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Winter escapes: Our top 5 European destinations

However you cut it, January is a pretty slow month. The fun of the festive period is a fading memory and we’re all faced with the long slog through the winter months, holding on to the hope of spring. But it doesn’t have to be like this. A trip away can be the perfect tonic to treat the winter blues. Hire a car and drive the winter blues away with our five top European destinations for a well-deserved break…

Hit the slopes

Our first suggestion is a classic winter activity with a twist. January and skiing holidays go together like Champagne and New Years Eve, so it’s only right you consider taking to the slopes and enjoying one of Europe’s many great resorts. But while the winter crowds may flock to glamorous resorts like Val d’Isere and Chamonix, our choice is a bit further off the beaten track.

The mountains around the town of Zakopane in Poland offer great skiing opportunities and excellent value. It’s the perfect place to enjoy skiing on a budget – and is easier to get to than you might imagine. The town of Zakopane is within easy reach of the attractive city of Krakow. This makes it easy to pack your skis, book a hire car from Krakow Airport and set off for the stunning mountains.

 

Image by Ana Paula Hirama
Image by Ana Paula Hirama

 

Making the most of the coast

Next up is a domestic destination that offers a load of options for anyone looking for a short UK break, or weekend away. Cornwall is one of Britain’s warmest areas and its position, stretching out into the Gulf Stream, means that the county usually avoids any deep chill, even in the depths of winter. And more than that, Cornwall’s stunning Atlantic coastline has a multitude of amazing attractions for every taste.

Are you a fan of dramatic scenery? Hire a car in Newquay and take a tour of the beaches, coves and craggy cliffs that make up the western coastline of the county. Fancy something more active? Cornish beaches are famous for their amazing surfing and winter is one of the best seasons for waves… just don’t forget to hire a thick wetsuit.

 

Image by roogi
Image by roogi

 

Ancient history

You may think that holidays in Greece are for warmer months but January is the perfect time to enjoy a trip to Athens. The Greek capital has an incredible range of historical sites for visitors to enjoy, from the Parthenon to the Tower of the Winds. In the summer, these are often overcrowded, overheated and blanketed in smog. Not so in the winter months.

Travelling to the Greek capital in January will give you access to the same amazing sites and incredible culture but without the chaos of the summer. And while the city may not be as sun-soaked as it is in the summer, temperatures are generally very pleasant – particularly compared to the stormy weather that often hits Blighty at this time of year.

 

Image by Andrew Baldwin
Image by Andrew Baldwin

 

A taste of winter sun

If the pleasant climate of Athens isn’t enough to quench your desire for good weather then why not follow the well trodden path to the Canary Islands, right on the edge of Europe? A cheap break in the Canaries could be just the answer if you’re desperate for a vitamin D hit, with temperatures allowing you to shed the winter thermals and get some much needed sunshine.

Although all the Canary Islands are pretty small, they pack a punch when it comes to holidays. Whether you’d rather spend your days lounging around the warmth of your resort, or hiring a car and exploring your island, the Canaries offer a refreshing break from the plunging UK temperatures.

 

Image by Ronny Siegel
Image by Ronny Siegel

 

Go north

While heading south to the Canaries offers you a slice of warm, easy living, our final destination goes in a very different direction. Heading to the icy north in January offers you the best chance to see one of the most spectacular sights that this planet has to offer – the Northern Lights.

There are many great spots in northern Europe where you can take in the breath-taking natural sight. At the very top of Norway, the town of Tromso is one of the top locations for seeing the famous phenomenon. Meanwhile, across the border in Finland there are plenty of great places you can visit to see the dancing lights.

 

Image by Gunnar Hildonen
Image by Gunnar Hildonen

 

Wherever you head this season, you’ll quickly learn there’s more to winter than the January blues – there’s a whole world of wonder out there for you to discover.

 

 

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