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5 cities in Europe to visit in January

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It is that time of the year to ignore the weather and pack your bags to discover hidden gems

With Christmas out of the way, but winter pretty much here,  January unveils a unique charm in several European cities, inviting intrepid travelers to explore beyond the conventional tourist seasons.

Despite being the winter season, Europe also has plenty of cultural festivals and events in January. From winter markets and music festivals to unique local celebrations, travelers can immerse themselves in the cultural richness of different regions. And with January being officially an off-peak travel season in Europe, you are likely to battle fewer crowds at popular attractions and landmarks such as museums and historic sites.

Euronewsweek prepared a list featuring six enchanting European destinations, each offering a distinctive winter experience that goes beyond the surface.

Photo: Saikat Bhuiyan

Vienna, Austria – Imperial Elegance Amidst Winter Whispers

Nestled in the heart of Europe, Vienna transforms into a winter wonderland in January. The city’s imperial palaces, including the iconic Schönbrunn and Hofburg, stand adorned with a dusting of snow, creating a captivating scene. Explore the grandeur of the Belvedere Palace and its extensive art collection, or wander through the enchanting Stadtpark. With temperatures hovering around 0 to 5 degrees Celsius, savor a cup of hot Viennese coffee at Café Central or indulge in a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city’s picturesque streets.

Photo: Marc Najera

Barcelona, Spain – Sunshine on Gaudí’s Masterpieces

In January, Barcelona basks in mild winter sunshine, providing the perfect setting to explore its architectural marvels. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Park Güell take on a serene ambiance, allowing for a more intimate connection with these iconic landmarks. Venture into the narrow alleys of the Gothic Quarter, where the Cathedral of Barcelona stands proudly. With average temperatures ranging from 8 to 14 degrees Celsius, enjoy the warmth of local tapas in bustling markets and discover the city’s vibrant street life.

Photo: Jon Flobrant

Reykjavik, Iceland – Geothermal Wonders

Brave the winter chill in Reykjavik, where January unveils a magical display of the Northern Lights. Explore the city’s unique cultural offerings at the National Museum or unwind in the steaming waters of the Blue Lagoon. For the adventurous, embark on a thrilling glacier tour or marvel at the geysers and hot springs surrounding the city. With temperatures ranging from -1 to 3 degrees Celsius, Reykjavik’s winter landscape promises an unforgettable escape into nature’s spectacle.

Photo: Milan Chudoba

Prague, Czech Republic – Explorations in Frosty Splendor

January turns Prague into a fairytale setting, with snow-draped spires and cobblestone streets creating a picturesque scene. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Prague Castle, where the St. Vitus Cathedral stands as a testament to Gothic architecture. Traverse the charming Old Town Square, adorned with winter markets and festive lights. Indulge in hearty Czech cuisine in cozy taverns, as temperatures hover around -3 to 1 degree Celsius, providing a tranquil backdrop to the city’s timeless beauty.

Photo: Seongho Jang

Edinburgh, Scotland – Extravaganza and Historic Wonders

Edinburgh, renowned for its iconic Hogmanay Festival, comes alive in January with vibrant celebrations. Traverse the historic Royal Mile, where the Edinburgh Castle stands proudly against the winter sky. Explore the city’s rich history in the quieter winter months, discovering the National Museum of Scotland and the dynamic Edinburgh Zoo. With average temperatures ranging from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius, Edinburgh’s winter magic invites you to partake in festive parades and New Year’s Day extravaganzas.

Photo: Filip Bunkens

Ijzerenleen, Belgium – Cobblestone Charms Along the Water

In the heart of Belgium, Ijzerenleen in Mechelen beckons winter visitors with its cobblestone streets along the water. The picturesque canalside setting, adorned with historic buildings, creates a tranquil atmosphere. Explore the local charm of the Ijzerenleen promenade and visit nearby attractions such as St. Rumbold’s Cathedral. With average temperatures around 2 to 6 degrees Celsius, Mechelen’s winter allure provides a quieter escape for those seeking a hidden gem.

It is that time of the year to ignore the weather and pack your bags to discover the hidden gems waiting to be explored in the quieter, colder months.

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Travel

Greece rated best value destination spot in 2024

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Greece rated best value destination spot in 2024
Greece has narrowly beaten Spain and Portugal to rate as best value among 28 destinations surveyed

Greece has narrowly beaten Spain and Portugal to rate as best value among 28 destinations surveyed in a poll of past visitors for the 2024 Post Office Travel Money Holiday Spending Report. The report also reveals that over three-in-five Britons – and 68 per cent of families – plan to travel abroad this year as overseas trips are named the top priority after paying for food, energy and household essentials. However, holidaymakers overspent at record levels on their last trip abroad.

Over the past decade the gap between budgets set and cash spent has widened to its highest ever level. On their most recent trip abroad, almost four-in-five (78 per cent) of holidaymakers set a budget averaging £334.47 per person, less than on their previous holiday. Only a third of holidaymakers stuck to it and the remaining 67 per cent bust their budget by an average of £154.62 – 46 per cent more than planned and up seven per cent on their previous holiday.

