Where to go for a European Mini-Break
Got some holiday to use up? Or just want a weekend away? With affordable direct flights and plenty to do when you arrive here's our pick of European cities for your mini-break.
With so many European cities right on our doorstep you're spoiled for choice for where to get away for a weekend - we think for a good mini-break the city should fulfil these 3 main criteria. 1. There are direct flights, so you spend less time travelling. 2. The city is easily navigated by foot or public transport. 3. There's plenty of interesting things to do whilst you're there.
Germany is an excellent choice for a European mini-break as there are a number of cities you can get direct flights to from the UK. Flight times are less than 2 hours, which means you spend less time travelling and more time exploring a new city. Each city offers something slightly different, so don't just think 'Berlin' when you think German city break. That being said, let's start with Berlin!
1 hr 45 min
There's plenty to keep you busy in Berlin, whether you're there for culture, history or just to party. Berlin has been shaped by an, at times, turbulent history - but this has resulted in a unique city with something different to offer from east to west.
When the wall came down creatives flocked to east Berlin due to to the promise of cheap rents, though we can safely say the rents aren't cheap anymore! This means if you're looking for hitting the cafes, bars, clubs and shops then head to the trendy East side. If you're looking for something a little more upmarket, then head to the west - here you'll find hotels, boutique shops and upmarket restaurants.
There's tons of touristy spots to visit in the city, and you could probably fill a weekend with just that! For all our tips head to our Berlin travel guide - but some of the top things not to miss are the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.
Berlin | Travel Guide
To say that we've been to Berlin a few times is a bit of an understatement, which says a lot about how fantastic we think the place is, and also how much there is to do there. It also means that we've weeded through the tourist traps and underwhelming experiences to bring you our top travel recommendations for when you land.
1 hr 40 min
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, and this waterfront city is often overlooked by tourists. One of our favourite spots in the city to photograph is the Speicherstadt district - where the river Elbe splits into two smaller canals. Whilst you're there visit Miniatur Wunderland, which has miniature versions of the city, the Alps and other worlwide destinations. It was recently voted the number 1 tourist attraction in Germany for the 3rd year running.
Hamburg | Travel Guide
If you're like us, then before setting out to this criminally overlooked city, you might have only known it as one of the big German cities that isn't Berlin. We're here to tell you that it's so, so much more than that.
1 hr 55 min
Munich is situated in the south of Germany and is the capital of the Bavaria region - famous of course for it's beerhalls and Okotberfest! As it's home to our German colleagues we have rather a soft spot for the city. One of the most fun things to do in the city is head to Eisbachwelle, where you can take part in some river surfing - or if you prefer to stay dry you can sit and watch others give it a go! If you're a football fan then you can visit Allianz Arena, home to (and we hate to admit it) the best football team in the world currently - Bayern Munich.
1 hr 20 min
Cologne sits on the River Rhine, and is one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The city is famous for its High Gothic architecture, and no visit is complete without viewing the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral. For the chocolate lovers out there, you'll love the Cologne Chocolate Museum! We always recommend finding free walking tours, as they are a great way to see all the sites with a local knowledgable guide.
1 hr 25 min
It's only about 25 minutes by train between Düsseldorf and Cologne, so it's possible to visit both in the same weekend. Düsseldorf is largely famous for its fashion and arts scene - so if you're into designer fashion it's worth hitting the shops in Koenigsalle.There are also direct flights available to Frankfurt (1 hr 45 min), Hannover (1 hr 30 min) and Stuttgart (1 hr 40 min).
Looking for something a little warmer? Then why not head south to Italy. With amazing food, great weather and beautiful cities to explore Italy is a great mini-break destination. At time of writing this you can get return flights to Milan for a little as £18!
Travel Insurance - Italy
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2 hr 40 min
Rome is of course the capital of Italy, and maybe on the most iconic destinations world wide. It's also notoriously busy - so perhaps now is an excellent time to visit when things in the world are a little quieter.
When in Rome, there are some top things for tourists to see - namely the Colosseum, the Pantheon, St Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Trevi fountain. Luckily these are all fairly central which makes the city perfect to explore by foot or by public transport - which makes it a top choice for a long weekend break. It may not have been built in a day - but you can definitely see most of the main sites in a day, or two.
Rome | Travel Guide
The eternal city is a mesmerising mix of contemporary Italy and ancient history, so no matter what you're looking for, there's plenty to do in Rome. The city attracts millions of visitors every year but fret not, you won't be overrun and trampled underfoot; if you step away from the tourist hotspots you'll find some of the best nightlife, food and drink in all of Rome.
2 hr 10 min
One of our favourite Italian regions is Tuscany, and the best way to get there is via direct flight to Pisa. Whilst in Pisa you can of course, try and get THAT photo with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Whether you decide to hire or car or simply rely on public transport from Pisa it's only around 1 hour to Florence or 2 hours to Siena. Both cities are well worth a visit, and have some stunning architecture. In Florence you will find the famous statue of David, and we think that's something anyone should see in their lifetime.
