There are some places that are worth a visit whatever the season. Whether it’s summer or winter, these cities are so multifaceted in their appeal that they'll always have something to offer. In fact, you might just have to go twice, once for the sunshine, once for the snow!
The Big Apple keeps its shine all year round thanks to incredible attractions such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Broadway and Times Square, to name a few. In the summer, there are plenty of big events like Shakespeare in the Park and NYC Pride, and sports fans should note that the baseball season runs through June and July. Plus there are always plenty of celebrations around Independence Day (4th of July). But winter in New York also has a very special charm. You could time your visit early for the Thanksgiving Day Parade or wait until early February for the Super Bowl. Or better yet, you could experience the magic of the city around Christmas, shopping til you drop in Manhattan, catching the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or ice skating in Central Park.
There's so much to enjoy about summer in Barcelona: the vibrancy of Las Ramblas with its mimes and street performers, the hop-on, hop-off open-top bus tours, and the glorious beaches scattered around the city. And you could argue that the famous Gaudi architecture looks even better under blue skies. But there's plenty going on in winter too. For starters, there’s the Fira de Santa Llúcia, a Christmas market by the Catedral de Barcelona, a Christmas Parade called Cavalcada del Pare Noel a Sants (generally around mid-December) as well as the colourful Three Kings Parade on the 5th January. The week before Lent, from the 24th February to the 2nd March, you can enjoy the Carnaval (or Carnestoltes) processions in almost every neighborhood. Expect dancers, colourful costumes, floats and lots of merriment.
Words like ‘magical’ and ‘fairytale’ sum up Prague perfectly. Summer is arguably the best time to appreciate the main sites, such as the buskers on Charles Bridge or the famous astronomical clock in the Old Town Square (now back in action after some much needed TLC). And if you want to be really fancy, consider taking a horse and carriage ride up to Castle Hill. At the same time, the city is a top destination for a picturesque Christmas, and it also makes for a great romantic New Year getaway. The winter wonderland vibe kicks in for St Nicholas' Eve on 5th December and carries on right the way through to Valentine's Day in February. Expect markets, processions, stalls, hot toddies and lots of live choirs and orchestras, and hopefully some snow too. For couples, it’s the perfect setting, and if you want even more romance, hop on a glass boat for a glamorous dinner cruise. In February, you can also enjoy St Matthew’s Fair, one of the most popular and biggest fairs in the country, with rides, roller coasters, carousels and over 150 attractions. This festival was first celebrated over 400 years ago and it only gets better over time!
While everyone knows about the hundreds of miles of cycle tracks, you might not have considered the beautiful parks and beaches in Amsterdam that give sun worshippers ample space to top up their tan in the summer. Pride Amsterdam, one of the loudest, proudest LGBT festivals in Europe, is also on at this time of year, taking place in late July or early August. The city is also a must-see during the festive season. The word for Amsterdam in the winter is "gezellig", which translates to warm and family-friendly. A special treat are the fairy lights strung up over the canals. Dutch cuisine comes into its own in the winter too. You might not think you want a bowl of snert (ham and pea soup), but it goes down well after a day of checking out the Christmas markets. January is also filled with events, such as the Amsterdam Light Festival and National Tulip Day, while February is the perfect time for a romantic getaway. What about a romantic Valentine’s Day canal cruise or a ride around the city on a tandem bicycle?
In summer, Tel Aviv is all about beach life and bronzed bodies. Acadia Beach is the place to go if you like an active, buzzing waterfront, while Banana Beach is slightly less busy. And in the evening, you can take in an open-air movie screening at one of the beachside parks or watch the sun set over the city from a rooftop bar. Meanwhile, the slightly cooler weather of winter is better for exploring the crusader architecture of the old port of Jaffa. This is also the centre of the town's Christmas and Hanukkah festivities.
Sicily's capital enjoys year-round sun, even in January where you can expect around 5 hours of sunshine a day. But with fewer crowds in the winter, it's a prime opportunity to take in the island's wealth of historic curiosities, from ancient fountains and Greek temples to Norman forts and spine-tingling mummies. And without having to worry about slipping into a bikini or speedos, you can settle back and enjoy an extra slice of authentic Sicilian pizza or serving of cannoli. And in summer, you can do all that and also lounge on sun-baked Mondello Beach or take a quick hop over to the islet of Ustica for a quieter tanning spot before catching a puppet show at the Marionette Theatre (Opera dei Pupi) in the evening.
