Whether you’re looking to drink in some local culture or simply want to find the world’s greatest watering hole, the best city break destinations give you a snapshot of a country without having to spend too much time or money.
Can’t decide where to go to first? Fret not. Here we’ve compiled some of our favourite city breaks abroad to satisfy your wanderlust.
Draped in glamour, Paris is the crème de la crème of European city breaks. Boasting beatific landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees, there is nowhere on the planet quite as photogenic as Paris.
Speaking of pretty pictures, Paris is no stranger to elite art galleries. In fact, some of the world’s finest can be found in this French capital – from the Louvre to Palais Galliera, the city’s resplendent art and fashion museums command attention at every corner.
Blessed with pretty piazzas and laidback eateries (known as trattorias), instantly recognisable landmarks and lively locals, Rome is the jewel in Italy’s crown.
The Eternal City is home to some of the world’s most incredible sights: from Michelangelo’s spectacular Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest – and most eye-catching - church in the world. Of course, if you only have time to visit one landmark, make sure it’s the Colosseum. A formidable former stage for fearsome gladiators, today this ancient amphitheatre offers a haunting glimpse into Rome’s gripping past.
Glistening waterways, ubiquitous bicycles and pastel-painted houses – Amsterdam is postcard perfect. Along with peaceful small-city feels, the Dutch capital is equally cosmopolitan. This is a city that, somehow, manages to intertwine thought-provoking landmarks, such as Anne Frank House, with edgy nightclubs and some of Europe’s best watering holes – perfect for those who want to balance culture with a hint of hedonism on their city break.
Best known for its pulsating nightlife, locals typically take to Berlin’s bohemian cocktail parlours and GDR-style bars, before pulling on their dancing shoes for a night at one of the city’s many clubs.
For the early-risers in your group, the city’s offer culture by the bucket load. Museum Island, a UNESCO site in the River Spree, houses five world-famous museums, while the sobering Holocaust Memorial by the Tiergarten is popular for tourists looking to learn more about Berlin’s tortured history.
Barcelona. Just the mere thought conjures up sun-kissed images of artistic masterpieces, ancient squares and first-class food. And that’s just the start.
Look up to the skies, where you’ll spot stunning spires from the Sagrada Familia, the city’s most spectacular church, impressing the clouds. Breathe in the essence of Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous – and fantastical - architect, with a visit to the wickedly whimsical Park Gaudi. And when hunger sets in, bolt towards the Gothic Quarter, where the aroma of fresh seafood paella and hearty Catalonian jamón is simply too irresistible to ignore.
Oozing with elegance, Venice is a city which, quite literally, floats on water. For a whistle-stop tour of the sights, a gondola ride along the Grand Canal is essential, while St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace are best seen from the city’s cobbles.
Round off your trip with a visit to the Piazza San Marco. While it may be one of the country’s principal political stomping grounds, it is also one of the prettiest; so glorious was it that Napoleon once labelled it the “drawing room of Europe”.
Great craic, stellar stout and a jovial atmosphere are just some of the reasons millions flock to Dublin every year. Tucked into the city’s elegant Georgian architecture are a pick and mix of pukka pubs: from the lantern-lit Brazen Head to the trendy Porterhouse brewery.
But believe it or not, Dublin isn’t just for the Guinness guzzlers. Indeed, culture vultures can sate their thirst at many of the city’s historic sites, such as the Dublin Writer’s Museum, Dublin Castle and St. Stephen’s Green.
The Big Apple has long set the standard for city breaks. If the cloud-piercing skyscrapers don’t lure you in, then the world-famous fashion houses, exemplary arts scene and lip-smacking gastronomy certainly will.
Take to the Empire State Building’s observatory deck and watch the sun rise over the city’s skyline; sail down the New York Harbour and steal snaps of Lady Liberty; or fill your bags on a Fifth Avenue shopping spree. With so much on offer, you’ll be glad you picked the “City That Never Sleeps” for your getaway.
Krakow is a city with many aces up its sleeve. For one of the best sights in the country, make a beeline to Wawel Castle. Having faced umpteen invasions and hosting a long line of Polish kings, today this magnificent fortification enjoys a relaxed life as a museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Away from royal residencies, you’ll find reminders of the city’s significance during WW2. Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Europe, and stands today as a reminder of Poland’s sobering past.
Walk in the footsteps of Turkish emperors in Istanbul’s Old City (formerly Constantinople) and marvel at primitive Ottoman-era weaponry in Topkapi Palace. Or, if you want to see how the locals spend their afternoons, head to the city’s vibrant Grand Bazaar in the Fatih district. Here, the aroma of sweet baklava and spiced incense candles hang comfortingly in the warm Mediterranean air, whilst a cacophony of calls from Turkish carpet sellers bring the Bazaar to life.