We’re All Going On A European City Break Holiday

Much like Sir Cliff, we enjoy a holiday. When it comes to getting away, the missus and I have been to quite a few different places in the 11 years we’ve been together. We’re not a frugal family, but we rarely splash the cash willingly – the only exception is probably holidays where we’ve spent more than I’d like to calculate. Still, this has always been done with careful consideration to find the best deals so that our ‘adventurous’ side can be balanced with our ‘financially savvy’ side.

My favourite big holidays have been our USA / Canada road trips. Because the States is so vast, some careful planning means that you can take in so many different types of places on the same holiday. Although renting a car and spending a large proportion of your time driving might not be for everyone – the three road trips below covered 4,000 miles – we’ve got so many amazing memories from them.

  • The first saw us go from New York to Detroit via Vermont, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara Falls.
  • The second – where we got engaged – saw us travel around Lake Michigan from Chicago to Traverse City and back again.
  • Our most recent – before Hay found out she was pregnant – saw us do a round trip to and from LA via Death Valley, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Lassen, Napa Valley, San Francisco and the Pacific Coast Highway down to San Diego.

we're all going on a European city break holiday couple in car on road trip

In addition to this, we’ve enjoyed the odd European city break as a couple, where we’ve gone for a few nights in the pre-kid days. This has included Reykjavik, Dubrovnik, Oslo, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels, Belfast, Venice and Frankfurt, with a (toddler-free!!!!!) trip to Hamburg already planned this year for the missus’ birthday.

Although having a kid does change your holidays, it doesn’t mean that you can’t travel. Yes, the idea of USA road trips are probably on hold for another ten or so years. Our focus instead moved more towards UK based holidays such as East AngliaDartmoor, Hampshire, Cumbria and Wales. We have managed the odd European city break though. We went to Berlin when L was a baby, Copenhagen just after her 2nd birthday and we have the exciting prospect of Disneyland Paris coming up.

we're all going on a European city break holiday toddler looking at copenhagen map

As I imagine our holidays are going to continue being short breaks in the UK and Europe, we’ve been looking at other cities we’d like to visit – both as a family and as a couple. Here are five cities that we’ve been considering:

Barcelona (Spain)

The capital of Catalonia was somewhere we considered for the missus’ 30th birthday this year. With it’s blend of old with new, it seems like a city which could keep you occupied for ages. I’d see us doing some of the main sites like La Sagrada Familia and La Catedral, but also heading up to see the view from Montjuic and enjoy Tibidabo vintage theme park (with or without Toddler L!). It’s become a tradition to try to catch a football match when abroad – I can’t think of many stadiums better than the 99,354 capacity Camp Nou. With the Meditrerenean Sea and beautiful coastlines on the doorstep, I’d also see us hiring a car in Barcelona and heading a bit further out – maybe down towards The Costa Daurada. Whatever we did, I’d expect tapas and sangria would be involved!

Check out this guide to Barcelona produced by Avis which highlights a few hidden gems if you went on a European city break.

Rovaniemi (Finland / Lapland)

Probably not a city many people are accustomed to, but Lapland’s capital is regarded as Santa’s hometown. Located on the Arctic Circle, it has 24-hour darkness in the winter and 24-hour sunlight in the summer – how cool would it be to experience that? The likelihood though is that we’d go somewhere in the middle which would give us the chance to have an awesome few days away. With toddler, we’d probably soak up the whole Father Christmassness with stuff like the Santa Clause Office and SantaPark. If it was just the missus and I, we’d probably do things a bit different – staying at an ice hotel, do a husky-sledding tour, visit a traditional Finnish sauna, have a go on a snowmobile and find the Northern Lights (properly this time as we only got a glimpse in Iceland).

Rome (Italy)

Although we’re not history or archaeology buffs, there’s something about the capital of Italy that’d be cool to see. Dating back to 753 BC – which, FYI, is pretty old – there’s so many things to see (so I’ve read). Whether it’s the piazzas, monuments, churches, gardens or famed ruins such as the Coloseum and Pantheon, there’s so much history to soak up in the Eternal City. It’d also be really cool to see Vatican City. I have no interest from a religious perspective, but there’d be something pretty awe-inspiring about standing in St Peter’s Square. Plus, I’ve always had myself down as a Robert Langdon-type character. I’m sure there’d be family-friendly things to do in Rome, but if we visited, this is probably a place where we’d leave Toddler L behind and go as a couple. You can never trust a toddler around old, important, breakable things.

Bergen (Norway)

There’s something about Scandinavia that hugely appeals to us. Having been to Norway, Sweden and Denmark before, we’d go back in a heartbeat. Somewhere we’ve talked about going is Norway’s second-largest city. Although it might not have the hustle and bustle of other cities, we’d be going for the fjords, mountains, waterfalls and picturesque landscape. Chances are we’d get the funicular up Mount Floyen (not a euphemism!), spend some time chilling out and enjoy taking in the Scandinavian vibe. However, the big thing would be a tour – perhaps something like ‘Norway in a nutshell’ where we’d see the beauty of the area from the  famous Flam Railway and a fjord cruise on the Naeroyfjord. A proper once in a lifetime experience.

Bruges (Belgium)

The picturesque city is somewhere we’ve talked about visiting for a long time now. We’ve made it to nearby Brussels, but haven’t quite got to the place where Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson ran amok in In Bruges. I’d imagine it’s the type of place you can just wander around, taking in the cobbled lanes, historic churches, old squares and medieval architecture. However, chances are we’d also take to the water by doing a canal tour to see the city from a different perspective. Of course, food and drink features quite heavily in Belgium, so I could see us having a Flemish food feast, getting fat on chocolate and enjoying a local beer or two. Or three, or four, if Toddler L stayed at home.

Writing this has made me want to book another European city break! Have you been to any of the places above? Where would you like to travel if you were going on a European city break? Let me know below!

N.B. This is a commissioned post written in collaboration with Avis

  • Tom Briggs

    I haven’t been on a holiday in absolutely ages – some great potential destinations here.

  • I love the sound of some of these places, my next trips hopefully will be Finland and Norway

  • john adams

    Do Barcelona! It is a truly amazing city and you’ll have a great time. Such an awesome mix of old and new and a short flight away.