June 19, 2024

Base yourself in London and then explore Europe!

London is the ideal point from which to enjoy an endless choice of long weekend getaways. They are so easy to manage with many flights with very affordable airline options. I tend to go with Easyjet but not opposed to Ryanair and Wizz. Just remember, you get what you pay for. I don’t mind a few less frills to get away for an inexpensive long weekend. Allow me to share my 10 Weekend Getaways from London. I put these in numerical order, but I would be hard pressed to tell you which is number 1. They are all great places to visit.

  1. Seville
  2. Madrid
  3. Barcelona
  4. Porto
  5. Prague
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Edinburgh
  8. Zurich
  9. Budapest
  10. Salzburg
Orbitz

Seville

The passion of a flamenco dancer, the laid-back indulgence of an afternoon siesta are not merely romanticized memories of Spain. These cultural traditions are prominent aspects of life in Seville. It is a city marked by Jewish, Islamic and Christian influences, Seville shows evidence of each religion’s presence in its church facades, minarets, and former ghettos. You can appreciate a good dose of history between leisurely strolls along narrow streets and relaxed, drawn-out meals will swoon over centuries-old neighborhoods and cultural offerings.

Plan to spend your time indulging in tapas at a street corner cafe or listening to an impromptu guitarist’s tunes in an open-air plaza. Though the sunshine and laid-back lifestyle may lure you to relax on your days away, be sure to make time for visits to the parks, gardens and palaces that showcase the city’s complex history and architectural splendor.

Madrid

Spain’s capital since 1561, Madrid has been the beating heart of this southern European country for almost 500 years. It’s Spain’s biggest city and has the country’s largest population and is the center for international business. You might hear Spanish guitars playing, the clicking of a flamenco dancer’s castanet. Madrid is for travelers interested in famous paintings and stunning architecture, but it’s also for those looking for passion turned into art, and a taste of life lived with color and intensity.

Barcelona

Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre. From the scenic trails of the colorful Park Güell to the romantic narrow alleys of Barri Gòtic. The city has dozens of sacred churches and architectural marvels, and it attract all types of visitors. There is an overwhelming variety of things to do. You could stay for a few days, but chances are you’ll need to come back for a whole week to explore.

In Barcelona much of the activity revolves around Las Ramblas, a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, nightclubs and a vibrant pedestrian market. But you should also take a tour of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces; Gaudí is responsible for sites like Casa Milà, Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia. You shouldn’t miss out on the eclectic shopping scene and the region’s exquisite food and wine. To get a lay of the land, consider signing up for one of the city’s best guided tours.

Fly and Stay Cheap

Porto

Port and custard tarts! Yum. Porto has long been a hot destination for wine lovers – it’s the go-to place to find the best of that sweet, tasty port wine. But this city has more to offer than vinho. Porto (or Oporto, as it’s sometimes called) is an attractive European minimetropolis on Portugal’s northwestern coast where visitors can get their fill of culture and the outdoors. You can visit the city’s wealth of museums, admire its architecture, relax in its parks and, of course, hit the beach.

The city earns its nickname Cidade das Pontes, or “City of Bridges,” from the six arches spanning the Rio Douro (Douro River), which runs along Porto’s southern edge. Views of the Douro River are best enjoyed from the Dom Luís I Bridge, the most iconic of Porto’s six structures. From here you can get a sense of Porto’s unique charm. You could spend a long weekend strolling the city, discovering the contemporary art in the Serralves Foundation complex and appreciating the history behind Porto’s old churches like the Sé and Igreja de São Francisco.

Prague

I was so surprised by my love for this city. It is a prosperous and bustling city, Prague attracts more tourists than ever. But its picturesque downtown veils both a dark legacy and a resilient past. Dating back to about A.D. 870, Prague withstood numerous overthrows, invasions, fires and floods. Its storied churches, narrow streets, daunting hilltop castle and statue-lined bridges create the scene of an urban fairy tale.

