Best Winter Destinations in Europe for UAE-Based Families


Traveling in Europe during winter with kids can be a magical experience, filled with shared discoveries, laughter, and cherished souvenirs. For in the end, it’s not just about the places you’ll see or the things you’ll do; it’s about the memories you’ll make. Memories that will remind you of the charms of a European winter and the irreplaceable joy of experiencing it with family.

Winter holidays are an opportunity to introduce your kids to new cultures, traditions, and experiences. From cities that provide children-centric activities to quaint towns that offer a tranquil retreat, Europe is brimming with spots that promise an unforgettable family experience.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Nestled amidst the Pennine Alps, the charming town of Zermatt stands as a testament to Switzerland’s breathtaking beauty and commitment to preserving nature. With the majestic Matterhorn as its backdrop and car-free cobbled streets, Zermatt offers families an unforgettable winter retreat.

  • The Awe-inspiring Matterhorn
    Dominating the skyline of Zermatt, the Matterhorn is one of the most recognized mountains in the world. While experienced climbers see it as a challenging ascent, for families, it stands as a beacon of nature’s grandeur. The Gornergrat Railway offers a comfortable way to get panoramic views of the mountain and its surrounding alpine beauty, making it a favourite among kids and adults alike.
  • Ski Schools for Kids
    Zermatt takes pride in being one of the best skiing destinations in the world. There are several ski schools in the town. These schools provide classes for children, ensuring they learn the ropes in a fun, safe environment. There are also dedicated children’s zones on the slopes, letting the little ones practice their skills.
  • Winter Wonderland Hikes and Toboggan Runs
    For families who prefer a slower pace, Zermatt offers numerous winter hiking trails. Walking amidst snow-covered trees with the Matterhorn in view is an experience that’s nothing short of magical. Kids can also enjoy the thrill of tobogganing on dedicated runs, feeling the crisp alpine air as they slide down.

Zermatt, with its harmonious blend of nature, adventure, and culture, encapsulates the spirit of a Swiss winter. As families ski down its slopes, hike its trails, or simply marvel at the Matterhorn from their hotel balconies, they are reminded of the simple joys of life. In Zermatt, every snowflake holds a promise of wonder, and every moment is a memory waiting to be cherished.

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Salzburg, Austria

Nestled at the foot of the Alps, this Austrian city, known globally as the birthplace of Mozart and the backdrop for the classic film ‘The Sound of Music,’ is a winter wonderland that promises a perfect family holiday.

  • The Magical Setting of ‘The Sound of Music’
    Introduce your kids to the enchanting world of ‘The Sound of Music’ by taking a themed tour. Navigate through the city’s historical sites, visiting the very locations where iconic scenes from the movie were filmed. Kids can skip around the gardens of Mirabell Palace, twirl on the hills, and even sing along to the timeless tunes. It’s a delightful way to explore Salzburg and revel in the magic of the film.
  • Snow Sports in the Alps
    Just a stone’s throw away from Salzburg are the snow-covered Alps, perfect for winter sports. Whether you’re an experienced skier or a first-timer, the region offers something for everyone. Families can enrol their kids in beginner ski lessons, ensuring they learn the basics in a safe environment. Tobogganing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding are other exciting activities to try. And for those who’d rather stay off the slopes, the breathtaking Alpine views and cable car rides are sure to mesmerize.
  • The Historic Old Town and Christmas Markets
    Salzburg’s Old Town, with its narrow cobbled streets, baroque architecture, and the Hohensalzburg Fortress perched above, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a place where history comes alive. Strolling through the Old Town feels like stepping back in time, with its medieval buildings adorned with festive decorations.

In December Salzburg’s Christmas markets light up the heart of the city. The Christkindlmarkt, set up in the squares of the Old Town, with the aroma of mulled wine, roasted almonds, and freshly baked pastries filling the air, families can shop for unique crafts, decorations, and toys. Little ones can join in various kids’ activities, from gingerbread decorating to candle making.

Salzburg’s blend of cultural richness, snowy adventures, and festive atmosphere makes it an irresistible destination for families. It captures the essence of European winter holidays: joyous, serene, and filled with moments that’ll be cherished for a lifetime.

Alsace Region, France

The Alsace region, nestled between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine River, is the picturesque embodiment of a European fairy tale. With half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and the scent of mulled wine wafting in the air, Alsace, especially during winter, is like stepping into a Christmas card.

  • Storybook Villages: Strasbourg and Colmar
    At the heart of Alsace are its iconic towns – Strasbourg and Colmar.

Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Europe, the Christkindelsmärik. Founded in 1570, this market transforms the city into a twinkling wonderland. The giant Christmas tree at Place Kléber and the ice skating rink nearby make it a favourite spot for families.

