If the thought of remaining in lockdown for the next month or two – or possibly three or more – is driving you bonkers, then maybe you should start planning where you’ll go in the winter, when (hopefully) all this is over. Let’s not get too carried away, lots of us won’t have much spare cash to splash on holidays for a while, but here are 9 suggestions from Bounce* for affordable, close to home breaks that should cheer us all up.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of those cities that just begs to be visited in the winter. Exuding fairytale charm at all times of the year, there’s something magical about seeing it with a dusting of snow. Can you picture it? White powder on the spires in Old Town, a sprinkle on the iconic Charles Bridge, snow covering the castle. If that doesn’t make you want to rug up in your warmest gear and get out there, we don’t know what will.
Things to do in Prague in winter
The Christmas markets in Prague are something special and they’re open well into January, which is an added bonus! While you’re there, grab some trdelnik (local pastries)and gluhwein. Both are local treats that are great in the cold.
If you’re visiting in December, make sure to check out the official holiday season kick-off. It’s held on December 5th each year and you’ll be able to see Mikulas (the Czech Santa Claus) strolling around the Old Town Square.Find a hotel
Ah Vienna…otherwise known as the City of Music and the City of Dreams, the Medieval to Baroque architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site looks even better in the snow. The Austrian capital is a hub for all things artistic, and this doesn’t slow down in the winter months. You can visit as many museums and art galleries as time allows, and not to be missed is a walk through the Schönbrunn Palace.
Top things to do in Vienna in the winter
Keep an eye out for opera simulcasts, these are held outdoors but always attract a crowd despite the cold (and they’re free!). Also, try to make it to a holiday concert. In true Viennese style, these concerts feature more violins than sleigh bells — but it’s all part of the experience!
Winter is the very best time of year to visit London because let’s face it, who wants to be crammed onto the Tube or pushing through the crowded streets in the heat of summer? Also, the capital is incredibly festive in the run up to Christmas, with amazing light displays in Oxford Street, Regent Street, Bond Street and Carnaby Street. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is also worth a visit, while a cosy afternoon tea in one of London’s swish hotels – or funky venues like Sketch – are a great way to stay warm.
Things to do in London in the winter
For the Harry Potter fans, take a trip to Warner Brothers studio to see Hogwarts in the snow. All the sets get decked out for the winter providing a truly magical experience. Also, book a slot on one of the many magical outdoor ice rinks, such as the one at the Natural History Museum or at Hampton Court.Find a hotel
Bruges is a quintessential European city that oozes with charm. With medieval vibes and picturesque canals, visiting in the winter means you won’t have to fight the crowds for the perfect photos – and the queues for those delicious Belgian chocolates and traditional waffles won’t be nearly as long.
Things to do in Bruges in winter
Even in winter, a ride down the canals is a must. Just remember to rug up! Take a carriage ride through Market Square. You’ll be able to cosy up in the back with a blanket, keeping warm while you explore. You should also visit the Christmas markets so that you can try a Bruge Christmas special — plum cake!Find a hotel
The capital of Scotland is steeped in history that’s worth exploring at any time of the year. Located on a collection of rocky hills, Edinburgh has scenery that is just as impressive in the winter. A visit during the off-season means you’ll still be able to enjoy the view while also having more room to wander around the quaint cobbled streets.
Things to do in Edinburgh in the winter
The Hogmanay Festival is a big drawcard for the city, with many visitors flocking here for the three-day New Year celebration. Get immersed in local culture by attending the outdoor concerts, watching firework displays and seeing renowned Scottish dancers.
You should also go Christmas light hunting — George Street has become a particularly popular site — and make sure to check out Edinburgh Castle while there are fewer crowds!
This liberal city has super relaxed vibes, making it a great place to take a break after months of being cooped up at home. Budapest is steeped in history, its architecture is stunning, and a thriving nightlife — there’s something for everyone in this city.
Things to do in Budapest in the winter
Budapest makes this list for two key reasons: the thermal baths, a perfect place to visit after exploring in the cold, and the ice drifts that form on the Danube next to Parliament House. It’s a sight that should not be missed!Find a hotel
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This picturesque, chilled city should be on your European itinerary, regardless of the time of year you visit. It’s a fantastic city for foodies with some excellent restaurants, culture vultures will love all the museums, if it’s not too cold you can take a guided bike tour – and if it is, head to one of the city’s infamous cafes.
Things to do in Amsterdam in the winter
Amsterdam celebrates Christmas for an entire month, so visit during December to get involved in the festivities. Make sure to eat some popular Dutch foods (potatoes, bread, pancakes, cheese), which will be perfect to warm you up in the cold weather.
And for 9 things you MUST NOT do in Amsterdam, read our blog here.
- Review of the splendid all-suite Hotel TwentySeven
Well-known as one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the winter months, Tromsø is also great for outdoor adventures from snow-mobiling to ice fishing to reindeer rides, plus it has some pretty exciting nightlife.
Things to do in Tromsø in the winter
Make sure you book an excursion from Tromsø out into the wilderness to see the Northern Lights and check out the Polar Museum to learn about Arctic Expeditions.Find a hotel
Tourists flock in their thousands to Iceland in the summer, but it’s capital is just as tantalising in the winter – and this is another place from where you can also see the Northern Lights. Imagine soaking in Reykjavik’s iconic Blue Lagoon in the evening, gazing at the night sky! This modern city also offers a range of historical and cultural attractions, it has a thriving art scene, and it’s nightlife is legendary
Things to do in Reykjavik in the winter
Skating on Tjornin pond, soaking in the natural hot springs or trying rugbraud (local sweet bread) in a warm coffee shop are top things to try. If you’re there in February, you can attend the Winter Lights Festival and join the celebration.Find a hotel
*Bounce is a luggage storage service, especially useful if you’re staying in an Airbnb and have nowhere to store your bags when you have a late check in or early checkout.