As the long nights begin to draw in and thoughts of Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas come to forefront of many people’s minds, the idea of a short weekend city break may sound rather attractive. Indulgent restaurants, culture aplenty, stylish and fashionable shops, alongside boutique hotels and guesthouses are a staple of many European cities and the chic metropolitan areas of Europe provide the perfect retreat before the winter months. However, as the current pandemic has led to complications with travel, it is tougher to find the ideal weekend escape. However, at The Guide we have compiled a list of five cities that you need to travel to this autumn for a decadent weekend away, and more importantly without needing to quarantine on arrival or return.
It is no secret that Stockholm is an attractive city, especially for those looking for a swift break from everyday life. With outstanding culinary options and avant garde clothing shops, not to mention galleries, bars and entertaining night life, Stockholm is alive with activity, even amidst the current pandemic. If you fancy a bit of exploration on a trip to Stockholm then visit the lesser known island of Skeppsholmen, which has incredible landscapes and breath-taking views of Stockholm. The island also lends itself to photo opportunities with historic buildings aplenty as well as the chance to photograph Stockholm from across the water. With its extensive list of top restaurants, it may be hard to decide where to wine and dine, however we would recommend Ekstedt. You can expect to have contemporary Nordic cooking, all of which is cooked on an open fire. The food is exceptional and has authentic flavours that are exaggerated by the use of the open fire. The place to let your head hit the pillow has to be the Stallmaestaregarden Hotel, which overlooks the bay Brunnsviken in the Royal National City Park. A boutique hotel that has sophisticated décor, the Stallmaestaregarden provides the perfect weekend bolt hole.
Dresden is one of Germany’s best kept secrets. The stunning medieval city may well have been devastatingly bombed during the Second World War, however it has subsequently been rebuilt and is a must visit for the inquisitive traveller. For those seeking to indulge in Dresden’s culture, the grand architecture of the city’s baroque church Frauenkirche will not disappoint. Furthermore, for lovers of art, it is possible to see masterpieces such as the ‘Sistine Madonna’ by Raphael in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, which is housed in the Zwinger palace. For a pre or even post dinner drink, Dresden has many bars and German pubs, however if it is cocktails you are looking for then Zille Bar is the place to head to. A 1920s inspired bar, the smoky, atmospheric bar serves all the classics including Cosmopolitans and Martinis.
There is no shortage of good places to stay in Dresden, with the INNSIDE Hotel being in a great location to explore the secrets of the German city. Found in the baroque old town, the hotel has spacious and luxurious rooms which provide a comfortable stay, whilst the restaurant provides high quality dishes which include ‘Catfish fillet with lemongrass, fennel and grapefruit salad’.
Florence is renowned for its beauty. With magnificent architecture, fascinating art galleries, mouth-watering restaurants and plush bars, it is no wonder Florence remains a very popular spot. A trip to the Italian city would not be complete without visiting Dante’s house. The 3-floor museum, which is at the site of the great Italians poet birth, holds many of Dante’s original work and is a must visit for lovers of literature and poetry alike. The grand architecture of Florence is best shown by the stunning Duomo Di Firenze, designed by architect Brunelleschi. The Duomo is a work of art and should definitely be on the list for a visit to Florence.
Italy is loved for its food and the choice of top eateries in Florence is endless. For a romantic treat with a loved one, then the lowlighting and divine food of La Giostra is a must. With intricate décor, La Giostra serves traditional Italian plates with a gourmet twist. Make sure to book in advance. To wrap up an evening of indulgence, then head to Vineria Sonora to try one of the many natural wines they serve, all whilst relaxing in a trendy interior of record and wine bottle lined walls and clean white marble table tops.
With its reputation and cultural importance, Istanbul is a location for a city break like no other. Bustling streets give way to secret gems hidden away from the hectic life of the famous Turkish metropole. With temperate weather, Istanbul is the place to head to for some last-minute sun. To experience the buzzing atmosphere of the celebrated Turkish bazaars, then make sure to plan a visit to the Grand Bazaar, which covers 61 streets and is home to a wealth of stores containing food, tea, clothing and rug stalls plus many more. It is a surreal experience exploring the complex and who knows what valuable item you may find!
The streets below the well-known Galata Tower supply a multitude of evening entertainment options, with many high-quality street performers all showing off their talents, envying that of Covent Garden. The surrounding area around Galata Tower also plays host to various eateries and bars providing a great place to sit back and enjoy the flair of the street acts. Aheste restaurant is the place to head to if you are looking for meze with a twist. Aheste is a venue that caters to slow eating and sociability all whilst serving high quality food.
Istanbul has a multitude of places to stay, from the luxurious and boutique to cosy guesthouses and the Georges Hotel Galata is an establishment that is fashionable and refined. With only 20 rooms, the hotel prides itself on its attention to detail and the building is Parisian in style, which is always a good mark of taste and style.
For a small city that is relatively unknown among common tourist destinations, Krakow offers a plethora of activities for everyone in the Autumn. A place that is steeped in history and culture, Krakow is a destination that holds mystery and magical charm. For lovers of music, Krakow is renowned for its many Jazz Clubs and the ‘Jazz Club u Muniaka’ should be the top of the list to visit. Located in an old underground cellar with a fully stocked cocktail bar offering an assortment of concoctions, various professional jazz musicians play sets each night from around 8pm. Just to the south of the Old Town next to the Vistula River, the old Jewish Quarter contains maze of small backstreets with many different boutique shops, galleries, restaurants and bars, and is the perfect place to immerse yourself in many of the historical sites of the city, including the magnificent Wawel Royal Castle which is a short walk away. For a breath-taking meal, visit the Michelin rated restaurant Pod Nosem, which serves seasonal dishes, incorporating traditional Polish flavours, alongside a high-quality Caviar menu. The Apartamenty L5 provides modern, airy and elegant apartment rooms that are the perfect base for travellers to Krakow and are a stylish alternative to a hotel.