You’ve saved up your holiday time for summer, but could you do with a change of scenery soon? Answer: a city break. Urban timeshare apartments are a trend now, with shared ownership accommodation options available in many of the world’s most popular cities including Paris, London, New York and Rio – so if you want to use points towards your break, this could be the perfect option.
Here are six cities to escape to for a magical winter weekend.
While London skies tend to veer towards grey too much of the time, winter in New York can be sparkling. Yes it’s colder than the UK and less green than London but when the sky is bright blue and the chestnut stalls are out, New York is hard to be (not least for the shopping!) And when it snows a hush washes over the city, a rare and beautiful thing…nowhere does Christmas better – it’s worth a trip just to see the department store decorations and twinkling lights – the shop windows are stunning.
Immortalised in many a film like Death in Venice and The Tourist, Venice is magical, mysterious and misty in the winter months. When the wind cuts through the town from the mountains, you’ll want to be wearing every fleece item of clothing you own, and yes dampness is a problem as you’re so close to the canals. But there’s something intriguing and captivating about Italy’s sinking beauty off season, so now’s the time to go to stock up on Italian Christmas delicacies and take advantage of lower prices. Or you could wait until February, when the city is ablaze with the colours and masks of its annual Carnival.
Madrid is the highest capital city in Europe (2,178ft/664m), so it’s the absolute opposite to Venice! Crisp and chilly in winter, the sky can be a blaze of blue, so take advantage of that Vitamin D hit and wrap yourself up at a pavement café and soak up all the sunlight before evening sets in. If you love Spanish fashion designers, don’t forget the sales in January – and while the Spanish celebrate Christmas, the big day for children is Three Kings Day, early in the New Year, which extends the whole holiday spirit nicely for well over a week!
The home of classical maestro Wolfgang Mozart, this is the destination for chocolate lovers. The town is famous for its sachertorte, a rich, dense, one-layer chocolate cake the recipe for which still remains a secret. Salzburg is magical in winter – cobbled streets, cosy cafes, elegant buildings and a real festive spirit. This is one of those destinations adults will love as much as kids – and it’s a very walkable, picturesque town.
Christmas market addicts will love Berlin! The lakes freeze over, and culture takes over. There are Christmas markets galore, from tiny neighbourhood offerings to the biggest ones in the main centres of this cosmopolitan city. If you’re strolling around the stalls after sunset, wrap up very warmly because temperatures can drop into the minus range and even when the sun’s out it can still be surprisingly nippy.
Not the first place that springs to mind for a Christmas break, but it’s a contender. Years ago, northern Europeans with the time and money to travel would come to the south of France to escape the harsh weather at home – it was particularly popular with Brits. In winter the summer crowds have gone and Nice becomes a different place altogether – it’s France’s fifth city so there’s always a lot to do. Restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and food markets, Nice pretty much has it all although the “Christmas” factor is more low key overall. A “Nice” change though – and warmer than all the more northern Christmas weekend destinations!