If you need a quick getaway, it’s easy to settle for a weekend city break in Paris, London or Amsterdam, but with a little creative thinking and a bit of planning ahead, there are more enticing options for a flying visit. Here’s a few of our favourites…
Spain’s capital is a world away from the cheap and cheerful Costas, and has a totally different vibe to Barcelona. Grand buildings, a buzzing nightlife, world class galleries and a packed menu of interesting bars and restaurants make it a great choice for a busy weekend. You can also chill in the city’s squares and parks or take a day trip to the charming medieval town of Toledo, or take in a football match at Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium – almost guaranteed to be warmer than Pitoddrie.
Admittedly this one involves flying via Stockholm, but it’s worth it. Skellefteå is a brilliant small city, at the southern edge of Swedish Lapland, with plenty of quirky little shops, natural and cultural attractions and serious bragging rights. Just 200km short of the Arctic Circle, winters are cold and dark, meaning plenty of layers and the chance to snuggle. Outdoors types will revel in the opportunity to fish, go dog-sledding, ski cross country or try a sauna followed by a dip in an icy lake.
Low key and relaxed, Pula is situated on the Croatian Adriatic. It’s a great option for a chilled out, slow paced weekend. Immerse yourself in the city’s amazing Roman ruins or explore the region’s winemaking heritage. If you fancy something more energetic, try sailing, snorkelling or even skydiving. Pula is known for its mild climate, sheltering hills and calm sea, perfect for recharging your batteries and getting away from it all.
There’s a lot to be said for Venice in Winter, when most of the tourists are gone and you can wander the ancient streets and explore the canals in relative peace. February sees the city come alive for Carnivale season, a romantic riot of heaving bosoms and masked costumed balls. Explore the grand Palazzos, St. Mark’s and, the Doge’s Palace, or just get lost in the warren of back streets. Murano, the nearby island home to artisan glass makers, is worth a trip on the city’s waterbuses and Burano is a charming little island. Food isn’t Venice’s forte, since the sheer volume of tourists mean many venues are overpriced and under-inspired, but don’t miss the chance to see the sun go down over a Bellini or two at Harry’s Bar.
Wroclaw combines a weathered medieval Old Town, largely reconstructed in the wake of WWII, delightful riverside locations and some solid eastern european fare. Like Venice, the city spans several islands, joined by bridges, so it’s easy to explore on foot. It’s perfect for a boys’ weekend, since there are a lot of artisan breweries, beer halls and brewpubs, hearty sausage-based cuisine, and a museum dedicated to Allied prisoners of war on the site of the prison camp made famous by The Great Escape.