The popular European city break destinations of Amsterdam, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, to name just a few, are well known to many. There are, however, a few cities which don’t shout out their presence quite as loudly, but yet deserve a closer look. There are many such cities but here is just a small selection…….
Warsaw is a vibrant capital city with a rich cultural scene, great shopping and delightful parks and a superbly restored historic “OldTown”. In summer the Old and New Town Squares become stages for musical and theatrical performances and open-air galleries. The Warsaw skyline is dominated by the tallest building in Poland, the Palace of Culture and Science. Completed in 1955 as a ‘gift from the Soviet people’, the building is the embodiment of Socialist Realist architecture. This cultural centre offers an excellent panoramic view of the city. You should also try and visit the 17th Century Lazienki Krolewskie Park Palace complex, one of the most beautiful of its type in Europe. You can take advantage of direct flights from many UK airports to Warsaw.
Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, lies astride the mighty River Danube. Perhaps one of Europe’s most relaxed cities, it welcomes visitors to its delightful cobblestoned streets, cafe lined plazas and fine Rococo buildings. Bratislava’s long history – as home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks – means there is an impressive range of architecture, languages and cuisine. Whilst exploring the city you can walk, or take a short bus ride, up to the castle, which currently hosts temporary historical exhibitions and from whose ramparts you can see nearby Hungary, Austria and the Danube valley. If you want to head a little further afield you can even take a day trip by hydrofoil on the Danube to Vienna. There are low-cost flights to Bratislava from many UK regional airports.
Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, is certainly a hidden gem. This fascinating city contains one of the largest surviving medieval quarters in Europe. It was made EuropeanCity of Culture in 2009 and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The OldTown contains a wonderful mix of medieval, gothic, renaissance, and baroque buildings. Also worth a visit are the KGBMuseum, located in a former Soviet prison, and the 13th century HigherCastle which affords a glorious view of the city centre. Vilnius can be reached by air from a number of UK airports including Liverpool, Leeds Bradford and London Stansted.