Something to declare: No city-break limits now the children are back at school

 

Europe's most romantic cities can resemble the second circle of hell in high season. For me, Venice in July evokes three words: "tourists" and "more tourists". Seriously, does it sound dreamy to swelter in a summery La Serenissima with all traces of Byzantine or Baroque beauty blotted out by kids striking Facebook poses? I want to enjoy this watery, walkable maze when the islands are family-free.

Nicola Campa, owner of Ca Maria Adele, a charming guesthouse in Dorsoduro, loves autumn the most.

"It's still warm enough to enjoy a gondola ride, and a light fog in the early morning and evening makes Venice even more mysterious," she says.

And in winter, canal scenes are perhaps even more captivating: you and yours silhouetted against a hauntingly grey sky, and a Canaletto-conjuring backdrop of centuries-spanning architecture.

It's increasingly hard to classify climates, but you can usually bank on cities like Seville, Valletta and Marrakech basking smugly in T-shirt weather, as we Brits prepare to dig out our thermals.

Autumn and winter short breaks can be easier on the purse strings, too. Hotels in popular holiday destinations can have price tags to make your eyes water in August, but as soon as children are back at their desks, room rates nosedive.

However, beware shopping capitals such as New York, Milan and Paris in September, when hotel and air fares spike during Fashion Week. It pays to hit those in-demand hubs judiciously.

Smartypants do Santa's dirty work in NYC's end-of-November sales. The new NoMad Hotel is perfectly poised for retail therapy, and rates plummet from the second week of December.

Staying at The Gray in Milan during the second half of October is more affordable than previous weeks. Factor in a visit to shopping outlet Fidenza Village, sister of Bicester – the savings are worth the mall's free 75-minute bus shuttle.

Amsterdam does winter wonderfully. Packed with museums, the city's compact centre is laced with cycle lanes that beg you to wrap up for crisp-aired rides.

The Swedish also make an art of colder months; Stockholm is fairy-tale fit and packed with a vibrant cultural calendar, which includes the Stockholm Film Festival in November. Bunk up at Berns Hotel and you needn't leave the premises for cocktail-fuelled fun, with live music from the likes of Jessie Ware and Rufus Wainwright, who will play at the hotel in October and December respectively.

When Berlin's pavements were packed in snow last January, there was no froideur for this lover of the German capital. On the contrary, a winter stay at Soho House Berlin was pure perfection for time away as a twosome. We happily ducked into convivial cafés, cutting-edge galleries and cool clubs.

So, give hibernation the heave-ho, I say, and trade in torpor for an action-packed mini-break. The days might be shorter, but the nights are longer – what better excuse do you need?

Juliet Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith (mrandmrssmith.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne celebrates after salvaging a point with the Southampton equaliser
footballAston Villa vs Southampton report
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible