Cultural holidays

Discover Europe’s capitals of culture

Sophie Gackowski

Sophie Gackowski
HomeAway travel expert

London EyeWhile lazing on the beach for a week is sure to rid you of everyday stresses, sometimes it’s a great alternative to plan a cultural holiday in Europe. This is a continent of amazing sites and cities, from historical castles and palaces in Holland, to magnificent museums and incredible galleries in the UK. Home to some of the world’s greatest capitals, including Paris, Barcelona, London and Rome, we have an unbelievable store of architectural and artistic attractions. Of course, whether you’ve a particular place in mind, or are open to go with the flow, Europe is the perfect place for cultural holidays.

The best thing about cultural breaks, however, is that they don’t have to break the bank. There are a range of reasonably priced flights available from a number of airline operators, and private accommodation in Europe can only make your budget stretch further. Whether you fancy a short weekend in Spain or a two week trip exploring Italy, you can enjoy cultural holidays whilst spending surprisingly little cash! So why wait? Read on for our selection of top destinations for cultural holidays, and start selecting which sites you’d like to see.


Top five destinations for cultural holidays


Spain Cultural holidays in Spain

Writing a paragraph about cultural holidays in Spain just wouldn’t be right without mentioning Alhambra. Here are the basics: a palace, fortress and garden at once, this incredible site is one of Spain’s most visited. It overlooks the southern city of Granada from a high plateau, and was constructed in the 9th century. Later grafted into a palace by Nasrid sultans during the early 14th century, today it’s a truly unmissable site: it’s surely one of the greatest samples of Moorish architecture and design in the world. Of course, Spain has more to it than the Alhambra: from Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, to the Roman aqueduct of Segovia.

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France Cultural holidays in France

Most of us are aware of France’s top cultural attractions: the Eiffel Tower; the Louvre; the Arc de Triomphe; the Palace of Versailles. But what about those sites which are situated outside of the country’s capital? Yes, Paris may boast some of the world’s greatest art and architecture, but it’s Normandy which boasts beautiful Mont Saint Michel off its coastline. A small tidal island located just a short journey from its shores, Mont Saint Michel is best-known for its Norman Benedictine Abbey, a beautiful structure which sits at the top of this rocky islet. Alternatively, why not visit France’s second-most visited castle, the Chateau de Chambord?

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Holland Cultural holidays in Holland

A piece on cultural holidays to Holland simply has to give mention to Windmills. As such an integral part of this country’s history and heritage, they’re the first point of call for those seeking Netherlandish culture: the best place to view them is probably the mill network at Kinderdijk-Elshout, a UNESCO World Heritage site in south Holland. Of course, Holland’s capital - Amsterdam - is equally worth exploring, and a great choice for cultural holidays if you’re short on time. Take a trip around the city’s 17th century canal ring, visit the Van Gogh museum, and try your best to get off the beaten path: there are art deco tobacco shops to be explored!

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UK Cultural holidays in the UK

From England and Scotland to Northern Ireland and Wales, there’s a seemingly endless list of cultural sites to be explored in the UK. London’s seen as the place to go if you want to get to grips with royal history - the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Kensington Gardens are all must-sees - but you could always hop north of the border and visit Scone Palace in Perth instead. The crowning site of Scottish Kings for centuries, it’s a fascinating and rural alternative; of course, keep the fictional King Arthur in mind too, as there are plenty of sites associated with him in Wales! And from Cardiff to Northern Ireland, you could head for the Giant’s Causeway.

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Italy Cultural holidays in Italy

Italy is overflowing with culture. Its capital wasn’t - as they say - built in a day, and so you can’t expect to see Rome in a weekend; but, a few days will allow you to admire the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and Vatican, so don’t be put off by the sheer wealth of sites! If you want to explore outside of Rome, consider a fortnight in Florence or Venice: as the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is home to a range of famous cultural attractions, and Venice obviously has its canals to boast. And if you want somewhere really out of the way, see the Shroud of Turin - yes you’ve guessed it - in Turin, or explore the Renaissance hill towns of Abruzzo.

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