For warmer weather, fantastic food and festive fun, a winter city break is the way to go; here’s where we’ll be going for a European getaway
Words Helen Brown
Not one for the festive furore? Escape the city with a European winter city break….
Madeira, otherwise known as ‘the islands of eternal spring’ is just a short, three-and-a-half-hour flight from London and on the same latitude as Morocco, meaning a sub-tropical climate all round. The diverse and beautiful landscape invites nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike to experience a multitude of activities including hiking, canyoning, trail running and rock climbing. There is also a wealth of water-based sports available such as surfing and scuba diving to be enjoyed, as well as incredible whale and dolphin spotting opportunities. The capital, Funchal, has a buzzy, cosmopolitan atmosphere with world-class restaurants, and bars to experience alfresco-style dining with breathtaking views across the bay.
STAY: BELMOND REID’S PALACE
This is an elegant and stylist hotel with breathtaking views of Funchal’s bay. Situated on a clifftop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by ten acres of subtropical gardens, it offers a fabulous ocean front spa and direct access to the sea.
PORTO DE MÓS, WESTERN ALGARVE
Algarve is a holiday favourite, offering sandy beaches, sleepy villages, modern resorts and exciting nightlife. This landscape is a mass of sweeping sands, multicoloured cliffs, hidden caves and pretty archways. The western coast remains one of the least spoiled parts of the Algarve making it one of Europe’s most coveted holiday hotspots.
STAY: VIVENDA MIRANDA
Once a private home, Vivenda Miranda is a spectacular spot, perched atop the cliffs. Each of the 26 rooms offers a sea view, while it’s luscious garden – jutting out to the cliff edge, looks out onto the golden sands below.
THE DOLOMITES, ITALY
The district of Cortina d’Ampezzo, just two hours from Venice is an alpine haven. With flowering meadows, charming chalets and the best weather in the Alps, it’s easy to prolong that summer feeling here. The area is well known for its for outstanding natural beauty which can be enjoyed through a range of active offerings such as hiking, road biking and cable car.
STAY: CRISTALLO RESORT & SPA
With crystal chandeliers and period-style furnishings, Cristallo Resort & Spa offers a sense of a regal ‘home away from home’. Established in 1901, the hotel has previously housed a plethora of glittering high society names from Dame Shirley Bassey to Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner and Frank Sinatra with a suite named after the late singer himself.
With its old Bavarians in lederhosen, rustic beerhalls, Hacker-Pschorr and Weisswurst, Munich embraces just about every German cliché in the book. But away from all that, today’s Bavarian capital is dynamic and ideal for a winter city break. It’s abundant with modern museums, world-class art, high-end shopping and adventurous restaurants. Don’t leave without a wander around the Christmas market, it dates back to the 14th Century and offers everything from gingerbread to crib figures, glassware and traditional gifts.
STAY: MANDARIN ORIENTAL
This five-star stay sits in the heart of the Old Town and offers an enticing blend of luxury, comfort and style. This luxury retreat has timeless appeal and all the mod-con facilities you could ever need.
For warmth, glorious food and fabulous architecture, Seville is the winter city break for you. A visit to Andalusia in December promises temperatures of around 20C and lots of fun to be had in the sun. Head out into the city’s streets, park yourself up at an al-fresco dining spot and prepare for some of the world’s best traditional tapas. Walk off lunch with a meander around the cobbled streets where you’ll discover a wealth of local art on every corner.
STAY: CASA DEL POETA
This restored 17th-century mansion has an unassuming location, tucked away down a tiny alley in Santa Cruz. Once the haunt of Seville’s poetry royalty, the hotel is centred around a marble-arch patio with walls in the city’s trademark red and ocher. Services are five star and views of the Santa Cruz church are unmatched.