The cheapest European cities for a last-minute Christmas getaway
Northern European cities are enchanting at Christmas, and it’s not too late to book a last-minute trip. You can currently find return fares to Gdansk, Copenhagen, Brussels, Dublin, Milan and Budapest for under £100 during school holidays.
While festive markets in the UK tend to end before Christmas, they are often open until the New Year on the Continent. And when you’re done with your Christmas shopping, you can spin to an outdoor ice rink or hole up in a cozy cafe with a winter stove.
We used Skyscanner data to find cheap flights for travel between December 17 and January 2. You’ll find they’re even cheaper if you can travel earlier in December (prices correct at time of writing).
Fancy a festive trip closer to home? These are the best cities in the UK with Christmas markets.
Winter is the season of hygge in Denmark, which roughly translates to “cosiness” and is said to be the reason Danes are such a happy nation. Experience it for yourself in Copenhagen’s cozy cafes and pubs, like the 300-year-old Hviids Vinstue, which serves steaming glasses of glogg – The Scandinavian vision of mulled wine. Copenhageners also like to slide on the Frederiksberg Garden ice rink and snack æbleskiver – puffy pancake balls. Tivoli Gardens – a 19th century amusement park – is particularly magical at this time of year.
How many? Economy flights from £60 return from Manchester and £135 return from London and Edinburgh
Poland’s historic port does not attract the crowds of Krakow and is all the more pleasant for it. At its atmospheric Christmas fair, carol singers will serenade you while stocking up on handmade decorations and Polish delicacies (until December 23). Then, visit the skating rink or take a walk along the river where tall buildings are adorned with lights. Afterwards, you can refuel in the boutique bars of Gdansk’s colorful Old Town – with a plate of pierogis (ravioli) and a hot beer.
How many? Economy flights from £70 return from Edinburgh and Manchester, and £100 return from London
The cobbled streets and squares of the Belgian capital turn into a winter wonderland at Christmas. Expect fairground rides, illuminations, ice skating, curling rinks, choirs, marching bands as well as countless little chalets selling handmade decorations and festive foods including fries, Brussels’ beloved waffles, speculoos (spicy biscuits) and divine hot chocolate.
How many? Economy flights from £50 return from Manchester and Edinburgh, and from £130 from London
Dubliners aren’t letting the gloomy December weather dampen their spirits. Join Christmas shoppers and buskers in glittering Grafton Street, then warm up with a hot whiskey in the fairy-lit Temple Bar or enjoy an authentic traditional music session in the Cobblestone. On Christmas morning, locals happily dive into the freezing waters of Dublin’s Forty Foot bathing spot for a festive swim.
How many? Cheap flights from £50 return from London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham
Visitors flock from far and wide to buy handcrafted gifts or simply soak up the atmosphere at the Christmas markets in Budapest’s Vorosmarty Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica. After a fortifying bowl of goulash or rooster testicle stew (a festive favourite), hit the hip bars of the Jewish Quarter or put on some ice skates at Vajdahunyad Castle in the city park. Don’t leave without visiting one of the Hungarian capital’s historic thermal baths, such as the Art Nouveau Gellert spa.
How many? Economy flights from £90 from Edinburgh and from £170 return from London and Manchester
The Latvian capital’s Old Town is blanketed in snow in winter, and a twinkling Christmas tree steals the show in its resplendent Town Hall Square – said to be where the world’s first decorated tree stood is over 500 years old. After exploring Riga’s medieval heart, Art Nouveau architecture and festive markets, savor hearty Latvian cuisine at a beer bar such as the underground Folkklub Ala Pagrabs, and swap mulled wine for the traditional drink: Riga Black Balsam , a punchy herbal bitter.
How many? Cheap flights from £120 return from London and Edinburgh
You can see the snow-capped Alps from the rooftop terrace of Milan’s majestic Duomo, which serves as the backdrop to a towering Christmas tree and a festive market where shoppers feast on roasted chestnuts. Stop at a pasticceria for a moroccan (cocoa dusted coffee) and a panettone, before visiting the excellent art galleries or window shopping in the Golden Quadrilateral – four streets lined with high fashion boutiques.
How many? Economy class flights from London from £75 return and from £90 return from Manchester and Edinburgh
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