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Top 5 European city breaks

By Emma
Top 5 European city breaks

Getaway cities with a difference

Prague

Prague’s historic bridges, towers and churches combined with its modern music, art and dining cultures establishes this city as an alternative hotspot.

Prague’s city centre has been designated a World Heritage Site and popular attractions include the New Town with the historic Wenceslas Square, the Astronomical Cloc and the Metronome – a giant functional metronome that looms over the city. You can also see the National Museum or State Opera and Prague lays claim to the largest castle in the world.

The city has a huge and varied art collection ranging from Art Nouveux to Baroque and Gothic to Neo-Classical.

The vibrant nature of the city means there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and cheap apartments and hotels for travellers from all over the world.

The introduction of low cost flights has made Prague one of the most popular short-stay destinations in Europe.

Lisbon

Lisbon thrives on being one of the best city and beach combo destinations in Europe. From the bustling city centre, you can be relaxing on the picturesque beach, less than thirty minutes away.

Take a ride around the city on the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that trundle over the seven steep hills across which the settlement lies.

At the top of one of the city’s most towering hills is the Moorish Alfama neighbourhood. Here, the Arabic-cum-medieval castles make for a stunning attraction.

The famous Baixa district takes you back to the bygone culture of the city where herbalists, haberdashers and tailors barter on the streets.

Enjoy the spectacular city views of Lisbon from the hilltop castle of St George. The castle also overlooks the Targes estuary.

A popular nightspot for travellers is the bar-filled cobbled lanes of boho Bairro Alto

Cologne

One of Germany’s media, tourism and business hotspots, Cologne has an international reputation for its vibrant atmosphere. The streets of Cologne are a tantalising mix of pubs, restaurants and clubs as well as historical monuments.

Cologne features numerous cultural relics from the past 2,000 years, such as the famous Roman Dionysus mosaic, the medieval Overstolzenhaus which was Rome’s first aristocratic family home and the Gürzenich Hall, popularly known as the city’s ‘front parlour’.

From the city, you can take boat trips on the Rhine all the way to Strasbourg in France. The highlight of the route lies between St. Goar and Rudesheim where the stunning views of castles and vineyards provide lasting memories for travellers.

Regarded as one of the most liberal cities in Germany, Cologne boasts over 3,000 pubs and restaurants and you can often find people drinking Cologne’s speciality, Kölsch beer.

The main areas to soak in the city’s dynamic nightlife are the Old Town, the Kwartier Latäng (Cologne’s student area) around the Zülpicher and Luxemburger Straße.

Istanbul

Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, basks in its unique position as the physical and cultural border between Asia and Europe.

Its famous years spent at the centre of various empires means Istanbul boasts an array of historic and religious places. The Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and Basilica Cistern located around Sultanahmet Squareare enchanting reminders of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods.

Istanbul Modern, with its exhibitions of contemporary Turkish art, can be found on the waterfront of Karaköy, one of the oldest and most historic districts of the city.

Yacht cruises are a popular activity for travellers who can take in the stunning views of the Bosphorus, the strait that forms part of the boundary between the two continents, whilst eating a meal in one of the many floating restaurants.

The city also has one of the oldest subways in the world: the ‘Tunel’ which was built in 1876.

Istanbul was voted European City of Culture in 2010.

Söll

Once looked down on as a lads’ getaway destination, in recent times Söll has transformed its image into an attractive and cheap skiing resort for all.

The amenities here have played a key part in making it a popular option with families looking for cheaper ski trips.

The unofficial capital of SkiWelt ski resort, Söll has a dozen villages with 250km of skiing and 94 lifts. The area is famous for providing the gateway to a fantastic circuit in the heart of the Kitzbühel Alps.

Another lure of Söll is its beginner friendly pistes. It is a fantastic starting point for an inexperienced skier, but located in an area where you can venture onto other, more challenging ski routes.

There are no bus services in the area to rescue you if you ski too far so be cautious when planning your route!

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