Europe in January may not appear essentially the most thrilling prospect on paper. Christmas markets have closed, festive cheer has been changed by New 12 months’s resolutions and, let’s be sincere, we’re all prepared to avoid wasting money after December’s bills. However that’s exactly why these picks are a few of the finest locations to go to in Europe in January; all of them promise the right post-Christmas relaxation and recharge. 

For some, which may imply beginning the 12 months by strapping on skis and hitting the slopes. If you happen to’re feeling burned out, now’s the right time for a cost-saving scenic spa getaway or to cosy up inside watching the northern lights. Perhaps you simply desire a little bit of winter solar or a cheeky metropolis break free whereas the costs are decrease? Yep, these low season offers could be motivation sufficient to go to the very best European vacation spot in January.

Nicely, no matter you’re in search of from a start-of-year trip, these are my options of the very best European nations to go to in January, damaged down into snowboarding and snow, adventures, leisure, metropolis breaks and winter solar. And certain, a few of Europe’s finest cities, like Barcelona and Rome, is perhaps a bit of lighter on crowds — these well-known metropolises are by no means tourist-free — however as an alternative of simply itemizing the headliners as options for barely decrease resort charges, I’ve tried to concentrate on locations with a compelling motive to go to in January.

Finest European ski and snow locations in January

A lot of Europe’s hottest January locations are targeted on snow and winter spots. You’ve obtained the marginally offbeat, resembling Slovakia’s Tatras Mountains, and the previous favourites, like Innsbruck in Austria, however the next three stand out for their very own compelling and completely different causes. Plus, you possibly can often snag some first rate offers in case you go to mid-month after the Christmas holidays are over however earlier than February sees the slopes get busier once more.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Indulge with pristine pistes and après-ski in France’s fabulous winter wonderland, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. With over 3000 mountains — together with the famed Mont Blanc — on this Swiss border-touching area, there’s a resort for all. Plus, France simply appears to have the sting in terms of snowboarding.

If you wish to splurge, e-book a keep in one of many luxury ski chalets in Courchevel, arguably the area’s most upscale resort. Identified for its Michelin-awarded eating places and first-class boutiques, you’ll have loads to pamper your self away from the pistes of the world’s largest steady ski space, Les 3 Vallées. Plus, January additionally usually brings the very best contemporary powder.

However there are additionally some extra budget-friendly choices, with Le Semnoz being a strong selection for reasonably priced ski passes. One other nice motive to go to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in your snowboarding vacation in January reasonably than December or February is that you just miss the college Christmas and half-term breaks. As such, it’s a way more adult-only affair, excellent in terms of the all-important après-ski.

From the top of the mountain at Bansko Ski Resort
From the highest of the mountain at Bansko Ski Resort

Bansko, Bulgaria

Bulgaria may not have the identical worldwide repute as France for snowboarding, however that makes it the right choose. Bansko is without doubt one of the finest locations to go in Europe in January in case you’re a newbie, budget-conscious, or each.

It’s really the place I first (tried) to study to ski, and despite the fact that my snowboarding journey in Bansko was a little bit of a failure — I realised I’m extra suited to the après than the precise snowboarding — I had no laborious emotions; I’d paid the identical for my complete weeks journey as the most costly ski move within the Alps.

Not solely are the leases, chair elevate passes and lodging choices pretty priced, however you possibly can really base your self in Bansko Outdated City after which take a gondola up into the UNESCO-listed Pirin Nationwide Park, the place the slopes are positioned, every morning. I beloved this, because it meant I might expertise the extra conventional aspect of the nation by staying in an precise lived-in city whereas additionally having the snow on my doorstep.

Enjoying the hot springs in Bansko, Bulgaria
Having fun with the recent springs in Bansko, Bulgaria

Sierra Nevada, Spain

My remaining suggestion of the very best locations to go to in January in Europe for snowboarding is the Sierra Nevada mountain vary in southern Spain.

Whereas this isn’t the best-rated ski resort in Europe, it affords the possibility for a way more rounded vacation as you possibly can mix the slopes with visits to a few of Spain’s finest cities, resembling Granada — the magnificent Alhambra appears to be like spectacular when backed by the snowy peaks — or Seville, one of many warmest cities in Europe in January.

With greater than 100 slopes — the best tops out at 1200 metres — to select from, extra skilled and newbie skiers are served. There may be additionally a cross-country monitor, which doesn’t require a ski move. And, in case you plan your go to for early January, you’ll be round for Three Kings Day on the sixth, which sees Spain’s Christmas celebrations kick-off with parades on the night time earlier than, adopted by gift-giving on the precise El Día de los Reyes Magos.

Views across Granada's Alhambra
In Andalucia, you possibly can ski and tour the magnificent Alhambra

The place to go in January in Europe for adventures

Europe’s January snow isn’t solely reserved for snowboarding; there are many different adventures to get pleasure from throughout the continent in case you go to the very best European vacation spot in January. From northern mild explorations within the Arctic to snowmobile rides to distant villages, winter brings loads of alternatives. Plus, you may nonetheless discover some sunny climbing trails and roaring surf in Europe’s finest seashore locations.

The aurora borealis put on a show above Luleå, Swedish-Lapland
The aurora borealis placed on a present above Luleå, Swedish-Lapland

Lapland and Nothern Nordics

Choosing the very best locations to go to in January in Europe within the Nordics is difficult, as every nation has comparable choices. As such, I’ve grouped all of them collectively, as Lapland isn’t restricted to the Santa Village of Rovaniemi in Finland but in addition stretches throughout Sweden and Norway. Price range can be a think about the place you resolve to go to, as having simply come again from a few months up north, I can confidently say the alternate charge in Sweden makes it rather more interesting than Norway for the cash-conscious.

When you’ve made your method up and past the Arctic Circle, you’ll be in a real winter wonderland. Epic views on the Lofoten Islands, husky-sledding in Lapland, snowshoe hikes alongside Sweden’s King’s Path, and cinematic rail rides to Norway’s most northerly factors all deliver awe alongside adventures. You’ll be able to even sleep in igloos or test in at a resort constructed of ice, usually for a fraction of the value of coming for Christmas.

However what actually makes it among the finest locations to go in January in Europe is the possibility to identify the aurora borealis (northern lights) in all their glory. And whereas sightings aren’t assured — January can imply some cloud cowl — January 2024 is an particularly good time to present it a shot, because the 11-year peak of the photo voltaic cycle is peaking in winter 23/24.

The Kazbegi region of Georgia
In Georgia, the Caucasus Mountains see their winter coat of snow


Probably the most under-the-radar European locations in January is Georgia. It’s effectively price contemplating a visit to this attractive nation and the Caucasus Mountains if you wish to get pleasure from some adventures with out breaking the financial institution. Plus, the Georgian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January seventh, so it’s possible you’ll get to see the all-dressed-up Alilo parade and conventional carols.

The primary gateway to the nation (and capital metropolis), Tbilisi, is a pleasant winter metropolis break, with small terraces dotted with heaters and blankets to maintain you cosy whereas sipping on the delicious Georgian wines and a few of the finest delicacies on the planet. However for an journey, it’s the Caucasus Mountains that decision loudest.

Definitely, it’s price realizing that snowfall is heavy up right here, and a few roads to distant communities could be shuttered because of climate. Nevertheless, reasonably priced ski resorts like Gudauri are all the time saved accessible. Right here, you may as well get an adrenaline hit on a snowmobiling journey, paraglide over the snow-capped peaks, or strap on some winter climbing gear to deal with the paths round Kazbegi for epic views of Gergeti Trinity Church.

The big waves of Nazare are just one of Portugal's January adventures
The massive waves of Nazare are simply one among Portugal’s January adventures


Probably the most all-round journey locations in Europe in January is Portugal. Are you able to consider many different locations the place you possibly can ski, surf big waves, and set off on a sunny hike throughout seashores in a single weekend?

