10 of the best winter escapes

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From a luxury long-haul getaway in Dubai to a short hop to Budapest, these stunning destinations are all accessible with direct flights from Birmingham Airport.

The City Break

Amsterdam

Home to an array of spectacular art galleries, architecture and museums, Amsterdam is ideal for those who’re seeking a dose of culture.

Boasting rich history and world-class art galleries, there’s so much to see and do in this quirky city. No trip to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank House. And if art is really your cup of tea, we suggest investing in an I amsterdam City Card, which will allow you to make the most out of your visit with exclusive offers and free discounts.

If you’re a bit of a foodie (or enjoy a drink or two) book yourself tickets to the Heineken Experience, where you can explore the city’s most popular brewery including behind-the-scenes tours, exclusive exhibitions and a tasting bar. Plus, there’s also the ‘Brew Your Ride’ experience, which is a 4D adventure which takes riders through the journey of what it’s like to be a bottle of the famous beer.

Looking for somewhere to stay? Amsterdam is packed with funky hotels and hostels to suit every budget. If luxury is what you’re after, take a look at the W Amsterdam, or if you’re after somewhere a little cosy, The Hoxton is a popular choice for comfort with a trendy twist.

Details: Flight time: 1hr 15 mins. Fly to Amsterdam from Birmingham International with Flybe or KLM.

Budapest

Credit: Dan Freeman

A city that blends ancient with modern, Budapest is gaining a reputation as a popular destination for a short break.

Built along the bank of the River Danube, this city offers something for everyone, from taking a dip in the Széchenyi Medicinal Baths to soaking in the breathtaking views from the Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace (we suggest hopping on the cable car to make your way up) – you won’t ever run out of things to do.

No trip to Budapest is complete without indulging in Hungary’s signature dish, Goulash. There are plenty of incredible local restaurants that serve up this delicious and warming bowl, so grab yourself a beer, sit back and enjoy!

Making your way around this city is an absolute breeze, simply pick up a Budapest Travelcard and make full use of the frequent metro and trolley systems. Not to mention you won’t be short in finding somewhere great to stay, but if you’re looking for recommendations we suggest you take a look at Pest-Buda Hotel for a rustic, traditional feel; if you’re after something a little more extravagant, Aria Hotel Budapest may be just what you’re looking for.

Details: Flight time: 2hrs 30mins with Wizz Air from Birmingham International.

The Relaxing Breaks

Paphos

Cyprus is a popular destination for Brits and the country has enjoyed great success with tourists over the last few years with a record-breaking 3.2million people visiting the country in 2016.

With stunning beaches and a wonderful array of places to eat, drink and explore, Paphos offers the best of both worlds for the adventurers and those who want to kick back and soak up the sun. Take a stroll into the heart of the city and you’ll find the harbour and castle, which you can explore at your leisure, or simply take a seat at one of the bars and restaurants. We recommend you pay a visit to Pingouino Cafe, where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail and a bite to eat.

If you’re a bit of a culture vulture, then Paphos is definitely for you. Follow the coastal path and you’ll find everything from a local church with breathtaking views to Kato Paphos Archaeological Park. And, if you want to travel further afield, hop on a local bus out to Coral Bay beach or delve deep into the country’s history at the Tombs of the Kings.

From five star hotels to chic hotel apartments, there’s somewhere to stay to suit every budget in Paphos. Those who want to keep in the mix of the centre of the city, Almyra Hotel boasts stylish features and minimalistic design – perfect for relaxation. Just a short drive or hour-long coastal stroll away from the centre you’ll find Elysium, a five-star resort that’s recently been fully refurbished. With multiple pools, swim up bars, five restaurants, gorgeous surroundings and a private pool, this hotel is designed with luxury in mind.

Details: Flight Time: 4hrs 35mins. Fly to Paphos direct from Birmingham International with Jet2 and Thomson. 

