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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.