NUR SYAHIIDAH ZAINAL
CITIES that are rich in culture, tradition and heritage will always have something for every traveller, whether you are an adrenaline junkie, history buff, shopping addict or arts enthusiast.
These four cities embody the best of these experiences, in any season.
Experience a magical Christmas in snow-covered Prague by exploring the numerous Christmas markets around the city.
The market located in the Old Town Square is the largest, and truly a feast for the senses.
Check out the Nativity scene or indulge in popular street snacks such as barbecued sausages (klobása) or hot sugar-coated pastries (trdelník), followed by a cup of mulled wine svaˆrák).
A giant Christmas tree illuminated with thousands of twinkling lights is a stunning sight against the night sky.
For those who will be there in spring, the annual St Matthews Fair should not be missed.
As the biggest fair in the country, it features more than 100 carnival rides that include roller coasters, carousels, ferris wheels and bumper cars, as well as musical performances.
While there, be sure to sample local favourites such as traditional Czech gingerbread and Turkish honey.
Kick it up a notch in Kyiv
In the wintertime, Kyiv (also spelt as Kiev) is an ice-skater’s dream come true, with both indoor and outdoor rinks scattered around the city where you can sign up for lessons.
Popular ones include the city’s largest indoor rink at the Kosmopolit Shopping Center, and the rink at Dream Town Shopping Centre that offers themed parties on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you are travelling at other times of the year, explore the outdoors as much as possible.
One local favourite is the park in the Pushcha-Vodytsia neighbourhood, a 15-minute drive away from the city. The park, which is part of a forest, has lakes and small rivers that make it an ideal place for picnics or walks. After that, you can catch a tram back to Kiev and enjoy the stunning woodland scenery along the way.
Holosiivskyi National Nature Park is the largest forest park in Europe with multiple ponds, lakes and wetlands, as well as significant biodiversity. Spend some time there and you will completely forget that you are still in a city.
Ski in Sarajevo
For ski bunnies, Sarajevo offers access to two of the country’s best ski spots, both located about 30km outside the city.
Jahorina, the main venue for the women’s alpine skiing events at the 1984 Winter Olympics, offers activities such as skiing, snowboarding, tubing and snowshoeing.
Bjelašnica, with its challenging downhill and forest runs, is a favourite with skilled skiers.
History buffs should make a trip to the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum and walk along a short length of the tunnel.
During the Siege of Sarajevo — the longest siege on a capital city in modern history — this tunnel was the only way for food, aid and weapons to be brought into the city, and for people to leave. The museum features exhibits such as military equipment and uniforms, as well as war-time photographs.
Soak in St Petersburg
With a name like The Winter Palace, this is one venue best seen when it is covered in snow.
Some of its interior spaces such as ballrooms and staterooms have been restored to resemble its previous grandeur.
The palace is currently home to the State Hermitage Museum, the largest art museum in the world. It houses artwork by some of the most celebrated artists across the globe, including Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and Edgar Degas.
Spring in St Petersburg is a time for festivals, ranging from the elegant to the quirky.
For music lovers, the International Stars of the White Nights Festival, held from May to July, features acts by some of the world’s best classical performers.
Looking for some offbeat fun? Join the crowd at the Festival Of Fountains in May.
This is the official opening of the fountains of Peterhof, one of the city’s most popular attractions, after winter. The all-day celebration is filled with musical performances, fireworks and other side events.
If food is your passion, the Festival of Smelt, also held in May, celebrates the arrival of the smelt season in Russia. This is the perfect time to try traditional dishes made with the small silvery fish.
Culturally rich in heritage, Prague, Kyiv, Sarajevo and St Petersburg are among the exciting new destinations Qatar Airways has added this year to its growing network.
The Doha-based carrier also clinched a host of awards. In June, it won the Airline of the Year title at the 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards.
It was voted Best Airline — for the fourth time — by travellers worldwide in this annual passenger survey.
Qatar Airways also swept up awards for the World’s Best Business Class, the World’s Best First Class Lounge and the Best Airline in the Middle East.
With a fleet of 200 aircraft, it flies to 150 destinations across six continents, including the triple daily flights from Singapore on the A350 XWB, the most modern wide-body aircraft in use today.
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