Hailed as the new Barcelona thanks to its laid-back atmosphere, fair weather, creative spirit and stunning architecture, the Portuguese capital is one of the most up-and-coming destinations in Europe. Fortunately prices still remain relatively affordable in Lisbon compared to other European capitals, with nightlife and restaurants being particularly well-priced.
Like something out of a fairytale, Prague is endlessly romantic thanks to its Baroque palaces and quaint cobbled streets. Wrap up warm and wander through the Old Town stopping off at art galleries and designer boutiques along the way. There are some very reasonably priced accommodation options in Prague, especially during the winter and outside of the holiday period.
The birthplace of European democracy, Athens is like a living museum thanks to its myriad archaeological sites, ancient ruins and historic temples. The weather is generally still mild during the winter, never getting lower than 10º C, and the struggling Greek economy means that prices remain astoundingly low outside of the obvious tourist spots.
The Catalan capital remains one of the most attractive European cities and the winter is undoubtedly one of the best times to visit. Escaping the peak tourist season means no queues, cheaper accommodation and an altogether more relaxed atmosphere in Barcelona where food and drinks remain relatively affordable considering its status as a major tourist destination.
If you’re not afraid of a spell of cold weather, Budapest is a real treat during the winter with plenty of snug cafés offering hearty bowls of Goulash to warm you up. Wander past the Gothic parliament building before escaping to one of Buda’s thermal spas – the Hungarian capital has more than any other city in Europe.
There are plenty of good reasons to visit Dubrovnik anytime of the year and while the winter will usually preclude long days at the beach, it is a great time to explore the impressive Old Town’s history and architecture. If prices have been steadily hiking in Dubrovnik over the past few years, the off-season generally sees accommodation and transport costs drop off a little.
One of Europe’s lesser-known capitals, Vilnius is a lively city with a UNESCO World Heritage old town centre and a rich archaeological landscape. Renowned for being one of the cheapest city breaks in Europe, winter is cold in Vilnius but there are plenty of hip cafés, craft beer bars, cool art galleries and quirky concept stores to keep warm in.
Although the winter in Berlin can be bitterly cold, it’s also a great time to explore the city’s many galleries, museums and theatre halls. The run up to Christmas also sees Berlin host magical Christmas markets – over 60 in total selling everything from handmade crafts to trendy designer goods – with plenty of traditional glühwein to keep you feeling snug.