If only we could actually erase all our problems and bad habits with the dawn of a new day. It would be so satisfying knowing you had a clean slate going forward.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way, but temporarily running away from your issues by travelling is the next best thing.
If you can make a quick decision, it’s not too late for a last-minute New Year’s Eve in Europe. In this guide, you’ll find my recommendations for where to go to ring in the 2023 / 2024 New Year.
I, for one, am very much looking forward to the new year and a symbolic new start. The countdown is on.
Best New Year Destinations in Europe
I’ve celebrated New Year’s in many of Europe’s big cities, and even now, the thought of it scares the hell out of me.
Fireworks are fun and pretty from a distance, but not when they’re in the hands of individuals and going off in the streets in every direction.
Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t find the thought of getting hit in the butt by fireworks appealing (I’ve seen this in Amsterdam and Budapest), but if you love a big city and big street parties, one of these five destinations is bound to suit.
Amsterdam, Netherlands – My first big New Year’s Eve night out in Europe was in Amsterdam. It started slow but was wild after midnight.
I would never spend New Year’s there again, I feel way too old now for that kind of partying, but it was loads of fun at the time, if not nerve-wracking.
Amsterdam is a compact city, so if you can find a rooftop terrace or somewhere high up, you can see fireworks all over the city.
Watch the official city fireworks at Kop van Java; otherwise, head to Nieuwmarkt or Dam Square to party with the masses.
Lisbon, Portugal – Lisbon is one of Europe’s most beautiful coastal cities, and there’s a good chance of relatively warm(ish) weather.
Bairro Alto is the place to be after midnight when the quiet residential area turns into an all-night party zone.
Bars are packed with most of the patrons moving out onto the narrow streets, even in winter. If you’d prefer something a little different and very Portuguese, head to the Alfama district for a night of Fado singing.
Budapest, Hungary – Budapest is an all-year-round party destination. When I lived there, the weekends were packed with visitors drinking cheap drinks at one of the city’s many grungy ruin bars.
Getting caught up bar-hopping in Budapest is so easy, and you can’t go wrong at New Year’s. You can see a list of the best ruin bars in my Budapest Travel Guide – What to do in Budapest or just walk around the Jewish Quarter and fall into any place that takes your fancy.
I made this video from one of several New Year celebrations I had in Budapest. I safely watched the New Year fireworks from my hotel window.
Barcelona, Spain – Another known nightclub hotspot in Europe, Barcelona has a well-deserved reputation for partying.
Start the evening with a set menu meal at one of Barcelona’s top restaurants while drinking plenty of the local cava (sparkling wine).
Avoid the touristy Les Ramblas area for the after-party and head to the Gothic Quarter, El Born or Ravel. For an alternative feel, with more Catalans than tourists, check out the charismatic Gracia district.
Barcelona is such a fun city to visit. Definitely keep it in mind for a New Year’s city break.
Hamburg, Germany – Hamburg is another big party city in Europe, although it’s a little more subdued and civilised than Budapest or Barcelona, in my experience.
Well, except for the Reeperbahn, supposedly the longest party street in Europe. It’s pretty full-on most of the time, but it would be maddening on New Year’s Eve.
For a slightly less chaotic night out (slightly), watch the fireworks from the banks of the Alster Lakes or at Landungsbrucken overlooking the Elbe River.
Hamburg has some quirky New Year’s traditions to watch out for. They also have some excellent Christmas markets that will still be running.
This list of some of the most interesting places to visit in Hamburg will give you an idea of what it’s like visiting in winter.
Best New Year City Breaks
For quieter, more thoughtful or slightly off-the-beaten-path New Year’s holiday breaks, one of these smaller European cities would make for a relaxing few days away.
Dubrovnik, Croatia – Dubrovnik is a little hellish in summer but incredibly peaceful and beautiful in winter. It’s by far my favourite time to visit.
Dubrovnik has a huge number of New Year events as part of its Winter Festival season.
If you have an extended stay in Dubrovnik, don’t forget to head over the border to spend one day in Kotor for a chance to experience the most beautiful view in the Balkans.
Brighton, UK – If you’re looking to escape the bustling crowds of London and the intense celebrations of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, setting sights on the coastal town of Brighton offers an interesting alternative for New Year’s.
Nestled along the South Coast of England, Brighton seamlessly blends its historic charm with a vibrant and contemporary cultural scene.
For a more laid-back experience, consider taking a leisurely stroll along the seafront.
The iconic Brighton Pier, bathed in the glow of festive lights, provides a stunning backdrop to the fireworks display that lights up the coastline at midnight.
Ljubljana, Slovenia – As the city’s hipster district, Ljubljana’s Metelkova attracts a younger crowd, especially those under 25, due to its vibrant nightlife.
But if you feel like you’re too old for that scene, the Ljubljanica River in the old town is lined with cool bars frequented by the local residents. During New Year’s, this part of the city provides a calm ambience.
Additionally, many restaurants line the area, catering to those who prefer a quiet meal over partying.
Tirana, Albania – New Year’s in Albania predominantly revolves around family gatherings rather than extensive drinking and party events.
However, the nightlife district in Tirana, known as Blloku, contradicts this norm by hosting a continuous, lively celebration. You’ll find the area alive with energy and music throughout the night.
I advise against staying in Blloku during this time if sleep is a priority for you, as the music never stops, like seriously, never.
Stockholm, Sweden – Although I’ve visited, I haven’t spent New Year’s Eve in Stockholm, but I’ve heard great things.
