7 Great European City Breaks Within Two Hours Of The UK

1. Prague, Czech Republic

How to get there? Fly from most UK airports (1 hour, 55 minutes)

Prague is one of Europe’s cheapest cities – and one of its most spectacular too. Everything from its flat whites to its historic hotels are budget-friendly, leaving you with plenty of cash to get under the skin of this arrestingly beautiful city. Not that you’ll need it. Known as the ‘City of 100 Spires’ but boasting around 500, Prague has a history stretching back 1,000 years – all discoverable without having to spend a penny.

Navigate the labyrinthine Jewish Quarter, stroll the Charles Bridge, admire the Church of St Nicholas, and gaze upon the Astronomical Clock. Finish your days with a coffee or wine (yes, that’s really cheap too).

2. Paris, France

How to get there? Fly from most UK airports, or Eurostar from London St Pancras (2 hours, 15 minutes)

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Paris poses the ultimate European city break: culture, food and a distinctly continental feel. As the French capital, it’s where all the important stuff happens. It’s also inhabited by more than 2.2 million people, undoubtedly seduced by its timeless feel, an abundance of quaint cafés and bakeries, and the iconic structures.

And as such a compact, walkable city, you can join them in exploring Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe, all in one weekend. Paris, je t’aime.

3. Salzburg, Austria

How to get there? Fly from most UK airports (1 hour, 50 minutes)

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The hills are well and truly alive in Salzburg, and the list of our favourite things to do here extends well beyond just a few. If you hadn’t already guessed it, this Austrian gem is the real-life set of The Sound of Music, where you can visit Leopoldskron Palace – where the Von Trapp family lived – dance through the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, or re-enact the wedding scene at the Mondsee Church.

Beyond the 1965 movie, Salzburg is also a haven for lovers of baroque architecture and the birthplace of world-famous composer Mozart.

See Saltzberg for yourself on our star-studded Strictly Come Dancing cruise down the Danube! You’ll have dance performances and workshops from Ola and James Jordan, plus a gala evening with Arlene Phillips herself. See the details

4. Berlin, Germany

How to get there? Fly from most UK airports (1 hour, 50 minutes)

If you’re fascinated by Berlin’s tumultuous yet compelling wartime history, there’s plenty to see: Brandenburg Gate, the graffiti-covered remains of the Berlin Wall and the Holocaust Memorial. But don’t stop there. Today, Berlin is a phoenix from the ashes and, after paying homage to its past, it’s crucial you immerse yourself in its present too.

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Wander the city’s local markets (particularly at Christmas), gaze over the city from atop the 368m Television Tower, and observe 22,000 types of plant in the stunning Botanical Gardens. The shopping is fantastic, too.

5. Brussels, Belgium

How to get there? Eurostar from London St Pancras (2 hours)

We might know Brussels as the home of the European Union, but there’s so much more to this quirky city than bureaucracy. Fusing together French and Dutch inspiration, the streets are a cultural mishmash of cobblestones, chocolate shops and breweries.

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Its many sights vary in style and peculiarity, from the famous Mannekan Pis (a tiny statue of a cherub-like boy urinating) and a museum dedicated to Tintin, to the UNESCO-listed Grand Place. If you like your city breaks full of contradictions, history and unusual architecture, look no further. 

6. Lille, France

How to get there? Eurotunnel Le Shuttle from Folkestone to Calais (30 minutes); self-drive to Lille (1 hour 15 minutes)

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Lille knows a thing or two about being underrated. But this Flemish-French fusion city should not be overlooked. Once the victim of dying service industries, these days it is instead a prolific haven for the arts. Discover the Palace for the Fine Arts, the Lille Opera House and abundant theatres, museums and galleries; it has even held the European Capital of Culture accolade.

And betwixt the postcard-perfect art and architecture, you’ll find more than 4,000 shops, not to mention an unending choice of cafes, patisseries, bars and restaurants. Pure retail heaven.

7. Geneva, Switzerland

How to get there? Fly from most UK airports (1 hour, 35 minutes)

Fringed by snow-dusted mountains and a stone’s throw from the best ski resorts in France and Switzerland, it can be hard see beyond the powder in Geneva. But dig deeper and a wealth of gems are revealed.

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There’s the pretty Old Town, the European seat of the United Nations (which actually has a giant seat), and outdoor green spaces like Bastions Park – a stark contrast to the white snow. Feel the spray of Jet d’Eau and get clued up on particle physics at the CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider.

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