Every upcoming weekend represents a possible trip. But don’t think you should just head to the same obvious spots again and again. Instead, grab your friends and plan a weekend break somewhere new and unexpected.
Heard of Portafino in Italy? Wondered what Gothenburg has to offer? Forgotten where Graz is? Well here are ten European vacation spots you may not have considered but definitely should...
Refinery29Estonia’s capital city, located along the Baltic Sea, is a good holiday destination for those who don’t want to overdo it on spending. History buffs can visit the Estonian History Museum and the city’s Old Town, which is walled in and navigated by its cobblestone streets.
Tallinn’s hotels aren't the trendiest bunch, but Merchant's House Hotel is a good, funky option with an ideal location for walking around town. Of course, you’re not just here for the sightseeing: Tallinn’s nightlife is boisterous and you can pick between raucous nightclubs and loud, boozy pubs. Club Hollywood is an especially popular night out, where you’ll find a young crowd of both locals and tourists dancing and imbibing.
Refinery29The east German city of Dresden is a compelling alternative to Berlin or Prague and easily experienced over a quick weekend break. The city, which was largely rebuilt after World War II, is walkable and filled with parks and historic sites like the Frauenkirche church and Rococo masterpiece, the Zwinger (which also houses the Old Masters Picture Gallery). The centrally located Gewandhaus Dresden has good deals on room rates and from there you can head to old school cocktail bar Pinta or catch a concert at Katy’s Garage.
Refinery29The Romanian capital of Bucharest is a three-hour flight from London, but worth the trek for its eclectic vibe and storied history. The city is best visited in early autumn, when the heat is less sweltering, and it is notably inexpensive to eat, drink and be merry there.
Make Hotel Christina, which averages a mere £56 per night, your base for the weekend and be sure to visit The National Museum of Contemporary Art, which is housed in a section of the parliament building. Have dinner at Caru’ cu Bere, a traditional Romanian restaurant near the Old Town that is worthwhile for the atmosphere alone (although you’ll also appreciate shots of the national Romanian liquor, Țuică).
Refinery29If you’ve already visited Vienna, try Graz, Austria’s second largest city, for a weekend jaunt. Bunk up at the ultra modern Augarten Art Hotel, which has deals on offer through the autumn. There are a lot of historic sites and parks to take in as you walk (or bicycle) around the city, and there are several large outdoor markets worth perusing. The Schlossberg, a hill and old fortress in the centre of the city, is accessible on foot or via a funicular, and is home to a restaurant called Aiola Upstairs that boasts an insane view. Come nighttime, you’ll want to wander into the Lend district, where you can grab a brew at beer and billiards hall Brot & Spiele or feel like you’re back at home at the Running Horse, a British-inspired pub.
Refinery29OK, so Georgia is not often on lists of places to visit around Europe, but the country’s capital of Tbilisi is a great place to experience something new and different during your days off. Bed down at the chic Rooms Hotel, which offers luxury cool for less than £150 per night. The city itself is filled with history, dating from the rules of both the Persians and the Russians, and you can get an overhead view from the Aerial Tramway. Barbarestan, which serves local Georgian fare, is considered a must-visit restaurant, and the city is known for its wine bars (be sure to stop in at Schuchmann Wine Bar & Restaurant for local fare under spooky arches).
Refinery29The walled, medieval city of Saint-Paul-de-Vence is nestled high on a hillside in the French Riviera, only a short drive from Nice airport. Once there, you can drink wine overlooking the mountains, visit the impressive contemporary art collection at the Fondation Maeght and pay homage to artist Marc Chagall at his gravesite. The hotels vary in cost and luxury, but if you want to stay inside the walls, where the stone streets are charmingly narrow and crooked, check out Hotel Le Saint Paul. For a more relaxed countryside stay, book a room at Hotel La Grande Bastide, where you can drink your rosé poolside.
Refinery29Although Stockholm makes for a great visit, consider the Swedish city of Gothenburg for your next Scandinavian holiday. The colourful, vibrant city has plenty to do over a weekend, including lots of shopping (be sure to hit up the shop of Swedish designer Filippa K). In the afternoon, indulge in fika – traditional Swedish coffee break – in the Haga district, and in the evening grab a cocktail at the bar in Marcus Samuelsson’s chic Norda restaurant. Bed down at the luxurious Hotel Pigalle, located in central Gothenburg, which is known for its downstairs Bar Amuse.
Refinery29Riga, Latvia’s largest city, is worth a trip for the Instagram photos alone. Located along the Baltic at the mouth of the Daugava River, the city is home to incredible art nouveau architecture, old wooden buildings and a medieval Old Town, and is considered a cultural hub. Visit the exhibitions and events at the hip Kalnciema kvartals or the Kaņepes cultural centre, and head to the open-air Central Market for local fare. Neiburgs Hotel is popular boutique hotel where you can indulge for a fairly low rate. In the evening, take in the city view at the Skyline Bar or grab a craft beer at Labietis Alus Darbnica, one of Riga’s favourite pubs.
Refinery29The fishing village of Portofino, located along the Italian Riviera, is iconic for its colourful cliffside houses and panoramic views of the sea. The city has very few hotels, most of which are quite expensive, but Hotel Eden is an affordable option that will put you in the centre of Portofino and within walking distance to everything you’ll need.
You’re here to relax and enjoy the scenery, but you’re also in Italy, which means Italian food. Da Puny is one of the town’s best restaurants, and you should also book at table at Taverna del Marinaio to indulge in local seafood. While you’re there, it’s worth hiring a car to drive along the coast to see some of the other small Italian towns (and be warned: you’ll probably want to stay longer than a weekend).
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