Ready for takeoff
Whether it’s a long weekend or a midweek treat, a city break packs a lot of holiday into a few days. Sightseeing, shopping or just a bit of sun, there’s a city to suit. Go upmarket or bag a bargain with our pick of destinations you can reach directly from Aberdeen airport…
Tarragona is a Spanish port city that’s around a twenty minute transfer from Reus airport, just along the coast from Barcelona. Direct flights are under three hours. It’s great for couples or a getaway with friends. You get beaches, warm weather, a medieval city to get lost in, some impressive Roman ruins and a vibrant late night food culture with excellent seafood.
The central food market is fascinating, though there may be restrictions about what you can bring home. History buffs will love the Roman Amphitheatre and aqueduct, though kids may be more enthusiastic with the nearby theme parks. PortAventura includes a newly opened water park and sixed themed worlds to explore, while Aquapolis includes a dolphin show. If you’d prefer something more off-beat, Sirenas Mediterranean Academy is the place to go if you want to spend an hour or two learning how to be a mermaid or a triton.
Exeter’s a great choice for a UK city break, being far enough away to feel different, but small enough that you can easily cover the highlights in a couple of days. There’s 2000 years of history to explore, from the cathedral precincts to the underground tunnels. The university makes it a fairly cosmopolitan city, with lots of vintage and specialist shops.
Head out to Topsham, which feels a bit like Boden-on-Sea with its cute lifestyle and delis lining the way to the marina, lido and antiques centre.
Further afield, Devon has lots to offer from Boscombe Beach, Babbacombe Model Village, to Kent’s Cavern and a donkey sanctuary. You can even visit Buckfast Abbey where the monks produce a tonic wine beloved of thirsty Glaswegians.
Amsterdam is perfect for art lovers. Every second building seems to be a museum or gallery, so there’s a lot to explore. Once you’ve had your fill of Van Gogh and Rembrandt, try The Wondr Experience, Micropia, BodyWorlds or Youseum.
If it’s serenity you’re seeking, take a wander along the canalsides, take in the aroma of the flower market, head for the woods at Amsterdam Bos, visit the butterfly house at the botanic gardens or take a hike through the city’s Vondelpark. Alternatively, pack a picnic and take the No. 2 tram out to Molen Van Sloten, a picturesque village with a working windmill.
Amsterdam boasts restaurants offering every imaginable international delicacy, which may be just as well since traditional Dutch dishes tend towards fatty meat and vegetable stews that have been boiled into mush. They’re good at chips, though.
When it comes to bargain shopping and souvenirs, try the Albert Cuypt Street Market or the monthly flea market at IJ-Hallen. Henri Willig Cheesemakers on Reguliersbreestraat specialise in organic cheeses from their own farms, which is always worth taking home.
The 9 Streets area offers an eclectic mix of design-led shops and Old Zuid is home to luxury boutiques. You’ll find Dior, Prada and Chanel at P.C. Hooftstraat. Of course, if you’re feeling rather flush, there’s always the diamond district!