Why You Should Take a City Break in Winter
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.
If you’re looking for a great place to get out and explore, make sure to add Athens, Greece to your list! The city has been one of the world’s most important cultural centers for millennia. That means Athens it is jam-packed with tourists in the middle of the high season. Instead, book a city break to Athens in winter!
You can enjoy visiting the city’s most important sites without having to fight the crowds. Visit the Acropolis, Karameikos Cemetery, and Syntagma Square at your own pace. Athens‘s winter weather is warmer than the rest of the continent, but there are still occasional bouts of snow. If you do need to escape the cold while here, you can duck into one of the city’s world-class museums. Start with the Acropolis Museum, which offers fabulous views of the Acropolis from inside the warm museum.
Other fabulous Athens winter activities include visiting the nearby islands of Hydra and Aegina. You’ll also love enjoying the sunset at Mount Lycabettus, and sipping Greek wine on a wine tour. If you visit during December, you can stop by the Athens Christmas Market. You can also see some of the city’s charming cafes decorated for Christmas.
In the past Belfast was one of those cities to avoid with the past troubles and uncertainty in the city. These days it has come on leaps and bounds. It’s a new and exciting city break with the rejuvenation of the city’s main tourist sites. I always find Belfast at its best in the winter months when the city comes to life. It’s the festive period in the city when it’s dressed with lights and holiday baubles. Much of the excitement in the city is found around the central city hall, which plays host to the Belfast Christmas Market. It makes the perfect backdrop to the city at that time.
Belfast is also a city with contrasts, where the Lagan riverside remains serene through the winter months. It’s perfect for a romantic stroll, while other parts of the city centre are bustling with nightlife. The famous Irish Bars of the city are the perfect places to escape the cold. The traditional Irish bars are found around Saint Anne’s Cathedral and the entertainment areas of the Cathedral Quarter. There is a lively student scene around the Botanic area of Belfast and the majestic buildings of Queen’s University. There are also vibrant shopping scenes around Donegall Place and the central shops of Victoria Square shopping mall.
The first time I visited Budapest, Hungary was in 2017. I loved it. The second time was in 2018 and it was a bit longer than the first time. During that time I saw more of the place and the people. It was a frosty December in Budapest, but I enjoyed the warmth in a place where I least expected it. Forget about the Christmas markets, they are almost everywhere in Berlin, where I live.
Despite the thick snowy days in Budapest, there are reasons to leave the comfort of your home and explore the neighborhood. The city has been divided by the river Danube into two, Buda and Pest. Buda is the hilly part of the city whereas Pest is the flat part of the Hungarian capital.
Exploring the city square, the Széll Kálmán Tér, didn’t seem like a bad idea at all. It was so refreshing to explore the Buda side of the city. There, you have a spectacular view of the city. The best part of cold weather is indulging yourself with a cup of coffee afterwards. Hungarians are known to be coffee lovers and you shouldn’t be surprised to see plenty of cafés in the city.
Copenhagen is a fantastic destination for a winter city break. When you’re there, you’ll be surprised at the number of things to do in Copenhagen in winter. For most of the winter in Copenhagen, you’ll find early sunsets and windy, gray weather. The temperatures are colder than the summer months, but there isn’t often measurable snow.
To guarantee winter snow in Copenhagen, you can head to Tivoli Gardens. There you’ll have the beautiful decorations which include artificial snow. It may not be enough to ski on, but Copenhagen can still offer urban skiing. That’s because of Copenhill, the exciting new indoor ski slope in Copenhagen. Copenhagen also offers many places to escape the colder temperatures. Head to the National Museum or book a ticket for the Hop on, Hop off bus in Copenhagen. Both are great options to keep warm and learn more about Copenhagen and Denmark during winter.
The city of Florence, Italy is popular not just during the busy summer period, but also during the chilly winter months.
Thanks to the almost unlimited number of museums and attractions in Florence and surrounds, you can enjoy a number of interesting, educational, social, cultural attractions indoors, or rug up and enjoy the outdoor museum that is Florence!
Here are just a few of the more popular indoor attractions to explore in Florence during Winter…
- Palazzo Vecchio – originally created to house the government organizations of the republic, it was later upgraded and became the home of the wealthy banking family of Florence, the Medici. Nowadays it has returned to its original purpose, housing the offices of local government. It is also a popular tourist attraction for the millions that visit Florence annually.
- Florence Duomo – the city’s centerpiece is the great Cathedral of Florence known as Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The classic orange dome created by Brunelleschi in 1436 sits atop the cathedral which houses over 750 works of art. Adjacent to the cathedral is Giotto’s bell tower and just 20m away is the Baptistery of Saint John. It has famous Bronze Doors created by Lorenzo Ghiberti which Michelangelo referred to as the Gates of Paradise.
