It’s officially the year of travel!
Well, we may have just made that up, but with travelling around Europe becoming more accessible and affordable, our feet are getting itchier to book in that next holiday.
We have picked our top five city break destinations you should visit this year that will give you more out of your holiday and leave you feeling truly inspired, relaxed and in awe.
History lovers, unite! Malta’s capital city Valletta, built entirely by hand by the knights of St John, is named a World Heritage City by UNESCO and described as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world”.
With that much to offer, you’d think it was quite large, right? Wrong! At only 1,000m long by 600m wide, it is one of the smallest cities in Europe, making it a wonder to discover by foot.
Despite the city’s size, there’s plenty for tourists to discover behind its beautiful walls that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. Boasting beautiful gardens, historical buildings and museums, as well as plenty of bars and restaurants, it makes for the perfect long weekend getaway.
Roaming through its narrow streets, you’ll quickly learn why it’s named a European Art City. With art and baroque architecture to be discovered on every turn, it proves to have retained its 16th-century elegance.
Top Tip: Only a two-minute walk away from Upper Barrakka Gardens is Panorama where you can sip on a cocktail or dine while enjoying spectacular views.
A visit to the Austrian Alps would not be complete without discovering everything Tyrol’s capital, Innsbruck has to offer.
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and filled with late-medieval architecture, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the valley in both summer and winter. Hopping on the cable car will take you up a staggering 2,000m in just 20 minutes where you can explore Austria’s biggest nature park. Finish the day by dining at a mountain-top restaurant with an impressive view.
For a summer escape, the world-famous views also lend itself to mountain biking, paragliding and hiking, or you can choose the more relaxed option of swimming in one (or all!) of its many natural lakes.
Before you book your flights, check to see if you can make your trip coincide with one of the city’s many music festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz Festival or Innsbruck Promenade Concerts.
Top Tip: More reminiscent of a gothic style pastel doll house, be sure to pass by Hölblinghaus.
Walking off the plane into the heart of Tallinn makes you feel as if you’ve walked straight into a fairy tale. Situated on the Baltic sea, Tallinn is Estonia’s cultural hub.
Embracing its medieval charm, you can dine in traditional first-class restaurants that are keeping the spirit alive or stay in an authentic medieval milieu to experience life in the middle ages.
A UNESCO word heritage site, it’s the mystical Old Town that you’ll never want to leave, with beautiful and uniquely vibrant architecture and winding cobble streets that deliver you to courtyards and squares that make getting lost your new mission.
Tallinn is a wonderful place to visit all year round, with its photogenic beauty and many activities making it the perfect weekend break.
Top Tip: For a unique market experience, visit Baltic Station Market, featuring 300 traders spread between three floors.
Norway’s second city, Bergen, is known as the fjord capital. Small enough for shorter city breaks with the feel of a small town, Bergen has plenty of character and charm in its hillsides, cobblestone alleys, and picturesque wharf.
UNESCO officials must have visited Bergen and gone to heaven, because it holds many UNESCO titles, including City of Gastronomy. It’s no wonder, with the outdoor fish market running since 1276 providing locals and restaurants fresh seafood fruits and veggies daily, as well as handicrafts.
If it’s the fjords you have your heart set on, then this is the perfect spot to base yourself for excursions to the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord.
Bergen gives the UK plenty of competition when it comes to rain, though, with an average of 200 days of rain a year. But don’t worry, there are plenty of indoor activities, including museums, galleries and concerts.
Top Tip: Take the aerial tramway or for hiking aficionados hike up Ulriken – the highest of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen.
Formerly known as Trimontium, which translates as ‘the three hills’, this ancient city lies between towering mountains providing the most charming of city breaks.
Named European Capital of Culture in 2019, it’s west of the town in Kapana Quarter where you’ll uncover narrow lanes bustling with creative studios, galleries, hip bars and restaurants – the ideal place to wine and dine.
If that wasn’t enough of a culture hit for you, or it’s left you craving even more, visit one of its most famous landmarks, the Plovdiv Roman Theatre, a Roman amphitheatre positioned dramatically above the city. In summer, you can even catch a show in the open air.
From admiring Ottoman-era architecture to climbing through its hills to reach awe-inspiring vistas from the top, you’ll wish you’d known about Plovdiv sooner.
Top tip: Don’t miss out on trying Banista – a Bavarian breakfast staple consisting of a pastry parcel filled with sirene cheese.