Best City Breaks In Europe

12th March 2024

our top 10 city breaks

As the winter thaws and Europe shakes off its sleepy slumber, the sheer ease and beauty of a weekend jaunt across to the continent is all too alluring. Beautifully mild temperatures means you can walk for miles without wilting in the heat, explore world class exhibitions in peace without the crowds and go beyond the normal tourist trails; finding perfect little al fresco cafés known only to locals (and F&P) for a lingering coffee, whilst people watching and soaking up the atmosphere. It may even be warm enough to shed a layer, or perhaps even dip in the sea….

Whether you’re after a cultural city break, a quick beach getaway or a foodie foray, we have so many ideas and can help you plan it every step of the way. Read on to find out some of our favourites – both trusted old friends (Paris and Lisbon) as well as a clutch of fresh-faced newbies brimming with dynamism (Amsterdam).

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Why it is worth a visit? Soulful, vibrant and bohemian, and – as the second oldest capital in Europe – stacks of history and culture at every turn. We particularly love the joyful Azulejo tiles and pastel coloured buildings.

Insider tips:  We can’t recommend the city’s colourful tuk tuks enough; perfect to explore every inch of the city (without breaking the pedometer). Try one of the famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) and head to the super trendy LX Factory under the Vasco da Gama Bridge with all the locals.

Where to stay? You can’t get better location than bang in the middle of the fashionable district at Bairro Alto or Sublime Lisboa for sleek and chic townhouse vibe (and fantastic cocktails).



Why it is worth a visit?  The Old Town’s Moorish architecture, its golden gothic cathedral, and the many hidden tapas bars are a complete treat to discover. As are the experiential restaurants and cool rooftop bars.

Insider tips: Hire a bicycle and cycle from the Bay of Palma along the coast! Foodies will love the Mercat de L’Olivar market and if you want Michelin-starred make sure you book Adrian Quetglas on the edge of the old town (well in advance).

Where to stay? The exceptional Sant Francesc – a beautifully renovated townhouse in the heart of the old town.  Its rooftop terrace and pool are exceptionally cool!



Why it is worth a visit? Often impenetrable with crowds in the height of summer, spring is a much quieter alternative. Everything is open and ready for business… even the sparkling Adriatic!

Insider tips: We’d recommend buying a Dubrovnik Pass (€35, with access to the city walls, ten museums and free use of city buses. If you’re keen to taste Croatian wine D’Vino Wine Bar is a great find.

Where to stay:  We love Hotel Excelsior Dubvrovnik for its exceptional waterfront restaurant and direct access to the sea.



Why it is worth a visit? Amsterdam is all about mooching art galleries and museums, trendy cafés selling artisanal produce and cycling the pretty canals.

Insider tips: It is well worth investing in a Museum Pass (€75, if you plan to visit more than a couple of museums. For something a little different, the Keukenhof Gardens are just 40 minutes away – 79 acres of colourful tulips are just spectacular at this time of year.

Where to stay? We love Pulitzer for its wonderful mix of traditional Dutch and cool contemporary, and that it’s within talking distance to Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum.



Why it is worth a visit? For obvious reasons Paris is going to be chocka this summer. Our advice: Go now, before the Olympics. Explore the much loved old classics of the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay as well as some of the smaller museums. Fondation Louis Vuitton is a particular favourite of ours.

Insider tips: Don’t try and pack too much in! Enjoy wandering, people-watching, and find romantic corners for bakery-bought al-fresco lunches.

Where to stay: Bijou Hotel des Grands Boulevards in the 2nd arrondissement is wonderful for its location but we also love Le Bristol for its Grande Dame French Grandeur.



Why it is worth a visit? History and culture ooze through Florence’s every pore with masterpieces by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and more. Whether you visit the Uffizi gallery, marvel at the iconic Duomo or the elegant arches of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, Florence is quite simply breathtaking.

Insider tips: Even during the quieter months, Florence attracts crowds so you have to be savvy. Make sure you visit attractions either first thing in the morning or just before closing time. The wisterias in Bardini Gardens spectacular at this time of year.

Where to stay: The sumptuous Villa Cora hands down as a luxurious retreat for a city break.



Why it is worth a visit? Seville sunshine feels most welcome at this time of year, and the whiff of orange blossoms and jasmine to die for. Take in the ancient Moorish walls, Baroque churches and Gothic cathedral (the world’s largest) before rewarding yourself with a refreshing caña and plate of jamón in the Barrio Santa Cruz.

Insider Tips: Climbing the minaret of the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral is a must. But buy your ticket at nearby El Salvador church, and then slip to the front of the queue.  If you want to avoid the crowds watch out for Semana Santa and Feria de Abril, which both take place in April.

Where to stay? Stay at the Corral del Rey in the old quarter of Barrio Alfalfa or Hotel Alfonso in the historic Santa Cruz quarter, both only 5 minutes walk from the famous Seville cathedral.



Why is it worth a visit: Quite honestly Venice is spectacular at any time of year but Spring one of our favourites. Tick off St Mark’s Basilica, Gothic Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge, meander through the labyrinth of cobbled backstreets and hide away in the Accademia Gallery (Old Masters) or Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Picasso to Matisse).

Insider tips: One of our favourite spots away from crowds is residential Sant’ Elena district. And if you visit in May you can catch the fantastic Venice Biennale.

Where to stay: For unparalleled luxury and incredible views across the Venetian lagoon stay at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Complete with a Michelin-starred restaurant, an Olympic-sized filtered seawater pool and five-star service it is the ideal place to escape to after a long days sightseeing.  It even runs water taxi’s to its peaceful haven from St Marks Square. We also love Il Palazzo Experimental which is hip, sophisticated and away form the masses.



Why is it worth a visit:  Fourteen islands connected by bridges, Stockholm really comes into its own in the spring.  Still coat weather but whether you float along the waterways or hire bicycles to cycle through the historic old town, it is still all about the outdoors.

Insider tips: The cherry blossoms in mid-April are breathtaking.  Stockholm is in large parts a cash-free city so no need to change lots of currency in advance!  And don’t forget to experience the Stockholm subway – said to be the world’s longest art exhibit!

Where to stay? The unique Ett Hemm is one of our top picks, an arts and crafts building steeped in Scandinavian aesthetics, where functionality meets beauty. And if you’re looking for a hotel that has heart and soul in a chic and conscious part of the city, Villa Dagmar is for you.



Why is it worth a visit: Danes consistently rank among the world’s happiest people and it’s not hard to see why.  Nowhere will you find more excitement and newfound energy than Copenhagen in the spring when the street-food markets, cafés and flea markets all reopen for business.

Insider tips:  The national treasure and world’s third oldest amusement park, Tivoli – said to have inspired Walt Disney and Hans Christian Andersen – is closed for around 17 weeks of the year, so always check before visiting.

Where to stay: It has to be Hotel d’Angleterre in the heart of the city – a hotel which has been welcoming royalty and famous guests since the eighteenth century.


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