European Cities Perfect For A Winter Weekend Break

European Cities Perfect For A Winter Weekend Break

Swap your regular haunts for a culture-packed adventure with our pick of the European cities to escape to this season, spanning a rural Spanish town to the Swedish neighbourhood with a centuries-old craft ale scene

something remarkably attractive about a winter city
break. Hearty, hyperlocal cuisine tastes even better after an
afternoon spent sightseeing under a crisp blue sky; distant
mountains appear all the more atmospheric when crowned with snow;
and museums, cafés and hiking routes are all easier to navigate
minus the peak-season crowds.

Join us as we order our morning espresso in Cagliari, browse the supercool indie shops of
Kilkenny, sip native red wine in Cyprus’
vibrant capital, take long, invigorating walks on empty beaches and
soak up enough culture to keep us inspired all year.

Winter wonderlands: the European cities we love

cagliari sardinia


Sardinia, Italy

It’s no secret that some hotspots are better visited outside of
peak season: step forward, Cagliari. Bursting with evidence of the
city’s rich history, the Sardinian capital’s cobbled alleys are
replete with Roman ruins, ancient churches and towering palazzi.
Rent a Vespa and zip through the city streets in true Italian
style, stopping only for a quick espresso at any of the charismatic
cafés that line the narrow roads. Beautiful beaches fringe the
city’s bay: Spiaggia del Poetto is the most popular, with its white
sands stretching over 8km, but we suggest heading to Mari Pintau, a
secluded bay just a short drive from the city. In the evening,
visit Castello, the walled citadel perched on a hilltop overlooking
town. What appears to be a sleepy neighbourhood comes alive when
the sun goes down, with locals at bars, cafés and restaurants
spilling out onto the street and enthusiastically directing
tourists towards their favourite boltholes. Stanley Tucci fans
should look to visit the Civic Market of San Benedetto, where the
actor taste-tested some of the region’s specialities.

Where to stay: Hotel MiraMare




While the rest of the world is busy snapping selfies outside
Dublin’s famous Temple Bar Pub, we recommend venturing south to the
lesser-trodden city of Kilkenny. Sitting pretty on the River Nore,
the medieval town is home to cobblestone streets lined with a
treasure trove of independent craft shops and pioneering galleries
– addresses that have seen the area swap its old trading nickname
of “the Marble City” for “the craft capital of Ireland”. Make a pit
stop at the National
Design & Craft Gallery
, where exhibitions are often a
celebration of Ireland’s heritage crafts. Then, feast at all-day
dining spot Café
la Coco
, where stacks of bacon and maple pancakes await – the
goat’s cheese tartlet is also a delight.

Where to stay: Langtons House Hotel

Wroclaw, Poland



Located in the Silesia region of southwestern Poland, the
handsome city of Wrocław is home to 12 islands,100 bridges and a
population of around 640,000. The perfect day? Begin with a stroll
through the vibrant passageways of the Old Town to the marvellous
Market Square, where you’ll find plenty of artisan coffee houses at
which to grab a cup of joe and and watch the world go by – our
favourite is OTO Coffee Bar. Wander past Flemish-style
villas and baroque palaces, before stopping off at the National Forum of
, followed by the Architecture Museum and Polish art-filled Four Domes Pavilion. After a day of
sightseeing, make tracks to the water-facing La Maddalena
restaurant, where baked oysters and prawn risottos await. Come
happy hour, you’ll find us lounging on one of the leather
banquettes at speakeasy-style Cocktail bar by Incognito.

Where to stay: Art Hotel

Reykjavik, Iceland



Ask any adventurer where their favourite winter city break
destination is and we’re fairly certain you’ll hear an Icelandic
tale, the northern lights playing a starring role. Iceland is
widely known for its dramatic snow-capped peaks, rugged hills and
myth-infused hot springs, but it’s also home to a cosmopolitan
capital city that demands exploration. Make tracks to Dill,
the city’s first Michelin-starred joint, for plates of farm-to-fork
goodness; drink and dance at the lively Prikid
bar, or settle down on one of the emerald-green banquettes at
Port 9 wine
bar; and pick up handmade Scandi souvenirs at Kaolin Ceramics. Recharge
your batteries at Kvosin Downtown Hotel, where guest rooms feature
king-size beds dressed in soft linens and nightstands topped with
fresh bouquets. The hotel also has a brilliant, whisky-soaked menu
and Spanish-style tapas bites at the ground-floor Klaustar Bar.

