Top City Breaks of 2020

Posted on 09 Jan 2020 Posted in  Travel
city breaks

If your idea of a holiday involves soaking up some city culture, then Europe has a wealth of brilliant destinations to pack your bags (you'll probably even get away with hand luggage) and explore. So, as we start to plan our 2020 holidays we asked our resident city break lover to put together a guide on where to go, what to do, what to eat and where to stay. Make sure you don't forget to get cashback when you book your flight, hotel and travel extras.

 

What to do:

The easier question is here is probably “What can’t you do?” Rome is jam packed full of sights to see and there is no way you’ll see them all on a short city break. We’d advise planning what you want to do in advance so you don’t miss anything. The top sights are the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Roman Forum.

But we’d highly recommend visiting the Baths of Caracalla, it was the second largest Roman public baths and doesn’t seem to be visited by my tourists. The Baths of Caracalla have a small admission charge and are open daily for the full day except on a Monday when they are open in the mornings only.

What to eat:

Oh the food! What can we say about the food? Let’s just say we’ve never looked at a frozen pizza the same since. They have an abundance of food from pasta to pizza and everything in between. For a more authentic feel then head away from the Trevi Fountain as restaurants in this area are geared towards tourists and are definitely more expensive.

We have two top picks for where to eat in Rome. The first is any of the 5 or 6 restaurants situated in the small square outside the Pantheon. Although it is a little expensive the view of the Pantheon is exquisite. Our second pick would be Cencio la Parolaccia, it’s been running since 1941 by the same family. It’s situated over the River Tiber where very few tourists explore, this meant the food was cheap and amazingly authentic.

Where to stay:

Rome is so vast and has so many sites that it’s difficult to find the perfect district to stay in. We’d recommend staying in Monti district, hotels here are reasonably priced and you’re close to a lot of the main attractions as well as being near key public transport routes. Hotels here range in prices but the Apollo Rooms Colosseo is a great choice at around £50 per night and is only 0.4 miles from the Roman Forum.

 

What to do:

Berlin is full of culture, history and sights to see including the impressive Brandenburg Gate and of course the Berlin Wall. Our must see sight is definitely the East Side Gallery, it’s a 1315-meter long gallery where 105 paintings by artists from all over the globe can be found painted on the well known Berlin Wall.

The real hidden gem is the historic Hackesche Höfe, they’re eight beautifully restored courtyards located in Mitte. Take a walk through the interlinked yards and admire the art nouveau décor as well as grabbing a bite to eat in one of the many hipster cafes.

What to eat:

Every Thursday, the city's first major street food market takes place in the cool and creative Kreuzberg district. It hosts a wealth of tempting options and the choice can be a little overwhelming. The Thai dumplings and pulled pork sandwiches are highly recommended.

Where to stay:

The Mitte District is definitely a great location as it’s close to famous attractions such as the Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island so it can be expensive and well worth booking a hotel here in advance. For around £75 a night you can stay at the art'otel berlin mitte which has an underground station near by, crucil if you want to explore all that Berlin has to offer.

 

What to do:

Amsterdam gets a bad reputation for being seedy and full of young party goers but that isn’t all this city has to offer. The wonky buildings, cobbled streets and famous canals give Amsterdam an edge that other cities just don’t have. We’d highly recommend visiting Vondelpark which is the largest park in Amsterdam and close to a number of main museums; Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum. In the summer they have free concerts in the open-air theatre or the bandstand and it’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy a sunny day.

Another highlight of Amsterdam is the Electric Ladyland: The Museum of Fluorescent Art. Electric Ladyland is the world’s first (and seemingly only) museum focusing solely on the magic of fluorescent light. Be sure to book in advance otherwise you will miss out.

What to eat:

Now we’d love to talk about high class dining here but the real standout food in Amsterdam is fast food, they do it like no other city. Now the first thing we have to talk about are the fast food vending machines… These hole-in-the-wall cafés have a great novelty value alone. Head into any FEBO and you’ll see an array of hot snacks including hamburgers, kroketten and frikandellen displayed behind glass doors. Put some coins into the slot and voila; dinner is served.

The second must have while in Amsterdam are Thick Dutch Fries, they’re not just any fries. Trust us. They tend to be called patat or frites on menus, and traditionally they come served in a piping hot paper cone slathered with any manner of tasty toppings. Ask for 'patatje oorlog' for a dollop of peanut satay sauce, mayo and onions, or a 'patat speciaal' for a mix of curry ketchup, mayonnaise and onions.

Where to stay:

This very much depends on what you want from Amsterdam. If you’d like a relaxing time then The Old Jewish Quarter and Plantage is for you. Not many tourists stay here so you’re guaranteed a quiet night's sleep and you’re only a tram ride away from the main sights.

If you’re after nightlife then The Old Centre is the perfect place to stay, only a short walk from the main sights and nightlife areas, although this area can be expensive due to its location. It’s also important to read reviews around here, do not just book the cheapest as The Old Centre is home to many of Amsterdam's hostels and tends to be the hub for hen and stag parties.

 

What to do:

Poland’s second largest city is beautifully quaint when compared to the hustle and bustle of Warsaw, it’s the perfect location for a long weekend away. The best way to experience everything it has to offer is to wander through the cobble streets. Make sure you check out the beautiful market square (a great place for an evening cocktail) as well as the striking Wawel Castle.

While here make sure you head out of the city and book a trip to the incredible Wieliczka Salt Mine with its 300km of tunnels, it truly is a sight to be seen! Guided tours from Krakow cost around £45 per person and the mines are definitely worth the price.

What to eat:

If in Krakow you must try an Obwarzanek, which is basically the Polish take on a bagel sprinkled with salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. The perfect on the go snack or breakfast food. When it comes to restaurants the real stand out choice is Starka located on Józefa Street, it’s the perfect place to sample Polish food and of course Polish vodka. It’s laidback cosy atmosphere is very appealing and a great way to taste the local cuisine.

Where to stay:

We’d recommend staying in The Old Town, it’s the historic heart of Krakow and is likely where you’ll end up spending most of your time. This does mean it can be a little more expensive when it comes to accommodation but you’ll be within walking distance of all the main sites.

If you’re on a tight budget then take a look at Mundo Hostel, you can stay in a dorm-type room or stay in a private room with an ensuite bathroom and is located between the old town and Kazimierz.

If your budget is a little more flexible then you can get an apartment for around £50 a night. Mint Luxury Apartments is great on location, situated just one block away from the Main Market Square.

If a hotel is more your thing then make sure you check out Hotel Unicus Palace, it’s around £100 a night but is a great 5 star luxury hotel in a fabulous location.

 

What to do:

Barcelona was the home of Gaudi and his architecture is stamped all over this city. You really have to visit La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, Casa Milà and Casa Batlló to see Gaudi’s magnificent works, they really are a sight to behold. Make sure you take a walk down La Rambla and through the Gothic Quarter to get a real feel for how the culture has changed overtime.

What to eat:

You can’t visit Barcelona without sampling some paella and the best paella we have ever had was at Botafumeiro. Now this restaurant is known as the seafood restaurant of Barcelona and because of that we’d advise booking in advance and there is also a smart dress code.

Where to stay:

The W hotel has fast become a city landmark, sparkling over the Sant Sebastià beach like a disco ball and because of that it commands a high price of £250 a night. We’d definitely recommend visiting for a cocktail but for a more affordable stay we’d suggest avoiding.

We’d recommend Arc La Rambla, on the main La Rambla street. It’s central to all attractions and has so many great restaurants nearby. For around £60 a night we don’t think it’s too bad on price either.

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