City breaks can be enjoyed throughout the year but are a popular option for us Brits come autumn. Escape Britain’s brisk mornings! Explore warmer parts of Europe, such as Rome (which reaches a comfortable 22° in October) and learn something new.
Another great thing about city breaks is you can travel light – before returning home with a case full of treasures! Book your city break package deal to include tours, transport, and accommodation, and you’ll be ready to go.
The question is: Where to go for a city break in Europe? Luckily, we’ve covered 10 of the best city breaks for you to choose from below. From the cheapest city breaks to the most romantic – take your pick.
What are the top 10 city breaks in Europe?
1. London, which is full of street food markets and adorned in Romanesque architecture.
2. Edinburgh, home to Edinburgh Castle, which was built on an extinct volcano called Castle Rock.
3. Paris, where a walk “will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life” (Thomas Jefferson).
4. Rome, the Eternal City, is where you can taste traditional pizza, within alfresco restaurants.
5. Budapest, dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’, was founded in 1873 after the unification of Buda, Óbuda, and Pest.
6. Spanish city breaks into mighty Madrid, bustling Barcelona, or sunny Seville.
7. Dublin, where you can stop for a drink at the oldest pub in Ireland – the Brazen Head (1168).
8. Florence, where you can find one of the largest cathedrals in the world.
9. Prague, referred to as the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ and ‘The Golden City’.
10. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, which orginated as a small fishing village in the 13th century.
Cheap city breaks in Europe
Some of the cheapest city breaks from the list above are in the east. However, you could argue that what you’ll see there will make your holiday priceless.
What city breaks are the cheapest?
Budapest is not just one of the cheapest city breaks but one of the most exciting cities in Europe. Hungary’s capital is a beauty! Full of historical sites, warm hospitality, and natural baths it’s the perfect location for a wellness holiday to enhance your wellbeing. For instance, be pampered at a spa after admiring the amazing architecture and magical castles. Then, sip some beef goulash soup, one of Hungary’s traditional dishes.
To see more well-preserved castles, head to Prague where you can see Prague Castle – one of the largest castles in the world. Despite its growing popularity, Prague is still a relatively affordable destination. During a city break in Prague, stroll across beautiful bridges over the Vltava River and stop in historical squares for a beverage.
Next, spend half a day visiting Prague’s Castle, before walking alongside unique, Czech Baroque architecture in search of dinner. A contrasting, cosmopolitan city, you can also explore Prague by metro – like the locals – or admire it during a river cruise along the Vltava River. For a warmer destination try a last-minute city break in Spain…
Last-minute city breaks in Spain
Turn up the heat during the winter months and book a Spanish City break. For foodies, Barcelona will give you more than the usual “tomato, garlic, and olive oil” dishes. Tuck into tapas or try traditional lesser-known Spanish specialties like paella with rabbit and snails (Paella Valenciana).
For more traditions to try head to historical Seville. Here you can embrace Spain’s national dance – flamenco dancing at the Museo del Baile Flamenco or shop till you drop at the Plaza Duque de la Victoria.
If you prefer history, go back in time to Madrid by visiting some palaces. Cybele Palace and the Royal Palace of Madrid are two of 12 in Madrid to find. Look out for all the palaces along hidden streets, as well as Catedral de la Almudena! For more information about holidays to Spain from our top Spanish holiday destination guide.
The best UK City Breaks
In Edinburgh, enjoy a unique holiday in Scotland’s capital. First, enjoy a hearty Scottish breakfast. Before watching some street entertainers in the Grassmarket. If the weather drops, warm yourself at the Scotch Whiskey Experience down The Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is the heart of Scotland’s historic capital! Next, find a traditional pub for a warming plate of haggis, neeps, and tatties with whisky sauce.
If sitting in a pub is not for you, there are some hidden, eclectic shops and cafes to discover off The Royal Mile too. Plus, Edinburgh’s farmers market is worth a mention to enjoy local specialities. Feeling adventurous and wish to admire the city at sunset? Take the exhilarating walk up Arthur’s Seat.
