If you love exploring new cities and can’t decide where to go next, these 8 destinations may just inspire you to grab your passport and best friend, pack a travel bag, and book that last-minute city break you have been planning forever. We’ve teamed up with Thomas Cook to give you some last minute inspiration, see next week’s blog post for tips on packing for a weekend break!
Amsterdam city breaks have become the go-to weekend getaway, and for good reason. This city is packed with culture, from bike rides through the tulip filled streets, to museums of every kind. Here are the top 5 things to experience in Amsterdam:
1. Visit Bloemenmarkt – The world’s only floating flower market, and the perfect place to pick up some Dutch souvenirs (clogs galore) or a wooden tulip if you don’t fancy the chances of trying to get the real flower back home
2. Anne Frank House – Is a visit to Amsterdam complete without visiting this iconic historical site? Arguably not. This isn’t your typical museum, however, being the actual house in which the Frank family were in hiding for over two years, and where Ann Frank’s famous diary was written. Remember to buy a ticket before you go as they’re not currently sold on the door.
3. Foodhallen – Located in the cultural complex, De Hallen, Foodhallen is a chic indoor food market, serving up your typical Dutch street food and beverages
4. Fancy a shopping trip? Head down to Kalverstraat, Amsterdam’s busiest shopping street
5. Local events – Amsterdam is a vibrant city with loads going on, so make sure you do your research to find out what events will be on whilst you’re there.
Ah, the city that never sleeps. If you want to go on a city break, New York is the ultimate destination. The city will leave you awestruck with enough culture, food and lights to brighten up even the cloudiest of days. These are the top 5 things to experience if you do decide to cross the Atlantic:
1. Grand Central Station – This one (undoubtedly enormous) building alone is packed full of history and culture. Over 750,000 people travel through the station every day. It’s also littered with hidden passageways and secret facts. Try to spot the dark patch on the ceiling (hint: next to the Cancer crab claw) left as an indication of how dirty the ceiling was before they cleaned it in 1998.
2. Landmarks – Of course, go visit the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, grabbing a bagel on the way. If you are a big Disney fan, try and find the Alice and Wonderland statue located East Side at 75th Street.
3. Museums – Make sure you swing by one of New York’s incredible museums. The MET is a must-see if not for the iconic Gossip Girl steps alone.. The roof garden there provides a stunning view of the city, so if it’s a clear day it’s definitely worth a visit.
4. Eat everything – When it comes to food, New York has it all. From bagels and donuts to pizza in Little Italy. Eat until you can’t eat anymore. (And then eat a little bit more).
5. Hit the shops – There is no better city to go shopping in than New York. For the arty shops head to the High Line. The views are incredible and independent shops can be found in the Chelsea Market just below. If arty isn’t your style, there is of course Times Square, all of Soho, Bloomingdales – the list goes on.
Barcelona has to be one of the most photogenic cities you can visit. With its beautiful and varied architecture , the city makes the perfect backdrop for all your holiday snaps. If there is any place that screams art and culture it’s Barcelona. The city is basically known for the artwork of Gaudi, which can of course be found all over the city. Here are some top tips on how to spend your time in Barcelona:
1. Take the bus – Barcelona is one of the few cities where going on an open top bus tour is actually worth doing. It makes for easy transport, and with so many sights to see this is one way to make sure you don’t miss anything out.
2. Sagrada Familia – Have you even been to Barcelona if you don’t go to the Sagrada Familia? It is a must. The ever-changing building has stained glass windows which reflect a rainbow of light through the church. Just stunning.
3. Check out the markets – Las Ramblas is a must. Head to the markets, where you’ll find a mixture of fresh local produce, fruit juices and souvenirs for memories of your Catalonian travels.
4. Head to the park – A trip to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Park Güell, where Gaudí turned his hand to landscape gardening. The parc gets an estimated 4 million visitors a year, so make sure to book in advance to save disappointment.
Visiting Warsaw is a great opportunity to see a combination of both modern and historical sites within one charming city. One minute you’ll be looking up at a magnificent skyscraper and the next you’ll be wandering around the colourful Old Town. Here are the top 5 things to discover in Warsaw:
1. Take a cruise – Why not take to the water and enjoy a cruise down the Vistula River, a perfect way to see a panorama of both the Old Town and Powiśle district.
2. Discover local art – Located in the very centre of Warsaw, the Museum of Modern Art offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy both Polish and foreign contemporary art.
3. Sample local delicacies – Trying the local cuisine is one of the best parts of a city break. Head down to Restauracja Polska Różana to experience a modern take on traditional Polish cuisine.
