Winter City Break Around the World

Winter City Break Around the World

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I love a good city break at any time of the year. Sometimes they’re a means to explore nature or attractions outside of that city. Other times, the city itself has much to offer visitors. Winter vacation destinations are altogether different no matter where you visit. Some people look for winter sun destinations, others prefer traditional winter activities like skiing. In the northern hemisphere, a winter city break can include Christmas markets. It can also mean traveling to see family for the holidays. 

We think winter is the perfect time for a city break. In winter, you can explore cities around the world without summer crowds. You can also search the web and find cheap winter vacations to cities around the world. The best museums in the world are located in cities, but when you visit during warmer seasons you miss out on outdoor activities. We wanted to learn about the best winter city breaks around the world.  To do this, we sought out the best global travel influencers to see where they recommend you take a winter city break. Here’s what we learned from their expertise!

After checking out the recommendations we’ve rounded up, let us know the top 3 winter city break destinations you’d visit. Comment below with your top 3 rankings!

Also make sure to check out more of what our contributors have to say. We’ve linked to their homepages or further reading that they’ve provided on their sites. We think you’ll like reading what they have to say just as much as you like Robe Trotting.

How to Plan a Winter City Break

Planning a Winter City Break is easier than it sounds. This is a great place to start, because you can decide on a destination. Just like any trip – you need to figure out how to get there. Start by doing a search for airfare on SkyScanner. We always find the best deals on Skyscanner and they have unadvertised fares that you won’t find on other search sites.

Next, you need to find a place to stay during your city break. We love finding properties through Agoda – check out some options below. Sometimes it’s wise to view hotel prices in a city before you do your flight search. In some places, like Europe, your hotel can be the more expensive than your flight. Make sure the hotels you pick fit your budget. You may even save money by booking on Airbnb. If you don’t have an account, you can save up to 40€ on your first Airbnb rental with this link

Lastly, find some flare to add to your city break! Look up a hot restaurant you want to try and make a reservation. Consider taking a cooking class, doing a food tour or visiting a museum. Winter can be a great time for those types of indoor activities, so browse the selections from GetYourGuide. We love GYG because you can make a reservation before your trip and cancel without a penalty up to 24 hours before the start time. This can be really helpful for attractions that ALWAYS have a line at any time of year like The Tower of London

Finally, you need to get travel insurance, especially if you’re leaving your home country. It’s crucial to have coverage that will protect you from unexpected travel costs. It’s not just for health emergencies, but can protect you from flight cancellations and costs related to late and delayed flights or other unexpected interruptions. It’s also pretty inexpensive, get a quote from World Nomads Below.

North America

Chicago winter
Theresa from The Local Tourist

Chicago is a wonderful winter destination, despite its reputation for terrible weather. Sure, there’s snow, wind, and ice, but locals aren’t going to hide inside all season long. That means there’s plenty of things for visitors to do, too.

For outdoor activities, there’s nothing like ice skating with the gorgeous skyline as your backdrop. The McCormick Tribune Ice Rink is located right on Michigan Avenue in Millennium Park and next door is the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park. Want to stay inside? Go to Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest, located in Festival Hall. Another way to beat the elements is to explore the Loop underground. The extensive Chicago Pedway system takes you to places like the Chicago Cultural Center and Macy’s on State Street. It also connects you to the L, Chicago’s train system, so you can explore beyond downtown without standing outside waiting for a ride.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, Chicago classics like deep-dish pizza and Italian beef are the very definition of Midwestern comfort food. They’ll warm you up from the inside out, so you can get back out there and enjoy shopping on the Magnificent Mile or take in one of the city’s fabulous museums.

Chicago truly is a fabulous winter destination.

Honolulu winter
Noel from This Hawaii Life
If you are looking for the perfect winter break destination in the USA then head over to Honolulu/Waikiki in Oahu. The capital city in Hawaii, Honolulu is also the main hub to the rest of the islands and a great starting point to explore the rest of the island, adventure experiences and the delicious food of the islands. Warm weather, amazing beaches and scenic landscapes to explore, there is plenty for everyone to see and visit around Honolulu and all around the island of Oahu.
 
Popular things to do in Honolulu include visiting the historic district with Iolani Palace, Washington Place the Capital building and Kawaiaha’o Church, Chinatown, the largest shopping center at Ala Moana Shops and Kalakaua Boulevard (the large boulevard in Waikiki with designer boutiques, bars, outdoor restaurants and other tourist attractions. Of course Waikiki is famous for its amazing beach, Diamond Head, the Zoo, Honolulu Aquarium and Kapiolani park and museums like the Bishop Museum and the Honolulu Museum of Art. The historic district and Waikiki is compact and easy to walk around and explore which is great for able to see most of the attractions and must visit places in a relatively small area.
 
