What Is Eastern Europe Like in the Winter?

Christmas Market, Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Getty Images/Alan Copson

Thinking of traveling to Eastern Europe during the winter months? Need some encouragement to do so? Winter travel to Eastern Europe can be just as fun and exciting as any other time of the year.

Travel Preparations

You can't just stuff some flip-flops in your backpack and hop on the next flight to Prague. You should, actually, do some careful planning before you travel to Eastern Europe during the winter. Consider what you'll take to protect you from the cold, what you'll do in case of a flight delay or cancellation, and what hotels will put you in a good position to catch public transportation when you'd rather not walk.

Enjoying Yourself

There are plenty of good reasons to travel to Eastern Europe during the winter season, maybe most importantly, cost savings. However, less expensive airfare doesn't mean your trip will be less valuable. Follow the lead of the locals, and enjoy the nightlife, the performing arts, gorgeous winter landscapes, and holiday celebrations. Ice skating rinks are set up in historic centers, and hot mulled wine fills the air with the scent of spices. Restaurants in Eastern Europe also become all the cozier for their warm atmospheres and hearty cuisines: think filling soups, meat-stuffed dumplings, and decadent, layered pastries.

You'll also want to explore the local cafes and warm beverages, like these in Prague.

Special Occasions

If you plan to take advantage of the wintertime and holiday festivities, you'll want to plan ahead. Both cultural and performing arts festivals abound. For something special, celebrate Christmas, the New Year, or Valentine's Day at a palace or castle hotel, or celebrate the end of winter during Moscow's Maslenitsa Festival. But book in advance - these venues are extremely popular.

Christmas Markets

Eastern Europe's Christmas markets, which begin at the start of December and end at the beginning of January, are reason enough to brave the cold and visit the region during this season. Here, you'll be able to buy gifts, souvenirs, decorations, handicrafts, and foodstuffs traditional to the season and browse in an environment lit up with multi-colored lights and fresh with the fragrance of pine from holiday trees and fir boughs draping market stalls.

Visiting the countries of Eastern Europe in the winter is guaranteed to be a memorable experience, particularly if you go prepared to make the most of your time there.