An Insider’s Guide to Europe in December: Copenhagen, Dublin, and Vienna Offer Handmade Gifts and Mulled Wine Along with the Holiday Spirit

The Wiener Christkindlmarkt at the Rathausplatz

By Jonathan Spira on 5 December 2018
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The secret may be out: the best month to visit Europe is … December! Not only is the weather still relatively moderate, shops are festively decorated and open late, Christmas markets are everywhere, and the holiday season does far more than the European Commission to unify the region.

Indeed, it’s one of my favorite months of the year to spend there.

The pleasure of Europe in winter is learning about each country’s traditions for Christmas and the New Year, including the mystique that surrounds watching a broadcast of the television program “Dinner for One” on Silvester or New Year’s Eve.

My recommendations are based on having spent part of my youth in Vienna and my graduate years in Munich as well as a good portion of each year in Europe since then.

Here are three cities that offer an array of rich traditions and wonderful places to visit as the holidays approach.



The Danish city of Copenhagen is a hidden gem often overlooked by travelers. København, which means “merchant’s harbor” in old Danish, embraces the holiday season and its aesthetics and history will immediately make it clear why the Danish capital is different.

Copenhagen’s splendid palaces, ornate churches, and quaint, colorful houses are even more vibrant for the holiday season. Take a stroll through the Tivoli Gardens (children get in free) and make sure to relax at one of its many restaurants and cafes. Try a mug of gløgg – steaming mulled wine – with a selection of Danish doughnuts to be Danish for a day.

The magic of the Christmas lights at Frederiksberg Have, or Frederiksberg Gardens entices hundreds to don their ice skates every day. Speaking of holiday lights, the majestic Hotel d’Angleterre is second to none. The display of lights and decorations adorning its white façade tells the city that the holidays are truly upon us.

Click here to continue to Page 2Dublin and Vienna

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