Whenever Christmas comes around, magic is infused in the air all over the world. You know those perfectly snowy little villages that look right out of a fairytale? Well, they exist and we’ve rounded up the best ones for you – get ready for the holiday of a lifetime.
1. Grindelwald, Switzerland
Sitting at the base of two majestic Swiss Alp peaks, this village also happens to be the filming location of many a Hollywood movie such as “The Golden Compass”. It’s home to several winter resorts, so take your pick!
2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Detroit isn’t exactly your picture of a winter wonderland, but head down to the island town via ferry and you’ll be transported to another era. People travel by horse and buggy. Santa visits every child at Christmas, and there’s an annual Christmas bazaar with lilac themes – Mackinac’s favorite color.
3. North Pole, Alaska
We’re not kidding when we say that the North Pole is one of the most exciting Christmas towns in the U.S. Streets here are called Mistletoe Lane, Santa Clause Lane, and there’s even a Christmas in Ice sculpture contest, as well as a real life Satna Clause house. You can mail your friends postcards from Santa’s office and zip code to prove he really does exist.
4. Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Sitting just north of the Arctic Circle, this place is filled with whimsical Christmas activities, from making cookies with Mrs Claus to enrolling in Elf School. If nature is more your thing, you can go on husky-dog sled rides and toboggan in pristine, ivory snow, or marvel at the Northern Lights. There’s even a reindeer safari that’s – yes – sled-led. Book your stay at the Arctic Snow Hotel which is made of snow and ice but filled with hot tubs and saunas to stay warm.
5. Riga, Latvia
The architecture of the gorgeous Town Hall is one of the major attractions here, as are the events specially catered for children. Take the wooden carousel and a cat house, which is filled with actual kitties from the local shelter. Cozy Latvian handcrafted items are sold and you can learn about their traditions in everything from cooking to log dragging.
6. Cologne, Germany
Cologne is stunning any time of year, but visit close to the holidays to check out up to eight different Christmas markets settled on either side of the Rhine.TH most magnificent and biggest sits in fort of the famous cathedral Kolner Dam. Drink up some gluhwein as you stroll!
7. Tallinn, Estonia
Visit the capital of Estonia, a medieval town lit by lanterns and covered in cobblestone. In 1441, this is where the world’s first Christmas tree was erected. Today, this legendary tree is circled by huts filled with vendors selling goods and specialists setting ups now sculptures and mini zoos. The market also includes an outdoor ice rink.
8. Bruges, Belgium
This village transforms into a Christmas parade in the winter. Make sure to catch the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival – this year’s theme is “land of the hobbits” and 40 artists will be making creations out of 400 tons of snowflakes and 300 tons of ice. Nibble on some of this country’s famous chocolate while you take it all in.
9. Valkenburg, Netherlands
Amsterdam for the holidays is beautiful, but overrated, if we’re being honest. Instead, check out the oldest and biggest subterranean Christmas market in all of Europe, which must be navigated through a labyrinth of underground cave tunnels. In it, tourists can see an 18th century chapel, various sculptures, and mural drawings all the way back from Roman times.