City trip Europe: 12 tips for fantastic city breaks

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Discovering highlights, browsing through shops and markets, visiting great cafes and restaurants or going on a street art tour - I really like a city break in Europe! In this article, I'll tell you my 12 favorite destinations in Germany and in other European countries: whether insider tips for capitals, smaller places for city breaks, by train or bus, great hotels, restaurants or tours.

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Europe's most beautiful cities - for weekend getaways and short breaks

Especially in spring and autumn I like to go on a city ​​break Europe . Then it is not as hot as in the summer, emptier and cheaper. In winter, I like to experience the sun in Lisbon or the pre-Christmas season in London.

By the way: Vegetarian and vegan travel - nice holiday destinations and hotels .

And you already know my packing list city trip for printing and check-off? So you will not forget anything on your journey!

From the Rhineland, I often do not even have to take a flight, but reach many cities comfortably by train or bus . These include Antwerp, Amsterdam or Paris.

I book my tickets through Omio (previously GoEuro). There you can easily compare for your destination train, long-distance bus and flight - according to duration and price.

City trip Europe: 12 great destinations

1) cathedral city Cologne - insider tips for your city trip Germany

I lived in Cologne for twelve years. It's the nicest city in Germany for me. Because many locals are open, friendly and tolerant.

I also like the size of the city with its one million inhabitants . So you can easily discover them on foot, by bike or subway.

My heart beats ever higher when I see the cathedral directly on the Rhine and Central Station. For example, from viewpoints such as the Cologne Triangle skyscraper or the Beachbar Sonnenscheinetage .

At classical sights, the chocolate museum , the old town of Cologne with colorful houses or the beautiful Christmas market in the city garden are also worthwhile. And the Cologne Carnival is a real experience, the whole city celebrates!

At the fun Brauhaus Tour by Get your Guide, you'll go on a two-hour tour of four breweries. You will learn how a real Kölsch deserves its name. Of course you also try the beer and receive your personal "brewery diploma".

By the way, do you know my 22 Cologne tips for sights, shops and restaurants? As locals, I'll show you the city off the beaten path.

For a hotel , I recommend the hip Belgian Quarter , where I lived for seven years. It is just two metro stops from the main train station.

The stylish 25hours Hotel The Circle (bookable via Booking.com) with its futuristic design is quiet. Yet close to cool shops, restaurants, bars and clubs. Maybe you see from your hotel room even the Cologne Cathedral!

Cologne travel guide on Bol.com:

Bruckmann travel guide: 99 x Cologne , as you do not know it
Travel guide: I was born in the city of Rhenish with around 250,000 inhabitants , where I lived for a few years and returned to study.

The more than 1,200-year-old Aachen Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And with its narrow, winding streets, Aachen has a special charm. You can sit here at Karlsbrunnen in front of the town hall, stroll in the shops or go to cafes.

I like to eat sweets like the Aachen Printen or the delicious rice cakes in the cozy van den Daele Cafe from 1890 (address: Büchel 18).

The Christmas market Aachen is one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany. You will experience Christmas trees and over 130 booths with lights in front of historic buildings such as the town hall and the cathedral. However, it can get crowded at the weekend.

Or would you like to use Aachen as a starting point for trips to neighboring Holland or Belgium ?

To stay overnight I recommend the Aquis Grana City Hotel , bookable through Booking.com. It is beautifully furnished and centrally located, just 200 meters from Aachen Cathedral. With a little luck, you can look out over the cathedral and town hall from your room.

Aachen travel guide on Bol.com:

Glücksorte in Aachen : Drive and become happy
Tour to Elbphilharmonie, Speicherstadt HafenCity ? In 2.5 hours you will learn everything about planning, construction and special features of the Elbphilharmonie. You follow your guide through the historic Speicherstadt, which has often served as a movie backdrop. You can also admire the futuristic architecture of modern HafenCity. Many celebrities such as the Klitschko brothers and Helene Fischer live in this part of the city.

You can find the Hamburg tours on Get your Guide here:

My favorite part of town is the Karoviertel between Feldstraße and Schanzenviertel. On Marktstraße you will find pretty shops, restaurants and cafés. On Saturdays we like to go to the flea market "Flohschanze" at the Old Rindermarkthalle.

