GET CARRIED AWAY
Whilst we’re not exactly basking in spring sunshine, we’ve decided to warm ourselves up with our top 10 mini city breaks to catch the weekend sunshine.
Rome’s mild Mediterranean climate is a persuasive draw for visitors from the cool north, but the main draw will always be the pulsating energy of a place that lives life as a form of theatre. There are great neighbourhood trattorias, quirky shops and a buzzing aperitivo scene. The challenge is deciding what not to do: there are so many churches, archaeological sites, piazzas and paintings to see that a lifetime is hardly enough.
Venice never loses its capacity to enchant. Summer brings some of the most daunting crowds, but there’s a reason why they come: the sheer loveliness of an exquisite city that seems miraculously built on water. Venice’s churches and museums offer antique glories aplenty, but there is also a vibrant contemporary art scene, even away from the Art Biennale. Venice is a unique, magical place 365 days a year.
Florence is one of Europe’s great art cities. Giotto’s frescoes, Michelangelo’s David, canvases by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and a host of other greats in the Uffizi Gallery… there’s so much exquisite art and architecture, it’s difficult to know where to start. Florence is also a living city with a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, and a lively cultural movida that goes beyond old masters to embrace opera, classical music and contemporary art. Handsome, historic, full of quirky shops and quality crafts, and close to the vine-covered hills of Chianti.
Italy’s fashion and design capital, Milan has an international cosmopolitan outlook, a vibrant food and drink scene and scores of hotels to suit all budgets. Historical edifices sit cheek-by-jowl modern skyscrapers, while a number of the city’s buildings have spectacular interior courtyards that remain largely undiscovered. But what largely draws visitors is the city’s excellent shopping – designer stores line the Quadrilatero D’Oro district, while outlets, high street shops and boutiques are found in all corners of the city.
Madrid has really revamped itself in the past couple of years. The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums have all got bigger and better, while the centre of the city is smartening up with new boutiques, delis, cafés and gastrobars opening up every week. It’s perfect for a culture-rich long weekend or city break, with great food and a lively atmosphere at night. Madrid may be cold in winter – it is one of Europe’s highest capital cities, after all – but the sky is often blue and with a light jacket, the sunshine is strong enough to allow visitors to sit at a pavement café sipping a vermut.
Barcelona is a patchwork of architectural styles displays dark, Gothic façades next to the harlequin buildings of the Modernistas and the skyline-piercing constructions of Jean Nouvel or Herzog and de Meuron, and a day spent admiring them can be topped off with a sundowner on one of the city’s seven beaches before dinner at any number of Michelin-starred gastronomic temples or humble, family-run tapas bars. Barcelona has a relaxed pace, months of endless sunshine, unbeatable food – with the cultural and design clout of almost any city in the cold north.
Compact, rich in history and famous for its flamenco, tapas bars and orange trees, Seville is an ideal short break destination, especially in spring before the sun becomes too scorching. Stay in the city’s old town to explore the cobbled streets of the Santa Cruz quarter and the breathtaking Alcázar Palace. Soak up the atmosphere on the banks of the Guadalquivir, and admire the views from the ancient cathedral tower and recently opened Parasol Metropol.
A decade of bold development has given Spain’s third-largest city some of the most striking architecture in the country, adding to the wealth of elegant art nouveau buildings that line the streets, as well as Gothic and Renaissance monuments. With dynamic museums, a flourishing restaurant scene, lively nightlife, great shops and miles of beach, Valencia is bursting with Mediterranean exuberance.
Paris is one of the world’s most beautiful cities (with its golden stone facades and famous monuments), and a vibrant, densely packed collection of villages. Behind the grandiose palaces and boulevards, you can discover intimate courtyards and gardens; behind historic façades are craft workshops and eminent research institutions. Perhaps the true clue to Paris’s appeal is that despite being one of the most visited cities in the world it is also intensely lived-in. With its flats, playgrounds, food markets and cafés, there is no empty heart in the centre; and you, too, can play at being a Parisian.
Marseille is France’s oldest city. Greek traders founded the place 2,600 years ago, and it’s scarcely had a quiet moment since. Recently, the emphasis has been on cultural consolidation. New and renewed museums are hitting their stride. After enormous urban renewal schemes, there are enough new trams, designer hotels, galleries, chic restaurants and shops to fill a year’s-worth of lifestyle magazines. Marseille will remain magnificent with its coast of rocks, the sea, and the beat of a big port city.
Wherever destination our advice is always travel light. A capsule wardrobe of a few staple items, along with a lightweight spring jacket will easily see you through a spot of sightseeing, a deliciously leisurely lunch at a street café and maybe on into the evening.
When it comes to luxury weekend luggage you’ll love our perfect Original Montgomery weekend bag. Hand made in the UK, this Scotchgarin fabric duffle bag (this is a coated canvas bag that you will see on the best, and most expensive designer bags.) will have room for all your weekend needs.
With free UK delivery, and a price of just £175 lets get carried away.
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