Prague was once a hidden gem, overshadowed by its flashier neighbors to the west. But the city couldn’t keep its marvels a secret for too long – now, it’s a haven for travelers seeking awe-inspiring experiences at affordable prices. Even today, top attractions – including the famous Charles Bridge and the historic Prague Castle – offer free admission and many hotels offer rooms at a fraction of the cost of other European cities.

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an easy one-hour flight from London. And thanks to the Channel Tunnel, it’s also now extremely easy to get to by train, too.

There are plenty of attractions and things to do in Amsterdam, from gallery hopping in the magnificent Rijksmuseum, with its classic artworks by such greats as Rembrandt, to hopping aboard a tour boat for a cruise along the city’s famous canals.

Amsterdam is where you’ll find the historic location where the young Anne Frank wrote her famous diaries, a sobering reminder of the horrors of war and hatred. It’s also home to the stunning Van Gogh Museum, with its vast collection of art and memorabilia relating to this most revered of painters, and the impressive Royal Palace, residence of the Dutch Royal Family since 1648.

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Edinburgh

Just over an hour’s flight north of London is another capital city worth exploring – Edinburgh. The must-see attractions are majestic Edinburgh Castle. You can expect to spend the best part of a day exploring the castle. It houses an impressive collection of crown jewels.

Within easy reach of the castle and the old part of the city is the Royal Mile. This stretch of historic old townhomes and shopfronts is a delight to explore. You will have access to Princes Street with its excellent dining and shopping experiences.

I spent most of one day in the green spaces of Edinburgh. The weather was a bit dodgy, but it didn’t’ keep from enjoying this wonderful city. There is something about it that really grabs one’s attention.

Zurich

Just a 1.5-hour flight from London, the city of Zurich is one of the best city breaks. Switzerland’s biggest city has provided a pedestrian-friendly experience for visitors. They come here shop for luxury goods like Swiss watches as well as to soak up the culture and ambience of the Old Town.

In the Old Town, pull up at a table alongside the Limmat river and enjoy the ambience of the medieval quarter. Do this on a Saturday night and you’ll be rewarded with the experience of hearing the peals of bells from city churches, ringing in the night and reminding residents and visitors alike that Sunday is a church day.

Budapest

If you haven’t been here, it’s time you make plans. You can step out of a thermal bath and right into a nightclub (and then back into the bath). In a city that dates back to the Old Stone Age, visiting history buffs can take their pick between Roman, neo-Gothic, Renaissance and Ottoman architecture at sites like Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion.

Budapest is more than just the political capital of Hungary – it’s also the commercial and cultural nexus. From its restaurant scene to its rich Jewish heritage, culture extends from nearly every inch of the Pearl of Danube. Split by the Danube River and composed of three main regions – Pest, Buda and Óbuda – Budapest meshes modern with ancient architecture and grassy parks. Whether you’re searching for cuisine, shopping or museums, a plethora of is in Budapest.

Salzburg

Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of the famous composer Mozart. Because of this, Salzburg has become somewhat of a mecca for classical music and you can feel Mozart’s influence all around the city. The streets are alive with beautiful live music and there are talented musicians around every corner. You’ll often see Music students rehearsing in the street and violinists and harpists fill the historical squares with music. Even if you don’t think classical music is your thing, you can’t help but appreciate it in such spectacular settings.

Salzburg is framed by snow-capped mountains, which means the views are spectacular at every angle of the city. It also means that the mountains are right on your doorstep, so you can combine a day in the city with a day of adventure along one of the many hiking routes. Salzburg locals take to the mountains every weekend to hike, bike, run or ski depending on the season.

Those are my top 10 but there are many more I encourage you to visit. If you base yourself in London then the options are many! I stayed in London for 2 months and darted out to different cities. It made much more sense to be in Europe (I chose London) by a major airport and skip out over Europe than it did to bounce back and forth across the pond.

I hope you find a way to get out there and visit some of these lovely cities. They are worth it!

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