6 destinations for an alternative European city break

We love city breaks. We love the spontaneity of jetting off for a couple of days to discover the hustle and bustle of another country’s most popular metropolises.

There are the usual suspects that tend to dominate our train of thought when it comes to a long weekend in a European city. We get excited by Barcelona, by Paris, by Rome, by Munich and even at hopping across the Irish Sea to Dublin, but there are a host of underrated places that are waiting to be explored.

Europe is such a vast and diverse continent with a wealth of different cultures so we’ve picked out a number of destinations perfect for an alternative city break.

Palma de Mallorca – Majorca

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Majorca tends to be associated with beach holidays and partying in Magaluf but the island’s capital of Palma de Mallorca is a real gem of a city break destination. The stylish capital provides an intimate look at the daily lives of the locals and is characterised by Gothic architecture, quirky bars and cafes and effortlessly cool galleries.

The focal point of the city is La Seu – Palma’s huge Gothic cathedral dating back to the 13th century – but venture into the old town to discover more historic monuments. The traditional buildings are contrasted with the modernist architecture such as the Fundacio La Caixa hotel which has since been converted into an art gallery.

Palma is renowned for its shopping with both Passeig des Born and Avinguda Jaume III lined with designer and boutique stores. And after the retail therapy, unwind with a glass of sangria by the marina.

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Valletta – Malta

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When the dust settled following the Great Siege of 1565, Pope Pius IV tasked engineer Francesco Laparelli and the Knights of St John with making Valletta a ‘city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’. What they delivered was an architectural delight which became one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

The Maltese capital is a charming, historical city where the traditional meets the modern. The only way to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site is on foot. Wander through the picturesque Upper Barrakka Gardens and Hastings Gardens, enjoy a bite to eat by the Grand Harbour and marvel at masterpieces of Caravaggio and Mattia Preti in St John’s Cathedral.

Valletta is the capital city you are yet to discover.

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Las Palmas – Gran Canaria

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Akin to Palma de Mallorca, the Canary Islands do not immediately spring to mind when it comes to a city break destination. Las Palmas aims to buck the trend. The capital of Gran Canaria brings a sense of the Spanish mainland to the islands with an atmospheric city centre.

Las Palmas is Gran Canaria’s cosmopolitan heart with an elegant square teaming with boutique shops, fashionable bars and cafes. Towards the southern end of the city is old town of Vegueta which was the scene of Las Palmas’ creation in the 15th century. Here you will find the Casa de Colon mansion and Santa Ana cathedral alongside quaint eateries.

Should the sightseeing become too exhausting then you can always relax on the city beach.

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Nessebar – Bulgaria

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Frequently referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’, Nessebar is Bulgaria’s secret holiday champion. A short distance from the lively resort of Sunny Beach, it is the ying to its neighbour’s yang. While Sunny Beach is lined with high rise hotels, bars and restaurants – Nessebar offers an example of traditional Bulgaria.

Perched on the Black Sea peninsula, Nessebar began life as an Thracian settlement 3,000 years ago. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its huge number of churches (44, to be exact), traditional Bulgarian houses and its charming harbour. The old town is contrasted with its modern counterpart which features restaurants, bars, cafes and even the country’s most popular waterpark – Aqua Paradise Nessebar.

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Dubrovink – Croatia

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Have you ever wanted to step on to the set of Game of Thrones? If yes, then book a city break to Dubrovnik. The iconic Croatian coastal city has been thrust into the spotlight thanks to being the backdrop for King’s Landing on the hit HBO show. However, there is much more to Dubrovnik than being a mere film set.

The city is truly unique and was famously described as a “paradise of Earth” by playwright George Bernard Shaw. The Old Town – named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 – is surrounded by the well-preserved city walls which visitors can walk along. Admire the distinguishable terracotta roofed building and try the wealth of Balkan cuisine at the number of quaint restaurants.

The city is currently in the midst of its Summer Festival which runs from July to August and is a huge celebration of arts and culture.  

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Malaga – Spain

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It will come as no surprise that the birthplace of Pablo Picasso is a work of art as a city break destination. Malaga has a rapidly growing reputation and is rivalling Barcelona and Madrid as the place in Spain where you want to spend a couple of days sightseeing.

Malaga strikes the perfect balance between a city break and beach holiday. Take in the unmissable sights of Malaga including the 16th century Catedral de Malaga, the hilltop Alcazaba and, of course, Museo Picasso Malaga – a museum celebrating the life and work of Picasso. When you need a moment to relax then take your pick of the multitude of beaches that line Malaga’s coastline.

The city also has a nightlife which can rival the best in the world.

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Plan your summer city break with a package from Sunmaster. Tailor your dream holiday by using our deal finder at www.sunmaster.co.uk. We have a range of offers available so start your search today.