It really is paradise and winter weather is the warmest in all of the USA so you could be outdoors the entire time in your shorts and tank tops. If you are looking for all the cool places to visit and attractions check out my post on Top things to do in Honolulu for inspiration and more photographs of what to see and do around Honolulu.
Las Vegas winter
Phil from Gourmet Globetrotter

Look no further than Las Vegas for your next winter city break. There are few places in the world that go as wild for the holidays than Las Vegas. It’s one of the best winter escapes out there.

Winter is one of the best times of the year to snag hotel deals right on the Strip – with most offering significant discounts or freebies (like meal or drink vouchers). Sure, this time of year isn’t exactly pool weather. But it’s comfortably mild with temperatures hovering around 50- to 60-degrees during the day. But perhaps best of all, you won’t have to battle the typical Vegas conventions crowds or rowdy bachelorette parties. Both tend to steer clear of Vegas this time of year.

To get right into the holiday spirit, we recommend starting off at the Bellagio’s free Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Shortly after Thanksgiving, the hotel transforms the 14,000-square-foot space into a winter wonderland complete with towering Christmas trees and more lights you can count. Head next to downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street Experience for a free and music light show every hour. You’ll also get to peek at Las Vegas’ official Christmas tree. If you’re hungry, you’ll find some of the best restaurants downtown like Carson Kitchen (which has incredible mac n’ cheese). Also visit Le Thai (try the tender waterfall beef) and Therapy (um, red velvet waffle chicken sliders!). Looking for some pampering? Head back to Caesar’s Palace on the strip. My partner and I love soaking in the Jacuzzi tubs at the hotel’s sprawling Qua Spa with separate facilities for men and women.

To wrap up your Vegas experience, join a free walking tour with Nomad Tours. The 2-hour tour will take you to some of Vegas’ most iconic attractions like the Bellagio Fountains, CityCenter, Caesars Palace and other hidden gems all decorated in true Vegas flair. Soon you’ll realize why Vegas is one of the best places to visit during the winter. Plus, who can beat a deal?

Oaxaca winter city break

Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital of the Mexican province of Oaxaca, is a perfect winter destination for a city break. The small city is easy to get to via Mexico City, only 5 hours drive or a one hour flight. Oaxaca sits at an altitude of roughly 1500 m. This makes its winter temperatures extremely comfortable. That’s especially true for those of us coming from cooler climates. It’s warm and sunny during the day, and cooler in the evenings!

For a smaller city, Oaxaca has so many things to do. They’re all located within its central district and in walking distance from each other. Start off in the Zocalo, and then head out to see churches and small museums. You can see the highlights in as little as two to three days. With more time, there are many day trips in the area that are fascinating. Foremost the huge pre-Columbian ruins at Monte Alban make an easy trip from the city.

Visit the surrounding villages of Teotitlan del Valle, Arrazola and San Bartolo Coyotepec to see artisans making the handicrafts Oaxaca is known for. With more time you can head out to see Hierve el Agua rock formation and the Mitla ruins. On the whole, Oaxaca is a city well suited for tourists. There are many shops and restaurants, public transportation options, as well as, taxis and tour operators.

Philadelphia winter city breaks

When it comes to winter city breaks, you don’t want to skip out on Philadelphia. There’s so much to do in Philadelphia for a short break in the winter time. There’s a festive Christmas Market in Philadelphia’s famous LOVE park. It’s a great place to start a winter city break in Philadelphia. There you will also have a great view of the parkway between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Across the street you’ll be able to spend time in Dilworth Plaza. In the winter, you’ll find crowds enjoying time outside in the plaza. It’s a great spot for people-watching and they install an ice skating rink for the winter months. Lace up a pair of skates and take a spin, or buy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy the fun atmosphere. At City Hall you can also enjoy a view of the entire city from the City Hall observation deck. Bundle up, because it can be chilly in Philadelphia during the winter and especially high above the city.

Philadelphia is also full of fantastic museums to escape the cold. You can take in history at attractions like Independence Hall or enjoy a science museum like The Franklin Institute. After seeing the sights, you’ll love Philly’s food scene. You can spend an evening at any of Philadelphia’s world-class restaurants.

San Diego winter city breaks
Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru

San Diego, California is a great city for winter city breaks. With more than 260 sunny days per year and a mild climate it is perfect in winter. The weather in San Diego in winter is relatively warm, like spring in most of the United States. Even better, the crowds are much less than in other seasons.

