Edinburgh

Scotland

That old town, those rooftops, all the cosy pubs on the Royal Mile: yep, there's something particularly charming about the Scottish capital's old-school centre that brings it to life when the weather gets brisk – especially when you observe it from the top of Arthur's Seat on a winter's morning. Oh, and then there's the Hogmanay street party, which is reason enough to get on a train or plane and head north.

Stay: The Principal Edinburgh George Street. From £160. phcompany.com

Getting there: Virgin trains to Edinburgh Waverley from £55. thetrainline.com

Milan

Italy

While it's most famous for its spritzes and long summer nights, Milan is one hell of a lot less tourist-packed in winter (and flights are a snip of the price, too), which is why you should get there, stat.

Check the Duomo in all its spiky, wintry glory before heading across the square to the Galleria for its glass-roofed elegance and winter sales.

Stay: The Yard. From £158. theyardmilano.com

Getting there: Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to Milan from £35 return. ryanair.com

Tromsø

Norway

Being so far north, you might not find much winter sun in this small city in Arctic Norway, but that's what makes it so special.

The darkness means it's perfect for catching the Northern Lights, and the cold makes November to early February the ideal time for a spot of whale watching, too.

Stay: Tromsø Bed & Books. From £80. bedandbooks.no

Getting there: Wizz Air offers flights from Luton to Tromsø from £159 return. wizzair.com

Tallinn

Estonia

There's only one thing that could make one of the world's best-preserved medieval old towns look more charming than it already does, and that's snow.

This on-the-up northern European capital shirks the stag dos in winter (although the craft beer scene here is strong), and a burgeoning new trade in budget flights means you'll be able to get there easier than ever before. It was also voted the most Christmassy destination in Europe last winter, too – so there's that.

Stay: Hotel Telegraaf. From £98. telegraafhotel.com

Getting there: Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to Tallinn from £139 return. ryanair.com


New York

USA

Even if you were to avoid the unmissable, hyper-real and undeniably epic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Rockefeller Centre's Christmas tree and the ball-drop in Times Square on NYE, nothing beats strolling the streets of Manhattan between November and February. Why? Because there's nowhere that looks better under electric-blue winter skies, and the biting cold will give you a perfect excuse to sample even more of its killer food and drink scene.

Stay: The Whitby. From £475. firmdalehotels.com

Getting there: British Airways flies from Heathrow to New York from £256 return. britishairways.com