Urban getaways in Europe ideal for long autumn weekends
Autumn will be on our doorstep sooner than it seems. Putting together a getaway can be very good cure for the end-of-summer-holiday blues. That’s why we’re recommending the best destinations in Europe for the long weekends in October and November.
1 Porto, beyond the wine from 9,000 Avios return
For strolling: Don Luis Bridge is probably the city’s most recognisable site. Its 172 metres separate Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia.
For visiting: Loja das Conservas, a store specialising in tinned goods, one of Portugal’s oldest and most traditional industries.
For listening: Casa da Música, one of the city’s most celebrated buildings, was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and is the headquarters of the Symphony Orchestra of Porto. Its interior is worth visiting.
For remembering: if you still feel like going to the beach, the Line 1 tram covers the 5km from the city to the coast, on the banks of the Duero and boasts excellent views.
Don’t miss trying francesinha, the most famous local dish: a sandwich made of ham, sausage, bologna and steak covered with melted cheese and – if you’re up to it – topped with an egg.
2 Budapest, the city with the most thermal baths in the world from 20,000 Avios return
For seeing: watching the sunset from Gellert hill is a classic activity. At 235 metres, it offers a 360° panoramic view of the city.
For going out: several abandoned 19th-century buildings have been converted into so-called ruin bars, some of which are actually far from ruins. Szimpla Kert is the city’s pioneer and most famous ruin bar.
For bathing: the medicinal waters flowing under its surface feed 118 springs, making it the capital with the most thermal baths in the world. At the Gellert Balneary, you can get thermal treatments such as healing gymnastics and electrotherapy.
For eating: Stand25 Bisztro in Belvárosi Piac is a 19th-century market converted into a modern gastronomic space under the leadership of Michelin-starred chef Tamas Szél. The menu always includes his reinterpretation of the classic gulash, the traditional beef stew.
If you visit the Széchenyi baths – Europe’s largest – don’t miss the opportunity to play a game of chess without getting out of the water.
3 Milan, charm and sophistication from 15,000 Avios
For sweetening things up: located on the famous Via Montenapoleone, the Cova pastry shop is famous for making the city’s most internationally famous desert: panettone. Although it’s traditionally eaten at Christmas, it is such a success that the pastry shop sells it all year round.
For climbing: from the terrace on the top of the Duomo, you have the best panoramic view of Milan, with the Alps in the background. Buildings such as the Breda Tower (117m), the Unicredit tower (231m), the Diamond (140m) and the Palazzo Lombardia (161m) dominate the skyline.
For shopping: Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II and Cuadrilatero de la Moda are two of the world’s best places to go shopping, and not just for what they sell. The charm of their premises is part of Milan’s cultural heritage.
For drinking: mixology has become part of Milan’s nightlife. Sufer’s Den is the top cocktail bar. Its creative selection of mixed drinks is inspired by flowers and uses typical Italian spirits and local ingredients such as honey or alpine herbs.
Make sure you have a proper cotoletta alla milanese by checking these three basic tips that helps to recognize the original: its finest cut, its perfect batter and the meat has a bit of the bone.
4 Dublin, spontaneous fun from 15,000 Avios return
For listening: Grafton Street, one of the main shopping streets in Dublin and which starts at Trinity College and ends at St. Stephens Green Park, has become the best stage for the country’s street musicians and artists.
For learning: personalities such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett studied at Ireland’s oldest and most prestigious university, Trinity College. Today, its gardens and courtyards are an island of tranquillity. The famous Book of Kells, a 9th-century manuscript, rests in its Old Library, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries.
For drinking: the former Guinness brewery, south of the River Liffey has become one of the city’s main attractions, with its tour of the history of the quintessential black beer and an introduction to the world of transport, manufacture and advertising that have grown up around this iconic drink.
For dreaming: Dublin Castle was used for many things in the past, from being the site of a Viking settlement to the headquarters of the English Administration in Ireland. Today, used only for state receptions, it is a key point for understanding some important chapters on the history of Dublin and of Ireland.
Did you know that one of Guinness’ best-known advertising campaigns involved throwing thousands of bottles with a message into the sea? It was in 1916 and, many decades later, the bottles continue to appear.