Another fine city for couples to explore together is Dublin, Ireland! A city break here will give you time to appreciate the neoclassical architecture of a riverside city. Also, there are lots of things to do on both sides of the graceful River Liffey. For a quiet city, break explore one of Dublin’s many parks and green spaces. It has more green spaces than any other European city. One includes an attractive oasis called St Stephens. If you enjoy your time here, why not return for a Christmas break? Dublin is said to be one of the best places to experience Christmas in the world. Another city which has a river running through it is Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a top European city break in Holland, which can be explored during a train holiday. Also, you can hire a self-drive canal boat to sail down Prinsengracht – the most famous canal in the World Heritage Area. To experience city life as the locals do hire a bicycle and cycle to Vondelpark. Vondelpark is ‘The Dam’s’ largest green space – a great place to take children, due to its play park, cafes, and concerts.
With elegant architecture and plenty to see and do, Bath is another place to explore. Sat at the very southern tip of the rolling Cotswold Hills, it has been a top UK World Heritage site since 1987. While there, be transported back in time, as you walk past grand houses and gardens, before stopping at the Roman baths.
To enhance your health and wellbeing pamper yourself at a luxury spa hotel or retreat and read some literacy classics. When you need a stop to refuel there are plenty of beautiful places to eat. For instance, enjoy afternoon tea at a Georgian tea room in the Roman Baths. Or, opt for alfresco dining at the Royal Victoria Park.
Romantic city breaks in Europe
An obvious choice for a romantic city break is Paris. However, to escape the crowds ignore the tourist traps and find your own gems. Attend a macaroon master class during a food tour and share your passion for sugary treats for something unique and romantic. For lunch, create a picnic and sit along the Seine River, to watch the riverboats go by.
Then stretch your legs by visiting Paris’ charming neighbour Montmartre. Walk up Montmartre’s stunning hillside and stroll through its maze of cobbled streets. As Montmartre is known for its artistic history, it may inspire you to create something, like the artists who visited before. To discover more modern French cities read our fantastic holidays in France blog. Or for a more classical city head to Rome.
It’s quite easy to step back in time while in Rome. After stepping outside your hotel and wandering through the streets, you’ll admire Roman décor and stumble upon monuments on the way to the Pantheon. When the aroma of fresh coffee tickles your nostrils it’ll be time for a break. Find one of the many cafes as you approach the archaeological sites, such as the Colosseum. After you discover the Trevi Fountain make a wish by dropping a coin in its waters.
To discover the best sights of the city book a cultural tour or head to the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (Altare della Patria) in Piazza Venezia. This monument is one of the most eye-catching buildings in the whole city. Before you go, don’t forget to taste something Italy is famous for – the finest gelato ice cream.
North of Rome you’ll find the city of Florence on the banks of the River Arno – a serene setting for sunset walks. Spend time in the city and you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in all its beauty, such as colourful renaissance architecture and luxury boutiques. Although Florence is small it has plenty to offer.
Cross the Ponte Vecchio Bridge to visit a church called Santo Spirito. It’s one of the most attractive churches in Florence. Art fan? Visit the Uffizi Gallery to admire some famous exhibits before tucking into a stone-baked pizza. Find more Italian holiday destinations in our blog.
Travel Insurance for European Breaks
Out of the top city breaks we’ve chosen which is your favourite? If you’ve more than one, give yourself the confidence to plan lots of city breaks during a European holiday at any time of the year, with a Free Spirit Annual Travel Insurance policy. This policy is great if you want to pack in as many adventures as possible within 12 months!
Will you plan ahead or go last minute? If you’re feeling spontaneous refer to our previous blog for more advice about booking last-minute holidays. Whenever and wherever you go with Free Spirit Travel Insurance, find all the features and benefits of taking out our policy here.