Families overspent by even more. Over three-quarters (76 per cent) set a budget for their last holiday but only 27 per cent of these families stuck to it. The 73 per cent who bust their budget did so by 55 per cent, spending around £312 more than the average budget of £566.26. Family overspending levels have almost doubled since before the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019 families allocated a spending budget of £630 – significantly more than the £566 average now – and overspent this by around £159.

When asked which items of expenditure were most responsible for their overspending, well over half (57 per cent) of holidaymakers laid the blame on restaurant meals, while 32 per cent named food and drinks that they had bought from a local shop or supermarket. Over a third (36 per cent) attributed their overspending to the cost of drinks and 44 per cent said they overspent on sightseeing and excursions. This chimes with earlier research by Post Office Travel Money for the 2024 Holiday Money Report in which 84 per cent of holidaymakers expressed concern about the cost of meals, drinks and other tourist items in overseas resorts and cities.

For this reason, perceptions of value for money may play an important role in destination choice. When holidaymakers who had previously visited destinations abroad were asked which they rated good value, Greece came top with a score of 94 per cent, ahead of Spain (93 per cent) and Portugal (92 per cent). Post Office research on holiday costs supports the positive views about Greece and Portugal because Athens and Lisbon were among the top five cities in last month’s City Costs Barometer, while the Algarve was rated best value in Europe in the annual Worldwide Holiday Cost Barometer. Spain did not fare so well as the Costa del Sol came only 14thin the barometer.

Switzerland and Scandinavia were rated least favourably of all by past visitors with scores of just 38 per cent apiece. However, Britons who had never been to either country gave them higher ratings of 45 per cent and 52 per cent respectively. They were two of just four destinations to score better value ratings among non-visitors than those given by past visitors.

Laura Plunkett, Head of Travel Money at Post Office, which accounts for one-in-four UK foreign exchange transactions, said: “The opinions of holidaymakers who have visited a destination are really useful and likely to be a more reliable source of information about value for money than those expressed by people who have no direct knowledge of the country. Most of the 28 destinations included in our good value poll achieved higher scores from past visitors than among those who had to rely on what they had read or heard about the country.”

All-inclusive holiday packages have, traditionally, been regarded as a good way to rein in spending and almost half (47 per cent) of families told Post Office researchers that they are planning this type of holiday in 2024. However, the Holiday Spending Report research reveals that the proportion of people paying for extras has again risen and most people spent hundreds more pounds in their hotel and in local resorts on their last all-inclusive trip.

The numbers paying extra for food and drinks in their all-inclusive resort has more than quadrupled over the past decade to 57 per cent because fewer items are now included in the paid-for package. The percentage paying for local brands of alcohol and soft drinks – once a cornerstone of the free drinks promise made by all-inclusive resorts – has grown to over eight times the 2014 level when just six per cent of people paid for them. Furthermore, 77 per cent of individuals and 81 per cent of families head out to local resorts for meals and drinks.

Despite the rise in numbers paying for extras, there is some evidence that holidaymakers have been tightening their belts. Overall, 51 per cent (53 per cent of families) spent an average of around £373 (£394) on nine food and drink items in their all-inclusive hotel, down by almost seven per cent (six per cent for families) compared with last year. Away from their All Inclusive hotel, the amount spent on food and drinks dropped by around six per cent to just under £274. Families spent over nine per cent less – £300 compared with £331 reported a year ago.

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European Airports with most Summer delays revealed

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People waiting for delayed flights at an airport in Europe
Over half (53%) of flights delayed at Frankfurt airport in Germany, making it the worst in Europe

Unfortunately, flight delays are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in Europe. In 2023, European flights were delayed by 15 minutes on average.And, according to a recent study2, almost one in 10 (9%) people would rather avoid air travel altogether as a result of ‘airport stress’. 

As we gear up for peak holiday season, which airports are you most likely to be stuck in this summer? 

To help Brits plan ahead and even choose to fly from the airports they’re least likely to be delayed in, the travel experts at eurochange have created an index of the airports with the best, and worst pre-flight experience in Europe. 

Analysing 40 of the busiest airports in Europe, including in the UK, eurochange’s research reveals the airports that are most and least likely to experience delays. 

The research found that, in the UK, holiday-goers are most likely to be delayed at London Gatwick airport, the second busiest airport in the country behind London Heathrow. A huge 43% of flights are delayed from this airport. In 2023, flights were an average of 27 minutes behind schedule from Gatwick.

When it comes to the airports least likely to experience delays, Northern Ireland’s largest airport, Belfast, is the most ‘efficient’ airport in the UK, with 77% of flights departing on time, and just 23% of them being delayed. 

