There's something magical about some cities in winter: walking through snow-dusted streets, retreating into a cosy pub and sitting in front of a fire, warm drink in hand. There are Christmas markets, scented mugs of mulled wine and delicious treats to sink your teeth into. And then there are all those wintry activities.

Go for an icy skate around Central Park in New York, wander around the Christmas markets in Vienna or stroll through the snowy Old Town in Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A winter city break doesn't always have to be cold, however. Escape a dreary week in England and head for sunnier climes like Valletta in Malta or Funchal in Madeira - both a winning combination of fascinating cultures and mild winters. The bustling markets of Marrakech and heaving beaches of Miami are pretty tempting too.

Happily, winter city breaks often mean off-peak prices - especially for European destinations. So long as you're clever with your destination, and come are prepared for the weather, you can score some real bargains - even to popular Christmas market destinations (just avoid the hectic few days over Christmas itself!)

Best Value Time

With city breaks, you're on limited time. You usually only have one to five (if you're lucky) days to see a place. Luckily, there are quite a few destinations that make traipsing around a city a breeze.

Barcelona's airport, city and beach are all easy, quick distances away. Drive or train it from the airport and you'll be in the city centre in under an hour. This walkable city lets you stroll from restaurant to park to gallery to beach relatively seamlessly - and that's great for cheap winter weekend city breaks where you just want to relax.

Rome is another European destination that could work. It's near in flight time and the city is just as walkable. With a map, you can stroll your way around all its famous sites, from the Vatican to the Colosseum. To save time, however, make sure to book tickets in advance to avoid the queues on your winter city breaks.

Cosy City Breaks

Cosy and winter go hand-in-hand a lot of the time but there are some cities that just do it better. Try out cheap winter city breaks in Berlin. While it may be quite a big city known for its wild nightlife, its café scene becomes even more tempting, when it's cold outside. And for Christmas markets it's almost unbeatable. There are more than 60 across the city, ranging from quaint to modern, and all worth getting lost in for a while.

Estonia's Tallinn is another winter café culture city, with plenty of cosy beer halls, coffee shops and vintage-look bars. There are even illuminated cross-country ski trails at the Pirita Health Track, a mere 15 minutes outside of the city. And then there's Strasbourg's twinkly lights, gingerbread-esque houses and their, very appreciated, love of mulled wine.

No-where does cosy quite like the Nordic countries. The Danish concept of hygge has impressed us with it's importance on simple cosy comforts - see it in it's original form in Copenhagen. Or try finding the Norwegian version, koselig in Oslo.

Winter Sun Cities

Spain has plenty of cities on offer for those looking for a little vitamin D in the depths of winter. Seville clings to a temperature that only goes as low as 11°Cs in the winter, Granada's magnificent Alhambra is about as crowd free as you'll ever find it and Valletta offers mild climes and plenty of art for indoor days.

If you want to be spoiled by markets that aren't Christmassy, Marrakech is screaming your name. But if you want some proper heat on a winter city break you'll have to fly further afield. The cocktails and pulsing music of Miami and Havana offer a heady winter escape. Cape Town and Rio combine a city break with an exotic beach escape, and being in a desert means Dubai's gleaming skyscrapers always come with warm sunshine.