However that’s exactly what my completely shaped and compact chosen residence nation affords. Within the Serra da Estrela mountain vary, you’ll discover mainland Portugal’s highest peak, Torre, and whereas it is perhaps shocking, snow does fall right here within the colder months. The small ski resort isn’t actually a lot to shout about, however it might probably preserve you entertained for a few days.

Then, alongside the coast, you’ve obtained browsing of epic proportions. Probably the most spectacular swell is in Nazare, the place the world’s biggest waves are surfed by the professionals, although there are many extra laid-back choices, resembling Sagres or Ericeira, to get pleasure from a much less excessive surf camp.

And then you definitely’ve obtained the climbing choices. From the Algarve’s Fisherman’s Path, a multi-day climbing route that adheres to the coast, to the archipelagos of Madeira — with its hovering peaks and levada trails — and the Azores, the place adventures abound, there are many choices. A bonus is that Madeira and the Algarve are two of the warmest European locations in January.

Madeira's levada trails offer a great January combo of sun and hiking adventures
Madeira’s levada trails supply an important January combo of solar and climbing adventures

Finest locations to go in January in Europe for leisure

If journey isn’t thrilling for you — let’s be sincere, all of us want some R&R post-Christmas — then there are some wonderful locations to go to in January in Europe to get pleasure from a pamper. From sizzling springs and therapeutic baths to forested spa resorts removed from the crowds, these European spots be certain that January is extra about switching off and in search of out serenity.

Karlov Vary surrounded by forest
Karlov Differ, Bohemia, is right for a January Spa escape

Karlov Differ, Czechia 

Tucked away in forest-heavy Bohemia, the lovable spa city of Karlovy Differ is without doubt one of the finest European cities to go to in January to appease your soul. It’s uncommon that I take spa breaks or go to retreats, however a few years again, I used to be craving some peace and pampering and ventured right here on a whim, primarily pushed by the aggressive pricing of upscale resorts. And boy, am I glad I did.

Not solely did I get to remain in two unimaginable resorts (Retro Riverside Wellness Resort was a magical bolthole) shrouded by dense forests, however after I finally tore myself away from the spa, I discovered a fascinating Outdated City with an enchanting custom.

You see, the nice and cozy therapeutic waters that Karlov Differ is thought for aren’t simply utilized in remedies however are sipped on the day by day by town’s residents. These conventional Spa cups (regionally referred to as Karlov Differ ingesting cups) date again to the seventeenth century and are sometimes carried round to after which stuffed up at one of many metropolis’s free fountains. You’ll simply have the ability to get your personal porcelain cup (it’s an important memento) from one of many market stalls or retailers, so you may make a brew and sip tea as you discover the historic highlights.

Entering Iceland's Blue Lagoon on a dark January night was R&R101.
Coming into Iceland’s Blue Lagoon on a darkish January night time was R&R101.


Iceland is without doubt one of the finest nations to go to in Europe in January for a number of causes, and it might simply fall into any of those classes. You’ll have the possibility to chase the northern lights, get pleasure from underwater adventures as you snorkel between tectonic plates or hike atop glaciers, and witness waterfalls tumbling into snowy valleys, and the New 12 months’s Eve celebrations in Reykjavik are genuinely one thing to behold.

However Iceland in winter is especially unimaginable for a bit of respite, as there may be an abundance of spas, geothermal waters, and sizzling springs — such because the well-known Blue Lagoon — to loosen up in. Slowing down can be virtually pressured upon you, as entry to components of the island could be restricted within the winter months, and the shorter days imply much less time for out of doors exploration. Nonetheless, I completely adored my Christmas and New 12 months snowy break right here, and in January, you may even snag an important deal.

If you prefer your waters colder, follow my lead and go snorkelling or diving in Iceland
If you happen to want your waters colder, observe my lead and go snorkelling or diving in Iceland

Latvia’s Gauja Nationwide Park

Latvia is criminally ignored, and whereas its huge swathes of forests and native obsession with getting out in nature make it a implausible summer season climbing vacation spot, it’s additionally among the finest locations to go in January for Northern Europe’s famed sauna tradition with out Finland’s price ticket.

