Up and coming destinations that would be perfect for a short break or a weekend getaway. Which would you choose for 2016?
Riga is the vibrant and cosmopolitan capital of Latvia and is steeped in myth and legend. Situated on the Daugava River, it has an abundance of Baroque, Gothic, Classicism and Art Nouveau architecture. It is a fast growing destination which is popular with stag parties and also romantics. Home to one third of Latvia’s population. Taste some of the best local dishes at Riga’s Central Market, including rye bread, Latvian ell and sauerkraut. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city at night by visiting St Peter’s church tower, or enjoy a cocktail or two at terrace Riga, conveniently suited in the Galleria Riga. Also visit Riga Castle and Dome Square. If you want to escape the city for a little while, the seaside resort of Jurmala is just a half hours away, with wide sandy beaches, gourmet restaurants and a friendly atmosphere.
Malta consists of seven small islands located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. Steeped in over 7,000 years of history and myth, Malta has an array of ancient architecture, popular golden beaches, clear waters, excellent diving spots, a vibrant nightlife and year-round events and fiestas. Home to nine UNESCO World heritage sites, expect plenty of beautiful buildings, Roman ruins, ancient temples and medieval cities. Visit St Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina, megalithic temples and a 3,000 year old underground necropolis close to St Paul’s Bay. There’s almost year round sun. Islands of Gozo and Comino are easily accessible.
In 1995, the beautiful historical city of Naples was declared a World Heritage Site. Just two hours south of Rome, it is the largest city in Southern Italy. It houses some of the best opera houses and theatres, and is often referred to as an open-air museum, due to its many historic statues and monuments. Natives dine in large groups, enjoying the country’s best pizza, pasta, coffee and gelato. Take a rail-trip to the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii and hike to the summit of the active Mount Vesuvius. Nearby, the pretty volcanic island of Ischia offers hot springs, a thousand year history and a picturesque landscape.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, however until recently the Portuguese capital has been overlooked. With sunshine throughout most of the year, an abundance of culture, a short flight, it’s perfect for a short break. The Estoril coastline is easy to explore. Head to the historic Belem district for the city’s most iconic landmarks – the Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower are musts on your short break in Lisbon. Go shopping in the Baixa district before dining out in Bairro Alto which hosts dozens of restaurants and bars in the narrow streets, with jazz, reggae and electronica filling the air. If you are travelling with children, visit the Aquarium, recently voted as the best in the World.
The Spanish capital is similar to Rome or Paris in terms of atmosphere and offers elegant Boulevards, distinctive Baroque architecture and a number of city parks offering breathing space such as Parque Del Buen Retiro. The locals get passionate about Catholicism, football and Castilian cuisine and you will experience this when visiting the Almudena Cathedral, or if you choose to watch Real Madrid play, and when you try some Cocido Madrileño, the local meat stew. There are numerous museums to explore such as Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen – Bornemisza. Wander around the intimate Plaza de la Villa, the city’s oldest square and admire the baroque architecture before hitting the shops. As the home of tapas, you can spend your days hopping form one bar to another, discovering their unique tastes and specialities. Madrid is renowned for its nightlife, you’re sure to find somewhere to suit everyone’s tastes.
This medieval Polish city is the prettiest of Poland’s main cities. It has rebuilt and rejuvenated itself since the World War Two bombings. There are fairy tale-like buildings such as Wawel Cathedral and the Krakow Cloth Hall to explore, the Kazimierz streets in the Jewish Quarter are crammed with exciting galleries, cafes, pubs and restaurants. However no break to Krakow is complete without a visit to Auschwitz – an emotional tour of the World War Two camp is essential when visiting this part of the world. Krakow is full of contemporary bars and restaurants from nightclubs to Jazz bars, the city certainly comes alive at night.
Reykjavik is the world’s most northerly capital. Discover the suburban streets and cafes set against a mountain and ocean scenery. This city offers amazing activities such as seeing the Northern Lights, whale-watching, hiking in the geyser district in south-west Iceland and taking a dip in the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. Don’t miss a trip to the concrete Hallgrimskirkja church for a fabulous view across the city. Due to an increase in the number of flights from the UK, it is now an affordable city break. The best months to travel is in the winter as it’s colder and the Northern Lights are clearer.