When an authentic Christmas experience means cobbled lanes covered in fresh snow, a steaming hot beverage in front of a glistening tree and the warm glow of lights in a dressed shop window, tour operator DialAFlight can recommend the best ways to escape
ATMOSPHERE – PRAGUE
This enchanting city full of cathedrals, towers, church domes and pretty bridges is especially attractive with a fresh dusting of snow at Christmas time. The medieval Old Town in the city centre is a labyrinth of cobbled lanes, courtyards and hidden churches beneath a magnificent ninth century castle. Head to Staroměstské Náměstí (the Old Town Square) for the biggest and most beautiful festive market, in the shadow of a giant Christmas tree, there’s a visit from St Nicholas on 5 December who hands out treats to children. Czechs traditionally eat carp (yes, the fish) as a delicacy for Christmas dinner, look out for the street sellers with their freshly caught live produce.
MARKETS – ULTIMATE GERMANY
For those that can’t get enough of pop-up festive shopping, take a four-night tour of Germany’s finest Christmas market stops and try more types of bratwurst and stolen than can ever be imagined. Visit Frankfurt for a steaming cup of the city’s famous Applewine and the marzipan delight of Bethmännchen. Journey to Leipzig for the world’s largest free-standing advent calendar (at 857m2!) and 250 differing stalls. Then see Germany’s oldest Christmas market in Dresden, reaching back to 1434, which is the best place to pick up unique craft items including pottery, blown glass and Dresden’s traditional Pflaumentoffel, a chimney-sweep figure made of prunes.
ALTERNATIVE AMERICA – WASHINGTON, DC
A fabulous alternative to popular New York, head to Washington, DC for a varied array of retail options including the boutique shops of riverside Georgetown, vintage shopping and cool eating along the trendy U Street Corridor, plus over 60 seasonal stalls at the Downtown Holiday Market. See the giant Christmas tree outside the White House with its collection of smaller surrounding trees marking each state or territory. Stay at the totally cool Helix, a Kimpton Hotel which is ideally located within walking distance to all the main city sights.