I can’t believe we are almost into 2018. The year always goes in so fast, but I feel like 2017 has literally went by in the blink of an eye! I’ve ticked some amazing places off my bucket list this year, including Vietnam, Dubai and Prague, and I’m hoping to visit more through the next year. It’s time to start thinking about 2018 getaways, and a little European city break for the start of the year is a good place to begin. Colder weather may put you off a trip to Europe in Winter, but cheaper flights and accommodation, plus less crowds and off peak prices, make it a great time to explore. Unless you’re wanting a holiday to sunbathe, European cities make for a great weekend adventure. Here are my top places to visit for a long weekend away in Europe.
I’ve just booked up Reykjavik for March 2018 and I’m so excited! It has always been a place I’ve wanted to go and I can’t wait to finally experience it. We managed to get decent priced flights as part of a Cyber Monday sale, however accommodation is a little pricier than other European cities – it all balances though! The Blue Lagoon is obviously be a must, and I’ve heard great things about the Golden Circle Tour too. I’d also love to see the Northern Lights (who wouldn’t), and apparently March is a good time for getting a chance to see them, so fingers crossed. The Black Sand Beach looks amazing too – so many plans not enough time! If you’ve been to Iceland pop your recommendations in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.
We visited Prague in September of this year when the weather was cooling down, and I’d love to go back in Winter for the festive season as I’ve heard the Christmas markets are some of the very best! Prague has loads to see and do all year round. My top 3 recommendations for a short weekend away would be: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and the charming Old Town. If you have time try to squeeze in a trip to the enchanting town of Kutna Hora too – the cutest little historic Bohemian town which you won’t regret a visit to! If you’re a shopper you can heat up in one of the indoor shopping centres including The Palladium or The Fashion Arena Outlet for designer outlet shopping.
Read more about my trip to Prague here.
Amsterdam is great for a weekend away and whether you’re going with a group of friends or as a couple there’s so much to do to suit everyone. I was there last summer and we managed to pack loads in to our short 3 night trip. Anne Frank’s House is a must, it was really interesting. Although make sure to buy your tickets online beforehand as lines can be long. There are around 50km of canals in Amsterdam, so a great way to see the city is by traditional canal boat, which are easy enough to hop on and off all over the city. Another highlight was the Heinekin Beer Museum and although I’m not a beer fan at all, I had a really good time. It takes you on an interactive, fun tour of the brand’s history, and you don’t need to be a beer drinker to enjoy it (free samples at the end are a bonus for the beer lovers though!). The tour finishes at the rooftop bar which you can enjoy great views of the city from.
Budapest is high up on my bucket list and is hopefully somewhere I’ll visit very soon! Like any European city, Budapest hosts fabulous Christmas markets which look like a great place to pick up some unique Christmas gifts. The Christmas market in front of the Basilica has been noted as one of the best! The city is also known for its baths, with 118 natural thermal springs, and these aren’t only for enjoying in the heat of the summer. The majority of Budapest’s baths are open during winter, both indoor and outdoor. Brave outdoor thermal baths such as Szechenyi Baths surrounded by a fairytale backdrop of snow for an experience to remember! January is the coldest time of year for Budapest, often dropping to an average of -1 Celsius. However if you can wait until February or March you will experience slightly more comfortable temperatures. Either way, wrap up for a Hungarian Winter!
You may just think of sun and sangria when I mention Barcelona, but there’s also some other delights the city has to offer during the off-peak season. As well as the benefit of less crowds, cheaper accommodation and shorter lines, there’s also loads to do and see during Winter months. The Sitges Carnival just half an hour from Downtown Barcelona takes place 8-14th February 2018 and is a great way to liven up Winter! There’s also the Festival of Santa Eulalia (one of the patron saints of the city) around 12th February, which is celebrated with a massive children’s festival and open air concerts, performances, workshops and parades city-wide over a few days
Although December, January and February are Barcelona’s coldest months, the average daytime temperature only drops to 16 degrees celsius, and around 10 at night – so basically a British summer! You’ll also avoid rainfall during Winter which typically happens during Spring and Autumn. Some say it’s the perfect season to visit.
Paris is beautiful all year round, but is especially romantic and lit up during the festive and Winter season. There’s outdoor ice rinks that pop up all over the city, including the Hotel De Ville rink, Montparnasse Tower and Place du Trocadéro (with stunning views of the Eiffel Tower). Previous years have also seen a rink of the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, however it is not certain that this will make an appearance for 2018.
If you’re a shopper and fancy going on a spree in Paris, January-February is your time. The Winter Sales are typically held during these months and can see even high end designer goods discounted by up to 75%. See how good it feels when someone asks ‘where did you get that?’ and you reply ‘oh I just picked it up in Paris’ ;).
As the majority of Europe in the Winter, it will be cold. Paris sits around 5 degrees Celsius at the start of the year, so wrap up!
Where else do you love for a city break in Europe?