Tag-Archive for » winter «

5 Great Winter City Break Destinations

When planning a winter city break you have some great options, whether you are looking for a winter sun holiday with sandy beaches and relaxation, or a chance to visit famous museums and monuments without the tourist crowds you inevitably have to cope with in the height of summer.

Below, we look at :

Paris, France

Paris is a great city destination at any time of year for those looking for romance and culture. During the winter months, the queues for attractions are often shorter and you can explore at a more leisurely pace. You can either take a guided tour of some of the more popular attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Gothic masterpiece which is Cathédrale Notre-Dame or the Louvre, or strike out on your own to find some of the many museums and galleries here.

The oldest area of the city is Cite Island, on the Seine River. Here you will find the some of the oldest buildings in Paris along with les Arenes de Lutece, a Roman Arena. During the winter, ice skating rings appear at the Montparnasse and the Hotel de Ville.

Find great designer shops at the Marias as well as the many boutiques and concept stores throughout the city. There are also some great markets, such as the Porte de Clignancourt, Marché aux Puces de Vanves and St Ouen flea market. There are also many speciality markets including a book market and a stamp market.

Paris is famous for its jazz scene and there are plenty of venues where you can enjoy live music from local talent as well as internationally renowned artists. Alternatively, enjoy the best of cabaret at the Moulin Rouge. Getting around Paris is simple by Metro or bus. Taxis are also readily available.

St Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg in Russia is a magical place to visit in winter. Made up of many islands connected by ornate bridges, it is a perfect romantic setting. There are many galleries and museums here, including the State Hermitage Museum, which is a stunning collection of art housed in the palace once occupied by the Romanov Tsars, rulers of Russia.

Soak up some culture at the Mariinsky Theatre, home to the Kirov Ballet and Opera Company, either enjoy a live performance or simply take in the beautiful interior. Visit the Mendeleev Museum, the building where Dmitry Mendeleev compiled the periodic table of elements. You can see the study where he worked and some early drafts of his completed work. The city’s oldest monastery is the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. It is still a working Russian Orthodox Monastery and many famous Russian figures are buried here.

Miami, USA

For an escape from the winter chill, Miami is an ideal city break with plenty to do for couples, groups and families. With over fifteen miles of sandy beaches, it is great for those who want to relax in the sun.

For the more active, there are plenty of water sports such as surfing, jet skiing and sailing. You can also take a tour of the famous Cape Florida Lighthouse, which is located in Bill Baggs State Park.

Miami is also famous for its shopping, the most well known being Miracle Mile, although there are many others. If you are looking for great family days out, then Miami has many options. Miami Metro Zoo allows you to experience exotic animals from Australia, Africa and Asia as you would on a safari. Instead of cages, the animals are enclosed by a system of moats in the 300 acre park.

At Miami’s Seaquarium, close to Biscayne Bay, you can visit sea turtles, seals, sea lions as well as see performances by resident dolphins and killer whales.

Dubai, UAE

The stunning city of Dubai is a great winter break due to its warm weather and great architecture and is home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. This is a shopper’s paradise, with huge malls providing much more than shopping and restaurants. The Dubai Mall also plays host to an ice rink, a theme park, a children’s world, an aquarium and live entertainment. The Mall of the Emirates boasts a ski slope and a snow park for children.

Along the beach front in the Dubai Marina lies the Jumeirah Beach Walk, where you can enjoy shops, restaurants and cafes. This, along with water parks, public parks with children’s playgrounds and aquariums, make this a great locations. Thrill seekers can try desert surfing or skiing, or take a camel ride or tour of the desert. If you want to find out more about Dubai’s history, visit the Dubai Heritage and Diving Villages.

Sydney, Australia

Australia’s capital city, Sydney, is a great destination. With a year round warm climate, winter is a great time to visit. Among the great beaches here, Bondi Beach is the most popular, with sunbathing and water sports such as body boarding and surfing.

The iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are must see stops during your visit. Go on a Bridge Climb tour for fantastic views across the City. Alternatively, visit Sydney Tower, which is 260 metres above street level.

The botanic gardens are well worth a visit, an oasis of calm in the city centre and a great way of finding out about local flora. There are also fascinating wildlife centres here as well as museums, theatres and galleries. Along with great shopping opportunities, fantastic food and a great night life, Sydney offers something for everyone making the long haul flight well worth it!

The South Tyrol

The South Tyrol is simply one of the most breathtaking areas on earth to go for any kind of winter activity. Encompassed within the boundaries of both the Dolomites and the Alps, this area of outstanding natural beauty is a favourite of many, but a yet undiscovered jewel of many more. Whether your penchant is for skiing, snowboarding or apres ski, there will be a resort in to satisfy your desires, and ensure that this winter holiday is one of the best ever.