- Pitti Palace and Bobili Gardens – the former home of the ruling family of Florence, the Medici. The Pitti Palace is a must-see sight in Florence with hundreds of works of art including paintings and sculptures. See how the Medici lived before you venture out into the stunning Bobili Gardens. That’s where you’ll discover manicured grounds, sculptures and stunning vistas of the city of Florence.
These are just a few of the famous attractions to explore on your winter visit to Florence, Italy. And if you’ve got a day spare, join a tour group and drive out into the Tuscan countryside in an original Fiat in red or yellow to cap off your winter getaway to one of the most beautiful regions in the world!
Kyiv (or Kiev) is a perfect winter destination for a fun city break. The city is full of layers of history and you can retrace them by visiting the gorgeous landmarks of Kyiv. Churches, monasteries, palaces and memorials dot the lanscape of the city of Kyiv. You can’t miss the tremendous sight of Saint Sophia’s Cathedral and Saint Andrew’s Church. You’ll be blown away by Mariyinsky Palace, one of the most beautiful structures in all of Ukraine.
Besides the buildings and relics of the past, Kyiv has a vibrant and growing social scene. The city is full of delicious restaurants. They offer traditional Ukrainian culinary experiences as well as tastes of other exotic cuisines. There is also a fantastic cocktail scene in Kyiv where you can enjoy cutting edge mixology while escaping the cold temperatures.
No matter how cold it may be during the winter months, you’ll be warmed by the hospitality of locals. The young democracy in Eastern Europe is an exciting place to visit any time of the year because of the amazing people of Kyiv..
If you are looking to escape the depths of winter, then the capital city of Portugal is the place to go. Although Lisbon sits on the Atlantic west coast of Portugal, this vibrant capital city remains warm during the winter days compared to many of its northern counterparts.
Day time average temperatures are 16C/61F, but you can often get days reaching 20C/68F with plenty of sunshine. That’s not to say you won’t need a pullover or coat, especially in the mornings, and you could encounter some rain. But compared to countries in Europe outside of the Iberian Peninsula, Lisbon is a very pleasant place to be in winter.
Not only is the weather pleasant, but there are also lots of things to do in Lisbon for all types of travelers, be they solo, couples, retired or even if you are visiting Lisbon with kids. And because it is the capital city, tourist attractions, restaurants and cafes remain open, unlike many in the Algarve or other regions of the country which close for winter.
Among the top places to visit in Lisbon are Belém Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. The Castelo de São Jorge is a great place to visit with some great views across the city, and one hidden gem of Lisbon visible from the castle, and worth a visit, is the Carmo Convent. This former Catholic convent is hidden off a square in Lisbon and is a magnificent place to visit, if only to wonder at the structure and missing roof. If you want to visit the castle, take the famous Tram 28 from one of its starting points in the city to secure a seat, otherwise, you might not even be able to get on the tram at other stops as it becomes full very quickly.
And if you want to venture outside of the city, then you can enjoy day trips to the famous palaces at Sintra including the very beautiful Pena Palace. Or venture a bit further afield and take in the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Tomar, Batalha, and Alcobaça. You won’t be short of places to visit both within and outside of Lisbon during the winter months.
Ljubljana is a great place to visit in winter. The small capital of Slovenia transforms into a fairy tale land when it is covered by snow. There are still plenty of things to do and see in Ljubljana in winter, and my favourite includes plenty of hot chocolate.
After visiting Ljubljana castle and taking in the beautiful panoramic views over the city, head over to the cute café inside the courtyard and warm yourself up with a mug of hot chocolate and a homemade cake. One thing I love about Ljubljana is the large number of cafes and cake shops spread around the city.
Even if it’s winter, you can still enjoy a boat ride down the river and admire the city from the water. Ljubljana is also known for its foodie events, so check out what’s on ahead. If you like beer, you can always visit the most famous brewery in the country, Union, where you can enjoy a pint of freshly brewed pivo (as beer is known in Slovenian).
In the evening, head over to one of the underground cosy bars in the city centre and warm up by listening to a live performance.
From Ljubljana you can always visit Lake Bled in winter, which a merely an hour away and makes a perfect natural escape from the city.
Visiting Paris in winter may raise your odds of experiencing gray skies and damp weather, but it also boasts an excellent opportunity to experience the city with two of its biggest obstacles significantly lowered: crowds and prices.
There’s no doubt that Paris in winter is a much less crowded city than Paris in the summer, and it the hotel prices are anything to go by, it’s a (comparative) bargain–in fact, you can visit Paris in the winter for a much lower price than you can in August!
