Whether you’re going to eat, shop, or just need to get out of the UK for a while: here’s where you should be headed on your next city getaway…
Best for shopping… Paris, France
Is it really any surprise that we still rate Paris as the ultimate shopping destination? Yes, it’s a bit of a cliché, but the French capital, its inhabitants and the Champs Elysees never go out of style.
Note: It’s not all about the luxury shopping streets – you can also find a great vintage at places like the chilled-out Omaya Vintage and couture-heavy Didier Ludot.
Best for culture… Riga, Latvia
Riga is having a moment. Everyone from Lonely Planet to The Guardian Travel has voted Riga as one of its top places to visit in 2016, and we can’t bring ourselves to disagree.
If you’re into art and history, you’ll like this former soviet city. Its historic old town is a UNESCO World heritage site, and it’s iconic art nouveau architecture is some of the best in the world. Or if you’re looking for high culture, the theatre and opera in Latvia is a pretty huge deal.
Note: It’s definitely one to visit in the warmer months. Or with an incredibly huge, fur coat in tow. The average February temperature is -5C.
Best for eating out… Bologna, Italy
Rome, Florence, Venice – all great places to visit. But Emilia-Romanga, the Italian region of which Bologna is the capital, is highly regarded as one of Europe’s top foodie destinations in the world.
Expect cheap (but incredible) restaurants, and food markets lining alleyway after alleyway, with classic Italian street food dishes on offer.
Note: There’s so much for the food-lover to do in Bologna, that there are countless tours and day events devoted purely to eating there. But a good place to start is the Quadrilatero market, just off the main square.
Best for winter sun… Valletta, Malta
Escaping the city to get away from the weather? Valletta’s average temperatures between November and April vary from 9C to 19C, with record highs in March of 33C.
Still, 19C in the dead of winter is nothing to sniff at, especially since this gorgeous capital city is within easy travel distance to numerous beaches and coastal towns, and a car ride and a ferry taxi away from Gozo, a nearby, breath-taking island in the Maltese archipelago.
Note: Drag yourself away from the waterfront/historic museums long enough to visit St John’s Cathedral. Yes, we all know what a cathedral looks like, but this one is still worth a visit, and is the top rated thing to do in Valletta on TripAdvisor.
Best for budget travellers… Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is, naturally, a popular backpacking destination, and still a classic European city break destination, for a very, very good reason – there are lots of free things to see and do. The cost of eating out, transport and staying in a hostel is incredibly low, meaning you can manage a break to Budapest on any budget.
Visit the City Park, followed by an exploration of the traditional bath houses (there’s a small fee to go in), take a spin around Buda and Pest on a comprehensive historical walking tour, walk your way to incredible views from Buda Castle via Castle Hill, and check out the National Museum. Seeing the Danube and its bridges lit up at night is priceless.
Note: Head to local restaurant Cantine, a short walk from the Széchenyi Baths, to try Hungarian staple dish goulash at a ridiculously good price.
Best for big spenders… Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm (and the rest of Scandinavia) can be notoriously expensive. Is there anywhere better to splash out than the birthplace of sleek, understated, winter-proof style AND high street staples like Monki and H&M?
Money shouldn’t just be spent on clothes. Splurging in a luxury coffee shop, visiting the museums of the Djurgarden, seeing the palaces, and enjoying the photography at Fotografiska are all fun, albeit pricey, things to do in the Swedish capital. Where you stay is also a big factor in how much cash you end up flashing – one night in a boutique hotel in an upmarket neighbourhood could cost £275 upwards.
Note: Stockhom’s southern district, Sodermalm, is where to go for the best shopping, bars and coffee shops.