Coastal escapes, weekend breaks, and city excursions, there is perhaps no other place in the world where such a variety of countries can be found just a quick plane ride away as there is to be discovered in Europe. Here are fifteen city breaks in Europe you’ll want to take!
Why you should visit | Antwerp is the city of Rubens, a great introduction to Belgium
Where to stay | Hotel FRANQ
Antwerp is a beautiful city in Northern Belgium, close to the border with the Netherlands. Known around Europe as a busy and bustling port city, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a weekend to getting to know Anvers (as it is so called in French) or Antwerpen (as it is known in Dutch).
Highlights of this architectural city include following in the footsteps of the Flemish artist Rubens, as well as beautiful vistas dating back centuries. For a true bird’s eye view of the city, make sure to head to the impossibly high viewing platform atop the Museum aan de Stroom.
Read more: Hidden gems and secret spots in Antwerp
Why you should visit | Hidden gem of Northern Italy, all the food!
Where to stay | Hostaria del Relais San Lorenzo
To the East of Milan, you’ll find a breathtakingly beautiful city characterised by its two-tier city, wonderful architecture, and picture-perfect vistas. Welcome to Bergamo, the hidden gem of Northern Italy. Often overlooked by tourists in favour of nearby Milano, this would be your first mistake when planning a trip to Italy.
After all, Bergamo is home to several ancient churches, an old town to rival that of the most famous small cities in the rest of Europe, and a charm that has since been lost in much of the rest of the region. While in town, be sure to take the vintage funicular all the way up to the Citta Alta, an area of the city filled with bars and home to views over Lombardia…
Read more: A guide to the best things to do in Bergamo
Why you should visit | foodie experiences, France’s wine capital
Where to stay | Yndo Hotel
Having rarely ventured to the South West of France for the first twenty years of my life, preferring instead to stay on the beaten tourist track and explore the delights of Paris and Provence instead, I can safely say that I wish that I had made the time to visit more of Nouvelle-Aquitaine much earlier!
Bordeaux is the wine capital of France and this is evidenced by the two museums dedicated purely to wine within the city limits, as well as the historic port. Elsewhere in the city, Roman ruins can be found, remnants of when the city was known as Burdigala.
Read more: How to spend a girls weekend in Bordeaux
Why you should visit | Plenty of history, lots of friendly pubs
Where to stay | The Marker Hotel Dublin
Pubs, literary locations, and all the friendly locals: a weekend in Dublin is never a bad idea, no matter what the time of year. Though, if you’re looking for the best of the weather without the crowds that inevitably flock to the Irish capital in the summertime, plan a spring escape or fall break.
Once in the city, be sure to admire the iconic Trinity College Library, which also happens to be home to the medieval manuscript that is the Book of Kells. Also of note is Marsh’s Library, the oldest public library in Ireland, as well as countless historical, art-focused, and archaeological museums.
Read more: How to spend a weekend in Dublin
Why you should visit | Beer, a different side to Germany, lots of cycling routes
Where to stay | Hotel Friends
Located along the West Rhine, Düsseldorf might not be the first place that springs to mind when considering a city break in Europe. However, with its ease of access (the airport is on the outskirts of the city and cheap flights there can be found in abundance), centuries worth of history, and an incredible number of microbreweries, if you haven’t marked this Germany city on your map yet, then now is the time to!
Read more: A complete guide to visiting Düsseldorf
Why you should visit | Literary locations, Harry Potter inspiration
Where to stay | The Balmoral
As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh certainly has no shortage of things to do, and even more attractions to see. Easy to visit all year ’round thanks to its many international flight connections to cities across the UK, and the rest of Europe, visit in the winter for the Christmas Markets or in August for the iconic Fringe Festival.
At other times of the year, you can expect to be able to explore all of the hidden gems and secret spots that the Scottish capital has to offer. Aside from being the first UNESCO literary city in the UK, in Edinburgh you can also follow the Harry Potter trail or go vintage shopping!
Read more: How to spend a weekend in Edinburgh
Why you should visit | Beautiful architecture, literary connections
Where to stay | Francis Hotel
If you want to experience England of the past and are a fan of all things Jane Austen and period drama related, then you simply must book a trip to Bath. All buttery stone and grand boulevards, this Sotuh West England city may be small, but it offers plenty to discover.
Best seen over the course of the weekend, so as to experience the city’s main attractions, as well as get to know the place on a more local level, some of the best things to do in Bath include walking around the Royal Crescent, enjoying the 19th-century architecture, or visiting all of the independent bookshops this fabulous British city has to offer.
Read more: How to spend a weekend in Bath
Why you should visit | Foodie scene, ease of access to the Swedish west coast
Where to stay | Clarion Hotel Post
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Sweden for the first time recently, and safe to say I’m already planning my return! When many people think of the Nordic countries, they often imagine the great Fjords of Norway or the coffee culture that is so synonymous with Copenhagen.
