With cheap flights serving numerous towns and cities around Europe, there is certainly no shortage of city break destinations for a long weekend away. In fact, you will almost certainly find yourself spoiled for choice and struggling to figure out which destination is most suitable. The following takes a look at a wide range of European cities to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Served by EasyJet and various other cheap airlines, Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe. The City of a Thousand Spires boasts some of the continent’s finest architecture, world-class cultural and entertainment venues, and perhaps most famously, some of the cheapest and best beer in all of Europe. The optimal time to visit is May or September when there are fewer tourists and fairly reliable weather. Prague is also a bargain destination, provided that you go to the right places and avoid the obvious tourist traps. Daytrips to places like Kutná Hora (home of the bone church) and Karlštein are also not to be missed.
2. Berlin, Germany
The German capital is home to almost four-million. This sprawling metropolis is the ultimate destination for culture lovers and partygoers alike. It boasts some of the most varied architecture of any major city in Europe. Today, Berlin is a place to experience a huge diversity of everything both modern and ancient such as Potsdamer Platz and Alexanderplatz respectively. It is also well known for its vibrant café culture, particularly in the popular student-orientated area of Kreuzberg in East Berlin. While Berlin itself is quite an expensive city break destination, there are many cheap flights there from across Europe.
3. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is one of the favourite cities in Spain for those seeking a short break. With a warm climate and plenty of cheap flights, the country’s second-largest city presents visitors with a unique atmosphere and a plethora of things to do and see. It is also the cultural capital of the Catalan-speaking region of Spain. Barcelona has an extensive old town characterized by its well-preserved medieval architecture and numerous narrow side streets. The city is also home to one of Europe’s most famous landmarks – La Sagrada Familia. This truly breathtaking church has been under construction for over one-hundred years and is only now nearing completion.
4. Budapest, Hungary
The Hungarian capital lies on the banks of the mighty River Danube. Like Prague, Budapest has a very baroque feel about it. After all, it was a place of major importance during the years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In addition to having an extremely lively, alternative and student-fuelled nightlife, Budapest also presents visitors its famous thermal baths and a multitude of impressive sites such as the spectacular parliament building, the Castle District and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Many cheap flights service the city, and the destination itself is also quite cheap compared to Western standards.
5. Paris, France
This list certainly wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the City of Lights. France’s capital has long been the most visited city in Europe. The city is enormous if you include the entire metropolitan area, although the centre itself is home to only around 2.2 million. Famous for its art galleries and numerous other cultural venues, Paris is also one of the world’s most important capitals of fashion. Although it can be extremely expensive, Paris is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants and a lively café culture. There are many attractions, such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Paris Catacombs, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and much more.
6. London, United Kingdom
London might not be as beautiful as cities like Paris or Barcelona, but the UK’s enormous and extremely diverse capital remains one of the world’s most popular destinations. Chaotic at times and always filled with energy, this city of eight-million is truly multicultural and is home to a wide variety of attractions and things to do. It is also home to some of the world’s most famous museums and art galleries, such as the Tate Modern, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and various others. Other must-see attractions include Trafalgar Square, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Tower of London and the Globe Theatre.
7. Madrid, Spain
Madrid is Spain’s capital and largest city. Home to just over three-million people, Madrid boasts some of Europe’s liveliest nightlife and cultural and historical sites which can easily rival those of many other major European cities. Although it can be significantly cheaper than many other Western European cities, Madrid is still quite an expensive destination. Fortunately, it has many cheap flight connections around the continent. Sites include the enormous Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and the museums of the area dubbed the ‘Museum Triangle.’ The city is home to numerous baroque palaces and religious buildings too.
8. St Petersburg, Russia
Russia’s second-largest city is also arguably its most splendid. With a very much imperial and baroque feel about it, this city of five-million people is perhaps most famous for the Hermitage, one of the largest art galleries in the world. However, St Petersburg is also home to numerous other spectacular sites such as the Winter Palace (where the Hermitage is), the Peter and Paul Fortress, the Alexander Nevskiy Monastery and the Church of the Saviour among others. Although St. Petersburg is a popular destination, many people are put off by the fact, that for most people, a visa is required. However, you can be sure that a visit to this fine city will be worth it.
9. Vilnius, Lithuania
If big cities are not your thing and you are looking for a more relaxing break slightly off the beaten track, then Lithuania’s charming capital may be the perfect place for you to spend a weekend. Vilnius has a fairly small population of a little over half a million, and its centre and old town may easily be explored on foot. You shouldn’t have to use public transport at all here except for getting to and from the airport. Granted the European Capital of Culture award in 2009, Vilnius is a quaint city with a pleasant café culture and a laid-back atmosphere. Be sure to pay a visit to the newly reconstructed castle and royal palace as well as the cathedral and town hall square.
10. Lviv, Ukraine
Still very much off the beaten track for Western travellers, the Ukrainian city of Lviv is the perfect destination for those seeking a cheap holiday to a small and relaxing city far away from the hectic atmospheres of Europe’s larger cities. Although originally a Polish city, Lviv has become a centre for Ukrainian culture making it one of the best places to experience the real Ukraine. It boasts a variety of architecture including a beautiful town square and a baroque opera house at the end of Svobody Avenue. There are not many cheap flights to Lviv, but there are many train and bus connections for nearby Rzeszów in Poland.