A visit to Hamburg is always like a trip to Portugal, thanks to the many Portuguese cafes. In the Transmontana (shoulder blade 86) or in the Café Estrela (Neuer Kamp 25) there are the delicious Pasteis de Nata ( custard tarts ) and Galao (latte) . Or would you rather try the Hamburger Zimtgebäck Franzbrötchen ?

My overnight stay at Booking.com is the chic Arcotel Onyx Hamburg . It is centrally located in the popular district of St. Pauli, has a great design, free access to the spa and top ratings.

Hamburg travel guides on Bol.com:

Travel Know-How CityTrip Hamburg : Travel guide with city map, four walks and free web app
From us in the Rhineland I am fast by train in Amsterdam with its approximately 860,000 inhabitants . I book my tickets via Omio (previously GoEuro).

In Amsterdam I was already on a city break Europe more often. You want to experience the classic sights? At Get Your Guide there are tickets with immediate admission to the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum . The 1.5-hour evening canal boat ride sounds romantic through the picturesque illuminated city center.

I find the flea market Amsterdam IJ Hallen ingenious! The largest flea market in Europe with up to 750 stalls is just a short, free ferry ride from the main train station. Here you can find nice things at reasonable prices.

Even the A'dam Lookout with the highest swing in Europe is an experience. At 100 meters you can swing over the city. I've already tried it - a real highlight!

Get your Guide will give you a Premium A'dam Lookout ticket . If you would like to go on the swing, you can buy an additional ticket locally.

My accommodation tip for Amsterdam is the Hotel Sebastian in the center. It has excellent reviews on Booking.com and is located in a historic canal house. The main train station and numerous attractions such as the Anne Frank House are nearby. At the hotel you can borrow a bike for an extra charge.

Amsterdam Travel Guide Buy on Bol.com:

Marco Polo travel guide Amsterdam : Travel with insider tips. Incl. free touring app and events news
I went to Antwerp with Flixbus . The second largest city in Belgium (around 500,000 inhabitants) is famous for its artists, fashion designers and diamonds.

But did you know that the city has one of the most beautiful stations in the world ? I also love the great houses on the Grote Markt - see photo. Not far away you will find in the Kloosterstraat vintage shops, design shops, cafes and street art.

I also really liked the Museum aan de Stroom . You recognize it from afar on the unusual architecture. From the roof terrace on the 10th floor you have a free and fantastic view of the city.

And then fries, waffles and chocolate are waiting for you in Antwerp.

At Get your Guide, you can book a two-hour bike tour to the Antwerp highlights . Visit with your guide in the city center and the old harbor the most important sights. These include the cathedral, the town hall, Steen Castle, the Museum aan de Stroom and one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

I stayed at the Mercure Antwerp City Center . The hotel has very good reviews on Booking.com. No wonder with the nice facilities, the nice staff and the good location near the central station and diamond district.

Buy Antwerp Travel Guide on Bol.com:

Travel Know-How CityTrip Antwerp , Bruges, Ghent: Travel guide with city map and free web app
Go Vista travel guide Antwerp · Bruges · Gent: With folding map and three postcards

6) City holiday Rome: Living capital with a long history

In Rome, I always feel like I'm walking through a museum: everywhere antique ruins such as the Colosseum or Roman Forum . At the same time, it is a modern, colorful city with around 2.9 million inhabitants .

Once I was in Rome in April , also for me is among the best autumn destinations . In the low season is not quite as much going on and the weather is pleasant.

Last night I stayed in the hip Monti quarter . From the Roma Termini train station, it was only a few steps to my cozy Rione Monti Suites , which I booked through Booking.com.

From there I ran not far to the sights: The Spanish Steps was empty at eight in the morning, the Trevi Fountain unfortunately not. He is so popular as a photo subject that you always have to expect other visitors there.

These tours were really great from Get Your Guide, which saved me a long wait at the entrance:

The Coliseum fascinated me most in Rome. It's not just a great photo or instagram motif. But also the story is extremely exciting: Since its construction in the 1st century, this building has already experienced quite a bit - including earthquakes and stonemasons. At its height, it accommodated over 50,000 spectators watching gladiatorial contests and other spectacles.

