If you are craving a walk in the snow among stunning historical buildings dusted with frost, eating steaming roast chestnuts in a cosy pub and a mug of hot chocolate from a street side cafe to warm you up from the inside out, head to the beautiful cities of Europe for a winter break in December or January.
One of the most romantic cities of them all, Venice is a marvellous place to visit in winter. Though the wind can be bitingly chilly, the summer crowds are gone, and the beautiful blue skies make the city seem like a magical destination. It is also less expensive than in the high season, and a luxury retreat in Venice during the winter months could be the perfect way to start the new year.
The German capital is transformed in winter. The lakes freeze over, pavement seating is packed away and cafés, bars, galleries and museums come into their own. In December, the city is alive with the Christmas markets. From small and charming to the big and glitzy, city shopping has never been so fun. However, temperatures can drop to the minus levels, so warm clothing is a must.
The Greek capital is a great place to visit all year-round. You can always find a lively bar on the hip nightlife streets, or a fine restaurant packed with locals, not the tourists. The winter months are cooler and cheaper, and much of the tourist businesses are still open. But it is the lack of crowds which should entice you to Athens in winter and gives you the chance to visit all the historical landmarks in peace.
Package tourist groups are few and far between in Rome during winter, and the enterprising visitors will relish a city break during December, January or February. These quiet months offer a chance to enter the life of the city, where you can rub shoulders with the locals in the neighbourhood bars or stroll along the quiet streets wrapped up in scarves. In the city, which has a resistance to chain stores, you can browse the independent boutiques and galleries for a refreshing shopping experience.
Barcelona in winter is completely different to its bustling summer. Dry, azure blue skies and empty streets make it heaven for a quiet romantic getaway. It might surprise you, but winter is also the time when the cultural calendar gets into full swing. There is the Santa Llúcia Christmas Fair, Yuletide performances at Santa María del Mar church and more. Even better, the weather rarely dips below 5C, even in January.
Despite the low temperatures of Vienna, which can get well below freezing, there is always plenty to do in Austria’s capital. With clear blue skies and crisp snow it is a beautiful place to visit in winter. Even when you do start to feel the cold, the city is well equipped with cafes and bars to warm up at. Don’t miss a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, a palace built to house one of the biggest collections of fine art in the country.
The city lights up with festive taste in winter and looks like a fairy tale in snow. A city that is pretty all year round can’t be missed being seen when covered in a blanket of crisp white snow. Wildly romantic, the city is a spectacle of light, transforming into an outdoor gallery along the canals. In the lead up to Christmas, markets pop up all over the city, ranging from traditional to trendy and selling beautiful products.
Paris, the city of love and lights, is an ideal romantic winter break destination. The trees are illuminated with thousands of fairy lights, and you can stay warm by street vendors selling hot chestnuts. Getting off the street, pay a visit to the many museums of the city, a little easier to navigate without summer crowds. The festive window displays of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette draw in the Christmas shoppers, and the ice-rink at the Champs-Elysées is open until January.
Image by Arden