4. Shop around – Fancy treating yourself during your stay? Plac Unii City Shopping is one of Warsaw’s newest shopping malls, just don’t forget the Sunday trading ban!
If you like to stroll around in the sunshine, then Lisbon is the city break for you. Lisbon gets more sun than most places in Europe, meaning you may not have to put those cute summery tops away just yet! Here are the top 5 things to experience in Lisbon:
1. Ride a cable car – Running along the edge of the Tagus River, these are best way to view Lisbon, offering amazing views across the city.
2. Local landmarks – If you want to feel like a princess, pay a visit to Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Both packed full of culture.
3. See Sintra – If you get the chance, and want to be thrown right into a fairy-tale for the day, go visit Sintra. The town may be small, but it’s so amazing that UNESCO decided to make it a world heritage site back in 1995. Full of castles and incredible gardens – it really is beyond words.
4. What’s on? – Much like Amsterdam, Lisbon always has something going on, so check before you go. Bairro Alto is packed with tiny bars and clubs perfect for a spontaneous night out on the town.
5. Pastel de whatta? – You can’t go to Lisbon and not try pastel de nata. Head to Pastéis de Belém if you can, they began making the famous egg tarts in 1837 and the recipe remains exactly the same to this day. Apparently, they sell over 20,000 a day!!
The Eternal City that is loved worldwide for its Rome-antic feeling everywhere you go. The city is not just for couples though, it makes for a great city break whether travelling solo or with friends. Here are a few things to do, when in Rome:
1. Carb-crash – Forget the diet, forget the no carbs. Rome is the place where pizza and ice cream is a must have – no excuses.
2. Trevi Fountain – Don’t forget to bring your coin to make a wish! The famous fountain is Italy’s largest, and stands at 85 feet high and 65 feet across. Lots of room for all those wishes. Fun fact: the municipality of Rome collects the coins from the Trevi Fountain every day to prevent them from being stolen, which are then used to help the poor.
3. Rome Colosseum – There are places you can’t not visit when you go to a city and for Rome, the Colosseum is definitely one of them. Make sure you pick up a ticket in advance to beat the queues.
4. Shop, shop, shop – Italy has got to be one of the most fashionable places in the world. If you fancy a wander around the shops, head down to Via Condotti and take a break on the Spanish Steps.
5. Experience a festival – If you go to Rome between September and November, the RomaEuropa Festival will be on. The ultimate cultural hub, the festival blurs the lines between performance, music, dance and art
Everything you’ve heard about Venice is true. Make it a city break to remember and soak up the breath-taking views of the canals, wandering around the little winding streets and sipping on heavenly cocktails. Here are a few tips on what to do in Venice:
1. A gondola ride – Expensive, true, but when in Venice, how can you not? It is also the best way to explore the city. Worth the spend.
2. Visit Saint Mark’s Basilica – Located in St Mark’s Square,the cathedral has been rebuilt several times, with each renovation getting increasingly more elaborate.
3. Eat glam – If you fancy a little bit of luxury during your visit, we suggest reserving a table at Ristorante Glam. Located on the Grand Canal in Santa Croce, the restaurant offers a traditional Venetian menu with a modern twist.
4. Check out the Rialto markets- Since the year 1097, locals have depended on the Rialto Markets for their daily fruit, vegetables and fish supplies. Head down early to experience the vendors in full swing, as most retailers close up by midday.
5. Boat to Burano – If you have more than a couple of days, why not take a day trip out to Burano Island. You’ll probably have seen photos of Burano’s colourful houses, which were traditionally painted in those bright hues so that returning fisherman could find them in the fog.
You only need to cross the English Channel to start your next city break in Paris. Around every corner and under every open archway is a new adventure waiting to be discovered. Here are just a few of the gems to discover in the city of love:
1. The Louvre – The world-famous museum has over 380,000 pieces, including the famous Mona Lisa portrait.
2. Local street art – Why not turn a short walk round the capital’s side streets into your own personal street art tour? Paris is ripe for artistic exploration, so head down streets including Rue Saint-Maur, Rue Oberkampf and Rue Germaine Tailleferre, but make sure you have your camera at the ready.
3. Traditional bistros – Just across the river from The Louvre you’ll find Au Petit Tonneau. This classic Parisian bistro has been open for over 80 years, and offers customers an authentic atmosphere to experience traditional French cuisine.
4. Pick yourself up a souvenir (or five) – Even if you’ve never visited before, you’ll have seen pictures of Galeries Lafayette’s famous glass dome roof. With over 3,500 brands, you’re sure to find something to spend those remaining Euros on.