City breaks are continuing to be a popular option for Brits, offering them culture, architecture and excellent events all in one holiday.

While many travellers enjoy their city break, they often miss out on incredible sights and sounds based away from the main tourist areas. Here are a few destinations where more fun awaits off-the-beaten-track.

Explore Sintra’s history during your Lisbon trip

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Lisbon is expected to be one of the top destinations for holidaymakers this year, with amazing attractions such as the Jeronimos Monastery and Alfama drawing in tourists by the thousands.

However, while there is a lot to look forward to in this stunning city, nearby Sintra is an absolute delight, offering incredible architecture, rich history and a peaceful atmosphere. It’s only 40 minutes away by car and 55 minutes by train, making it easily reachable for visitors interested in finding new discoveries away from the central tourist areas.

The Park and National Palace of Pena is one of the most popular sites and is known widely as the masterpiece of King Ferdinand, who took great influence from German romanticism to plan the stunning structure. Standing at the second highest point of the Sintra Hills, it offers magnificent views of the region and some outstanding photo opportunities.

Elsewhere, Adraga Beach cannot be missed. Based just outside of Sintra, this area is a summer paradise, boasting amazing rock formations and a laid-back atmosphere miles away from the tourists.

After a day exploring these exceptional locations, you can travel back to Lisbon and enjoy its outstanding food scene. Perhaps the top restaurant is the Taberna Sal Grosso, where delightful Portuguese food is served in majestic surroundings.

Brief history: Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is based at the mouth of the Tagus river. Historically, it benefited commercially from being close to southern and western Europe and grew into a thriving metropolitan area, winning the European City of Culture award in 1994.

Currency: The Euro.
Transport: Lisbon Airport is based only three miles away from the city centre.
Weather: Lisbon has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, enjoying mild and short winters and warm summers.
Language: Portuguese.

Enjoy the city life and natural wonders in Barcelona and Montserrat

Barcelona is one of the most desirable city break destinations in the world, providing culture, sun and extraordinary food. With incredible attractions including the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, it’s easy to explore the Catalan capital for days, but some great delights lie a short distance away in Montserrat.

The stunning town is only an hour away by train from Barcelona’s Placa Espanya train station, with return tickets priced around 20 euros. The hilly landscape of Montserrat makes for some truly breathtaking views, which can be best enjoyed from the historic monastery. Set on Montserrat Mountain, the statue of Black Madonna, patron saint of Catalonia is based here, alongside artworks and archaeological exhibits within the monastery museum.

If you wish to get closer to the magnificent trails of the area, there are several routes across the mountain. Some may be too challenging for newcomers, but there are shorter walks available and the spectacular cable car journey is perfect for those hoping to rest their feet.

After exploring the vast wilderness of Montserrat, you can venture back to the lively city streets of Barcelona for a perfect balance to your break. Perhaps explore the beautiful Gothic Quarter, grab a bite to eat in one of the city’s excellent restaurants or relax on Barceloneta beach.

Brief history: After starting out as an Iberian village thousands of years ago, Barcelona has grown into one of the biggest urban regions in Europe. Steady growth over time and regeneration work ahead of the 1992 Olympics helped to turn the city into the idyllic holiday destination it is today.

Currency: The Euro.
Distance from the airport: Barcelona Airport is around 9 miles away from the city centre.
Weather: Barcelona has a Mediterranean climate, with warm summers and mild winters.
Language: Spanish

Fun and relaxation awaits in Malaga and Marbella

iStock credit: deejpilot, Kelvinjay

Malaga sits in the Costa del Sol, a home from home for many British holidaymakers. The resort’s magnificent weather, glorious beaches and excellent hospitality have persuaded thousands of travellers to keep returning to the idyllic region.

The port city boasts some extraordinary attractions, including the Automobile and Fashion Museum and the historic Alcazaba, which was constructed in the Roman era and remains as one of two Moorish fortresses, alongside the Castilla de Gibralfaro.

However, less than an hour away by car is the town of Marbella. While it is recognised internationally as a nightlife hotspot, this majestic town has plenty of fantastic attractions for the day time. A walk around the charming Old Quarter provides a great insight into the region’s history, while Constitution Park boasts a peaceful atmosphere and makes for a delightful walk. Plus, if you’re looking for something more challenging, the La Concha region provides a variety of excellent hikes to suit all kinds of abilities. With a magnificent variety of things to do, adventures to Malaga and Marbella are sure to delight holidaymakers!

Brief history: Malaga has thousands of years of history, with Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Christian and Moorish roots. Once airline travel became commonplace, Malaga and the Costa del Sol turned into a popular tourist destination.
Currency: The Euro.
Distance from the airport: The city centre is around 9 miles away from Malaga airport.
Weather: Malaga enjoys a subtropical-Mediterranean climate including mild winters and hot summers.
Language: Spanish

Combine history and nature with a trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast

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With a history full of legendary art and architecture, Naples makes for a spectacular city break this year.

Museo Cappella Sansevero and Galleria Borbonica provide a wonderfully informative look into the city’s illustrious past. It’s also the home of pizza and restaurants such as L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele make them like nowhere else in the world.

Although the amazing attractions in Naples make it hard to leave, a trip to the Amalfi Coast is wholeheartedly recommended. The journey takes around 90 minutes by car and two hours by train, but the trip is more than worth it. Stretching more than 50km and featuring picturesque mountains, tranquil towns and glorious views, the area is truly unforgettable.

Out of all the beaches, Fornillo could be the best, providing respite from tourists, a peaceful atmosphere and wonderful scenery. There’s more to the coast than the beaches, though, with the Valle delle Ferriere area offering fantastic walks showcasing some of Italy’s most impressive natural environments.

If you’re a culture vulture and a lover of the outdoors, a trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast could be the perfect getaway!

Brief history: Naples was founded by Greeks before it turned into one of the most important port cities in Italy. Its coastal location has led to a diverse population and centuries of magnificent art and architecture.
Currency: The Euro.
Distance from the airport: Naples Airport is 3 miles away from the city centre.
Weather: Naples has a borderline Mediterranean and humid subtropical climate, with cool winters and hot summers.
Language: Italian

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1 COMMENT

  1. Great article Monarch! Always looking for travel ideas. Having just returned from Australia, New Zealand/Far East and looking forward to a trip to the Med in the spring!

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