The horror (excitement, surely? Ed) of Black Friday is coming soon, and if you’d like to escape the mad frenzy for bargains, we’ve found five suitable mini breaks which will let you unwind without a mad purchasing spree. Well, you’re bound to do a bit shopping - but you won’t be faced with a baying mob if you decide to pick up a bargain.
Escape all of this gross capitalism, and head to the land of culture, art and beauty. Venice has been enchanting tourists for decades, and it’s not hard to see why. This gorgeous city, built on water, offers antique history glories aplenty, but the contemporary art scene is definitely worth a visit.
Don’t worry if you find the crowds a little overwhelming; you are never more than a bridge and an alley away from a more secluded city. Look out for secret squares, gorgeous Gothic palazzi and lively, welcoming neighbourhood wine bars where you’re bound to find someone interesting to talk to.
It's known as a city for the young and fun, but don't be put off - Barcelona caters for all ages and tastes, and whether you're into spending drinking the night away at cooler-than-cool bars or you'd like to admire the dark, Gothic façades next to the harlequin buildings of the Modernistas, you'll find something to do.
This city has seven (yes, seven) beaches, and although they may be a little chilly at this time of year, it's still lovely to enjoy a walk along them wrapped up in your winter coat. This is also a great city for food, whether you're into gastronomic extravaganzas or tiny, family run tapas bars which will send you manchego-crazy. Don't worry if you feel overwhelmed by what's on offer; you can find the best tapas bars here.
In terms of hedonism, Berlin is one of the best places to fill your boots with art, music, great food and nights out. In summertime, the residents take to the streets and rivers to enjoy the sun and enjoy local events, but the city’s just as charming in the winter.
Since the Wall fell, Berlin’s been on the rise, and has become known informally as one of the most creative, forward-thinking European cities. It’s not just for the young, though - thanks to a wealth of green spaces that includes the sprawling Tiergarten, the Sunday flea market at Mauerpark and the Volkspark Friedrichshain, families can always find something to do, as well.
Leipzig is cheap, urban and fun - it's the place where Berliners who fancy a change end up. It's a creative and friendly city that takes good eating and good times seriously; where else can you get a vegan kebab shop? Previously a primarily-industrial area, a crowd of young creatives who decided to pitch up here have shaped Leipzig into the city it is today.
This is a place where you'll never lack excitement. Summer is great for festivals, and even though it's cold in the winter, you'll find plenty of hipster bars which you can warm up in. If you fancy splashing out on a nice hotel, make sure that you book a room at Hotel Fregehaus, which is right in the middle of Leipzig’s old town. It's a glamorous, spacious place to retire to when you've finished seeing the city's galleries and shopping in Leipzig's courtyards and arcades.
It’s just an hour away from the grey concrete mass of London, but Amsterdam feels like a different world. The city’s inclusive, friendly and always open to new ideas; this is a place where stag and hen parties mix easily with older locals, families on city breaks and backpackers.
The great thing about Amsterdam is it’s big enough to keep your interest piqued over a long weekend, yet small enough to get everywhere by bike or walk. Pretty gabled buildings and quiet canals give the city the air of a village, but the city centre is the place to come for a beer and some frites with mayonnaise.
Make sure you visit the Red Light District - all the best bars are nearby - and if you’re looking for serious bar hopping sophistication, give Vesper Bar, Café Belgique and De Ooievaar Proeflokaal a go.