FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is drawing to a close, and so is this year. We can all agree that 2022 had a few bumps on the road, so it’s hardly surprising that most of us are beyond ready for a well-earned break. Now, you might be wondering where you can even go at this point in the season. Or, you might be torn between taking a short weekend break or going somewhere you’ll need at least a week to explore. Thankfully there are so many destinations offering all kinds of experiences—from ice-topped mountains to beaches that will warm you up under the winter sun. Here are just some of our picks for this season.
Take a City Break
There’s nothing to get you in the spirit like taking a few days or a weekend to explore the festive markets held all over Europe (or, indeed, the world). For the quintessential experience, head to the biggest and most famous of them all: the Christkindlmarkt in front of Vienna’s City Hall. This market is vendors galore, complete with ice skating rinks and some stunning light illuminations. And it’s not just Vienna—there are dazzling markets all over Austria, Germany, and Switzerland!
If the markets aren’t your thing, but you want to get your European city fix, consider London, Paris, Madrid, or Rome for your next destination. You’ll still find plenty to get you in the holiday spirit. Plus, you can take in all the incredible historical sights, explore their gastronomical highlights, and enjoy stupefying city views.
For something a little different, head to Istanbul, the city that straddles two continents. There’s no shortage of things to keep you occupied there! You can marvel at Hagia Sophia’s enormous dome and the Blue Mosque’s beautiful tiles, explore Topkapı Palace and get lost in the Grand Bazaar, or take a river cruise on the Bosphorus strait separating Europe from Asia.
Alternatively, you can go all out and fly to New York. While it can be seen as being a bit too far from Doha for a city break, nothing beats the festive spirit of the Big Apple with its iconic 82-foot tree at the Rockefeller building (that’s 25 metres to the rest of us!) and the plethora of ice skating options. You can shop till you drop, admire all the light shows, or even go to a show. This city truly never sleeps.
Play in the Snow
There’s nothing quite like escaping the beige sand and dust of the desert for a bit of pure white, sparkling winter snow. If you love to ski, flying to Geneva or Lyon will give you access to a large proportion of the resorts in the Swiss and French Alps. But if you’re looking to get away from some of the larger crowds, try skiing in the Pyrenees (Barcelona is the closest airport with a direct flight from Qatar) or head to Milan to enjoy the slopes in northern Italy.
Don’t be put off ski resorts if going downhill isn’t your style: most places offer all sorts of other snow sports, exquisite spas, and boast restaurants with delicious food and drink to try. So give your cheese-obsessed heart something to sing about and indulge in fondue, raclette, tartiflette, and reblochonnade. If you’re lactose intolerant, fear not! The local fruits and vegetables are second to none.
If mountains are just not your cup of tea, think of going further north to Norway, Sweden, or Finland. These destinations are renowned for snow-centric activities like husky sledding, reindeer rides, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You can stay in ice hotels and glass igloos, spot Arctic wildlife, and experience local culture by visiting some of the lesser-known towns and villages in the area. Of course, no visit near the “auroral oval” is complete without a trip to see the breathtaking Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights).
If you have more time and funds to spare, Japan makes a great destination at any time of year. Head north for snow sports or explore the sights of cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto without the seasonal crowds you get at other times.
Stay Warm in Winter Sun
The cold isn’t for everyone. Maybe you can’t be bothered to don layers upon layers when, for 11.75 months of the year, you dwell in the desert. Or perhaps you’ve had a really hard year, and you’re in serious need of some R & R (rest and recuperation, that is), and there’s nowhere better to find that than under the sun.
The top of this list has to be the ultimate beach destination: the Maldives. With crystal clear waters and powdery white sand, these idyllic islands are the perfect place to unwind. Snorkelling in the seas is like being in an aquarium, and lying on the beach reading a book feels like you’ve been dropped straight into a postcard. Contrary to popular belief, the Maldives is not just a destination for wealthy honeymooners. There are islands that cater to all sorts of visitors, including families and older holiday-goers. Plus, the resorts span all budget levels, from affordable local island stays to luxurious five-star spots.
If you’re looking for more than a chilled-out beach break, put Thailand or Sri Lanka on your itinerary. The cultural and historical depths of these destinations will blow you away. You can mix mountains with cities, beaches with nature reserves, and history museums with art. From temples and palaces to street food and bicycle tours, you’ll struggle to get bored anywhere you go—just please don’t ride the elephants.
Finally, if you want to be somewhere a little less distant but uniquely breathtaking, Morocco is the place to be. Jet over to Casablanca, and from there, you can move from the coastal fortifications of Essaouira to the walled medina in Fes. Or, roam the blue streets of Chefchaouen and uncover medieval Marrakech. There is so much to explore in this rich North African nation.
Wherever you’re planning to go for your end-of-year break, make sure you return to Doha recharged and ready for 2023. After such a spectacular end to 2022, who knows what the next year has in store?