As this years winter season approaches, a video has been released online to highlight both the beauty and diversity of this region and to show exactly what the ‘other side of Italy’ has to offer winter sports enthusiasts. You see holidaymakers embracing everything that this amazing region has to offer, and the camera work perfectly captures the breathtaking landscape.

You will no doubt have heard of some of the main resorts in but, like many others, won’t actually realised what region they were actually in. Top resorts such as Val Gardena and San Martino will be instantly recognised by skiing fans, and others like Obereggen and Glitschberg offer winter sports enthusiasts all manner of activities. It is amazing how much is packed into this relatively small area, and its little wonder it is growing so quickly in popularity.

In this region you will find an awful lot more that just skiing and snowboarding, there is cycling, hiking, climbing, horse riding, ice skating on frozen lakes, the list is endless. Due to the location of , you are also guaranteed outstanding gastronomy during your stay in this small yet perfectly formed region of Northern Italy. This winter wonderland is just waiting to welcome this years visitors, the pistes are ready to be conquered, as are the many bars and restaurants.

10 Must-Packs for a Winter Trip to Europe

The weather in Europe in the wintertime is fickle. From sunny and mild in southern parts of the continent to downright frigid in others, packing for the winter months can be a challenge depending on where you are going and your length of stay.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be.

The key to any good packing job is being able to mix and match, layer to warm up, and peel off to cool down.

So, what are the essentials to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a stylish European vacation?

1. Thermal underwear
If you’re planning on spending any time in the mountains or colder parts of Europe, packing thermals can be a life-saver. They can easily roll and be stuffed into a day pack, the corners of a backpack or the front of a suitcase. Wear them under clothing to stay extra cozy on the coldest of days.

2. Cardigans/button-ups
The best way to jazz up an outfit and stay warm is with a nice cardigan or button-up. Black or another neutral color are best and can be mixed and matched with T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and more formal attire. Plus, if you get warm, you can take them off.

3. Jeans
They may take up a lot of space in luggage, but jeans are a staple and can instantly make even the most budget backpacker look a little more snazzy. Also, if you wear them over thermals, you’ve got super toasty legs.

4. Solid color short-sleeved shirts
Solid colors are the way to go when traveling because of the versatility they allow. Short-sleeved shirts are perfect because they can be layered. Throw a thermal under, a cardigan over, and then drape a scarf and voila: an outfit.

5. For the ladies, a dress; the men, a button-down shirt with a tie
There will be times when dressing up is par for the course. For ladies, the LBD is perfect. On chilly nights, throw that cardigan on over it, or dress it up with a nice necklace or tie. And be sure to pack a pair of tights or (even better) nice leggings to keep your legs warm. For men, you can’t go wrong with a nice shirt and tie. This is a multi-use outfit and can stretch over dinners at upscale restaurants, performances, clubs and more.

6. A few pairs of shoes. And warm socks.
A pair of walking shoes is a necessity, along with a pair of dress shoes. Ladies, keep in mind the streets of Europe are not always going to be smooth surfaces. Walking in heels over cobblestones can prove difficult. Also, toss in a pair of flip flops should you encounter questionable showers, or just need to run somewhere that doesn’t allow bare feet.

7. Thin sweats
Since you’ve got the thermals, you don’t need big, bulky sweats, but you do need something comfortable to lounge and sleep in. Thin sweats or yoga pants are comfortable and casual.

8. Accessories
Pack a thick scarf, gloves, a hat (with flaps so you don’t need to also pack ear muffs). A nice-looking, solid print scarf can extend beyond just keeping you warm and also add to outfits to bring them together a bit more.

9. Poncho
You never know when you might be pelted with freezing rain or worse. A poncho that can easily fold down is ideal since it doesn’t take up a lot of room and can be easily stashed in day packs and purses.

10. A winter coat
Sure, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you don’t need to go out and get the bulkiest and space-consuming winter coat in the world if you have thermals, sweats and layers.

Depending on how long you are traveling, and the access to laundry facilities, the quantity of certain items may change. However, a good idea is to pack: 1 set of thermals; 2 cardigans/button-ups; 1 nice shirt; 1 more dressy option; 1 pair of nice pants; 1 pair of jeans; and 1 pair of flats, sneakers and flip flops. And don’t forget the essentials – underwear!

Should you arrive and realize you need more warm clothes, head to a department store and hit the sale racks for some cheap options. You can donate them before you head home, or see if you can squeeze a bit more into your luggage.