The traditional New Year’s celebration takes place on the island of Djurgarden at the Skansen open-air museum. This is also the place to view the midnight fireworks.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, Stockholm is a gorgeous city with great museums and cafes to experience the Swedish tradition of fika. It’s my kind of calm, afternoon, muted celebration.
Where Else to Go on New Year’s Eve
If you’re like me and prefer a low-key or non-existent New Year’s celebration, you could use the new year as an excuse to go away and instead go for a nice meal or have a quiet night in.
These beautiful destinations are my top recommendations for quiet, small-town getaways in Europe. They’re all stunning places to go, you won’t be disappointed.
Hallstatt, Austria – The small town of Hallstatt in Austria, situated close to Salzburg, is renowned for its serene lake setting.
While the activities in the town are limited, you can enjoy the simplicity of sitting by the lake. The surrounding views of nature contribute to a peaceful New Year celebration.
This destination suits you if you seek tranquillity and a break from bustling New Year festivities.
12. Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov, Czechia – Cesky Krumlov, located near Prague, holds a reputation for its striking scenery and culinary excellence.
As a foodie, you would find a variety of restaurants serving traditional Czech dishes, enhancing the New Year celebration experience in this town.
The scenic beauty and gastronomic opportunities make it a suitable destination for a calm and enjoyable New Year’s Eve.
Assisi, Italy – Assisi, located in Umbria, central Italy, stands as one of the remarkable medieval towns in the region.
The town is relatively quiet, allowing you to enjoy a peaceful New Year celebration.
Additionally, Assisi is known for its exceptional food, allowing you to relish exquisite Italian dishes as you usher in the New Year in a serene setting.
Colmar, France – In the Alsace region of France lies Colmar, a destination notable for its culinary excellence.
The town stands out for its unique beauty, earning a place among Europe’s most visually appealing towns.
Planning your trip for earlier in December allows you to experience the renowned Colmar Christmas Market, adding a festive touch to your visit.
The exquisite food and striking scenery provide a calm and enjoyable setting for celebrating New Year in Colmar.
Tuebingen, Germany – Near Stuttgart lies Tuebingen, a town accessible for a day trip or a longer stay.
Your time in Tuebingen can be spent enjoying the local cuisine and embracing relaxation.
The proximity to a major city and the opportunity for rest and good food make Tuebingen a practical and calm choice for a New Year’s destination.
I can’t say I enjoy New Year’s Eve much these days, I’m a bit over it, but if you fancy a last-minute trip, I hope you’ll feel inspired to visit one of these 15 destinations in 2023 into 2024.
If you’re looking for somewhere else to spend the New Year in Europe, this list of the best places to visit in Europe might give you some ideas.
Explore a variety of experiences this New Year across diverse destinations in Europe. Revel in the lively atmosphere of cities like Amsterdam, Lisbon, Budapest, and Barcelona, where each city brings its own unique charm to the celebrations.
In Hamburg and Dubrovnik, embrace the festivities amid stunning landscapes and vibrant urban settings.
Choose Brighton for a coastal New Year’s experience, or enjoy the tranquillity and scenic beauty of Hallstatt.
Opt for Ljubljana or Tirana for a blend of gastronomic delights and lively celebrations. In Stockholm, witness the seamless blend of historical allure and modern festivity.
Venture to Cesky Krumlov and Assisi for a peaceful New Year with a medieval backdrop and exceptional food.
Colmar and Tuebingen present further options for a calm New Year’s celebration, complete with culinary excellence and the opportunity for relaxation and reflection as you usher in the new year.
Select your destination and prepare for a European New Year filled with a range of experiences to suit every preference.
Travel Sustainably this New Year
Here’s a brief guide on adopting more responsible travel habits in Europe at New Year’s.
Eco-friendly Accommodations: Opt for accommodations that prioritise environmental sustainability. For instance, when visiting Amsterdam, choose hotels that are committed to using renewable energy sources. This action significantly reduces your carbon footprint while allowing you to enjoy your stay comfortably.
Reducing Food Waste: Be mindful of food consumption, especially in cities known for their culinary delights like Lisbon and Budapest. Order only what you can eat, and consider sharing dishes to avoid unnecessary waste. This practice not only minimises food wastage but also enables you to sample a variety of delicacies.
Ethical Consumption: Prioritise buying only what you genuinely need, especially in shopping-centric destinations like Barcelona and Stockholm. Opt for local and handmade products, contributing positively to the local economy and reducing the environmental impact of mass production.
Sustainable Diets: In cities renowned for their cuisine, like Cesky Krumlov and Assisi, focus on enjoying a sustainable diet. Opt for meals made with local and seasonal ingredients. Such choices support local farmers and reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting food from afar.
Sustainable Transport: Make transport choices that are gentle on the environment. In compact cities like Tuebingen or Colmar, take advantage of the opportunity to walk or cycle. In larger cities like Hamburg, make use of efficient public transport systems, reducing the reliance on taxis or rented cars and consequently lowering carbon emissions.
By following these principles, enjoy a New Year celebration that’s enriching for you and beneficial for the destinations you visit and the planet you inhabit.
In Budapest, New Year’s Eve is traditionally celebrated with fireworks and street parties, while you can visit the New Year markets during the day.
Stockholm has a majestic annual New Year fireworks display, best viewed from places like Skansen or Fjällgatan, where you’ll get a panoramic view of the city.
Hamburg’s public transport system, including buses and trains, operates on New Year’s Eve, often with extended hours to accommodate revellers, ensuring you can move around the city conveniently during the celebrations.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.