City breaks are the perfect way to just jet off and get away from it all. Escape the humdrum of daily life in 2019, and soak up the sun along with some culture and cuisine in a cosmopolitan cityscape.
For short weekend getaways, European cities are an obvious choice. Classic city breaks in Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Lisbon are ideal city escapes that don’t eat up too many holiday days. But you’re really spoilt for choice on our neighbouring continent. Historic Dubrovnik, the thriving art scene in Madrid, gastronomic delights in Naples - these are just a few of the phenomenal city breaks available. If you’re looking to rack up a few sunbathing hours during your trip, matching a city break with a destination on the European coast gives you the best of both worlds. Soak up the city’s heritage in the morning and hit the beach in the afternoon.
Of course, you don’t have to limit your options to Europe’s borders for a fantastic city break. The truly exotic and urban Marrakech is only 4 hours away. Or, for a metropolitan break brimming with luxury and class, you can’t beat Dubai for a city break that mixes cosmopolitan glamour with golden sands.
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At a glance
- Time Zone: GMT +
- Average flight time: 2h 50m
When to go
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The thrill of jetting off to a far flung city and exploring it for the first time never goes away. Whether you’re uncovering hidden gems in the winding back streets of a city or following a tried and trusted tour map - with so many new places to explore the major attraction of every city is discovery. New flavours, sights, sounds, and smells all hit your senses and reinvigorate you. Leaving the stresses and worries back home for a weekend away or week long break is the perfect way to relax and unwind. On a European city break you can expect cultural highlights, first-class museums and galleries, iconic landmarks, theme parks, water-parks and some of Europe’s best beaches on a coastal city escape. Head to Paris to scale the Eiffel Tour, fly to Venice to float along in a gondola, a trip to Barcelona brings, culture, sun and fantastic architecture - not forgetting the tapas. A city break is the perfect chance to see a city at its best. Take in the highlights, uncover some well-kept secrets and make a plan to come back and explore it all over again.
City breaks offer foodies the best chance to explore not just the county’s cuisine, but local specialties too - all usually served up alongside international flavours. For the most authentic meals it’s best to explore the back streets and find the restaurants, tavernas and cafes that the locals are dining in. There’s usually no higher recommendation in any city. Each and every city will have food and drink that you must try when you’re visiting. From the paella in Barcelona to the authentic pizzas in Naples - those dishes will never taste the same eaten anywhere else. Look out too for quirky dining experiences. How about an evening touring Milan on a historic tram while a chef cooks up a delicious menu? Or a gastro tour of Lisbon that takes in all the best eateries? Don’t forget to find out where the food markets are. The spice aromas that fill the Marrakech souks are unforgettable and buying some local produce for a picnic in a city park is an idyllic way to spend lunchtime in the sun.
Families heading off on a city break might be concerned about keeping everyone entertained during their stay, but there’s always plenty to do. Active families can head out on a guided city tour on foot, by bike or even a segway adventure. Parks and gardens give children plenty of space to run and play while the parents take time to enjoy the scenery and perhaps a picnic in the sun. Europe’s historic cities bring active imaginations to life with castles, palaces, churches and museums that all offer a glimpse into the past. Aquariums and zoos give little ones plenty to look at while they learn about the animal kingdom. The sharks in Lisbon’s stunning Oceanarium are the star attraction, but it’s often the ‘weird and wonderful’ smaller sea creatures that leave a lasting memory. A break to Barcelona offers a great mix of culture and coast where smaller visitors can enjoy a swim in the sea and spot of sand castle building while mum and dad take a well-earned break on the golden sands.
Action & Adventure
You’d be forgiven for thinking that city breaks could be low on action and adventure. With concrete streets and cosmopolitan sprawl will there be much to do? The answer is, resoundingly, yes! From catching a game in some of the world’s best stadiums to segwaying through the streets on a whistle-stop tour of the city, your options are endless. If you’ve a head for heights, there’s usually a climbing centre to challenge your skills or an ice-skating rink for high speed skating thrills. Hire a bike to explore the streets on two wheels or get walking to find the hidden spots in the city everyone else has missed. Whether you check out the urban art on Lisbon’s city streets or try a spot of geocaching in Barcelona, sometimes it’s the little adventures that reveal the most exciting parts of a city.
With many of Europe’s top urban destinations nestled on the coast, Europe is a great place to combine a city break with dipping your toes in the refreshing coastal waters. The ancient streets of Dubrovnik are packed with history and culture. Featured in Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik’s streets are full of Croatian heritage and historic spots to explore. When you’ve taken in all the sights and spotted your favourite locations from the TV show, you can hit the beach. Dubrovnik’s shores are lapped by the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, perfect for paddling, kayaking or snorkelling your way along this wonderful coastline. But you don’t have to stay close to home to enjoy a city break. For cosmopolitan luxury in the hot, hot sun, Dubai’s stunning modern architecture and long stretches of golden sand offer a city break with more than a touch of glamour.
Whether you’re a jet-setting party animal or looking to enjoy a chilled out evening soaking up a city’s atmosphere, you can enjoy the best of both worlds on a city break. Everywhere from Ibiza to Dubrovnik there’s a nightlife scene waiting to welcome you. Dance the night away to the thumping beats in some of Europe’s best nightclubs or watch the sun set in a chic cocktail bar. Join the social butterflies in Milan as they take kick off the night with an aperitivo. Some liken it to a ‘happy hour’ - but it’s so much more than that. Bars open at 6:30pm for this evening tradition. Strangers, friends and families gather together in squares and piazzas to enjoy a few glasses of prosecco alongside some light snacks. This starts the evening off in style and can lead on to some of the hottest nightspots in Milan, a quiet wine bar or a relaxed meal in a local eatery. With summer festivals taking place in many coastal city locations, you could find yourself swept up in a colourful whirlwind of dancing, costumes, fireworks and fun.
What could be more romantic than whisking your partner off to enjoy a city break and long weekend in some of Europe’s most beautiful cities? Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Lisbon are all brimming with opportunities for romance, wining and dining and that all-important quality time together. In most cities it’s the old-quarter that really sets the scene for those magical once-in-a-lifetime moments. Losing yourself in the winding maze of cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and ancient architecture really builds a magical atmosphere of adventure and exploration in a new city. Winding lanes open out into picturesque piazzas and town squares - often lined at nighttime with candlelit dinner tables, and hopefully, twinkling stars in the night sky above. City breaks were made for exploring ancient relics, taking a dip in the hotel pool and sampling some local cuisine. With many of the world’s best art galleries and museums dotted around Europe, a 2018 city break is a fantastic way to visit some of these must see attractions and share the experience together as a couple.
Every city on loveholidays.ie’s destination list is awash with cultural highlights to suit all tastes. From stunning examples of Italian architecture in Venice and Milan to heritage and history on the streets of Malta, a city break is a must for culture vultures. Well-stocked museums in Barcelona are home to everything from famous works by world-renowned artists to sports memorabilia from the much-worshipped La Liga team FC Barcelona. Street markets in Marrakech invoke all of your senses as you wander through the city, bringing to life the historic roads you walk along. For a more contemplative cultural moment, a walk around the expansive cemeteries and graveyards found in many cities give an insight into the historic architecture and sculptures. The huge memorials in Milan’s Cimitero Monumentale make the site more of an open air gallery. Created by some of Italy’s most famous artists, the sculptures are well worth a visit.