Since it will not be as hot as in summer, winter is a great time to hike in local state parks. There are also lots of excellent attractions in San Diego from the famous zoo to a multitude of museums. Are you interested in maritime history, natural history, art or space exploration? There is a museum for your passion in San Diego.

But most importantly, winter is a whale watching season in all of California including San Diego. Thousands of grey whales migrate every year from Alaska to Baja California and then back with their babies. The best months to see them are between December and March. The whales pass pretty close to the shore. You can see them breathe, play and breach. Several boat tour companies organize whale watching tours in San Diego so you will have plenty of opportunities to get on the water and enjoy these magnificent creatures. And if you love wildlife don’t forget to come see the seals in La Jolla Cove.

San Francisco winter city breaks
Matt from Wheatless Wanderlust

Looking into winter city breaks with mild weather and a never ending list of fantastic things to do and see? Look no further than San Francisco.

Between January and March, you’ll find temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-16 Celsius). On top of that, it generally only rains a few days each month in the winter, making it a perfect escape from cold and gray winter weather.

Even in winter, you’ll be able to enjoy all of the sights and experiences that San Francisco has to offer. The biggest difference is that you won’t have to swim through the throngs of tourists that flock to the city in the summer.

One of the best things about San Francisco is the distinct feel of each neighborhood. Nob Hill feels different from Chinatown feels different from North Beach. And they’re all within a few blocks of each other! I always recommend exploring on foot, but you’ll need to be ready for the hills. Don’t miss the Mission District, where you can window shop on Valencia Street and picnic (and people watch) at Dolores Park.

While you’re in San Francisco, you can’t miss Golden Gate Park. It’s bigger than Central Park in NYC, and is the third most visited city park in the country. Stroll through the park and check out the Japanese tea garden, Stow Lake, and the bison paddock. Yes, you read that right. They have real bison.

If you’re up for it, the best hike in San Francisco starts at Ocean Beach at the western end of Golden Gate Park. Take the Land’s End Trail along the coast, and enjoy the stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The best views of the bridge are from Baker Beach (or nearby Marshall’s Beach), Crissy Field, and Fort Point. You can even walk across the bridge, but be ready for strong gusts of wind and fog.

Vancouver winter city breaks
Hannah from That Adventurer
Vancouver is the ideal year-round destination and while some say it comes to life in the summer, the winter is one of my favourite times in the city. Unlike the rest of Canada, Vancouver isn’t hitting temperatures of -30C. It’s fairly mild in the winter and that means there’s more chance to get outside and see some of the best of Vancouver.
 
Vancouver is magical in the winter with snow on the mountain peaks that surround the city. Whilst some of the best things to do in Vancouver in winter include travelling to one of the city’s three local mountains just 30 minute’s drive away for snowshoeing, skiing or boarding, there’s plenty in the city to do too. Be sure to try night skiing on either Cypress, Seymour or Grouse Mountain. Go early enough to catch the sunset from a chair lift and ski the floodlit slopes for an unforgettable skiing experience.
 
Many of Vancouver‘s top attractions put on special winter events that can’t be missed. These include the VanDusen Festival of Lights where the beautiful botanical garden is transformed into a magical place complete with hundreds of thousands of lights, a carousel and a fireside lounge. Sticking with the light theme, Capilano Suspension Bridge puts on their Canyon Lights event annually where the suspension bridges are lit up and make the journey through the North Shore forest even more magical.
 
Vancouverites also like to celebrate food in the winter! There’s a hot chocolate festival at the end of January as well as Dine Out Vancouver where restaurants put together a special menu to showcase their food. It’s a great time to try some of the cities best restaurants including Forage and Hawksworth at even better prices.
Whistler
Sydney from Project Allo

Looking for a fabulous quick getaway this winter? Look no further than Whistler, Canada. Whistler, the famed home of the 2010 Winter Olympics, has been the darling of celebrities and locals alike for years, and for good reason. 

World-class skiing is what attracts many to Whistler, but as locals know, skiing is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to awesome things you can do. With options for every budget, Whistler is truly a phenomenal winter getaway. 

While in Whistler, you’ll find a plethora of activities at your fingertips. Soaring through the air on a zip-line while taking in the breathtaking scenery of Whistler’s backcountry is an experience you won’t soon forget. Ice climbing tours allow you to safely ascend frozen waterfalls using ice axes and crampons—what a rush! Ice climbing is surprisingly simple and even beginners are welcome. 