Sure, blooming flowers will be a thing of a past, but there are plenty of fun things to do in Paris during the winter that will leave you utterly enchanted with the city: enjoy iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre with a fraction of the crowds, sip a hot chocolate at Angelina’s, sit in a cafe and watch the world go by (they have plenty of heaters outside!), explore Paris’ covered passages, hit the winter sales, and give one of Paris’ ice-skating rinks a try.
Of course, indulging in course after course of delicious French food is a must while in Paris, and warm, hearty dishes like onion soup, confit de canard, and even the omnipresent crepe all taste a bit better when it’s chilly outside.
Art Nouveau architecture, interesting history, great food, shopping, relaxing spas & fun activities. This baltic gem has it all.
If you’ve never visited Riga before you’ve really been missing out. The Latvian capital is nothing less than gorgeous and it’s a great choice for your next winter adventure. Winters can get quite cold in this former Soviet state, but as long as you remember to wear a warm coat and a hat you’ll be fine – you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to care anyways. Experiencing Riga during winter season includes less crowds than during the busy summer months, and you’ll also notice that both flights & accommodation are much more affordable as well.
As Riga offers a lot of various activities it is a suitable destination for a relaxing spa weekend with your better half, a lovely and budget friendly trip with your kids, or an adventurous and fun weekend with a group of friends – the perfect winter break destination no matter what you’re looking for.
Some things you can check out in Riga:
- Relax at a spa. Riga is famous for it’s many spas and you can find spas in all price ranges
- Have a walk in Old Town Riga, the historical center of the city. With it’s narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful Medieval buildings it is truly the most charming area of the Latvian capital.
- Visit St Peter’s Church for the best view of Riga from above. This lovely church from the 1200s has a complicated history and it’s 123 meter high tower has been rebuilt several times.
- Join the locals and shop at Riga Central Market, Europe’s largest bazaar and market.
- Shop at one of Riga’s many malls like Galerija Centrs, Alfa Centrs or Stockmann
- Try some delicious local food at one of Riga’s amazing restaurants like Domini Canes or Lidojosa Varde.
- Do a group activity like visiting an Escape Room or go to a shooting range.
- Get a cup of coffee to go and stroll the streets while enjoying the wonderful Art Nouveau architecture. More than a third of the city’s buildings are examples of this beautiful and detailed design form. Check out Alberta Iela, Elizabetes Iela and Strēlnieku Iela for the best views, and visit Rasols for some Soviet dishes when you’re ready for lunch.
Rome is a fantastic destination for a winter city break. With the exception of the Christmas weeks, when tourism is at a peak, the coldest months of the year are low season in the Eternal city. The crowds are gone, the locals come out and the city shows off its true soul: intimate, messy and immensely charming.
If you are visiting Rome between December and March, you will have to wrap up with a winter coat and shoes but you will still be able to go sightseeing. The Colosseum tends to be blissfully quiet in winter and the same can be said for Rome historical piazzas and the Pantheon: even the Vatican museums get quieter at this time, an absolute rarity!
Another reason to love Rome in the winter are the city’s beautiful interiors. Many associate Rome with summer drinks al fresco but the most authentic heart of the city can often be found around the dark wooden tables of its enoteche, wine bars serving earthy Roman food. Enoteche are very popular and the best places to spend an evening in Rome and taste some of Rome’s most delicious winter staples: carbonara (pasta), trippa (meat), tiramisu are delicious in Rome and perfect in cold weather.
Winter in general and January in particular is also a great time to go shopping. Sales start on the 6th of January and are the best opportunity to load up on Italian designer clothes and high street finds. Head to Via del Corso, in the city center, for the best shops and, should rain catch you out, hop into one of Rome’a many churches: they are a wonderful escape!
The city of Seville, located in the Andalucía region of Southern Spain, makes for one of the best winter city breaks in Europe. Not only is the city packed with amazing historical attractions and an unbelievable culinary scene, but the city’s high temperatures stay around 15-20 degrees Celsius, making it one of the warmest places to visit in Europe during winter.
There is plenty to keep you occupied in the city, meaning you can easily spend a few days in Seville and not run out of things to do. Visiting in winter also means you don’t have to deal with extreme heat that you get when coming in summer!
Make sure to take the time to explore the city’s famous historical attractions such as the Seville Cathedral, Alcazar and Plaza de Espana. Enjoy some of the great food markets such as the Mercado de Triana and while you’re on the other side of the river, hop into one of the many fabulous tapas bars or enjoy a flamenco show in the evening.
Seville is also a great base to explore nearby cities such as Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez or hill towns like Ronda. All in all, Seville is a perfect winter city break due to its mild climate and plethora of things to do!
Valletta is the perfect winter escape destination. As the capital of Malta, it is the epitome a Mediterranean capital with history, perfect weather, amazing scenery and delicious food. Especially those looking to spend some time outside without getting frostbite, Valletta is best explored by foot, and the rest of the island offers beautiful coastal walks.
