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Last-minute Christmassy city breaks

Photo of Steph MarinkovicPhoto of Steph Marinkovic
By Steph Marinkovic

14 December 2023 | Updated 8 December 20234 min read

A panoramic view of Prague Old Town at Christmas with festive market stalls

Christmas may lose some of its cheer as we get older – there’s too many presents to pick up and endless events make an appearance at – so why not treat yourself to a little festive break?

With their wintry streets draped in lights and plenty of merry treats to indulge in, these fairytale cities have all the ingredients you’ll need to bring some magic back to Christmas.

1. Berlin

Home to some of the biggest and best Christmas markets in Germany, Berlin knows how to bring the yuletide cheer. With over 80 markets popping up all over the city, you’ll be spoilt for choice for light-festooned craft stalls, freshly grilled Bratwurst sausages and steaming cups of Glühwein. The Gendarmenmarkt is considered one of the best, running up until December 31, 2023.

There’s plenty of other festivities going on too, including ice-skating, Gospel concerts and dazzling illuminations – the fairy lights and 3D figures at the Botanical Gardens are a must-see.

If the weather turns chilly, hunker down in a cosy restaurant for roast goose or schnitzel.

Hotel Sympozjum

  • Krakow, Krakow Area, Poland
  • 11 March 2024
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • From Newcastle

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£283

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2. Prague

The Christmas season in Prague is a step back in time. Bona fide gas lamplighters illuminate Charles Bridge each evening from December 3 and on December 6, locals flock to Stare Mesto (the Old Town) to celebrate Mikulas Day – the Czech folkloric version of Santa Claus.

Of course, you’ll also get all the modern festive trimmings – Christmas markets and lights take over the city this time of year – and there are an array of recitals and ballet performances to attend.

Prague really is utterly enchanting in the build up to Christmas and the whole city is decidedly merrier despite the cold. If you’re lucky, you may even score a snowy day or two.

Hotel Okaliptüs

  • Bitez, Bodrum Area, Turkey
  • 22 July 2024
  • Half Board
  • From Gatwick

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£479

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3. Krakow

Only one word is needed to describe a Christmassy break in Krakow: food.

Think hearty sausages, tender roasts, grilled cheese (oscypek) and tastier-than-it-sounds bread with lard – Polish cuisine is just made for the cold months. And with average December temperatures hovering around a chilly -1C, you won’t even feel guilty escaping into a cosy pub for a bite and a generous glass of traditional mulled wine (grzaniec galicyjski).

That’s not to say that seeing the sights is out of the question, though. In fact, fewer crowds mean better experiences all-round, and your snaps of Wawel Castle and the Wieliczka Salt Mine will be fabulously tourist-free.

Amore

  • Marmaris, Dalaman Area, Turkey
  • 18 July 2024
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • From Bristol

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£601

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4. Amsterdam

You won’t find garish Rudolphs prancing across rooftops in the Dutch capital this time of year; instead, Amsterdamcelebrates a distinctly modern Christmas.

Expect a contemporary and surprisingly un-festive light fair installed across the city, and traditions with a twist everywhere you look. For example, the Christmas Village at the Museumplein holds artisanal markets with names like Funky Xmas Market that put the spotlight on local wares, not festive trinkets, plus you’ll find roaming a cappella choirs covering the latest chart-topping tunes.

A taste of Christmas is perhaps best found in the city’s festive treats. Pick up some spiced pepernoten cookies and jingle all the way home after sampling some Dutch craft beer.

Meltemi Luxury Suites

  • Perissa, Santorini, Greece
  • 1 July 2024
  • Half Board
  • From Manchester

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£1,014

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5. Milan

Milan certainly lives up to its reputation as Italy’s finest shopping destination come Christmastime – there’s markets galore across the city!

Of all the set-ups, however, it’s the O Bej O Bej fair that takes the panettone. The four-day event is the epitome of festive cheer, with market stalls flogging everything from bric-a-brac and handcrafted homewares to warming mulled wine and roast chestnuts.

Christmas spirit flows throughout the rest of the city, too. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, strikingly beautiful at the worst of times, becomes even more impressive when decked out in lights and decorations, while the Duomo dusted in snow – if you’re lucky enough to score some – is almost otherworldly.

Yasmin Bodrum Resort

  • Turgutreis, Bodrum Area, Turkey
  • 3 June 2024
  • All Inclusive
  • From Gatwick

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£735

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6. Budapest

All your pre-Christmas stress will float away as you relax in Budapest’s thermal baths – the ultimate gift to yourself this holiday season.

December in the Hungarian capital may be brisk, but that’s what makes a dip in the world-renowned pools all the more rewarding. The opportunity to indulge doesn’t end there, either.

Cosy up beside a fireplace in one of the many merry pubs and get acquainted with Hungarian Christmas delicacies such as roast pork knuckle, goose thigh, or even rooster testicle stew (kakashere pörkölt), if you’re feeling adventurous. Finish off your meal with a decadent, chocolate-filled kürtös kalács chimney cake and a quiet stroll around the markets. You’ll feel festive in no time!

Uvala

  • Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • 13 April 2024
  • Bed & Breakfast
  • From Manchester

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£371

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