in Europe, Tips & Advice

Top 10 European City Breaks


Discover our travel guide to the top 10 destinations for a European city break in 2017. Find out the must do’s and what not to miss in our favourite cities including Rome, Paris, Reykjavik, Amsterdam, Dubrovnik and Budapest.

City breaks are a great way to explore a destination’s history, culture, and art in a relatively short space of time. They provide us with a snapshot of local life, as well as a chance to see some of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions and stunning architecture. There are so many amazing cities around the world that this could easily be a top 100, so we decided to focus on cities close to the UK that will allow you to get the most from your short city break!

Planning a European city break for 2017?

Here are 10 great suggestions to choose from…

1. Paris

Paris, the capital of France. Renowned for its reputation as one of the most romantic cities on the planet. You will be sure to discover some of the world’s best known sights, right at your footstep. Ranging from iconic views of the city from the Eiffel Tower to the medieval beauty of the Notre Dame cathedral. Wherever you amble the Parisian streets, you are sure to fall somewhat in love with the unique ambience Paris holds for all its visitors. Our highlights of Paris include the grand spectacles of Arc de Triomphe, watching the sunset across Paris at the top of the Eiffel Tower and not forgetting The Louvre, which not only is an architectural delight to view; but also holds some of the world’s most impressive artworks, including the Mona Lisa.

City breaks to Paris are a definite must. It’s often have said that Paris is arguably the most romantic city in the world, and it is easy to see why. This exceptionally picturesque and pleasant city is one of our top European city breaks for 2016.

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2. Rome

Rome, Italy’s capital city. You may have heard the age-old expression “Rome wasn’t built in a day” which indicates the need for time to create great things. When visiting Rome as your chosen city break, you’ll need more than a day to take in this timeless city. Was through the city gates into Rome’s history that has one of the most important legacies of the last 3000 years to tell through its beautiful art, monuments and architecture; all of which have arguably shaped Europe more than any other city.

This popular European city break will surprise you with every step around every corner. Discover the Coliseum, toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and take a stroll through the beautiful Roman piazzas. Admire local artwork for sale at the open air markets and take time to explore the Vatican City, with the Sistine Chapel being a must see in Rome, and climbing the Cupola (Dome) at St. Peter’s Basilica being a must do. The view from the top looking out over the Vatican City and Rome is one of the most memorable experiences. We loved our European city break to Rome, it’s certainly a memorable city for us, even more so having proposed to Kate at the top of this timeless city. If you are looking at where to go in 2016, Rome should be high up on your list.

3. Amsterdam

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. A popular destination for anyone looking for a short or last-minute European city break. Amsterdam may have a lively reputation for its nightlife and partying, but don’t let this fool you or put you off. Amsterdam has a more tranquil and more serene side in the form of the canal system that meanders throughout this city. Historical highlights include a visit to the Anne Frank house, the Van Gogh museum and the Royal Palace. For those looking to just spend your time exploring, make sure you take a canal boat trip through the city, an alternate method to view the city’s highlights from below.

If you are looking for a more up beat city break, Amsterdam is known for its nightlife and I’m sure it won’t disappoint. The streets are night are pretty busy but rest assured, you’ll find a bar or Irish pub every couple of metres in the city centre so you’ll be spoilt for choice. We shook things up in Amsterdam by making our own cocktails at the House of Bols Genever Experience and is one of our recommendations to anyone visiting the city wanting to learn the history and arts of cocktails in a fun way.

4. Reykjavik

Reykjavik, Iceland’s coastal capital is one of our favourite destinations and with so many natural wonders to discover along with the chance of experiencing the northern lights, you can’t go wrong making this your next city break in 2016.

Discover the dramatic setting surrounding Reykjavik as the land or ice and fire boasts incredible sights including the great Geyser and impressive waterfalls. Take time to snowmobile across a glacier, view the northern lights on a boat tour, horse ride across a volcano or simply relax in the volcanic thermal pools that are scattered throughout. Whatever you do in Reykjavik, we are sure you won’t want to leave this magical Island.

5. Venice

Venice, capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region. Impressively, Venice is built on more than 100 small islands in the Adriatic Sea connected by over 400 bridges which makes Venice a very unique destination for a European city break. Venice is one city where you’ll find no roads and that means no cars, just the peaceful maze of canals where you’ll find singing gondolier’s who are ferrying passengers across the city. Why not take a gondola ride to experience Venice in a traditional manner, or simply immerse yourself into the innumerable narrow alleys and small squares, exploring the stunning architecture of the seamlessly floating buildings.