There are many high-end spas in Whistler, but no trip is complete without a visit to the Scandinave Spa. This nature oasis spa is world-famous, and for good reason. Here you’ll find a series of grotto-style hydrotherapy pools and hot tubs set within a gorgeous natural backdrop. There is a eucalyptus steam room, hot saunas, roaring fires, reclining chairs with mountain views, a solarium and more.

Dining in Whistler is world-class. With price ranges for every budget, the city is mainly known for its award-winning, high-end West Coast contemporary food prepared by world-class chefs. Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro are two of the most famous restaurants in town. 

In a nutshell, Whistler is an incredible winter destination because there’s something for everyone. The epic “big-nature” vibe surrounds you wherever you go and even if you don’t ski it’s an incredible place to visit in the winter.

Asia

Bangkok winter city breaks
Hannah and Adam from Getting Stamped

When we think of a winter city break, it’s usually a city or country that isn’t home to the frigid cold temperatures that our hometown is accustomed to! We also look for a place that has plenty of things to do regardless of the season. Bangkok, Thailand is the perfect winter destination to explore and try new things! Not to mention that late November to early February is arguably some of the best months to visit, when the heat and humidity are at their lowest. Cold and snowy weather won’t cross your mind while you’re out adventuring through Bangkok

If you’re a first timer, we highly recommend taking a tour on a Tuk Tuk. The guides will cruise you around the city, stopping for incredible street food and some of the city’s best sights. Some must see sights to visit via a water taxi include Wat Pho, one of our favorite temples that is home to one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world. Another is the Grand Palace, a massive complex that displays the best Thai architecture. The photo opportunities are endless in Bangkok

Another cool area to check out is Khao San Road that features streets lined with bars, restaurants, and shops and is known for their nightlife. If you’re looking for something more low-key, we suggest checking out Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Karabi winter escape

This year, If you are planning to visit a new destination to beat your winter, Karabi in Thailand is a great option. In winter, the temperatures are still warm in Karabi (25-31°C). The weather is perfect to spend your time at the beach with swimming, surfing, diving, and snorkeling. The only drawback is that the beaches and hostels hike their prices during this time of year. As you might imagine, many tourists visit Thailand in winter. It’s popular to spend Christmas and New Year in Karabi. If you can plan your vacation a little late, from January to May, you can enjoy beaches with smaller crowds. 

Are you wondering what can be done other than spending time on the beaches? You can explore nearby caves as Karabi is also known for many natural caves. You can also go to Phi Phi Island by motorboat and spend time island-hopping. There is a lot to see in Karabi and the nearby area. You will be amazed at how this place is full of natural scenery! Karabi can be reached from Bangkok by fights and buses. My recommendation is to fly, as domestic flights are very cheap once you are in Thailand.

Kuala Lumpur winter city breaks
Heleen from The Global Wizards
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is a fantastic city break during the winter months. The weather will be dry and warm, but not as unbearably hot as other times of the year. Which makes it perfect for exploring the many highlights. Or maybe you just want to hang around one of the pools and enjoy the delicious food? And best of all, it’s a very cheap destination. You can find the most amazing accommodation and food for very little money. 
 
The city has some beautiful highlights, such as the Petronas Twin Towers, the Central Market and Jalan Alor. But what we liked most, is the mix of different cultures. There’s a strong Malaysian, Chinese and Indian community, as well as the heritage of the British colonization. Which results in a fantastic mix of buildings and temples, the most colorful neighborhoods and of course some of the most delicious food we’ve ever tasted. 
 
If you have a bit more time, you could even visit a couple of great places outside the city. The Batu caves, which is one of the biggest Hindu complexes is definitely worth a visit. But since you’re coming from the colder weather, you might long for a beach. Well, the good news is that within an easy 3-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur you can find some stunning beaches and Pangkor Island.
 
When you come here, make sure to keep enough time to relax, shop, eat delicious food and enjoy the warm weather. Kuala Lumpur is known for its many pools, rooftop bars, shopping malls and lovely restaurants. With Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and Western influences, everybody can find something for their taste. Don’t forget to try the street food as well, we’ve had some of the best Nasi Lemak (local spicy dish) and juices here!
Mysore winter city break
Neethu at Our Backpack Tales

Mysore is popularly known as the Heritage city, owing to its great cultural heritage. This beautiful city is rightly called the Cultural capital of Karnataka. The city receives tourists from all over the world, particularly during the famous Dussehra celebrations which happens in October month. Located at the foothills of the Chamundi Hills, Mysore is also a very peaceful scenic city, which is now a popular urban destination. The city of Bangalore is just 3 hours from Mysore.

