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Top 10 Best New Year Destinations (and one to avoid!)

When looking for something to do at New Year you have tons of events, parties and displays to choose from. A few famous places come to mind straight away: Times Square (New York) & Sydney Opera House. But what if you’re in Europe? Where are the Best New Year destinations in Europe for 2018? Let’s take a look!

Light shows, live music, beach parties, street parties and fireworks shows. New Years is a great excuse to gather friends and family for a huge party! Starting from number 10 and working our way to the Best New Year Destinations on our list.

10) River Seine in Paris

One of the downsides to celebrating New Year’s Eve in a public space is… the public. For me at least, people are generally annoying. Crowds that swell into thousands means we spend more time trying to keep our group together than enjoying the moment. How to get around this problem? I have the solution! Enjoy the fireworks show from a boat on the River Seine!

Paris is the city of lights and makes the list because you can watch the fireworks from the Seine. The Eiffel Tower light show is famous around the world but the New Year fireworks make it even more special. Chances are you’ve seen it on social media or TV but it’s nothing compared to being there yourself.

 9) Red Square in Moscow

Moscow is almost certainly the coldest on our list of the Best New Year Destinations! You will have to wrap up warm if you’re celebrating in the famous Red Square. The fireworks display lights up the buildings of the Red Square, making them look even more like delicious Gingerbread houses than they usually do.

Keep warm and enjoy the fireworks in the open air as temperatures are regularly below freezing! A warm drink will undoubtedly help, but remember to bring gloves, a scarf, jacket and a jumper (or three).

8) Street party in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an awesome place to spend the New Year! Street parties and public square celebrations mean it’s a shoo-in to make the list of the best new year destinations! Aside from the fantastic parties, there are the many fireworks displays!

The streets of Amsterdam are a great place to visit on New Year’s Eve. Contrastingly to many big European Cities you have a bit more space to wander and enjoy the city. When the fireworks finish, it’s normal for locals to head to a club to continue the celebrations! Amsterdam is famous for its waterways, and when they’re lit up at night, they’re even more aesthetically appealing.

Fun, relaxed and not too busy, Amsterdam is one of the best New Years Eve destinations!

7) City Center in Copenhagen

Number 7 on our list of the best new year’s eve destinations is the Capital of Denmark! Turn the lights off because as you can see in the picture above, you won’t be needing them! Spending the New Year in Copenhagen is a spectacular affair with locals setting off their own fireworks as soon as it goes dark, before the huge official display later in the evening.

The party starts really early in Copenhagen, as soon as the Queen’s speech finishes sometime after 6pm. Locals tend to eat at home and spend time with friends before venturing to the center for the huge displays. 

Copenhagen is similar to Amsterdam in that there is a more relaxed feeling here and it is a little less crowded. That being said there is no shortage of places to go or people to party with making this a great place to ‘watch the ball drop’.

6) Gdansk, Poland (It doesn’t matter where, the display is massive!)

Gdansk has one of the most enjoyable, and lengthiest New Year displays in all of Europe. Lasting around 15 minutes some of the fireworks are truly spectacular and you’d be forgiven for feeling like you’re in a Harry Potter movie with spells being cast all over the square!

Gdansk is a beautiful city and the fantastic fireworks display makes it easily a 9/10! Be sure to take some time to explore the streets while its quiet. A few hours is all that’s needed to visit the harbor and market stalls. It’s a great place to explore in the day but at night Gdansk is even more beautiful. The architecture here is fascinating and only gets better when lit up at night.

Something to watch out for! People often set off fireworks while in the crowd. There doesn’t seem to be any malice to this, the fireworks head skywards for onlookers to enjoy but still, it can be dangerous! A rooftop bar could be the ideal place to watch the display although shop around, prices can be crazy!

We’re heading somewhere (a little) warmer for our number 5 spots for the Best New Year Destinations! They are...

5) Tibidabo or Plaça Espanya in Barcelona

I was surprised when I spent my first new year in Barcelona in 2016, it was pretty quiet... I was surprised as there are always interesting things to do in Barcelona! But there wasn’t much going on… That was until about 11pm! People appear seemingly from nowhere and completely cut off traffic around Plaça Espanya to stand and wait for the light show and fireworks.

Everyone will tell you to head to Plaça Espanya as that is where the big display is but I have a much better suggestion. If you’re okay with huge crowds then sure head to Plaça Espanya for New Years. Personally, I hate jostling for space against a bunch of strangers! That’s why I suggest you head to the mountains to enjoy the fireworks. You do miss most of the light show but to be honest, it’s a sacrifice I’m happy to make, but that’s your call!

The great thing about Barcelona is the amazing view of the display from the hills and nearby mountains. I can speak from personal experience because I’ve spent one New Year in Plaça Espanya and the other in Tibidabo. It’s only 20 minutes on the train and as you can see in the picture above, you get a great view of the city, the fireworks display and even the boats out at sea.

