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Mediterranean cities and islands with out the crowds: readers’ favorite winter journeys in southern Europe | Quick breaks

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Gozo’s seaside and basilica, Malta

After some light winter sunshine to heat your pores and skin and soothe your soul? Make a journey to Gozo, an island with great coastal surroundings a brief ferry experience from Malta. Stroll alongside the coast to admire the Azure Window; swim in untouched waters on secluded seashores and admire the neo-Romanesque structure of the Basilica of the Nationwide Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta’ Pinu. Spend the evenings consuming freshly caught fish with a glass of Maltese wine, which rivals its Mediterranean neighbours in high quality.
Laura B

Oviedo and wild Asturias, Spain

City Hall at Christmas, Oviedo.
Metropolis Corridor at Christmas, Oviedo. {Photograph}: Stefano Politi Markovina/Alamy

Asturias, in northern Spain, is chilly and moist in December, which was excellent for us. We stayed in an inexpensive residence within the outdated city of Oviedo, which is gorgeous. The Museo de Bellas Artes and Museo Arqueológico de Asturias have been wonderful, free, and virtually empty. Armed with umbrellas, we wandered the tangle of pedestrianised streets, alleys and plazas, stopping at sidrerías to pattern native cider. We browsed the Christmas market and adopted inflatable large horses to see the Christmas lights change on. Town is surrounded by vivid inexperienced hills and snow-topped mountains. We additionally visited the wild seashores of the rugged Costa Verde.
Mary

Lake Vouliagmeni, Athens

Vouliagmeni
The lake’s waters are hotter than the ocean in winter. {Photograph}: photo_stella/Alamy

About 10 miles south of Athens is Vouliagmeni, an prosperous suburb brushing the coast. Its lake, hotter than the ocean at the moment of 12 months due to sizzling springs beneath, is alleged to include therapeutic properties. Maybe extra importantly, there are fewer individuals there in winter than in summer season – giving the expertise a personal, virtually mystical really feel. Early mornings or late afternoons are greatest at the moment of 12 months. Close by is Rumors, which serves perhaps the very best espresso on the town.
Lee Kelleher

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Pizzas and piazzas in Naples

A view of Naples in winter
Naples, with Vesuvius looming beneath, takes on a particular environment in winter. {Photograph}: Carlo Fornitano/Alamy

The relative heat of Naples makes it an accommodating metropolis for winter travellers who wish to discover. Town takes on a gothic really feel, so pull in your boots and traipse the cobbled streets of piazzerias and winding alleys. Already atmospheric, the historical past of Pompeii involves life much more on a gray winter’s day. In summer season the sweltering warmth of a pizzeria can really feel suffocating; in winter the reduction of getting into one with a wood-fired oven, and tucking into world-renowned pizza, makes for one of many cosiest European experiences.
Natalie

Mallorca serves up mountain and Med views

Epiphany parade, Mallorca
Mallorca’s parades and festivals in winter are ‘to not be missed’. {Photograph}: Hans Georg Roth/Getty Photographs

Sure, the resorts are like ghost cities, however the seashores are nonetheless there, the mountains are nonetheless there (stroll the Ruta de Pedra en Sec, the Dry Stone Route), the Kodak-moment villages are nonetheless there. Stroll a few of the eight miles of seaside in Alcúdia. The mountain-fringed views of the Med are the identical as in July, with out ready for somebody in an ill-fitting swimsuit to get out of shot. There are nice practice connections, too. The city of Sóller and its port glimmer within the solar. Take the practice that “serves” Manacor for all issues Rafa Nadal. You can even take a practice to Sa Pobla and benefit from the Sant Antoni celebrations. To not be missed in early January (often the fifth) are the Three Kings festivities everywhere in the island. It’s in all probability the day to be there.
Antony

Ski and sightsee, Sofia, Bulgaria

Borovets Ski Run
On the piste in Borovets. {Photograph}: Cavan Photographs/Alamy

To me, Sofia is southern Europe’s unsung gem, with a vibrant meals scene and mountains a stone’s by way of from its centre. We took a day journey by bus to Borovets ski resort (from the south bus station, altering at Samokov), which has implausible pistes and views to Serbia, for £50 together with ski move and tools rent. Again on the town we refuelled on kebapche and Bulgarian wine at Skara bar. Don’t miss Made in Blue, a restaurant with inventive small plates in a higgledy-piggledy home, or the Constantinoff RestoBar on the grand Vitosha Boulevard for extra of a blowout.
Sam Aldersey-Williams

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