10 beautiful winter destinations you can fly to in under four hours

Hallstatt, Austria

This village in Austria’s mountainous Salzkammergut region is frequently voted as one of the world’s prettiest villages – and it’s easy to see why. Set on the shores of the lake, its pastel-coloured houses and towering mountains are beauty personified. When you’re done drinking in the views, visit the “bone house” – an extraordinary collection of painted skulls – or the spa town of Bad Ischl. [Photo: Getty]

Valletta, Malta

For some winter sun that’s still close to home, it’s hard to beat Malta, where temperatures hover around the mid-teens even in December. Valletta, the capital, takes just over three hours to reach from the UK but once there you’ll feel a world away, surrounded by 16th-century mansions, fortresses and a lively waterfront. [Photo: Getty]

Essaouira, Morocco

The flight time between the UK and this North African coastal resort is just shy of four hours, but brace yourself for a vastly different culture and temperature from the moment you step off the plane. Essaouira good swell and trade winds make it a hit with surfers and kitesurfers, but it’s also home to a wonderful port and walled medina that dates back to the 18th century. [Photo: Getty]

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Framed by snowcapped mountains, Lake Bled in Slovenia’s Julian Alps is picture perfect. Warm up with a brisk walk around its majestic water (which takes about an hour), stopping to snap the Church of the Assumptio from different angles. It’s easily accessible from Ljubljana, which you can fly to in just over two hours. [Photo: Getty]

Lapland, Finland

Finnish Lapland is arguably one of the most beautiful – and most magical – places in winter of all. It has everything you need for a real festive break, from reindeers and Santa to snowy landscapes and the fantastic Northern Lights illuminating in the night sky. Around three hours 40 minutes away from the UK, Finland’s northernmost airport, Ivalo, is a good jumping off point for this winter wonderland. [Photo: Getty]

Oslo, Norway

Ice skating, alpine skiing and tobogganing are just some of the activities on offer in Oslo in winter. The artist Edvard Munch and the playwright Henrik Ibsen are among the city’s famous residents – and with its stunning architecture, booming art scene and wonderful mountain-and-sea setting, it’s easy to see why they chose it to be their home. [Photo: Getty]

Ibiza, Spain

You won’t get the summer crowds, but you’ll still get the beaches and plenty of sunshine on the White Isle in winter. There are ample flights from the UK, which take around 2 hours 25 minutes. Stroll along deserted sands, visit a market or join in a winter carnival, such as the Rúa de Carnival, held every February. [Photo: Getty]

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Waterfalls that are frozen in time, cascading turquoise lakes and trees sprinkled with snow. Plitvice National Park is one of Croatia’s main tourist attractions – but you’ll get it almost to yourselves in winter, when there are fewer tourists around. It’s about 140km from Zagreb, which takes roughly 2 hours 30 minutes to fly to from the UK. [Photo: Getty]

Reykjavik, Iceland

How about wallowing in an open-air steaming hot pool, surrounded by volcanic landscapes painted white with snow as the Northern Lights dance above? Welcome to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in Iceland’s capital, with warm, mineral-rich water that is said to do you good. Dry off and explore the city’s sparkling Harpa concert hall and restaurants serving tasty Nordic cuisine. [Photo: Getty]

Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia’s capital takes on a whole new dimension in winter, when its cobbled Old Town and medieval turrets are dusted with snow. Don’t miss stopping for a cup of steaming hot glögi (mulled wine). This modern fairytale is just three hours away from the UK. [Photo: Getty]

You don’t need to go too far to find a place that appears even more beautiful in winter – there are plenty of beautiful winter destinations only a quick flight away.

Some are all the more alluring at this time of year because they are blissfully free of summer crowds, while others look even prettier with a dusting of snow here and a scattering of Northern Lights there.

From Iceland and Ibiza to Malta and Morocco, here’s our pick of the places that are even better when the mercury drops – and they can all be reached in under four hours from the UK.

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