For hundreds of years, saunas and bathhouses have been a staple in Latvian tradition. There is no such thing as a scarcity of spa resorts, distant cabins, and luxurious resorts within the nation, and a sauna is just about assured. So, if you need an reasonably priced, enjoyable and rejuvenating winter getaway, set your sights on this Baltic state.

Personally, I’d recommend getting out of Riga (it’s most magical at Christmas) and heading into Latvia’s pristine Gauja Nationwide Park. Not solely is it postcard-perfect when snow coats the timber and trails, however there are some implausible castles — resembling Cēsis, the place you’re given a candlelight to discover — whenever you’re taking a break from being pampered.

Amsterdam is just as magical in the colder months
Amsterdam is simply as magical within the colder months

Finest European cities to go to in January

As soon as the Christmas markets have closed and the final of the mulled wine supped, Europe’s cities say farewell to festive cheer and as an alternative welcome again fairer-priced resorts. It can be one of many quietest months to go to common locations resembling Venice (earlier than the carnival in February) and over-touristered Dubrovnik in Croatia. On the flip aspect, hotter January cities, resembling Lisbon and Seville, are nonetheless fairly common. However past fewer crowds and extra reasonably priced flights, the very best European metropolis breaks in January supply a powerful argument for visiting.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

The capital of The Netherlands is arguably among the finest European cities to go to in January. Not solely do you’ve loads of world-class museums to tour if rain showers come, however there’s nonetheless a fascinating air to town, particularly if the canals are frozen, and locals are out ice skating.

Including to the magic of a January weekend break in Amsterdam is the Mild Competition, which continues effectively into the center of the month. Illuminated creations from world artists brighten town’s canals and streets with a digital app guiding you to the twinkling and neon installations.

By day, you possibly can discover Amsterdam’s wonderful collections of museums, such because the in depth assortment of the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh’s most spectacular items, and the Rembrandt Home assortment.

San Sebastian beach early morning
In January, San Sebastian is extra concerning the tradition and delicacies than the coast

San Sebastian (Donosia), Spain

Spain is without doubt one of the finest nations to go to in January in Europe for a mess of causes. The solar continues to be shining within the Canary Islands, Granada has its ski slopes, and the sixth of January sees Christmas celebrations. However within the nation’s verdant north, the Basque Nation is internet hosting its festivities, and there’s no higher place to expertise them than in one among my favorite cities, the food-obsessed San Sebastián.

Already an absolute gastronomy mecca, because of being residence to the Basque Culinary Faculty, a number of Michelin star eating places, and bar tops laden with pintxos — a Basque model of tapas — there’s by no means actually a flawed time to go to town. However the very best dishes usually come from underground, with invite-only gastronomic societies lengthy being credited with creating a few of the nation’s finest cooks. 

Fortunately, as a part of the energetic Tamborrada drum pageant (San Sebastián Day) on the twentieth of January, these unique non-public culinary membership kitchens open their doorways to guests, permitting anybody on the town to take a peek right into a members-only world. That is because of the parades accompanying the 24 hours of drumming (yep, you learn that proper) being a practice of the societies and their members. Being among the finest European cities to go to in January for a well-timed go to, you’ll must e-book your resort effectively upfront.

Being invited to one of underground gastronomic societies was a highlight of my trip
Being invited to one of many underground gastronomic societies was a spotlight of my journey

Budapest, Hungary

Whereas many individuals rave about Budapest, it’s not one among my favorite cities. Nonetheless, I can admire why so many individuals fall in love with it, and the various thermal baths throughout town make it a good selection for a January metropolis break in Europe.

Which means, when you’ve explored town’s highlights — such because the Fisherman’s Bastion and the hulking parliament constructing — you possibly can sink into some medicinal heat waters and loosen up. 