Barcelona wouldn’t make it so high up the list if it wasn’t for the mountains! Heading up here is a great way to escape the crowds and really enjoy the display.

Descending from the mountains we’ll be heading out to an Island for our number 4 spot!

4) Boat/Hill on Madeira Island in Portugal

This small Portuguese Island is easily one of the best new year destinations because of its phenomenal firework display. I don’t want to oversell it but it did make the Guinness Book of World Records in 2006 for the largest fireworks display in the world. New Year’s Eve in Madeira can sound like a war zone, but the 5-10 minute display is definitely worth seeing.

The Madeira Island display doesn't draw crowds of over a million people, but the next place sure tries...

3) Brandenburger Gate in Berlin

I wish I could put Berlin higher on this list as it’s easily one of the best New Year’s Eve destinations. The Brandenburger Gate in Berlin is one of my top 3 best places to go for New Year’s Eve!

There’s great live music and obviously, a firework display. Berlin puts on an event different to other major cities. Many simply set off fireworks for 10 minutes and then everybody goes home. Berlin takes a much more fun approach! There is a plethora of different shows, party tents, light shows and some great food stands.

The official party starts around 7pm when the live music kicks off. Famous bands and artists such as Rednex, Whigfield, Oli P., Höhner and Münchener Freiheit have all made appearances. A great point about the festivities here is that they really try to prevent overcrowding.

There is much more to do than simply watch a display and that’s why Berlin beats out the amazing Madeira. But where next?

2) The streets of Edinburgh

Known amongst Scots as Hogmanay, New Year in Edinburgh is spectacular! Throughout this article I’ve suggested getting out of the center but for New Year’s in Edinburgh, you want to be in the thick of the action!

A parade of people in various attire from traditional Scottish dress to Vikings to a lively procession of the torch-wielding public. The best thing about Hogmanay though, is that it isn’t just a celebration of a few hours, it’s a 3-day party! Fairgrounds, concerts and a huge (seriously, HUGE) street party.

Something that sets Edinburgh apart from some other big cities, is the good feeling between the crowd. I’m not saying it’s not great elsewhere, but crowds tend to get a bit pushy, a bit uncomfortable and angry. Hogmanay just has a much more jovial feeling than much of London for example.

1) ANYWHERE in Reykjavik

My number one choice is a bit different from the usual recommendations. Reykjavik is far removed from the busy, overcrowded streets you imagine for New Year’s Eve celebrations. In contrast to our number 5 pick, Barcelona, New Year celebrations in Reykjavik begin quite early, around 8:30 pm! There is some great info here on how locals spend the New Year in Iceland if you really want to get into the local spirit!

I was expecting something a bit quieter in Reykjavik but to be honest, it turned out to be the best New Year’s display I’ve seen. A combination of the fireworks and the Northern Lights put Reykjavik into first place on our list.

The fireworks are one thing, but what’s even better is when they all die down. This may sound strange, but the natural light display that tops any firework show in the world is the Northern Lights. You can even enjoy the sights while on a cruise. Could there be a more perfect way to start the New Year?

Tip for New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik? The city isn’t huge but it’s extremely popular so you have to book ahead of time if you want to have a place to stay!

I’ve tried to find different kinds of places to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the hills in Reykjavik are a perfect spot for this. Locals set off their fireworks and the population of 200,000 combines to create one the most spectacular displays. I like this because it’s a load of private citizens combining their own displays to make something amazing.

BONUS TIP: One to avoid at New Year’s Eve: London

I love London, but spending the New Year in London is terrible. It’s freezing cold, ridiculously overcrowded and you need to reserve and book tickets to almost everything. The fireworks display is nice but no better than what you would enjoy elsewhere.

If you’re adamant to spend the New Year in London I have a few tips for you. I would advise against eating out because everywhere will be packed! It’s also famously expensive and I’m sure restaurants and clubs add a ‘New Year tax’.

You would be tempted to head to the Thames and normally it’s a lovely spot! At New Year’s though, the banks of the river are a horrible place to be. You have to stand in the cold and put up with an obstructed view as thousands of people try to get the perfect Instagram pic.

So where should you go in London for New Year’s Eve?

The number one choice is a house party, but unless you have a local contact this one will be difficult! So, for anyone who isn’t lucky enough to have a friend in London what is the next best alternative?

Well, similar to Paris, you have the opportunity of watching the display from the river on a boat. But it’s expensive! London is almost always on a list for best places to go for new years eve but… Just don’t!

So that’s it for my Top 10 best New Year destinations in Europe for 2018. Have you enjoyed a place that I’ve missed out? Even more importantly I hope you’ve found a spot to spend New Year’s. Have a great time!

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