As much as I’d love to fly out on week-long (or rather life-long) adventures to the end of the world on a regular basis, and discover distant lands and exotic cultures, it’ll have to remain a daydream to distract me at the office. Like you and I, most travellers don’t have time/money/freedom to travel the world constantly.
So how do you travel when you don’t lead a rock n’roll lifestyle? Make the most of whatever time you have free, spend your pays wisely, and put some money aside for weekend getaways, that’s how. You’d be surprised at how much you can discover right at your doorstep. Farniente in Barcelona, art show in Berlin, or cheese platter in Paris, which will you choose? Here are some great European cities you could reach by plane or even train, to visit over a weekend away…
Sample some pastéis de Belém, hop on a train to Belvedere, stuff your face with sardines, mackerel and calamari, bring some canned ones home from the Conserveira de Lisboa, and swing to the sound of improvised concerts in the streets of Baixa-Chiado. The best time to go? Up to December, the winter remains pretty warm and sunny.
Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain, sample Giolitti’s gelato, get up at sunrise and discover the Sistine chapel without the crowds, rent a Vespa and circle the Coliseum, chill in the gardens around the Villa Borghese. When to go? From April to June, get a real taste of the dolce vita in the Italian spring.
Explore Sarakiniko and its lunar landscape at sunset, go snorkelling in crystal-clear water, board a sailboat for a day around the island, sink your teeth in a cheesy Greek pasty. When to go? Book for springtime to avoid the crowds, go in the summer to bathe all day long… or head over for September/October to make summer last a bit longer.
Admire the view from the Upper Barraca Gardens, hanging over the fortified city, then take a stroll along the Grand Harbour, one of the most beautiful harbours in Europe, and sample local products at the Merchant Street Market. The best time to go? In spring and summer, when you can go for a dip in the sea in between visits.
One for arty party people who will enjoy the night-life and legendary clubs such as the Berghain, a chance to have a go at giant karaoke in Mauerpark, or admire the sunset from the old radar station in Teufelsberg, while munching on a “currywurst” from a street-food vendor. When’s the best time? In May, the Karneval der Kulturen takes over the streets with its costumes and performances. Or, go at summertime to enjoy the green spaces of the city.
Dive into Pedro Almodovar’s universe, cheer at Real Madrid, shop till you drop in Mango or Zara, admire Picasso’s “Guernica”, exposed at the Reina Sofia museum, and forget to resist that “chocolate con churros”. When to go? Avoid summer, when the heat of a large inland city can be unpleasant. Try April to June or September/October instead.