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Short breaks

Short breaks travel guide

You have a long weekend – where do you go? Romantic Paris? Eternal Rome? Belgian chocolate-heaven Brussels? Short breaks don't have to be a clichéd whizz around a capital city

European cities make classic short break destinations and, particularly with improved rail links between the UK and continental Europe, are easy on both effort and eco-conscience.

As we all become increasingly time poor, packing more experience into less holiday is becoming a challenge in itself, and has unearthed some interesting options.

Instead of Paris or Rome, you could pick a lesser-known city: low-cost airlines have opened up such gems as Gdansk (Poland), Sopron (Hungary) and Bari (Italy – for the biblical landscapes of Basilicata). If getting away is more important than where you get to, check a flight comparison website, see what’s cheapest and prepare for an adventure.

The experiences on offer on arrival are getting more inventive too, helping you make the most of your time. Instead of bog-standard city tours you could abseil into the wine cellars of Champagne (France), look for bears in the Carpathians (Romania), go birdwatching in New York City or learn to make cheese in North Cyprus – in just a few days.

In a long weekend you can find wilderness (camping in Norway or exploring Portugal’s Coa Valley, perhaps), wildlife (vultures in Croatia, seals on the Isle of Man, killer whales in Tysfjord, Norway) and walking (posh hikes in Austria, pilgrimage trails in Spain).

You can stay in hotels made of ice, cheap castles and offshore forts stranded each day by the tides. You can even cross continents (head to Istanbul to combine Europe and Asia, or take the ferry from Spain to bustling Tangier, Morocco).

In short, in a short break you can find everything you’d want from a longer trip – just intensified. And the best thing is, you can do them more often.

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