5 top city breaks in Europe
With thousands of years of history, a rich cultural heritage, and breathtaking scenery, Europe is home to some of the world’s most popular travel destinations.
From the sun-kissed beaches of Andalusia, and the medieval splendour of Tuscany, to the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps, there’s a multitude of European escapes waiting to be discovered.
Looking for inspiration? Here are 5 top European destinations for your next city break.
Tip: Book one of our flexible ticket options and you can change your booking or cancel your flight at the last minute for free!
Situated in Andalusia, on the southern tip of Spain, Málaga has a lot going for it. With its stunning port, superb beaches, amazing gallery scene, and world-class cuisine, it makes for a fantastic city break. It also boasts 300 days of sunshine each year, so you’re guaranteed good weather whenever you go.
If you’re craving culture, you’re in luck. The city is packed with fashion boutiques, museums, and art galleries, such as the world-famous Pompidou Centre, which is renowned for its modern art collections. It’s also home to some of Andalusia’s greatest historical monuments, such as the Moorish Alcazaba fortress and the Roman theatre, which was discovered by construction workers in 1951 after being hidden for centuries.
If you’re looking for some beach action on your European city break, there are plenty to choose from. However, if you’re on a flying visit, your best bet is Playa de la Malagueta, which is a 15-minute walk from Plaza de la Constitución, the city’s liveliest and most iconic square.
Tip: Pressed for time? Book this Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour and visit all the major attractions from the comfort of an open-top bus. Tickets are valid for 24 hours.
Other things to do in Málaga
- The Picasso museum charts the career of Pablo Picasso, with work dating from the late 19th century until his death in 1973. Located in the Old Town, it’s close to the house where Picasso was born on Plaza de la Merced (also a museum). The museum features 285 works donated by members of Picasso’s family, as well as a series of changing contemporary exhibitions.
- If you’re up for an exhilarating climb, head up the hill to Gibralfaro Castle – the oldest fortress in the city. Dating back to the 14th century, it offers spectacular views over the city.
- Mercado Central de Atarazanas is Málaga’s central food market. Housed in a striking 19th-century wrought iron and glass building, it’s packed with stalls selling a wide variety of local, traditional produce. Be sure to try some fresh “pescaíto” (small fried fish) at one of the tapas bars as you wander around.
- If you’re a golf fanatic, Málaga is home to no less than nine fabulous golf courses. Check out our five top spots to play golf in the Costa Del Sol for the best places to tee off.
Where to stay
The 4-star Molina Lario Hotel is perfectly located in the centre of Malaga, a short distance from the port, the Picasso Museum, and the city’s pedestrian district. After a busy day’s sightseeing, you can enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop bar while taking in fabulous views of the Catedral de la Encarnación.
One Europe’s (and the world’s) most visited cities, the UK’s buzzing capital is bursting with exciting things to see and do. From historic royal palaces and world-class galleries to quirky street art and more theatres, bars, and restaurants than you can count, there’s enough to fill a lifetime of city breaks.
A great starting place for your city break is the London Eye. Take a spin for spectacular views of Big Ben, London Bridge, and Westminster Abbey. Get lost in the wonders of one of London’s many museums (many of which are free of charge). Catch a debate at Speakers Corner while exploring scenic Hyde Park. And marvel at the street art in trendy East London, on a walking tour.
While you’re in the East end, be sure to pop into Maureen’s for some traditional pie and mash (minced beef pie, mashed potato, and a parsley sauce known as liquor). Their unmatched family recipe pulls in crowds from all over the city!
Other things to do in London
- Be sure to catch a show in London’s West End, a hotbed of award-winning theatre. Head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square for discounted on-the-day tickets.
- No visit to London is complete without indulging in the Great British tradition of afternoon tea. With hundreds to choose from, there’s something to suit every occasion, taste, and budget. If you’re looking to splash out, head to the Ritz London for a taste of timeless luxury. If you’re on a budget, you can get the full experience for a fraction of the cost at The Tea Terrace. Want to combine sightseeing with afternoon tea? Book this Afternoon Tea Cruise on the Thames.
- Want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city? Head to UNESCO-listed Kew Gardens in leafy West London, where you’ll find plenty of green open space, and the world’s largest and most diverse collection of plants.
- Fancy doing something a bit different in the Big Smoke? Get inspired with our 8 fun and unusual things to do in London blog post.
Where to stay
The stylish Hoxton Hotel in East London is a great choice. With an ‘earlier you book the less you pay’ booking system, it offers great value for money. Fancy staying in a renovated fire station? Check out the aptly named Chiltern Firehouse Hotel in Marylebone.
Audrey Hepburn once said ‘Paris is always a good idea’. And she wasn’t wrong. As enthralling as it is edgy, this timeless metropolis offers some of the best sightseeing, art, fashion, and dining experiences, making it one of the best places for a city break in Europe.
Where do you start in this marvellous metropolis? Get your bearings with a leisurely cruise along the Seine. The scenic river divides the city into left and right banks. As you drift down the river, keep an eye out for icons such as the Eiffel Tower, Pantheon, Luxembourg Gardens, and Montparnasse Tower on the left bank (River Gauche) and the Arc de Triomphe, Montmartre, and the Louvre on the Right Bank (Rive Droite).
Want to flex the credit card? You can shop to your heart’s content at the upmarket Galeries Lafayette (the biggest department store in Europe), or the world-renowned Champs-Élysées will satisfy your craving. Or head to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen to check out the world’s biggest flea market. Be sure to check out our list of the best places to shop in Paris.
When the sun goes down, why not splash out in one of the city’s 100+ Michelin-starred restaurants? For an exquisite French dining experience, we recommend L’Ambroisie.
