5 minute read
Europe’s rich historical tapestry has created arguably some of the greatest cities in the world. With so many to choose from, read on to find out seven of the best European city breaks to put on your calendar this year.
1) Barcelona, Spain
Catalonia’s colourful capital is saturated with art, architecture and delicious food, making it the perfect place for a cultural city break in the sun.
You could easily spend weeks here discovering its fascinating museums, shops and iconic tourist attractions, and with beautiful beaches on your doorstep too, it really is impossible to get bored.
Things to do in Barcelona
The city’s Sagrada Família Church is a good place to start, having been under construction since 1882! It’s still open to the public, and is now predicted to be finished in 2026.
A walking tour of the city is a must, taking in the lively ‘La Rambla’ promenade that cuts through the centre. Next, take a stroll through the iconic Parc Güell, a masterpiece of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi that’s arguably the most impressive park in the world.
2) San Sebastián, Spain
Foodies, listen up.
Famous for the pintxos
(Basque tapas) bars that litter its streets and its handful of Michelin stars, the small and elegant Basque city of San Sebastián is widely recognised as one of the best food destinations in the world.
Things to do in San Sebastián
We guarantee that much of your time here will be spent sampling fresh seafood or gorging on pintxos
– small pieces of bread topped with anything from Spanish ham, prawns and anchovies to cheese, chorizo and mushrooms.
When you’re not filling your stomach, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Visit the beautiful La Concha beach that cradles the city, or explore the city’s elegant architecture and immaculately-kept parks.
3) Prague, Czech Republic
Home to armfuls of castles, art galleries galore and some of the best beer around, Prague is one of Europe’s trendiest travel spots right now.
It may be modern, but this medieval city is soaked in history too, from the 14th-century Charles Bridge to the colourful Old Town square.
Things to do in Prague
This is a city that loves to party, so there’s really no better time to visit than New Year’s Eve, a night which will see the whole city come together to celebrate the start of a new decade.
During the daytime, discover Prague’s bohemian art scene, from the Gothic altarpieces in the Convent of St Agnes, to the art nouveau of Alfons Mucha, and the collection of 20th-century surrealists, cubists and constructivists in the Veletržní Palác.
4) Zagreb, Croatia
Bursting at the seams with culture, arts and music, Zagreb has a cosmopolitan buzz about it. One of Europe’s most walkable cities, with a vibrant street life, it’s great for exploring on foot.
Cafe culture is strong here, so do as the locals do and punctuate your walking tour with plenty of coffee breaks!
Things to do in Zagreb
Croatia’s capital city is made for leisurely strolls, sipping coffee in trendy cafes and dotting between various museums and galleries.
If you love Christmas markets, you’re in for a treat. Once a secret, its Christmas market has recently been voted the best in Europe, making it the perfect destination for a festive city break.
5) Vienna, Austria
Split in half by the river Danube, Vienna is famous for its imperial palaces, rich artistic legacy and coffee-house culture.
A fairytale atmosphere makes it the perfect city for a Christmas break
, where you can witness the city at its most merry.
Things to do in Vienna
Eating and drinking in Vienna is an experience in itself. Indulge in delicious cakes from the comfort of the city’s impossibly opulent coffee houses, or enjoy hearty portions of Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) and goulash in its elegant restaurants.
When you’re not sampling delicious food and drink, the city’s museums beckon. Admire imperial art at the Kunsthistorisches, learn about 19th and 20th century Austrian art at the Leopald and stand in awe at the meteorites, fossils and prehistoric finds that fill the Naturhistorisches museum.
Join us on a Christmas city break to Vienna
6) Istanbul, Turkey
Situated at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a cultural melting pot scattered with fascinating reminders of the civilisations who once called it home.
With over 2,000 years of history crammed into one city, there’s so much to see and experience here, from street food journeys and museums to traditional Turkish hamams.
Things to do in Istanbul
A visit to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world – should be first on your list. Browse as many of the 4,400 shops as you can, and be tempted by traditional handmade carpets, kilims
, antique jewellery, beautiful silk scarves and plates of delicious food.
Next, head to the Blue Mosque – Istanbul’s most iconic landmark. Adorned with tens of thousands of Blue Inzic tiles, the mosque is still a sacred place of worship.
Finish off your day with a sunset cruise along the Bosporus, and admire the stunning cityscape that pierces into the sky.
7) Kiev, Ukraine
Dating back as far as the 5th century, Ukraine’s city of golden spires has an intricate centuries-old narrative that’s recounted through every cobbled street, monastery and museum.
Kiev’s creative streak has recently made it one of the top cities to visit in Europe. Think urban art, vintage cafes and a vibrant night-life scene to rival that of Prague.
Things to do in Kiev
Explore the historical old town, admiring the pretty pastel-coloured houses that contrast against the dazzling monasteries and cathedrals.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the oldest standing church, St Sophia’s Cathedral, or to stroll down Andriyivsky Uzviz: a hilly street renowned for its galleries, workshops and bohemian cafes, making it the perfect place to buy handmade souvenirs.
Start ticking these best European city breaks off your travel wish-list and browse our full selection of European city breaks here.