Five of the Best Festive Weekend Breaks

A little on the schmaltzy side it may be, but at this time of year there are few things better than a festive weekend break – Christmas markets, twinkling lights, Gluhwein and all…

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Krakow

What to do: Krakow at Christmas: while it's definitely more trad than trendy, all the ingredients are there for a classic festive weekend break. The Christmas market sets up stall in the medieval Rynek G?owny (Main Market Square) from mid-November, there are narrow streets (lined with cellar bars) to explore, while there are some lovely winter walks to be had in the Planty, the gardens that surround the Old Town.

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Where to head for a festive drink: Singer Café (ul. Estery 20). Hidden away in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz, it’s a cosy but cool spot where you can pull up a stool at an old sewing machine (hence the name) and see off the cold with a nip of vodka or two or a warm beer.

Where to stay: Hotel Wentzl. The perfect choice for a pre-Christmas trip to Krakow – as the main market unfolds right outside your window. Read our full review of Hotel Wentzl.

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Stockholm

What to do: There are obviously much cooler parts of Stockholm, but for a festive break you probably won’t want to stray too far from the cobbled streets of Gamla Stan. Here you can mix mooching around the Christmas markets at Kungstradgarden and Stortorget Square, with forays into the smarter, designer-filled shopping streets of Birger Jarlsgatan, Biblioteksgatan and Hamngatan nearby.

Where to head for a festive drink: Chaikhana (Svartmangatan 23). Tucked away down a little side street in the Old Town is this tiny tea shop. The perfect place to warm up with tea and tittle-tattle from the surrounding shoppers.

Where to stay: Hotel Hellsten. Classic scandi-chic design and a beautiful Old Town location make it the perfect city base. Read our full review of Hotel Hellsten.

Vienna

What to do: Vienna Christmas Market takes over the Ratthaus Platz, Freyung and the narrow streets of Spittelberg. For something a little more refined, there’s plenty of decent – and very festive – Christmas shopping to be had in the Kohlmarkt, Graben, and Karntnerstrasse, while on Saturdays the Naschmarkt is home to an enormous flea market peddling everything from antique glass, china and knick knacks to second-hand clothes, along with the usual assortment of old junk.

Where to head for a festive drink: Kleines Cafe (Franziskanerplatz, 3) a lovely, though tiny, example of the classic Viennese coffee house.

Where to stay: Hotel Aldstadt. With a series of stylish, modern rooms oozing boutique chic, The Aldstadt is one of the best places to stay in Vienna. Read our full review of Hotel Aldstadt.

Naples

What to do: On the surface of it, Naples might not seem like the most typical place to go for a festive weekend break. And while it’s not, in all fairness, a glamorous city, it is an incredibly atmospheric one, with the narrow network of alleyways of the Spaccanapoli overarching to the extent that they almost shut out the sky. And from December 8th, and the Festa dell'Immacolata Concezione, elaborate, twinkling hand-made nativity scenes start to appear everywhere, spreading out from Via San Gregorio Armeno, where you can see them being made.

Where to head for a festive drink: Starita a Materdei (Via Materdei, 27). It may not be especially festive, but a beer and a slice of pizza, ideally taken standing up out on the street surrounded by buzzing mopeds and jostling shopkeepers, is the perfect way to experience Naples’ scruffy charms.

Where to stay: Costantinopoli 104. A handsome 18th-century neoclassical building on the outside, on the inside this hotel is all sleek, modern interiors. Set around a central courtyard, it has a calm, sanctuary-like feel, but is still right in the thick of it. Read our full review of Costantinopoli 104.

Prague

What to do: Pretty-as-a-picture Prague goes for Christmas markets in a big way. Held in the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, there are plenty of stalls, sparkling lights and hot wines to be had. Away from the market madness, meanwhile, there some decent designer bargains to be had on Parizska Street, while the Czech capital is just a beautiful place to visit, generally, at this time of year.

Where to head for a festive drink: Bokovka (Pstrossova 8). A cosy little bar that specialises in decent wines (some of them, Czech) and light bites. Alternatively, you could always just settle in for happy hour on a sofa in the barrel-vaulted bar at The Augustine (see below).

Where to stay: The Augustine. For the romantic weekend of a lifetime. The only problem is that the temptation to do nothing but stay in your room and watch the flurries of snow fall on the rooftops can sometimes be too much to resist. Read our full review of The Augustine.

Like our pick of festive weekend breaks, but looking for somewhere a little nearer to home? For a Christmas-y weekend away here in the UK, check out our pick of the best UK inns. Or see our entire collection of places to stay.

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