Top Five European City Break Destinations

City breaks have never been more popular, especially as the credit crunch takes a chunk out of consumer pockets. With many Brits choosing to swap their long summer holiday for a couple of well-planned short breaks, here are our tips for a top city break in Europe this year.

One of eastern Europe’s rising stars, Krakow in Poland is at the heart of the country’s artistic and cultural life. This beautiful city is Poland’s second largest and has a population of around 800,000 people. Visitors will appreciate the Old Town with its historic Main Market Square; the wealth of museums including the impressive Czartoryski Museum; and the Wawel Hill with the ancient castle and cathedral.

Many travellers will want to visit Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp located 60 km out of the city. A regular bus service runs from Krakow bus station.

The local cuisine largely involves meat, dumplings and cabbage and the large student population means lots of cheap Polish beer, vodka and cheesy clubs – what’s not to like?

This compact city is located on the Wisla River, close to the Carpathian Mountains. Balice Airport can be reached from a range of UK airports with airlines such as Ryanair, easyJet and LOT.

Spain’s most independent city, Barcelona, is a classic city break destination. The cool Catalonian capital is separated from the rest of the country by culture, language and attitude and has reinvented itself over the past twenty years.

The medieval quarter, Barri Gotic; La Rambla, a lively pedestrian street filled with market stalls, bars and street theatre; and the Port Vell waterfront area draw thousands of visitors throughout the year. The Museo Picasso and the park at Montjuic are also must-sees.

The city is full of the extraordinary work of Antoni Gaudi, a Catalan architect working during the late 19th century. Some of his most famous creations include the (unfinished) Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo and Parc Guell.

Football fans will want to head to the home of FC Barcelona at Camp Nou and beach babes will love Sitges, the super cool coastal resort just half an hour from Barcelona by car or train. El Prat and Girona are Barcelona’s closest airports, with airlines including British Airways, KLM and easyJet flying from the UK.

Over the past few years Budapest has really taken off as a weekend destination for British travellers. The numerous cheap and cheerful flights now servicing the city have helped us to discover one of Eastern Europe’s most lively and cultured spots.

Budapest consists of two separate cities, Buda and Pest, positioned opposite each other on the River Danube. Buda is the cultural half, featuring most of the cafes, bars, music and coffee house intellectual scene. Pest is the commercial centre but is also home to some museums, the fantastic riverside Parliament Building and the recently restored St Stephen Cathedral.

Budapest is famous for its thermal spas and bath houses, one of the most accessible being the Gellert Baths at the beautiful art nouveau Gellert Hotel on the Buda side of the river. Castle Hill, the Royal Palace, the Labyrinth at Buda Castle and Margaret Island are all worth a visit.

Malev Hungarian Airlines, British Airways and Aer Lingus all fly to the city’s main airport, Ferihegy International.

Bruges may sound more chocolate box than cutting edge to many, but Belgium’s medieval port is an unexpectedly cool city. And at just around an hour’s drive from Calais it’s perfect for UK travellers looking to nip across the Channel for a few days.

Whether its exploring the maze of cobbled streets and canals, taking in the art galleries, museums and beautifully preserved medieval architecture, shopping on Steenstraat and Noordzandstraat or simply enjoying a Belgian beer (or ten) with mussels and chips, there’s plenty to entertain you on a relaxed short break.

The central Markt Square and bell tower, Burg Square (home to the Basilica of the Holy Blood), the Lake of Love, Groeninge Museum, the Church of Our Lady and Gruuthuse Museum should all be on the sightseeing list. Refreshingly, the city’s permanent residents are consistently friendly and helpful to tourists in spite of there being around four million every year.

The entire centre of Bruges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is easily reached by car or via Eurostar.

The mother of all European city break destinations has to be Paris. Ignore the cliches, the French capital will charm you and you’ll want to go back again and again.

The best way to soak up the city’s unique atmosphere is to wander on foot along the River Seine and around the different ‘quartiers’ with their own special personalities. Dip in and out of bohemian cafes and boutiques in the Marais; see the Eiffel Tower, Le Louvre, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe; peruse works of literature in the eccentric Shakespeare and Company bookshop in the Latin Quarter; devour hot crepes outside the Pompidou Centre; discover the formerly naughty Pigalle and Moulin Rouge.

