The best European cities for a winter weekend break

Winter is the most romantic time to visit Paris, and nobody seems to know it

Paris in the snow. Photograph: iStock

Paris in the snow. Photograph: iStock

 

 

1. Paris, France
Long candlelit evenings in cosy bistros and bars, frosty walks along the Seine in the twinkling light of sundown, everyone looking impossibly chic and, best of all, no queues. Winter is the most romantic time to visit Paris, and nobody seems to know it.
Where to stay A 19th-century mansion hidden from the outside world in a leafy garden, Hotel Particulier Montmartre costs €580 for two nights for two sharing.
Get there Aer Lingus flies to Charles de Gaulle airport from Dublin and Cork for about €150 return. 

2. London, England
There’s a 50 per cent chance London won’t be a desolate wasteland filled with roving cannibal raiders this winter, so it should still be a good bet for a minibreak. London is a huge city, so pick an area you want to see and stick to it. If you’ve never been before, you can’t go wrong with Covent Garden.
Where to stay In the heart of the West End with amazing views of the city, St Martins Lane is offering 30 per cent off stays until December 30th. Doubles start at £260 a night.
Get there Return flights to London Gatwick from Dublin start at €60 with Aer Lingus

Athens. Photograph: iStock
Athens. Photograph: iStock

3. Athens, Greece
Much like Paris, the pros far outweigh the cons for visiting Athens during winter. With more than 70 museums, as well as the Acropolis and the Agora, it is like a different city without the pushy crowds and sweltering heat.
Where to stay Dripping with old-world opulence, the five-star Hotel Grande Bretagne has been an Athens institution since 1874. A three-night stay for two in November starts at €916.
Get there Ryanair flies to Athens from Dublin for €103 return. 

4. Amsterdam, Netherlands
If it’s cold enough to skate on the frozen canals, you will experience Amsterdam at its best. This, coupled with the annual Light Festival (November 28th to January 19th) transforms the already beautiful city into a glittering wonderland.
Where to stay On the banks of Amsterdam’s oldest canal, and filled with crystal chandeliers, luxurious fabrics and expressive prints, Hotel Estheréa is plush and welcoming. A two-night stay for two costs €445.
Get there Return flights from Dublin cost €72 with Aer Lingus

Lisbon. Photograph: iStock
Lisbon. Photograph: iStock

5. Lisbon, Portugal
With a winter daytime average of 15 degrees, Lisbon makes for a pleasantly mild city break at this time of year. Walking hilly cobbled streets, hopping on a charmingly rickety tram, and enjoying the culinary renaissance taking place are made all the more enjoyable by the lack of summer crowds.
Where to stay Located on the swanky Avenida da Liberdade, Hotel Valverde is a 25-room boutique hotel offering a two-night stay for €516 for two.
Get there Aer Lingus flies return from Dublin from €95. 

6. Trad in Dublin

Nothing beats a cosy winter pint in Dublin; throw in a hefty dose of trad music and you have a match made in heaven.  Temple Bar TradFest runs from January 22nd to 26th and, despite the name, isn’t confined to the cobbled streets of Temple Bar. Gigs are held all over the city, in some remarkable venues like City Hall, Kilmainham Gaol and Rathfarnham Castle.
Where to stay Stylish and centrally located,  Brooks Hotel, on Drury Street, costs €480 for a two-night stay for two sharing during TradFest. 
Dubliner John Sheahan with young music fans Kate Mulcahy and Lily Bourke, both from Donabate, folk singer Muireann McDonnell and Ryan O'Shaughnessy ahead of the 2019 TradFest. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/ The Irish Times
Dubliner John Sheahan with young music fans Kate Mulcahy and Lily Bourke, both from Donabate, folk singer Muireann McDonnell and Ryan O'Shaughnessy ahead of the 2019 TradFest. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/ The Irish Times

7. Culture in Limerick
As the city is one of Ireland’s major (and often overlooked) cultural hubs, a weekend spent exploring Limerick’s world-class museums and galleries is a weekend well spent. The vast and varied collection of the Hunt Museum (free on Sundays) is a good place to start, before moving on to the contemporary masterpieces of Limerick City Gallery of Art and the intimate Frank McCourt museum.
Where to stay No 1 Pery Square, in the heart of the Georgian quarter, is a boutique hotel with character to spare. Two nights’ B&B in a period-style double room costs €550. 

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