Are you looking for an action-packed, adrenaline-pumping holiday? A weekend of sightseeing with a side of sun-seeking? Read on and discover the best places for city breaks filled with culture, adventure or a hefty dose of sand and sea.
Popular city breaks for sun worshippers
Concrete jungles and historic quarters are the heavy hitters on city break itineraries, but that doesn't mean you can't get your fill of sun, sand and surf. Holiday lettings in Lisbon and Barcelona, for instance, put you close to urban beaches as well as art-and-culture attractions.
Lisbon offers a great beach-and-city combination
Portugal's picture-postcard capital has plenty of historic attractions, and must-sees include the city's icon, the Belem Tower, and the awe-inspiring Jeronimos Monastery; the pair share a World Heritage Site distinction. Soak up the spectacular views from Sao Jorge Castle, which towers over the city and borders Alfama, its oldest district. After all the sightseeing, hop on a bus or train and you'll be beside the seaside in just half an hour. Carcavelos is the best-known beach as it's also the most accessible, while Conceicao in Cascais is a fantastic family-friendly spot. Surfers should head to Guincho on the rugged Serra de Sintra coastline.
See Barcelona's striking architecture and buzzing beaches
Beautiful, walkable Barcelona is often equated with Gaudi's modernist architecture. Once you've seen enough of his striking landmarks, such as the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, and had your fill of exploring neighbourhoods like the historic Gothic Quarter and street art–riddled El Raval, then it's time to hit the beach. Barcelona has a slew of seaside strips and the most popular ones, La Barceloneta and Sant Sebastia, can get very busy. For smaller crowds and a more relaxed vibe, you might want to head to Nova Icaria and Bogatell instead.
Exciting active breaks in the city
Travellers looking for action and adventure will find plenty of popular city break choices in Europe alone. How about discovering the Dutch capital on 2 wheels, or riding on horseback across amazing Icelandic landscapes?
Go hiking, diving and fishing in ravishing Reykjavik
A Reykjavik holiday rental is great for relaxed sightseeing and scenic coastal walks in the city centre, but if you want to amp up the action, you can go on the ever-popular Golden Circle excursion, which takes you to Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Hot Spring area. Extending your stay in UNESCO-listed Thingvellir gives you time for all the hiking, fishing and horseback riding you want. Camp in the park in winter to catch the enchanting Northern Lights, or swim down to the Silfra fissure, the only dive spot in the world where you'll be between 2 continental plates.
Cycling city breaks for a Dam good time
If strenuous outdoor activities aren't for you but you still want to keep moving while on holiday, an Amsterdam city break might hit the spot. Cycling is one of the best ways to navigate this easy-going city, and you'll get to tone your legs, tums and bums while seeing all the top sights, from the Dutch Golden Age paintings in the acclaimed Rijksmuseum to the original diary displayed in Anne Frank House. Feel free to bike around aimlessly, of course – The Dam's winding waterways and canals are charming places to lose yourself in, possibly literally.
The best city break destinations for culture vultures
Atmospheric neighbourhoods, stunning monuments and raucous city squares await you in Tokyo and Marrakech, 2 of the best city break choices to satisfy your appetite for exotic escapades.
Stimulate your senses in vibrant Marrakech
Holiday lettings in Marrakech are a great base for taking in the Moroccan city's sights and sounds. For instance, you might hear the macaque noises and snake charmers' flutes from your room if you stay near Jemaa el-Fna, the buzzing main square. No matter where you lodge, chances are good that you'll get views of Koutoubia Mosque's 253-foot-high minaret, visible from up to 18 miles away. Visit the El Badi Palace ruins and imagine how grandiose it must have been when it was still standing; the opulent palace was made from extravagant materials like onyx and gold.
Tokyo is a top destination for Asian culture
Thanks to the city's diverse neighbourhoods, Tokyo holiday rentals offer a wide range of experiences in the riveting Japanese capital. For temple hopping, stay in the Asakusa district, where must-sees include Sensoji, the oldest temple in Japan. In buzzing Shibuya, a fashionable shopping district known for its electronic billboards, you can immerse yourself in youth culture and experience the oft-photographed Shibuya crossing. Those who love gadgets and gizmos will find the latest tech in the Akihabara area, which is also synonymous with Japanese comic shops and character-themed cafes.