11 April 2018
While Europe has some of the world’s most fantastic stretches of coastline, not all summer holidays on the continent must involve sand and sunbathing. When the sunshine arrives, many of Europe’s major cities come out to play, giving travellers the perfect opportunity to explore these great destinations.
Whether you’re travelling as a couple, a family or with a group of friends, the possibilities are endless. Here are five of the best European destinations for a quick getaway this summer.
Located in an exclave of Croatia on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik weaves coastal beauty with an enchanting old town to create a unique experience. It is where white limestone streets piece together to present a maze of beautiful baroque buildings, incredible restaurants and photo opportunities.
Take a walk around the well-preserved ancient city walls and look across the city’s terracotta rooftops, head up Mount Srd by cable car for a range of adventurous activities and dinner with a view, and spot familiar sites from popular television programme Game of Thrones, which has filmed many of its scenes in Dubrovnik.
Austria is known for its incredible mountains and ski resorts, but in summer Vienna is the place to be. Take a trip to Schönbrunn Palace and enjoy the wonderful sun-soaked gardens of this former imperial residence. Tour the palace’s famous orangery, enjoy views from the hill, or let the kids experience its interactive play areas and hedge mazes.
Every summer the city hosts its annual Film Festival at Rathausplatz, screening a range of movies to the public at this open-air cinema each night from late June to early September. It also has its own funfair, Wurstelprater, which is the oldest amusement park in the world and has rides for all ages, including the famous Viennese Giant Wheel.
Situated on a prime stretch of the French Riviera, Nice offers the best of both worlds when it comes to a summer city break. The Promenade des Anglais has a long stretch of golden sand and turquoise waters, while also being blessed with a great selection of beachside bars and restaurants.
There’s also plenty to explore in the city including Castle Hill, containing old fortress ruins and a park filled with luxuriant Mediterranean trees and shrubs, as well as the pastel-coloured buildings and cobbled streets of Vieux Nice. And if Nice itself isn’t enough to whet your appetite, the famous casino and luxury yachts of Monaco are just a short train ride away.
Catania is a port city on Sicily’s eastern coast, sitting at the foot of Mount Etna. Visitors can take a guided tour up the mountain or simply enjoy the emanating plumes of smoke from afar. The city centre is grand and atmospheric, with its famous black buildings supplemented by the likes of local castle Castello Ursino and the beautiful Basilica della Collegiata, a baroque church dating back to the 18th century.
Catania is also a gateway to some of the Italian island’s most spectacular beaches including the pebbles of Isola Bella in Taormina and the soft sand on San Vito Lo Capo beach.
The Portuguese capital is one of Europe’s most popular destination thanks to its dynamic restaurant scene, chic bars and the plethora of attractions on offer. Take to the city’s hilly streets and observe beautiful, tiled buildings glistening in the sun, take in stunning views over the Tagus River and of the 25 de Abril Bridge from Belém Tower or indulge in some retail therapy in the trendy Baixa district.
With festivals and events regularly popping up around the city each summer, it is one of the best times of year to visit. It’s also quick and easy to get to the beaches of Estoril and Cascais by train, ensuring that a quick retreat to Portugal’s sandy shores are never far away.