Living in London as a travel blogger, I feel so fortunate to be able to access most of the best countries in the world within a skip, hop, a flight and a jump. Within two hours, you can find yourself experiencing the culture, food, weather and nightlife of other countries. That’s often how long it takes me to jump on a train to go home back to Bournemouth, go figure. I mean, i’d much rather spend that time on a plane to warmer weather if i’m honest… sorry mum and dad.
It’s also a question that I get asked a lot, “if you had to pick a few places for a city break Europe, where would you go?” and of course I always recommend the destinations that I would happily jump on a plane and revisit within a heartbeat. If that’s you, then you’ll find this blog post super helpful as I round up my favourite European getaways.
I think most of my favourite European city breaks have always been in the capital of each country, purely because there is always so much to do and that’s partly why I fell in love with living in a capital city. I think if I want to get away for a city break, I want it to be filled with lots of fun, adventurous things to do, mixed with some night life.
1. Budapest, Capital of Hungary
Budapest made the list because this capital has so much to offer. When I visited I didn’t expect much, at least I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as a did. Culture is a big part of Budapest, especially through its history. The city has so many beautiful sights to see, but visiting during the winter months makes it that little bit more spectacular. The Christmas markets are in full swing, the bright colours of the city brighten up the dark evenings and you won’t be able to stop yourself from skipping through the streets.
Top tips: Visit the Széchenyi Thermal Baths early in the day as it’s the time only the locals generally visit, Szimpla Kurt ruin pubs is something you must experience in Budapest and the Four Seasons hotel has a secret Christmas market inside that you must visit. If you walk around the back of Castle Hill along the wall, you can find the most beautiful sunset spot whilst overlooking the Pest side. There is also an open air ski rink that looks like a fairytale, that not many people know about. It’s called the City Park Ice Rink.
2. Madrid, Capital of Spain
There is something so inviting about Spanish cities, the vibrance, the colour, the food and the beautiful weather, it makes for the perfect escape. Madrid was one of my most loved visits to Spain, especially with its London like buzzing atmosphere filled with fantastic rooftop bars, clubs and even bars staying open until 1am on a Sunday night. The tapas markets are to die for and you can find sangria on almost every street corner, what’s there not to love? There is also a lot to see and the history comes through in form of the palaces and monuments, so there is something for everyone.
Top tips: Go rowing on the lake of Parque del Retiro, eat the best churros at San Ginés, and eat your way through the Mercado De San Miguel tapas market. If you want to experience a hidden gem of a rooftop bar, head over to Azōtea at the Círculo de Bellas Artes.
3. Lisbon, Capital of Portugal
Lisbon is a fantastic representation of Portugal. I feel there is a mix of a variety of countries and cultures mixed into this beautiful capital. The many viewpoints across the city makes the perfect place to have a romantic get away or if you’re a sunset chaser, to capture the gorgeous sun downers of Lisbon. The variety of things to see and places to eat, you won’t be getting bored anytime soon. From the history and the famous Pastel de nata in Belém to the modern art in downtown Lisbon, you will feel like you’re in a different country in different parts of the city.
Top tips: Get your hands on some Pastel de Nada form Pastéis de Belém, visit Castelo de São Jorge for unique experience, head over to Sintra for the ultimate fairytale castle experience, find the best sunset view point at Senhora Do Monte Miradouro and the indulge in the variety of Portuguese food at Time Out Market.
4. Paris, Capital of France
Paris is one of my playing grounds. I absolutely love the French capital no matter how many times I found myself immersed in the city, it’s still one of my happy places. Whether it be in the presence of warm heat in summer or the the cold breeze and crunchy leaves, Paris is perfect all year round. I always love the endless bottomless brunches, the lazy meandering through the narrow streets whilst coming across the famous landmarks, indulging in some shopping down the Champs-Élysées and crashing out in some of the most luxurious hotels.
Top tips: To get a view of the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris, head over the top of the Arch De Triomphe or Tour Montparnasse, if you want to experience a true French lunch then dine at Les Marches and visit Angelina for breakfast to avoid the rush, long queues and they do a fantastic Parisian breakfast too.
What are your favourite European capital getaways?
Until next time…