INSPIRATION • November 2018
As winter approaches these urban gems are quietening down, which makes them perfect for a chilled-out festive break says The Sunday Times Travel magazine’s Alicia Miller
In summer, Mallorca swarms with beach-goers – come winter, this Balearic isle turns blissfully chilled-out. In the old centre, Palma, cobbled streets sparkle with festive lights; tapas bars buzz merrily with locals downing aniseed-scented liqueurs. Now’s your chance to explore, crowd-free, the majestic Gothic cathedral; pop into sleepy art galleries; and snag a quiet moment at Bellver Castle.
Dream flight: BA2570 leaves Gatwick at 15:10, arriving in Palma de Mallorca at 18:35.
All church-fronted palazzos and snow-dusted mountain backdrops, pretty Turin is underrated, especially in winter. Wander past trim Baroque architecture, or explore towering synagogue-turned-museum Mole Antonelliana, a city symbol with its imposing spired roof. Then, before the chill takes you (lows can dip to a festive -2°C), slip into a marbled café-bar to warm up over a Bicerin – a moreish blend of espresso, chocolate and cream.
Dream flight: Flight BA2578 leaves Gatwick at 15:35, arriving in Turin at 18:30.
If you like to eat, Genoa’s your place. When nippy weather descends on this seaside Ligurian city, the food scene heats up, with locals munching not just classic pesto-drenched pastas or minestrone, but also seasonal rib-stickers such as candied-fruit pandolce cakes. It has an adorable Christmas market, set in the medieval, Unesco-listed old town. But if you do one thing? Make it a cookery class in the home of a local couple, who will teach you the secrets of the city’s cuisine.
Dream flight: BA2688 leaves Gatwick at 7:55, arriving in Genoa at 10:55.
No one does Christmas like the Swedes – days may be short and dark, but that’s all the more reason to whip out the fairy lights, draping them across shopping boulevards (don’t miss the epic window displays at Nordiska Kopagniet), ice skating rinks and Christmas market stalls creaking with glögg. Cosiness is an art here: peruse a gingerbread house exhibit at ArkDes, down meatballs at a festive julbord feast; or thaw toes in the museums of wedding-cakey Royal Palace.
Dream flight: BA0786 leaves Heathrow at 19:40, arriving in Stockholm at 23:15.
The home of lebkuchen – gingerbread – Nuremberg is at its loveliest in December, when a Christmas-card-perfect market peddles blueberry-laced glühwein, juicy bratwurst and handmade nutcrackers among the half-timbered buildings. Wander (hopefully) snow-dusted laneways – walking tours will uncover the rainbow-hued city’s rich history, stretching back to the Holy Roman Empire – or sip the city’s signature red beer in rock-hewn cellars.
Dream flight: BA2660 leaves Gatwick at 16:20, arriving in Nuremberg at 19:10.
Dubrovnik’s fortressed centre is usually packed-out with cruise-shippers; but come December, those crowds are replaced with twinkling lights, baubles, and stalls brimming with candied fruits and sugar-dusted doughnuts. Throw in the street-side carolling and live nativity scenes, and it’s all ridiculously picturesque. All that’s missing is the snow – not that you’ll be complaining, with those mild, sunny days, mind
Dream flight: BA2678 leaves Gatwick at 6:35, arriving in Dubrovnik at 10:15.
Forget tacky fly-and-flop resorts – Tenerife has had an upgrade. The wall-to-wall-white Royal Hideaway Corales Suites, with its horizon-stretching sea views and infinity pool, is one of the best new places to crash. Though, you’ll want to do more than laze; with average highs above 20˚C, spend time under blue skies trekking the island’s moon-like volcanic peaks, or spotting dolphins on boat tours.
Dream flight: BA2730 leaves Gatwick at 8:35, arriving in Tenerife at 13:05.
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