundings on the island of Lanzarote.

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4. Seville, Spain

Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See in Seville, Spain

Seville might not be the first city you’ll think of when talking about the best warm winter destinations in Europe, but more and more visitors are traveling to the city during the colder months. With typical winter temperatures of a comfortable 10-12 degrees Celsius, the city still keeps its appeal even in the less frequent periods when the weather turns colder.

In the winter, lines for admittance to Seville’s cultural attractions are also shorter. Enjoy the Cathedral’s amazing architecture or the Alcazar Palace’s magnificent grounds.

If the temperature drops and the chill of winter arrives, most of the city’s traditional tapas become the ideal comfort food to warm the soul, and if you’re visiting for the holidays, Seville has a number of great Christmas markets spread around the city.

In the days leading up to Christmas, a stroll through the streets of Seville will reveal spectacular nativity scenes in store windows and churches all around the city.

As days become shorter, a stroll around the charming Plaza de Espaa and the lovely Maria Luisa Park adjacent to it is the ideal way to spend a winter evening. Overall, Seville’s numerous stunning monuments evoke a romantic type of charm that’s absent during other seasons of the year.

See Related: 12 Best Travel Apps for Europe

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5. Azores Islands, Portugal

Two Men Picking Tea Laeves in Azores Islands, Portugal

The Azores are a collection of nine islands with historic villages, cathedrals, forts, palaces, volcanic beaches, and spectacular lakes. The Azores islands are considerably less busy in the winter, making them ideal for some alone time.

Visit Angra do Heroismo, the archipelago’s oldest community, and marvel at the beautiful churches and residences from various historical periods, go on a relaxing trip to Terra Nostra Garden, or enjoy whale watching. Then tour a Cha Gorreana tea estate, or kayak in one of the numerous volcanic lakes.

This Portuguese archipelago’s volcanic origins have resulted in a spectacular array of hot springs and natural pools. In fact, many people consider the Azores to be a thermal bathing paradise.

Swimming is one of the region’s many hot springs is a popular way to unwind. Because of the high iron concentration, the water from the thermal springs is a rusty orange/brown color.  The water temperature ranges between a sizzling 35 and 40 degrees Celsius. When it rains, it’s really rather pleasant to be in a thermal bath, making it a great warm winter pastime.

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6. Valencia Province, Spain

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia Province, Spain

“Picking tea leaves (Azores Islands, Portugal)” by Ignacio Ferre is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A far cry from the icy winter temperatures of the UK, winter months in Valencia experience typical daily temperatures of roughly 16°C with nighttime temperatures seldom falling below 7°C.

During the holiday months, Valencia is bustling with Christmas booths selling festive decorations, delectable sweets, and other seasonal treats. One market is located in front of the cathedral, while another is located in the streets around the city’s Central Market.

A Christmas amusement fair is held every year in the city, as well as numerous unique holiday circuses. They’re great places to get youngsters into the Christmas mood!

Valencia’s food culture is best explored during the winter months. Away from the peak season, the city’s streets and pubs are crowded with residents rather than tourists, and visitors are few, making it the best time to get a genuine sense of the city and its cuisine.

Whether you’re eating your way through Christmas markets or savoring delectable tapas coupled with local wines, you’re guaranteed a winter vacation you won’t forget. Make the most of your getaway and cruise Spain by turning it into a full European road trip.

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7. Faro, Portugal

Shops at Faro, Portugal

Faro, in the Algarve area of southern Portugal, is one of the hottest towns in Portugal, if not Europe. Winter in Faro is unlike the usual winter you see anywhere in Europe, especially if you’re used to piles of snow, bone-chilling damp, and biting winds.

With more than 10 hours of sunshine on most days, it seems more like a lovely late spring. This isn’t to say that the weather is always good for the beach, but you can depend on clear skies and warm temperatures that won’t require scarves or a jacket.

Faro is a fascinating city in and of itself, with a lovely old town, medieval fortifications, a sun-drenched harbor, and a tangle of cobblestone alleyways lined with antique houses.