Also the visit of the Vatican was worth it for me. Especially impressive was the St. Peter's Basilica with the huge St. Peter's Square in front of it.

The Rome tours on Get your Guide can be found here:

City break for couples - I find Rome perfect. The city is so romantic and there are countless beautiful cafes and restaurants.

As a vegetarian , I was very happy with the Italian food. So some classic dishes are meatless. And the vegan spaghetti carbonara and tiramisu at Rifugio Romano (Via Volturno 39/41) near the train station were a poem!

Rome travel guide on Bol.com:

Marco Polo travel guide Rome : Travel with insider tips. Incl. free touring app and event news
A perennial favorite for city breaks in Europe is Barcelona with its 1.6 million inhabitants . No wonder! The city offers culture with Gaudi buildings and Picasso works, beaches, shopping, markets and great food. Besides, a lot of sunshine and blue sky!

However, it can get really busy, especially around the Rambla .

If you can, then it's best to travel here during low season or midweek. The holiday in September I experienced about 25 degrees, it was relatively empty.

On my last visit I stayed at Hotel H10 Casanova . The 4 star hotel shines with a roof terrace with great views, pool and bar. The hotel is centrally located, just ten minutes walk from the Rambla. It also offers a delicious breakfast with local specialties.

What you have to look at in Barcelona? On the first visit you should not miss these classic highlights for which Get your Guide offers tickets:

Barcelona sights off the beaten path Laura-Lee reveals to you as locals. Here you can find her article with the Barcelona insider tips .

I also recommend to you your guide on Bol.com:
The slightly different Several times I was already in Portugal's capital with its approximately 500,000 inhabitants . And even at Lisbon in winter , blue skies, palms and warm sunshine awaited me. The picture was made about in January .

In this article you will find my top 7 Lisbon attractions . I have experienced the city as a relatively cheap destination in terms of hotel, transport, cafes and restaurants. You can explore them on foot, but because of the hills, sometimes you need time and good shoes.

How about the city ​​tour history (s) and lifestyle of Get your Guide? In three hours you discover the most interesting quarters with your guide. This is how you see Bairro Alto, admire the view from the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara, take the E-Tram and visit Alfama.

I was thrilled by the large selection of veggie food , the many great cafes and restaurants. Here you can find my Lisbon tips Food : vegan, vegetarian, yummy.

My My Story Hotel Ouro was super central at the Praca do Comercio square and was very quiet. In the cozy room I slept very well.

Genial was the Sintra day trip from Lisbon. The small town is only 40 minutes away by train . It is the former summer residence of the kings and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Fascinating castles, an enchanted fountain and beautiful gardens await you here.

From Get your Guide there is the day tour Sintra and Cascais in a small group. On the eight-hour guided tour from Lisbon you will explore the enchanting Pena National Palace and the Gardens of Sintra. You will follow in the footsteps of the European nobility in Cascais and drive along the coast to the picturesque Cabo da Roca.

Buying Lisbon Travel Guide on Bol.com:

500 Hidden Secrets Lisbon . A travel guide with guaranteed the best insider tips and addresses
You want to visit Paris with its approximately 2.1 million inhabitants in peace? I can recommend you Paris in summer , in the article you will find 11 travel tips. In August , the streets were almost completely empty, because many locals were on vacation.

At the city beach Paris Plages on the Seine, you can sit down on one of the sun loungers with a cool drink. Or how about the bathing boat Piscine Joséphine Baker (Quai François Mauriac)?

For the most popular attractions, there are handy tickets without queuing at Get your Guide. So you will experience Eiffel Tower , Louvre or Palace of Versailles without long queues.

The Paris tours on Get your Guide can be found here:

I also like the free view of Paris from the luxury department store Galeries Lafayette - see photo. Or what about the cafe of Deux Moulin (15 rue Lepic) in Montmartre, from the movie "The Fabulous World of Amélie"? Incidentally, here you will find the Paris insider tips of a local .

Recently I booked this stylish accommodation on Booking.com: The boutique hotel COQ Hotel Paris is beautifully decorated. I loved that it is well connected and still quiet. At breakfast you can look forward to croissants and pain au chocolat.

