11 city breaks to get your 2018 off to the perfect start

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Start the new year as you mean to go on and make 2018 your year of travel with one of these amazing January and February bundle. 

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Barcelona

There’s nothing like the Catalonian capital for architecture, food and friendly people. Famous for its unfinished masterwork La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona is a city in constant flux. The never-ending promenade is great for people-watching and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is well worth visiting for its amazing collection of Romanesque religious art, the kind that inspires Ricardo Cavolo, one of Barcelona’s most famous street artists, whose unmistakeable work is scattered around the city.

Venice

The slowly sinking Adriatic city should be on everyone’s bucket list. Explore the ancient waterways on a moonlit gondola ride and stop by Libreria Acqua Alta, the world’s most famous second-hand bookstore and home to the best reading spot in Europe. Enjoy a traditional Venetian meal at Cantina Do Mori, a favourite of 18th-century adventurer and native Venetian Giacomo Casanova, or take a day trip to one of 70 islands, including Murano, famous for its glassblowing industry, or Burano, with its brightly coloured homes.

Nice

This iconic city unfurls itself around the Bay of Angels, with its miles of pristine beachfront. Watch skaters and joggers pound the pavement on Promenade des Anglais against the backdrop of eye-catching Art Deco hotels and check out Cours Saleya for the daily flower market. Don’t leave without visiting the Musée Matisse, which celebrates the work of legendary painter Henri Matisse, who spent much of his later life on the Cote D’Azur, and who can blame him?

Venice via The Telegraph

St Petersburg

As Russia prepares to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there’s never been a better time to visit. This energetic, majestic city is divided  into islands by the River Neva, earning it the nickname ‘Venice of the north’. Head to Gorokhovaya Street and Griboyedov Canal for cosy cafés and Dumskaya Street for dive bars popular with young St. Petersburgians. Take a rooftop tour and get up close and personal with the awe-inspiring cathedrals for which the city is famous.

Stockholm

Denmark’s overachieving older sibling is all about sophisticated cool. Upgrade your wardrobe and your mindset in 2018 with a visit to Stockholm. Embrace lagom, the art of moderation, and leave with the perfect capsule collection from Swedish stalwarts WeSC, Acne, Tiger and Nudie Jeans to name just a few. Feed your mind and your soul with a visit to Stadsbiblioteket, the iconic public library; Färgfabriken, a muti-purpose gallery and café; and Magasin III contemporary art museum.

Sofia

History buffs will love Sofia, an ancient Roman city shaped by centuries of conflict. Today it is a friendly, laid back place with a reverence for the past from having been so violently shaped by it, but also very appreciative of the beauty in the natural world. Sofia is very green for a European capital, with an abundance of museums dedicated to anthropological, sociological, historical and scientific studies, including the National Historical Museum and National Museum of Natural History.

Munich

The Bavarian capital has a story on every corner. Take a guided bicycle tour along its cobbled streets, past centuries-old brewhouses, palatial churches and the Englischer Garten, a large public park in the centre of Munich. Head to the banks of the Eisbach and watch urban surfing in the icy waters before stopping for a traditional Bavarian lunch of roast chicken (hendl), roasted pork knuckle (schweinshaxn) and grilled, skewered fish (steckerlfisch) at the Chinesischer Turm beer garden, in the shadow of its five-story pagoda.

Munich via FlixBus

Lisbon

The people of Lisbon have mastered a relaxed way of living, which we could all afford to learn from. Treat yourself to a weekend in Portugal’s inimitable capital, explore the waterfront restaurants in Parque das Nações and mingle with its friendly, vocal locals over a typical light lunch of chorizo, cheese, wine and homemade Ginjinha liqueur. Take a day trip to Sintra, and stop at the awe-inspiring viewpoint at Cabo da Roca, the most western point in continental Europe, and explore the charming resort town of Cascais.

Marrakech

At times it can feel like the entire world is in Marrakech. The Moroccan city is loud, frenetic, and a series of accidents waiting to happen. I challenge you to find a warmer, more generous people, which would be reason enough to visit were the food not also out of this world (fans of tagine will think they’ve died and gone to heaven). Witness and explore humbling mosques, displays of religious devotion and world-famous souks, a labyrinth of wily merchants and treasure troves of bric-a-brac.

St. Julian’s

If relaxation is what you’re looking for, then St. Julian’s is the perfect antidote to urban life. Don’t leave without trying the local seafood and gelat dessert, take a stroll along the waterfront and watch the luzzu (traditional fishing boats) coming into the harbour. With a rental car, you can cross the island in less than an hour and explore many of its beaches, the best of which include Golden Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and St George’s Bay, home to beachfront bars and restaurants.

Vienna

A popular misconception about Vienna is that it’s stuck in the past. The city’s attitude towards immigration has won it plaudits and makes it one of Europe’s most ethnically diverse cities. Explore the many museums dedicated to contemporary artists and designers including the Wien Museum, Mumok, the Mak and WestLicht and brave the Danube for a swim and clear away those cobwebs. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to cafés; Liebling, Café Nil or Café Sperl are just a few we’d recommend.

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