Summer holidays don’t always have to be about lounging on a beach and working on your tan – there are plenty of options for action-packed city breaks in Europe, where you’ll still be able to enjoy warm weather.
Here are my three suggestions for getaways on the continent that offer a little more than just sun, sea and sand:
European Destinations For A Summer Break
Barcelona is one of those destinations that really does have a bit of everything. Its location on the Mediterranean coast means it boasts a vibrant waterfront and some urban beaches (like La Nova Mar Bella) – perfect if you do want to spend a day soaking up the sunshine.
Of course, as one of Spain’s major metropolises, it is bursting with cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries and amazing architecture.
You can’t really miss the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, one of Antoni Gaudi’s most famous creations, while the Museum of the History of Catalonia is an excellent place to visit if you’re short on time and want to get a feel of the artistic and cultural background of the city.
If you’re more of a night owl, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied once the sun sets. Barcelona is renowned for its bustling nightlife and is home to a vast array of nightclubs offering everything from techno and dance music to indie and rock tunes.
Dubrovnik may not be the first destination that springs to mind when you think of a short city break, but it’s certainly worthy of your consideration, especially if you enjoy adding a touch of culture and history to your holiday.
The city’s old center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you shouldn’t leave before you’ve taken a walk along the centuries-old city walls.
There are buildings in all manner of architectural styles in the old district, including churches of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque design.
Although Dubrovnik has its own beach, it’s well worth taking a day trip to one of the unspoiled islands just off the coast.
The Elafite archipelago is one popular spot for an excursion, while nature lovers will enjoy discovering the untouched beauty of the isles in the Mljet National Park.
Foodies, meanwhile, will relish the chance to sample some of the local delicacies – such as smoked ham, grilled sardines and zelena menestra, a smoked meat and cabbage stew.
These dishes, and many more, will be available from the small taverns that dot Dubrovnik’s streets, where you can wash down your meal with one of the locally-produced wines.
Renowned as one of the most romantic destinations in Europe, Venice is a great choice whether you’re jetting off with your partner or a group of friends.
This sophisticated Italian city has plenty to offer, from the outlying islands which make a fantastic day out to its many museums packed with artistic and cultural treasures.
Perhaps one of the most popular activities on a city break here is to enjoy a gondola ride on the canals, allowing you to sightseeing with minimum effort.
Make sure you spend a bit of time on dry land to explore the beautiful Piazza San Marco, or to browse the hundreds of artworks in the Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Venice, like much of Italy, is well known for its high-quality cuisine and, as the city is located by the ocean, seafood is a staple of the diet here.
Tuck into some freshly caught fish, accompanied by local favorite polenta, and treat yourself to one of the delicious desserts – such as a slice of Nicolotta cake (a type of bread pudding).
(photo credit: 1)