As travel restrictions continue to be lifted across the world, usually requiring only a Covid-19 vaccination pass without quarantine or testing, people are looking at whether they can go on holiday this year.
According to Google trend data analysed by Wizz Air, searches for the phrase ‘half term holidays abroad’ has increased by 7,200% in the last month, so clearly people are already in full planning mode.
But, if you’re not looking to go on one of those all-inclusive holidays by a beach where you can vegetate for a week, it can be hard knowing where you should be going.
Taking a long weekend or a mini break to a gorgeous city where you can have fun, explore the cultural history of the place, and eat some delicious food is becoming more and more popular nowadays.
Not only that, they’re inexpensive too, especially if you can find the right AirBnB or a nice hostel to stay in rather than a five-star resort – sure, you won’t be waited on hand and foot, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a good time.
So, here are some of the best mini-breaks in Europe to put on your shortlist for the year.
Georgia might sound like a strange choice when you think of a traditional city break, but the capital of this country has the most gorgeous cobbled streets and architectural gems just like the cities in Western Europe.
You’ve got a beautiful skyline, which is a mixture of the modernist structures from the Soviet era and the sixth century Orthodox churches, making for a great Instagram opportunity.
There are plenty of amazing bars, restaurants, and vintage cafes for you to grab a warm coffee or a ice-cold pint, and so much to see.
It has such an interesting history that is painted across the whole city, including natural sulphur bathhouses, and 8,000 year-old wine that is both delicious and inexpensive.
For an unorthodox city break, Tbilisi is a great choice.
When you think of visiting Ireland, your first thought is likely Dublin rather than Galway.
But, there’s a lot to see in Galway and it’s a refreshing change from the capital, even if you’ve only heard of it because of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’.
For the artsy among us, there is excellent live music, dynamic theatre, and a thriving cultural scene here.
There are historic pubs in the city and a beautiful coastline nearby dotted with lighthouses, where you can walk, cycle, or simply just enjoy the view.
It’s also a foodie paradise, with Michelin-starred restaurants, local offerings, tapas, and a variety of cuisines – seafood is especially popular, as it offers fresh fish from the bay it sits on.
Learn about Irish history with a quick trip to Galway, where you can enjoy everything in just a long weekend.
Just like many other European cities, Zagreb has amazing museums, gorgeous architecture, and plenty of fun activities to partake in.
The city is also quite laidback and you’ll find it a relaxing experience when engaging in the local colour.
It’s a compact city filled with food, festivals, and an abundance of culture, but despite this, there aren’t as many tourists as you’d find elsewhere so you won’t be stuck in stifling crowds.
It’s also the perfect place for a short city break, because it’s big enough to entertain you for at least a few days but not too big as to be annoying to get around – in fact, you can get almost everywhere on foot.
There’s plenty of trendy cafes, delicious restaurants to suit all palettes, fun bars, and quirky attractions that will be weirdly enjoyable.
Malta’s capital city is not usually included in lists about Europe’s best holidays, but the compact city with big ideas is a perfect place to visit.
The city was built in the 16th century so there’s a long history to explore there, featuring beautiful cathedrals, colourful gardens, grand mansions, and the cobbled streets Europe is famous for.
Just walking around Valetta feels like stepping back in time, and you will be steeped in culture no matter where you go – especially following its nomination as the European Capital of Culture in 2018.
Live music, contemporary bars, and inexpensive but delicious restaurants are a reminder of the city’s offerings to its military visitors while they were on shore leave, so there’s no shortage of fun to be had.
As a UNESCO site, you will be able to have a good time while still feeling like you’re doing something ‘high-brow’ when visiting Valetta.
Athens, where the Olympics were first staged and named for the Greek God Athena, is also overflowing with history.
The ancient Greek capital has evolved into a modern city now but the old ruins and crumbling columns can be seen in almost every corner so you can feel like you’re stepping back into a Greek myth.
You’ll have everything you’d expect from a normal, modern city, including politically charged art, diverse offerings in food and drink, and fun local activities.
But historical fans will be salivating at being able to explore everything that has made this city survive for centuries.
Plus, you can visit the coast for a day trip if you have the time to indulge in a quick dip in the water – there’s really something for everyone here in Athens.
You’ve probably heard of Budapest as a great place to have a stag-do and bag a cheap pint, but there’s so much more to this illustrious city.
It’s one of the most beautiful cities, and offers you a taste of its glamour and the modern experiences you’ll be wanting in a city break.
Every street is Instagram-worthy so make sure you have enough storage on your phone before you go.
The River Danube is gorgeous, obviously, separating the hilly and historic city of Buda from the bright and vibrant Pest so there truly is the best of both worlds here.
There are thermal baths across the city which almost every travel expert says are a must, as well as the UNESCO-listed Buda Castle, plus the aforementioned cheap drinks to go along with some exquisite food.
Whether it’s a solo holiday, a couples trip, or a stag-do, Budapest is a great place to visit.
Located in the heart of Europe, Vienna is a very popular destination, likely because of its stunning scenery.
A strong focus on nature, the city is a perfect combination of nature and urban design, similar to places like Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
You’ll be able to visit countless parks and quiet green spaces to reflect on your day if that’s what you wish, in addition to plenty of walks, hikes, and bicycle tours available for tourists.
The historical city has architecture that combines a number of styles, and it’ll be a fun game trying to work out which is which: Art Nouveau, Gothic, Baroque, and the Ringstrebenstil style popularised in Austria back in the day.
Obviously, the city is known for being home to many famous composers over the years, so classical music fans will be able to indulge in the strong musical history and even visit the Philharmonic and Symphonic Orchestra to see what it’s like today.
Visit Vienna’s 100 museums, enjoy its long tradition of coffee-house culture, and the hearty cuisine that will be familiar and unique when travelling to this gorgeous city.
Copenhagen is often listed as a ‘must-see’ city break in Europe, and there are several reasons why.
The city, like Vienna and Amsterdam, is very environmentally friendly, with a focus on walking, cycling, and public transport as well as an abundance of natural green spaces.
It is undoubtedly beautiful as a city, with strong cultural links to music, literature, design, and more.
Copenhagen is also home to several amazing restaurants, including a Michelin-star restaurant serving bugs, and plenty of inexpensive and delicious food that won’t ‘eat’ into your exploration time.
For jazz fans, the city is filled with jazz bars and clubs that will have you forgoing Ronnie Scott’s forever (no offence).
Visit its multiple museums, take a gander down Strøget, their version of Oxford Street, and even take a trip to the seaside if you wish – there’s so much to do in Copenhagen.
The sun-splashed city of Valencia is the perfect balance between a sea-side holiday and a city break, as it sits on Spain’s Mediterrean coast.
Valencia has been designated the European Capital of Smart Tourism as well as the World Design Capital in 2021, so clearly there’s something to it.
It’s almost always beach weather, having 300 sunny days a year, so you can quickly pop off to the seafront for a quick dip.
But, you can also discover a diverse collection of architecture, once again a mix of old and new, and enjoy the vibrant Old Town’s cobbled streets and delicious outdoor dining.
Paella fans will be pleased to know that the dish originated in Valencia, so it will absolutely be a hunger-inducing trip.
Plus, you can time your trip with Valencia’s numerous quirky festivals, because if anything, Valencians know how to party.
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