Széchenyi Baths, one of many largest in Europe, is most spectacular, boasting greater than a dozen indoor and outside swimming pools. However there are many smaller, extra offbeat decisions for a dip. What I discovered made the bathhouse tradition so particular in Budapest was that it wasn’t simply vacationers utilizing them, however you’ll get perception into native life too, as individuals play chess and households get collectively to heat up in winter.

Budapest, with its multiple bath houses, makes for a great January city break
Budapest, with its a number of bathtub homes, makes for an important January metropolis break

Heat European locations in January

Whereas there aren’t actually any sizzling January locations in Europe, there are some hotter spots the place winter solar is probably going, if not assured. Nonetheless, even whenever you head south, it’s finest to e-book ready for some cloud cowl or showers and perceive {that a} ‘seashore vacation’ in January does include some dangers. Nevertheless, if you need a cheap-ish getaway to get away from the gray again residence, these three are a few of January’s finest European seashore locations.

Praia de Odeceixe marks the border between the Algarve and the Alentejo on the Fisherman's Trail
Close to empty seashores await on an low season journey to Portugal’s south

The Algarve, Portugal

With quite a lot of private expertise of the Algarve in January — it’s residence — I’d say it’s a fairly good wager. Even writing this text now in late November, I’m sitting outdoors basking in 20 levels, and I usually get pleasure from my Christmas dinner on a sun-kissed terrace.

Nonetheless, showers do come and go all through the winter, though essentially the most important rainfall is often recorded in December, with January often hitting a pleasing 16 levels within the daytime. However one of many causes I really like January a lot is how peaceable it’s. Many companies in smaller villages shut for his or her holidays round now, which might put some guests off, that means cliff-top hikes and afternoons on the seashore are blissfully devoid of individuals.

It’s additionally among the finest locations to go to in January in Europe because the resorts are closely discounted right now of the 12 months; typically, I even take a bit of staycation to get pleasure from a 5* expertise for lower than €30 an evening. Madeira and Porto Santo, Portugal’s extra southerly islands, are additionally two extra of Portugal’s finest locations to go in January in Europe for hotter climates.

If you're chasing winter sun, Malta is one of the best bets in Europe in January
If you happen to’re chasing winter solar, Malta is without doubt one of the finest bets in Europe in January


A twin-island escape to Malta and Gozo, one among Europe’s smallest nations, will aid you get pleasure from one of many warmest January locations in Europe. Highs are often round 15 levels, and whereas there may be rain, it’s often solely quick showers each few days.

Alongside the implausible seashores and nice worth January offers, there are additionally loads of cultural sights to get pleasure from if the climate does flip, resembling exploring the underrated capital metropolis of Valletta, a stunning mishmash of medieval sandstone buildings, or venturing inside museums spanning every little thing from archaeological sights to nice arts. For round three weeks in January, you may as well benefit from the Valletta Baroque Competition, with a program of classical live shows in a few of the island’s best Baroque buildings.

Pin it: Best European destinations in January (Top: Bankso, Bottom: Lanzarote/Canva)
Pin it: Finest European locations in January (High: Bankso, Backside: Lanzarote/Canva)

Canary Islands, Spain 

Spain’s Macaronesia islands are geographically in Africa, that means you’ll actually get pleasure from hotter climate than mainland Europe. In actual fact, the archipelago is without doubt one of the few locations in Europe which often hits 20 levels in winter.

Every of the eight fundamental Canary Islands has its personal character, and whereas seashores are a standard thread, you’ll wish to analysis which island ticks your private bins. Arid Lanzarote is often considered the most popular of the group, because it’s closest to the Sahara and has all kinds of fantastic seashores starting from golden sands to crimson and volcanic black.

For extra volcanic vistas, enterprise to the UNESCO-listed Teide National Park in Tenerife, the most important and maybe most rounded Canary Islands, or get pleasure from a extra offbeat expertise in Fuerteventura, the place there are implausible winter wind sports activities, or El Hierro, the smallest and least visited isle. If you happen to’re on the lookout for the warmest European locations in January, it doesn’t get a lot better than the Canaries.