Top 5 Cities for a Short Winter Break
With the evenings drawing in and summer a distant sunny memory for many of us, it’s natural to want to hibernate at this time of year. Revive yourself by booking a short car rental break and return ready to take on the worst that winter can throw you. Here are our 5 top picks:
Edinburgh is a wonderful place to visit at any time, but the atmosphere in winter is truly magic. Strap on a pair of skates and take a spin around the ice rink in Princes Street Gardens, transformed into a winter wonderland complete with snowball arena. If skating is not your thing, stroll along the cobbled ginnels (alleyways) in the old town before lingering over cocktails on a rooftop terrace.
For an infusion of culture, the Scottish National Museum and Scottish National Portrait Gallery have been revamped recently, and you could also take in a play or a concert. The food scene in Edinburgh is pretty exciting, so enjoy a spectacular meal at the likes of Tom Kitchin and Mark Greenaway.
Malaga shares the fate of many airport cities, which most people see only in their rearview mirrors as they speed off to their resorts. Hire a car in Malaga in late November or early December, however, and you have a great location for a winter break. If you like art, you can visit the house where Picasso was born and explore the impressive Picasso Museum and the Museo Carmen Thyssen.
The 11th-century Alcazaba enjoys a commanding position overlooking the sea and the city, making it a great location for viewing Malaga’s Christmas lights. Malaguenos put on the most exquisite display, and the nativity scene at the corner of Alameda Principal and Calle Larios is well worth seeing. The atmosphere is truly festive, with street entertainers and free concerts in Plaza de la Constitución.
There are few winter destinations as romantic as Tallinn, Estonia. With fairytale towers soaring through the swirling snows and the glow of cosy bars enticing visitors in from the cold, Tallinn is one of the best places to rent a car in winter. Start your visit by making the ascent to the 13th-century St. Olaf’s Church and looking out over the ancient maze of cobbled streets and fortified walls of the Old Town.
Inside the Old Town, visit the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Town Hall Square, home to a pharmacy that dates back to the 15th century. Once you’ve wandered around the Old Town, it’s well worth seeking out the Museum of Occupation (at Toompea 8). Outside the city, drive your Tallinn hire car to the incredibly beautiful, baroque Kadriorg Palace, former summer residence of Russian Tsar Peter I and now how to the Estonian Art Museum’s foreign collection of thousands of European and Russian works from the 16th century on.
If the idea of snowy streetscapes and glistening ice rinks leaves you cold, rent a car in Florida this November. Wildlife is quick to seek out the warmth of this winter refuge, with wintering birds flocking to take a breather at Florida’s Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, located near Cape Canaveral. One of the more eye-catching species is the pink roseate spoonbill, which descends in droves on the local estuaries in November.
The wildlife refuge is one of several outdoor attractions you can visit – and, of course, you cannot ignore the theme parks of Orlando. If the younger members of the family are begging to see Mickey Mouse and his friends, mid-November until mid-December is probably one of the best times of the year to visit.
When you rent a car in Salzburg and drive into the city, you’ll find it looks almost precisely as it must have done when Mozart was growing up here. The picturesque Austrian city is full of ornate squares, soaring spires, and quaint cobbled streets, all overseen by a fairy-tale fortress – the perfect winter retreat. The ultimate Christmas market city, Salzburg in winter is something straight from a chocolate box. You will never forget hearing “Silent Night” being sung in the city it was written in. For the best views of the city, visit the 11th-century Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Horse-drawn carriages rumble through Salzburg’s picturesque Old Town, between the left bank of the Salzach River and the 503-metre Mönchsberg ridge. The Old Town’s main street is the narrow Getreidegasse, lined with five- and six-story burghers’ houses, most of which date from the 17th and 18th centuries and sport intricate wrought-iron signs over their carved windows. Number nine is the Hagenhauer house, where Mozart was born in 1756 and which is now a museum featuring such exhibits as the violin the maestro played as a child.