Get the most out of a few days with a short travel break. (secretlondon123)

Short breaks


Guide to short breaks, European mini-breaks, long weekend trips, city breaks, short break ideas, where to go on short breaks, mini-break travel advice and more

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.

Further Reading

Top 10 short breaks

No time? No problem! Here are some ideas for making the most of your long weekend

  1. Stay in a castle, Europe – regal splendour doesn't have to cost the earth – stay in a converted castle for less than £20 a night – there are plenty of options, including forts in France, Scotland, Holland and beyond.
  2. Montenegro – hike in the pristine hills of this Adriatic beauty. It's a small nation, so you can easily fly in, trek for a few days and head home again – though you'll probably want to stay longer.
  3. County Cork, Ireland – kayak at night in the bioluminescent lakes of Cork: as your paddle hits the dark water, millions of micro-organisms sparkle, making for a most magical experience.
  4. Camino de Santiago, Galicia, Spain – the full Camino pilgrimage trail will take weeks, but you can walk a perfect portion of the route – from Santiago de Compostela to the Atlantic coast at Fisterra – in a lovely long weekend.
  5. South Tyrol, Italy – tour northern Italy’s formerly Austrian enclave on a Vespa motorbike, combining quiet valleys, hilltop castles and a delicious mix of Italian and Germanic cuisine.
  6. Champagne region, France – the alternative way to wine-taste: abseil into the cellars of Champagne to add some adrenalin to your chic sipping and slurping.
  7. Fez, Morocco – delve into the medieval alleyways of Morocco's finest medina for an Arabian Nights-style short break. Take plenty of dirham – the shopping is fun and fabulous.
  8. Seville, Spain – Learn to be a travel writer on an enlightening course in the lovely Andalucían city, where you can combine expert tuition with tasty tapas and fiery flamenco.
  9. Ardeche, France – kayak through the tranquil gorges of the Ardeche in just a few days. Camp at riverside sites and pack plenty of local bread and cheese for picnics on the banks.
  10. Tysfjord, Norway – plan a short break between late-October and February to snorkel with the passing killer whales in the pristine fjords of north Norway. The less intrepid can watch from a boat instead.