FIVE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY DESTINATIONS: a winter to suit all tastes!
Christmas is coming… so why not take a holiday abroad? Here are five suggestions for your winter travels.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark: A northern pearl, austere and vivacious in equal measure. Why go there at Christmas?
ITS ENCHANTED ATMOSPHERE: this city is perfect for people who love the fresh air. You can explore it entirely by bicycle, on completely flat cycle lanes, and enjoy a beautiful and relaxing sunny day in its many parks and along its romantic canals.
ARCHITECTURAL VARIETY: multi-coloured historic houses nestle among modern buildings and contemporary art museums. You can also enjoy the view on romantic boat trips: there really is something for everyone!
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: you’ll find some spectacular markets at Tivoli Gardens in the centre of town from 18 November to 31 December, and during Christmas the park is transformed with festive lights and a small lake converted into an ice-skating rink.
BUDAPEST, Hungary: With a wealth of imperial buildings and fairytale scenery, Budapest is a winter jewel waiting to be discovered. What is there to visit?
THE THERMAL BATHS: Known as the “City of Baths”, Budapest is blessed with over a hundred water springs, already renowned in Roman times. Among the most evocative of these is the Széchenyi Baths, well-known for its chess games played in the water.
MAJESTIC ARCHITECTURE: The Royal Palace, situated in the Buda quarter and dating back to Medieval times, is an 18th century building that houses the National Gallery, the National Library and the Budapesti Torteneti Muzeum.
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: Budapest too comes alive from 4 to 10 December with its Christmas markets in the strikingly beautiful Vorosmarty Square. Not to be missed is the “Santa Klaus Cup”, the city’s annual skating competition.
WARSAW, Poland: if you love Christmas decorations then you’ve come to the right place… Christmas in Warsaw is taken seriously!
THE ROYAL ROUTE: The four-kilometre Krakowskie Przedmieście connects the Old Town and Royal Castle with Łazienki Królewskie Park and the Belvedere Palace. The route is adorned along the way with ancient churches and residential palaces, such Holy Cross Church (where the heart of Chopin is jealously guarded!).
THE ENCHANTED PARK: The Park of the Royal Baths is the largest and most evocative in the city, with a variety of historic 17th century buildings like the Palace on the Water and the Amphitheatre
CHRISTMAS MARKETS: The biggest market stretches along the perimeter of the Old Town’s defensive walls. All the streets shimmer beneath thousands of golden lights, colourful projections and Christmas-themed installations.
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO FEEL THE COLD… MALTA AND MYKONOS
MALTA: Christmas is strongly felt in this Catholic nation. The climate on Malta is always gentle, with temperatures as high as 15 degrees. You’ll be able to spend more time in the fresh air and explore every corner of the island, either by public transport or low-cost car rental. Everywhere you go you’ll come across rich festivities: nativity scenes and cribs are recreated, with religious celebrations accompanied by typical Christmas carols.
MYKONOS, Cyclades Islands: 25 December is very much a national holiday, though less strongly-felt than Easter. The Christmas atmosphere that you sense here is a gentle one, just like the temperatures (which can reach 15 degrees), but it’s still tangibly there with brightly-lit decorations both in the towns and on the coasts. Expect to find blue skies, deserted beaches and breathtaking walks in the hills, for a romantic and peaceful Christmas!