Top 5 European City Breaks this Easter

Guardian angels of the Palais de Versailles, Paris Region. Lucy Sabin.

Guardian angels of the Palais de Versailles, Paris Region. Lucy Sabin.

Summer and all the adventure it promises feels too far away to get properly excited about. As I sit here on the top floor of the library, gazing at the sun-drenched cathedral, it strikes me that spring might finally be on its way, and what better time to travel across Europe than in spring?

On that note, I have complied a list of five fabulous cities you could visit this Easter holiday without blowing the remainder of your loan. The good news is, flights to the following destinations can be obtained for under £150, and often much less!

1. Amsterdam

Cycling over a bridge in Amsterdam. Lucy Sabin.

Cycling over a bridge in Amsterdam. Lucy Sabin.

Amsterdam is beautiful any time of year, but spring is a wonderful time to enjoy the outdoors. The enchanting city has many beautiful parks, the most famous of which is Vondelpark. Spanning 47 acres Vondelpark has it all: cycle paths, duck ponds, bridges, and cafes. Tip number one: hire a bike to fully explore this expansive park. Not far from Vondelpark is the Museumplein, part of Amsterdam’s cultural hub and a great place to see art to suit all tastes, containing the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum of modern art. Whilst on the subject of museums, no trip to Amsterdam would be complete without a trip to the Anne Frank house. Although be warned: it is worth booking in advance to avoid queues.

If you’re looking for a bit more R&R on your trip away then check out Jordaan and its famous 9 streets, filled with boutiques and cafés (just be sure to remember the difference between a coffee shop and a café!). Amsterdam is of course also famous for its bustling nightlife, with Melkweg being famous for its live music, and if you wish for your night to continue, you can head down to Escape, recently voted Amsterdam’s number one club.

2. Paris

A Parisian cityscape. Flikr image.

Eurostar from £69 return.

Paris in spring surely needs no introduction, the Champs Elysées under blossom and the smell of fresh pastries from the patisseries should be temptation enough. However, if you do find yourself at a loose end, be sure to check out the Luxembourg Gardens; with free entry for all it is the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon. Then head over to Montmartre, the former artist quarter of Paris, which is a maze of small streets with beautiful views over the city. Whilst you’re over that direction also check out La Famille restaurant, located on Rue des Trois Frères, a tiny little place with only a dozen tables which serves quality food and killer cocktails of their own design. And finally of course, no trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower, and several hundred photos of you prancing in front of it…

3. Dublin

The Irish capital by night, Flikr image.

So maybe this one didn’t jump to the front of your mind straight away when thinking of an Easter escape, but it definitely should have done. Not only for the low cost of a quick break here, but also because there is so much to do! If you’re more into wilderness, check out Phoenix Park, the largest walled park in Europe, with wild deer inside. Or maybe go to the National Museum of Ireland (free entry) or Kilmainham Gaol (only €2 for students) to understand more about Ireland’s history. And of course, you cannot truly say you have been to Dublin without savouring a pint of Guinness in its hometown. If you’re really into your beer why not take a tour around the factory? Or perhaps just a tour of the local pubs. For this, there are organised walking tours for free with Sandeman’s tours. Above all, make sure you visit at least one pub whilst you’re there; there is a reason why Irish pubs are famed the world over.

4. Rome

Millenial history at your feet, Rome. Flikr image.

Millenial history at your feet, Rome. Flikr image.

There is no better time to visit Rome than in spring, before the summer temperatures fully kick in and before all the tourists appear, making every attraction take twice as long (although don’t get me wrong, you won’t be the only tourists in the city over Easter). Rome is a metropole of many time periods, so make sure you check out the ancient landmarks – the Colosseum and Roman Forum – as well as less aged ones like the Spanish Steps, the Trevi fountain and Piazza Navona, all of which are surrounded by little cafés for when you need some of that famous Italian coffee to keep you going. Italy is viewed as one of the most fashionable places in the world, so where better to shop than in Rome? Check out the area around the Spanish Steps for some designer brands, the Via del Corso for more high-street brands, and the Porta Portese Flea Market for some real deals (only open on Sunday mornings). As well as its history, fashion, and just about everything else to do with good living, Italy is also famed for its food. Visit the Gelateria del Teatro for some of the best gelato in town, located on the Via dei Coronari not far from Piazza Navona. Sublime pizza and pasta are in abundance of course; you’ll nevermore be satisfied by the English versions of these meals again.

5. Budapest

Danube waterfront, Budapest. Flikr image.

Danube waterfront, Budapest. Flikr image.

With Hungary gaining increasing popularity as a holiday destination in recent years, the capital has diversified its offer to travellers. Venture out to Buda Castle for some breath-taking views of the city, wonder around the stunning parks of Margaret Island, and indulge yourself at the Széchenyi thermal baths, the largest medicinal bathhouse in Europe. Budapest’s Great Market Hall houses sumptuous stalls and is an architectural feat in itself. But if you fancy experiencing some alternative culture then try the Ruin Pubs dotted around the city. Once upon a time derelict buildings seemingly doomed to demolition, they were creatively converted into pubs and bars, and have since become an integral part of the city’s identity. Try one or try a tour; there are plenty of places to book them and most are now added to the tourist maps.

Bon Voyage!

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