European destinations to visit for the Christmas light season

It’s that time of year again … short days made brighter by stunning Christmas lights.

Since Christmas celebrations in Europe continue through to 6 January, you’re still in time to enjoy those cheery holiday lights.

Here’s a roundup of some European cities and towns to consider visiting to enjoy those holiday lights – and much more!

Verona, Italy

You can’t go wrong heading to elegant Veneto city of Verona to admire the Christmas lights. This is the city of Rome and Juliet (complete with Juliet’s balcony), the town where the holiday cake pandoro was invented, not to be confused with the rival holiday cake, panettone, originating in Milan. There’s so much to see and do, and a stunning city becomes even more so with those twinkling holiday lights. See my post here.

Verona, Italy / Kimberly Sullivan

Milan, Italy

Not surprisingly, the city of style and fashion pulls out all the stops when the Christmas holidays arrive. For those who know the Lombard capital well, Milan can often seem a bit grey in winter, but it puts on its best face during the Christmas season, and should absolutely be on your travel list … even if you may want to protect your wallet and stick to window shopping only in those fashionable shopping streets. See my Milan Christmas post.

Milan, Christmas/ Kimberly Sullivan

Montepulciano, Italy

Beautiful architecture, sparkling Christmas lights and incredible wines. What more could a visitor ask for? If you’re in Tuscany, be sure to stop off in picturesque Montepulciano and neighboring Pienza – well worth the visit. See my Tuscan post here.

Montepulciano, Tuscany/ Kimberly Sullivan

Gdansk, Poland

Northern Europe knows how to do Christmas right. With those short days and frigid weather, nothing warms the spirit than the Christmas light sprawled out throughout the city and numerous Christmas markets selling warm, mulled wine. Gdansk is an architectural jewel, and its beauty is enhanced by all the holiday decorations. See my Gdansk Christmas post here.

Gdansk, Poland Christmas / Kimberly Sullivan

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is another city all decked out for the Christmas season. There’s a great tree at Brandenberg Gate, and plenty of Christmas markets scattered around the city. Since we did lots of walking during our cold December visit, it was perfect to stop off and warm off at the many well-situated markets. We went to the ones at Potzdamerplatz, Gendarmenmarkt, and near our hotel at Alexanderplatz. See my Berlin Christmas post.

Berlin Christmas / Kimberly Sullivan

Vigo, Spain

This was another surprise to see how seriously the Galician city takes its Christmas decorating responsibilities.  I was in Vigo when they were setting up the city’s lights. Apparently, the Mayor  declared that Vigo would have enough Christmas lights to be seen all the way to New York. The Christmas market itself is a little less exciting, but all the lights and decorations are worth a visit. See my earlier post on Vigo’s Christmas spirit.

Vigo, Spain Christmas / Kimberly Sullivan

Madrid, Spain

Madrid wasn’t on my Christmas bingo card, but we visited in December, and were surprised to discover the beautiful Plaza Mayor had been turned into a Christmas market. The stalls mostly sold merchandise, and (not great) mulled wine could be found a few squares away. This definitely isn’t like the northern Christmas markets, but I did love Madrid’s great Christmas lights, and decorations that set off Spain’s elegant capital city beautifully. You can see more about Madrid decorated for Christmas at my earlier post.

Madrid Christmas / Kimberly Sullivan


Malaga, Spain

I’ve recently written about seeing this Mediterranean coastal town all decked out for the holiday season with its twinkling Christmas lights. You can read more at my Malaga post here.

Malaga, Spain Christmas decorations / Kimberly Sullivan

Toulouse, France

Toulouse’s holiday cheer was a bit of a surprise for us, but a pleasant one. This charming city had plenty of great Christmas lights and a wonderful Christmas market on one of the main squares – and we kept coming back here night after night. See my Toulouse Christmas post here.

Toulouse Christmas market / Kimberly Sullivan

Nice, France

Okay, so the snow is fake for this Mediterranean destination, but the decorations were still impressive. I enjoyed the Christmas decorations and the Christmas market and ice skating rink dotted by palm trees. See my Nice Christmas post here.

Nice, France / Kimberly Sullivan

Hope you enjoyed this European jaunt of some festive European cities all decked out for the Christmas holidays. Hope you’ll have the chance to visit one – or more.

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