Eight standout city breaks to brighten up your winter

Discover new cultures and create lasting memories with one of Coop Holiday's new city breaks, which include tours and local experiences as part of the package.

By COOP Holidays
Published 28 Dec 2021, 12:00 GMT, Updated 30 Dec 2021, 14:10 GMT
The architecture of Ancient Rome makes the Eternal City world-famous, and looks particularly striking against a ...

The architecture of Ancient Rome makes the Eternal City world-famous, and looks particularly striking against a backdrop of pink-hued skies. 

Photograph by Getty Images

1. Make pasta in Rome, Italy

The fabled architecture of Ancient Rome only tells half the story of the Eternal City — layers of brick and bone lie beneath the surface for travellers to discover but it’s the people who live there that bring the city to life. Coop Holidays has kept this in mind when designing its latest short break in Rome by including a hands-on foodie experience in the package price.

Seasoned chef Fabio heads up the two-and-a-half-hour course, Pasta Making in Rome, in his professional kitchen at the centre of the city. Together with his team of convivial cooks, Fabio begins by sharing his knowledge of the history of Roman cuisine before passing on expert techniques on the art of pasta-making. Students work at a relaxed pace, helping to knead, roll, assemble and boil three famed varieties — fettuccine, ravioli and cavatelli. 

When the food is ready, so begins the tasting. Lunch is served at a communal table with local wines and more conversation. By the time it’s over, complete strangers can’t help but feel part of the family. 

Rome and Pasta Making, from £289pp. Includes return flights from Gatwick, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation based on two adults sharing, and cooking course.  

 2. Tour Dracula’s Castle, Romania

A must for anyone with a thirst for uncovering the myths and folklore surrounding vampires, this guided day tour of Transylvania includes a visit to Bran Castle, a 13th-century hilltop fortress that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler, the alleged inspiration for Count Dracula. Tour its haunted gothic chambers and secret passages while discovering the mysteries surrounding Bram Stoker’s fictional character Dracula, a vampire suffering from the curse of immortality. In the afternoon, take a guided walk around Brasnov’s medieval streets framed by the towering Carpathian Mountains. Wander down Strada Sforii, Rope Street, one of Europe’s narrowest streets at just four feet wide, explore the Black Church, Council Square and Old Walls and dine out to sample Romanian specialities such as pork knuckle or beef tripe soup. Flavoured with chilli and garlic it’s considered the ultimate hangover recipe — and perfect for warding off vampires.

Bucharest and Dracula’s Castle, from £265pp. Includes return flights from Stansted, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation based on two sharing and entry to attractions. 

Geldingadalur valley and Fagradalsfjall is a fiery active crater streaming with molten lava.

Photograph by Coop Holidays

3. Hike an active volcano, Iceland

Witness the epic beauty of the region’s first volcanic eruption in 800 years with a guided hike of Geldingadalur valley and Fagradalsfjall, an active crater streaming with lava, about an hour’s drive from Reykjavík. Learn about the geology of the region and the science behind this magnificent natural phenomenon on a two-hour hike of the volcano, which last erupted in March 2021. Walk to the edge of molten streams of vivid orange lava flowing into the valley and see spurting jets that sometimes rise just a few feet in the air or occasionally project fountains of fire so high that they are visible from Reykjavík.   

Iceland and Volcano Hike, from £325pp. Includes return flights from Luton, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation based on two sharing and guided hike. 

4. Cruise the Danube and drink pálinka, Hungary

One of Europe’s most popular river cruises sets sail from the Pearl of the Danube in time to catch the sun set behind the gothic spires of Parliament. Watch the city lights twinkle on the water as you glide past iconic landmarks of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to the sounds of a cimbalom string serenade. Like pálinka? Never heard of it? No problem. There’s an entire museum in the heart of Pest dedicated to the Hungarian fruit brandy, the most popular drink in the country. Your guide will fill you in on the juicy details while you sip the complimentary liquor known for its potency, fragrance and flavour.

Budapest and Danube cruise and palinka-tasting, from £179pp. Includes return flights from Gatwick, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation, cruise and palinka tasting. 