2 hr 15 min
In recent years Venice has become increasingly busy as over-commercialisation has set in, and I'm sure we've all seen the videos of fish returning to the canals during lockdown! Though tourism has picked up again since lockdown was eased in Italy, there's no doubt that now is a great time to visit Venice, whilst it's still relatively quiet.
The top things to see in Venice are Grand Mark's Square and Basillica, the Doge's Palace and of course the Grand Canal. Venice is also famous for its glassware, and it's well worth a trip out to Murano to see the glass blowing factories.
Venice | Travel Guide
Venice is like no city on Earth. Rising from the sea and running on a series of canals, it's easy to see why many refer to it as the City of Water. Aside from being easy on the eyes, there's no shortage of things to do in Venice; with a wealth of culture, history and copious amounts of delicious food (*carbs) to enjoy.
1 hr 45 min
Milan is famous for fashion and design so it's definitely somewhere to go for some high-end shopping - Via Montenapoleone is the luxury shopping street to visit. Or for something a little more cultural, head to Santa Maria delle Grazie where you can see the famous painting The Last Supper or to Duomo di Milano which is the largest church in Italy and fourth largest in the world. Italy really hits it out the park for famous old stuff.
2 hr 45 min
We could just write one word here, pizza. But we won't, Naples is of course the home of pizza - so no trip to the city will be complete without eating some! Naples also sits on the doorstep of Mount Vesuvius - of Pompeii fame, and there's an excellent hiking trail which will take you to the top. It's actually still an active volcano and is considered perhaps the most dangerous in the world, because of how many people live in it's shadow. But don't let that stop you visiting, after all there is pizza.
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Sweden might not be your first thought for a European mini-break, as Scandinavia largely has a reputation for being on the more expensive side. But with direct flights available to Stockholm and Gothenburg, maybe it's time for you to explore somewhere a little different.
2 hr 35 min
Stockholm actually sits across 14 different islands, where Lake Mälaren joins the Baltic Sea. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the Vasa Museum, which is dedicated to 17th century ship building, and it's well worth a visit. Whilst in town you can also visit the ABBA museum, and whether you're an ABBA fan or not it's definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon. If you're heading away at Christmas there's a christmas market in Stortorget square, and the colourful buildings make a beautiful backdrop.
2 hr 5 min
Gothenburg is easily explored on foot, or by public transport, and we highly recommend buying yourself the Gothenberg Card as it also gives you free access to a number of museums. Heading into the colder months there's also a lot of romantic charm about wrapping up warm and heading from cafe to cafe - and make sure to treat yourself to some massive cinnamon rolls!
Travel Insurance - FCDO Non-Essential Travel
Of course, if you're able to self-isolate for 14 days on your return, and if you take out specialist travel insurance - it's possible to get affordable flights to one of these top mini-break destinations as well.
Poland has definitely become one of the most popular places for a weekend getaway - the combination of cheap flights and cheap beer make it a really affordable option. But, don't just visit because it's cheap - the cities are also well worth visiting in their own right.
2 hr 15 min
Although Krakow is the second largest city in Poland it's usually the most visited by foreign tourists. The city is great for a mini-break as most of the 'sites' are located in a compact Old Town which makes it perfect for exploring on foot. It's also one of the only cities in Poland that was not destroyed during the Second World War, which has left some beautiful architecture to admire, including Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic buildings. There is of course a turbulent history to Krakow, and many visit the city to visit Auschwitz, it may not be an 'enjoyable' day out - but it's definitely an important part of history to reflect upon and be respectful of.
Krakow has also become a popular spot of stag-dos mainly due to its vibrant nightlife - there are tons of bars and clubs to visit. And like we said, the beer is cheap. Most of the nightlife is found in the Old Town and you'll find many people bar crawling until the early hours of the morning!
2 hr 15 min
Warsaw is a beautiful city that sits on the Vistula River - and you can spend a couple of enjoyable days here wandering the old town and taking in the historic buildings. Much like Krakow there are some excellent bars and clubs to explore by night - and you can enjoy some real polish vodka!
1 hr 50 min
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic and it is brimming with history. In recent years it's become a popular destination for mini-breaks, and it's easy to see why. Our favourite site in the city is the Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall, make sure to be there on the hour (or slightly early to get a good spot) to see the mechanical procession of the Twelve Apostles. There's also a great view of the city from the top of the tower. Like all good cities, there is of course a hop-on hop-off bus that will take you to all the popular tourist spots, which is a great choice is you're limited for time or have mobility issues.
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1 hr 20 min
A lot comes to mind when you think of a weekend in Amsterdam I'm sure - and as one of the closest cities to visit from the UK it's a very popular spot. The city is easily navigated by foot, by tram or of course by bike. There's lots of popular tourists spots in the city - the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Franks house and the Rijksmuseum just to name a few. These do get really busy and we definitely recommend you book in advance to save disappointment.
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