Copenhagen (Cox & Kings)
List 01 July

9 unusual city breaks

Tired of all the usual weekend city trip destinations? We bet you haven't considered these quirky urban breaks...

This issue of Wanderlust is all about the wild side of travel – delving into great wildernesses, and seeking out wide-open spaces and people-less places. But sometimes it’s fun to go where there are other people; to explore the planet’s frenetic, energetic, dynamic cities for a dose of culture and urban craziness. There’s no need to stick to the obvious city break spots. There are many that are overlooked yet offer plenty of action, minus the masses of tourists – not to mention cities that are springboards for more unusual adventures. Get ready to hit the town...

1. Copenhagen

Feel like a Scandi TV star
Scandinavia has taken over our TVs of late, and Cox & Kings’ In the Footsteps of Borgen and Broen tour explores the real locations of these two top dramas, for a glamorous twist on a twin-centre city stop. Visit 18th-century Christiansborg Palace (aka Borgen), home of the Danish government, then cross the Øresund Bridge – where the opening of Broen was filmed – to reach Malmo. Here, see more TV-famous spots, plus Sweden’s tallest skyscraper.
Who: Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000)
When: Year-round
How long: 3 nights
How much: from £1,195 (incl flights)

2. Rabat

Relax in easygoing Rabat
Choose an alternative Morocco city break: with its untouristy souks and wide boulevards, capital Rabat – newly serviced by Ryanair flights – is more laidback than Marrakech. Take Fleewinter’s three-day tour to explore the Unesco-listed Kasbah des Oudaias, the nearby ruins of Chellah and take in the relaxed vibe.
Who: Fleewinter (020 7112 0019)
When: Year-round
How long: 4 nights
How much: from £350 (incl flights)

3. Salta

Live the life of an Argentine gaucho
Often called Salta la Linda (Salta the beautiful), this comely colonial city is surrounded by Andean peaks, red-rock valleys and vineyards. It’s the place to hop onto Rickshaw Travel’s Like a Gaucho in Sunny Salta tour: saddle up to gallop amid mountains and tobacco plantations, listen to folklórico music and tuck into a barbecue at a traditional estancia.
Who: Rickshaw Travel (01273 322380)
When: Year-round
How long: 3 days
How much: from £225 (excl flights)

4. Chisinau

Mix it up in Moldova
A Chisinau City Break with Regent Holidays lifts the lid on this little-known capital. Discover glorious 19th-century architecture, Soviet design, a glut of green spaces (Chisinau has more than any other European city) and some truly fine wine – real buffs could time their visit for the October wine festival.
Who: Regent Holidays (020 7666 1244)
When: Year-round
How long: 3 nights
How much: from £585 (incl flights)

5. Novgorod

Discover Russia’s roots
Antoniev Monastery, the Millennium Russia monument, St Sofia’s Cathedral... the little-known metropolis of Novgorod – Russia’s oldest city – has culture aplenty. On Exodus’s Moscow to St Petersburg tour, as well as the two titular hubs, you’ll spend a day exploring Novgorod, taking in everything from its Kremlin to its banya (sauna).
Who: Exodus (0845 287 3647)
When: 16 Aug, 20 Sept & 20 Dec 2014; 24 Jan, 21 Feb & 14 Mar 2015
How long: 8 days
How much: from £1,499 (incl flights)

6. Coimbra

Visit Portugal’s oldest university town
With its cobbled streets, killer coffee and low numbers of tourists, Coimbra is a great alternative Portuguese city break. Sunvil Discovery arranges stays at a palatial quinta (inn) in this historic hub. Wander the graceful Old Town, visit Santa Cruz Monastery (where Portugal’s first two kings are buried) and don’t miss the Unesco-listed University (Portugal’s oldest), especially the baroque-style library, founded in 1290 and home to a colony of bats that protects the books from bugs.
Who: Sunvil Discovery (020 8758 4722)
When: Year-round
How long: 7 nights
How much: from £624 (incl flights)

7. Reims

Sip fine wines in Champagne
The quintessentially French city of Reims is just a short jaunt across the Channel from Britain and offers an effervescent city break. On Arblaster & Clarke’s Champagne Weekends, explore historic Reims, sample more than 25 different tipples at intimate tasting sessions and then visit the cellars of Taittinger, Billecart-Salmon, Vilmart and Veuve Clicquot.
Who: Arblaster & Clarke (01730 263111)
When: 11 & 25 Oct & 8 Nov
How long: 2 nights
How much: from £499 (incl ferry)

8. Bologna

Graze on gourmet Italian grub
Bologna boasts medieval architecture, stylish boutiques and, more importantly, some of Italy’s very best food – not least, this is the birthplace of bolognese (though here they call it ragu). Embark on Kirker Holidays’ three-night Bologna trip, staying at the Grand Hotel Majestic, to discover what this Italian dish should really taste like, and prepare your palette for specialities such as mortadella sausage and parma ham too.
Who: Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899)
When: Year-round
How long: 3 nights
How much: from £598 (incl flights)

9. Istanbul

Sample traditional Turkish treats
Explore spice stalls and fish markets, sip rich coffee and taste local pastries in the company of experts on MasterChef Travel’s Turkey: Legacy of the Ottomans break. This tastebud tantalising trip includes a foodie walking tour of Istanbul in the company of 2012 MasterChef: The Professionals joint-winner Keri Moss, as well as cooking demonstrations, visits to the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace, and a continent-hopping ferry across the Bosphorus.
Who: MasterChef Travel (020 7873 5005)
When: 12 Sept 2014
How long: 5 days
How much: from £1,195 (incl flights)