Buy Paris Travel Guide on Bol.com:

DuMont Travel Paperback Paris : Travel guide plus travel map. With author tips, city walks and tours
Bruckmann Travel Guide: I love Sweden's capital for a city break Europe: one million inhabitants , 14 islands and more than 50 bridges . With the many water it reminds me a little bit of Hamburg.

I recently booked a nice, central and cheap accommodation through Booking.com with the STF Rygerfjord Hotel Hostel . In this article you will find more about the hotel ship Stockholm .

From here I could easily reach:

  • walk to the old town Gamla Stan , with its narrow streets, the Stockholm Palace, the Nobel Museum and the colorful houses on Stortorget
  • also on foot my beloved district SoFo with many hip cafes and shops as well as the cool photography museum
  • the island of Djurgarden with its numerous sights - on foot and then by boat

The Stockholm Pass (bookable via Get Your Guide) offers free entry to over 60 attractions, city tours, boat and bus tours. Whether the City Card was worth it? For me anyway! In this article, I wrote down my Stockholm Pass experience .

On the island of Djurgarden you will find many included sights in one place:

  • Vasa Museum with the 1628 sunken warship Vasa - extremely impressive!
  • Children's Literature Museum Junibacken , where I felt transported back to my childhood
  • Nordic Museum with interesting design
  • Sweden's largest open-air museum Skansen - you have to look at it!
  • Amusement park Gröna Lund on the water

ABBA The Museum (not included in the Stockholm Pass) is available for the next visit to my wishlist. Definitely go on a trip through the archipelago in summer, it is the largest archipelago of Sweden. And try the delicious cinnamon rolls.

Stockholm Travel Guide Buy on Bol.com:

Travel Know-How CityTrip Stockholm : Guide with city map, four walks and free web app
Bruckmann travel guide: Incidentally, if you fancy Scandinavia, but do not want to visit a capital, I was thrilled with Aalborg, Denmark's fourth largest city with around 115,000 inhabitants. Here you can find my article:
City trip
Aalborg (Denmark) - Fjord, Vikings and singing trees

11) London by train: cool city trip - worth it for Christmas!

When I was still a student, I took my first city break in Europe to London, by bus. Last time I toured London by train . I booked the ticket for it via Omio (previously: GoEuro). With the website or app you can easily compare the prices and travel time for train, bus and flight.

At school, the city seemed to me to be huge. Today I get there well on foot and clear with the Oyster Card for the subway .

I highly recommend the CitizenM Tower of London Hotel , it has excellent reviews on Booking.com. No wonder: it is affordable for London, is centrally located and has the very best views of the Tower. I also really like the rest of the hotel with its ultra-chic and funny design.

Recently I visited the Tower of London again. The old walls have a great charm, offer a great view and you will find there highlights such as the crown jewels or ravens. I booked the Tower Of London Kronjuwelen ticket at Get your Guide, so I got in without any long queues.

Also, I have already experienced Christmas in London . With festive lighting, Christmas markets and ice rinks. Did you know that you can skate right in front of the Tower?

Also not far from the hotel: The Sky Garden London with its breathtaking views over the city and Tower Bridge. But you have to reserve your free ticket in time !

For my favorite neighborhood , Shoreditch , I can recommend these great Get Your Guide tours, which I've already gone through: Discover around 40 artists like ROA, Stik or Borondo on the Street Art Tour . Or would you like to try delicacies from British, Ghanaian, Jewish or Indian cuisine at the Street Food Tour ?

You can find the London tours on Get your Guide here:

London travel guide buy on Bol.com:

Travel Know-How CityTrip London : Travel guide with city map, four walks and free web app
London Travel Guide: Just a little bit better than London I have Brighton for a city trip Europe. In the English seaside resort on the English Channel we have often been to sixties festivals.

I can not get enough of the Indian-style Royal Pavilion , which has Get Your Guide's entry ticket . Discover the Chinese-influenced interior of the former royal palace, which was restored in its original splendor of 1823.

And I like the seagulls, the old-fashioned pier , the pebble beach with the striped lounge chairs , the colorful bathhouses in Hove, the sometimes weird shops and the cool pubs . There is a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan food.