From Palaces to bird sanctuaries to malls to pubs, Mysore has them all. The city has a very pleasant climate during the winter, making it a perfect destination for winter city breaks. Another great fact is that traveling from one spot to another takes less than twenty minutes and there is hardly any traffic to deal with. The people are very humble and welcoming too, making it easy to approach them.

The city is great for history lovers as well as explorers alike. Some of the important spots are the Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hills, Brindavan Gardens, Mysore Zoo, St. Philomena’s Cathedral, Karanji Lake and the Namdorling Monastry.

Another special thing to try when at Mysore would definitely be the Mysore Pak, which is a delicious sweet made for gram flour, sugar and ghee.

Panjim winter
Shalini at Eager 2 Travel

Panjim is the capital of one of the most popular holiday destinations Goa and trust me there is so much to do than just beaches, parties and pub hopping. There are so manythings to do in Panjim like visiting churches, museums, temples, going for heritage walks, eating at local Goan restaurants, chilling in the Portugal backstreets.

The weather is pleasant in winter and many New Year celebrations take place along with the Sun Burn Music Festival. You can explore the cheerfully colored Latin quarters named as Fountainhas after the fountain of Phoenix. The major attractions include visiting the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Miramar and Dona Paula Beach, Mandovi River Cruise and shopping in Panjim.

You must try the local dishes at Hotel Venite on the 31st January Road. Althinto Hill is one of the finest and oldest Portugal properties, is one of the best places to wander around in the afternoons. You can also go for gambling in the floating casinos on the Mandovi River. You have to pay an entrance fee but you’ll get drinks, snacks and some playing chips included. You can try your luck at Blackjack, Roulette, Bacarrette, Stud Poker or Rummy, or use the electronic slots.

Singapore winter city breaks
Augusta from Mini Me Explorer

Singapore is the perfect winter city break destination for several reasons, especially the weather. It is the coldest time of the year. That means that days are not unbearably hot, and yet they are warm enough to go for a swim. It does rain occasionally so in wintertime the city is very green, greener than in the rest of the year.  

For this reason, the nature park Gardens by the Bay is an amazing area to go for a stroll: walk among real trees and then “hike up” the canopies of the supertrees. Another iconic sight in Garden by the Bay is the Cloud Forest, with its 7 story-tall indoor waterfall. And how about the Flower Dome just opposite, with its colorful flowers and rare plants? Everyone loves them!

The city is amazing and multicultural, so in a few days, you may “visit” a great deal of Asia without actually leaving the municipality. You can visit colorful hindu temples and enjoy the smell of exotic spices in the quarter called Little India. You have a taste of the Middle East by visiting a mosque and sample amazing Lebanese food in Kampong Glam. You can then buy traditional medicines and dragon candles in Chinatown.

It may happen that in December, for instance, you will see the typical Christmas decorations at every corner alongside paper cuttings, door couplets and red lanterns typical of the Chinese New Year, which takes place between the end of January and mid-February. More or less at the same time, the Tamil community (Hindu) is busy celebrating Thaipusam, and you may be lucky enough to attend one of their colorful parades. As you can see, winter in Singapore is a busy time, brimming with celebrations.

Tainan winter city breaks
Katy from Photospired

With a balmy average of 22 degrees Celsius (71 F) in the winter months, this sunny city in southern Taiwan makes for an ideal escape from the cold. Aside from the pleasant weather, winter is a great time to visit Tainan and partake in its many festivities that are unique to this season. Ring in the new year with a spectacular sunrise overlooking bamboo forests at Erliao, or head to Jingzaijiao for a breathtaking sunset over the glass-like water of the salt fields.

Food lovers will appreciate seasonal culinary delights, such as the strawberry shaved ice. After sightseeing and eating your way through the night market, the best ways to end a winter day are with a hot pot and the hot springs! Tainan’s renowned fresh beef complements the piping hot pot perfectly, while Guanziling’s mud bath is a therapeutic experience for the body and soul.

From January to February, the city buzzes with excitement for the Chinese New Year, and you’ll find Puji Temple adorned with hundreds of colourful lanterns hand-crafted by well-wishers. In the evening, the Yuejin Lantern Festival illuminates the river and night sky with a brilliant display of lights. For the daring, the Beehive Fireworks Festival is sure to be a blast, literally, as fireworks shoot in all directions in a grand parade for the deity Emperor Guan.  

If you’re planning a winter getaway, this treasure trove of amazing culture, history and food should be at the top of your list!

taipei winter city breaks

Whether you are planning an escape from dreary winter in your city or looking for an urban winter getaway, Taipei is your perfect destination in winter. And here’s why.

