In need of some R&R? A few days to just get away from it all, relax, pamper yourself, or indulge in a spot of retail therapy? If your travel antenna is currently tuned to a getaway break, here are five of the best destinations in Europe that are perfect for that much-deserved long weekend. Head out of town on the Friday and enjoy a few days in a great city before returning fit and fresh for the week ahead.
Sure, Iceland’s got Reykjavík. But to get away from the crowds consider a trip to its close neighbour Hafnarfjörður, about ten miles south of the capital. Alpharooms lists Hafnarfjörður as one of Europe’s best alternative breaks, so if you’re looking for something a little different – but still want to enjoy all that Reykjavík has to offer – you should definitely pay this charming, gay-friendly port town a visit. Like most of Iceland, Hafnarfjörður is all about landscapes and geology – hot springs, geothermal pools and lava flows are aplenty. Elsewhere, there’s the Hafnarfjörður Museum, which houses cultural artefacts and photographs of the town and its surrounding region. Oh, and if you visit in June, keep an eye out for Vikings – Norsemen descend on the town for its annual Viking Festival.
Autumn is generally regarded as one of the best times to visit the German city of Munich, because that’s when the place starts to return to normal after the general busy-ness of Oktoberfest, the world-famous beer festival. If beer’s not your thing but it’s relaxation, architecture and culture that you’re after, then head to Munich this autumn and winter. This most historic of German cities and the capital of Bavaria combines old world charm with modern sophistication: for every backstreet antiques shop seemingly frozen in time, there’s a thoroughly modern, Mediterranean-style café.
Le Havre, France
France’s major port town is easily accessible from the UK with ferries arriving from there every day, making it the perfect place for a last-minute long weekend. While Le Havre’s port is a very important part of its make-up, there’s a lot more going on here. This town on the mouth of the River Seine is, according to one website, unlike any other in all of France, thanks to its imposing Brutalist architecture that sprang up as Le Havre rebuilt itself after it was nearly obliterated during World War II. Le Havre’s post-war architecture is so significant that is has now been designated a UNESCO World heritage site. 2017 is also a good year to visit Le Havre as it’s the 500th year of its founding.
London feels as though it was almost built for a weekend break. A multitude of ways to get to the city with ease plus plenty of choice when it comes to hotels, London is pretty much the go-to choice for a long weekend. In central London you’ll be spoilt for choice for things to do, from world-renowned museums like the V&A and the British Museum to the shopping district that is Covent Garden to a visit to Westminster, there’s pretty much everything. Away from the hustle and bustle you can visit one of the city’s many parks, squares and beautiful green spaces. The food’s pretty good, too.
Another contender for best city break destination in Europe. Madrid is easy to get to and absolutely full of things to do. From high art at the Prado Museum where masterpieces are housed to a night of European football at the Bernabeu, Madrid offers something for all comers. Duck down a side street and tuck into tapas, head to a bar and enjoy some flamenco.