1. Paris, France from £28
There is always a good time to go to Paris, but flights are cheap right now and the summer crowds no more. Start your visit with an unashamedly touristy bateau trip on the Seine to see world-renowned sights like the scrubbed-up Hôtel de Ville, magnificent Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, the Louvre,and ' that Tower'… As the sun sets on the city of love, live the dream and sit by the Seine with the one you love. Is there a question to be popped?
(Flight price is for Paris Beauvais. Charles de Gaulle from £58)
2. Bilbao, Spain from £40
Of course, there’s the Guggenheim, but there are more reasons to visit Bilbao than a museum that looks like a multi-storey car park. Architects will enjoy a veritable busman’s holiday straight from touchdown in the Basque Country, starting with Bilbao’s airport, designed by Santiago Calatrava. Art lovers in the house shouldn’t miss the Museo de Bellas Artes, but if you’re more bar fly than culture vulture, you’ll fit right in, as the pub crawl - the ‘poteo’ - is an art form itself in Bilbao. Make mine a cerveza.
3. Porto, Portugal from £40
As November’s north wind blows, dream of warmer winter days in Portugal’s most pleasant second city, Porto. Temperatures are mild enough throughout the season for strolling around the UNESCO- listed centre, an elegant jumble which dates back to the 12th century. Be sure to sample (indulge) in the local wine from the Douro Valley, which should pick you up after an exhausting exploration of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea and fortify you for feasting on seafood and listening to fado long into the night.
4. Geneva,Switzerland from £47
Geneva has the reputation as one of Europe’s more expensive cities, but take the budget airline option and save your cash for a perfect coffee and extravagant cake, ideally enjoyed in the morning sunshine with a jumper round your shoulders while browsing the papers (just pretend you can understand). But if you’re a boarder not a city breaker, use Geneva as jumping-off point for winter sports resorts like Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee.
5. Naples, Italy from £52
In high summer, Italy’s Amalfi coast swarms with tourists licking melting gelati and navigating death-defying cliff-hugging roads and choked towns with one hand permanently on the horn. But in the off-season you’ll have proper charming seaside resorts like Sorrento to yourself. Be sure to stop in for lunch at least, or even a week, in postcard-pretty Positano, which clings to the hillside as if teetering on the brink of a crashing fall into the Tyrrenian Sea. Raise a prosecco to the sunset, lie back and think of England (or dinner).