Winter is the best time to visit Taipei, Taiwan. It’s a low season with fewer tourists in town. And winter opens up a small window of opportunity you can avoid Taiwan’s hot and humid climate. You don’t have to worry about snow at all, although it might rain from time to time.  

As exploring the city on foot would be a pleasant experience in winter, why not joining a walking tour? There are many walking tours in Taipei with various themes, some of which are free. Take the historic route to learn about Taiwan’s complex history and political status. Or, select the modern path to visit the most trendy area in Taipei. You can even do a self-guided walking tour to explore any neighborhood of your interest.

If your trip coincides with the holiday season, go to the Xinyi District. Streets near Taipei 101 and shopping centers are illuminated with Christmas lights, exuding the holiday mood. On New Year’s Eve, the City of Taipei blocks off the area to throw a massive New Year Countdown party. It is similar to New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Time Square. But instead of the ball drop, you will get to see the spectacular fireworks from Taipei 101.

Do you need more ideas to take advantage of the pleasant weather and fewer crowd in winter? Get inspired by this Taipei 3-day itinerary for your next trip to Taiwan’s capital city.

Tbilisi winter escape
Sarah & Nigel from A Social Nomad

The capital of the Caucasus country of Georgia, Tbilisi is perfect for a winter city break whether you spend a weekend in Tbilisi or longer, it’s a great city for a visit.  Not only does the name, in Georgian, translate to “warm location”, but the numerous hot springs in the Abanotubani area of the old town mean that you can soak in a hot spring at the end of a day of touring and visiting the city.

And there’s plenty to see here.  Take the cable car up over the old town to the Narikala fortress and get some incredible views of the new and old town.  Walk down through Fig Gorge and explore some of the legends of Tbilisi. Enjoy also the culinary influences of Tbilisi many conquerors, who left not just their architecture beyond but also their food.  It’s a fabulous mix of cultures and tastes. And where better to enjoy it than the birthplace of wine. Georgians have been making wine for 8,000 years and they’re pretty good at it – wine tasting at Wine Underground is cosy, interesting and not expensive!

There are museums, churches and a seriously pleasant vibe here in Tbilisi and some great cafes and restaurants to hang out in.  However, you should start your visit with a walking tour of the old town, where local guides will explain the full history of the city and advise on where you should continue your explorations of this stunning city.

Tokyo winter escape
Chad from Tokyo Spark
I think an escape to Tokyo during the winter would be an incredible surprise to most. 

Tokyo, the bustling big-city capital of Japan is world renown for remarkable dining experiences, high-rise skyscrapers, and a flawless train system.

Then winter comes along and turns it into a fantastic show. Everywhere you look there are beautiful lights decorating the streets. And in some places, hundreds of thousands of these lights.

The winter light shows you’ll come across in Tokyo are second to none. And after a few hours staring in awe, and feeling the cold seep in, you can duck into an incredible little ramen shop to warm your soul.

In Tokyo, it seems there is a new ramen shop popping up every minute. Around every corner, there’s another one. And then another.

It’s as if ramen is Tokyo’s soul food. 

And the winter really makes ramen shine. The steam, the sizzle, the clanging, mixing, and all sorts of amazing sounds coming from the kitchen — which is often open for you to see — is an experience in itself.

And when that hot soup goes down, and with every slurp of the noodles, you’ll be glad you chose Tokyo as your winter getaway.

Vientiane winter city break
Marie from A Life Without Borders

In the midst of winter in Europe, escape cabin fever by heading to Vientiane, Laos.  Bordered by Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and China, landlocked Laos is one of the few remaining under-touristed areas in Southeast Asia.  Whilst technically the cool season in Laos, temperatures during the day still reach a balmy 27-30 degrees Celsius, making it the perfect time to explore the laid-back capital of Laos.

Prepare to be enchanted by Vientiane’s calm and chill atmosphere, feeling more like a large village than the capital city it is.  Compact and easily navigable, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Vientiane, which is best explored on foot or by bicycle.

Get your bearings by climbing the French-inspired Patuxay Victory Monument for 360 degree views over downtown Vientiane before exploring golden Pha That Luang, one of the nation’s most important cultural monuments.  Visit the eye-opening COPE Visitor Centre or the MAG UXO Center to learn about the devastating effects of the Secret War in Laos, which took place during the late 1960s.

Explore historic, gilded temples such as the stunning columned Wat Ho Phra Keo or Wat Sisaket, the walls of which are lined with over six thousand Buddha images.  Of course, no visit to Vientiane would be complete without sampling some amazing Lao food at the riverside night market or a hip urban café.  Round off your visit to Vientiane with a BeerLao (or two) whilst watching the sun set over the Mekong River and Thailand on the opposite bank.

