Spring is officially here! The weather over the Easter weekend was great in Copenhagen, with temperatures reaching 18 degrees, and five consecutive days of perfect sunny skies. And together with great weather, we also get the many public holidays that May has to offer. And that calls for, long weekends and weekend getaways. Recently, one of my friends asked me which cities would I recommend for a quick weekend city-break. So I thought to myself, why not put together a post of our picks for top 10 city-break destinations in Europe.
In our opinion Lisbon has it all: history, culture, architecture, food, and amazing nature. And in terms of comparison to other destinations, it is a bit more affordable and less overrun by tourists. If you have some more time, or you’re on your second visit to Lisbon add Sintra and Cabo da Roca on your list. As for food, Lisbon has a wide variety of restaurants to offer, food markets such as Time Out Mercado da Ribeira or former monasteries turned restaurant such as Cervejaria Trindade.
Grab a drink and a bite at sunset at one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants in Lisbon.
There are so many things to do in Rome, and so little time if they’re only for a weekend. You could discover endless interesting things just by walking the history-filled cobblestone streets. What not to miss while in Rome: the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Trevi fountain, any of the many piazza’s and Vatican City. Not to mention the food, who doesn’t love good Italian food paired with some great Italian wine?
Named the most livable city in the world for ten years in a row by Mercer, Vienna is a great city for tourists just as much. With a variety of parks, cultural events, palaces, and historical monuments, you will not run out of things to do while in Vienna. Getting between locations is made so much easier with the use of Vienna’s U-Bahn ( metro) system.
If you’re in Vienna around Christmas time, be sure to check out one of the many Christmas Markets setup all around the city.
Best explored on a sunny day ( believe me, we’ve tried a rainy day as well), be it during summer or winter, Stockholm will always be a welcoming destination. One activity that’s suited for any season is experiencing the fika culture (more info here) by visiting one of the many bakeries or coffee shops in the city. If the weather is good, relax in one of the many parks, or take a boat tour of the archipelago. Stockholm is the kind of weekend destination that will always invite you back for more.
Although we’ve only spent about 48 hours in Madrid, we have enjoyed every moment of it. We chose a hotel in the old traditional part of Madrid, in the Argüelles neighborhood. The neighborhood is located north-west of Plaza de Espana, and is walking distance from the city center ( Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol). It was great to see that there are so many great restaurants just walking distance from our hotel, such as El Pimiento Verde (restaurant with Basque cuisine) or The Spanish Farm ( farm to table type of restaurant).
Never a dull moment while in London! There are so many things to do, and of course, you can easily spend much more than a weekend here. Most major cities in Europe have good flight options to London, so you can always choose to go back for more. If you think that a city is best explored while walking ( our kind of person) then there’s plenty of that in London, from strolls along Thames River, walks in parks ( Hyde Park, Regents Park, St. James Park), checking out neighborhoods: Southbank, Mayfair, Canary Wharf, Notting Hill, Kensington. If you’re a foodie, check out the Covent Garden Market and the restaurants in Mayfair – there’s something for every taste. To wrap up a full day you can always kick back and relax with a cocktail and some jazz at Nightjar.
Paris is always a good idea for a city break. A weekend won’t be enough time to explore all of what Paris has to offer, but it’s enough to get you to want to come back. If in Paris only for a weekend, be sure to think beforehand what you would like to see. If you’re planning to head to the Louvre Museum check their website to see the times when the entrance is free. Since Paris is quite the popular tourist destination for both long and short stay, keep in mind that you will come across queues for many of the attractions.
Barcelona was one of the busiest city-breaks destinations we have visited so far. Granted, we went to Barcelona for one of its busiest weekends, for the
La Mercè Festival festival. La Mercè Festival is a week-long festival, at the end of September, that celebrates Barcelona’s patron saint. The festival concludes with fireworks at Montjuic fountain and with Correfoc. Correfoc (fire-runs) is a Catalan tradition, where people dressed as devils run around the street and throw fireworks and sparks. This is not an activity for the faint of heart. Be sure to wear protective gear and clothes you do not mind having ruined. There’s quite a lot to do in Barcelona, even without the festival. You could walk around the city and take in the beautiful architecture, or head to La Rambla, Park Guell, the Montjuic Fountain, Montjuic Castle and Funicular, or visit La Sagrada Familia.
Prague is one of the most affordable destinations on the list, but it’s just as impressive as any of the other destinations. I always felt Prague as being an inviting city, with its compact city center, and its cobblestone paved streets. It could also be that I feel so close to the city because it reminds me a lot of my hometown. The Castle and The Old Town Square are my favorite spots in Prague. And since, there’s always time for a great beer while on holiday, Prague will not disappoint in this aspect either. One restaurant we would recommend is Deminka. Dominika is one of the longest-running restaurants in Prague, a place with great food and interesting history.
Last but not least, Copenhagen, the place we now call home. Copenhagen is a great destination for a quick weekend getaway. Most of the main attractions Copenhagen has to offer are packed in a 3-4 km radius from the city center, which makes is very easy to get around. Some of the attractions are: The Little Mermaid, Amalienborg and Rosenborg castles, the Botanical Garden, Nyhavn. Be sure to hop on a boat and see Copenhagen from the canals in a one hour guided tour. If time permits it, head out to one of the castles outside of the city (Kronborg or Frederiksborg) or rent a bike and experience the parks ( Dyrehaven), beaches ( Bellevue, Amager Strand) or Dragør ( one of Denmark’s oldest fishing villages).
What are your favorite city-break destinations? And what are your favorite activities when visiting a new destination?