Malta’s history dates back to prehistoric times, and the capital Valletta was at its height during the baroque era of knights and maritime battles. Therefore the city is full of museums with ancient relics documenting these epic events, but much of it is preserved so you can actually take tours that explore the old tunnels, palaces and buildings that were once in use. Valletta as a whole doesn’t look like it has changed much since those times.
If you aren’t a history geek, maybe the mild weather (rarely below 12 degrees) and delicious cuisine will entice you. Valletta is a foodie’s playground and the Maltese cuisine is fresh and plentiful. Add a sunny terrace and live music in a vaulted cellar, and the atmosphere can’t be beat. Otherwise you can enjoy the sunshine and sumptuous cuisine during a walk along the rugged Mediterranean coastline. With easy and scenic hikes that end in beautiful bays and local restaurants.
Valletta is quite small for a capital city, which is why it is perfect for a weekend getaway. While if you are looking for a longer escape from the cold, you can base yourself in Valletta and explore the rest of Malta as the entire island is about the size of London and offers plenty of other winter attractions. The colder months in Valletta are some of the best times to visit as you miss the busy summer crowds and the temperatures incredibly pleasant.
Venice, Italy in winter is magical. It’s cold, especially if you’re on a boat out in the middle of the lagoon, but in many ways it’s the best time of year to visit Venice and experience it without the mass tourism that spoils it in the warmer months.
Winter – especially January – is low season in Venice. It’s the one time of year when hotel prices plummet. It is a notoriously expensive city, but for these few weeks it becomes relatively affordable. Rooms in the central San Marco district that go for $250-300 a night in spring or summer go for as little as $50-60.
If you visit Venice in winter, you won’t encounter any crowds either. It might get busy around popular spots like Rialto and St Mark’s Square, but the rest of the city is almost empty. You can explore the many backstreets and canals, having much of the city almost to yourself. You get to see why Venice became so popular in the first place – without the people. You can also go straight into museums like the Doge’s Palace and galleries like the Accademia, rather than waste an irksome hour or two queuing to get in.
The winter weather also adds to Venice’s sheen of beauty. If you walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront you may well get to see one of the magnificent sunsets behind the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore and Santa Maria della Salute. Or head for the Rialto bridge and watch the silhouetted gondolas drift down the Grand Canal, the water lit up by the fiery sky.
It a well-known fact that Vienna makes a perfect destination for December thanks to its incredible Christmas market, but is it a good location for the rest of the winter season? It turns out, yes it is! Vienna is a picture-perfect destination year-round with its classic architecture being even more beautiful in the winter months when it is doused with a light smattering of snow.
Thankfully for us travelers, Vienna has plenty of things to keep us entertained when the weather is chilly, from the plethora of galleries and museums to the alluring coffee shops that not only look beautiful but also serve up some of the world’s best drinks and desserts!
Visitors to Vienna in winter can enjoy the sights of the city from the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, take a walk through the snow-kissed grounds of the Schönbrunn Palace and explore the city streets with a walking tour, before warming up with a Viennese coffee or hot chocolate in coffee houses such as Café Sacher or Demel patisserie.
One of the great things about Vienna’s galleries and museums is that they tick more than one box. Not only are they packed with history and culture, but the buildings that house them are an attraction in themselves and they make the ideal destination for warming up when the cold Austrian winter is chilling your bones! Explore The Kunsthistorisches Museum, The Albertina, the Natural History Museum and The Freud Museum for an intriguing mix of art, history and psychology too.
Zadar is located on the coast of northern Croatia and is one of the best getaways in the winter for anyone looking to experience the Croatian culture with less tourists. Croatia gets busy in the summer, especially in the major cities like Split and Dubrovnik, made popular by the Game of Thrones series. Zadar, however, while also one of Croatia’s largest cities, has a unique charm to it unlike the other cities.
One of the most famous and popular things to see in Zadar is the sea organ. The sea organ is carved into the rock along the sea and the waves lap into it creating an echoing noise that imitates the sound of an organ. Visitors can sit right above it and listen as the sea and rock create a beautiful random melody.
Zadar also has Roman ruins in the city courtyards which make for a fascinating walk and learning experience. The city’s prime location also provides travelers an opportunity to take a boat to one of the nearby islands.
Zadar is also a perfect base for exploring other parts of Croatia including the famous Plitvice and Krka National Parks, both of which can be an easy day trip from Zadar. Plitvice is the larger of the two parks and more ell known, while Krka is further south and smaller, and easily accessible as well.
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.
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 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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
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.
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, 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.
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
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
Like what you learned? Share it!
Which winter city break seems like the best destination for you?
Leave a comment below and let us know your top 3 picks.