As the popularity of European city breaks continues to rise, holidaymakers like you now have more choice than ever when it comes to which destination you would like to explore next. But with increased choice comes varying price points and so it’s important to ensure you’re getting the best value for money.
A recent study by Post Office Travel Money (reported here in TTG online) has highlighted a series of ‘unsung cities’ that are often overlooked but can still offer fantastic experiences. Not only are these likely to be less crowded, you’ll also save a significant amount on things like accommodation, meals and sightseeing compared to more familiar destinations.
And the surprising thing is that these are not cities you’ve never heard of, hidden away in a corner of Europe that you would never want to visit; these are beautiful, vibrant places with so much to offer. With our ability to tailor-make your holiday to your preferences, we can help you see much more than the typical sights. Take a look at our list and see how much you could save.
Toulouse Over Paris (Save 38%)
There are so many reasons why Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world. But Toulouse, located much further south, is also a fantastic choice and is much cheaper.
For a start, the temperatures are likely to be much more favourable. As you head closer to the Spanish border, the sun shines for longer, creating a breathtaking light when it hits the famous red brick buildings that have earnt Toulouse the nickname of La Ville Rose (the pink city).
The food here is definitely a highlight, as is the chance to stroll the halls of museums like Les Abattoirs without fighting off hordes of other tourists. The menus from quaint pavement cafés to Michelin-starred restaurants include wine, cheese and other delights produced in the area immediately surrounding the city.
Porto Over Lisbon (Save 33%)
The great thing about choosing Porto over Lisbon (besides the extra money in your pocket) is that Portugal’s second city offers a very similar experience to the country’s capital. Both have charming traditional neighbourhoods (Porto’s Ribeira District is particularly special), both have similar cuisines and both are situated on hills with trams taking you in every direction.
The advantage of visiting Porto is that it is a smaller city, making it easier to explore on a short trip and offering a friendlier vibe. Its position at the gateway to the Douro Valley is also a massive highlight. There is no better place to sample some of the region’s famous port wine or set sail on a cruise through the spectacular landscapes of Portugal.
Verona Over Venice (Save 36%)
Venice seems to be on everyone’s bucket list and is one of those unique places that you just have to visit if you get the chance. However, its greatest gift is also a curse, as high numbers of tourists are crippling this Italian beauty – driving prices up, turning traditional activities into clichés and even contributing to the slow sinking of the city.
Firstly, as soon as you set foot in Verona, it’s easy to see that it rivals Venice for Romance. This is an ideal city break for Romeos and Juliets, especially those who also have an interest in the great playwright who brought these characters to life.
Art and architecture are also some of Venice’s biggest draws, but Verona can fascinate equally in this regard. An excellent collection of Roman ruins, medieval history and an art gallery inside a restored fortress all add to Verona’s cultural charm. Plus, the streets here are much more likely to be filled with local residents selling their wares at a market than groups of tourists jostling to get on the next gondola.
Bratislava Over Vienna (Save 44%)
So, Bratislava and Vienna are obviously not in the same country, but they are only 50 miles apart in Slovakia and Austria respectively. In fact, they are closest capital cities in Europe (not counting Vatican City and Rome).
Whilst Bratislava cannot compete with Vienna’s imperial offerings, it still has plenty to offer and a city break here will cost almost half as much as one in the Austrian capital. Many people visit on a day trip from Vienna, but it deserves far more attention than that.
The small scale of the intimate Old Town makes it easy to navigate – the impressive medieval buildings contrasting with modern structures (like the inverted pyramid) situated in the newer part of town. One of the most dramatic structures is Bratislava Castle, which can be seen looming over the intricate alleyways and cobbled streets.
This is also a city with a quirky side, as shown by the UFO Bridge and its observation deck over the Danube and the statue of Cumil emerging from a drain cover close to the main square. If you give it a chance, it’s easy to fall in love with the city.
Ljubljana Over Dubrovnik (Save 22%)
Ljubljana and Dubrovnik may be over 400 miles apart, but their position in Europe and general character do offer similarities. Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s fastest growing destinations (in terms of popularity) but this also means a visit won’t come cheap. On the other hand, a Ljubljana city break has the capacity to surprise and enchant as a worthy alternative.
Although the Slovenian capital is on the rise, it still can be considered as one of the continent’s most sparkling hidden gems. Firstly, the fact that it was initially settled more than 2,000 years ago means there is so much history on display. The interesting buildings give the Old Town a charming feel and tales of dragons add a mystical air.
Ljubljana is also a green city – in more ways than one. Extensive cycle paths make two wheels the best way to get around and leafy spaces outside of the centre offer a relaxing retreat for a romantic stroll. Lastly, there is culture everywhere you look. If you’re not enjoying the medieval architecture, you could be attending one of the many musical or folk festivals, or eyeing up Slovenian art in the National Gallery.
If you would like to learn more about the ‘unsung cities’ that we can take you to, call us on 0800 988 3369. Our tailor-made service means you can choose when, how, where and for how long you would like to travel and we will put it together for you.