APPROACHING the end of the year, several people have already chosen destinations to spend the Christmas and New Year holiday season. One of them is Europe, which offers natural beauty, delicious food and drinks as well as charming seasonal tourist attractions.

As inspiration for your holiday, Zurich in Switzerland might be an option. The city shimmers in snow, with every neighborhood decked out in gorgeous decorations and a host of festive activities to explore during the magical Swiss winter.

Unlike most Christmas destinations, which only celebrate in December, Zurich offers local holiday cheer extended from November to February at the Frau Gerolds Garten and Magic Winter Village at the top of the Uetliberg mountain. Still curious about Zurich?

Here are some reasons Zurich is interesting to visit at Christmas:
1. Christmas Market
While the city has a number of charming Christmas markets, open from late November to late December, two famous markets truly capture, share and showcase the spirit of Zurich’s past.

The first Christkindlimarkt, located at Zurich Main Station, welcomed train travelers and visitors from all over the world from November 23 to December 24. At this market you can enjoy a variety of food, wine and handmade decorations.

Sechseläutenplatz Market, Wiehnachtsdorf, on the large square in front of the Opera House, is in a beautiful location beside Lake Zurich and is the largest Christmas market in the city. This market is open from November 23 to December 23.

2. Indulgent Cheese Fondue and Raclette
While Swiss culinary delights fondue and raclette are enjoyed all year round in Zurich, they complement the cold weather perfectly and make for an ideal cozy holiday meal. Over the festive season, a number of unique and delicious pop-up restaurants serve up melted cheese dishes alongside rustic bread, roast potatoes and sour pickles.

3. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in Instagrammable cafes
Take a break from exploring Zurich’s lively streets and stop in at one of the many pretty cafes decorated for the holidays. Sip on a warm, sweet mix topped with fresh whipped cream and a piece of local, handmade chocolate to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit.

4. Taste Glühwein & Punch
A Christmas visit to Zurich wouldn’t be complete without a steaming cup of red or white Glühwein, enhanced with a touch of cloves, cinnamon and orange.

The warm drink is available at the festive Christmas markets. Younger diners enjoy a non-alcoholic version that uses a warm fruit drink base with the same winter spices.

5. Day Trip in the Alps
To Zurich don’t miss a trip to the Alps, which are just a stone’s throw away. Here you can visit Jungfraujoch and take the cable car to the UNESCO World Heritage site, see the Alpine glaciers and ice waterfalls on Mount Titlis, or try beginner skiing at Grindelwald. [sources/photo special]