Ah it’s that time of year again, the air is crisp, the Christmas lights are up and everyone suddenly wants mulled wine. For those going away to see Christmas Markets, here are a few things to do to make your trip away into a weekend.

Bruges

Waffles: A trip to Bruges would be remiss without eating your body weight in waffles, and yes it is completely acceptable to eat waffles and fruits for every main meal whilst there. I would suggest Lizzie’s waffles for made to order waffles and hot chocolate.

Bell tower: overlooking the markets is the bell tower, which has been standing since 1240. You can climb the narrow stairs to the top and get an amazing view over city’s red tile buildings.

Interesting bars: Bruges is the best place for a bar crawl with lots of quirky bars tucked away. Start with a small cellar jazz bar with strong Belgian shots that you can’t pronounce and then move on to a veritable shrine to beer with over 300 beers to choose from. Just make sure you can find your way through the maze-like streets of Bruges to get home afterwards.

Sofia

Club Motto: a lovely bar near the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with £4 cocktails and £1.50 shots. Also, a really nice place to eat dinner and dessert.

Churches: there are so many beautiful churches in Sofia to explore. Most of them are free public entry but some do charge for photography inside.

Free walking tours: there is a general free walking tour which takes in famous buildings and gives general anecdotes twice a day or on weekends there is a fascinating communist tour which ends with a short ride in a Trabant. Both tours are fun ways to explore the city and learn about the rich, varied history of Sofia.

Museums: like London, most of the museums are free to enter. The socialist museum is top of the list of ones to see followed closely by the archaeological museum.

Ruins: when the underground system was being built many Romans and ottoman ruins were unearthed. Some large areas of ruins are preserved underground whilst artefacts are on display in the underground and the archaeological museum.

Warsaw

Chopin Museum: Filled with information about the life and work of Chopin plus a fun floor piano this museum is a lovely way to pass a day. An electronic card allows you to listen to the many impressions of him by the famous and high society of the time.

Warsaw Uprising Museum: A fascinating look into Warsaw’s role in WWII and how it came to be levelled in the conflict. The exhibit encompasses a range of medias to tell the story but there are also audio guides available to give further information.

Wilanow Palace: A short walk from the centre of Warsaw, these beautiful grounds and palace is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. In winter there are peacocks and ducks that seem to defy the laws of nature and frolic through the snow.

Paris  

Le Sacré- Coeur: in the delightfully bohemian suburb of Mont-Marte this beautiful church has amazing views over the city of Paris. Everyone climbs the Eiffel tower, but the photos from Sacré- Coeur are beautiful on a misty morning.

Musée D’Orsay: Visit a beautifully renovated train station which now houses the world’s largest impressionist collection. Come back from your Christmas market break cultured and able to discuss the works of Gauguin, Monet, and Manet.

Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen: the cool kids’ flea market; you can literally find anything from the vintage to the just pure quirky. Browse through the antique luggage and burnished silver mirrors and take Instagram pictures with Valencia filter.

Sainte-Chapelle: One of the most breathtaking churches ever with huge 13th century stained glass windows and gothic architecture. This is a church not to be missed!

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    About Shell Patterson