Our highlights include visiting St. Mark’s Square for a spot of lunch and watching life as it goes by. Look out for the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio) which was built in the 14th century to symbol Venice’s wealth and power. Take a walk across the Ponte di Rialto bridge, over the grand canal and take in one of the major water traffic corridors in the city, you’ll be amazed how busy the canals are with gondolas and boats passing through the city. A fantastic destination for a short city break.

6. Budapest

Budapest is one of the most exciting cities in Eastern Europe and a perfect destination for a short break. Don’t miss your chance to explore the historic castle, architecture and museums, before relaxing in the thermal baths and spas. The city is blessed with an abundance of hot springs where more than hundred thermal springs provide millions of litres of hot thermal water day by day. As a result, ‘taking the waters’ has been a Budapest experience since the time of the Romans. There are several interesting sights and landmarks at the Buda embankment of the Danube. The tram operating between Hotel Gellért and Batthyány tér could be a great choice for a sightseeing tour.

The view of the Danube embankments, the Buda Castle District, Andrássy út and Heroes’ Square and the Millennium Underground Railway are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites which are one of the most beautiful and romantic parts of the city of Budapest. one of the most valuable natural treasures of Budapest however happens to be the labyrinth caves found beneath Budapest.

7. Florence

Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and is one of Europe’s greatest cities of art. Florence is well-known as the birthplace of Renaissance art and is home to some of the world’s most famous masterpieces. This includes Michelangelo’s David, proudly displayed inside the Galleria dell’Accademia. A European city break visit to Florence is not complete without viewing one of the city’s most iconic building, the Florence Cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) and a visit to the Uffizi Gallery that exhibits work from Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. There is so much art and architecture at its finest that you may find if difficult to know where to begin your city break here. With contemporary art, classical music and opera all in a walking distance, there’s simply no escaping the fascinating Italian culture Florence exudes. Due to this, the centre of Florence has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the abundance of architecture and art.

Our highlight is to climb the 161 steps up the San Niccolò Tower in Piazza Poggi, where you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views over the city of Florence below. You’ll even be able to see Piazzale Michelangelo from the top, so is well worth the climb. Ideal way to end the day sightseeing by watching the sunset. The neighbourhood directly surrounding Piazza Poggi will provide you with a great choice of refreshing Tuscan food and drink served by many of typical Florentine bars and restaurants.

8. Dubrovnik

 

If you are looking for a European city break to somewhere a little different, don’t miss Dubrovnik, one of the world’s most magnificent walled cities. Found in southern Croatia, Dubrovnik overlooks the calming blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. With this fantastic location, you can explore the city by climbing the old town walls and walking around the edge, getting a good insight into what lays within the Old Town in Dubrovnik.

This UNESCO world heritage site was once a capital city, but now has become a place for leisure as tourism is booming. You’ll find the best time of day to walk around the busy streets and narrow pathways in the early morning or late afternoon, where you’ll avoid tourists arriving from cruise ships. Don’t let this put you off however as everyone should visit Dubrovnik at least once in their lifetime and when we visited, we didn’t find it too busy during September. After walking along the city walls and the maze of streets, why not take a boat trip out from the marina around the city walls and over to a small island, Lokrum and back. After the relaxing boat ride on the Adriatic, why not have lunch at one of the restaurants where fresh seafood is served daily or enjoy a cable car ride up 778 metres to a breathtaking panoramic view of the Old City of Dubrovnik where you’ll discover a restaurant with some views that are hard to beat!

9. London

 

London, the capital city of our home, England! Being from here, we find it is very easy to just overlook when there are so many exciting cities out there which are perfect for a European city break. Fortunately London is a very exciting place to visit and you are guaranteed a different experience of London with every visit. You’ll soon discover London is jam-packed full of history with unique places of interest and not forgetting around almost every corner there’s a story to discover. You’ll soon realise why over 8 million people currently live in this fascinating city, where cutting edge technology collides with history.

With so much to see and do, we are going to just list a few of our favourite places not to miss in London. Hop onto the London Eye where you’ll get a good view of the London skyline from this giant size ferris wheel found on South Bank. Experience the London underground by taking a tube ride to Westminster, where you’ll discover world-famous landmarks including the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace and that’s just skimming the surface. Alongside the city’s history, London is a fantastic place to experience some culture from street performances, art galleries and museums to the West End plays and musicals. With a never-ending list of great bars, restaurants and shops, you won’t be left disappointed.

10. Prague

Prague, the capital city of Czech Republic. Dubbed as the city of a thousand spires, Prague is known as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe. Along with Prague’s fascinating and intriguing history, you’ll discover the impressive architecture across the somewhat stunning city skyline.

