The Best Alternative City Breaks To Book This Summer
If you have already checked cities like Paris, Rome and Amsterdam off your travel list and are looking to get the escapism without the crowds, why not explore some alternative European city break destinations this summer? Great Hotels of the World have rounded up their favourite hotels that combine modern comforts and style, in beautiful and cultural destinations where visitors can expect quieter palazzos, museums without queues and plenty of space to breathe.
If you like Prague, you will love Vilnius!
Where to stay: A peaceful countryside sanctuary, Vilnius Grand Resort is set on a lake within 280 acres of sprawling grounds. Indoors, the 193 guestrooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, with views of the surrounding countryside. With four restaurants and bars, enjoy a variety of culinary experiences from an Italian style eatery to a unique floating restaurant in the middle of the lake. Outdoors, book a boat at the boating station to explore the two lakes, sit and relax on the private sandy beach, book a round of golf on the 18-hole championship golf course, or choose to play a game of tennis, volleyball and or basketball. The ideal spot to return for a peaceful evening after a day exploring.
What to do: The hotel is just a 20-minute drive from Lithuania’s capital. With the largest – marvelously intact – medieval old town in central and eastern Europe, Vilnius is known for its history, bewitching architectural heritage and bustling café and bar culture. A must for beer-lovers who will enjoy discovering the famous Lithuanian craft beers in cellar bars beneath the medieval streets. The old town is UNESCO-protected, with magical cobbled streets, open squares and Instagram-friendly street art, and an array of charming neoclassical and baroque churches waiting to be explored.
Getting there: 2-3 hour flight from the UK
If you like Turkey, you will love Georgia!
Where to stay: A former residence of one of the most prominent families in Georgia’s capital city, the 46-room boutique Museum Hotel Tbilisi was once a meeting place for aristocrats, artists and notorious personalities – now a National Monument. Each of the cosy rooms is traditionally decorated, while the suites are all street-facing with their own balconies. Guests can sample Georgian cuisine at Sirajkhana, previously a wine cellar transformed into an underground restaurant, or mix with locals at Mixology Bar 810 on the top floor. Only minutes from the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, and across the street from the Dry Bridge Flea Market, the hotel’s location is second to none.
What to do: One of the world’s oldest settlements, vibrant Tbilisi is perched on the banks of the Mtkvari River. Its colourful history as an ancient Silk Road hub has played a role in the city’s ethnically diverse and architecturally eclectic offering. Visit the quirky Old Town to see the Persian-style sulphur baths, try local cuisine (like the spicy meat dumplings khinkhali), sample the delicious wine, explore the vast underground cave city or pop into the Dezerter Bazaar, one of the city’s most vibrant markets.
Getting there: 5-hour flight from the UK
If you like Berlin, you will love Warsaw!
Where to stay: A treat for design lovers, Puro Warsaw Centrum is sleek and full of character. The hotel’s passion for its local culture is exhibited through its paintings, furniture and statement pieces all created by local artists and found in every nook of the hotel. The rooms and suites are chic and contemporary with a Scandinavian look and feel, the Magari restaurant serves authentic Italian food and Loreta is the ideal rooftop bar with impressive views across the city – all in the heart of downtown Warsaw. Take advantage of the location by joining in the guided walking tours on offer or taking a bike around town.
What to do: Often called the next Berlin, the city is full of vibrant bars, restaurants, clubs and museums. Tour the UNESCO-listed Old Town and enjoy a coffee in one of the most beautiful parts of the city, Trakt Krolewski (the ‘Royal Route’), home to important monuments where five streets meet. Head to the 17th century Royal Lazienki Park where palaces are waiting to be explored, alongside the neoclassical amphitheater and orangeries – also in the summer are free meditation and yoga sessions. A visit to Warsaw isn’t complete with a touch of history: learn about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising at the Museum, visit the Royal Castle in Castle Square or experience the interactive and fascinating Museum of the History of Polish Jews, serving as a cultural centre for workshops, lectures and more.
Getting there: 2.5 hour flight from the UK
If you like Lisbon, you will love Porto!
Where to stay: Majestically perched on a hill with views of the UNESCO heritage city of Porto and the Douro River – and owned by one of the most prominent family names in Port Wine production – every aspect of The Yeatman is imbued with the spirit, history and flavour of the 300-year-old wine making tradition. Guests can enjoy the incredible views from the terraces of the 82 rooms and suites, as well as from the panoramic indoor and outdoor infinity pools, and Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa. The hotel has one of the most comprehensive collections of Portuguese wines and houses a two Michelin-starred restaurant.
What to do: From sampling traditional recipes to wandering the windy streets with cafes and shops aplenty, to art galleries and a lively night scene, there is so much to explore. Why not take a trip to one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops Livraria Lello (made famous by JK Rowling when she lived in Porto) which has been in business since 1906; take in the beautiful azulejo art, unique to Portugal, which can be found on buildings and landmarks across the city; grab a drink along the Douro River, popular for its bar and restaurant scene and beautiful sunsets over Porto’s bridges; or visit some of the city’s best attractions including the 75m high Clerigos Bell Tower, the Porto Cathedral or Foz, the mini seaside city within Porto, best known for its rugged beaches.
Getting there: 2.5 / 3 hours flight from the UK