Some of the best family winter breaks are just over an hour’s flight away. Others take a bit longer. But they’re all guaranteed to make magic happen for kids this year. We’ve picked 10 of the most enchanting. Take a look.
Bruges, Belgium – family winter breaks with extra chocolate
Bruges smells like chocolate year round. But from late October chocolatiers go into creative overdrive. Competition’s fierce. And if you don’t see at least one Bruges made entirely of chocolate, you’ve been short changed.
Add a light dusting of frost, wintery canals and skinny Flemish houses. Bring on bell ringers, markets and extravagant nativities. Then put your bundled-up-cosy kids in place and the magic just happens.
- Direct flights from the UK to Brussels take one hour.
- Bruges is an hour from Brussels by train.
Breckenridge, Colorado – twinkly winter enchantment with skiing on the side
Colorado majors in incredible ski resorts. But it’s also home to some of the most twinkly, traditional winter experiences in the US. And Breckenridge is best of the best.
Expect piles of fresh snow. Extreme decorating’s as much of a local sport as skiing. Horse drawn carriages and husky led sleighs are how to get about. And leave room for shopping. The Christmassy stores and markets are too good to resist.
- Direct flights from the UK to Denver take nine hours and 55 minutes.
- Breckenridge is one hour and 30 minutes drive west of Denver.
Grindelwald, Switzerland – best for fairy tale family winter breaks this year
Grindelwald sits under the north face of Eiger. It’s the type of fairy tale Alpine village you normally find painted on Swiss music boxes. And nothing’s for show. They take winter magic as seriously here as black runs and fast ski lifts.
Look forward to snowy streets trimmed with market stalls. Expect carol singers and forests of Christmas trees. Cute little shops come tucked between even cuter chalets. And the atmosphere’s endlessly festive. But for the full Grindelwald effect: stroll out after dark and gaze at the starlit village snug against the mountains.
- Direct flights from the UK to Bern take one hour and 30 minutes.
- Grindelwald is in the Jungfrau ski region, an hour’s drive south of Bern.
Luleå, Swedish Lapland – good for reindeer, frozen seas and Northern Lights
Luleå in Swedish Lapland promises winter magic with a side of adventure. It’s so cold here you can skate on the frozen sea. And skiing round town’s easier than walking. Sounds more extreme, than festive? Not even close. Just wrap up warm and make like the locals.
This is the land of the Sami reindeer herders. Gammelstad Church Town, one the world’s mysterious World Heritage sites, is close to Luleå. Dog sledding, snow biking and ice hiking are all up for grabs. And Luleå’s a Northern Lights hotspot.
- Flights from the UK to Luleå take four hours and 50 minutes
Montreal, Canada – family winter breaks with big mountains in the mix
Montreal is all Quebec winter wonder. So look forward to heaps of snow, stunning city streets and big-mountain skiing on the doorstep.
You’ll see the French influence at seasonal markets, especially when it comes to food. But, Santa’s Kingdom at Desjardins is all Canada. Don’t miss the gorgeous Westmount tree lighting ceremony, and torchlit evening parades along Mont-Royal Avenue. And did we mention Mont Tremblant is one of the city’s close neighbours?
- Direct flights from the UK to Montreal take seven hours and 25 minutes.
Rothenberg, Germany – the Bavarian beauty that’s even prettier in winter
Time-stood-still medieval Rothenberg in Bavaria is one of Germany’s best loved towns. Year round people swoon at its higgledy-piggledy houses, soaring spires and cobbled lanes. And for family winter breaks it’s lively without being too crowded and lovelier than ever.
The Reitelsmarkt dates back to the 15th century. And it’s exactly as you imagine a traditional Bavarian market. Don’t miss roasted chestnuts and handmade tree ornaments. Santa wears red velvet robes and hands out sweets and nuts to kids. And he townhall tower’s open at night so you can admire the magic from above.
- Direct flights from the UK to Nuremberg take one hour and 40 minutes.
- Rothenberg is an hour’s drive west of Nuremberg.
Rovaniemi, Finland – where Santa Claus lives in Finnish Lapland
Santa Claus Village nestles in vast pine forests close to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. There’s everything from Elf Schools and Reindeer Farms to baking with Mrs Claus here. And kids can look forward to meet ‘n’ greets Santa himself.
A whisker north of the Arctic Circle means plenty of snow. So sleigh rides, tobogganing, dog sledding, and winter safaris are all part of the fun. There are cosy log cabins or dramatic ice hotels to cocoon you. And if all that isn’t awesome enough, Rovaniemi’s a leading Northern Lights hotspot.
- Flights from the UK to Rovaniemi take five hours and 20 minutes.
- Santa Claus Village is 10 minutes drive from Rovaniemi.
Salzburg, Austria – one of the loveliest family winter breaks with kids
Kids love winter in Salzburg. It’s all gorgeously decorated streets, twinkling skies and views of the Alps. Plus the city has more festive theatre, ballet and concerts than seems strictly fair.
The world’s most beautiful Baroque city looks even lovelier under snow. An ancient Glockenspiel plays carols in the old town. And don’t miss the Christmas Market. It’s the oldest in Europe. Go in the early evening, just after dark, and you’ll see the Christkindl Christmas Angel, arrive to bless the market. It’s a magical moment kids never forget.
- Direct flights from the UK to Salzburg take just under two hours.
Strasbourg, France – the Capital of Christmas is pretty all winter
Strasbourg old town’s half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets are a winter dream. Christmas market stalls sell everything from stripy stockings to beribboned Bredel biscuits. Gothic angels trumpet from the top of cathedral spires. It’s usually snowy and carollers come prettily costumed and there are enough fir trees to fill a decent sized forest.
The city’s almost more German than French. And that’s really noticeable in winter when it’s as festive as it gets, without hitching up reindeers and heading for the North Pole.
- Flights from the UK to Strasbourg take three hours and 40 minutes.
Tromsø, Norway – one of the best places for Northern Lights this winter
Tucked round freezing seas under snow-laden mountains, Tromsø is exactly as you’d imagine an old-fashioned Nordic city. And it’s one of the easiest places for family winter breaks. Despite being on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
Polar Night falls here early. And there’s little daylight for weeks on end. But locals don’t mind. They just go mad with street lights and decoration. Storefronts glitter until all hours. Landscapes of fir trees are bedecked. And you can’t move for jolly seasonal markets. There are quiet moments too. Mainly when everyone’s staring in awe at the Northern Lights.
- Direct flights from the UK to Tromsø take three hours.
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