For those who follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen that I spent 3 nights recently in Berlin for an October break. It was such a fantastic long weekend, filled with sight-seeing, markets, restaurants, drinks, museums, history and artisan breakfasts.
We filled the weekend with activities such as a three hour Berlin Street Tour, visiting Checkpoint Charlie, and attending the flea markets at Mauer park, enjoying an afternoon at the amphitheatre for a few hours on the Sunday too.
All in all, it was an incredible trip, and one I was happy to tick off my bucket list. The best thing was, that we managed to do the whole trip on a budget. Starting from cheap flights to a huge affordable shared apartment between 4 of us (3 apartments for 4) and a well thought through itinerary, I was super savvy with my money.
And now I’m back, the question is: where else is left on my travel bucket list?
Myself and my boyfriend would love to escape somewhere for 3 nights in December, so it’s got us looking at a mixture of warm and cold places to visit. So without further waffling on, I’ve decided to highlight some key places which are down to make a fantastic trip during the Winter months.
If you’ve been to any of them and would recommend us booking this December, do let me know. We’re on a tight deadline and need to get something planned very soon!
*PS: I’ve used photos of my Berlin trip throughout this blog post to help inspire some of you who may not have been!
1. Bamberg, Germany
Where? For an off-the-beaten path German winter getaway that combines a UNESCO-listed medieval old town, traditional smoked beer, and sprawling Christmas markets, consider Bamberg in northern Bavaria (Upper Franconia).
What is recommended? The 14th century Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) is located on an island in the Regnitz River. Cross the bridge past the Town Hall to feel like you’ve walked into a medieval fairy tale filled with half-timbered homes, the dramatic 11th century Romanesque Bamberg Cathedral, and numerous palaces, courtyards and alleys.
During advent (November-December), a traditional Franconian Christmas market takes over Maximiliansplatz and the streets nearby. After wandering through this Christmas wonderland, pop into a traditional brewery restaurant to warm up with a couple pints of smoked beer (Rauchbier), a famous local speciality.
2. Bergen, Norway
In winter, a blanket of snow unfurls across Bergen giving this city a Disney-esque veneer. Its cobbled streets of pine trees and fairy lights are most magical at Bryggen with its row of cosy and colourful cafes, craft shops and galleries.
The Festival of Lights sees thousands of Bergeners gather with flaming torches around Lille Lungegårdsvannet lake to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree, replete with carols and dazzling fireworks in the inky winter sky.
The nearby Fløibanen funicular whisks visitors to the top of Mount Fløyen for twinkling city views, while the descending paths are floodlit in the evenings and perfect for sledding. When there is enough snow, you can slide straight to the city centre.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Come rain, wind or snow, Dublin is a fantastic city to explore. Head to the city’s historic libraries, which have smaller footfall in winter, including Trinity College, the Chester Beatty Library and Marsh’s Library.
Irish food is brilliant travel fuel, so try soup and a legendary cinnamon bun at Simon’s Place (George’s Street Arcade), before exploring Glasnevin Cemetery or catching the DART train to Howth for a beachside walk and a food market browse. You could also comb through the Christmas section of Brown Thomas department store.
From late November, you can see the O’Connell Street Christmas tree aglow, as you wander to one of Dublin’s 750 pubs, like The Confession Box. If you’re an Irish music fan, you don’t want to miss Temple Bar either!
4. Lisbon, Portugal
Sitting on the western edge of Europe, Lisbon is one of the warmest places on the continent in winter, which is reason alone to visit. However, there’s plenty more to love in the chillier months, including the spectacular Christmas light show, low tourist numbers, the Time Out market (a foodie paradise under cover), and curling yourself away in one of the many cosy wine bars.
Make stops for ginjinha (warming cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup), wrap up and head to Park or Lost In, two rooftop bars that are always insufferably busy in summer, and tick off Lisbon’s many museums, of which the MAAT (Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology) is one of the newest.
5. Berlin, Germany
Even while Berlin is a popular summer destination, in the winter, the city comes alive with a specialness you’ll only ever find in the dark of the day. There’s no better way to kick of a cold and dark winter than with a mug of glühwein and some hearty sausage in an outdoor Christmas market.
And even with the cold, dark weather, Berlin’s legendary nightlife never stops so you’ll always find warmth in the club scene. Not to mention the countless winter festivals and events that take place throughout the winter, from the annual Transmediale (alternative arts and culture festival) to the Berlinale International Film Festival—one of the world’s best cinema events.
6. Zagreb, Croatia
Foodies delight! Zagreb in Croatia has some of the most inventive and challenging treats on offer at the Hrelić flea market, including eggs in chilli and prosciutto-wrapped frogs.
The market is a great place to wander around in the winter even you don’t fancy putting your palate to the test. If it gets too chilly, retreat into one of the many bars on Tkalčićeva Street for a warming pint of local beer. Zagreb is definitely a must-see European city that’s on the rise.
I hope this post gives you some Winter break inspiration!