christmas market at night

Gorgeous Christmas City Breaks 2022

Travel /


Our pick of the best cities to visit this winter

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

It’s (almost) the most wonderful time of the year: sparkling sheets of snow across fields stretching into the distance, long walks and roaring fires, and cosy cottages in which to experience all the lovely festivities. That said, the typical countryside, cottagecore-style Christmas isn’t for everyone; if you’re more interested in a Christmas city break, here’s our pick of the loveliest cities that come to life at winter.

Read the C&TH Responsible Tourism Guide

Gorgeous Christmas City Breaks 2022

  • London, UK
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Strasbourg, France
  • New York City, USA
  • York, UK
  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Munich, Germany
  • Bath, UK

christmas in london

London, UK

Whether you’re travelling from afar, seeking a UK city break, or looking to romanticise your hometown, London makes for an idyllic Christmas city break, with a plethora of luxurious shopping opportunities and gorgeous light displays, delicious Christmassy menus and festive afternoon teas, and family fun galore.

STAY: Mayfair is a magical destination. Stay at the Four Seasons at Park Lane for festive afternoon tea, a delicious dinner on the big day, and festive spa treatments. fourseasons.com

HOW TO GET THERE: London is served by six airports and a whopping 18 train stations (including St Pancras International), making it very accessible across the globe.

Cologne Germany Christmas market, aerial drone view over Cologne rhine river Germany Europe

Cologne, Germany

Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, and Cologne is one of the nation’s best destinations to make the most of it. With multiple markets dotted across the city – each devoted to a different theme – there’s plenty to see and do (and buy), including ice skating rinks, live music, and an ancient cathedral lit from a market below.

STAY: Head to the quirky 25hours Hotel Cologne The Circle, just moments from the city centre, for its unique 60s x utopia interiors. 25hours-hotels.com

HOW TO GET THERE: Many UK airports have regular flights to Cologne, including Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and London aiports. Or take the train from London St Pancras to Cologne, changing at Brussels.

Christmas Market Vienna, traditional market at Vienna Town Hall in December

Vienna, Austria

Europe comes alive in the festive season; if you’re looking to take the plunge and spend the special day on the continent, consider Vienna. This icy cold city has an average December temperature around 2°C, so wrap up in your cosiest clothes, warm up with a delicious hot chocolate and slice of cake from one of the many pretty cafes, and stroll down the baroque streets and around the many Christmas markets.

STAY: Head to the Rosewood Vienna for spacious rooms, delicious cuisine, and spectacular views across the pretty city. rosewoodhotels.com

HOW TO GET THERE: Many UK airports have direct flights to Vienna, including Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, and multiple London airports. It’s also relatively easy to get to Vienna by train, leaving from London and changing in Brussels and Frankfurt. Or, take the Eurostar to Paris or Brussels in the mid-afternoon and catch the Nightjet sleeper train from there to Vienna for a time-effective option.

Strasbourg, France. Christmas Market in Petite France old district of Strassburg in Alsace.

Strasbourg, France

This historic French city is situated close to the German border, and is one of European Parliament’s homes. It’s also home to one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets,  the Christkindelsmärik, which has been running for four centuries and commences annually toward the end of November. This – along with the pretty river, colourful medieval buildings and stunning churches – makes Strasbourg a lovely Christmas city break option that will make you feel like you have been transported back in time.

STAY: After a long day of Christmassy explorations, wind down at the pretty Hôtel & Spa Régent Petite France, with its spacious suites and relaxing spa. regent-petit-france.com

HOW TO GET THERE: There are no direct flights from the UK to Strasbourg, but the city is accessible via train. Take the Eurostar from London to Paris, and then another train from Paris to Strasbourg.

Central Park winter at night with skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan New York City

New York City, USA

Christmas in New York City is the stuff of dreams: icy cold temperatures, the giant Rockefeller Christmas tree, beautiful window displays in designer shops, residential streets bedecked with holiday lights, and ice-skating rinks galore. It is so magical, this city has inspired a plethora of Christmas films, including Elf, When Harry Met Sally, Miracle On 34th Street.

STAY: Indulge at The Mark this Christmas, where the Nutcracker themed façade (in collaboration with Swarovski) and ‘Holiday Penthouse Spectacular’ package provide the epitome of festive luxury. Think private ice-rink, private performance of The Nutcracker, bespoke crystal Christmas tree, in-suite fine dining – the works. From $75,000 per night, minimum two night stay; themarkhotel.com. Check out our full guide to NYC hotels here.

HOW TO GET THERE: Fly directly to NYC from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester or Edinburgh airport.

York shambles alley sunset dusk, York Englsnd UK

York, UK

With quaint ancient streets, a plethora of ice rinks and plenty of market stalls (pumping lovely Christmassy smells into the air), York makes for a delightful weekend break year-round, and Christmas is no different. Experience the festivities at the beautiful York Minster, womble down the famous Shambles to imagine yourself a Hogwarts student, and don’t miss the whimsical Nutcracker Christmas shop.

STAY: Hunker down at The Grand, with its sumptuous spa and delicious cuisine. thegrandyork.co.uk

HOW TO GET THERE: York railway station is on the East Coast Mainline, predominantly served by LNER train services, though CrossCountry, TransPennine Express, Grand Central and Northern Trains also have services running to or through York.

View of Grand Place decorated and illuminated for Christmas in Brussels city centre on a December nigth

Brussels, Belgium

With the Eurostar from London St Pancras taking less than two hours and a delightful Christmas market, Brussels is the premier Christmas city break destination for Brits looking for an easy weekend away – or even day trip. With over 200 snow-dusted market stalls stretching over two kilometres, the market is sure to keep you busy, but there’s plenty of lovely sights and museums to explore across the city, too.

STAY: The luxurious Steigenberger Wiltcher’s is situated close to the city centre, with spacious rooms and pretty balconies. steigenberger.com

HOW TO GET THERE: Catch the Eurostar from London St Pancras directly to Brussels.

Cityscape image of Marien Square in Munich, Germany during twilight blue hour.

Munich, Germany

Munich’s world-famous Bavarian Christmas markets date back to the 14th century, with the expansive Christkindlmarkt at Marienplatz offering an extensive variety of enchanting stalls. Sip on mulled wine and nibble on candied almonds as you peruse everything the markets have to offer – or venture elsewhere in the city for centuries-old buildings, beer halls, and the neo-gothic Neues Rathaus with its cute glockenspiel show.

STAY: The stylish Ruby Rosi is a short, 15 minute stroll from Marienplatz, offering a cosy, wood-clad retreat bedecked in hand-picked vintage furnishings – perfect for continuing the Christmas fairytale back at home. ruby-hotels.com

HOW TO GET THERE: Though it will take you between eight and twelve hours, it is possible to travel to Munich by train. Alternatively, fly direct from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow or Manchester airport.

Bath Christmas Market

Bath, UK

Bath is another of the UK’s top destinations for a Christmas city break staycation, with its Christmas market (running from 24 November–11 December), lovely shops, and outdoor skating rink. After you’ve explored the festivities, stroll down the pretty regency streets and imagine you’re a Bridgerton or Jane Austen character.

STAY: For an iconic destination hotel, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is not to be missed. royalcrescent.co.uk

HOW TO GET THERE: Bath Spa railway station is on the Great Western Main Line, between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads railway stations, served by Great Western Railway trains.

Featured Image (c) Alsu Vershinina on Unsplash