Other things to do in Paris
- If you’re a fan of Monet, be sure to catch his signature water lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries.
- Check out the ivy-clad cottages, quaint cobbled streets, and bustling bistros in Montmartre (an authentic Parisian hilltop village). From there it’s a short walk to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.
- For stunning panoramic views of the city’s skyline and iconic landmarks, head up to the viewpoint at the Montparnasse Tower in the 6th arrondissement.
- Fancy a cocktail? Head to Le Syndicat. One of the best bars in Paris, all the cocktails are made with 100% French booze.
Where to stay
If you want to go all out, consider the Shangri-La Paris. Located moments from the Eiffel Tower, the hotel is beautifully decorated with a spa and wellness centre to match.
Planning a city break in Denmark? Make a beeline for Copenhagen. The beautiful Danish capital sits on the coastal islands of Zealand and Amager, and is renowned for its cutting-edge design, cycling culture (it ranks above Amsterdam as the world’s most cycle-friendly city), relaxed pace of life, and liberal social attitudes.
There’s plenty to do in this compact city, which can easily be navigated by foot. A great place to start is Nyhavn – Copenhagen’s 17th-century waterfront, canal, and entertainment district. Lined with colouful townhouses, bars, and cafés, from here you can explore Copenhagen’s canals by boat and take in some of the city’s top attractions, including the Old Stock Exchange and Christiansborg Palace (a government building on the islet of Slotsholmen).
If you’re an art lover, check out the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which is packed with famous works by the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Travelling with kids? Be sure to visit Tivoli Gardens (the world’s second-oldest amusement park). As well as hair-raising rides, the park is home to an Arabian-style fantasy palace, beautiful gardens and plenty of events and concerts.
Other things to do in Copenhagen
- Valby Park, just south of the city centre, is an oasis of calm. Comprising of several themed gardens, including Hans Christian Andersen’s Oriental Garden, a landscaped playground, and disc golf course, it’s the perfect place for the kids to burn off some energy.
- Freetown Christiania, also known as Christiania, is an alternative community in the borough of Christianshavn. The reason for the name ‘freetown’ is based on the fact that they have their own laws, flag, and their own way of life.
- The Round Tower is one of Copenhagen’s most popular attractions. Built by King Christian IV in the 17th century as a platform for the University of Copenhagen observatory, it’s unique in that instead of climbing stairs, you walk up a spiral ramp to reach the top. The views from the top are spectacular.
- Copenhagen may not scream ‘beach holiday’, but it boasts several superb spots for swimming, sunbathing, and seaside fun. With its soft, sandy beaches and pretty lagoon, Amager Strandpark is the best of the bunch.
Find out more about what to do on a city break in Copenhagen.
Where to stay
Villa Copenhagen is the perfect place to stay during your Copenhagen city break. There are train lines to the central station just outside, and the trendy Vesterbro district is a short walk away, as is The National Museum, Glyptoteket Art Museum, Tivoli Gardens, and the main shopping street, Strøget.
The second largest city in Poland, Krakow is one of Europe’s most fascinating medieval cities, and ideal for a short break. From its fascinating historical spots and pretty parks to its booming café culture and wild nightlife, there are plenty of reasons to choose Krakow for your next city break.
The best introduction to Krakow is Stare Miasto – the city’s iconic Old Town. Surrounded by the leafy grounds of Planty Park and the remnants of the city’s medieval walls, it’s famous for being one of the world’s first urban UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Krakow’s Rynek Główny (Market Square) is the nerve centre of the Old Town. A hive of activity, it’s home to a medley of cafés, museums, clubs, pubs, and some of the most magnificent medieval architecture the city has to offer. The main attraction is Cloth Hall (known locally as Sukiennice). Originally a place for textile merchants to sell their goods, today, the colossal hall houses stalls of local tradesmen selling a wide range of handicrafts, from lace and amber to woodwork.
But the Old Town isn’t only famous for its historical features. Why not explore the cobbles with a Krakow pub crawl and sample some vodka? Or bask in the finest graphic design art Poland has to offer at the Polish Poster Gallery?
Want another reason to visit Krakow? The food. Chosen as The European Capital of Gastronomy Culture in 2019, it’s a foodie’s paradise. Starka-Restaurant and Vodkas in the Jewish Quarter is one of the best choices for traditional Polish cuisine.
Other things to do in Krakow
- Set beneath the cobbles of Krakow’s Main Market Square, Rynek Underground Museum will take you on a journey back in time to when merchants traded cloth and wares in the sprawling plaza. This fascinating museum comprises of multimedia exhibits, videos, and holograms that illustrate what life was like in the city 700 years ago.
- Krakow’s Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz, has been the heart of the city’s Jewish community since medieval times. Traces of its turbulent past remain, but it’s reinvented itself as a thriving cultural hub. After exploring the synagogues, art galleries, and vintage boutiques, be sure to visit the sobering Galicia Jewish Museum, where photographic exhibitions commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
- Krakow’s jazz scene is legendary. If you’re a fan, check out Harris Piano Jazz Bar, which is ranked among the best jazz bars in Europe.
- For more ideas, check out our 8 things to do on a weekend break in Krakow post.
Where to stay
Elegant Hotel Santi is right in the middle of the action. The Main Market Square, Wawel Castle, and the Kazimierz District are a short walk away, as are a wide variety of restaurants, pubs, clubs, and other fabulous attractions.
An easy choice to make
You can’t go wrong with any of these fabulous destinations for a city break in Europe. And you can’t go wrong with booking your trip with Norwegian. If you’re a Norwegian Reward member, you can earn CashPoints when you book flights, hire a car, book hotels (and lots more), which you can use to save money on your next trip. What are you waiting for?