Our 8 Favorite International Cities to Visit on Vacation (2022)
When it comes to holidays, Europe is (almost) unbeatable judging by the results of the The journey awaits you Best Of Awards: Seven of the eight most voted cities are in Europe, with only one non-European winner.
Winning cities have spread across Europe – and (spoiler alert) Canada, from down in the Alps to the north. Although they include two capitals, they have that almost characteristic small-town charm that is so important for getting in the holiday mood.
Here is the list of the top eight cities in the world that our readers believe provide the best overall experience when it comes to visiting while on vacation.
1. Salzburg, Austria
There are two main things Salzburg is famous for: being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting for the film The sound of music. These two facts attract visitors to the city all year round. But really, the main draws should be the charming town itself, with the castle set above the baroque towers of the old town, the charming banks and bridges over the Salzach river, and the most charming and lively part of the city, the Getreidegasse, simply translated as “grain alley”. The size of this town is perfect for a weekend getaway. With winter, it only gets better, especially when it snows, which is often the case.
The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas Market, on the Residenzplatz main square near the cathedral dates back to the 15e century and is as traditional as it gets, with trumpeters, angel performances and large fully decorated trees. The main market may not be one of the biggest markets in Europe, but that is exactly its charm.
Pro tip: Salzburg is famous for its traditional Christmas decorations made from real eggshells, making them fragile yet beautiful souvenirs.
2. Cork, Ireland
The second largest city in the Republic of Ireland after Dublin, Cork is, with little Kinsale further afield, Ireland’s most popular foodie town. Along with the imposing City Goal, Fort Elizabeth and the charming Crawford Civic Art Gallery, three of Cork’s top attractions involve food and drink. There is the English market, which has been doing well since 1788; the Franciscan Well Brewery, serving its craft beer in a vaulted pub; and a Butter Museum telling you all about Ireland’s important export products. Add twinkling lights, markets, carousels and even a mini North Pole Express train, plus stalls brimming with goodies and good food, and you’re definitely onto a winner, or, to be more precise, runner-up in this year.
Pro tip: For a complete vacation package, stay at the Metropole Hotel, which offers Christmas dinners and whiskey tastings right in the heart of the old town.
3. Quebec City, Canada
When talking about a great vacation destination, snow is pretty much a must, or at the very least a highly anticipated event. In Quebec, winter snow is usually a given, so that’s a tick.
Then there is the wish for a European charm that emanates from an old city center, preferably surrounded by a solid city wall. Quebec City is the only walled city north of Mexico and has that old world atmosphere in spades, with its quaint cobblestone lanes lined with tiny Christmas trees, tiny shops and, during the holiday season, pretty lights and decorations.
All you need now is a traditional German-style Christmas market and maybe one or two more, and you have an ideal holiday destination in the perfect setting. And Quebec offers that too. You don’t even need to visit Europe when you have Quebec nearby.
Pro tip: If you are visiting just before Christmas, don’t miss a visit to the Christmas Shop, which sells everything related to Christmas and allows you to enrich your store of decorations.
Most likely the City of Christmas, full stop, Strasbourg pulls out all the stops for the end-of-year celebrations. Not a lane or a window remains undecorated, not a square, however small, without a twinkling tree, and the many markets are all filled with stalls, while the aromas preceding them fill the streets as they go. as you walk through the old town. Strasbourg itself is a lovely city to explore with a historic old quarter, great shopping, great museums and a truly amazing cathedral, but at Christmas the city literally turns into a wonderland.
Pro tip: With Strasbourg located on the border between France and Germany, you can expect to get the best of both worlds when it comes to seasonal treats: lots of mulled wine, pretzels, tarte flambée, gingerbread, and more. .
5. Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)
Prague is not only one of the most beautiful and historic European capitals with lots to see and do, but it also loves to celebrate holidays. There are three large Christmas markets set up in the main squares, such as Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square and Prague Castle, but the city also has countless smaller ones in Republica Square, the Kampa Island and others. The old town is decorated everywhere, with the small alleyways twinkling with lights and food stalls offering traditional Czech treats, such as spit-roasted hams, spicy sausages, garlic flatbread with cheese, meatballs and all sorts of sweet treats, plus beer – even spiced, heated beer, to wash it all down.
Pro tip: If you arrive at the end of November, try to catch the seasonal Nutcracker ballet at the National Theatre.
6. Bergen, Norway
Bergen is not only one of readers’ favorite cities for vacation, but was also voted number one by our travel experts when it comes to favorite winter destinations. Despite being Norway’s second largest city, the old town is picturesque, with colorful houses along the harbor and a magical, mountainous setting.
Snow is pretty much guaranteed and the town bursts with joy and Christmas decorations every winter. Bergen is also the site of the largest gingerbread town in the world. You read that right: not a gingerbread house, but a gingerbread town. A place to consider bringing the grandkids, perhaps?
Pro tip: Even if you can’t make it to Bergen at Christmas, that doesn’t mean you have to miss Norway’s cute Christmas decorations, especially those Nisse Santas with their red hats and big noses. Head to the year-round Christmas shop Julehuset when you’re in town.
7. Nuremberg, Germany
One of the most famous and largest Christmas markets in Germany takes place in the heart of old Nuremberg, under the Frauenkirche cathedral on the Hauptmarkt, the main square. Although open all day, the market comes into its own at night, leaving you the day to explore Nuremberg’s many historic attractions, whetting your appetite for those famous Nuremberger Rostbratwurstchen, small herbed pork sausages that come usually in threes.
Walking around the cathedral there are more markets, and every corner has something special – traditional wooden decorations, food and drink, and even the famous Feuerzangenbowle, which involves a sugar loaf shaped of cone and a lot of rum, all set on fire. It certainly warms you up.
Pro tip: Every year, mulled wine is served in special mugs that you are allowed to take home, as the price includes a deposit, which will be returned to you if you return the mug. If it’s.
8. Reykjavik, Iceland
Snow, a quaint little town sparkling with decorations, a spectacular setting and quirky traditions make Reykjavik, Europe’s northernmost capital, an ideal vacation destination. Next, consider that Christmas lasts 26 days in Iceland – from December 11 to January 6 – and there are not just one, but 13 Santa Clauses. And you might get lucky and see the Northern Lights on nights you’re outside the city limits. To combine the best of Christmas and Iceland’s natural wonders, there are packages and tours that give you the sights, along with a traditional Christmas dinner.
Pro tip: Attend a Christmas concert at Harpa, Reykjavik’s state-of-the-art concert hall, for the special treat.
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