If you are looking for a city break in 2017, why not consider Prague – one of Europe’s most idyllic cities that has an incredible amount to offer. Prague’s Old Town is directly at the heart of the historical district that you can easily walk around. Here you’ll discover the castle overlooking the city with its ever impressive cathedral, the famous astronomical clock, statues of Charles Bridge all set around beautiful baroque buildings. Along these charming cobbled streets you will find a fantastic mixture of bars and restaurants, many excellent hotels and easy routes to all the top sights to see in Prague.

What are your favourite European city break destinations?

Article written by Adam Boston

Discover the most inspiring travel stories, must do adventures, and photography of the world seen through the eyes of Adam. Uncovering what the world has to offer, from one country to another.

Comments


Currently there's 34 comment(s)

  • Sarah Hamilton

    Commented on 10/11/2015 at 16:01

    Just left Reykjavik last week and it is in fact, a terrific city. One more idea that wasn’t in the article for something to do on a rainy or snowy day in reykjavik. There is a concert hall called The Harpa that is right on the harbor and just down from the sun voyager sculpture. You can spend an afternoon inside the harpa for free. grab a sandwich and coffee, relax on the couches, read a book or just people watch and boat watch the harbor. we spent a fantastic rainy day there last week and it was a perfect day.

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 12/11/2015 at 18:41

      Thanks Sarah, that’s a great tip. We got caught in a snow blizzard walking back along the harbour and actually walked past this place. We didn’t think to go in and visit, so a great tip!

      Reply
  • Becky Padmore

    Commented on 11/11/2015 at 16:46

    Love lists like this, the only one I haven’t been to yet is Budapest but hope to go next year!

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 12/11/2015 at 18:42

      What is your favourite European city so far Becky?

      Reply
  • Traveling Rockhopper

    Commented on 11/11/2015 at 21:16

    All beautiful options!
    Maybe I would exchange Amsterdam with other Dutch town 😉
    Traveling Rockhopper recently posted…Madeira – Porto MonizMy Profile

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 22/11/2015 at 19:49

      Where would you choose? 🙂

      Reply
  • Tim Urbanduniya

    Commented on 13/11/2015 at 10:12

    I’m heading to amsterdam next year – can’t wait!! it looks gorgeous!! 😀

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 22/11/2015 at 19:50

      You’ll love it Tim. Make sure to get in line early if you are loking to visit the anne frank house as it’s very popular!

      Reply
  • Steve Miller

    Commented on 24/11/2015 at 14:21

    Couldn’t agree more about paris and rome, we spent 2 months traveling europe last summer, it is a great place to visit.
    Steve Miller recently posted…App Review: Any.do To-Do List & Task ListMy Profile

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 20/01/2016 at 12:32

      Paris and Rome are some of our most favourite cities!

      Reply
  • Linda March

    Commented on 25/11/2015 at 11:02

    I can’t belive that Viena didn’t make it to the list, since it’s a lovely city and it does have the prater park near it (if you have kids, that is a must do).

    I’ve been to london, amsterdam and budapest from this list and they are incredible cities to visit, but i think that only 10 cities is way to little for how culturally vast is europe. I would have added cities like karlovy vary, sibiu, barcelona, pisa or budva on a list of cities to visit in europe.

    my top ten would be: london, barcelona, prague, budapest, rome, viena, florence, amsterdam, brugges and dubrovnik.
    Linda March recently posted…Winter Clothing LayerMy Profile

    Reply
  • Milana

    Commented on 27/11/2015 at 10:32

    THIS IS A GREAT LIST OF CITIES, DEFINITELY SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL IN EUROPE AND SURELY WORTH VISITING. I HAVE BEEN TO PARIS AND AMSTERDAM LAST YEAR AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH BOTH CITIES, I COULDN’T DECIDE WHICH ONE IS MY FAVORITE, BOTH PARIS AND AMSTERDAM HAVE THEIR CHARMS.

    OTHER PLACES ON THE LIST ARE ALSO AMAZING AND ONE THAT I WOULD PARTICULARLY LOVE TO SEE IS REYKJAVIK. ALSO, I LIVE PRETTY MUCH NEAR DUBROVNIK, IN A COUNTRY NEXT TO CROATIA AND I HAVEN’T BEEN THERE, BUT AFTER THIS POST, I DEFINITELY DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M MISSING. 🙂
    Milana recently posted…World’s Darkest SkiesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 20/01/2016 at 12:34

      Hi Milana, A great list of European cities! I would suggest visiting both Dubrovnik and Reykjavik.. you DEFINITELY won’t be left feeling disappointed!

      Reply
  • Suvidha

    Commented on 30/11/2015 at 06:08

    i am heading to paris next month, pictures you have used amazed me and now i am more excited to visit paris.

