The Best Northern European Destinations for Students Winter Breaks

When you purchase through links on our site we may earn a commission, Learn More >>

Colleges offer students a chance to go on an extended winter break, from one to three weeks. For many, it’s a welcoming opportunity to escape from the hassles of academic pressure.

Although some students use this break to spend time with their family, those who can’t return home may choose to venture into stunning destinations like Northern Europe.

The region is renowned for offering an epic winter holiday, where you can cruise through spectacular fjords, stroll through charming Christmas markets, or ski into the mountains! 

Below, check out some of the best Northern European destinations for students’ winter breaks.

  1. Malmo, Sweden

Malmo is a picturesque city in Southern Sweden boasting a diverse historical past, formerly part of Denmark. As one of Sweden’s largest cities, Malmo has a bright future as a tech hub, making it a fantastic choice for an enjoyable student winter break in Sweden. 

Malmo Northern Europe in Winter
Malmö Lighthouse in Winter

Check out the exciting exhibitions at the Malmö Museum and learn about natural history, shipping, and technology. It’s within Malmo Castle, which you can reach on a 15-minute walk from the Malmö Central Station. Emporia, a vast shopping centre with over 200 shops and restaurants, is worth a stop even if you don’t intend to shop.

Admire the building’s stunning architecture and take a break in one of the outdoor cafes and restaurants serving international and Nordic delicacies. 

Of course, your winter break won’t be complete without enjoying all the winter sports that Malmo offers. Visit the Bulltofta Recreational Area, which transforms into a paradise for winter sports in winter.

It has spectacular slopes, perfect for skiing and toboggan riding. The park is in the Bulltofta neighbourhood, easily accessible from various places in Malmo.

After all the fun adventures, head to the Ribersborg Open-Air Bath House to enjoy a relaxing soak. The historic bath house is in the centre of Malmo, boasting two spacious sea pools and wood-fired saunas. 

  1. Hamburg, Germany

In winter, Hamburg transforms into a magical place of colourful lights, festive markets, and mouth-watering smells, making it a fascinating place for students on winter breaks.

a young woman out for a morning run in Hamburg Germany
A student on holidays in Hamburg out running

Whether you prefer to visit a winter-themed attraction or somewhere to get out of the cold, Hamburg will have something to delight you.

Hamburg is renowned for its Christmas markets, so be sure to check one of these markets on your visit. You’ll love strolling through them, soaking up its buzzing atmosphere, and checking out the numerous stalls selling holiday-themed foods and Christmas goodies.

If the sweet treats at the Christmas markets are not enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, visit Chocoversum, a chocolate museum showcasing a variety of chocolates featuring rich flavours. Aside from touring the museum and learning about the different chocolates, you’ll have a chance to taste these delectable treats during your visit. 

Hamburg Germany through a window at sunrise
Hamburg is stunning in the mornings

Students visiting Hamburg will find plenty of educational attractions to explore. One is the Hamburg Planetarium, a historic and fascinating planetarium that uses state-of-the-art 3D technologies to showcase the solar system.

Despite the technological advancements, the building features an Art Deco style of architecture from the early 20th century. You will also discover plenty of cheap flights to Hamburg, perfect for those travelling on a budget. 

  1. Helsinki, Finland

From sipping hot chocolates to exploring iconic landmarks, Helsinki offers plenty of fun activities for students coming here for a winter break. Finland’s capital city is rich in culture and history, home to many historical sites and bustling open-air markets.

a young woman sitting on a boat in Helsinki harbour looking at the city
A college student visiting Helsinki

It has lots going on at different times of the year, but even more exciting to explore in winter. Sightseeing in Helsinki is fun! Begin your adventure in Senate Square, the oldest part of the city, home to one of the country’s most recognisable landmarks, Helsinki Cathedral.

Stroll around the square at your own pace or book a guided tour to learn more about the history of the place. One of the top activities in Helsinki during winter months is ice skating. The good news is that you’ll find several outdoor ice rinks around the city that let you skate for free!

One of these is the Helsinki Ice Park, the largest of all the ice rinks in the city. The other excellent places to enjoy ice skating for free are Jätkäsaari Ice Rink, Brahe Ice Rink, and Oulunkylä Ice Rink. While the entrance is free, you need to hire skates to enjoy a day of skating.

  1. Scotland, UK

A winter break in Scotland can be an exciting adventure for students who enjoy wintry landscapes and discovering off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Enjoying the views of Edinburgh

While Scotland’s peak season is summer, winter is becoming more popular with visitors who want to experience the country’s magical landscapes. There are also plenty of glamping options in Scotland, perfect for those looking to stay in nature comfortably. 

It’s worth noting that some of Scotland’s most popular attractions are open and accessible throughout the year, including the Isle of Skye, Edinburgh Castle, and the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition. 

Edinburgh is an ideal base for your winter break. Staying in the capital city puts you close to the country’s iconic landmarks, such as the Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat. A hike to Arthur’s Seat will reward you with stunning city views. But if you prefer a shorter walk, hike up Calton Hill, which has a spectacular viewpoint.

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland has a long winter season, making it a fantastic destination for students’ winter breaks. Exploring Reykjavik in winter is an incredible experience, especially if you venture into other parts of the country to visit spectacular glaciers and explore snow-strewn landscapes.

Downtown Reykjavik

When visiting Iceland in Winter, don’t miss seeing the Northern Lights. If you are staying in a place in Reykjavik with minimal light pollution, you can possibly catch sight of the Northern Lights from your hotel window. Otherwise, it’s worth driving outside the city for this spectacular phenomenon.

Relaxing in the soothing waters of Blue Lagoon is a must-do on your visit to Reykjavik. The world-renowned hot spring attracts visitors worldwide who want to enjoy the rejuvenating experience of soaking in the geothermal seawater.

2 teenage students having fun at the Blue Lagoon

Another fun place in Reykjavik is the Ingólfstorg Square, where you can shop and enjoy ice skating. It transforms into a Christmas village in December, where you can stroll through a Christmas Market and skate at an ice rink. The highlight is the Christmas tree with over 100,000 light bulbs!

We hope this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel has you inspired to visit Northern Europe. There are so many cities worth visiting in Northern Europe that will have you entertained for your winter break. 

Choosing the best family vacation destinations, working out a budget, what bags and suitcases to take, travel essentials and more can be so time-consuming. Planning travel can be stressful, but a trip to Northern Europe makes it easy. 

More Northern Europe travel inspiration