Winter Breaks: 5 Destinations That Are Sure To Help You Battle Those Winter Blue This Year

Barcelona
Unless you are a total beach bunny, Wintertime is just as beautiful a time in Barcelona as any other. A city known for its rich and vibrant culture and gorgeous architecture, Barcelona makes the perfect destination for a weekend city break. Why not visit the Santa Llucía Christmas fair? It is a true tradition for the locals of the city and is Barcelona’s oldest Christmas fair dating right back to the early 1700’s. The fair runs for three weeks, ending the day before Christmas Eve. You will find over 300 stalls at the market, each offering something different from Christmas trees, to food, to beautiful handmade gifts. The atmosphere is buzzing and lively during the day but once it gets dark, it is even more special when all the twinkling Christmas lights turn on. If it’s culture you’re looking for, head to Santa Maria del Mar church and catch one of its Yuletide performances of Handel’s Messiah. Temperatures in Barcelona rarely drop below 5°c in the Winter so if you fancy getting out of cold, damp Irish Winter weather for a few days, then Barcelona is a great choice. Keep an eye out on the Ryanair website as Winter is the quietest time of year to visit cities like Barcelona so you’re bound to find a good deal if you keep your eyes peeled.

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Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a true gem in the crown of Scotland. There is so much to do and see in this beautiful city that you’ll never want to come home! The charming, vibrant and buzzing city will most definitely cast its spell on you and you’ll be booking your next trip as soon as you get home. If you want to feel super festive and Christmassy, then the German Christmas market on Prince’s Street is the place for you. The market has got hundreds of stalls teeming with delicious food, warm apple cider and gorgeous handmade Christmas gifts. The addition of tonnes of Christmas lights all over the city adds an extra bit of magic to the atmosphere, and don’t forget the famous Hogmanay festival. However, Edinburgh can be extremely cold, especially in the Winter so be sure to wrap up tight before you head out as it gets colder throughout the day, the perfect excuse to duck in for a hot chocolate or coffee every now and then. Edinburgh’s nightlife is also alive and buzzing with some of the best selection of trendy bars and nightclubs ever. Of course, no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to the historic castle perched high above the city in the charming old town.

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Amsterdam
Some say the best time to visit Amsterdam is in the springtime when the tulips are in bloom but the truth is that Amsterdam is a great city to visit at any time of the year. Another truly charming city, Amsterdam is the perfect break from the dull Irish Winter. A small city filled to the brim with culture and history, you’ll never be bored with an endless list of things to do and see while you’re there. Amsterdam has a great selection of museums with gorgeous artworks to browse and ponder if you fancy getting in out of the cold for a while. One such museum is the Van Gogh museum located right in the middle of the museum quarter. All of Van Gogh’s works are hung alongside the artwork of some of the artists who influenced him and his craft throughout his life. The museum gives a great insight into the artist’s life, including personal touches such as family photos and little pieces of information about his technique and inspirations. Entry lines can tend to be very long so it is a good idea to book ahead of time to avoid disappointment. For the romantic getaway, there are plenty of places to rent bikes to go for a ride along the gorgeous, world-famous canals and quaint streets of Amsterdam with that special someone. Ryanair often do great deals on flights and accommodation to Amsterdam every now and then so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out and scoring a bargain to this great city.

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Budapest
December, surprisingly enough, is one of the best times to visit the stunning city of Budapest. It is the peak of the city’s social calendar with numerous festivals, concerts and exhibitions taking place throughout the month. For the foodie, there are some great food festivals all around the city, showcasing some of the very best in local and traditional Hungarian cuisine. There are also many gorgeous Christmas fairs that take place during December, the largest being Vörösmarty tér. The fair is fantastic during the day, offering everything you could hope for from a Christmas fair but the evening and night time is when it truly comes alive, surrounded by sparkling fairy lights. December Is the coldest month of the year in Hungary so what better way keep out of the cold than in the world-famous thermal baths. There are plenty of thermal spas to choose from around the city and whether you choose an indoor or outdoor pool, sit back and relax in the steaming water. Budapest’s nightlife is one of the cheapest nights out you will ever come across with most alcoholic drinks retailing below €5.00 and a fantastic range of bars and nightclubs to choose from.

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Vienna
Vienna is possibly one of the most beautiful cities in the world and that beauty is certainly enhanced in the Winter, adding a magical feeling of Christmas to your visit. A true Winter wonderland. Temperatures often drop well below freezing even during the day but once you have seen the breathtakingly crisp, snow-covered scenery you will forget about all that. However, make sure you pack in preparation so that you can truly enjoy all that Vienna has to offer without worrying about being cold. A must-see on your trip to Vienna is the magnificent palace museum of Kunthistoriches which houses a vast collection of beautiful fine art dating right back as far as the 16th Century. The palace itself is an impressive piece of architecture but the beautiful art inside enhances the overall beauty of the building. Skiing may be an obvious activity for an Austrian break however, that can turn out to be very expensive. However, there is no shortage of things to do in Vienna and perhaps one of the most impressive is the Imperial Butterfly House. Experience a tiny haven of warmth with the added bonus of some beautiful butterflies. British Airways have some great package deals for hotels and flights to Vienna and fly from most airports in Ireland.

Article by: Ali Molloy

Fusion Magazine
Written by Fusion Magazine