Six countries, six ideas for short breaks on a budget this autumn and winter from Austria to Alicante. Where are you going next?
1. Milan-Bergamo, Italy from £30
There's more to Milan than shopping, but if, like us, you need to give your wardrobe a seasonal update for autumn/winter, where better to indulge in some serious retail therapy? Indulging in the city’s legendary cuisine, however, may affect your chances of squeezing into that size 8.
2. Salzburg, Austria from £30
The clocks haven't yet changed, but if you are already smelling the scent of gingerbread in the air, book yourself a winter weekend break to Salzburg. The grand old city holds one of the top traditional Christmas markets on the Continent. Glug some glogg (punch) and soak up the atmosphere in the tower and spire-laden Dom and Residenz Squares.
3. Bremen, Germany from £30
You could also get your Christmas market kicks in Bremen, which hosts one of the most popular on the Continent. Or you could go for a rock-bottom bargain break in November or January, when the city will be much quieter and the flights even cheaper. Be sure to explore the Schnoor - an old fishing quarter now brimming with cool cafés, shops and galleries.
4. Bratislava, Slovakia from £30
The Slovakian capital's most famous landmark isn't Bratislava Castle, but UFO – a flying saucer-shaped restaurant perched high on the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising. If that wasn’t enough to make you desperate to go, the price of beer is attractively low, a pint setting you back a measly £1, so a boozy break won’t bust the bank.
5. Porto, Portugal from £36
Ah, Porto. You could pass much of your time simply strolling around the UNESCO-listed old town and browsing menus choosing a restaurant for dinner. Whatever you eat and drink, be sure to indulge in the local wine from the Douro Valley, which will fortify you for listening to sweet fado music long into the night.
6. Alicante, Spain from £44
For bargain autumn sun, Alicante ticks the boxes. It’s the gateway to the Costa Blanca with its winning formula of sun, sea and sangria. But it's not just about the beach. Try a visit totally out of season later in the season and see that Alicante is a stylish city bursting with cultural and culinary delights, and there are plenty of cheap flight options from the UK, which helps.