Are you the kind of traveller who likes to beat the crowds and discover the next big destination before the masses? Our list of 5 alternative city breaks includes a mixture of already popular cities and one or two that are a little more obscure but these 5 great cities have one thing in common – they are perfect locations for a short break.
Stunning Seville on the banks of the Guadalquivir is a city that feels like a capital city. Perhaps the sense of grandeur that Seville seems to hold stems from it being the capital of Andalusia – often said to be the most ‘Spanish’ of all the regions of Spain. The Alcazar of Seville, the beautiful Plaza de Espana and the impressive Cathedral will give you a sense of the historic importance and significance of Seville.
Seville is also famous for its tapas culture and there are an abundance of delicious options for you to sample whatever your budget. A wander around the cobbled streets of the extensive old town is the best way to get a flavour of Seville’s culinary culture.
Many Spaniards advise against visiting Seville in the height of summer as temperatures rise often making the city the hottest place in Europe. Seville during the winter is often very mild and can be a delight to amble around its orange tree lined streets as you move from cafés to tapas bars.
Lviv in western Ukraine is a picturesque city with a very impressive UNESCO world heritage old town area. In recent years the city of Lviv has become the Ukraine’s number one tourist destination.
Lviv is a city with elegant squares, beautiful buildings and an abundance of cultural heritage. An afternoon walking the city centre will show you why the city is so popular. Bandinelli Palace, Market Square and St. Yura Cathedral are among the many highlights.
Lviv also has the advantage of being considerably cheaper than many western Europe city break destinations. Unfortunately the drawback is that as an Eastern European city, Lviv is a little harder to access than other cities with more regular flights. However, news that low cost flights from Ireland might be just around the corner indicates that Lviv could be about to get even more popular.
Poland is an excellent choice for a city break and the destinations of Krakow and Warsaw have been popular with Irish tourists for many years now. Lublin is perhaps not so much on the radar just yet but the city that has been described as a mini-Krakow really has a lot to offer.
As Poland’s ninth largest city it is easy to explore and receives less tourists than its larger Polish counterparts.
Like other cities on our list, Lublin has a stunning old town that is steeped in historic culture.
The Krakow Gate is what remains of a large fortified wall that once surrounded old Lublin. It dates back to the reign of King Casimir in the 14th century and now serves at the Lublin History Museum. Lublin Castle is a majestic neo-gothic building that is now home to a wonderful art gallery.
Lublin has many traditional Polish restaurants and bars close to the Old Town and as a destination it is very affordable for accommodation, dining out and entertainment.
Bordeaux in the heart of the Medoc region is synonymous to many with fine French wines. While wine culture is certainly at the heart of any visit to Bordeaux, in recent years visitors are beginning to discover a new vibrancy to this French city.
As a popular university city, Bordeaux is lively by day and has many great options to enjoy after dark. The city has a network of pedestrian boulevards and it is compact enough to see most of the sights by foot.
Place de la Bourse is one of the more impressive sights – a 17th century French palace fronted by a reflecting water mirror.
Marché des Capucins on a Saturday morning is one of the highlights of a Bordeaux city break. This covered food market is the perfect place to sample some of the things the French do best; cheese, meats, fish and good wine.
Bordeaux is a great city to visit at any time of the year and the fact that it doesn’t experience the same volume of visitors as Paris means that it gives you a more personal experience than the capital.
Prague is undoubtedly the destination most visitors to the Czech Republic want to experience. There are many reasons to visit Prague – a majestic city brimming with culture and always full of life. This inevitably means that Prague can sometimes be a little too busy especially when the stag parties are in full swing – and that is where Brno steps in as an enticing alternative to the bustle of Prague!
Brno was once the capital city of the Moravia region which today forms part of the modern Czech Republic. As a historic capital, it remains a centre of culture with numerous museums, theatres, pubs and restaurants. The Reduta theatre is the oldest theatre building in Central Europe.
Among the more interesting places of Brno is the Brno Underground. This labyrinth is the second biggest ossuary in Europe after the Paris Catacombs.
The city’s three castles, the Moravian museum and the Luzanky Park are worth visiting and as you might expect in a historic central European city, there are many pleasant historical squares to soak up the atmosphere.