 

The top 10 airports most likely to experience delays in the UK

  1. London Gatwick (43% of flights delayed) 
  2. Edinburgh (38.8% of flights delayed) 
  3. London Heathrow (38.3% of flights delayed) 
  4. Bristol (37% of flights delayed) 
  5. London Stansted (35%) of flights delayed) 
  6. London Luton (32% of flights delayed) 
  7. Birmingham (28% of flights delayed) 
  8. Manchester (28% of flights delayed) 
  9. Glasgow (24% of flights delayed) 
  10. Belfast (23% of flights delayed) 

When it comes to the return leg of a holiday this summer, Frankfurt airport in Germany is the European airport most likely to experience delays, where more than half (53%) of flights are delayed. 

 

Airports in Europe most likely to experience delays

  1. Frankfurt, Germany (53% of flights delayed)
  2. Amsterdam Schiphol, Netherlands (47% of flights delayed) 
  3. Henri Coandă International Airport (47% of flights delayed) 
  4. Stockholm Arlanda, Sweden (46% of flights delayed) 
  5. Charles de Gaulle, Paris, France (44% of flights delayed) 
  6. London Gatwick (43% of flights delayed) 
  7. Lisbon airport, Portugal (42% of flights delayed) 
  8. Munich airport, Germany (41% of flights delayed) 
  9. Edinburgh, UK (38.8% of flights delayed) 
  10. London Heathrow (38.3% of flights delayed) 

Eurochange’s study also looked at the amenities in each of the airports in Europe, to reveal which are the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ to be delayed in, based on the pre-flight experience. 

The study revealed that the ‘best’ airport to be stuck at in Europe is Berlin’s Brandenburg. When it comes to unique attractions, Berlin airport scored particularly highly with its many options for kids, including an entire playground and a special children’s TV corner. There are 45 shops in the airport, and 33 restaurants to choose from. 

Brandenburg even caters to the art lovers amongst us, who should make sure to look up at the ceiling when they check in. Its beautiful Magic Carpet art installation graces the airport ceiling. 

Munich airport closely follows behind Berlin Brandenburg, where the average security wait time is just 5 minutes, and there’s plenty to keep you occupied if you do experience delays. Its ‘unique attractions’ include the world’s first airport brewery, where you can even get a guided tour before you fly home. 

At the bottom of the list is Henri Coandă airport in Bucharest, making it Europe’s most boring airport. With no kids entertainment whatsoever, and an airport lounge ticket costing £40 per person at the Romanian airport, it is the second most expensive in Europe for airport lounge tickets, behind Charles de Gaulle in Paris. 

The 5 worst European airports for pre-flight experience

  1. Henri Coanda International Airport, Bucharest, Romania  
  2. Heraklion International Airport, Crete, Greece
  3. Porto Airport, Porto, Portugal 
  4. Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, Nice, France 
  5. Warsaw Chopin airport, Warsaw, Poland 

Laura Evans-Fisk, head of digital engagement at eurochange comments: “We created this index as we wanted to provide people with a useful resource before deciding where they travel to next in Europe. 

“Although the airport experience isn’t always the most enjoyable, hopefully this research will help people to make more informed decisions about where they might fly to, depending on their circumstances. For example, families with kids may choose to fly somewhere that experiences the least amount of delays, whereas a group of friends might choose to fly from an airport that may experience more delays, but also has the cheapest beer.”

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR agency in the UK

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Baros Maldives appoints new PR Agency in the UK
Maldives is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year

Global independent marketing and communications agency, FINN Partners, has been appointed by Baros Maldives and Milaidhoo Maldives to lead on PR and digital services, in the United Kingdom.

FINN Partners communications strategy will focus on tactics that will generate coverage and awareness to showcase the independent, locally and family-owned properties, highlighting what sets them apart from other resorts in the Maldives. 

“With the UK being an important market for us, we look forward to working with FINN Partners to help build brand awareness in the UK for both Baros and Milaidhoo Maldives, by bringing to life the uniqueness of each property and what sets both resorts apart from other luxury resorts in the Maldives,” says Visha Mahir, Chief Operating Officer at Universal Resorts Management.

Maldives is home to 176 resorts and over 800 guesthouses. According to  the Ministry of Tourism, the country is experiencing a significant increase in tourism and celebrated a record 12% increase in arrivals last year.

“Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, it’s an honour to be representing Baros Maldives, ‘The Maldives Icon’. We very much look forward to communicating the private island resorts truly authentic Maldivian offerings to media. We are also excited to showcase how Milaidhoo Maldives, set in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, embraces a contemporary way of living the Maldivian heritage and culture complemented by a wide range of curated meaningful experiences on offer to guests in addition to exceptional cuisine, personalised service, and attention to detail,” says Debbie Flynn, Managing Partner and Global Travel Practice Leader, FINN Partners.

The FINN Partners UK Travel portfolio also includes destinations such as Italy, Greater Palm Springs, The Bahamas and brands including Travelzoo, Intrepid and Accor. 

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