2018 European Short Break Hot List
We have put a list of 10 destination that you must visit in 2018. If you want you can start ticking off with list with a bang by visiting one of these destination to ring in the New Year, Budapest is our recommendation. There is a mixture of old and new names, you can even chose one for your winter break with a mix of skiing.
With the sprawling Marka Forest on one side and the Oslo Fjord on the other, it’s little wonder that Norway’s alluring capital has just been given the European Green Capital Award for 2019 (winners are always announced 18 months in advance). The city’s architecture is equally inspiring, including the imposing waterfront Opera House, which marks its 10-year anniversary in 2018 with a series of celebratory recitals and performances including a New Year’s concert from the Royal Norwegian Navy Band – suitably grand way to get the party started.
While you’re there, visit the Mini Bottle Gallery – one of the city’s most unusual attractions. It boasts the largest collection of miniatures in the world (53,000 bottles) although by their own admission, it might be the only one, too.
Visitors to this beautiful spot on Norway’s southwest coast should seek out Gamle Stavanger, a collection of 173 traditional wooden houses that were built around 1800. The settlement is frequently described as being the best-preserved of its kind in Europe. Its picture-postcard white buildings have even more of a fairy-tale vibe if you catch them in the snow.
Everyone has to visit the Pulpit Rock once – this iconic natural landmark is capped with a 25m-wide ledge from which you can gaze down dizzily at the waters of Lysefjord, 604m below.
Winter in Norway means snow, which in turn means a trip up Bergen’ s Floibanen funicular railway is a must. It starts from town and there are sledging paths to get back down. Until the end of December, you can also visit Pepperkakebyen, otherwise known as ‘The World’s Largest Gingerbread Town’, I the city centre. It’s like a Christmassy model village made out of delicious biscuit.
Bergen is almost completely surrounded by water, so you can rest assured that the produce at the daily fish market is seriously fresh. It’s been drawing a crowd since the 13th century and you can spend hours wandering between lobsters and glistening salmon before picking something they’ll cook up for you, to be enjoyed at a stall-side table.
The Estonian capital is a new WIZZ Air destination, so you have more travel options and flights to the city’s airport put you within three miles of its beautiful and historic centre. The Guardian newspaper recently hailed Tallinn’s “new Nordic” food scene, so head to Noa restaurant and try its 12-course tasting menu to find out why.
Visit the awe-inspiring Seaplane Harbour. It’s the country’s most popular museum, built around a magnificent aircraft hangar that was restored before reopening in 2012. Except old submarines, ice breakers and Soviet-era minesweepers.
According to a recent study, Bulgaria’s beer was the cheapest of the 32 countries surveyed, and even in its beautiful capital city your holiday money stretches a long way. While it may not be the cheapest, head to Kanaal, one of the city’s best craft beer bars for a taste of its top local brews.
It would be unthinkable to visit Sofia without seeing the beautiful golden-domed St Alexander Nevsky cathedral. But if you’re keen to experience something more adrenaline-inducing, the city’s coolest escape room is 3 key Rooms, which has an acclaimed Matrix-themed puzzler to keep the family scratching their heads. There’s also a prohibition-style 1920s mystery opening soon.
Ask a Moroccan where they’re going on holiday and there’s a good chance they’ll say “Morocco”. Domestic visitor numbers in Agadir soared by 13 percent in 2017, while foreign visits have also boomed. The coastal city is a great year-round destination, where you can swap frosty European Winter temperatures for daily highs of 23C, ideal for strolling along its 10km stretch of sandy beach. There’s a stack of affordable luxury hotels deals, too.
Morocco’s answer to the Grand Canyon, Paradise Valley is a popular excursion from Agadir. Taking you into the mountains just outside the city, you’ll find gorgeous natural plunge pools carved into the rocks.
The Lithuanian capital has one of the best Christmas trees in the whole of Europe, which is lit up in the Cathedral Square from 1 December -7 January. After that, the New Year brings with it an impressive programme at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet, featuring La Boheme, La Traviata and more.
Hop across the other side of the river to see the Bohemian quarter of Uzupis. It’s been a self-declared independent republic since 1997 and is something of a hangout for artists, creatives and romantics wanting to leave a ‘love lock’ on the old bridge.
Liverpool’s cultural renaissance shows no sign of slowing down. The latest big-ticket attraction that opened in 2017 is the British Music Experience, which charts – you guessed it – the history of the UK’s music scene. Along with an impressive collection of pop memorabilia (including everything from Bowie’s outfits to Oasis’s guitars and handwritten Adele lyrics), you can also try your hand at playing real instruments, too, and record your efforts in a real-life recording studio. We can’t guarantee the results will rival the Beatles but you’ll have fun trying.
Go on a Mersey Tunnel Tour under the river. It’s a side of Liverpool that most people don’t get to see and the guides are great fun. Plus it only costs £6. Afterwards, make your way back with a Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey.
As all good classical music lovers know, Chopin in Warsaw’s most famous son, and the city’s Fryderyk Chopin Institute is on a mission to make sure the legendary composer is never forgotten. Concerts abound even in winter, and from January there will be performances of the great man’s music the last Monday of every month, taking place in the Mirror Room of the imposing, centuries-old Staszic Palace.
Ever tried hot beer? During the winter in Warsaw locals serve ale warm, blended with ginger, cinnamon and other spices. Those after more high-octane fun can try indoor skydiving at Flyspot on the west side of the city.
A sparty (spa + party = sparty) may sound like an odd combination, but you haven’t partied in Budapest until you’ve tried it, if you’re in town over New Year’s, Budapest’s 100-year-old szechenyi Thermal Baths is hosting a huge sparty, complete with lights, lasers and cocktails, on 30 December. You can also book a place on a party boat (or a more refined dinner and piano cruise) along the Danube for the countdown on the 31st. The sparties then continue on select dates throughout 2018.
Don’t visit Hungarian capital without having a drink in a ruin bar – bohemian pubs that have taken over abandoned buildings. Szimpla Kert is full of unusual decor, including a bathtub sofa.