Tips and advice for planning weekend breaks in Europe

Sometimes only a trip overseas will do, but if you've only got a weekend to spare, then heading to Europe makes things easier. Flight times are short and you can pack a lot in to a small amount of time, whether you're looking to check out a big city or relax in the countryside.

European weekend breaks in the sun

If you want your European weekend break to come with a dose of sunshine, then head for the continent's southern shores. Portugal, Spain and Italy all offer warm temperatures and sunny skies long after the UK has turned overcast and rainy.

Live it up in Lisbon

One of the sunniest cities in Europe, Lisbon is a great place to escape the chills of a British spring or autumn. Holiday lettings in the old town put you close to a picturesque maze of historic buildings crowned by the Medieval Castelo de São Jorge, while elegant Baxia is full of grand plazas and sweeping avenues. Wherever you stay, you should make time to listen to haunting fado music, which you'll hear wafting out of atmospheric bars and restaurants across the city.

Soak up the sun in Sicily

It may be part of Italy but this beautiful island has a fiery spirit all of its own, and a weekend is just enough to get a small taste of it. Since you've got limited time, you could fly into Catania, which lies on the east coast, and pick a holiday rental in the city's picturesque old town. From here you can visit the seaside resort of Taormina and make for the slopes of Mount Etna, or you could just stay in town and sample the fresh catch of the day at one of the city's many seafood eateries.

Enjoy beaches and museums in vibrant Valencia

Sun-drenched, lively Valencia makes for an excellent weekend break. Holiday homes will put you at a heart of a city that's both ancient and modern, with a beautiful historic old town as well as forward-thinking contemporary architecture. The city centre is compact, so you can easily get around the museums, galleries and palaces on foot or by bike. If you fancy a day of swimming and sunbathing instead, you can jump on a tram and head for one of the many beaches a short distance outside the city.

Romantic European weekend breaks

It's no surprise that European cities are a top destination for couples. With stunning historic architecture, fantastic cultural attractions and incredible food on offer you'll have all you need to make your weekend break as romantic as possible.

Stroll along the Seine on a weekend break in Paris

Paris is often touted as one of the most romantic cities in the world, and it's easy to get to, with Eurostar trains whisking you over from London in little more than two hours. Once you get here you've got a bewildering choice of romantic locations for your holiday rental. You could choose to be close to the hidden fountains, cosy bistros and antique bookshops of the Marais, which sits alongside the Seine; or head north to soak up the village atmosphere of Montmartre, which is home to steep hills, old-world shops and the iconic white domes of Sacré-Cœur.

Ramp up the romance in Rome

Rome's glorious architecture, rich food culture and fascinating history ensure that the eternal city lies close to the top of many romantic holiday wishlists. Holiday homes range from historic apartments to elegant townhouses to plush villas a short train ride outside the city, so you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to atmospheric lodgings. Wherever you choose to stay it's easy to get around the city so you'll have the Colosseum, the Vatican City and all the other top historic and cultural highlights right at your fingertips.

Take a weekend break in historic Prague

Prague's cobbled streets and centuries-old buildings make the perfect backdrop for a romantic weekend away, and there are plenty of holiday rentals from which to enjoy the city, whether you fancy a grand 18th-century apartment or a cosy studio with a terrace overlooking the rooftops. Either way you'll be well placed to enjoy Prague's many highlights, from strolling around the atmospheric 1,000 year old Prague Castle complex and visiting the Baroque courtyard of the Strahov monastery to ambling along the Vltava River.