Middle East & Africa

Abu Dhabi winter escape
Keri from Family Travel in the Middle East

An Abu Dhabi city breaks brings with it an amazing mix of culture, sports, culinary treats and, of, course, sunshine! Sitting on the Arabian Gulf, the UAE capital shines at its best during the mild winter months, expect day time temperatures around 25c/77F.

The fun and excitement begin in late November with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held at Yas Marina Circuit.  Stick around then for theme park adventures on Yas Island (there are now 3 giant theme parks to choose from), or head around the islands of Abu Dhabi to enjoy it’s four key cultural attractions; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Qasr al Watan – the new Presidential Palace and Qasr al Hosn, the city’s oldest structure and new home for arts and culture in the heart of the city.

The beauty of winter is that outdoor adventures and easy day trips are possible, ranging from classic desert safari’s and dune bashing excursions, or get out and enjoy the cities extensive waterways.  Our favourites on the water close to town include kayaking among the Eastern Mangroves wetlands or take a boat out to one of Abu Dhabi’s luxury island retreats such as Zaya Nurai for a brunch day trip or luxury boutique retreat – you won’t believe how close you are to a major city!

Soft sandy beaches surround much of the city, with many hotels offering private beach resorts and climate-controlled pools to ensure year-round enjoyment. Our favourite breach destination is Saadiyat Island with direct Gulf views and miles of soft white sand.  Or do as the locals do and pack your picnic to enjoy along the city’s main Corniche beachfront.  Exciting new developments like A’l Bahar with street eats, outdoor recreation and the AquaFun inflatable water park make this a winter winner destination.

Aqaba Jordan in winter
Lindsay from Step into Jordan

Aqaba lies at the southern tip of Jordan and makes a great escape from Winter. Most people think the Middle East is warm all year round, but Jordan has 4 seasons and even sees snow in Amman and Petra. It is a very mountainous country but Aqaba’s location at the tip of the Red Sea offers a break from winter for Jordanians and Europeans who are looking for some warmth until spring arrives!

Between January and March, daytime highs in Aqaba are between 21C and 27C

To get to Aqaba there are low cost carriers that fly from many European cities. It can also be accessed by flying from Amman or taking a bus (or driving). It is about 4 hours drive from Amman, Jordan’s capital city, and less than 2 hours from Petra.

Although Aqaba is not a large town population wise, it offers a decent selection of restaurants, as well as snorkeling, scuba diving and shopping for souvenirs. Many visitors opt for day trips from Aqaba to Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and more!

It is a great base to tick off everything on your Jordan bucket list while you wait for spring to arrive. Just note, that if you do plan to visit Petra, Amman or Wadi Rum from Aqaba, bring a winter jacket in the winter months, as those places can be very cold!

Bahia Palace 3 Days in Marrakech
Bahia Palace in Marrakech

Marrakech is a perfect winter city break. It’s a destination where you can easily find sun and daytime temperatures where you can enjoy a swim or laying out under the rays. It has plenty of great resorts and boutique hotels to make your stay comfortable. Marrakech has fascinating history and a great tourist infrastructure.

Nighttime temperatures cool down, but are still comfortable with a light jacket. The skies in Marrakech are clear and the light pollution is so low that it’s one of the best locations in the world for stargazing. In December, you can enjoy the Geminids meteor shower. It’s especially brilliant over Marrakech skies.

During the day you can explore the old city and Medina full of palaces and markets. There are countless tours in Marrakech that can give you a taste of local life, help you explore than landscape and nature or experience wildlife. No matter what you do, Marrakech is one of the best winter city breaks you’ll find.

Australia

Canberra winter holiday
Clara from Petite Capsule

Canberra, in Australia, is a fantastic city to visit for a short urban holiday in winter. There are so many great activities to enjoy. Head to Corin Forest to play in the snow, build a snowman, and ride a toboggan. Go on a walk to take in some spectacular Canberran views. Top walks are the Mount Ainslie Summit Trail, One Tree Hill Lookout Walk, Mount Taylor Nature Trail, Black Mountain Summit Walk, and the bridge to bridge walk around Lake Burley Griffin. 

The Truffle Festival is an annual celebration of truffle, and delicious food and wine experiences. There are truffle hunts, dinners, and demonstrations. The Forage, a street food festival, is also on. The Forage showcases local food trucks, cafes, breweries, and wineries, as well as, local entertainment – musicians, dancers and models. 

