In high summer, a city break chock full of cultural tours and high-energy activities might not be what you’re after. But European city breaks don’t have to mean nonstop sightseeing and packed schedules. Laidback lounging is what continental cities do best.
Clement climates mean pleasant public parks, wide piazzas for people-watching and ample roof terraces for a sneaky siesta. So sit back with a little sangria or a small aperitif and plan your next stimulating but meditative city break.
This is one of those sparkling cities where anything can happen. With fascinating architectural ruins on every corner and shrines to Catholic saints adorning every back street, wandering aimlessly with no destination in mind will reap you many rewards.
Of course The Vatican, the Coliseum and the Pantheon, all within a short bus or taxi ride of each other are must-sees. Don’t visit in scorching July and August. Rome hotels will have many vacancies, but once the locals make their mass summer exodus to the seaside the city is unusually quiet.
Berlin is a wild and wonderful city for sampling elegant museums, contemporary galleries and surprisingly good cuisine: if spicy sausages are your thing, you won’t be disappointed. Berlin is a malleable melting point of Turkish, Vietnamese and Italian cultures which means fresh kebabs, notoriously good noodle soup, excellent coffee and creamy handmade ice-cream are widely available throughout the city. The upmarket Mitte district teems with young professionals, tech hipsters and Japanese sushi joints.
Spain holidaysare usually filled with Miro, margaritas and moonlit magic. The tapas everywhere is excellent, especially grilled seafood on Las Ramblas, but it isn’t cheap. To get more for your money, consider renting a cheap villa. A shared self-catering apartment with a pool in a beautiful location offers excellent value for money especially if you’re holidaying in a big group.
If you’re facing a city versus beach holiday dilemma, this might be just the ticket. The northern part of Spain might offer an alternative beach experience. Cities in the gourmet Basque country, like San Sebastian, are great options for a fun-filled break by the sea with a more rural feel.
With some of the best seafood in Europe on every street corner, Lisbon is one of the most popular destinations. Turn up in November and you’ll be in for one of the warmest winters in Europe. Nautical museums and seaside motifs abound, especially in Portugal hotels which are charmingly rustic. Aim for one with a view of the 16th Century Jerónimos Monastery.
This article is brought to you by Hayes & Jarvis.