Brussels and Bruges: With their pop-up book looks, Brussels and Bruges take on a special kind of magic in winter. Enjoy the snow-covered scenery and forget all about the cold as you warm your mitts with a cone of hot Belgian Frites or a greedy helping of chocolate-smothered waffles. January’s detox can wait.
Salzburg: Looking for an Austrian ski resort that’s big on thrills, but short on transfers? Schladming is a hard act to beat. Located just 60 minutes from Salzburg Airport, Schladming is part of the Ski Amade area, a little piece of alpine heaven that’s ideal for experienced, intermediate skiers. Rent a car or take the trolley bus from Salzburg main railway station. Buses leave every 10 minutes and the journey only takes around an hour.
Lanzarote: Promised to get more active in the New Year? Kick things off with an adrenaline-fuelled trip to Lanzarote. Let’s face it, with temperatures hovering around the 18C temperature mark, an active break in Lanzarote will do a lot more to entice you off the sofa than the prospect of a frosty morning run at home. Hike the famous Fire Mountains of Timanfaya National Park, explore volcanic landscapes, all while getting a much needed fix of vitamin D. For more tips on Lanzarote’s outdoor fitness scene, read More than Sun: Active Lanzarote.
Amsterdam: Wave goodbye to dark winter evenings and pop over to Amsterdam for the city’s Light Festival, a night-time exhibition by light artists, featuring colourful displays and light sculptures throughout the city centre and along its famous canals. Fancy seeing Amsterdam like a local while you’re there? Check out our guide.
Scotland: Pack your tartan (and leave some room for haggis) in preparation for Burns Night, Scotland’s annual January knees up in honour of national poet Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns. Celebrations take place all across Scotland on 25th January – fly to Prestwick to raise a glass of whisky in his hometown.
Venice: Venice is a pick-me-up destination at any time of the year, but visit in the two weeks before Lent and you’ll experience the city at its wild, decadent best. The city’s annual Carnevale sees a whirl of masked party-goers filling the city’s narrow streets for masquerade balls and other fancy dress shenanigans.
Verona: If Paris, Rome and Venice don’t float your Valentine’s boat, take a chance on the beautiful Italian city of Verona. The real-life house (and balcony) that is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is just one of the romantic gems that awaits. For the inside scoop on winter in Verona, read Why You Really Need to See Verona in Winter and A Local’s Guide to Verona.
Sofia: Just 10km from Sofia’s city centre, Mount Vitosha offers the perfect conditions for snow sports and cross-country skiing until late spring. As it’s one of Europe’s cheapest city break destinations, you’ll find your money goes a lot further here too. And, with the city on your doorstep you’ve got plenty of aprés ski options to keep you occupied. New to the Bulgarian capital? Check out these Six Ways to Get to Know Sofia.
Tenerife: Who needs to fly all the way to Rio, when you’ve got Tenerife’s Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, an extravaganza of sequins, parades and colourful floats? Festival highlights include the gala to elect the Carnival Queen, the Burial of the Sardine ceremony, and the Coso (grand finale parade). For more island tips, check out A Local’s Guide to Tenerife with Joe Cawley.
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