Autumn is the perfect time to explore one of the world’s great cities and cure the end of summer blues. With temperatures cooling, and Christmas only just on the horizon, a city break will revitalize like no other and is generally a much quieter and cheaper alternative to travelling in the summer months.
There’s no reason not to escape to the sun this autumn or indulge in a spot of sightseeing in one of your favourite cities. From the traditional city breaks to the more unusual, there’s so much choice it’ll be hard to decide where to go. A European location is best-suited if you want to save on flights and stay close to home, but plenty of bargains can be found in many other worldwide destinations if you fancy some sun, perfect if you want to escape the typical British weather. Here are our pick of the best destinations for a city break this season to take you through to winter…
Best for: A relaxing coastal break
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi coast is one of Italy’s most charming locations. Located close to Naples, it boasts a picture-perfect coastline which will fascinate even the most travelled person, and attracts visitors all year round. The diverse range of towns such as Amalfi, Sorrento, Ravello and Positano are ideal for exploring along the old cobbled streets admiring the natural beauty of the mountains and sea. Its cliff-side architecture makes for perfect scenery for hiking through or for wandering around the coast, and there are ample outdoor cafes and restaurants to try some world-class Italian cuisine as you go. The nearby picturesque island of Capri is a must-see for its Roman ruins and the perfect excuse to take a boat ride during your stay. In the heart of the coast is Amalfi town, and the quaint fishing village’s main square, the Piazza, is always buzzing with locals and tourists and some of the best food markets in the region. It’s worth visiting the Cathedral St. Andrew and the Marina Grande to get a true feel of the towns medieval past. Ravello, high up from the coast offers breathtaking views of the sea which are not to be missed, and along the coast is The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, a colourful building and a great example of the local Italian architecture. Head to Amalfi for a slice of Mediterranean heaven.
Best for: Culture and History
Bellam Tower, Lisbon
Explore the west coast of Portugal and recharge those batteries in laid-back Lisbon. Alluring to tourists due to its attractive coastal location at the mouth of the River Tagus, and warm climate, it’s most admired for its famous monuments and historical landmarks. With an eclectic mix of lively restaurants and shopping avenues in the new town, and the medieval shopping streets shaping the old town; Alfama district there’s plenty to see and do. Sample typical Portuguese music on an evening in Alfama and take in the heavenly views of the entire city from high up in the hills. History lovers will love the mix of incredible Gothic, Roman and Baroque architecture and thediverse UNESCO attractions, many of these in the small town of Belem. The town boasts an entire host of famous historical landmarks, the gothic Belem tower and the nearby Jeronimos Monstery where Vasa de Gama was put to rest. Lisbon is blessed with numerous terrace cafes, famous art galleries and museums and both an Ocenarium and Planetarium, ideal for a family day out. Sun-seekers will love the broad range of stunning sandy beaches that can be found in the nearby seaside town of Cascais, Adraga is among one of the most praised in Europe. An autumn break in Lisbon great for all the family.
For idyllic deep blue seas, head to the sun drenched port town of Dubrovnik in Croatia, dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. Relax on the spectacular beaches and marinas or explore the quaint villages, where you’ll find baroque architecture everywhere you look and wonderful castles rich in history.
In autumn you’ll find less tourists and lower prices whilst still having a wonderfully warm climate, making it more than just a summer escape. The Dalmation coast is loved for its quirky cafes and beaches; Sunj is recognized as the best beach in the region and is sublime for taking in the views of the breathtaking Adriatic Sea. The city’s historical significance is clear in the ancient stone city walls, which are great for exploring, impressively well-preserved they offer incredible views of the gorgeous sea. The gates and the city’s old town are central to the city and are now UNESCO world heritage sites and offer a wealth of history for any curious traveller. There’s the monasteries, and Rectors Palace, a renaissance building, with striking gothic architecture. The ‘Stradun’ is the biggest street in the city, best known for being a shopper’s paradise and for its extraordinary medieval architecture; thousands of tourists flock here each day. Rapidly rising in popularity and full of history, it’s clear to see why it’s more than just a summer escape.