Colmar, on the other hand, is renowned for its well-preserved old town and canals. During winter, it hosts multiple Christmas markets, each with its own theme. Children will particularly enjoy the ‘Little Prince’ market, inspired by the beloved French story, which offers fun rides and games.

  • Medieval Castles Covered in Snow
    Beyond the towns, the Alsace countryside is dotted with ancient castles. During winter, these fortresses, covered in a blanket of snow, offer a majestic sight. Haut-Koenigsbourg, one of the most famous, provides panoramic views of the region from its hilltop location. A visit here feels like a journey back to medieval times, complete with knights and drawbridges, making it an adventurous excursion for kids.

The Alsace region, with its blend of German and French cultures, provides a unique and mesmerizing winter experience. Its commitment to keeping traditions alive, combined with its child-friendly activities, makes it a top choice for families. As you walk hand-in-hand with your loved ones under the twinkling lights, with carolers singing in the background, Alsace ensures that the spirit of Christmas is felt in every heartbeat.

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Budapest, Hungary

The capital city of Hungary, straddling the majestic Danube River, Budapest sparkles especially bright during the winter months. With its historic baths, grand architecture, and enchanting festive markets, Budapest offers families an immersive experience into the heart of Central European culture.

  • Skating at City Park Ice Rink
    A must-visit for families in Budapest during winter is the City Park Ice Rink. One of the largest and oldest in Europe, this rink offers a magical skating experience against the backdrop of the stunning Vajdahunyad Castle. Whether your kids are expert skaters or are just getting the hang of it, the ambiance of this place, especially when lit up in the evenings, promises a time of joy and laughter.
  • Thermal Baths for Relaxation
    Budapest is often dubbed the ‘City of Baths’, and for a good reason. The city boasts numerous thermal baths, which are particularly inviting during the chilly winter months. The Széchenyi Thermal Bath, with its outdoor warm pools, allows families to bask in the steaming water while surrounded by snow – a surreal experience! Most baths in Budapest have specific times or sections for families, ensuring a relaxing and kid-friendly experience.
  • Buda Castle with Panoramic Views
    Perched on Castle Hill is the magnificent Buda Castle. A visit here offers not only a glimpse into Hungary’s rich history but also panoramic views of the Pest side of the city, the Danube River, and the iconic Hungarian Parliament Building. Children will be enthralled by the castle’s grandeur, its winding staircases, and its tales of past kings and queens. The Funicular, a short cable car ride leading up to the castle, adds an extra layer of adventure for the little ones.

Budapest, with its harmonious blend of relaxation, recreation, and rich history, provides families with a winter holiday that’s both enchanting and enriching. As the Danube mirrors the city’s shimmering lights and the aroma of traditional Hungarian chimney cake fills the air, families find themselves in a city that celebrates winter in all its beauty.

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Black Forest, Germany

Deep in the southwest corner of Germany lies a region that has inspired countless fairy tales, myths, and legends – the Black Forest. With its dense evergreen trees, mysterious valleys, and quaint villages, the Black Forest during winter is nothing short of a snowy wonderland, offering families an escape from the urban hustle and a deep dive into nature and folklore.

  • Enchanting Woodlands and Folklore
    The Black Forest gets its name from its dark, dense tree canopies that often block out sunlight, giving it an enchanting, sometimes eerie, ambiance. Families can embark on guided tours that not only navigate through the serene paths but also share the many legends associated with the region. Snow-covered trails provide opportunities for winter hikes, where children can track animal footprints or build snowmen.
  • Cuckoo Clock Workshops for Kids
    One of the Black Forest’s most famous contributions to the world is the cuckoo clock. Several workshops in the region allow families to get a first-hand look at the making of these intricate timepieces. Some workshops even offer short sessions where kids can assemble and decorate their mini cuckoo clocks, taking home not just a souvenir, but also a story of craftsmanship.
  • Winter Hikes and Sled Rides
    With its varied terrain, the Black Forest is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Families can indulge in sled rides down the gentle slopes, with laughter echoing amidst the trees. For those who prefer a quieter activity, winter hikes offer breathtaking views of frozen lakes, waterfalls, and the snow-clad canopy.
  • Traditional Black Forest Cuisine
    After a day of adventure, families can warm up in the many traditional inns and eateries sprinkled across the region. Here, they can sample traditional Black Forest dishes, from hearty stews to the famous Black Forest cake. Children will particularly enjoy the hot chocolate, often topped with whipped cream and cherries.

The Black Forest in winter invites families to disconnect from the digital and reconnect with nature and each other. Whether it’s listening to the tales of the forest, sledging down a hill, or simply enjoying a slice of cake by a roaring fire, the Black Forest ensures that winter memories made here last a lifetime.

