w KRAKOW Why go: Pointed turrets poking into the sky, medieval walls framing historic plazas, Gothic cathedrals filled with elaborate interiors – Krakow is the stuff of fairytales, and it’s easily reachable from the UK, with a flight time of just over two hours. Getting there: EasyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and Jet2 fly here (from Gatwick, Edinburgh, Stansted, Bristol, Heathrow and Manchester), and Wizz Air is adding routes from Birmingham, Luton and Doncaster Sheffield, making it more accessible from other areas of the country. Highlights: Among the key attractions is Wawel Royal Castle, a medieval-meets-Renaissance behemoth that was home to a succession of kings and is now an impressive art museum; Rynek Glówny, the largest medieval town square in Europe, in the heart of the Old Town; and St Mary’s Basilica, all Gothic spires and kaleidoscopic interiors. But it’s not all about fancy buildings and stately history; just as central to the city is Kazimierz, an old Jewish quarter that’s now a hotspot for trendy, creative types with one-off galleries, vintage shops and hipster

bars framing cobbled streets. Outside the city there’s plenty

to occupy too, including the Wieliczka Salt Mine, where huge, glistening salt crystals glow out from chambers, lakes and chapels deep under the ground. Book it: Kirker Holidays offers three nights at the four-star Hotel Wentzl from £629 per person, including breakfast, private transfers and British Airways flights from Heathrow, plus the services of a Kirker concierge.

w VIENNA Why go: Everything in Vienna looks as if it belongs on a postcard, from its imperial palaces, left over from the Habsburg monarchy, to the horde of opulent concert venues that tell of its reputation as the capital of classical music. Getting there: Direct flights whizz passengers over in about two hours from Luton, Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham, and Laudamotion is connecting Liverpudlians to the city this winter with a twice-weekly service from John Lennon airport. Highlights: Majesty seeps out from every nook and cranny,

Everything in Vienna looks as if it belongs on a postcard, from its imperial palaces to the concert venues

not least at the Unesco-listed Schönbrunn Palace, a sprawling baroque complex that was the summer residence of the monarchy, and the Hofburg, its winter counterpart, which houses an impressive silver collection. More where that came from can be eyed at the Imperial Treasury, home to emperors’ crowns and other glitzy artefacts, while no visit would be complete without visiting Mozarthaus (the former home of the composer) and the Vienna State Opera, a palatial masterpiece decked out with lavish red-and-gold interiors. That’s before we even get on to the Christmas markets, when colourful souvenirs, warming glühwein and other cinnamon- spiced treats send festive wafts swirling through the air. Book it: Classic Collection Holidays offers three nights’ bed and breakfast at Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel, from £1,087 per person, based on two sharing a classic city-view room, including flights from Gatwick.

54 4 April 2019

w REYKJAVIK Why go: From the dancing swathes of colour that make up the aurora borealis to the steaming, aquamarine waters of the Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik brings a world of bubbling geysers, plunging waterfalls and rainbow- coloured rock formations to travellers – and it’s all reachable in about three hours. Getting there: Direct flights depart from Manchester and Glasgow, as well as the London airports, so it’s easily accessible for those north of the M25. Highlights: A plethora of museums gives this city appeal for culture-seekers, from the Reykjavik Art Museum to the National Gallery of Iceland, featuring shiny marble atriums and exhibitions drawn from a 10,000-piece collection. Architecture fans will enjoy the Hallgrimskirkja, a pointed, sci-fi- esque church that dominates the skyline at every turn, while those after adventure can head out of the city to witness mud pools swirling, geysers spurting and whales rearing their tails above the inky blue ocean. Book it: Super Break offers a package from £260 per person including flights from Luton and three nights’ bed and breakfast at the three-star Reykjavik Lights Hotel. An Ultimate Iceland package visiting the highlights of the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon can be added from £311.


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