With the British winter looking as wet and windy as ever this year, it’s easy for the mind to quickly turn to travel. Winter breaks tend to have a slightly different set of criteria than the traditional summer holiday, with sun, sea and sand often replaced with skiing, shopping and city breaks.
If you’re starting to feel the winter blues and fancy a trip overseas, we’ve pulled together a few of our favourite trips to take during the colder parts of the year.
Visit the Christmas Markets
If you fancy getting into the Christmas spirit and finding a few unusual gifts for the family, Europe is filled with world famous Christmas markets. It’s the perfect way of combining a city break with a little Christmas shopping, and the markets are generally filled with great food, great music and plenty of mulled wine!
Some of the more famous markets include:
- Vienna – Runs from mid-November through December and there are around 20 different markets to explore each year
- Aachen – The squares and streets around the cathedral are transformed in late November to form a little Christmas village
- Strasbourg – One of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, and part of the reason the city is known as the capital of Christmas. Runs from late November through December
Enjoy a Skiing Break
Perhaps the ultimate winter holiday, a skiing holiday brings together all the things people love about the season. The perfect snow, the warm fire and spending time with family and friends is the ideal way of getting away from things for a few days.
While it’s often considered and expensive holiday, prices are far more reasonable that they used to be and there’s plenty of cheap ski deals out there if you’re looking for an affordable break. Some of our favourite value for money ski trips are:
Val d’Isère – The most popular ski resort for British travellers, with the excellent skiing and charming town providing most people’s idea of the perfect ski resort.
Courmayeur – Ideal skiing conditions for the intermediate level, and one of the best ski resort towns in Europe. Plenty of shops, restaurants and bars to keep you entertained!
La Plagne – An area consisting of 10 different villages, each offering a distinct look and feel. Those looking for a more modern, active trip should look to Plagne Centre and Aime-la-Plagne, while Montchavin offers a more relaxing and rural vibe.
Hit the Big City
Winter is the ideal opportunity to take a city break – the weather’s typically not the best, so it’s the perfect time to hit the shops, museums and restaurants and really get a feel for what a city has to offer. Flights and hotels are usually much more affordable than in peak season, so it can be a good way of getting away on the cheap!
Some places really suit the season, coming alive in the colder weather more than at any other time of year. If you’re looking for snow, shopping and a festive feel with your winter city break, these are our favourites:
New York – Almost a different place entirely in the winter, the crisp air and blue skies (and occasional heavy snow) transform the city. Plenty of great shopping and eating is available, with the big department stores really getting you in the Christmas spirit.
Madrid – Blazing hot in the summer and pleasantly cool in the winter, Madrid is a great city to explore on foot. Fantastic shopping, great food in the various cafes and restaurants dotted around the plazas, and the hotels are much cheaper in January than at any other time of year.
Berlin – Like New York, the winter really changes Berlin as the lakes freeze over and the nightlife comes alive. There are several Christmas markets throughout December which really brighten up the city – just remember to wrap up warm, as it’s often below freezing throughout the month!
While it’s often a grim time (particularly in the wet and windy UK), getting away for a few days during the winter months can be a great way to recharge and get into the festive spirit. It’s a great way of seeing a different side to many cities, getting some shopping done and spending some fun-packed time with friends and family.