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Top 5 Cities to Explore on Your Next City Break

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If you’re planning a city break and can’t decide which city you’d like to explore next, look no further! We’ve got you covered with our top five picks– timeless cities that are sure to capture your heart and leave you with unforgettable memories.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan seaside city with a Mediterranean flavor that seamlessly blends the old and the new. From the Gothic Quarter’s narrow, winding streets to the sleek, modern architecture of the city’s Olympic Village, there is a good reason that Barcelona is a number one destination for travelers. In fact, Barcelona is, arguably, among the most colorful cities in Europe.

The city is renowned for its stunning art and architecture, especially the Sagrada Familia and the whimsical Park Guell, both iconic works of the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona boasts several famous museums, including the Picasso Museum and the elegant National Museum of Art from where you can catch the entertaining Magic Fountain light show after dark. Historical landmarks, lively open markets, rich culture, and vibrant nightlife are also highlights of this exceptional city.

But Barcelona is not just about the sights; it’s a city that celebrates food, drink, and the joys of life. Be sure to indulge in some tapas, sip on some cava, and take in the lively atmosphere of the city’s many bars and restaurants.

Well-located, Barcelona is also a great starting point for a multi-destination trip to explore other cities in Spain like Madrid, Valencia, or Seville. It is a short drive from the Costa Brava –the rugged coastal region known for its breathtaking nature, stunning beaches, and relaxed atmosphere. While Barcelona is a great destination year-round, you’ll find the most ideal weather- plenty of sun with comfortable temperatures – in the early summer or the fall.

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Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal’s beautiful coastal capital, is a city that is best explored at a leisurely pace. It is a charming city nestled on seven hills and one of the oldest cities in the world. Lisbon is home to rich culture, beautiful beaches, narrow cobbled streets, and delightful restaurants – and, lest you think that old means dull, Lisbon also boasts a famed and vibrant nightlife.

From the historic Alfama neighborhood to the trendy Bairro Alto district, Lisbon has a wealth of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Take a ride on one of the city’s iconic yellow trams and visit the imposing Castelo de Sao Jorge castle which dates back to the 12th Century. Climb up the Torre de Belem fort, a magnificent example of the unique late Gothic architecture of the time called Manueline- named for the 16th century monarch, King Manuel I. Torre de Belem is known for its iconic watch towers, breathtaking views, and scenic parks. Go bargain hunting In the Feira de Ladra, Lisbon’s well-known market.

Lisbon is also known for its food scene, which is centered around fresh seafood, traditional sweets, and the must-try Pastel de Nata custard tarts that are a staple in the city. The region’s delicious wines are a favorite among both locals and visitors. Lisbon is also a great base for visits to other cities in Portugal like Porto, Coimbra, or Faro.

With its combination of outstanding beauty, history, culture, and cuisine, it is no wonder that Lisbon has become one of Europe’s top tourist destinations.

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View of Palace da Pena – Sintra, Lisboa, Portugal – European travel

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is a city of contrasts. It’s a city that is both historic and modern, laid-back and lively, and serene and exciting. The city, often referred to as the “Venice of the North,” is famous for its picturesque canals, which are best explored by foot or via a scenic canal cruise.

Amsterdam is also home to some of the world’s best museums and galleries, including the Van Gogh Museum with the world’s largest collection of works by the famous artist; the Rijksmuseum which is the national museum of the Netherlands dedicated to the country’s history and art; and the contemporary Stedelijk Museum. Visit the Anne Frank House, a powerful museum located in the building where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in Amsterdam for both locals and visitors. Rent a bike and explore the city’s many parks and neighborhoods at your own pace. And, be sure to sample the local cuisine! From sweet to savory, Dutch treats are a must-have.

Of course, Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant nightlife, which includes everything from traditional Dutch pubs to world-class nightclubs, jazz to techno and pop music. And, from Amsterdam it is easy to explore other sites and cities in the Netherlands, including like Rotterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht.

Best time to visit? Spring is Amsterdam’s most glorious and colorful season. The city comes alive with festivals, sunshine, and flowers – including the breathtaking tulips. While you’ll see these quintessential flowers in the famous floating flower market or in the city’s lush gardens, the most breathtaking tulip gardens are in the Keukenhof Gardens, a short ride from Amsterdam.

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Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a city that feels like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. With its stunning architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and charming squares, Prague’s beauty is often compared to that of Paris. And its beer? Ranked the best in Europe!

Prague is a historic city, dating back almost 1,000 years, and it is best explored on foot. Visit the Old Town Square in the heart of Prague where you’ll see the 15th century Astronomical Clock and marvel at the ornate buildings. Explore the iconic Prague Castle, one the world’s largest castles. The tour of the castle grounds will include the St. Vitus Cathedral, an elaborate religious and cultural focal center that was built over a span of 600 years. Take a stroll across the Charles Bridge, a pedestrian-only bridge that crosses the Vltava River connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town. The bridge is lined with statutes of saints and offers breathtaking views of the city and the river. Visit the Jewish Quarter, known as the Josefov, a historic neighborhood dating back to the 11th century that was once the center of thriving Jewish life in Prague, and tour the synagogues and Jewish Museum.

Prague’s cultural life is renowned. It was the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as well as Antonin Dvorak and other famous composers, and, today, Prague’s extraordinary theatres and concert halls offer a rich schedule of cultural events and festivals.

If you’re looking to travel to other cities and towns in the Czech Republic, such as Cesky Krumlov, Brno, Karlovy Vary, and Kutna Hora, Prague is an excellent base for trips.

Getting back to the beer… the city’s famous beer culture includes everything from traditional monastery breweries that date back to the 1st century CE to modern craft breweries. There are numerous pubs to explore in each neighborhood, from modern beer halls and cafes to historic inns that have retained their medieval feel. Whether you’re a beer lover or not, don’t miss Prague’s “liquid gold”!

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Prague – Charles bridge, Czech Republic

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is a fascinating city that spans two continents and is a hub of history, culture, and delicious cuisine. The city’s Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture and one of Istanbul’s iconic landmarks. It is named for the blue tiles that adorn its interior. The bustling Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world and a paradise for shopping-lovers. It has over 4,000 shops selling everything from spices to jewelry. For breathtaking views of the city and its skyline, take a ferry ride across the Bosphorus Strait which is the dividing line between Europe and Asia. Don’t miss Topkapi Palace, the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for over 400 years. It is now a museum whose exhibits offer a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the Ottoman rulers. The magnificent Hagia Sophia (pronounced: Ayasofia) is one of Istanbul’s most outstanding icons – a 1,500 year-old-building that was the center of Orthodox Christianity in Roman times and became the most important Islam mosque in the Ottoman era. The building has a massive dome, and the marks of both religions are harmoniously preserved.

Indulge in some Turkish sweets like baklava and Turkish delight and don’t miss the city’s famous Turkish coffee. And, lastly, to unwind and rejuvenate after a long day of sightseeing, be sure to relax in a traditional Turkish bath and spa experience, known as a hamam.

The transition seasons are ideal for visiting Istanbul – mid-April to June, and September to October – and other Turkish destinations are readily accessible from Istanbul, including Ankara, Izmir, and Antalya.

There you have it! Each of our top five city picks offers something for everyone – from stunning architecture to vibrant nightlife, mouth-watering cuisine to rich culture, fascinating history to modern pleasures. And, with the option of including them as a multi-destination trip, you can easily explore and experience the additional sites and beauty these countries have to offer. Ready? Pack your bags and set off on an adventure of a lifetime!

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