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Next month — Nov. 9-11Madrid, Spain: 64.79 pounds round tripFly Easyjet from London Luton to Madrid.

Any holiday in Madrid should start with a visit to the city’s three big art galleries, all within a short walk of each other. The Prado Museum, which is nearly 200 years old, is home to nearly 8,000 paintings. According to the museum’s Web site, (museoprado.mcu.es/ihome.html) 1,000 of these paintings are on display, 3,500 are on loan to other museums, and 3,500 are in storage at any given time.

The Madrid Chamber of Commerce recommends visitors with only a short time to spend in the museum first visit the collection of Spanish paintings by El Greco, Ribera, Murillo, Velazquez and Goya.

Across from the Prado is the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, with a collection of works displayed in chronological order starting at the Renaissance and ending with the 20th century. There is also a display of 19th-century North American paintings, usually not seen in European museums.

The third gallery, the Reina Sofia National Museum Art Centre, has a vast collection of works alongside a library specializing in art. Highlights include Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” and a collection of works by 20th-century master Salvador Dali.

Not to be missed is a visit to the Royal Palace on Plaza de Oriente. This magnificent palace, built in the classical-Baroque style, no longer houses royals but is used occasionally for official ceremonies. A visitor ticket grants access to almost the entire palace, including the armory and pharmacy.

After a day of exploring, take a respite in one of the many bars serving tapas.

Three months — Jan. 4-6Istanbul, Turkey: 132.90 pounds round tripFly Easyjet from London Luton to Istanbul.

Visitors with only a weekend in Istanbul should start at the Topkapi Palace, where you will need at least four hours for exploration. Visit the palace kitchens and imagine the 1,000 servants who worked day and night preparing meals for the palace’s residents. Peruse the 12,000-piece porcelain collection on display. The palace clothing exhibition displays imperial wardrobes while the treasury exhibits a collection of ceremonial thrones, an emerald-and-diamond-encrusted dagger and the 86-caret Spoon Maker’s Diamond, among many more treasures that were gifted or plundered.

Other rooms that can be visited include the holy relics room, pages’ dormitory, library, armory and, on rare occasions, the circumcision rooms.

Inside the palace’s first courtyard is the Istanbul Archaeology Museum that is comprised of three smaller museums. One of those three, the Archaeological Museum includes a collection of sarcophagi, including one believed to belong to Alexander the Great. A collection of artifacts from Egypt and Mesopotamia are exhibited in the Museum of the Ancient Orient while the Museum of Turkish Ceramics highlights the production of pottery, ceramics and porcelain.

Bring your bargaining prowess when you visit the Grand Bazaar, as there are more than 5,000 stalls selling almost everything — carpets, spices, clothing, gold and handpainted silks — and haggling is a must.

And, for one last highlight, visit the Turkish baths, which pamper visitors as they move through several hot rooms. Most visits to the baths include the steam rooms, a dead-skin removing scrub and a massage.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site www.skyscanner.net. Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.

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