What makes for a great place to enjoy a bank holiday break abroad? We think there are four things that could make a destination the ideal getaway for a long weekend. It either has to be easy to get to, not far to travel to, feel totally different from the UK, or the journey must have a distinct air of adventure. Here are four destinations to tick each box!
Easy to get to: Tallinn, Estonia
Forget choosing a destination with a lengthy transfer the other end of a tiring flight – go to Tallinn, the city centre is just 3 miles from the airport! You’ll be out of baggage and in the hub of this gorgeous cobbled old town in as little as 20 minutes. Tram No. 4, departs every 6 minutes, and Bus No 2 every 20 minutes and both cost just 2 euros to ride. The flight from the UK is approx. 4 hours.
What’s so great about Tallinn? It’s got a fairy-tale feel, uber-Instagrammable architecture, is the best-preserved Medieval city in Europe (and a word heritage site), and has just the right mix of peaceful, with a vibrant cultural feel.
Not far to travel: Amsterdam
Your options here are a 40-ish minute flight, which handily puts you just outside the city, or to spend just under 4 hours on just one train that takes you right to the centre. The reasons for Eurostar-ing it are compelling – no liquid restrictions, no extra luggage charges, no waiting in an airport lounge or baggage collection (likely to add an extra 3 hours to the flight time anyway!), and impressively, the train emits 80% less greenhouse gasses per passenger than a flight.
What’s so great about Amsterdam? The city is small, so it is easy to experience all the delights it has to offer on a weekend break. Top of the list would be the canals, the coffee shops, the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House. If you are feeling thrifty, take a look at the things you can do for free in Amsterdam.
An adventurous journey: Venice
Sleeper trains are the new cool. Romantic – if you ditch a couchette for a private compartment, better for the environment and less stressful than flying, great value for money because your ticket price pays for travel AND accommodation, and it is the most effective use of precious time on a short break. The Thello sleeper train to Venice departs Paris in the early evening – a short ride from London on Eurostar. Travellers tend to get their sleepy head on with a glass of fine wine to compliment the views. Arrival in Venice is perfectly timed to enjoy one of the city’s unique treats, frittelle and a coffee as a late breakfast, great fuel for a full day ahead.
What’s so great about Venice? Apart from being considered the most beautiful city in the world. Four hundred bridges connect 118 islands, all formed by canals in a shallow lagoon. There are no cars whatsoever in this Gothic water world, everyone and everything goes by boat or on foot.
Feels totally different to the UK: Sicily
The ancient Roman ruins along with many other World-Heritage worthy sites gives Sicily a distinctly far-flung-shores feel for a relatively short flight time of 3 hours. It’s also blessed with 1,000km of dreamy coastline comprised of sandy beaches and dramatic rock formations. The long, hot and sunny days of spring, summer and autumn are distinctly different to the UK, but avoid winter as the weather tends to be wet and windy.
What’s so great about Sicily? The diversity of architecture and culture. Greek, Italian, Arabic and Spanish influences are abounding in the cuisine and in the sights of Sicily. A walking street-food tour comes highly recommended where you can chomp on chickpea fritters, stuffed rice balls and a local delicacy – the veal offal sandwich.