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Updated October 15, 2021
(Published January 2, 2020)
By Joey Tyson
Fancy a wander this winter? We don’t blame you! Winter city breaks are the perfect pick-me-up when it all gets a bit gloomy – as travel reopens, slip away and forget about those long evenings, grim Monday mornings and chilly commutes.
For a bit of winter inspiration, we’ve crunched the numbers at TravelSupermarket to reveal ten of our most popular winter city break destinations. Where to next?
*Please note: It's important to check the FCDO website for the latest travel advice for your destination both before you book a holiday and in the lead up to your trip. Before booking a holiday, make sure you're comfortable with the terms and conditions of your provider.
**All deal pricing below is accurate as of October 15, 2021. Prices are subject to change. Deals are subject to the partners' T&Cs.
As the old cliché goes, New York really is a city that never sleeps. But as the US prepares to reopen to Brits from November 8, you may come to find a different NYC, one without its usual packed calendar of cultural events.
A few things to keep your eye out for include Restaurant Week, when some of NYC’s finest foodie hotspots offer special fixed-price menus (its set to return for its winter program in late-January), and the city's famous winter ice skating rinks that pop up in November and tend to stick around until as late as April. Of course, its iconic attractions are still ready and waiting for visitors. Put the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art on your must-visit list.
Sin City’s temperature might drop during winter, but the tempo never dips. The city’s neon glow and infamous party spirit buzz year-round and all of the big casinos are still open for business. Top picks include The Bellagio, with its typically over-the-top mega fountain show, and Caesars Palace, a mainstay on the Strip since the 60s. There’s even a fully-functioning canal at the Venetian Casino, should you feel the urge to take a gondola ride in between games at the blackjack table.
You'll need to rug up for a winter break in Krakow but that's all part of the charm. Frosty wanders through the city's picturesque streets will be rewarded with warm and hearty Polish fare in many restaurants - think slow-cooked meats and stews - or, if you visit around Christmastime, you can warm up on the go with a festive mulled wine.
Krakow's ice rink is preparing its big return this December, after a last-minute decision to stay closed last year, and you'll also be able to visit the city's main sights with relatively few tourists: the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Auschwitz memorial and museum and Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory are all open as usual.
Your holiday deal: 3-night stay at the 4-star PURO Krakow Stare Miasto from £211pp* for two in January 2022. Room only. Flights depart from Edinburgh.
Winter is prime Northern Lights time in Iceland, which is why so many make the short hop north to Reykjavik. Although these ethereal, elusive lights are best seen from the more remote parts of the island, away from all traces of light pollution, specialist tours can be arranged from the city. If you’re short on time, these are ideal.
The Golden Triangle, which takes in Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Thingvellir National Park, is another popular excursion from the city. Meanwhile, the famous Blue Lagoon is just under an hour away, and is easily reached by bus. For cultural events in the city itself, the Winter Lights Festival (February 3 – 6) and the Dark Days Music Festival (January 25 - 29) both take place over the winter months.
Your holiday deal: 2-night stay at the 4-star Apotek Hotel from £168pp* for two in January 2022. Room only. Flights depart from London Gatwick.
When winter falls on Amsterdam, the locals take the most sensible route possible for dealing with the cold – they head to the pub. In fact, staying cosy even has its own word – gezellig – which is best done in a traditional bruin café. All wooden interiors and traditional Dutch charm, these quaint little boozers are the perfect place to keep out of the cold and embrace winter like a true Amsterdammer.
Of course, you probably won’t want to spend your whole trip in the pub. Get some fresh air and explore the Amsterdam Light Festival (December 2, 2021 until January 23, 2022), which transforms the city into a twinkling art exhibition as quirky light installations are set up all over the centre of town.
Alternatively, get your skates on at one of the city’s outdoor ice rinks: ICE* Amsterdam (from November 13, 2021) and Jaap Eden (open October to March), are both incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike.
Your holiday deal: 3-night stay at the 4-star XO Hotels Park West from £218pp* for two in January 2022. Room only. Flights depart from Leeds.
Prague goes into full fairytale mode in winter. Its resplendent castle, dusted in snow, appears straight out of a Grimm brothers’ story, while the cobbled streets of its historic Old Town exude romance and charm.
Visit in December to embrace the festive spirit at the Christmas Markets of the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, or on one of the city's pop-up ice rinks. One of the city's biggest winter cultural events is Masopust (the Czech version of Mardi Gras, which usually takes place in February a week before Ash Wednesday). It's not been confirmed if the event will go ahead in 2022, so keep an eye out.
Your holiday deal: 2-night stay at the 4-star Mosaic House from £128pp* for two in January 2022. Room only. Flights depart from London Heathrow.
Rome is a real treat in winter. The crowds are long gone, the queues almost non-existent and the costs of flights and hotels drop considerably. If you can handle a bit of cold, it’s a fantastic time to see this enchanting city without the masses.
You’ve got the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Sistine Chapel to visit, all of which are open as usual. Meanwhile the Vatican, almost as famous for its long lines as the chap that lives there, is remarkably quiet and easy to get into.
Of course, as you’re in Rome, you might want to do as the Romans do, too. Get acquainted with the locals in a cosy bar, fill up on winter fare – Roman artichokes, anyone? – at a family-run trattoria, or soak up some culture in the Teatro dell’Opera.
Your holiday deal: 3-night stay at the 4-star Mercure Roma Centro Colosseo from £229pp* for two in December 2021. B&B. Flights depart from London Heathrow.
Seeing the Champs-Elysées lit up and decked out in festive splendour is a view you should try to see at least once. Only Paris could do Christmas in such a delicate, tasteful way.
Winter is also a great time to visit to escape the heaving masses that descend on the French capital the rest of the year, and you’ll find lines to the Louvre, Musee D’Orsay, Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Coeur mercifully shorter.
Your holiday deal: 2-night stay at the 4-star XO Hotel from £214pp* for two in January 2022. Room only. Flights depart from Manchester.
If you’re looking to get a world away from the British winter, Marrakech is it. A beguiling culture shock, this bustling Moroccan city is an explosion of busy souks, luxurious riads and fascinating cultural monuments.
It’s also much less crowded during the winter, so you’ll find a much more local flavour to the city. The enormous Jemaa el-Fna market is an absolute must-see, but the Koutoubia Mosque and the Ben Youssef Medersa Quranic school, should not be missed either.
As a Muslim country, there are no Christmas celebrations here, either. A bonus if the festive madness back home sends you into a Grinch-like frenzy!
Your holiday deal: 4-night stay at the 4-star Riad Karmela from £249pp* for two in January 2022. B&B. Flights depart from London Heathrow.
Budapest gets mighty cold during the winter. Luckily, while the mercury’s dropping to minus numbers, the Hungarian capital’s famous baths are wonderfully toasty and warm. Szechenyi Baths, the city’s famous outdoor baths, are open throughout the winter months, with both indoor and outdoor pools. It’s actually one of the largest pool complexes in Europe, with a total of 21 to choose from.
Although Christmas events are still unconfirmed for December 2021, you don't need to seek out a festive market to try the warming, sugary chimney cake (kürtőskalács). Visit Molnár's Kürtőskalács near Elisabeth Bridge to sample one.
Your holiday deal: 3-night stay at the 4-star Ambra Hotel from £158pp* for two in January 2022. B&B. Flights depart from Edinburgh.