Autumn can be a difficult time of the year to plan a getaway. Even Europe’s sunspots can suffer from highly variable weather.
In the Algarve, for instance, October temperatures can change from the high twenties to the mid teens. So, booking a beach holiday may not be the best idea. You risk having to fill a week with activities in a destination that is only really prepared for summer tourism.
Too late for sun, too early for snow – a city break may seem like a natural option. In fact, city breaks have recently usurped beach holidays as the most popular holiday choice – so rather than making an unusual choice, you are actually joining the herd.
Fear not, taking a city break with a difference is easier than you think.
Many ‘city-breakers’ seem to forget that their choice of city is not limited to the obvious big names like Dublin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Vienna, Paris, Venice and so on.
Visiting somewhere less high profile is an easy way of injecting some quirkiness. Just take the plunge and find an undiscovered cultural gem.
Some of Europe’s liveliest cultural scenes are spread across its smaller cities. What’s more, big name cities generally mean big prices; going somewhere a little less obvious can save you hundreds, even, over the course of a weekend.
Gone will be the days of €12 coffees and cake, and getting an authentic, more “local” experience will be considerably easier in a city where tourists are the exception rather than the norm.
For a city break, with the potential for more than a twist of autumn sunshine, why not consider Cadiz?
Perched on Spain’s south west Atlantic coast, the city can be easily reached from nearby airports in Jerez, Seville and Gibraltar, and is connected by rail to major Spanish cities.
Cadiz has moorish influenced culture, reflected in the local architecture. The city is a foodie’s paradise, with a thriving tapas scene that has earned the city a place on Rick Stein’s list of long weekend destinations.
While there, take time to explore the city’s extensive network of catacombs which wind under the city.
If you’d prefer something slightly cooler why not try Helsinki, the Finnish capital. Located on the Baltic coast, the city is the beating heart of Finland’s vibrant design scene.
Widely accessible from British airports, Helsinki is just a 3 hour flight away and has an interesting mix of baltic, scandinavian and Russian influences.
Saunas are a staple of Finnish life. If you visit, make sure you take time to try one. Amazing public saunas are available throughout the city. For the brave among you, you can even finish your sauna with a bracing dip in the freezing sea.
This autumn might be the time to swap Lisbon for Ljubljana or Paris for Porto. Venture somewhere different to dodge the crowds and experience some truly fascinating culture.