If you’re on the lookout for a wallet-friendly city break that oozes culture, sultry weather and plenty of things to see and do, then look no further than South Europe! Long considered a playground for the rich and famous, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are still some cities that offer charm, atmosphere and fantastic prices!
Whilst the Greek isles of Zante, Rhodes and Crete bag all attention, the capital city of Athens is somewhat overlooked. Which is a shame, as Athens has experienced something of a renaissance since hosting the Olympic Games in 2004. Of course there are still the mouth-wateringly exquisite historical sights; the magnificent Acropolis, world-renowned Temple of Hephaestus and the iconic Parthenon temple will always wow. Athens has emerged a cosmopolitan city, with up-markets restaurants and bars sitting alongside trendy new art galleries and boutique. Stroll through the recently pedestrianised historic center and soak up the sights. Greece is also superb value for 2014 as prices have been cut following local financial issues – get in quick!
Thanks to the abundance of cheap flights, Belgrade is already on some travellers’ radars as one of the cheapest cities in South Europe. But did you know that this large city is brimming with history – after all, it dates back to 4BC. It’s also a pretty romantic destination, nestled within the meeting point of the Sava and Danube Rivers, making it a much cheaper destination than south European neighbour Venice! Once there, explore the historic Belgrade Fortress, tiptoe around pretty Saint Petka's Chapel, visit the National Museum (overlooked by the statue of Prince Mihailo, pictured above) and opt for coffee and a post of people watching in the cool Knez Mihailova district.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Travellers tend to fly and flop on one of Tenerife’s sumptuous beaches, but this Canary Island gem excels at city breaks too! Take Santa Cruz de Tenerife for example; brightly decorated buildings house authentic tapas bars, wine bars and fashionable boutiques. Lush parks are studded with monuments and fountains, and the quirky art galleries and museums are well worth a look too. While away a few hours at the Museo de la Naturaleza y el Hombre, take in an opera or concert at the superb Tenerife Auditorium and admire the oh=so handsome Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Candelaria. In fact all that Santa Cruz is missing are the hordes of tourists!
Visitors to Croatia tend to make a beeline for the beach resorts, although Dubrovnik and Split are becoming more popular in the city break stakes. Don’t forget about Zagreb – the capital of Croatia – which oozes cultural appeal in its myriad of museums, religious sites and architectural buildings. Zagreb sports more than its fair share of trendy boutiques and the nightlife is pretty varied too. Sightseeing wise, don’t miss the heritage-infused Gornji Grad (Upper Town) area, which is the perfect spot to grab a coffee and camp out for a spot of people watching. Admire the artwork and exuberant atmosphere at the Mirogoj Cemetery, admire the unique exhibits on display at the Croatian Museum of Naive Art and wander the site of the 19th century St. Mark's Church which is brimming with gems from local sculptor Ivan Mestrovic.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
This is a great destination for those looking for traditional culture and a truly diverse landscape; where dramatic peaks give way to dense forests and vast lakes. And price-wise it’s a great alternative to neighbouring Croatia – in fact Bosnia and Herzegovina has just been named as one of the up and coming destinations for 2014! Sarajevo is a vibrant city with a real east-meets-west culture; dominated by ancient Roman and Ottoman heritage. Wander the Bascarsija historic site, soak up the Stari Grad (Old Town) ambience and in a city packed with engaging museums, the Jewish Museum is superb.