White sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, delicious drinks and scorching hot days is usually what comes to mind when someone mentions the word “vacation.” However, there is so much more of the world to explore than simply embarking on island getaways. For many, visiting one of the major cities in the world is an ideal holiday destination and something tourists should consider on their next visit abroad.
Sure – a city break may not be as relaxing as lazing around on stunning blue beaches, but it offers an exciting way to see the world and take in a variety of different cultures, cuisines, scenery and experiences.
European city breaks
Europe’s cities are incredible for a short break with each offering something unique. The continent famously has a history that spans more than two millennia and offers tourists visiting a deep dive into the history books and so much more. Air France shares five European city breaks you need to add to your travel bucket list.
The city of love. There is a good reason why Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world. Paris is a picturesque wonderland full of romance, delicious food and incredible places to visit. It has something for everyone. Whether you’re strolling along the Sienne, taking in the wonder of the Eiffel Tower or enjoying some delicious French food at the many sidewalks cafés in the city, Paris is the ultimate romantic destination.
However, the city offers so much more. Culturally, the city is home to some of the most incredible museums in the world, including the famous Louvre which houses iconic pieces like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The city is also home to iconic places of worship like the famous Notre Dame or the Sacré-Coeur Basilica. Paris’ Charles De Gaulle airport is a major connection hub, making Air France the easiest way to travel around Europe from South Africa with a quick connection in Paris.
A trip to London is always a good idea because it ticks all the boxes. The city is the financial capital of Europe and has a rich history making it the perfect destination for a city break. London’s attractions are world-class. See the city from above on the London Eye; meet a celebrity at Madame Tussauds; examine some of the world’s most precious treasures at the British Museum or come face-to-face with the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.
The city is also a premiere shopping destination home to iconic department stores like Harrods and Selfridges. Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Oxford Circus are more exciting hotspots the bustling city has to offer. With so much to see and do, London is the perfect city break to explore.
For a culinary, historical and visual adventure, Rome is certainly a city worth visiting. The Italian capital has been the setting for some of the most revolutionary events in history and today, it’s an exciting city that has so much to offer – especially for tourists looking to explore it. Rome’s most iconic landmark is certainly the Colosseum and it’s quite something to take in. Standing in the heart of Rome, this incredible amphitheatre was the exact spot where thousands of people gathered to watch gladiatorial battles and live hunting of exotic animals.
Right next door is the phenomenal Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Here, visitors can walk around the ruins of what was the residential district of the Roman aristocracy (Palatine Hill) and the original piazza (Roman Forum) of Rome. The iconic Trevi Fountain is also a must-visit when walking down the iconic cobblestones of the city where gelato and fresh pizza and pasta is available in abundance.
A visit to Rome isn’t complete without a quick visit to the Vatican City, home to the head of the Catholic Church, where visitors are free to walk around the incredible gardens, visit the mesmerising Sistine Chapel and learn more at the Vatican’s official museum. Other must-visit hotspots include the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps making a visit to Rome an exciting city break.
The Spanish capital of Madrid is home to the country’s finest fiestas and this incredible city is certainly an exciting city break for tourists to explore. Madrid, affectionately known as the “soul of Spain,” is the perfect place to immerse oneself in Spanish culture. The city’s iconic Plaza Mayor Square is the heart of the city and has several incredible buildings surrounding it filled with charming tapas bars. It is close to the city’s iconic golden mile which is home to some of the world’s most luxurious brands – a treat for anyone looking to indulge in a little shopping.
A visit to Madrid is not complete without visiting The Royal Palace – now the largest functioning royal palace in Western Europe. It is the official residence of the royal family, although today, it is mainly used for state functions. Finally, soccer fans should try and watch the city’s iconic team Real Madrid play a game at their home stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, which has just undergone a massive refurbishment.
The Dutch capital, and home of Air France’s sister brand KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, offers visitors a city break like no other. With direct flights from South Africa on KLM, pretty canal streets, magnificent architecture and quaint restaurants, walking in the city is a dream.
While Amsterdam is the perfect city to take in breath-taking architecture and natural beauty, the city has so much more to offer. The Rijksmuseum has an impressive collection of Dutch art spanning over 800 years and features works from iconic artists like Van Gogh, Vermeer and Rembrandt.
The city is also home to Anne Frank’s house. The teenager famously hid in The Secret Annex and documented her time in hiding in her now famous diary. Visitors can explore the room she and her family hid in until they were eventually found by the Nazi Gestapo.
For foodies, the city offers delectable delights like fresh stroopwafels, bitterballen, poffertjes and so much more. The city is also ranked as one of the safest cities in the world, making it the perfect destination for a city break.