Top Alternative City Breaks in Europe

December 2, 2017

Travel anywhere in Europe and you’ll find no end to the fascinating and exciting cities to visit.

However, as deserving as places like Paris and Amsterdam are of their accolades, why not try something a little different? Take a look at our list of the top alternative city breaks in Europe.

Rotterdam, Holland

You might think of Rotterdam as nothing but a big port (the largest in Europe in fact), but it’s so much more. Explore the harbour and marvel at the modern architectural delights, including the elegant Erasmus Bridge. Everywhere you go in this Dutch city you practically trip over public artworks and contemporary architecture, such as the iconic cube houses, the Central Railway Station and Euromast. This 100-metre tall observation tower is an excellent way to take in the city, so long as you don’t mind looking down.

Lyon, France

Forget Paris, head to France’s second city, Lyon. You can enjoy its vibrant food scene as well as warmer weather thanks to its southerly location. There’s a stunning diversity of architecture in Lyon, from a Roman amphitheatre, to medieval cathedrals and Baroque palaces. There’s also plenty of culture to soak up, with 22 different museums displaying a wealth of art and artefacts from most of human history. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is one of the largest art galleries in France, rivalling the Louvre with its stunning collections.

Leipzig, Germany

Leipzig is basically a hipper, cooler Berlin, which is high praise considering Berlin is fairly cool already. It’s all about young, vibrant creativity combined with a venerable history and traditions. Music is one of its most significant cultural treasures, with one of the world’s top orchestras, and an 800-year-old boys’ choir (the choir is 800 years old, not the boys). There are many sights and attractions to take in during a stay in Leipzig, including the Zoological Gardens, the Museum of Fine Art in its great glass cube, and the Leipzig Panometer, an extraordinary 360-degree film experience.

Ghent, Belgium

Ghent is often called ‘Belgium’s best kept secret’, and for good reason. It still manages to avoid attracting the huge crowds you’ll find in Bruges and Brussels, but has abundant beauty to charm any visitor. It has tranquil canals lined with medieval buildings, as well as a winding medieval street plan. Admire some stunning Renaissance art at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, particularly The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, and lose yourself in the twisting cobbled streets of Patershol.

Gothenburg, Sweden

The second largest city in Sweden after Stockholm, Gothenburg has fashioned itself as a cool and modern twist on the old industrial city it once was, with a distinctly relaxed atmosphere. There are canals, beautiful walks, and some breathtaking modern architecture. The old core of the city also has some beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings, with a decent collection of hip restaurants and bars. A boat tour is an excellent way to see the city, though getting around on foot is also very doable even for the most exercise-averse tourist.

Warsaw, Poland

Fancy visiting a royal castle? Warsaw offers the chance for visitors to feel like a monarch whilst enjoying some stunning architecture in not one but two royal buildings. The Wilanów Palace and the Royal Castle are both located in the castle square, which was once lived in by the Polish President, as well as being the official residence of past Polish monarchs. Warsaw offers plenty of other attractions from the Royal Park and Holy Cross Church to exploring the historic Jewish Ghetto and war attractions such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If history is something you’re interested in, Warsaw has a profusion of it.

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