There’s so much to enjoy in Paris it is impossible to list in a few sentences. But whether you’re looking for art, good food, fine wine, stunning architecture, late night clubbing, antiques or flea market finds, jazz, cinema, theatre or even romance, you’ll find it here.

Travellers from the UK can reach Paris by Eurostar or by flying to Charles De Gaulle or Beauvais airports. Air France, British Airways and EasyJet all fly to Paris.

Jersey City NJ – Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal CRRNJ Terminal 05
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Image by Daniel Mennerich
The Central Railroad of New Jersey (reporting mark CNJ), commonly known as the Jersey Central Lines or CNJ, was a Class I railroad with origins in the 1830s, lasting until 1976 when it was absorbed into Conrail with the other bankrupt railroads of the Northeastern United States. Its main line ran from Jersey City west through New Jersey to Phillipsburg and across the Delaware River to Easton and Scranton in Pennsylvania. Branches stretched into southern New Jersey to Delaware Bay.

The CNJ was acquired by the Philadelphia and Reading Railway in 1883. Though that was later canceled, the Reading continued to exert major influence over the CNJ, and used it for its New York City terminal.

Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey includes the CNJ’s Communipaw Terminal.Here a look inside of the Communipaw Terminal and the platforms.

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Top Five Things to do to Relax on a City Break in Istanbul

Everyone likes to relax a little on holiday. Some people like to spend the whole holiday relaxing, some prefer to be climbing steep mountainsides or diving into the ocean depths. But either way, everyone needs to take a break, take a breath and relax a little. This is especially true in bustling cities, where the tempo of life can be overwhelming, even to the most ardent lover of cities. We look at one of the world’s busiest and most vibrant cities – Istanbul – and examine the top five ways that you can take time out from your Istanbul city break to relax a little.

5. Go to Çamlica Hill

Çamlica Hill overlooks the city and offers you wide vistas and open space to breathe and relax. The 360 degree panoramic view is calming and beautiful at the same time, and one of the highlights of any city break to Istanbul. The hill is number five on our list because it is quite an attraction, and can get slightly crowded. This means that while it is very calming and relaxed, it’s not always that serene or secluded.

4. The Old Sea Walls in the Fatih District

The old sea walls are located close to some of Istanbul’s oldest monuments, churches and tombs. They helped to shape the old walled city, and are a great place to relax while touring the surrounding historic buildings and museums. Sitting down and staring out over the Golden Horn inlet is soothing and almost soporific; great for relaxing over lunch or watching the ships go by at dusk. Either way, it’s a great place to stop while exploring this part of Istanbul while on a city break.

3. Gulet Cruising

If you want a longer break away from the city for a few days, why not go on a traditional gulet cruise? Gulets are traditional Turkish sailing boats that have usually been converted for luxury tours and tourists on holiday in Turkey. Changing gear from a city break in Istanbul to relaxing on the deck of a ship coasting through the Bosporus strait is a good way to relax for a while. You can then return to enjoy the frantic energy of the city again, refreshed and ready for more exotic sights and experiences.

2. Your hotel

This may sound both odd and obvious, but if you choose the right hotel in the quieter parts of the town it can be a great place to relax. Choose a hotel with available activities and great cuisine on offer and it can be nice spending a day holed up in your hotel before plunging head first back into the streets. Istanbul city breaks are best enjoyed when you have a good base to come back to, away from the swirling heart of the city proper, and choosing the right hotel should be an important part of your plans when deciding what type of holiday in Istanbul you would like.

1. Prince’s Islands

Seemingly built around the idea of relaxation, the Prince’s Islands are the perfect place to explore as a part of a relaxing few days away from the main city. The islands are in the Sea of Marmara, reachable on a day trip by boat from Istanbul. City breaks can feel crowded and claustrophobic because of the amount of traffic and fumes around in the city, which is another reason to visit the islands; there are no cars, and transport is by horse and cart only. All of the islands have a serene, gentle feel about them, and just taking a stroll about one of them has an incredibly calming effect. They are well worth a visit on any city break to Istanbul, even if it’s just to help you appreciate the hustle and bustle of the main city even more.

Sarah Arnesen is the Marketing Manager for Anatolian Sky, a company offering incredibleIstanbul City Breaks. They provide holidays to Turkey and North Cyprus, including the entire Anatolian region.

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