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Granada, Spain

When thinking of winter destinations in Europe, Spain might not be the first to come to mind. However, the city of Granada, nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is a delightful exception. Merging the warmth of Spanish culture with snowy peaks and historic landmarks, Granada offers a winter experience that’s uniquely its own.

  • The Snowy Peaks of Sierra Nevada for Skiing
    Sierra Nevada, just a short drive from Granada, is the southernmost ski resort in Europe. The snow-covered mountains placed against the backdrop of clear blue skies create a picture-perfect setting for winter sports. Families can indulge in skiing, snowboarding, or simply building snowmen. For beginners, especially kids, there are classes available to ensure they enjoy the snow safely.
  • Alhambra Palace Tours
    The crown jewel of Granada, the Alhambra, is a majestic fortress and palace complex overlooking the city. Its intricate Moorish architecture, gardens of Generalife, and panoramic views of both the city and Sierra Nevada make it a must-visit. In winter, the dusting of snow on the red stone walls and surrounding gardens adds an extra layer of beauty. Guided tours often share tales of the sultans and royalty who once roamed these halls, captivating the imagination of young listeners.
  • Spanish Festivities and Traditions
    Granada, like the rest of Spain, has a rich tradition of winter festivities. From the elaborate processions of the Three Kings Day (Epiphany) to the vibrant Flamenco performances, families get to immerse themselves in authentic Spanish culture. Local bakeries and eateries are filled with seasonal treats like turrón (nougat) and polvorones (shortbread cookies), which kids will absolutely love.

As you wrap up in warm scarves and stroll through the cobbled streets, with the soft strumming of a Spanish guitar in the distance, Granada reminds you that winter isn’t just about cold, it’s about warmth too – the warmth of culture, history, and shared family moments.

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Tips for Traveling in Europe in Winter with Kids

Europe in winter is a land of enchantment, with its snow-covered landscapes, festive markets, and heart-warming traditions. Traveling with kids, however, requires a bit of extra preparation to ensure that the journey is comfortable, safe, and enjoyable for the entire family. Here are some invaluable tips for families gearing up for a European winter adventure.

Packing Essentials for Cold Weather

Layering is Key: Instead of packing bulky clothing, focus on layers. Start with thermal inner wear, followed by a t-shirt or sweater, and top it off with a waterproof and insulated outer layer.

Warm Accessories: Woollen or thermal hats, gloves, and scarves are essential. Ensure that the gloves are touchscreen compatible, so kids can still use their devices without exposing their hands to the cold.

Footwear: Waterproof boots with a good grip are a must, especially if you plan to walk in snowy or icy areas. Pack multiple pairs of warm socks to keep your feet cosy.

Portable Hand Warmers: These small packets can be a lifesaver on particularly cold days. They’re lightweight, easy to pack, and can provide warmth for hours.

Organize Your Trip in Advance

Apply for Schengen Visa on Time: The closer the winter holidays, the busier it gets in the Consulates and Embassies. We advise applying at least 3 months in advance of your trip. It will be a lot faster and easier to use the professional help of visa experts of The Visa Services. Remove the visa stress off your shoulders and focus on other aspects of your trip.

Book Hotels and Lodgings: Be sure to book your stay well ahead of your travel, before everything is booked out.

Organize Air Travel: Europe is one of the most popular places to travel for winter holidays, and it is one of the busiest times of the year for the airlines.

A European winter is not just a season; it’s an experience. The air is crisper, the lights a tad brighter, and the sounds of laughter and carols resonate a bit more deeply. With a bit of planning and the right approach, you can ensure that your European winter holiday is as smooth as it is memorable.

Contact The Visa Services to learn more about how to get a Schengen visa for families with kids.


Q: How early should we book accommodations and activities for the peak winter season in Europe?

A: It’s advisable to book accommodations and popular activities at least 3-4 months in advance for the peak winter season. This ensures availability and often provides better rates.

Q: Are there special winter train routes in Europe that are kid-friendly?

A: Yes, Europe has several scenic winter train routes that are family-friendly. The Glacier Express in Switzerland and the Santa Claus Express in Hungary are two popular options that offer breathtaking snowy landscapes and are a hit with kids.

Q: Can we rent winter clothing and gear for kids in European destinations?

A: Yes, many winter destinations, especially those popular for snow sports, offer rental options for winter clothing and gear. However, for comfort and fit, it’s often recommended to bring your own essential clothing items.

Q: Is it essential to know the local language when travelling with kids in Europe during winter?

A: While it’s not essential, knowing basic phrases can be helpful and appreciated by locals. Many Europeans, especially in tourist areas, speak English and other languages.

Q: When is the best time to visit Europe in winter?

A: The best time to visit Europe for winter festivities is from late November to the end of December when Christmas markets are in full swing. However, for snow-related activities, January and February might be more suitable.

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