Shake off the interminable winter blues in Gothenburg, walk through cherry blossoms in Mallorca, and more.
If the Austrians went in for Soviet-style enormo-statues, Salzburg would no doubt be bookended by graven images of the ultimate musical duet - Maria and Mozart. But there's more to this city than goatherds and string quartets, as you can discover if you take Air Berlin's new flight to Salzburg from Stansted. There's no mention of Amadeus in the impressive Museum der Moderne, while Kapuzinerberg hill is not always alive with the sound of music, but does provide great views of Hohensalzburg Fortress. Head back down to the Salzach River's right bank, where you'll find the city's best bars.
Make it happen
- Low-cost airline Air Berlin has new flights to Salzburg direct from London Stansted (from £40; airberlin.com). Flythomascook operates flights from Manchester (from £160) and Birmingham (from £180; flythomascook.com).
- Haus Wartenberg is a 350-year-old cottage guesthouse minutes from the old town, furnished with heirloom antiques (from £75; hauswartenberg.com).
- Dine in the frescoed 650-year-old vaults of the Arthotel Blaue Gans on roasted goose with potato dumplings (mains £12-£22; blauegans.at).
Gothenburg, where trams rattle past hip cafés and leftfield street art, is the city Sweden turns to when it needs to shake off the interminable winter blues. Not only is it a hotbed of culture - pretty much every Swedish band has started here - but it is also home to an array of Michelin-starred restaurants. The Mölndals Museum (museum.molndal.se), a short trip out of town, is an interactive repository of local nostalgia, where you can rifle through racks of vintage clothes or take a tour with a digital guide. BA and easyJet have just launched flights to Gothenburg from Heathrow and Gatwick.
Make it happen
- British Airways operates direct flights to Gothenburg from London Heathrow (from £106; britishairways.com). EasyJet flies from London Gatwick (from £53; easyjet.com).
- Stay in the art deco Hotel Eggers, now restored to its former glory. Rooms are grand, with gilt mirrors and period furnishings (from £125; hoteleggers.se).
- Michelin-starred Fond sources Swedish ingredients for dishes such as cod with Grebbestad anchovy, and has an informal atmosphere (mains £23-£33; fondrestaurang.com).
Almond-blossom season, Mallorca
Japan's cherry-blossom season is world famous, but a good European alternative is in Mallorca, where orchards of almond trees come into flower in January. These palest of pink blossoms stay on the trees throughout February, when the weather is ideally suited to walking and bike rides. The Serra de Tramuntana mountains run along the northwest side of the island, and form the backdrop to dozens of pretty villages such as Deià and Valldemossa. And if you're wondering what the Mallorcans do with their bumper crop of almonds, order a slice of gató d'ametlla, almond cake, in a local café to find out.
Make it happen
- Monarch operates flights from London and Manchester (from £62) to Palma (monarch. co.uk). Car hire is available at the airport (from £25 per day).
- Stay in a country cottage or converted farmhouse with Mallorca Farmhouses. Some properties even have their own almond grove (from £649 per week; mallorca.co.uk).
- Situated in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains, the town of Pollença is a great kick-off point for blossom bike rides (mountain bikes from £7 per day; procyclehire.com).
The spice stalls of Marrakesh - earthy reds and ochres, like the walls of the innumerable riads in the medina - hint at the richness of Morocco's cuisine. Ras el hanout, for example, is a blend of anything from a dozen to 100 spices, including exotics such as dried rose petals and grains of paradise (a member of the ginger family). Riad Dar Attajmil now offers the chance to master the art of Moroccan cuisine. A half-day course will take you from haggling for ingredients at the market to getting busy in the kitchen, under the expert eye of the riad's chef. Later, tuck into your tajine on the peaceful roof terrace.
Make it happen
- EasyJet operates direct flights to Marrakesh from Manchester and London Gatwick (from £72; easyjet.com).
- With only four rooms, Dar Attajmil has a cosy atmosphere. The style of the riad is East meets West, with pointed arches, Berber rugs and contemporary furniture (from £80; darattajmil.com).
- A half-day Moroccan cookery course starts at £35.
Back in February 2010, Simon Reeve used the pages of Lonely Planet Magazine to proclaim that Libya was on the verge of becoming the next big longweekend destination. And, lo and behold, not 12 months later we find that bmi is to launch a new direct flight to Tripoli, taking curious visitors from London Heathrow to the land of Gadaffi. Some coincidence, eh? Libya is certainly in the midst of a travel renaissance, even if you do still need a government guide to show you around. And with such sights as the stupendous Roman ruins at Leptis Magna - an entire city of exquisitely preserved buildings, pillars and monuments - and the equally impressive remains at Sabratha, not to mention the vast expanses of the Sahara to the south, it's a slice of north Africa that will hugely reward some proper exploration. Tripoli itself makes a great base: a grand and yet surprisingly friendly city on the edge of the Med where the people are more likely to ask you to sit down for cup of tea than try to flog you something.
Make it happen
- Bmi launches daily flights to Tripoli from London Heathrow in February (from £265; flybmi. com). British Airways and Afriqiyah Airways fly to Tripoli from Heathrow and Gatwick respectively (from £266).
- Independent travellers must contact a local tourist agency in order to arrange a guide. Robban Tourism is one of the best (robban-tourism.com).
- Four Seasons Hotel in Tripoli has nothing to do with the chain, but does have large rooms of a good standard (from £57; fourseasons.com.ly).
The article 'Five easy trips you can book now' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.