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 20/01/2016 at 12:35

      We hope you loved Paris, Suvidha!

      Reply
  • Daizy singh

    Commented on 30/11/2015 at 06:14

    wish i can made to venice hope for this winters.

    Reply
  • Alex

    Commented on 03/12/2015 at 20:29

    Amazing! I had to arrange a trip with my family to one of the new places!

    Reply
  • Andrew at Nomad Capitalist

    Commented on 05/12/2015 at 08:18

    I love that you included Budapest; it doesn’t get RESPECT. Not only is it affordable but it’s fun and it caters to the entire income spectrum. I’m actually looking at buying a flat there it’s so cheap.
    Andrew at Nomad Capitalist recently posted…The 5 Best Countries for High Rental Property YieldsMy Profile

    Reply
  • annastraveltribute

    Commented on 01/01/2016 at 17:50

    I couldn’t agree more with this list! 🙂 In addition, I would recommend Barcelona. Wonderful city.
    annastraveltribute recently posted…The things I miss about Europe while living in Canada + giveaway contest!My Profile

    Reply
  • Leandro Lima

    Commented on 08/01/2016 at 21:56

    Excelent options, your list this magnificent, I hope to visit Prague because I find it very beautiful.

    Reply
  • Marek

    Commented on 18/01/2016 at 13:20

    Some excellent choices here. 🙂 Duvronik gets very busy in summer nowadays… I think it’s best visited in the shoulder season when it’s a bit more chilled out.
    Marek recently posted…Best Backpacks For TravelMy Profile

    Reply
    • Adam Boston

      Commented on 20/01/2016 at 12:37

      Hi Marek, that’s a good piece of advice, we actually visited late September and wasn’t too busy compared to what it must be like in high season.

      Reply
  • Caio Cesa

    Commented on 28/01/2016 at 01:15

    Excellent guide, dubrovnik is a very beautiful place. What place is that with a bones column in france ?

    Reply
  • Laura Souza

    Commented on 05/02/2016 at 21:46

    My dream. I hope to travel to Europe later in 2016 .

    Reply
  • Elton

    Commented on 09/02/2016 at 13:23

    excellent, I would love to go to Paris and Rome, really fantastic cities.

    Reply
  • Bruno

    Commented on 09/02/2016 at 19:16

    Really fantastic this guide. Excellent destinations for a trip to Europe this year, even with our local currency so devalued, it is worth all the effort for the trip. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Deborah P

    Commented on 04/04/2016 at 15:25

    Great photos! Wonderful website.

    Reply
  • Jolene Ejmont

    Commented on 20/04/2016 at 00:41

    MY dream is to go back and just travel through europe at a very slow pace. Croatia and greece is high on my list! Awesome list of places to check out for some city breaks!
    Jolene Ejmont recently posted…Top 10 Adorable & Practical Childrens Suitcases with WheelsMy Profile

    Reply
  • Perviz Surti

    Commented on 13/07/2016 at 11:28

    A few years ago my husband and I decided to go on an Italian road trip, mostly one night stopovers intended. We had a general idea of where we wanted to go, but nothing pre-booked.

    Found a lovely place in Bologna with an equally lovely host. We intended to stay only the one night, but so much to do and see in and around the city, we ended up staying four nights and had to drag ourselves away!
    Would thoroughly recommend a trip to Bologna and environs.
    Perviz Surti recently posted…Pulsating Pune – Sights and SoundsMy Profile

    Reply
  • Gale

    Commented on 13/08/2016 at 18:24

    Great post. I’ve just had an incredible week in Hvar. I’d highly recommend anybody visiting Croatia to spend some time in Hvar. The beaches there and the surrounding little islands is absolutely incredible. I much preferred it over Dubrovnik.
    Gale recently posted…La Dolce Vita ~ The Italian Aperitivo and How to Eat for Free in MilanMy Profile

    Reply
  • a boutique hotel owner

    Commented on 12/10/2016 at 13:46

    I wholeheartedly agree that Budapest is included in this list! It’s a beautiful, truly European city but still not too fine – there’s a certain rundown vibes in some areas which I like. In addition, if you are coming from Western Europe or North America, you will find it incredibly cheap – it’s one of the most inexpensive major cities in the EU.
    a boutique hotel owner recently posted…10 Best Boutique Hotels in BostonMy Profile

    Reply
  • David meyer

    Commented on 06/04/2017 at 20:13

    Hey adam, this is really an awesome guide for europe bound travellers. By the way, I’m heading to Amsterdam next week, can you please Suggest me some things to do there to make my trip successful?
    David meyer recently posted…Top 10 Best Budget Tablets Under $300My Profile

    Reply

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