Brisk winds, frosty landscapes, and the greater possibility of snow are just a few of the reasons why so many of us love the cosy winter season. And what better way to enjoy these elements than visiting a city that showcases the dramatic beauty that this time of year brings? This winter, I went to Belfast on a city break between Christmas and New Year and it was amazing to see the city full of festive spirit. In the past, I’ve been to Dublin, Krakow and Bruges at this time of the year and I’d recommend them all as they’re fantastic cities to explore.
Similarly, if you’re seeking to escape the cold, then following the sun to a warmer destination could help hugely with tackling those dreaded winter blues which is exactly what I did last January with travelling to Costa Rica, albeit not to a busy city area. It was the most fabulous way of escaping the cold, getting some sun on my skin and exploring a new country and culture at the same time.
Wherever you choose to go, a city break can often provide plenty of fantastic attractions with easily accessible transport links to get to them and a huge range of accommodation and restaurant spots to suit all budgets.
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you five destinations that are great for a winter city break; Bruges, Paris, Barcelona, Belfast and Bergen.
I’ll start with one of my favourite winter city break destinations of all time, Bruges in Belgium. What an incredible place to visit this was. When you go in the winter time you can go to see all of the ice sculptures in an exhibition and even have a drink in an ice bar at the end too! Then there’s the belfry which is the medieval bell tower that you’ll have seen particularly if you’ve ever watched the film In Bruges. The market square is awesome, especially before Christmas when the markets are on and there’s an ice rink too if you’re brave enough! I loved looking in the windows of the countless chocolate shops and seeing the chocolatiers at work; theres even a chocolate museum! However my favourite part of the trip was going on a horse and carriage ride. What a beautifully romantic way to explore Bruges and a great alternative to the boat trips you can take in the summer.
Steeped in history, culture and, of course, art, Paris is already a dream destination for a lot of people. Yet it’s architecture, river banks and laid-back café culture, among countless other features, ensure its universal appeal. So, whether it’s to tick off a destination bucket list, to view its neoclassical buildings, or to simply soak up the atmosphere of its culinary scenes, the city of lights can guarantee the ideal city for most holiday searchers.
Paris sightseeing is great in winter, as chilly days are perfect for visiting museums like the Louvre and for seeing attractions like The Arc de Triomphe in all their dramatic glory. Once you have seen all you set out to, why not explore alternative sightseeing avenues? Look online for quirky recommendations that you might not always find in a generic top 10 style article; you might discover a real hidden gem! Whatever you choose to do in this city, Paris is renowned for its exceptional beauty, especially in winter, so why not make the most of the season with a walk around the Parisian streets, taking in the atmosphere? Its definitely on my list of places to visit as the last time that I was there I was only a child and went to Disneyland on a coach trip with my parents. I’m pleased that with the train and Eurostar, I’ll not have to endure that uber long journey again on a coach!
My next recommendation is to Barcelona which I visited on a day trip from Salou when I was around 18 years old and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. The architecture is AMAZING and theres so much to see and do all year round so don’t confine your visit to only the summer months. Barcelona is awesome for enjoying fiestas, fine food, catching a football game or stadium tour and checkout out the architecture all year round as even in the winter months, it still has a pretty mild climate.
This Spanish city boasts a host of delights in the cooler months of the year, from the major winter festival Santa Eulàlia – which fills its streets and venues with parades, dances and concerts – to the tasty seasonal treats on offer (especially the churros! Although sadly I am yet to find a dairy free alternative in any Spanish or Mexican restaurants I frequent).
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
My most recent winter city break took me to Belfast in Northern Ireland which is somewhere that my boyfriend and I have both always wanted to travel to. In winter 2017, we went to Dublin which was absolutely EPIC but this year, we headed North and weren’t disappointed. I’m going to be putting together a full post all about Belfast but if you love live music, especially Irish and folk music, then you’ll love the night life with the countless bars and restaurants all playing host to singers and musicians. There’s so much you can see and do from the Titanic museum and Crumlin Road Gaol to the Black Cab Tour and City Hall.
Finally, I thought I’d end on a place I’d love to visit; Bergen in Norway, the second largest city in the country. Bergen is nestled within a ring of seven mountains and Norwegian fjords and looks so picturesque with its colourful houses, historic harbour and winding streets; it seems to be an idyll of Nordic existence. Much like its Scandinavian neighbours, it is at its most picturesque during the winter time. Just imagine the scene: snow-covered mountains behind bright timber front homes, a thriving community, and calm meandering avenues. It’s rich culture and history mark Bergen as a fascinating spot for visitors, and so render it as the best place to go for those of us wanting to experience an authentic northern European winter.
Spending time away in a new place can very often be a positive way of making the most of the winter that gives you something to look forward to and keeps your spirits up. When I enjoy a holiday thoroughly, I return feeling refreshed and ready to conquer my daily routine, and that’s why its so important for me to get away every now and again. A destination and accommodation that promises escapism, comfort, relaxation and of course, plenty to see and do is key and the recommendations I’ve shared with you in this post will definitely give you all of that!
Don’t forget to check out my post on how to take great travel photos for when you go on your next trip as well!
Where would you recommend for a winter city break?