Winter is a delightful time to take a city break, not only will all of the shops be decked out in Christmas finery, but coffee shops will offer delicious seasonal specials that simply must be taken advantage of. Whether you prefer toffee nut lattes, eggnog or spiced apple cider, they can all be found wafting through the streets of the city. Whether you are looking to getaway to Paris or London, a city break in winter ticks absolutely all of the boxes that you would expect to experience on an indulgent city break. You may even be lucky enough to visit whilst a dusting of snow lies over the many Christmas market stalls that adorn the streets in nearly every major city on the run up to the big day itself.
With so much to think about on the run up to Christmas and New Year and lots of extra expenditure on gifts and decorations, you could be forgiven for thinking that affording a winter holiday in Europe is out of the question. However, there can be bargains to be had if you keep your eyes peeled in the autumn to book a last minute break- look out especially for any London hotel deals around Christmas as this is the most magical time to visit the English Capital.
Why visit in winter?
Major cities throughout Europe host many special events during the winter months as a celebratory nod to Christmas time. Paris, London and Cardiff each host outdoor ice rinks where couples or families can enjoy larking around on the ice together trying out a new sport and making memories. As if that wasn’t enough reason to visit, each city elaborately dresses their streets in twinkling fairy lights that enchant young and old alike.
Shopping is of course another major attraction of European cities in the winter months, as it boasts Christmas markets selling handmade gifts and traditional wares. Often little wooden huts will line miles of streets each selling something individual and wonderful. Shopping at these markets creates a great opportunity to buy something really unique and thoughtful; it’s the perfect place to shop for loved ones. Handmade fudge, stained glass jewellery and personalised plaques are just some of the lovely trinkets available to purchase here. There is also the opportunity buy something different to eat or drink such as delicious mulled wines, hot ciders and reindeer burgers.
High Street stores are also a treat to see in the winter, as fantastic window displays depicting Christmas scenes and wintery landscapes with hundreds of lights illuminating them up are visible to all. Many department stores also offer a Santa’s grotto area where you can take your little ones to see the big man dressed in red and tell him of your Christmas wishes. Again, London is a fantastic destination to see such, as flagship stores like Selfridges and Harrods transform into a winter wonderland with extravagant window displays, Christmas departments in store and visits from Santa himself.
The reason for the season
If like many, the only time you attend a church or cathedral is at Christmas time then you should definitely visit the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris or the Westminster Cathedral in London. Not only is there stunning architecture to be admired, but the harmonious melodies sung by the choirs there are absolutely breath-taking. Nothing says it’s Christmas quite like attending a carol service or midnight mass, so be sure to add these spots of beauty on to your list of tourism places to visit whilst on your European winter holiday.
A nod to the French
Winter is arguably the most expensive time of the year, as people spend lots on gifts, food and drink in a bid to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, and to celebrate it well. It is often tradition that people toast the New Year in with a glass of fine champagne, so what better way to keep this tradition alive than to visit Paris and do it in style. Imagine overlooking the beautiful French river Seine and sipping on a pale gold glass of bubbling Moet etChandon. Those of you who spotted some great London Hotel deals and booked to go British can do much of the same on the River Thames cruise where you can enjoy a three course meal and a glass of bubbles too. Indeed, this is one European tradition that can be enjoyed throughout the land wherever you may be heading for the winter holidays.