A tuk-tuk tour of Budapest will take in sites such as Gellért Hill, Buda Castle and Margaret Bridge.

Photograph by Coop Holidays

5. Sip wine in a tuk-tuk, Hungary

Join a private tour with a local driver who knows the backstreets of Budapest intimately, including the best place to taste local cheese and wine. Sit back and enjoy the sights as your private guide whisks you to the city’s most famous attractions in a tuk-tuk at your chosen pace. Explore Gellért Hill, Buda Castle, Hotel Castle Garden, Margaret Bridge and Gresham Palace, taking your time at each attraction. At the end of the tour, head to DiVino Wine Bar, right next to the Basilica, for a traditional cheese platter and wine-tasting experience. Discover the diversity of Hungary’s wine from dry muscat and pinot noir to classic sweet Tokaji and learn why the country was once of the most important wine producers in Europe.

Budapest and Tuk Tuk City Tour with Wine Tasting, from £219pp. Includes return flights from Gatwick, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation based on two adults sharing and tour.  

6. Understand the tragic history of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland

Experience a deeply moving weekend with this short break in Krakow, which includes two day-long excursions outside the city. Your first morning starts atop the 380-step shaft leading into the Wieliczka Salt Mine: an underground city elaborately carved with a network of cavernous rooms, saline lakes and a chandelier-topped chapel 442ft below the surface. The following day, a coach collects you for the hour-long trip west of the city, where you’ll join a private tour of the vast Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. You’ll also watch illuminating footage from those first heartening days of freedom in 1945.

Krakow and Wieliczka Salt Mine guided tour and the museum at Auschwitz-Birkenau, from £239pp. Includes return flights from Luton, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation and admission fees to salt mine and tour.  

Any tour of Rome must take in the city's frescoes, statues and tapestries.

Photograph by Getty Images

7. Take a VIP tour, Italy

Skip the queues on this two-day tour of the Eternal City that starts at the Roman Forum’s dedicated VIP entrance. Stroll the Sacred Road to the temple altar where Julius Caesar was cremated, then enjoy spectacular views over 2,500 years of history before heading to the Colosseum for a tour of the amphitheatre where gladiators and exotic animals fought to the death. Spend the next day exploring the Vatican inside and out, from the astonishing collection of historic maps, tapestries and sculptures to masterpieces by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, culminating with Michelangelo’s beguiling Sistine Chapel.

Rome and Colosseum, Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel — VIP Guided Tour, from £289pp.Includes return flights from Gatwick, three nights’ room-only hotel accommodation and admission to attractions. 

8. Experience a lava tunnel, Iceland 

Experience Iceland’s highlights on this four-day odyssey that starts with a night cruise to witness — if you’re lucky — the Northern Lights. In the morning, tour the Golden Circle: a loop past geysers, waterfalls and the geothermal Secret Lagoon where there’s time to take a restorative dip surrounded by dramatic scenery. On the third day, take a trek through a lava tunnel formed from molten rock spewed 5,200 years ago to witness the inner workings of a volcanic eruption. Finish the day by sampling seasonal delicacies from Reykjavík’s small, family-run restaurants on a tour that helps you get to know the Icelandic food scene. Spend your final day along the rugged south coast. At the Sólheimajökull Glacier you’ll hike from crack to crevice wearing special crampon shoes, then view the Seljalandsfoss waterfall from behind its stunning water curtain.

Iceland and the Lava Tunnel and Food Walk, from 1,249pp. Includes return flights from Luton, four nights’ B&B accommodation, hold luggage, cruise, tours, attractions and transfers.  

Essentials

Coop Holidays’ competitively priced short breaks and longer trips include original on-the-ground experiences and tours such as pasta-making in Italy (see above), as well as flights from regional airports, handpicked hotels, some meals and, in some cases, hold luggage and transfers. All trips include ABTA and ATOL protection, as well as booking flexibility, easy refunds and real-time assistance via phone, online and face-to-face in local branches.

Prices are correct at the time of publication and may vary depending on departure date. Alternative flights from regional airports available. Other terms and conditions apply, for more details visit cooptravel.co.uk

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