However, if you haven’t yet considered a European city break to Gothenburg, then I highly urge you to reconsider. As the second largest city in Sweden, Gothenburg is home to plenty of museums, a wonderful coffee culture, and the Gothenburg foodie scene to discover is sure to surprise and delight you in equal measure.
Read more: A foodie guide to Gothenburg
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Why you should visit | Hidden gem of Europe, a picturesque old town, easy to visit nearby castles
Where to stay | Hôtel le Royal
Tucked away in a landlocked country in the heart of Europe, the capital city of Luxembourg is a hidden gem just waiting to be uncovered. The perfect European weekend break destination thanks to easy transport links to the rest of the continent, the city is home to a plethora of historical attractions, stunning viewpoints, and some pretty delicious eateries!
If you have a little more time while in the city during one of the best city breaks in Europe, be sure to take at least one day trip from Luxembourg. After all, the tiny size and great transport links within the country of Luxembourg mean that you can easily get from North to South in a mere couple of hours.
Read more: How to spend a long weekend in Luxembourg
Why you should visit | All the history, plenty of quirky locations, easy destination from which to explore the rest of France
Where to stay | Hotel Fabric
Of course, no article about the best city breaks in Europe would be complete without a nod to the capital city to top them all, that of Paris, France. So whether you want to eat your weight in French pastries in the ever-so-trendy Le Marais district of the city, or follow in the footsteps of artists past in Montmartre, Paris has you covered.
Some of the best things to experience on a weekend break to the French capital include a self-guided walking tour of the Latin Quarter, an exploration of all of the independent bookshops dotted across the city, or a step back in time in one of Paris’ most historic areas, the island of Ile de la Cité.
Read more: How to spend a long weekend in Paris
Why you should visit | Hidden gem of Europe, plenty of stunning architecture
Where to stay | Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace
Located in Northern Portugal, Porto is one of the largest cities in Portugal (second only to the capital city of Lisbon). Other than ornately tiled façades and stunning views onto the River Douro, some of the best highlights of this stunning city include a historic old town, Port wine tasting opportunities, and Livraria Lello, a stunning bookshop that’s alleged to have inspired a room in the Harry Potter wizarding series.
Why you should visit | Wonderful architecture, fantastic foodie experiences, great beer!
Where to stay | Aria Hotel Prague
As the capital city of the Czech Republic, it should come as no surprise that Prague (or Praha as it is known locally) is absolutely packed with exciting things to see and do. Thanks to the compact nature of the city and the fact that many of the main attractions are located close to one another (especially in the Old Town part of Prague), the city is best explored on foot!
And that’s not the only reason that Prague is one of the best city breaks in Europe! Instead, there are plenty of reasonably priced places to stay, a ‘Castle District’ that’s complete with fortifications, a cathedral, and wonderful panoramic views, and some of the best beer to be found anywhere in Europe!
Read more: How to visit Prague Astronomical Clock
The Hague, The Netherlands
Why you should visit | Unexpected Dutch city, easy base from which to explore the rest of Holland
Where to stay | Hotel des Indes
What many people don’t realise when they first book a trip to The Hague, is that there are two parts to the city. Yes, there’s the towering skyscrapers in amidst the older hofjes and cobbled lanes, but there’s also a beautiful sandy beach to be explored in the form of Scheveningen.
Due to ease of public transport in the city, as well as The Netherlands as a whole, The Hague is also a great place in which to base yourself for exploring the rest of the country. After all, the university city of Leiden, the ceramic city of Delft, and even the capital city of Amsterdam are all within a half hour train ride away.
Why you should visit | City of love, Romeo and Juliet, beautiful architecture
Where to stay | Hotel Due Torri
Ah, Verona. Could a European city break get more romantic than the city of Romeo and Juliet themselves? Most famous as being the location where William Shakespeare set his world-famous play all those centuries ago, today Verona is home to plenty of Roman history, lots of foodie experiences, and many cobbled lanes.
If you are are a fan of one of the more epic love stories of all time, then be sure to head to the ‘Casa di Giulietta’. Though it’s now known that the balcony was added as a tourist addition to the Medieval house during the 1930s, there’s something still so charming about the way lovers flock here come rain or shine for a glimpse of the ‘star-crossed lover’s’ location…
Why you should visit | The architecture, a great solo travel destination
Where to stay | The Dolder Grand
Though visiting Switzerland is a little more on the expensive side of things, thanks to its wonderful architecture, number of museums, and friendly locals, Zurich more than deserves its place on the list for the best city breaks in Europe.
Some of the best ways to explore the city over the course of a weekend include admiring the 12th-century Cathedral (known locally as the Grossmünster), exploring the many art museums the Swiss city has to offer, and taking yourself on a day excursion from the city to a nearby fairytale town.
Read more: How to spend 72 hours in Switzerland