The thought of hibernating over the winter is not an unreasonable one and with temperatures dropping to -8 here in Budapest I’m more than a little tempted. But there are places to go and things to see!
Let’s not waste these winter weekends when you can get away for a few days on a city break.
If you’re looking for somewhere warmish, Portugal is one of your best options. In contrast to the negative temperatures here in Central Europe, Portugal’s coastal city Porto is practically searing at 17 degrees.
Porto is kind of on the rundown side. It’s gritty and crumbly and rough around the edges but not in a dodgy way, in a full of character and charm way.
Without even looking around too much I found a Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Porto for €27. Not bad if you’re prepared to fly next weekend.
London is a great destination any time of the year as there’s always something exciting going on. But January is post-Christmas sales time making it the perfect occasion for a shopping holiday in 2016.
I do almost all my shopping when on holiday as I don’t have much time or inclination for wandering around the shops when I’m at home. When you’re away you have the time to relax in between cafe breaks and long lunches and it’s always nice to discover different brands and designers.
My recommended shopping spots in London:
- Shoreditch – the streets around the Old Spitalfields Market are crammed with little boutiques and independent stores you won’t find elsewhere in London. There’s also a great street food scene in Shoreditch.
- Covent Garden – here you’ll find a mix of well known brands and independent shops like Neal’s Yard Remedies, Size?, Y-3 and there’s an Apple Store. Stop at Monmouth for a coffee break and Barrafina for the best tapas in London.
- Selfridges – if you prefer the one-stop convenience of a department store you can’t beat Selfridges. If I could only shop at one store in London this would be it. The makeup department is phenomenal.
If you’re looking for a warm holiday getaway in January Tallinn is not the place to go. It’ll be freezing and most likely snowing. But that’s also the reason to visit. Tallinn is like a fairytale land. It’s medieval, it’s colourful, it’s atmospheric, there are pretty squares, cobblestone streets and castles built by Russian Tsars.
Sure it’s nice to visit Tallinn in the warm summer months but it’s so incredibly beautiful under a blanket of snow. Ryanair flights start at €34 so it’s an affordable getaway too.
Little known fact: I used to live in Montpellier. One of the reasons I chose it as a place to live is that it’s the sunniest destination in France. Even in winter you’ll often get clear blue skies and low humidity.
I always thought Montpellier was a Roman city, like most cities in southern France but it’s actually mostly medieval. For a small city there are so many beautiful sights, the main square – Place de la Comedie, the triumphal arch – Porte du Peyrou, mansions built under Louis XIV, the massive aqueduct and the lovely Promenade du Peyrou.
Travel tip: If you can’t find a reasonable flight direct to Montpellier check Nimes which is only 30 minutes and €10 away by train.
I know, I’m always recommending Slovenia as a place to travel but if you don’t know why just look at these photos by Slovenian photographer Luka Esenko. Winter in January 2016 at Lake Bled or in the Julian Alps looks incredible.
More European Travel Destination Ideas
- January: 5 Wintry Weekend Breaks
- February: Where to Go to Avoid Getting SAD
- March: Cosy Destinations
- April: The Best of Europe in the Spring
- June: The Balkans
- December: 11 Cities with Snow
- Europe by the Season: 2018 Edition
- Where to Travel in Europe in 2019