If you're looking to jet off somewhere not too far away, escape to Europe and explore one of these top destinations for a city break. With plenty of activities to lose yourself in, delectable cuisines to indulge in, and captivating histories and cultures to explore, it's time to lose yourself in a new city. We've rounded up some of Europe's most picturesque destinations. The hardest part is deciding which to visit first!
Our first stop on our tour of summer destinations is one of Europe’s coolest cities, Barcelona. Famous for its Gaudi and other Art Nouveau architecture, the city overlooks the Mediterranean Sea and is considered to be a hub for new trends in the world of culture, fashion, and cuisine. The reverence for local tradition, blended with the fresh creativity of native artists makes for a beautiful combination of the old and the new and upholds its reputation as one of the world’s most visited cities.
One of Barcelona’s crowning jewels is the world-famous basilica, Sagrada Familia. Designed by renowned architect, Antoni Gaudi, the construction originally began in 1882 and is still ongoing. The iconic landmark is the artistic culmination of Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture that features intricate carvings, stained glass windows and towering spires, which are accessible and, from the top, give visitors panoramic views of the city, but be warned the climb is fairly steep. The interior is just as jaw-dropping as the exterior and continues to wow tourists from far and wide, making it one of Europe’s most iconic landmarks. The very same architect, Gaudi, is also responsible for the city’s most famous green space, Park Guell. Located in the Gracia district of Barcelona, it’s famed for its unique designs and stunning mosaics - be sure to check out the Salamander statue! Stroll through the park’s gardens on a sunny day and enjoy one of the most beautiful green spaces in the world.
In the warmer months, take a day trip to Barceloneta Beach and let the gentle waves wash away your worries. Situated in the fishing district of the city, it’s one of Barcelona’s best-loved and most-visited beaches. It features all the facilities you would expect to have and more at the beach, including showers, toilets, a games area for little ones, sun loungers, changing rooms, beach umbrellas, refreshment kiosks, plus some fun beach sports including volleyball and tennis. You can also sample the fresh seafood and tapas from the neighbouring fishing district for a truly authentic Barcelona beach break.
The al fresco activities in Barcelona don’t stop there! An open air-cinema events across the city, the perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the sun or rounding off a busy day and relaxing in front of a film in the warm summer evenings. The free indie film event, the Cinema Lliure, is situated on the beach and features a number of worldwide independent films. The seating is first come first serve but it’s the perfect place to set up camp and enjoy a picnic.
With such a dynamic and colourful culture and a variety of activities to get immersed in, Barcelona is ideal for a summer getaway. So, what are you waiting for? Get your bags packed and get ready to explore Barcelona this summer!
Paris is known to be a magical city to visit at any time of year. One of the most alluring factors of visiting the French capital is that during the high season, the sun doesn’t set until around 9 pm, meaning that most of Paris’ attractions extend their opening times to accommodate the longer days. Pedestrianised streets with al fresco dining, rooftop bars, bar-péniches and street festivals are a common sight, along with the abundance of museums and galleries to peruse at your leisure.
If you’re lucky enough to holiday in Paris in mid-July, you’ll be witnessing one of, if not the, biggest national celebrations of the summer. Bastille Day, more regionally referred to as La Fête Nationale, sees the country enter grand festivities that manifest a military ceremony and parade down the Avenue des Champs Élysées accompanied by a fantastic flyover of military aircraft. After that, bring a picnic down to the Champ des Mars where free concerts are available to attend, one of the most popular being the Bals des Pompiers (Firemen’s Balls).
The day culminates at the foot of the Eiffel Tower where you’re subject to the most dazzling firework display, illuminating the Parisian night sky. The display begins promptly at 11 pm once the sky is almost completely dark and lasts for around 35 minutes. For an alternative view, why not book a night-time cruise on the river Seine and enjoy dinner with the most spectacular view?
If you're visiting Dinsneyland Paris, don’t let the idea of large crowds deter you from considering spending a day or two at the happiest place on earth. The resort’s busiest period is from July to August - but book a weekday visit around June and you’ll find the park to be noticeably less crowded!
What’s left to do but stroll down the winding roads of Paris and discover enticing patisseries and fromageries alongside pavement cafes and chic bars? Spend an afternoon visiting Louvre and Musee d’Orsay before heading to dinner – take your pick from cosy bistros or triple-Michelin-starred establishments. Of course, we can’t forget about a healthy dose of holiday retail therapy. Explore the city centre and uncover some of the most luxurious and ostentatious boutiques to find the perfect Parisian souvenir.
Indulge in a truly enchanting French escape this year and let yourself be swept away by the timeless charm and unparalleled beauty of the romantic city of Paris. With its iconic landmarks, artistic treasures, gourmet cuisine and so much more, Paris is the perfect city to explore.
Look a little closer to home and you’ll discover the perfect holiday haven along the north coast of Cornwall. Named the surfing capital of the UK, Newquay boasts a huge array of beaches that accommodate some fantastic activities with the opportunity to dip your toes into a little of everything, making it one of the most popular seaside resorts in the country.
Sun, sea and sand seekers will be thrilled to know that Newquay has more than enough sandy spots to top up your tan and with 11 beaches to choose from you’ll truly be spoilt for choice. One of the most popular beaches in the town is Fistral Beach, featuring wide sandy banks backed by dunes and towering cliffs, and provides the perfect surfing conditions for anyone wanting to dive into water sports fun. The beach has onsite surf schools, making it a great spot for both beginners and experienced surfers.
There’s also a wide range of nearby facilities, perfect for cooling down on a warm summer afternoon. Located at the heart of Newquay is Towan Beach. Smaller than Fistral, it’s a popular spot for families with young children and offers a broad range of facilities, including beach showers and toilets, and cafes. There's also a small island located just off the beach called Towan Island, which is accessible via a narrow suspension bridge at low tide. The last of our beachy recommendations is Watergate Bay. This sandy little haven is located just a few miles out of Newquay centre and is also considered a great spot for surfing, as well as kitesurfing and windsurfing.
There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy some al fresco dining in Newquay. The streets and beaches are filled with seaside cafes and restaurants, many of which have generous outdoor seating so you can enjoy some of the region’s finest dishes on offer and bask in the summer sun. Why not try The Harbour Fish and Grill? This restaurant specialises in dishes made with fresh local ingredients and classic flavours with a varied and plentiful menu. If you’re feeling spoilt for choice, the grill offers a seven-course tasting menu to help narrow it down. The restaurant is located on the harbour, so you can enjoy scenic views of the waterfront while you dine.
But wait there’s even more! During the summer months Newquay hosts several outdoor events that are fun for you and the entire family. The Boardmasters Festival is an annual event that’s popular with locals and tourists alike, spanning over 5 days and featuring live music, surfing competitions and other outdoor activities. With other events like outdoor cinema screenings, art exhibitions and food and drink festivals, there are so many things to do in Newquay, it’s very easy to see why it’s one of the UK’s hottest destinations.