Alternative winter destinations are taking a stand this year, battling old favourites for this season’s top Christmas-inspired travel spot! Read on to discover a few of our much-loved destinations vs. alternative rival locations, and join the debate by letting us know which magical winter break you’d prefer.
Prague vs. Krakow
With its gothic architecture and fairy-tale like ambience, Prague is a firm favourite for anyone looking for a winter escape. You only need to glance at a couple of photos of the historic Charles Bridge in the snow, or the Old Town Square aglow with festive lighting, to understand why so many flock to the Czech capital each year.
Come winter, the city transforms into an icy gem wrapped up in a big festive bow with a myriad of Christmas markets and famous sights to see, such as the fascinating Astronomical Clock and St. Vitus Cathedral. Wrapping up warm and wandering through Prague’s extraordinary historic streets in the crisp winter air enjoying hot sugared pastries and Czech mulled wine is the very essence of what a winter break is all about.
Travel time: Approx. 2hrs by flight
Recommended hotel: Grand Majestic Plaza
As one of Poland’s oldest cities, Krakow is a great place for a charming Christmas break. In its 750 years, the city has seen an abundance of cultural and artistic life pass through its streets, as well as being the setting for some of Europe’s finest Gothic and Renaissance architectural masterpieces.
Curious travellers and history buffs are lured to the once Royal capital by the magnificent Wawel Castle and St Mary’s Basilica where their structural beauty is only accentuated further during the winter months. The vibrant Main Market Square and its many side streets full of bustling, eccentric and quirky shops, bars and restaurants also highlight the city as a magical place to be in the winter. Add to that, the annual Christmas fair and you’ve got yourself the perfect seasonal break.
Travel time: Approx. 2.5hrs by flight
Recommended hotel: Qubus Hotel Krakow
Bruges vs. Lille
For an enchanting winter jaunt, the beautiful medieval town of Bruges, with its cobbled streets and charming canals, offer’s the perfect destination. Famed for its quaint Christmas markets and Belgian chocolate heritage, thousands of visitors head to the picturesque town each year hoping to get their festive fix. Glowing with Christmas lights and boasting an array of seasonal goodies, Bruges becomes a truly enchanting place in the winter with the Christmas Market at the heart of the action.
You can skate your way round the Market Square, indulge yourself with foodie treats and peruse the many gift stalls all on a Bruges Christmas market break. Not forgetting, the chance to discover historic churches, climb spiralling towers, and if you’re lucky, ride in a horse drawn carriage.
Travel time: Approx. 4hrs by Eurostar
Recommended hotel: Hotel Navarra Bruges
A true winter wonderland in the North of France, Lille has everything you could hope for on a short break. A cultural hub of architectural feats with a touch a Flemish influence, this Eurostar destination is a highly unrated city making it France’s best kept secret when it comes to winter escapes. With three celebrated art museums, must-see historical buildings such as the Lille Cathedral, stylish shopping districts and a wonderfully charming old town area, this is one city you’ll never get tired of.
From the middle of November, you can find the Big Wheel in the Grand Place reaching 50 metres high and offering stunning views as it grandly rotates above the city. Complete with lavish decorations for the festive period and a magnificent Christmas Market, the city of Lille becomes a charming and captivating winter destination every year.
Travel time: Approx. 1hr 30mins by Eurostar
Recommended hotel: Couvent des Minimes Hotel
Dublin vs. Amsterdam
With an abundance of traditional pubs perfect for cosying up with a pint of Guinness and a vibrant, friendly atmosphere to match, there’s one thing that’s clear when visiting Dublin come wintertime – everyone’s out for a good time! The festive period in the Irish capital is an exciting whirlwind of celebrations, traditions and great craic, guaranteeing visitors a Dublin winter break to remember.
Embrace the Irish festive spirit by exploring the traditional Christmas Markets and marvelling at the spectacular (and enormous) Christmas Tree on O’Connell Street, or admire the sparkling illuminations at the Temple Bar District in-between pub hopping at the city’s most famous drinking holes.
Dublin’s energy and infectious personality promises a fascinating cultural break with plenty of great moments and lots of laughs in the Irish capital this winter.
Travel time: Approx. 1hr by flight
Recommended hotel: The Croke Park Hotel
Combining all the glittering traditional beauty of a winter break with a mysterious and enigmatic edge, Amsterdam is a fantastic cultural alternative during the colder months. With a buzz of excitement and a touch of the contemporary contrasting against the city’s picturesque canals and charming architecture, having the best of both in the Dutch capital is what it’s all about.
Admire the city’s arty flair at the Rijksmuseum or bike your way past the many famous sights such as Vondelpark for a taste of culture. Those looking for a livelier experience of the Dutch capital can head to one of the many trendy cocktail bars for a drink or two.
During winter, the city’s village charm shines through with a whole host of festive goodness to explore. Aglow with fairy lights and twinkling decorations, an Amsterdam minicruise is the perfect excuse to do a spot of Christmas shopping, watch a winter parade or dabble in some ice skating.
Travel time: Overnight minicruise with accommodation
Recommended hotel: Golden Tulip Amsterdam West
Which of these alternative destinations would you choose over your trusty favourites? Let us know by using the comments box below.
Get more inspiration with our Christmas Breaks packages.