One of the best ways to beat the dreaded January blues is to plan your next break. And with countless cities packed full of must-see sights, plus the added benefit of being close enough for a cheap weekend escape, Europe is always a popular choice. To help inspire your own adventure, we’ve carefully selected our favourite destinations for 2018 so you can start planning that dream getaway now.
Birthplace of the comic book and home to countless world-class museums, Brussels is a city for art lovers. The already initiated know all about its cultural, contemporary vibe – though they may wish to venture back for 2018 to visit two new, innovative and exciting museums. The Citroën Cultural Centre, a new partnership with Paris’s legendary Centre Pompidou, launches its first exhibition in May, while the recently opened WEILS Museum of Art showcases contemporary work in the old Belle-Vue brewery of the Molenbeek district. For downtime, the industrial-style JAM Hotel (housed in a former art school) is the perfect place for culture-lovers to enjoy drinks, food, or stay the night.
Bayreuth in Germany lays claim to not just one, but two world-renowned opera houses. Music lovers will know all about the acoustically pitch-perfect Bayreuth Festspielhaus, built in 1876 by composer Richard Wagner. But the city also contains one of the most extravagant Baroque theatres in the world – the Margravial Opera House. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012, the theatre has been closed for six years for much-needed repairs. But this year it reopens again, with a performance of Artaserse by German composer Johann Adolph Hasse billed for April (tickets are expected to go on sale in February). The city itself also makes an excellent base from which to explore the rest of the region, which is famous for its expansive array of vineyards and biergartens.
The Irish word for whiskey, ‘uisce beatha’ roughly translates into ‘water of life’ – so you know this country takes this tipple seriously. In recent years, Ireland’s whiskey scene has positively bloomed, with historic estates now adding towards something of an emerging drinks scene. The beautiful Slane Castle in County Meath has started to create its own triple-cask variety, and its new distillery is open to the public to explore, while the iconic Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow also starts production early this year, and expects to make one million bottles of whiskey annually. Pearse Lyons, an Irish entrepreneur with links to Kentucky (the home of Bourbon), recently opened his eponymous distillery in Dublin’s former St. James’s Church, and while you’re in town, you can check out the Jameson distillery on Bow Street. Now that Luas, Dublin’s light rail system, has completed its latest expansion, getting around the city has never been easier — the €368-million project has linked two existing lines together for added convenience, as well as adding 13 new stops that hit much of the city centre’s most popular sights.