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Top 5 European City Breaks 2023


When many of us think of a holiday abroad, we picture laying on the beach or by the pool sipping cocktails. Now there’s nothing wrong with a bit of relaxation, but what if you want to take in the culture and find out more about the history of your location? Then a city break is the perfect destination. We’ve put together a list of our top 5 European city breaks:

1. Barcelona, Spain

The Sagrada Familia Church Barcelona with greenery in front of it

If you’re looking for a European city break with a beach, Barcelona is the perfect location. It has 4 beaches within walking distance of the city centre. If you choose to travel in spring/early summer you’ll also be able to peruse the many book and flower stalls across the city [1].

Barcelona is well known for its art and architecture, including the magnificent Sagrada Familia church – a world heritage site due to its unique and innovative architecture. The city also has a metro system, making it easy to get around.

2. Milan, Italy

The Duomo Cathedral in Milan

Situated in Northern Italy, Milan is known for it’s high-end fashion, fine dining and architecture. There’s history around every corner of the cobbled streets, including the Duomo Cathedral which took nearly 600 years to build. This may have been down to the amount of detail that went into it, including 3200 statues and 146 stain glassed windows.

Milan is known for being the home of Opera, and has arguably the world’s most famous opera house, “The Teatro alla Scala”. The city also has a great metro system to help you zip around and enjoy the best of Italian cuisine[2].

3. Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian Parliamentary building in Budapest which sits along the Dunube river at sunset.

This eastern European city break location gives you the best of both worlds. The capital is based between the 2 ancient cities of Buda and Pest which are split by the Dunube river. Buda is the more famously chilled side, surrounded by hills and greenery. Pest is the more fast paced city, full of bars and restaurants[3]. Budapest is also known for its beautiful spas. There are indoor and outdoor thermal baths to choose from, including the main pool which has a glass dome, Art Nouveau mosaics and stained-glass windows[4].
Once you’ve relaxed in a spa, you can head to the famous landmark that is the Parliamentary building on the banks of the Dunube river. If you want to view the inside of the Parliament you’ll need to book a guided tour, but the exterior is something you don’t want to miss.

4. Lisbon, Portugal

The Belem waterfront tower in Lisbon with the sunset behind it.

Portugal is well known for its seaside towns, but inward from the coast there are lots of vibrant cities. Lisbon is one of them. Lisbon is famous for its clattering trams, which date back to the late 1800’s. These trams travel through the narrow streets, offering scenic routes so you can take in the sights in comfort. One must see attraction is the waterfront Belem, a tower designed to defend the harbour back in the 16th century[5].

Another historical wonder is Sao Jorge Castle, or Saint Georges Castle – which dates to 1st Century BC. If food is more your thing, you won’t want to miss out on Lisbon’s famous fresh seafood dishes – just one of the perks of being so close to the Atlantic.

5. Athens, Greece

The Parthenon temple in Athens with the sun shining through it

Greece is famous for its many serene islands, however, their capital city situated on the mainland is definitely one for your European city break bucket list. Steeped in history, The Acropolis is always top of the list when it comes to visiting Athens. Upon it, is the Parthenon, a temple thought to be built for the Greek goddess Athena[6].

The city is chock full of museums if you want to learn more about the ancient Greek lifestyle. You should also check out the home of the Olympic games, the Panathenaic Stadium, which was built entirely of marble which dates back to the 4th Century BC.

If you’ve had enough ancient monuments, there are always the stunning national gardens. Or you can just explore the cobbled streets, perfect for finding small café’s and restaurants serving delicious Greek cuisine.

Planning on going away soon? Make sure you’ve got Travel insurance.

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[1] Mini guide to Barcelona, Spain – BBC Travel

[2] Mini guide to Milan, Italy – BBC Travel

[3]The city that lives a double life – BBC Travel
[4]Mini guide to Budapest’s spas – BBC Travel

[5] Mini guide to Lisbon, Portugal – BBC Travel

[6] A perfect day in Athens – BBC Travel

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