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Off-the-beate-track European city breaks

Travel Forums Europe Off-the-beate-track European city breaks

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1. Posted by robin99 (Budding Member 9 posts) 51w

So I've travelled a fair bit around Europe and elsewhere and between big trips am getting a bit restless and so have been looking to organise a European weekend city break somewhere. (I live in the UK)

I've had a look at Top 10 lists and other guides of cities to visit and haven't been particularly inspired by any. Sure big popular cities like Paris, Berlin and Rome are amazing, beautiful places in their own right, but I'm hoping to find some more obscure, interesting cities that have enough to see/do for a weekend - and hopefully might be a bit cheaper than the bigger cities!

Some ideas I've had are listed below but I'm looking for some advice on wether they are good places to visit and would welcome suggestions for any other cities (bonus points if a low-cost airline fly there!)


2. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 648 posts) 51w

Both Bratislava and Bucharest fit the bill for a low-key capital with modest charms, and can be done on the cheap. Belgrade too. Bratislava has the added advantage that you can daytrip to Vienna on the train and see the place a whole lot cheaper than staying there. Bucharest does have a historic centre but overall felt a bit big and concrete to me, whereas Bratislava had a nice castle overlooking the river, forest walks.

Krakow is interesting but it's also stag party central.

Have you visited / considered Riga or Vilnius? Warsaw and Gdansk are both surprisingly nice too.

3. Posted by robin99 (Budding Member 9 posts) 51w

Thanks for the reply Andy, my impression of Bratislava is that would be a nice small city and probably prettier than Bucharest, which I've heard can be a bit Soviet concrete bleak.

Good point about Kraków's stag parties, I had forgotten it's a destination for those.

I've been to Riga & Belgrade and while both enjoyable (especially Riga) I like to avoid retracing my steps.

Vilnius & Gdansk are also good suggestions. I've heard mixed things about Warsaw, mainly that it's good for museums but not a lot else, thoughts?

I've also had more of a think and for other people's benefit could add these to the list of low-key European cities:

4. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 648 posts) 51w

I don't think I went in any Warsaw museums! :-)

I had expected Soviet-bleak, but didn't get it. Enjoyed a couple of free (for tips) walking tours, had dinner in a restaurant in the park near the presidential palace, rode up the Stalinesque palace of science and culture, ate in milk bars, strolled the old town, watched a fountain light and music show in a park.

It's a big enough place to find things like these to do, without having any world-class attractions to draw crowds of tourists. And cheap.

5. Posted by robin99 (Budding Member 9 posts) 51w

Thanks for the info Andyf, anyone else got any suggestions/tips?

6. Posted by shadal34554 (Budding Member 20 posts) 51w

If it's just a short trip like a weekend or even a bit more why travel so far? I would go just across the Chanel to Belgium and visit Ghent and Bruges - splendid medieval cities.

7. Posted by Andyf (Travel Guru 648 posts) 51w

Most times I've tried to use the channel there have been lengthy delays, usually due to French strikes. Depending where you're starting from I think the advantages of a budget flight are compelling - for me they're quicker, cheaper, and more reliable. And the original poster wanted cheap destinations, which you don't get close to the other side of the channel.

[ Edit: Edited on 30-Oct-2015, at 16:06 by Andyf ]

8. Posted by robin99 (Budding Member 9 posts) 51w

Pretty much exactly what Andyf says, the price and time comparison between a budget flight and a car & ferry/chunnel in negligible, so then it comes down to accommodation and food & drink which is far cheaper the further East you go.

I had thought of Bruges, see below, but thanks for the tip on Ghent.

Quoting robin99

I've also had more of a think and for other people's benefit could add these to the list of low-key European cities:

9. Posted by robin99 (Budding Member 9 posts) 50w

I came across this completely by accident recently and thought it should go on here:

European cities you never thought to visit - but probably should (The Telegraph)

10. Posted by Tabithag (Budding Member 55 posts) 49w

I would definitely second Bratislava as a beautiful place to visit. It is small but great for a long weekend. Brno is nice, but not so much to see. Budapest bigger and busier, but still lovely.

I really liked Ljubljana in Slovenia, which is small enough to get around, very pretty and has enough to do, or plenty of places to sit and eat and enjoy much better than expected local wines.

We visited Sarajevo and thought it was an amazing city. It was back in 2002, so will doubtless have changed, but we loved it then - varied and historic, good food and atmosphere.