Going away on a weekend city break is one of the perks of living in Europe. With quick flights, open borders and a rich history, it’s easy to indulge in the vast culture that Europe has to offer. There are some tried and tested places that are a pleasure to go to, but what happens when you’ve seen all the major cities and capitals? Is it time to call Europe quits and venture for more distant pastures that are more expensive?
We say you don’t have to completely abandon Europe to find a city break that is fresh and exciting. We’ve done some investigating and found this list of the best alternative city breaks in Europe outside of capital cities to venture off the beaten path and save money on your holiday. There is still so much to explore on the continent, and with each of these alternatives, you’ll get an even better deal while you are at it.
Check out our 6 best alternative city breaks in Europe:
Instead of travelling to Rome, go to Ostia
While Rome is a monolith of history with a institutions and architecture of huge significance that can’t be missed, it’s also a hotbed for tourists. If you are looking for a Roman holiday with a bit of a difference, head to Ostia, the second oldest region after Rome in the region. The resort is as perfect place rest and relaxation with its own cultural sites to visit, including a Roman theatre and the Thermal Baths of Neptune. With its close proximity to the capital, it’s incredibly convenient for your next trip to Italy.
Instead of travelling to Madrid, go to Toledo
Just over an hour outside of Madrid, this ancient city is a cultural centre of Spain in its own right. The beautiful Toledo has a cathedral alongside a number of mosques and synagogues perfect for immersing oneself in the history and culture of the town. With its maze of tunnels underneath the city and its mystical, towering castle that dominates the skyline, Toledo is a brilliant choice for anyone ready to soak in some Spanish culture (as well as some sun) for a weekend.
Instead of travelling to Edinburgh, go to Stirling
The capital of Edinburgh is truly a must-see city, with its incredible culture and arts scene, its long bloody history, and the wonderfully friendly people. But as the city itself can be a bit expensive, it may be worth it to head to Stirling, just 45 minutes outside of Scotland’s capital. If you a looking for a bit of history, visit the battlefield of the Battle of Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce defeated the English in 1314. If you are look for more retail therapy, Stirling has a host of authentic Scottish shops, arcades and boutiques suitable for any budget.
Instead of travelling to Dublin, go to Bray
Dublin is a city with a young heart but a rich history and it can easily take several trips to appreciate the full scope of the city. The next time you visit Ireland, also think about taking a trip to Bray, a seaside town just 45 minutes from the busy and expensive capital. This friendly resort town is perfect for families and a great place to visit when wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a day trip and explore the coastline.
Instead of travelling to Brussels, go to Leuven
Brussels is a cosmopolitan hub of politics, art, culture and history, but if you are looking for something off the beaten path, venture to Leuven, just a half hour away from the capital. Well known for the Catholic University there, Leuven is also home to several breweries, including the famed Stella Artois brewery. It’s a mecca of art and culture with one of the finest conservatories in the world as well as a famed rock festival, Marktrock, that happens each summer.
Instead of travelling to Budapest, go to Szentendre
Situated on the Danube river, Szentendre is a culture lover’s paradise. Stop by the Retro Design Centre with its selection of contemporary cars, electrical equipment, kitchen supplies and toys that serve as a catalogue of contemporary Hungarian culture. For the city’s more historic side, visit the Blagovestenska Greek Orthodox church that was built in the 18th Century – a stunning example of baroque-rococo design. If you are looking for different take on Eastern European culture, take a break from Budapest and head to Szentendre.
For a fresh and exciting perspective on European culture, consider taking a break from its main tourist hubs and venture off the beaten path to discover some true European gems.