January blues getting you down? Us too. Need something to look forward to? Would a trip to a European capital do?
The third Monday in January has been coined ‘Blue Monday’, and is known to be the most depressing time of the year. However, to make things a little less miserable, airlines are often known to hold special Blue Monday sales – yesss! – meaning it’s easier (and likely a lot cheaper) than you think to book yourself some time away.
There are plenty of more appealing destinations than the office on a wet and windy January morning, so why not book a long weekend away to one of Europe’s most popular cultural capitals?
Although badly damaged in the final years of World War II, Berlin has reconstructed itself greatly over the past 70 years. As one of the most stimulating creative and cultural centres in Europe, Berlin is not only a magnet for history buffs, but a go to city for hedonists and hipsters too. The city has a lively nightlife with many cafés, clubs and bars, as well as numerous historical points of interest including museums, palaces and landmarks.
Museum Island comprises five conveniently adjacent museums, all located on an “island” on the river Spree, while Germany’s oldest zoo occupies a generous corner of the Tiergarten park, and is home to more than 15,000 animals.
The compact, cultured, caring and fun city of Oslo is Europe’s fastest-growing capital. Although its skyline could be said to be crowded, the rapidly growing urban metropolis is also closely surrounded by mountains and the sea too. The city is blessed with a large number of parks, and the Oslofjord’s waterways and islands are only a few minutes away from the centre.
The city is a popular winter break destination, however the capital blossoms too in the height of the summer, when it’s surrounding landscapes a glorious shade of green.
Oslo has a hugely diverse culinary scene too, that allows visitors to experience authentic Nordic cooking, whether that’s traditional or contemporary, as well as five star foods from across the globe.
With a mix of ancient ruins, awe-inspiring artwork and exciting street life, Rome is one of the world’s most romantic and breathtaking cities. Nearly 3,000 years of culture on display, ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire, while inside the many museums and art galleries, you’ll find thousands of paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance and the Baroque.
Eating out is one of the Italian capital’s great pleasures – indulge on thin, crispy pizzas and rich pasta dishes, while sipping on cool white wines. And to finish, get a scoop of the action with some of the world’s best gelato.
And, to make things even more appealing to visitors, Rome has a warm Mediterranean climate all year round.
Whatever time of the year you visit Reykjavik, the world’s most northern capital, your time there is guaranteed to be enchanting to say the least.
Take the Golden Circle tour to Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall and Haukadalur (an active geothermic valley home to the geysers Geysir and Strokkur), to see some of the most magical sights this country has to offer. Then, by day or moonlight, relax in the Blue Lagoon, the country’s famous natural geothermal spa.
With a mix of Vienna’s elegance and the laid back culture of Berlin, Budapest is a weekend destination said to be enjoyed by many.
The Hungarian capital is really two cities – Buda and Pest – separated by the river Danube. Hilly Buda is calm, serene and full of elegant buildings including the likes of the Citadella and Fisherman’s Bastion. Buda looks down onto flat Pest, a hub of more modern culture, where the National Museum and the country’s Parliament co-exist alongside cafes, restaurants and a thriving nightlife scene.
The Greek capital remains lively all through the year, with temperatures soaring between mid-June and late-August, but comfortable sightseeing weather, spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
Crowned by the Parthenon, the magnificent Acropolis stands over Athens, and is visible from almost everywhere within the city. The city was built around the Acropolis, which today is its most visited ancient attraction. Visitors don’t just come for the city’s history though. Athens boasts one of the most happening nightlife scenes in Europe, while its contemporary art scene thrives alongside.
Despite being a slightly pricey city, you don’t have to miss out on anything in Copenhagen, even if you want to travel on a budget. Some of the most visited attractions, including The Little Mermaid, Christiania, Nyhavn and The Botanical Garden, are all free to visit, while bike, boat and walking tours are all cheap to purchase tickets for.
A must-visit attraction in the city is Tivoli Gardens. Dating back to 1843, Tivoli is popular with locals and travellers alike, with its dreamy whirl of amusement rides, carnival games and open-air stage shows. Ride the renovated, century-old rollercoaster, enjoy the famous Saturday evening fireworks display or simply soak up your surroundings in the storybook-like location.
By European standards Madrid is a young city. With an adventurous vibe, the city puts its focus on quality in all pursuits of life, from architecture and design, to food and wine.
As well as wonderful food, fashion, and nightlife, in the Spanish capital you’ll find many of the country’s greatest national museums, including the masterpiece-dense Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen art museums. A trip to Madrid is also worth it for its gorgeous architecture and plazas, many of which were constructed back in the 16th and 17th centuries.