Happy holidays: Top destinations to explore this season
As the days get darker, we collectively festoon our houses in lights in an attempt to brighten up the winter months. But step away from the baubles and turn down the Bublé; a spontaneous trip could be the perfect way to rekindle your festive spirit. Here are our top suggestions for your Yuletide travels.
You need look no further than our European neighbours for a magical getaway. From the cobbled streets and glimmering canals of medieval Bruges, to the ornate and illuminated Gothic town hall of Vienna, to the original Frankfurt markets themselves, you are simply spoilt for choice. The stalls are a great place to pick up gifts, grab a gluhwein and bratwurst and soak up the Christmas cheer. Or, if you’re short on cash or a little less mobile, try the impressive markets of Bath or Birmingham.
If you would rather escape the bustle of the cities for an unforgettable natural phenomenon, you could check out the spell-binding aurora borealis – or as they are more commonly known, the Northern Lights. Iceland’s Golden Circle offers a great chance to see the spectacle, the best months being between November and February. Bear in mind that you won’t get much sun, the daylight dropping to about 4 hours in the height of winter, and you will definitely want to pack a coat – though the natural hot-springs may also do the trick.
For something even more extraordinary, you might try looking further afield to lesser-travelled destinations. Canada’s Fogo Island Inn, which you can see on Artful Living Magazine, might be hard to get to, but it’s worth the effort for a release from the pressures of the modern world. Or you could hire a winter log cabin up in the forests of Sweden or Finland, where you can try your hand at cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledging, ice fishing and, of course, sit back in a toasty traditional sauna.
Do you prefer to hide away under a duvet during the winter months? Well, there are many locations that can give you some much-needed respite from the frost. The Canary Islands are a literal hot-spot for sun-chasers, temperatures remaining in the 20s into December and rarely dropping below the 15-degree mark. Morocco and Tunisia also have a similar climate and offer a taste of African culture without having to travel too far. If you are able to go the distance, though, the beginning of the new year is also the best time to visit Australia and New Zealand, where summer is in full swing.
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Photo: Fogo Island Inn