Best for: Alternative Sunshine Break
Djemma el fna square, Marrakech
Experience a touch of both the historical and the exotic on a city break to the heart of Morocco – Marrakech. Surrounded by the Atlas Mountains, the allure of magical Marrakech, the “Red City,” lies in the contrast between the beautiful old Medina area, and the modern new town, or Gueliz as it is known. On a city break here you can wander through the narrow streets and famous markets or simply soak up the sun in one of the stunning gardens. Sample the mouth-watering Moroccan food and beautiful African sunset in Old Medina, visit the fascinating museums and ancient mosques and explore the ruins in El Badi Palace whilst trying some of the city’s staple mint tea. The centre of all the action lies in ‘Djemma el Fna’ square (pictured), a great place for a daytime bargain; the square really comes to life when the sun goes down. Expect world-class Morocco cuisine in the array of market stalls, as well as performers of every kind, including snake charmers, story tellers and acrobats and even fortune tellers – the city has changed little over the years. Marrakech is also home to plenty of historical monuments, the tallest building in the city, Koutoubia Mosque, the Saadian Tombs, as well as and a range of unusual exotic gardens for relaxing in. It’s a colourful city with a whole new world of culture to experience, plus the sun is still out making it an ideal autumn destination to visit. What’s more, with a direct flight you can arrive in here in only a few hours.
Best for: Group holiday
An attractive choice for a cultural city break is the Hungarian capital of Budapest, a great place to explore on foot, and growing in popularity for groups. Known as “The Pearl of the Danube”, the true beauty of the city lies in its architecture, which when lit up at night illuminates the city spectacularly and makes a great backdrop for a night out on the town. St Stephen’s Basilica and Plaza are favoured by many for their local cuisine and mix of bars and lively pubs. Along the medieval, narrow streets you’ll find the stunning baroque Buda Castle, where visitors can enjoy wine-tasting sessions in the lower ground stone cellar. The town of Prest is a particularly modern area of the city, full of wonderful art nouveau buildings, a thriving nightlife, and one of the most famous sites, Parliament House. Both old and new sides of the city are linked by an impressive 19th century Chain Bridge which is hard to miss. A big drawing point for tourists is the River Danube, and from the promenade is a fantastic view of the castle, as well as countless shop, restaurants and theatres. Nearby Castle district is great for history lovers with the Royal Palace and a number of museums to wander around too. One of the city’s most well-loved festivals takes place during this time of year, the Budapest Autumn Festival – a mix of culture aimed to entertain all. The beautiful city and warm temperatures make it a brilliant European city break to visit this season.
Best for: Romance
The French capital one of the most romantic destinations in the world, and this beautiful and elegant city is always a popular choice for a city break as it’s so easy to get to. Paris exudes style and charm, and is internationally recognized for its art and culture in its vast array of museums and stunning monuments. No trip would be complete without seeing the best-known landmark in Europe, the Eiffel Tower. The best way to explore the city is by foot. Enjoy a brisk autumn walk from the tower to the prestigious Champs Elysées, the street is full of chic designer shops and unique cafes, with the Arc de Triomphe at the top. There are so many key attractions in Paris worth a look. Art lovers will be captivated by the world-famous collection of art of offer in the Louvre, with the Mona Lisa and Venus of Milo to admire. Nearby, The River Seine is ideal for a boat trip, or leisurely romantic stroll towards the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous gothic building presents an extraordinary view of the city from its north tower. For food and drink, head to the charming Latin Quarter where a wide range of delicious food is on offer and great bars to spend a romantic evening out. Take a holiday to remember in the city of love. Due to the current pandemic it is recommended to check which rules applies to France and other popular destinations.
So, why not take an Autumn city break this year? Whether its soaking up the sun on the beach or taking in the culture of a new city with a spot of sightseeing, autumn holidays are a great way to break up the season and explore the places you’ve never been before.