Don’t panic if you still haven’t planned that all-important long haul holiday. A city break can be even more enjoyable in the summer months, meaning that you can enjoy a holiday for a lot less. You might even get lucky with a beach on your doortsep!
With almost guaranteed sunshine and a real buzz during tourist season, we’ve listed some essential destinations to consider exploring – whether you go solo or with friends and family. From inner city walks to green open spaces, sizzling street food to fine dining, here’s how to enjoy the best city breaks for summer.
Barcelona hardly needs an introduction, but if you are yet to experience the magic of this Spanish city, then let us inspire your itinerary. The best way to explore this metropolitan city is on foot, taking in all of its unique character and great energy.
Boasting iconic gothic architecture in its Gothic Quarter, Barcelona is one of the most stunning cities to photograph. Here you’ll see some of architect Antonio Gaudi’s original works, discover more about Picasso’s youth, and learn about Barcelona’s Jewish past. Portal d’Angel is one of the busiest shopping streets in the area, while nightlife gets lively with late-night clubs and bars.
As well as a cocktail of trendy hotels, museums, galleries and famous landmarks, Barcelona offers plenty of green spaces to kick back and relax. Park Güell is the most notable – a public park designed by Gaudi that emulates an English garden. With over 4 km of coastline, you can take your pick of local beaches too so you can enjoy the pace of city life alongside slow beach days. With temperatures reaching the high 20s, you won’t need much persuading. Sound good?
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Steeped in history and home to a collection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – including Castle Hill, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion – Budapest is certainly an impressive city break destination. Culture vultures will appreciate the vast choice of museums, art galleries and places to hang out. And, every August, Sziget festival kicks off with a line-up of headline music acts, circus and visual arts.
The Hungarian capital is also home to some incredible thermal baths. Relax in hot, mineral-rich waters for a spa experience like no other – perfect for a romantic couples activity. Széchenyi Thermal Bath is the largest medicinal bath in Europe, with an astonishing 21 pools. If you don’t want to physically get wet, head to the river bank where you can enjoy scenic views over the city or even hop on a river cruise.
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New York, New York! A few summer days in this metropolis are just enough to get a taste of the Big Apple. Whether you’ve come here to shop designer brands on Fifth Avenue, explore the trendy neighbourhood of Soho, or soak up the bright lights of Times Square, there’s more than enough to keep you busy.
A trip isn’t complete without glimpsing the world-famous sights or wandering through Central Park where you can enjoy a walking tour, rent a bike or ride a horse and carriage. Head to Ground Zero, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and admire their incredible architecture. Known as the city that doesn’t sleep, New York’s nightlife is booming with endless cocktail bars, underground comedy clubs and live music venues.
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Densely packed with its Medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town, Edinburgh is jam-packed with attractions and sightseeing opportunities. History buffs will love the imposing Edinburgh Castle perched on Castle Rock, and the ancient Royal Mile. As Edinburgh is a walkable city, you can easily explore the retail shops and restaurants of Princes Street, Grassmarket and Victoria Street.
The outdoor space means the city never feels too crowded. Walkers will enjoy Holyrood Park, while Inverleith Park is the perfect spot for families and picnics. The Royal Botanical Garden displays a stunning collection of water features and plants in landscaped gardens.
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Just a short flight from the UK, Berlin is a cheap and accessible city break that offers something for everyone. Once a divided city, Berlin is now a melting pot of cultures and this is evident in everything from the food to the fashion. There are cool coffee shops, techno nightclubs, rooftop bars, art galleries and street food markets in abundance around the city.
One of the best things about Berlin is the transport systems. Get around at speed on the underground tubes, on foot or by bike. Explore hip neighbourhoods like Kreuzberg with its vintage shops, street art and the East Side Gallery. Or venture to the well-groomed Prenzlauer Berg popular with families for its leafy parks and café culture.
The fascinating city is also home to Museum Island on the river Spree; you’ll find the acclaimed Pergamon Museum here. Iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag Building and sobering Holocaust Memorial are must-sees in Berlin.
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Surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is a beautifully attractive city and one of Europe’s best city break destinations. The hilly landscape is filled with Terracotta-tiled roofs, medieval architecture and pebbled streets, making it a perfect location for photography enthusiasts.
A few days here is enough to soak up the wonderful history that Croatia has preserved. Within the ancient city walls, you’ll find remnants of Forts that date back to the 9th century. For panoramic views over the Old Town and Old City Port, hop aboard a cable car to the top of Mount Srd.
With temperatures in the high 20s during summer, it’s the ideal time to island hop to some of Dubrovnik’s neighbouring islands including Hvar, Vis and Mljet.
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