Christmas is over and now the January blues have kicked in, so now is the time to plan that long weekend away. Fortunately in Europe, we have an endless supply of city break destinations such as Barcelona, Amsterdam, Munich, Paris… the list goes on! But for a more affordable city break in a slightly less frequented destination, here are five alternative city breaks you should consider.
To the north of Madrid lies Segovia, a Unesco World Heritage listed city that is most famous for its giant snaking aqueduct that was built in the first century AD by the Romans. The city itself is set atop a hill and is surrounded by tall stone walls. As well as it’s aqueduct, the city houses numerous major Medieval and Renaissance buildings such as the Cathedral and the Alcázar, the castle. The Alcázar is even said to have been the inspiration for Walt Disney’s design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle!
Close by is also the lively city of Salamanca, whose city plaza is considered to be one of if not the most beautiful plazas in Spain.
Being just a one hour inexpensive flight from London, Cologne or Köln, is a cultural city that won’t overwhelm you with mass crowds unlike the other more tourist-drawn destinations of Berlin or Munich. The city is known for its numerous museums and art galleries such as Museum Ludwig, which houses many world famous pieces from Warhol to Pollock. Do not fret about there being too many laidback exhibitions, as Cologne has plenty of beer halls and a thriving cocktail scene. To boot, there are lots of cheap hostels available, and several nice Airbnb choices too!
On the south coast of France is Marseille, the country’s second biggest city. Unfortunately, the port city is known as the ugly step-sister of the nearby tourist destination of Cannes, but it is shaking off this reputation thanks to its recent status as the European Capital of Culture in 2013. The Vieux Port is the centre of the city, with hundreds of lavish yachts, cafes and newly opened museums.
If you become weary of urban exploring, the Parc National des Calanques is a vast rocky expanse of cliffs with lots of wildlife to discover. A well as this there are dozens of hidden beaches that are only accessible by kayak.
Known as the city that connects Europe and Asia through the ancient Silk Road, Istanbul is a historically significant and cultural metropolis. Historically the city has been occupied by many different empires, the Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans have all left their cultural influence on the lifestyle on Istanbul, including changing its name from Constantinople to Byzantium to its modern title. Because of this, the cultural diversity of Istanbul is very varied, which extends to the dining, architecture, and art.
One of the highlights of Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar, a labyrinth of dealers selling handicrafts, vintage items, and local goods. Give yourself more than enough time to explore the little side streets, sample the abundance of tea and strike a bargain.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland’s capital city has reinvented itself as a modern cultural centre of the United Kingdom. Its shiny new waterfront’s crown jewel is the Titanic Belfast, a huge unique piece of architecture housing the world’s biggest Titanic museum. The shape of the building is inspired by the design of the ill-fated ship and is known locally as The Iceberg.
A short journey north of Belfast is the spectacular and unique landscape of Giant’s Causeway, natural sets of hexagonal rocks stacked together to create a seemingly mythical rocky coastal walk.
To look for cheap flight and accommodation prices, visit our recent blog post on How to Get a Cheap Long Haul Flight in 2018 to find a list of useful comparison sites to help save you money on your next holiday!