There are lots to see and do outside of the city, including beaches, wetlands, parks, and even islands just off the coast where day-trippers may find golden dunes, alfresco eateries, and medieval towns.

If you’re really looking for a taste of the tropics, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa’s lagoons and neighboring beaches, (notably the islands of Ilha de Faro to the southwest and Ilha da Barreta to the south) lie right outside Faro’s door.

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8. Athens, Greece

Parthenon at Athens, Greece

Looking for the most beautiful winter destination in Europe? In the summer, Athens is a paradise, but it’s also pretty attractive in the winter. As the capital of Greece and one of Europe’s oldest cities, the city offers a diverse range of activities and sights to see.

Athens, winter is met by colder weather and chances of rain, but the temperatures are still considerably higher compared to Eastern or Northern Europe, so it’s still one of the best warm winter European vacations!

For visitors to Athens for the first time, archeological monuments such as the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and Temple of Olympian Zeus are the primary highlights. While most of these tourist spots are open during the winter, note that you’ll have less time to explore as days are shorter during the winter months.

The Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum are two excellent museums in Athens that provide tourists with a deeper understanding of Ancient Greece. These are perfect for visiting Athens in the winter as they allow you to explore Greek history even on wet days!

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9. Gibraltar, UK

City Scape of Gibraltar, UK

Gibraltar is a fantastic alternative for a winter break as the temperature seldom dips below 10°C between November and February.

Gibraltar, a small British Overseas Territory on the southern tip of Spain, has a fascinating history and culture that draws many tourists. During winter, it is a little quieter, but the bustling mood remains. You may roam around freely and enjoy the lovely town without having to worry about throngs of tourists.

Gibraltar, despite its modest size, is an excellent winter holiday destination due to its extensive list of activities. Over 150 caverns, 50 kilometers of tunnels from World War II, verdant botanical gardens, cable cars, and a suspension bridge are all available for exploration.

You’ll also be close to Spain and Morocco, allowing you to quickly jump to other warm places for your itinerary.

The weather is milder in January and February, making it an ideal time to hike the famed Rock of Gibraltar and see some Rock Apes – watch out though; these fearless monkeys have no shortage of cheek!

If you’re not into hiking, you can take the cable car or visit St. Michael’s Cave to see the rock on lower grounds. 

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See Related: 21 Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

10. Naples, Italy

Castel Ovo Naples, France

While Naples is not Italy’s most popular tourist destination, its beauty should certainly not be overlooked, especially during the winter months. 

Because of Naples’ position in Southern Italy, sightseeing in the city is not hampered by frigid weather. Winter also means fewer visitors in Naples while airline and lodging rates are significantly lower.

During winter, head to the most visited street in Naples, Spaccanapoli Road for shopping, touring, and learning about the local culture. This road has a lively vibe and is usually bustling with visitors.

The Piazza del Gesu Nuovo Area in Naples’ old center is a tiny but busy square. A visit here is a brief excursion, but it’s worth your time. Two historic churches, as well as an exquisite Immaculate Virgin spire, can be seen in this area.

Castel Sant’Elmo, a historic fortification perched atop a high hill near Naples, offers spectacular views of the city and the Bay of Naples.

Another well-known sight is the Piazza del Plebiscito. It houses the Royal Palace as well as a number of other must-see attractions. Many concerts, including those by Maroon 5 and Elton John, have been held here.

Stay the night

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11. Valetta, Malta

Valetta, Malta Cityscape

Visitors come to Malta to soak up the sun and swim in the warm seas that surround the archipelago, but there is so much more to Malta than the sand and sea that it is known for. Winter temperatures of 10–16°C are ideal for getting out and about in Valetta.

Walking through Valetta’s streets in the winter is an eye-opening experience. The views of picturesque little alleys and historic buildings are worth seeing on this UNESCO World Heritage site. Valetta is small in size, and you can stroll through the city in a short amount of time.

The human history of Malta is as old and exciting, and the vestiges of this past may be found all around the Maltese Islands, but Valletta’s National War Museum, which displays Maltese wartime history, is a good place to start.

The Grand Master’s Palace, which houses the President of Malta Office and has gorgeous gardens, statues, and fountains, is one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions.

