4 cool cheap city breaks for a cheap travel fix
When considering a short city break, there are usually a few iconic destinations that tend immediately to spring to mind, such as Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. But it shouldn’t be overlooked that there are numerous other destinations which are equally or even more attractive, just a short journey distant and perfect for a break, which have been much less explored. Some of these alternatives for relatively cheap breaks haven’t yet started attracting the crowds and make the perfect getaway for blowing away the cobwebs and getting a fresh perspective on life.
Iceland has just really started taking off as a short break destination so you can still get in there while it’s relatively unexploited and prices are low. It’s a small, cosy city surrounded by an amazingly unusual landscape of semi-dormant volcanoes and hot geysers. You can zoom around the main attractions of the city in under a day and then just use it as a base for trips into the alien hinterland which looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. Geysers spurt hot water on the landside whilst out in the freezing waters of the ocean whales spout their own steam and overhead the Northern Lights put on their famously psychedelic displays.
Krakow in southern Poland is a tiny, compact city, one of the real hidden gems of Europe with a beautifully preserved Old Town that is protected by UNESCO from any form of inappropriate development. The gothic buildings and narrow cobbled streets surrounding Rynek Glowny in the centre of the city, and the towering fortress on Wawell Hill, make this a fairytale place, and the street cafes and bars are perfect for whiling away a long morning before heading out to visit the ancient salt mines and other attractions.
Just a couple of hours’ drive from Spain’s heaving Costa del Sol, Seville is Andalusia’s capital and packed with Spanish culture and history. It’s especially renowned for its exuberant and colourful festivals, especially the Easter Parade or Feria de Abril, which is held in April, so timing a visit to coincide with one of these will enable you to see this fabulous city at its very best.
The architectural styles here are a mix of North African and Spanish, with masterpieces such as the iconic Giralda Tower, the splendidly Gothic cathedral and the mysterious Moorish royal palaces adding their own brands of magic. Seville is home to the authentic Flamenco culture, which is so much more than merely a style of dancing and light years away from what you find in the tourist hotspots further along the coast. If you’re looking for a break with a touch of fire and passion, head for Seville to recharge your drained batteries.
Slovenia’s capital is one of those Eastern European gems that is just starting to reassert itself following years of deadening Communist rule, like snowdrops pushing up through the dregs of winter. Halfway between the Mediterranean and the Alps, Ljubljana has a medieval atmosphere with its hilltop castle overlooking the Old Town of winding cobbled streets and ancient buildings which include the famous St Nicholas Cathedral. You can easily explore it by foot in an afternoon, and in the surrounding countryside enjoy a variety of outdoor sports, from hiking and mountain biking to white water rafting, with skiing also an option in winter.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.