Europe: the best city breaks for a cultural stay

Do you want to travel but you only have a weekend for yourself? Discover our 12 best city breaks for a cultural stay!

Do you want to get away from everyday life for a weekend? Some of the most fascinating cities in Europe are only a few hours from each other by plane. In capital cities or lively cultural cities, you will have so much to see that you will not be bored!

To help you on your adventures, we have listed for you 12 of the best cities for a cultural stay. You will just have to prepare your luggage to discover it during the weekend.

1. Edinburgh (Scotland)

View of Edinburgh from Carlton Hill

Edinburgh, Edinburgh… There is so much to say about this too often forgotten city! We will try to keep it brief. First of all, it is certainly the most beautiful city in Scotland with its magnificent medieval city and its more modern neighborhoods. This interlacing of narrow alleys, vaults, and incredible buildings is obviously listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to strolling through the Old Town, be sure to discover the Castle, St Giles’ Cathedral, and some of the city’s museums such as the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. Also, take advantage of your stay to taste Scottish whiskeys or to participate in the many local festivals!

2. Budapest (Hungary)

Budapest Parliament

Rightly nicknamed the pearl of the Danube, Budapest is undoubtedly one of the best places to take a break for a cultural stay! The magnificent Hungarian capital is indeed rich in culture and history. You can discover a multitude of incredible sites, such as the Budavar Palace, the Széchenyi thermal baths or the famous Hungarian Parliament.

Recently named the best destination in Europe by a tourist organization in 2019, the beautiful Budapest can only leave you with lasting memories!

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3. Krakow (Poland)

Castle in Krakow

Krakow is a concentrate of the history of Central Europe and the millennial Polish traditions! Former capital of the country, this city was the cultural, scientific, and traditional center for a long time. You will discover an exceptional heritage, such as the Wawel Royal Castle.

The city is also a place of memory. Because before the Second World War, a third of the population of Krakow was Jewish. Today, many efforts are made to conserve the city’s Jewish heritage, like the Kazimierz district. In addition to these historic frescoes, do not miss to discover the exceptional culinary traditions and the soft festive atmosphere of Krakow.

4. Berlin (Germany)

Sunset in Berlin

Berlin is a modern, historic and surprising capital! You don’t come to the German capital to just see the monuments, but more to soak up its special atmosphere. Marked by its tragic history, Berlin is a city with disorderly architecture, where the strongest contrasts face each other, in a joyful mix. People come here for its clubs and bars that never close, or for its cultural and artistic exhibitions.

Among the essentials to visit, there are obviously the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, but also the Kreuzberg district or the Pergamon museum, among others.

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5. Prague (Czech Republic)

Prague old town

It is impossible to talk about the best city breaks for a cultural stay without mentioning Prague. This place is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Cradle of the Czech people and language, it was before and after the glorious reign of Charles IV one of the major cultural and economic poles of Europe. You will discover the many jewels of Czech heritage, such as the magnificent Prague Castle or the Charles Bridge.

Be sure to stroll through its delicious cafes, and relax in its beautiful parks! You definitely won’t get bored during your weekend stay in Prague.

6. London (United Kingdom)

Big Ben and Parliament, London

For a cultural stay of a few days, London is obviously a destination that cannot be missed! Cosmopolitan, lively and dynamic, the English capital has no shortage of activities or places to discover. Among them, there are obviously the Tower of London, Big Ben, the London Bridge, the British Museum, the Tate Modern or even the Camden Market.

In addition to the numerous monuments and museums, you can also attend the changing of the guard, window shopping or simply party there. London’s cultural wealth has made it world famous!

7. Lisbon (Portugal)

Tram in Lisbon

Lisbon, the Portuguese capital has all the assets to attract travelers. From its relaxed way of life to its lively and typical alleys passing by its colorful buildings and its culinary specialties, Lisbon can be one of the best weekend trip you could make!

On site, you can visit the Belém Tower, the impressive Jeronimos Monastery or the São Jorge Castle and its watchtowers. Whether you are a history lover or someone who likes partying, you can only enjoy Lisbon!

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8. Brussels (Belgium)

Brussels

Modern, beautiful and cosmopolitan, we can only recommend this destination for your cultural stay. First of all, the Belgian capital has the ideal size for a city break in Europe. You can admire the Royal Palace, the Grand Place or the famous Manneken-Pis.

Then, beautiful Brussels is full of exciting cultural activities: visit the Royal Museums of Fine Arts, discover the Parlamentarium, a free museum dedicated to the European Union, or continue the Comic Strip Route! Finally, you can combine the visit of Brussels with that of Bruges . This beautiful medieval town is distinguished by its canals, cobbled streets, and old buildings!

9. Sofia & Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Often shunned by tourists, who prefer coastal cities or ski resorts, Sofia is a pleasant, modern and dynamic city. You can discover the fantastic Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the largest of the Orthodox cathedrals in the world, or the oldest mosque in Europe, the Bania Bachi Mosque. During your stay, you can also experience Bulgarian gastronomy, admire the ancient remains of the city or discover its many museums. Overlooking the city, Vitosha Mountain can also be visited. This natural park is home to a very rich flora and fauna!

To complete your short stay in Bulgaria, you can also join Plovdiv, elected European capital of culture 2019. This city is one of the oldest cities in the world! It is full of sites and vestiges to visit. You will discover more than 6,000 years of history: Thracian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman successive. Together, Sofia and Plovdiv are certainly one of the best city breaks for a cultural stay.

10. Hamburg (Germany)

Speicherstadt, Hamburg

The perfect destination for a weekend, Hamburg is also one of the best city breaks for a cultural stay. Less known than Berlin or Munich, the second city in Germany stands majestically in the north of the country.

Founded by Charlemagne, the city has been a major economic center ever since. Home to the third-largest in Europe today, it has many wonders from its fascinating history. You can admire magnificent churches, unusual architecture and above all, stroll along its 2,300 canals, much more than in Venice or Amsterdam! Its port is also worth a visit.

11. Madrid (Spain)

Cibeles Fountain, Madrid

Madrid is a must in Europe! Bursting with energy, the capital of Spain is obviously home to a number of sublime monuments and fascinating museums. You can visit the famous Prado Museum, discover the Palacio Real, the official residence of the King of Spain, and its sumptuous gardens, or even walk the alleys around the Plaza Mayor.

As you can see, Madrid can only be among the best city for a cultural stay. If you are thirsty for tapas, good humor and animation, do not miss to visit it!

12. St. Petersburg (Russia)

Horse-drawn carriage in front of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg

Founded out of thin air by Emperor Peter the Great in 1703, Saint Petersburg is the second-largest city in Russia. Formerly the imperial capital, it now has an incredible and breathtaking heritage. Among the essentials to visit, there is the very famous Hermitage Museum, but also the sublime Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral or the magnificent Winter Palaces and Peterhof Palace.

These three attractions are just the tip of the iceberg. The city is home to many other cultural wonders! His visit will gently introduce you to the Russian atmosphere and its peculiarities. The so-called Venice of the North, for its many canals and bridges, can only seduce you.

What do you think? Would you like to spend a weekend in of these cities?

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