10 alternative city break destinations this winter
Winter is the perfect time for a city break. A nice budget friendly way to fit in one last holiday before the expensive festive period. But Europe only has so many cities – or so you think.
Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome and Paris are undoubtedly Europe’s most popular cities. However, even if you’ve ticked all these urban hubs off your bucket list there are still numerous other cities perfect to explore this winter. Here is just a selection of some of Europe’s hidden metropolises with just as much culture and entertainment as the big players.
Looking for a spooktacular Halloween break? Why not take a trip to the home of Dracula! Bran Castle is a three hour drive from Bucharest, and there’s no shortage of tour operators offering a bargain price. In the city itself, you’ll find an eclectic mix of historical buildings and post-1980 architecture in the six distinct districts.
This well-known German city is hardly the most out-there destination, but it doesn’t have the same celebrity-status as Berlin. However (in the same way that some British people consider London to be heavily commercialised) many Germans consider Berlin to be a metropolitan hub full of hipsters and reckon Hamburg offers a more genuine Germanic experience.
3.Galway or Cork
If you’re looking for a super quick weekend away with your pals, Dublin is usually top of the list. But don’t forget about Cork or Galway. The two coastal cities offer everything you would come to expect from Ireland: music, scenery, nightlife, history and culture.
The capital of Estonia is already popular with stag dos and beer enthusiasts, but it also packs a lot of history into its compact walls. Its Old Town survived the war and is well-preserved, while the modern part of the city is a mix of Baltic, Nordic, Teutonic and Russian cultures. A great time to visit is during the annual Tallinn Music Week (27 March – 2 April) when the city highlights its growing rock and electronic music scene.
Paris isn’t the only chic city you can reach via Eurostar: the quieter city of Marseille in the south of France is only 6.5 hours from London. As you wander around the various areas of the city, you’ll be met with independent boutiques, contemporary art galleries, beautiful churches, and trendy rooftop bars.
While Malta might be widely considered a great escape for a beach break, its capital city is home to the biggest density of historic sites in the world. Malta is also home to some Europe's best festivals.
If you’re looking for a city full of cultured arty types – then we recommend the Swedish city of Gothenburg. You’ll find colourful architecture, charming canals and street art. There’s even an amusement park with a lime green rabbit as its mascot!
Craving a taste of real Italy? Bologna is a foodie hub of Italy that has remained sheltered from mainstream tourist crowds. The city is also home to Europe’s oldest university and, as such, the nightlife is second to none.
Athens is not exactly unknown, but Greece is more famous for its beaches and holiday resorts that its ancient capital city. The Acropolis is by far the city’s most popular attraction, but make sure you also stop by the Temple of Poseidon, Museum of Delphi and The Panathinaiko Stadium (where the very first Olympics was held).
Looking for a winter wonderland? Norway’s original capital boasts northern Europe’s second largest cathedral (Nidaros Cathedral) and the scenic Nidelven River winds its way through its streets. Viking heritage is also in full-swing here, with the Stiklestad Cultural Center built on the site of country’s goriest battle. If you’re lucky, the northern lights might also make an appearance.