Where to stay: Kvosin Downtown

Sofia Bulgaria



Bulgaria’s capital has all the ingredients for an all-star
winter getaway: one of the biggest open-air ice rinks in Europe, a
skiable mountain within easy reach and a plethora of museums and
markets. Days are best spent taking in the city’s iconic landmarks
– Independence Square, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the
National Palace of Culture – or snowshoeing on Vitosha Mountain,
for sensational views of the city’s twinkling lights. After dark,
Sofia transforms into a lively party destination, with old-school
speakeasy-style bars and techno warehouses welcoming a hedonistic
crowd. Dada Bar
5L Speakeasy Bar and 65 Fireflies are our favourites.

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Sofia

Frigiliana, Spain


Andalusia, Spain

A happy marriage of culture and nature, this slice of the
Costa del Sol is the eastern gateway to Malaga.
Picture dusty, steep, sun-soaked streets crammed with whitewashed
villas; a tangle of alleyways giving way to Moorish-Mudéjar
architecture. While Frigiliana still goes under the radar for the
cool kids, we’d argue that its lack of hipster kudos only makes it
more magical. To appreciate the place in all its glory, start by
exploring the ninth-century Castillo de Lízar, before popping into
Vinos El Lagar for a glass of muscatel and some plates of local
tapas. Keen hikers will want to take the 7km route from Frigiliana
to hilly El Fuerte, where, at a staggering height of 963m, you’ll
be rewarded with sweeping views across the town.

Where to stay: La Posada Morisca



Nicosia – the culture-rich Cypriot capital – is a city that
sways to its own beat. This is a destination where secluded coves,
fragrant citrus trees and crumbling squares form a backdrop to
charming cafés and family-run eateries, and where vivid turquoise
waters contrast with ancient olive tree-studded hillsides. Thanks
to its subtropical climate, you can enjoy a shot of sunshine here
at any time of year, but it’s February we love, when the tourist
crowds are few. Join convivial locals at beloved neighbourhood
taverna Piatsa Gourounaki, where plates arrive piled high with
herb-marinated meats and grilled vegetables. Come sunset, venture
to old-school Mousikon Kafenio to savour streetside dining and a
carafe of native red wine.

Where to stay: Madama Residence

Hamburg, Germany



Germany’s second city is a hybrid of old and new, with
multicultural eateries and architectural marvels seamlessly slotted
alongside centuries-old establishments. Start by exploring the
“museum mile”, a culture-rich pocket home to five world-renowned
galleries: standouts include the Deichtorhallen, which houses contemporary art and
photography, and the Kunsthalle, home to one of Europe’s largest art
collections. Spend Sunday exploring the weekly market that sprawls
along the Elbe and scouting out the harbour-side venues that
champion the city’s distinctive electronic-music scene. An ideal
spot for couples who find Paris gauche.

Where to stay: Sir Nikolai

Strasbourg, France



Itching for a weekend getaway that isn’t Paris? Look no further
than the crossroads of culture that is the city of Strasbourg.
Thanks to its charming blend of French and German heritage, this is
surely the most romantic retreat France has to offer – that doesn’t
come with the star-stuck Eiffel Tower crowds, that is. After one
glance at its medieval houses overlooking the Rhine River, it will
hardly come as a surprise that Beauty and the Beast was set here.
Stroll the snow-dusted streets and be sure to take time to browse
the many gift shops stocking local sweet treats – C’est Si Bon is known for its sugar-dusted
crepes and Nutella-drenched waffles.

Where to stay: Régent Contades

Delft, Netherlands



If it was good enough for the legendary artist Vermeer, then
it’s certainly good enough for us. Delft has a much slower pace of
life than neighbouring Rotterdam and The Hague. When not making the
obvious stops at the Vermeer Centre and the Royal Delft Museum (where regular workshops
mean you can try your hand at painting the famous blue-and white
pottery that was invented here), cosy into a corner at hip Café de Wijnhaven.
For a seriously satisfying supper, head to restaurant La Tasca. Start by
ordering the brioche with fresh truffle, then follow that up with
the parsnip fondant. Dessert? Tartelette with vanilla ice

Where to stay: Emauspoort

Gothenburg, Sweden



A hotbed for creatives, Gothenburg has more than its fair share
of avant-garde art galleries, grungy music venues full of beautiful
people and boutiques stocked with the kind of clothing seen on
Scandi Instagrammers. When not browsing vinyl
stores or dining at Dinner 22, pop into Poppels Brewery, a city staple since the 17th
century. Nearby Brewers Beer Bar is one of the best for its wide
selection of craft beers and knowledgeable staff. Insider tip: only
pack your carry-on half-full – the rest will be filled with modish
Swedish wares.

Where to stay: Hotel Flora

This article was updated on 30 January, it contains
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if you click through and book. | Main Photo credit: Emeryk III /

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