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The Best Winter City Breaks [Copy link] 中文

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(By Gwenllian Jones via Wanderlust)

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Whether you crave snow-dusted cathedrals and steaming roast chestnuts, or Christmas beach barbecues and steamy jazz festivals – head to these cities in November, December and January.


1. Tallinn, Estonia

In Tallinn, opposites exist quietly side-by-side: glass towers stand next to ancient architecture, and dark Gothic towers punctuate streets of brightly-coloured buildings. Here, you'll find all the essentials for a fairytale trip, with a crisp winter trimming of snow and frost.  

Christmas in Talinn (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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In winter, you'll be hard-pressed to find a place with as much charm as the city's old town. Whether you want to spend your time wandering the cobbled back streets exploring the city's history or taking part in some winter fun, it won't disappoint.

There's plenty going on this time of year. To get in the festive spirit, arm yourself against the cold with a cup of spiced wine and try the Christmas Jazz Festival or theChristmas market. Or, why not try your hand at some skiing (equipment rental available) on the Pirita Health Track? If you're here in February, you'll be just in time for the Tallinn Winter Festival, which champions musicians from Estonia and beyond.


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2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Winter blues? Somewhere, summer is just beginning! The temperatures in Rio peak between December and March: the city's main beaches are swarming with people, and the atmosphere can be electric. Or, to escape the crowds, consider the journey to nearby Barra di Tijuca.


New Year's Eye, Copacabana beach (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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The season also marks the city's most dynamic time of year in terms of festivals. Bring the New Year in with a bang, and celebrate Réveillon on Copacabana beach. With an approximate crowd of two million people last year, it promises plenty of thrills; from music and dance to a momentous fireworks display.

When late February comes around, it's time for the spectacular Carnival! If you're planning on visiting during this time, prepare yourself for huge crowds. Also, keep in mind that the city will be all about the festival, and many of Rio's top attractions will be closed.


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3. Bath, UK

Bath does Christmas with aplomb. And at the centre of it all is the Christmas market, set against the backdrop of the Georgian town square.


Roman baths in Bath (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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It all starts with the impressive community Lantern Procession, held in late November by the Holburne Museum and open to all. The market then opens, complete with an outdoor ice rink and Après Ski bar filled with ciders, mulled wine and Alpine-inspired cuisine. And after a hard day's skating, what better way to relax than with a dip in the famous Roman baths?

Bath is a great alternative to London – and only a few hours away on the train.


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4. New York, USA

An obvious choice perhaps, but a great one nonetheless. Whether you're travelling alone, with friends, in a couple, or with the whole family, you'll be inundated with things to see and do in NYC. Bring your layers, pull your hat down over your ears, and go out to see what makes the city tick.


Times Square, New Year's Eve (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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The classics include a stroll in Central Park, a leisurely loop of one of the ice rinks dotted around the city, and a visit to the Rockefeller Center's iconic Christmas tree. For a thick aroma of roasted chestnuts, head down 5th Avenue where the vendors come in droves.

When the New Year comes around, witness the ball drop in Times Square. Or for a more relaxed atmosphere, head over to the celebrations at Brooklyn's Prospect Park, then make your way over to the Brooklyn Bridge to see the year's first dawn over Manhattan.


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5. Ljubljana, Slovenia

A far less complicated city than the name suggests, you'll soon find your feet and enjoy the understated beauty of this winter gem. The hazy light gives the city a mystical hue and snow is very common – making Ljubljana a safe bet for a white Christmas! You'll also find plenty of beer gardens that serve hot mulled wine and warming grub. For the best views of the city, walk to the top of the castle's tower.


Ljubljana castle hill (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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The season brings with it a host of cultural events, from December's culture day – where galleries, museums and theatres open their doors for free – to February's colourful Shrovetide Carnival, when the city comes to life with costume parades, puppet theatres and marching bands.

Ljubljana is also the perfect base if you want to head to the slopes for some skiing. And don't disregard nearby Lake Bled as a possible day trip – make the short train journey and be mesmerised by one of Europe's most picturesque towns.

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6. Sydney, Australia

Another winner if you're in search of the sun. Here, summer runs from December to February and Sydney usually welcomes Christmas with balmy temperatures. The weather is generally 25-29℃ over this period – perfect for that barbecue on the beach.

Bondi Beach on Christmas Day (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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The sunshine means that all sorts of adventures are possible – try dolphin watching in Port Stephens or mark the occasion with a hair-raising skydive. Boxing Day (St Steven's Day) also means that it's time for the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, so find a spot in the harbour or book a place on one of the spectator vessels.

January also sees the return of Sydney Festival with its blend of music, theatre, opera, and cabaret. You'll find events for the entire family, and acts from all over the country.


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7. Berlin, Germany

We couldn't compile a list of winter breaks without including the city of Christmas markets. Berlin has around 60: from the big favourites to the themed and intimate, and from the everyday to the boutique.


Christmas market in Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin (Photo Source: Shutterstock)

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For something a bit different, try the Holy Shit Shopping Lounge – a showcase of young designers and artists, dubbed the 'club evening among the Christmas markets'. Do your shopping to the accompaniment of some of Berlin's best DJs.

The Nikolai Quarter is in the heart of the city, between Gendarmenmarkt and Alexandreplatz. Here, you'll find some quiet away from the bustle of the markets. Write your most heartfelt wish on a card, and add it to the decorations on the tree by the medieval Nikolai Church. You'll also find open-air performances here on a regular basis in the run-up to Christmas, adding to the serene – but still festive – atmosphere.


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