The seafood in Malta is some of the best in the world – arrive with an empty stomach!

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12. Corfu, Greece

Scenic Beach at Corfu, Greece

Locally known as Kerkyra, Corfu is one of the most popular Greek Islands for parties and summer vacations. 

Usually crowded, noisy, and busy in summer, (to say the least), a trip to Corfu in winter will certainly show you a new side to the island. Corfu town will be quieter in winter, the traffic less intense, and hiking around the island is a most enjoyable exercise.

Corfu is home to a network of different trails and hiking paths that extend alongside the island’s coast and the island’s interior areas.

Paths and trails make the island a perfect destination for those who love to take mild exercise in the open and still avoid the scorching temperatures typical of Corfu during the summer.

Despite fewer tourists during the off-season and several tourist destinations closed over the winter, Corfu still has plenty of pubs, shops, and restaurants open for you without having to deal with crowds!

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13. Crete, Greece

Island in Crete, Greece

Visiting Crete in the winter is a terrific opportunity to get away from the cold and experience the history and culture of one of Europe’s most popular islands without having to cope with the crowds that arrive in the summer! Found in the heart of the Med, the winter temperatures are mild to warm.

While you may want to avoid going to the beach in the winter as the weather isn’t always exactly bathing suit-friendly, there are still plenty of things to do in Crete.

Chania is a delightful town all year, but if you want to see its stunning architecture without the crowds that arrive during peak season, come in the winter!

The Firka Fortress, the Venetian Lighthouse, and the multicolored sea-side buildings are just a few of the attractions on the port.

If you need to get out of the cold for a few moments, visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, which is regarded as one of Europe’s most important archaeological museums.

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See Related: 15 Best Quiet Greek Islands to Visit on Holiday

14. Messina, Italy

Messina Sicily Italy

Messina is one of the best reasons to travel to Italy during winter.

Here, the winter season lasts from December through February, is warm, with sunny intervals interspersed with wet ones. Although it seldom gets really cold, there are occasionally chilly, windy, and wet days with highs around 10 °C.

The grandeur of winter in Messina is bountiful sunshine under which to tour the city: the average is more than five hours each day in January. Away from the peak season, it’s also a great time to see how the locals live.

Messina has a plethora of art, culture, history, and fashion to immerse oneself in. Siciliy’s numerous warm, sunny days in winter make it an ideal time to go on adventures. 

The flora and fauna of Sicily are especially lovely in the winter, and the spectacular ancient monuments and Greek temples are void of throngs of tourists.

The temperature in the region is also ideal for active outdoor activities. From water sports in the vast seas or a run around the city’s numerous green areas, you’ll find something to boost your adrenaline and get your heart rate up. 

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15. Malaga, Spain

Malaga, Spain Cityscape

The frigid north winds do not reach Malaga due to its steep geography, and this is why winter in Malaga is so pleasant. On average, the temperature reaches 17 degrees Celsius. During the winter, all of Malaga’s principal streets and squares are flanked with mandarin trees – a truly charming sight to behold.

The holidays in Malaga are a fantastic time when the streets are festooned with lights. The action centers on Calle Larios, a prominent pedestrian thoroughfare lined with stores, restaurants, and cafés. The street itself is lovely, and with all the Christmas lights, it becomes a magical sight.

Malaga is a one-of-a-kind destination due to its blend of Catholic, Moorish, and European cultures. The remnants of an old Arab well may be seen near the old Medina in the middle of Malaga. 

Next to these remains is the Hammam Al-Andalus, which transports you to Arabian-era Andalucia. A Hammam in Malaga will transport you to the enigmatic Marrakesh in Morocco.

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16. Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Sunset and Palm Trees in Palma de Mallorca, Spain

You’ll never be bored in Mallorca in the winter as there’s still enough to see and do, especially without the throngs of tourists. In the winter, the island hosts a number of local events. Sant Sebastia and Sant Antoni celebrations take place in January, following the festivities of Christmas and the Three Kings.

