The world’s five best short breaks

You can pack a lot into a short break abroad. They’re the perfect way to visit inspiring museums, try exciting new foods and experience different cultures. You often see more on a short break because if you’re taking a fortnight’s holiday, you can find it difficult to drag yourself away from the pool as you know you can always do some sightseeing tomorrow.

Luxury holidays specialist Cox & Kings has put a new guide together on the five best European cities for a perfect short break getaway.

Berlin

It’s not at the top of many people’s short breaks list, but the city has developed into a vibrant hub offering exciting nightlife, superb restaurants and fascinating museums. The elegant tree-lined boulevard of Unter den Linden is one of the grandest streets in Europe and other key sites to visit are the old Jewish quarter; the area around Hackescher Markt station which dates back to the 19th century; Brandenburg Gate, the old city’s entrance; and the Reichstag, the historic parliament building transformed by Lord Norman Foster.

St Petersburg

Widely known as the “window to the west”, St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great. Neoclassical and Baroque influenced buildings can be seen throughout Russia’s second largest city, dubbed the “Venice of the North” for its palace-lined waterways. The waterside walkways and elegant streetscapes are best seen on foot and the State Hermitage Museum is well worth a visit boasting an intriguing and eclectic collection ranging from oriental to European art with lots of Russian culture thrown in.

Istanbul

From the Bosphorus strait which divides Asia and Europe, to the mosques and western influenced buildings, the city is the point where east meets west. Smells of shisha and apple tea fill the air alongside the aroma of mouth-watering chargrilled kebabs. Not to be missed is the magnificent Blue Mosque built during the reign of Ahmed I, the Ottoman sultans’ Topkapi Palace and the former Orthodox basilica Hagia Sophia. After a day of shopping at the Grand Bazaar visit one of the city’s famous hammans for an authentic Turkish spa.

Venice

When Napoleon conquered this stunning city, he looked at the Piazza San Marco and called it the “drawing room of Europe”. Whether exploring on foot or on the water, the city is sure to enchant with its grand palazzos, piazzas, magnificent courtyards and marbled churches. More than 800 years old, the Basilica di San Marco church has a magnificent Byzantine facade and interior features. A voyage on a gondolier in the canal is the perfect way to immerse yourself in this romantic city.

Budapest

Hungary’s capital is filled with cosmopolitan cafes, fashionable restaurants, upmarket boutiques and soothing spas. The Buda Castle quarter, a Unesco world heritage site, dates back more than 700 years and is a must-see on any visit. Buda is home to Andrássy Avenue, the iconic boulevard that boasts a huge range of luxury shops, while the area of Pest is filled with Art Nouveau buildings including the beautiful Central Market Hall.

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