Ah, yes, the economy stinks. You’re really busy. Money is tight. But there’s no excuse not to give yourself a bit of a break. Regardless whether you’re working twice as hard to make ends meet or you’re not worried but still under pressure, if you don’t take breaks you can burn out. Stressed out and high strung isn’t good for you, and if you’re partnered it can affect your significant other and your children as well.
You don’t have to drop a thousand pounds though on a star-studded holiday. Here are some ideas for great minibreaks that will get you out of the UK and soaking up some great European atmosphere without blowing the budget.
Prague is one of Europe’s prettiest cities, which makes it very popular. That means great deals but also big crowds, so don’t hesitate to wander off the beaten path. Or take a daytrip – the Czech countryside is beautiful, with little towns where you can always fresh beer on draught and hearty cooking ready and waiting.
I love Nice, just because of its juxtaposition of the glitterati versus coastal French lifestyle. Some beach towns are good for mostly pub food and picnics, but in Nice you can eat well and get a suntan. Similar to Prague, the countryside is also beautiful, so if you can, get out and explore.
Ibiza might be a small island but that doesn’t mean you have to be small-minded about the experiences you can have – it certainly isn’t all clubbing. If you want to go hiking, just laze about on the beach, or eat your way across Ibiza, all these things are possible. Most resorts cater to a certain audience, so decide what you’re looking for, check the reviews (as it will be obvious), and then book accordingly.
I’ve been to Venice twice, and despite the fact that the water sometimes smells bad, I will never tire of its charms. Did you know there’s a secret island that’s haunted, so much so that it’s been closed off from public access? If there is anywhere in Europe where you should go and just get lost, it is Venice. Enjoy it before the sea reclaims this watery city.
Lisbon is a city full of life and excitement. You’ll feel it and see it everywhere, from the passion that restaurateurs put into giving you an amazing dining experience, the colourful clothing in the shops, not to mention the option to party all night long. In summer, daylight is long but the nights go on longer, with bars and clubs open almost all night.
I like to think of Madrid as one of Europe’s food capitals; you can easily spend an entire week going from one tapas bar to another and never have the same thing twice. Everything tastes better with a glass of wine too, and you’ll be hard press to find anything but the best in town. Thankfully, the expansive city parks and long streets full of shops and market stalls give you the opportunity to walk it off before starting over the next evening.
Where else can you experience the flavour and style of two continents all in one trip? Istanbul offers flair and culture inspired by both Asia and Europe. Think amazing European cuisine with the spice of Asia (literally), or incredible Asian markets with European sophistication. Turkey is a one-of-a-kind country and you have to see it to understand it.
Hugging the Croatian coast, Dubrovnik is what you want every UNESCO World Heritage town to be. Temperate year-round, you can walk and explore the old harbour, a fishing village trapped in time – and maybe even take a trip out on the sea if the waters are calm. Food is also a highlight, so fresh seafood is the order of the day. Top off your night with some of the local liquor, rakija.
Reflective of its status once as a military base, Cyrpus is an island rich with history – archaeological sites, monuments, and other sites scattered throughout reflect this. The best way to experience what drew so many nations to covet this island is to just drive around; the air is fresh, the coastline is beautiful, and there is just something special about the atmosphere.
Last but certainly not least is the Greek capital, once a world capital where the arts and Renaissance flourished. Today the relics of this era – artwork tucked away in museums and galleries – as well as the city’s architecture, which has wielded such great influence in many countries, including the UK, make for the perfect minibreak. With great food and drink as well, what’s not to like?
Posted : Friday, August 20th, 2010 at 10:38
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.