If you wish to sample some of Mallorca’s superb native wines, there are over 70 bodegas to choose from. Following the Wine Route for the Binissalem DO is a fantastic way to explore the city’s love for merlot.

If you’re looking for a dose of culture, you can discover some of Mallorca’s many intriguing galleries and museums. Visit Inca’s sleek contemporary museum of shoes and leather, where you’ll be shocked by how much machinery is involved in creating footwear. 

See Related: 6 Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

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17. Larnaca, Cyprus

Historic Architecture at Larnaca, Cyprus

Even in the dead of winter, this lively Cypriot city remains a popular tourist destination. For this, the Mediterranean climate takes the credit, so don’t be shocked if you spot a few vacationers sitting on the beach and swimming during your visit. 

The city was erected on top of the ruins of the ancient city of Kition.  From its own Marina, tourists may sail to mainland Greece, other islands, and back on a regular basis.

Larnaca offers a variety of local attractions, museums, churches, commercial centers, tourist attractions, and more. 

The Agios Lazarus Church, which originates from the 9th Century, is well worth seeing. The Church has an intriguing history, and travelers interested in religion and architecture should include it in their itinerary.

Just like any good resort, Larnaca goes beyond just simply sand and sea, and the winter months are ideal for getting out and about.

Cycling, horseback riding, and hiking are excellent ways to explore Cyprus’s wild landscapes, or you may travel to the wide waters for a boat excursion and some fishing.

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18. Istanbul, Turkey

Buildings and the Sea in Istanbul, Turkey

Winter in Istanbul lasts from mid-December until mid-March, with temperatures seldom exceeding 10 degrees Celsius. It’s hardly scorching, but you’ll be free from snow and frost!

While there are sunny days, the sky may be dreary sometimes. This doesn’t mean that winters in Istanbul are dull, it just means that you need to reorganize your itinerary differently to get the best experience.

During winter, the core neighborhoods, like Beyoglu and Nisantasi become crowded, whereas the Bosphorus coastlines are quieter.

It is a nice time to visit this part of Istanbul since there are hardly any visitors compared to the rest of the year, allowing you to appreciate all of the city’s landmarks and museums in solitude.

After a cold morning strolling around the city, nothing beats the warmth of a Turkish bath and the experienced hands of a masseuse to cap out the day. Klç Ali Paşa Hamam was built in 1590 and is located in the neighborhood of Tophane. It features recently renovated interiors with impeccable service.

If the weather isn’t cooperating after seeing the ancient sites, there is a long list of museums to visit such as the Museum of Industry and the Military Museum.

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19. Lanzarote, Spain

White Building at Lanzarote, Spain

Lanzarote offers comfortably warm weather in the winter that is not as scorching in the summer. Temperatures in December range from 19°C to 22°C on average. Combine the never-ending sun with a little rain here and there and you have one of the world’s best climates.

As the island’s population shrinks, you’ll have a better opportunity of seeing everything it has to offer. Lanzarote’s Christmas is one of a kind. On New Year’s Eve, spectacular nativity displays are shown in the towns. Resorts are bedecked with lights and beaches are lit by fireworks on New Year’s eve. 

Lanzarote’s winter months are ideal for stargazing. The island is well-known as one of the greatest sites in the Northern Hemisphere to see what’s going on in the sky. Teide National Park, widely regarded as one of the greatest spots to stargaze away from light pollution, has been designated as a “starlight destination”.

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20. Algarve, Portugal

Cave by the Seat at Algarve, Portugal

When much of Europe is experiencing cold and dreary days, the sun-kissed southern section of Portugal is the ideal retreat.

Unspoiled beaches, towering cliffs, charming fishing villages, and fantastic surf are just a few of the highlights of winter in the Algarve. During winter, the Algarve experiences a nice combination of sunny days interspersed with wind and rain.

Whether you choose to swim or stay on shore, you may visit some of the most beautiful beaches in Algarve without having to deal with throngs of tourists during the summer months. This allows you to fully appreciate their beauty. In the winter, the beaches are ideal for sunning yourself throughout the day and a calm stroll at dusk.

