Looking for the perfect winter holiday? From festive light displays to powdery ski slopes, Europe has no shortage of enticing options.
But when temperatures drop, cities are the place to be. That’s the conclusion of online travel agency Trip.com, which analysed the favourite winter escapes among German, Spanish, French, Italian and British travellers.
Looking at data from late November to early March 2022 – and trips planned for the same period in 2023 – it found a clear preference for Europe’s urban hubs, with London, Barcelona and Paris being the most popular destinations overall.
Here’s the breakdown of winter travel preferences by country.
Where do Germans like to travel in winter?
With its chocolate box villages and quintessential Christmas markets, Germany is a winter wonderland – so it’s no surprise its citizens like to stay close to home during the festive season.
In 2022, Berlin was the most popular winter travel destination among Germans, followed by Frankfurt and Munich. The capital remains popular this year in second place, with Frankfurt taking the top spot and Dusseldorf sneaking into third place ahead of Munich and Hamburg. Cologne and Stuttgart also made the top 10.
Outside of Germany, Barcelona, London and Madrid are top choices for Germans, showing a preference for major cities known for their festive celebrations.
What’s the most popular winter destination among Spanish people?
Spanish citizens also like to keep it in the family at Christmas, with Madrid and Barcelona being the top destinations.
Spain isn’t only popular with locals: in 2022, it was the most visited destination in the EU for international tourists, with 271 million nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments, according to data recently released by the European Commission.
London and Paris have also risen as popular winter destinations among Spanish tourists in 2023, followed by Malaga, Rome, Bilbao, Valencia, Mallorca and Seville.
Where do French people like to travel during winter?
For French travellers, Paris is the top destination during winter, followed by London, Lyon and Rome.
The UK capital’s allure isn’t limited to Christmas – French travellers also visit for New Year celebrations and winter sales.
Nice, Barcelona, Madrid, Marseille, Lisbon and Milan also make the top 10.
In 2022, more than three-quarters of French residents travelled as tourists, Eurostat data shows.
Where do Italians travel in winter?
Italians consistently favour Milan and Rome in winter, with an increasing interest in Paris, Barcelona and London.
Catania, Naples, Bari and Venice also make the top 10 within the country, along with Barcelona in Spain and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
In 2022, Italy was second only to Spain in popularity with international tourists, Eurostat data shows.
Where do Brits like to travel during winter?
For UK travellers, London and Manchester consistently rank as top destinations. Birmingham, with its Christmas market and huge shopping centre, is also popular in winter, as are Edinburgh and Leeds.
Outside of the country, Barcelona and Paris are two of the top winter destinations.
In winter 2023, Amsterdam, Rome and Athens have also risen in popularity among Brits.