Rethymnon

Sitting on Crete’s north coast, the Rethymnon is a stunning destination for those who want to immerse themselves in peace and tranquillity, while still enjoying a host of cultural offerings.

The Greek Islands are, in our opinion, some of the most stunning to visit for a brief getaway. If you’re looking for a hotel where you have everything in one place and simply want to do nothing but bask in the sun for a week, then you have a number of five-star hotels to choose from. Grecotel White Palace boasts all-white interiors, creating a relaxing atmosphere and with three pools – two private infinity pools and one main pool – bars, two restaurants, spa, gym and fitness classes.

And if you want to explore the island a little more, the beautiful, charming town of Rethymno is just a short bus ride away. Sit and watch the world go by at one of the bars and restaurants before taking a wander around the charming streets, exploring everything from gift shops to local product stores and a spectacular church.

Details: Flight time: 4hrs 5mins. Fly to Rethymnon via Heraklion airport with Thomson and Jet2. Transfer time 1hr 45mins. 

The Long-Haul Breaks

Dubai

If unparalleled luxury is what you’re looking for, then Dubai is the perfect destination for you this winter. As well as being home to the only seven-star hotel in the world and listed fourth in Global Destination City Index’s most visited city in the world for 2017, this city is known for its futuristic skyscrapers, lavish lifestyles and multiple Guinness World Records.

Here, you can view Dubai’s impressive skyline from the top of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, shop till you drop at Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, explore the desert in an original Land Rover, be amazed by the Dubai Fountain show and spend a day at the stylish Atlantis the Palm (pictured above).

When it comes to looking for places to stay, there’s everything from luxury resorts like Four Seasons to designer stays at W Dubai and Armani Hotel. You won’t be short of places to dine either; experience fine dining at its very best at the Burj Al Arab or traditional Arabic food in the heart of the desert with Arabian Adventures Dubai.

You’ll have no trouble finding your way around either. With a quick and convenient metro system, you can explore everything that Dubai has to offer with minimal fuss.

Details: Flight time: 7hrs. Fly to Dubai direct with Emirates from Birmingham International. 

Orlando

Home to some of the world’s biggest theme parks, you can let your inner child run free in America’s popular Sunshine State.

The go-to destination for families and thrillseekers, Orlando is a destination guaranteed to kill your winter blues. Let your inner child run free at the Walt Disney Parks, jump into some of the world’s biggest movies at Universal Studios Florida™, experience thrilling rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and explore spectacular Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Those who want to travel further afield can enjoy more thrills at Busch Gardens, or try the greatest space experience at the Kennedy Space Centre. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a live launch!

If theme parks just aren’t for you don’t worry, Orlando has multiple shopping centres and outlets where you’re sure to bag yourself a bargain or two, especially if you pay a visit to The Mall at Millenia. It’s worth taking a trip up International Drive if you’re looking for somewhere to spend the evening outside of one of the parks. I-Drive is full of hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions including the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, as well as the brilliant Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, which is great fun for all the family. There’s also the chance to see Orlando from above at Air Florida, where you can soar over Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios.

Hiring a car is recommended and is usually included in your holiday when you book through most travel agents. Although most parks are accessible via public transport, it takes a lot longer to reach your location. However, we do suggest you invest in an I Ride Trolley card, which is a really quick and convenient way to make your way across the stretch of I-Drive.

There are so many options when selecting where to stay in Orlando. Each theme park has a number of themed resorts (Dinsey’s resorts are spectacular for children.) And if you’re travelling in large groups, there are multiple villa packages you can select, most of which come with their own private pool.

If you’re looking for a hotel that doesn’t break the bank take a look at Rosen Inn Pointe Orlando. Smack on I-Drive, this hotel has everything you need including swimming pools, laundry services, a bar, shop and restaurant. Plus, you can take advantage of the free transport to Universal Studios.

Details: Flight time: 14hrs and 15mins. Fly direct to Orlando International from Birmingham International with First Choice. 

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