It’s the time of year when the temperature drops and Christmas lights get turned on all over the world. There are so many beautiful places to enjoy the winter months and experience the magical quality of each unique place. Here is our list of the best holidays to go walking in a winter wonderland:
Germany is a country greatly associated with Christmas. Even our Christmas markets here in the UK are influenced by German traditions, and Germany is home to perhaps the most famous Christmas markets in Europe if not the world. But sometimes the charm of Christmas in Germany can be found in smaller places such as the charming town of Freudenstadt on the edge of the Black Forest. Every hour festive songs ring out from the town hall whilst visitors enjoy the Christmas market in the beautiful market square. It is also the start and end point for our Trail of the red deer tour, a chance for walkers to enjoy the quiet valleys with typical alpine-like houses, and the colourful folklore that give the region its unique character.
Christmas in Stockholm is a delight. This is after all the country of Lapland, where Father Christmas resides. Due to its Northerly location, winters can be cold but usually not unpleasantly so and this adds to the festive feeling of this pretty city. The Old Town’s Christmas Market is a must visit, with the many stalls selling Christmas delicacies such as glögg, gingerbread, reindeer meat and other Christmas delicacies. Our walk around the Sormland archipelago, only a stone’s throw from Stockholm is a chance to combine this wonderful city with the unspoilt Sormland area and enjoy its ancient forests and beautiful lakes.
Prague, Czech Republic and Vienna, Austria happen to be two of the most unmissable Christmas destinations. Vienna has some of finest Christmas lights on display. Large garlands of bulbs illuminate the shops and pedestrian areas, with pine branches and silk ribbons adorning many shops. Giant chandeliers lead the way to St.Stephens cathedral and the city comes alive with light. Wrap up warm for the chilly Prague winters and then experience the magic of this attractive city through its Christmas Markets. The most famous is the market in the Old Town Square, surrounding a giant Christmas tree. Here you’ll find a host of traditional Czech foods such as vánocvka (a braided pastry studded with raisins), and vosí hnízda’ (“wasps nests,” nutty cookies heavy with rum), You’ll take in both of these cities at the start and end of our Vienna to Prague holiday, walking in the less discovered regions of the Czech Republic on the days in between.
Our Salzburg and St Jacobs way route takes you on a magical 1000-year old route through the foothills of the Alps with interesting ecclesiastical sites, charming countryside and impressive walks along the way. During the journey you’ll stop in Salzburg and have the opportunity to explore one of Europe’s oldest Christmas markets. Documents dating from the 15th century describe how fine crafts were sold during the advent season and the market has continued ever since in this picturesque city. It would be hard not to be charmed by the echo of church bells, glass-cased fountains and charming stalls selling crafts and festive treats such Lebküchen.
Rome at Christmas time is known for its colourful nativity scenes that spring up throughout the city, the papier- mâché and terracotta figurines can be seen in church chapels throughout the city, as well as some more impressive life-size scenes on the Spanish Steps and St. Peters Square. There is also a bustling Christmas market on Piazza Navona, its stalls selling all manner of toys, ciambelle and peanut brittle. Our walking holiday along the Via di Roma follows the pilgrim route to Rome beginning in Tuscany and ending in Rome but can be broken down into smaller sections such as the section from Rieti to Rome, which starts by the waters of the river velino, and traverses countryside and olive groves on the way to Rome and the Basilica of St Peter.
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