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Next month — Feb. 22-24Pisa, Italy: 63.57 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted to Pisa

Start your exploration of Pisa at the immense green lawn of Piazza dei Miracoli or Field of Miracles, which is surrounded by four impressive buildings. The structures include the enormous cathedral, its bell tower — the famous leaning Tower of Pisa — the baptistery and the Camposanto, also known as the Holy Field.

A minimally priced ticket gets you into the cathedral, with its impressive pulpit. The baptistery is Italy’s biggest. And the Camposanto is a beautiful cemetery. All are near the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and Museo delle Sinopie.

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains a collection of works including paintings and sculptures that once adorned the buildings within the piazza. The Museo delle Sinopie houses plaster sketches of frescoes that were damaged in a fire at the Camposanto.

Separate tickets for the Leaning Tower should be purchased in advance from www.opapisa.it to ensure entry, as daily entrances are limited. During high tourist seasons, if you fail to purchase tickets in advance, there is a good chance of being turned away.

Also worth visiting is the Piazza dei Cavalieri or Knight’s Square, possibly the site of the Forum of the Roman Pisa. Here, tourists will find the Palace of the Knights of St. Stephen, now housing a college, and the San Stefano Church with a fine collection of tempera paintings.

Visit Pisa’s main shopping streets, Corso Italia and Borgo Stretto, to find Italian fashion shops and elegant boutiques selling old books, paintings and fine furnishings. Piazza delle Vettovaglie houses an old-fashioned fruit-and-food market open for business weekdays.

In three months — April 25-27Santiago de Compostela, Spain: 46.52 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Stansted to Santiago de Compostela

The tourist information center is the first stop in this modern metropolis famous for being the final destination of the Way of St. James pilgrimage. Here, visitors can rent an MP3 player that offers a guided self-paced tour of Santiago’s attractions.

Dominating the city’s skyline is the not-to-be- missed Romanesque Cathedral with its long and elegant naves and collections of relics and artworks. One highlight is the elaborate sculpture “Portico de la Gloria.”

After visiting the cathedral, soak up some local atmosphere by sitting among the students who often loiter on the broad steps that connect the cathedral to the convent in the Plaza de la Quintana.

Escape Santiago’s often-rainy winter weather by heading indoors. Visit the Museum of the Galician People to see traditional costumes and archaeological finds that represent the local culture, or the Natural History Museum with more than 25,000 specimens on display.

Also worth visiting is the Galician Center of Contemporary Art, highlighting artworks from regional, national and international artists.

If time allows, take your camera along for a walk among the gardens at Paseo de la Herradura, where visitors have an all-encompassing view of the cathedral and its surrounding sites.


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