Most of all , I'm in Kemptown , the neighborhood of poets and eccentrics. There I can recommend you The Charm Brighton Boutique Hotel Spa , which has great reviews on Booking.com. The hotel is beautifully located just minutes from the beach and pier.

And North Laine offers around 400 shops with everything your heart desires. There are countless vintage shops .

More tips can be found in this Brighton article . Or in this guide at Bol.com:
Frequently asked questions about the city trip Europe:

Which city for the city trip?

Classics are about Paris, London or Amsterdam. Take the best off-season or travel during the week, then it is emptier and often cheaper. Alternative goals can also be worthwhile, it does not always have to be the capital. So about Brighton instead of London or Bologna instead of Rome.

Which city for a city break in Germany?

Hamburg is a great destination for a city break Germany. Especially in summer it is beautiful on Alster, Elbe and around the harbor. In Hamburg we like to go to flea markets, in vintage stores and Portuguese cafes or at parties.

Which city for a short trip?

I always look, which cities I reach easily by train or by long-distance bus. For us in the Rhineland, these include Antwerp, Amsterdam or Paris.

Which city for a weekend trip?

I love Paris, there I am fast by train. The food alone I think awesome, I like to visit cafes and restaurants. Otherwise, I look at attractions, walk along the Seine and listen to the street musicians. By the way, a city tour in a duck is especially nice.

Which city in the winter?

Lisbon in winter is a dream! You expect mild temperatures, soft sunlight and palm trees. In contrast, you can experience real Christmas magic in London: with Christmas markets, lighting and ice rinks.

Book your city trip Europe now

So that you do not forget anything during your city break : Packing list City trip for printing and checking off.

City trip Europe - where do you like to travel?

Continue reading

In the blog: Here you come to all city ​​trip articles
Pinterest: My wall with tips for city ​​trips
Vegetarian and vegan travel : Nice holiday destinations and hotels
Cologne Insider Tips : 22 sights, shops restaurants
Christmas market Aachen
Flea Market Amsterdam IJ Hallen: The largest flea market in Europe
Flixbus experience: Traveling by bus in Europe
Antwerp tips : 23 sights, shops restaurants
Barcelona insider tips of a local
Lisbon Attractions : The Top 7 Highlights
Lisbon in winter : sights, tips pictures
Lisbon tips Food : vegan, vegetarian, yummy
Sintra Day Trip from Lisbon: Tips on Tour, Castle Fountain
Paris in the summer : 11 travel tips
Paris insider tips of a local
Stockholm Pass Experience : Worth the City Card?
Hotelschiff Stockholm : at the center, nice cheap
City trip Aalborg (Denmark): fjords, vikings and singing trees
London by train : duration, prices tips
Tower of London : tickets without queue, tips photos
Christmas in London : the best experiences in winter
Brighton : Sights in "London by the Sea"

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Anja Beckmann

bei Travel on Toast Travel blogger on Travel on Toast
After one year trip around the world, I am now a full-time travel blogger. My friend Carsten and I like to spend my holidays with dog Buddy. Whether near or far, city breaks, road trips or veggie food - in the blog you will find travel tips, travel reports and real insider tips. I'll take you live via Instagram Stories.

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4 comments

  • reply
    koelner0811
    December 2, 2019 at 21:01

    Hello Anja,
    I think we should definitely mention Brussels :-)
    Grand Place, churches, (flea) markets, restaurant districts, Asian neighborhood, shopping, chocolate waffles, ...
    Hotels: Hilton Grand Place (on offer), otherwise Crowne Plaza Le Palace.
    best regards
    koelner

    • reply
      Anja Beckmann
      December 2, 2019 at 22:55

      Hi,

      Thanks a lot for the tips! I used to be in Brussels ages ago. I should probably go there again ...

      best regards
      Anja

  • reply
    Benny Ines
    October 8, 2019 at 08:31

    Great article. Barcelona, ​​Paris and London are among our personal favorites when it comes to city breaks. Paris in particular has done it to us so that we have been there for Christmas in December for 4 years always there.

    • reply
      Anja Beckmann
      October 17, 2019 at 12:25

      Hello you two,

      I've been to Paris a lot, but never before at Christmas time. That must be great!

      best regards
      Anja

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