The nights are drawing in, the barbeque is packed away and X Factor is back on our screens – but before the sofa claims us for the winter, there’s still time to eke out a bit more summer with a revitalising trip to one of Europe’s glamorous capitals.
Late summer city breaks can offer fantastic value for flexible travellers prepared to do a bit of shopping around. The end of the school holidays brings some good off peak hotel bargains, as well as a great choice of cheap flights to a variety of exciting destinations. The hardest part is choosing where to go! Here are three suggestions to get you started.
Granted, the fabled city of lovers can be a little chilly in autumn, but that just gives you an excuse to cuddle closer to your loved one! And if it’s really too cold to stroll hand in hand along the banks of the Seine or while away the hours on a pavement café, there are more than enough fascinating museums and art galleries to explore. Check out the cutting-edge architecture of the Pompidou Centre, surrounded by colourful street entertainers and lively bars, or take time to admire the legendary Louvre, home to the Mona Lisa and the most visited art museum in the world.
No art lover should miss the world-famous collection of Impressionist paintings in the Musée d’Orsay, the imaginatively converted former railway station on the Left Bank of the Seine, close to the bohemian Latin Quarter with its student cafés and second-hand bookshops. And if cultural overload starts to creep in, a quick Metro ride will take you to the fashion heart of Paris, the Champs Elysées, where you can restore your spirits with the swipe of a credit card!
Sun-worshippers might be lucky enough to catch a last glimpse on the long sandy beaches of Barcelona, whose great nightlife and laid-back atmosphere make it the perfect playground for groups of friends looking for some late summer fun that won’t break the bank.
Spain’s second city and capital of Catalonia is famous for its striking Art Nouveau buildings, many of them designed by Antoni Gaudi. Although the great artist’s ground-breaking style was not always appreciated during his lifetime; his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, has become the international symbol of Barcelona.
The city is also a shopaholic’s paradise, home to high-street designer labels such as Zara, Mango and Desigual at very competitive prices. And when you’ve tired of architecture and shopped till you drop, head to La Rambla for a sparkling glass of cava, a tasty dish of tapas and some serious people-watching, so when deciding which hotel, go to expedia.co.uk for the largest selection of hotels available, all at a reasonable price.
While Berlin is the undisputed must-visit destination of the New Europe, and Prague is famous for its combination of high culture and cheap beer, it’s easy to overlook the attractions of Budapest.
The Hungarian capital spanning the Danube is cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the second oldest underground railway in the world (after London’s Metropolitan line). On one side of the river is the castle district offering historic churches, museums, a host of interesting buildings and stunning panoramic views, while on the other side lays the commercial heart of the modern city with grand shopping streets, elegant cafés and beautiful parks.
The ‘City of Spas’ is also famous for its outstanding Art Nouveau medicinal baths, the world’s largest thermal cave system, second largest synagogue and third largest parliament building. No great beaches here, but if heritage and sightseeing are your thing, Budapest will deliver everything you could wish for, and more.