Top 10 European Weekend Breaks From The UK
7 March 2016 | Written by Alex Sizer
With multiple budget airlines operating from airports all over the country, and trains that can take you from central London to mainland Europe in less than 2 hours, it’s never been easier for Brits to take a weekend break in a different country.
Europe boasts a wealth of fascinating destinations, from world class beaches to picturesque cities packed full of history. And the best thing is that no two places are the same. You could visit a different location every weekend for a year and still never be bored. So with such a smorgasbord of European weekend break options, where do you start? Here’s the top ten European destinations to take a weekend break away from Old Blighty.
1. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul just sneaks into the ‘European’ category. Straddling the mighty Bosphorus River, Turkey’s biggest city (not its capital) is deemed to be half Asian and half European. This melting pot of history and culture makes for a beautiful back drop for a weekend getaway.
The cobbled, hilly streets of Old Town Sultanahmet are home to some of Europe’s favourite treasures including the church-mosque-museum of Hagia Sofia, the dazzling Blue Mosque, and the mesmerising Basilica Cistern. Top these off with a visit to the Grand Bazar and you’ll truly feel like you’ll left Britain behind.
2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The old walled city of Dubrovnik is so impressive that it’s UNESCO heritage listed. Dubrovnik meets two often essential criteria for a perfect weekend escape: 1) it’s small, so you aren’t overwhelmed by so much to see and do in little time – a weekend is a perfect amount of time to spend here. And, 2) it’s cheap.
Dubrovnik is a place to wander around and discover in your own way. Sipping a cocktail in the sun, at a bar perched on the rocks, overlooking the sparkling Adriatic Sea is the best way to forget the drizzly grey weather of home.
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Budget airlines opening routes to Eastern Europe hasn’t always been the best thing for a city’s tourism reputation. But for Tallinn, it’s only gone from strength to strength. Whilst it’s still a prime destination for bachelor parties and people looking for a cheap and cheerful party weekend, the seedier side of the city has all but disappeared.
This has left a truly stunning medieval town packed with pretty buildings, cobbled squares, red spires, and picturesque view-points. Couple that with excellent value accommodation and dirt cheap food and drink and you’ve got the winning combination for a good weekend away!
4. Berlin, Germany
Germany’s capital is a favourite destination for history buffs and party animals alike. Arrive on Friday night and leave on Sunday (or Monday morning if you can prise yourself out of bed for the red-eye) and you’re in for a fantastic weekend.
Whether you for-go sleep and try out as many of the city’s famous clubs, or tuck yourself up in bed early after jam-packed days of walking, riding and exploring, there’s something for everyone. On Sunday morning don’t miss the Mauer Park Markets for some bargain hunting and people watching.
5. Florence, Italy
When you think of a weekend away, does your mind wander to sleep-ins, sipping coffee, and delighting in long, lazy dinners? If so, then Florence is for you. Often touted as one of the world’s most romantic cities, Florence is great for anyone who doesn’t want to stretch themselves too far during their weekend break.
Find a plush hotel room in the city centre, enjoy the perfect Italian hospitality, wander the streets, and appreciate the charm of just being in Florence. There are churches and museums and galleries for when you feel like you should actually do something.
6. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Taking a weekend break in Amsterdam is never boring. Even if it is your 10th visit to the Dutch capital, you’ll find something new. Another all-rounder – families, couples, and groups of friends alike will find something to tickle their fancy here.
There’s everything from world famous art galleries, to museums commemorating every aspect of history (a visit to Anne Frank’s House is a must), to bars and nightlife where you can party ‘til dawn. To act like a true local grab a bike to get yourself around the city, and spend your down time relaxing in one of the many parks.
7. Reykjavik, Iceland
You’ll truly feel like you’re a world away from the UK in Reykjavik, despite it only be a short 3 hour flight. Visit in summer when the sun never sets and you’ll have plenty of daylight hours to drive the famous Golden Circle day trip. Along the way you can marvel at Gulfoss Waterfall and the very active Geysir, and appreciate the site of world’s first ever parliament at Thingvellir National park.
Visit in winter when you’ll rarely see sunlight to go chasing the Northern Lights. The city of Reykjavik is full of surprises with a vibrant cultural scene, fantastic dining options, and a buzzing nightlife. Rejuvenate from a big night out in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon.
8. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is the little gem of Belgium. With just a weekend here you’ll feel like you know the place like the back of your hand. For those who want to get out of the UK but don’t want to venture too far, Bruges is the best option for your European weekend break. Waffles for breakfast, chocolate for every other meal – what’s not to love? The winter months are an especially beautiful time to visit as Bruges play host to the traditional Christmas markets.
9. Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal’s capital has something for everyone. Visiting with friends? Window shop and sip coffee in Chiado and dance the night away in Barrio Alto. Visiting with family? Take a trip out to the marvel that is Sintra for a historical, fairy-tale experience.
Soak up some culture in the oldest part of the city – Alfama – where you’ll see influences from the Moorish times and taste traditional dishes. Don’t forget to take the classic picture with the street cars!
10. Prague, Czech Republic
A weekend in Prague is a weekend spent immersed in some of Europe’s most beautiful streets, most interesting history, and most well-stocked pubs. For the quintessential Prague experience you can simply walk over Charles Bridge to Prague Castle and overlook the Old Town (you’ll soon see why Prague is nicknamed ‘The City of One Hundred Spires’).
Head back over to the Old Town Square where you can celebrate with one or more pints of Europe’s best beer as you watch the world-famous Astronomical Clock. The Jewish Museum and the John Lennon Gallery are other highlights to pack into your weekend a
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