You’ll find a plethora of lovely villages in the Algarve, and the benefit of visiting in the winter is that they aren’t as busy. This allows you to get a sense of what life is like in the region. Tavira and Olho are both excellent starting points for exploring Ria Formosa Natural Park. 

You may either walk across to Tavira Island to visit the anchor Cemetery or take a boat tour to explore the neighboring islands.

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21. Cagliari, Sardinia

Colorful Buildings at Cagliari, Sardinia

With the typically Meditteranean climate, the summers in Sardinia are dry and hot and the winters are warm with only a little rainfall. The winter days are usually at about 10°C – 14°C and quite sunny, perfect for a walk along the marvelous Cagliari Coast.

Winter in Cagliari provides the perfect backdrop for exploring the city’s ancient streets and immersing yourself in its history. The cooler temperatures make exploring much more pleasant than it is during the sweltering summer heat.

Plus, without the crowds, you’ll have a much more peaceful experience exploring the alleyways, piazzas, and old churches.

Visitors can explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, each having a variety of restaurants, pubs, and cafés to visit. Culture vultures can learn about Sardinia’s history in any of the city’s museums. It has its own beaches, too!

While the waters are slightly too cold to swim in during the winter, you may still admire the sand and sea. Indeed, without all of the summer swimmers, sunbathers, and families, the beaches become much more pleasurable to be in.

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22. Ibiza, Spain

Town by the Sea at Ibiza, Spain

Ibiza winter extends from November to April, with an average daily temperature of 15°C but rises to 25°C at the height of the day.

Winter also heralds the start of the rainy season, although the precipitation is not an issue as it is quite light even in October, the wettest month. When it does rain, it usually dissipates quickly thanks to the island’s winds, which blow away heavy clouds.

Visitors in January might find swimming to be a bit difficult as the water can get pretty frigid, but you can still enjoy a good day at the beach.

One of the best ways to make the most of the relatively warm weather is by taking a beach cruise through the island’s many beaches. Discover new locations to visit while sipping sangria and listening to some fantastic music!

You could also plan something romantic with your partner: a seaside lunch in any of the city’s Instagram-worthy beaches or a sunset dinner paired with wine. Choose any of Ibiza’s popular beaches and bask in the splendor of the Mediterranean Sea.

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23. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain City Scape

Winter in Barcelona lasts from December to March. Compared to other cities in Europe, winter here is mild. The temperature is usually 12°C and seldom drops below 5°C at night.

In winter, the days are mostly sunny and there are fewer people out and about. However, this does not prohibit one from having a fantastic experience in any of the city’s various attractions. 

It’s not a secret that Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular tourist (and party) destinations. In January, however, the city is far less crowded.

Swimming is not recommended in the winter, but you’ll find plenty of activities to enjoy in the warm winter sun.

Here, famous architect Gaudi created unique works of contemporary architecture, the majority of which are distributed across Barcelona. Aside from the well-known Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia, make sure to see Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. 

In town, there are various yearly celebrations during January. On the 5th, for example, the Cavalcada dels Reis takes place: a magnificent procession filled with clowns, elves, and acrobats.

On the 17th, another parade takes place with animal blessings as part of the Festa dels Tres Tombs.

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24. Lisbon, Portugal

Tram and Shops in Lisbon, Portugal

In comparison to many northern European locations, Lisbon’s weather in December and January is relatively mild. Temperatures may still reach a warm 16 degrees Celsius with a low of 8 degrees once the sun goes down.

The city is one of the most popular in Europe, which means it’s generally very busy. In January, however, you’ll witness a different side to this charming city – one that’s far less frantic. During the winter, climbing the city’s hills doesn’t come with the sweltering heat of summer.

Belém’s area is rich in historical treasures and stunning UNESCO monuments. You won’t want to miss the magnificent Belém Tower which you’ll be able to see up close without the throngs of people during the busy season. You’ll want to visit the Jerónimos Monastery as well, where Vasco Da Gama slept his final night before sailing to Asia.

Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest district, with lovely cobblestone streets and a charming feel. It is also the birthplace of traditional Fado music, which can be heard throughout the area’s bars and restaurants.

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