Berlin promises charm and adventure whatever the season. On a winter walking tour, you can uncover the city’s most famous landmarks under a dusting of snow – Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral and the Reichstag Building look particularly photogenic this time of year. The lavish Charlottenburg Palace also comes into its own during the colder months, looking like something out of a fairytale. As a Christmas destination, Berlin is a city that really shines with its annual wonderland of lights at the Botanical Gardens. Winter is also the time to dip into cultural events such as February's International Film Festival. In summer, city life moves outdoors to pavement cafes, roof bars, beer gardens and parks. Get into the summer vibe with a cocktail or two at Deck 5 beach bar or enjoy a few hours swimming and sunbathing at Lake Muggelsee. To really get a feel for Berlin's diverse city life, dip into the Karneval der Kulturen. Held in June, this is a lavish four-day street festival of culture, food and crafts.
Whether it's a hot summer's day or a crisply cold winter one, there's nowhere quite as romantic as Paris. Admire iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the beautiful Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. Visit in winter and the streets, monuments and restaurants are less crowded while in summer al-fresco dining and city parks such as the Luxembourg Gardens come to life. As the ‘City of Love’, February is always a good time to visit – champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower is a must on Valentine’s Day. If you’re heading to Paris around Christmas, be sure to enjoy a mulled wine at the Tuileries Gardens. Mid-June onwards is the summer festival season in Paris. Watch free concerts during the Fête de la Musique or pack a picnic and head to Parc Floral for the Jazz Festival, both held in June. A must during any summer visit to Paris is a stroll along the banks of the Seine while a boat trip on a Bateaux Mouche promises a different perspective.
With so much history and so many attractions, it's no surprise that London is one of the world's most visited cities. Striking modern skyscrapers such as The Shard sit shoulder to shoulder with historic landmarks like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall are comparatively rare in the city, meaning this architectural landscape can be enjoyed throughout the year. The city's Christmas lights are world-famous and there are plenty of markets to grab hot chocolate or mulled wine. Iconic museums such as the Natural History Museum and the V&A are all free, ideal for popping into if you need a winter warm-up. The city has even more on offer during the summer. This is the season for al fresco dining, rooftop bars and music festivals. As one of Europe's greenest cities, it’s also the best time to wander around the many parks and gardens of the city, such as Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath, which also promise incredible views of the city.
Milan is packed with must-see attractions, with Il Duomo and The Last Supper mural being top of the list. Despite the risk of rain, visiting Milan in winter means there are much fewer crowds than in the summer. If you visit at the beginning of March, you can also get involved in Carnevale Ambrosiano, where parades, concerts and street performances take place in the Piazza de Duomo. Temperatures soar in summer, which means it's the perfect excuse to treat yourself to some Milanese gelato, said to be the best in Italy. On long summer evenings, join the locals in their aperitivo in the Navigli district. For a day trip out of the city, head to the luxurious and stunning Lake Como, which is only about an hour’s drive from Milan, and one of the best places in Italy to bask in the sun.
Gamla Stan with its gabled buildings and Royal Palace is the beautifully preserved core of Stockholm. This is surrounded by a modern, dynamic city which, despite being an archipelago of 14 islands, is surprisingly easy to explore on foot. In winter, daylight hours are short and there's a high likelihood of snow, which makes it all the more magical. Warm-up in world-class museums covering everything from Viking treasures and WWII warships to subversive art and ABBA memorabilia. Ice skating in Kungsträdgården is not just for Christmas but available until March. In summer, do as the locals do and take to the water for some island-hopping. Visit Drottningholm Palace on Lovön or the Viking town of Birka on Björkö. The open-air museum at Skansen is also perfect in summer, taking visitors through five centuries of Swedish history. Summer is also festival time in the capital – Smaka på Stockholm (Taste of Stockholm) is held in June and is a foodie-paradise of pop-up restaurants while in August, Summerburst sees top DJs spinning their music.
Dominated by rocky hills and its imposing castle, Edinburgh is a town of dramatic beauty. The Old Town is a maze of medieval streets while the glamorous New Town reflects the city's 18th-century grandeur. One of the best times to visit is in August, when the Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes place. This is the world’s largest arts festival, spanning most of the month and promising thousands of incredible performances in comedy, dance, music and theatre. Summer is also the best time for outdoorsy walks up to Arthur's Seat or along the riverside Water of Leith Walkway. This takes you from the city centre to the Firth of Forth in Leith. Winter is also a fantastic time to enjoy the city’s charm without the crowds. In winter, you won't have to queue for a visit to Edinburgh Castle. Afterwards, stroll along the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace. Along the way pop into the Camera Obscura for a weird and wonderful look at the town or warm up with a tipple in the Scotch Whisky Experience.