There are some great markets in Canberra during winter, including the Handmade Markets, which are excellent for finding unique artisan Australian made products. The Old Bus Depot Markets and the Hartley Hall Markets are terrific for finding local products. 

You can attend a number of live National Rugby League and Super Rugby sports games, and support the local Canberra Raiders and Plus500 Brumbie teams. Ensure you also check out some of the top attractions: Parliament House, Questacon, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, and the National Portrait Gallery. 

Canberra is wonderful for a winter city break. 

Gold Coast in winter
Stephanie from Navigating Adventure

With most holiday makers flocking to the Australian Gold Coast in the summer months, it might surprise you to learn that there is so much more to the region than swimming and sun baking. 

Located just an hour south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast is a popular tourist destination. The moderate Queensland winter climate means there is never really a bad time to go, and there are plenty of activities that are more suited to cool temperatures. 

The winter months between June to August are perfect for exploring the theme parks with fewer crowds. Dreamworld, Movie World, and Paradise Country are a lot of fun for thrill seekers and animal lovers. It is much more pleasant to visit in cooler weather – just make sure you avoid the local school holiday periods which are still busy.

The city of Surfers Paradise still has plenty of atmosphere in winter – and you might even get away with thongs and board shorts on the warmer days! Stroll along the beach during the day and check out Ripley‘s Believe it or Not for a fun and quirky adventure. Bars and restaurants come alive at night, with plenty offering live music.

Nature is never far away either! Take a cruise on the water or head inland to the Gold Coast hinterland for a day trip, to discover the stunning Mount Tamborine, Springbrook or Lamington National Parks. Winter is the perfect time for a hike through the bushland in this region. The scenery here is stunning – and there are many walks to try. 

The Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk takes you high into the canopy for a spectacular experience. For something more leisurely try wine tasting, art trails and antique store browsing. 

Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, is also one of Australia’s hidden gems. Winters in Perth extend from June to August and although they can bring downpours and thunderstorms (but never snow!), the temperatures usually hover between 8 and 19°C.

Start with exploring Perth’s boutique-looking city center, with its modern, creative and colorful architecture. The area comes alive in every season with its lively cafes, restaurants, bars and cool shops. Then, make your way to some of the best beaches along the coast, including the popular and best-known spots like Scarborough beach, Cotteslow beach and City beach. Stroll along the ocean, catch a sunrise or a sunset, or eat at one of the many adorable cafes in the area. Sunsets over the Indian Ocean are spectacular, and Perth is one of the few places in Australia to catch them. If you’re brave enough, bring your bathing suit and go for an ocean dip! The temperatures in winter-time average around 20°C.

Leave a day or two at the end of your trip for activities outside of Perth, such as exploring the dynamic port city of Fremantle, or the scenic Rottnest island. Rottnest is home to the ever friendly and adorable quokkas and is great to visit in the winter when there are far fewer crowds, though expect temperatures to be at their lowest in July (around 15°C).

Perth is also the perfect getaway for travelers from the Northern Hemisphere who are looking to take a break from their typical winter weather. Coincidentally, summer in Perth (December to February), is dry, hot and has limited rainfall with temperatures typically around 18 to 30°C. 

Lastly, your trip to Perth wouldn’t be complete without a whale watching tour. You can see whales all year round, depending on when you go – catch orcas (January-March), blue whales (March-May), Southern right (July-August) and Humpbacks (May-December).
Sydney winter sunset
Margherita from The Crowded Planet

Sydney is worth visiting in all seasons, but there’s no time of the year as amazing as summer – which coincides with winter in the Northern Hemisphere! When it’s cold and rainy in Europe or North America, Sydney offers sunshine, stunning urban beaches and that ‘no worries’ Aussie lifestyle that makes travelers fall head over heels with the land Down Under. 

All through January, Sydney is fairly busy as this is also the time of Australian school holidays, so you may be find the city and beaches like Bondi and Manly to be too crowded for your liking. The solution could be planning a day trip from Sydney, to enjoy some of the amazing nature surrounding the city – for example, to Royal National Park to go bushwalking, or to the Hunter Valley for wine tasting. There’s so much to see and do in Sydney that no doubt one quick break won’t be enough!

Did you find some inspiration in these awesome winter city break suggestions? Take your wanderlust to the next level and book a winter getaway. Use our travel planning resources by clicking the button below and take off on a winter city break today!

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Derek Hartman

Derek Hartman is an American expat from Philadelphia, currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark. His blog, Robe Trotting focuses on travel, expatriation and lifestyle topics.

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