City breaks are the new big thing for the seasoned traveller. Instead of lounging around pools and sunning themselves on beaches, many holiday makers are now looking for quick holidays where they can indulge in a bit of luxury, culture and shopping. Western European cities such as Paris, Rome and Madrid have been popular for years, but central and eastern Europe has a lot to offer too.
On the borders of central, southern and eastern Europe, Dubrovnik in Croatia is located. By searching cleverly and budgeting wisely while there, you’ll find that there are some really cheap holidays available to Dubrovnik. Despite the country having a coastline over 1100 miles long around the mainland, Dubrovnik remains the most popular destination for travellers. And it’s easy to see why as there is so much to keep the tourist occupied.
Due to Dubrovnik’s fantastic location overlooking the turquoise waters of the beautiful Dalmatian Coast, many people love to visit the city in order to take advantage of the harbour for swimming or to take a boat trip out to one of the 1000 islands Croatia has on offer. Lokrum is the nearest island and one of the most popular. Being uninhabited, it is a peaceful getaway when the city has become too much for you.
Make sure to take some time to do a walking tour while in Dubrovnik. There are a variety of different routes, including ones around the Old Jewish Quarter and one focusing on the war torn parts of the city. All are led by a local guide who will explain to you the heritage and culture surrounding one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
If you’re in the city during summer, make sure to stop off at one of the events in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. It combines all the arts from theatre and dance, to music and the arts. Or if you’re visiting with kids and need a way to keep them entertained a bit longer, there’s a cable car with panoramic views of around 60km of the city right next to the Imperial Fortress. They’ll also enjoy the aquarium located within the St. Ivan medieval fortress filled to the brim with sea life from all around the Adriatic.
Istanbul is another fantastic city break to take. Right on the border of eastern Europe and Asia, it combines modern western aspects with traditional eastern cultures in a fascinating clash of heritage. Like many other cities, it is brimming with shops, restaurants, bars and markets, such as the Grand Bazaar, where you can sample a bit of the traditional cuisine or barter with the locals. You’re probably wondering what you can do while you’re in Istanbul though.
One of the major draws of the city is the history. There are countless examples of stunning Ottoman and Byzantine architecture, but the one you have to see is the luxuriously decorated Topkapi Palace which was once the centre of the Ottoman Empire for over three hundred years. You could easily spend a day there wandering it, but if you’re pressed on time, ensure that you see the Harem and the amazing views of the innermost courtyard.
If you’ve never been to Turkey before, it’s unlikely you’ll have experienced an authentic hammam, a traditional Turkish bath. While you’re in Istanbul, that’s the time to try it. If you’ve had a hard day’s walking around the sights, or just a long night out on the town, this is the number one way to get you feeling better. The bath usually includes a soapy rub down on a heated marble slab followed by a massage with essential oils.
Prague is another city rich in history and culture. Again it is dotted with beautiful architecture, and the most dense area for this is the Old Town Square. While you’re there, make sure to stop in at one of the restaurants that line the pavements, and check out the Astronomical Clock. Installed in 1410, every hour it features the ‘Walk of the Apostles’ as the twelve Apostles appear around the front of the clock. Prague Castle, in what is called the Castle District, is the dominating feature of the city. It has been added to over centuries and now features a huge variety of different styles and influences.
If you’re travelling with kids, or just want to see something that isn’t so cultural, head to the Prague Zoo. There are several different things to experience there that the whole family is bound to enjoy, such as meeting and feeding some of the many animals including penguins, birds, gorillas, turtles and aardvarks.
Eastern and central Europe have a number of beautiful cities that are rich in history, heritage and culture. These are just a few suggestions of some of the many you can visit and have a fantastic time in.