10 Perfect Last Minute, Long Weekend Getaways
POSTED BY Mavy | August 5, 2015
Label: Top 10s
If you’ve been considering a long weekend getaway, the bank holiday is the perfect opportunity to make the most of that extra free day off work.
With so many last minute deals to be had and no more bank holidays until Christmas, all you’ve got to do is decide on a destination…
The city where East really does meet West, Istanbul uniquely sits astride two continents: Europe and Asia.
The resulting diversity of this city is a sight to behold. Taking advantage of cheap flights to Istanbul transports you to a place where you can visit the stunning Byzantine church of Aya Sofya, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapı Palace and also cool rooftop cocktails bars and super modern malls.
The Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, is not to be missed. Here you’ll find beautiful hand-loomed textiles and vast amounts of pottery as well as stalls selling wonderfully aromatic soaps.
If you are keen to stay nearby in Istanbul’s historic centre, Yigitalp, in the city’s conservative Fatih district features a spa with a traditional marble Turkish bath and massage treatments.
Alternatively head over towards the city’s cosmopolitan İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Street), in the Beyoğlu district on the European side, where you’ll find plenty of good accommodation including the stylish Cenevre Hotel.
If you’re searching for sun and shopping, a weekend break in Dubai is for you.
As well as the incredible designer malls you can take in the sights and sounds of the famous Gold Souk and the ancient covered souk.
For a real taste of Dubai, foodies should make an early morning visit to city’s breath-taking Fish Souk, where you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling an amazing array of fish and seafood.
And if the heat all gets too much for you (average temperature at this time of year peak at around 40 degrees), head to Ski Dubai at Mall of the Emirates, where you can ski or sled on real snow.
Eating out is a big pastime in Dubai. If the sheer volume of restaurants on offer becomes overwhelming, head to Souk Al Bahar for a nice little collection of bars and eateries (as well as shops), or pick from what’s on offer at the modern marina.
Dubai’s also home to many excellent hotels. The Arabian Park Hotel has a great sunbathing deck and pool as well as providing regular shuttles to Jumeirah beach and also boasts a 24-hour deli selling salads, sushi and sandwiches.
Serene and beautiful, Zurich is the perfect destination for a chilled out last minute weekend getaway.
As well as its famous crystal-clear lake, you can wander the cobbled streets of the old town, taking advantage of the city’s blossoming cafe culture.
If you’re in the mood to party, you’ll find many of the city’s trendiest clubs in the former industrial quarter, known as “Zuri-West”.
To fully experience the old town stay at Hotel Wellenberg, a stylish hotel at the heart of the city, which is in walking distance of shopping strip, Bahnhofstrasse, as well as the lake and the river. Or enjoy the spacious, modern delights of The Engimatt Hotel, set in a beautiful garden in central Zurich.
The capital of beautiful island Madeira, Funchal is mini break heaven.
Whether it's promenading through the narrow winding streets of the old centre, or hiking from the sea to the hills, Funchal is a brilliant place to idly lose a few days exploring on foot.
Highlights in the city include the 16th century cathedral, the market and Blandy’s Wine Lodge. Or if you’re feeling lucky head to the casino.
The centrally located Funchal Design Hotel provides a great base for your adventures.
When it comes to things to do, Cairo, with its proximity to the Pyramids of Giza, is hard to beat.
One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the pyramids are just a taxi ride away from the city centre and are also accessible on public transport.
A buzzing urban hub, with around 7 million residents, Cairo itself has lots to offer. Discover a wealth of history and culture at the city’s Egyptian Antiquities Museum or relax in Al-Azhar Park.
For 5-star luxury in the city centre, try Conrad Cairo, with views of the Nile, a health club and its own casino.
6. Sharm El Sheikh
If you’re feeling the lure of the beach, now’s the time to head to Sharm El Sheikh. While divers will love somewhere close to the Ras Um Dive Site, the fine sandy beach of Na’ama Bay is a good option for everyone all.
Here you’ll find many of the area’s best hotels and nightlife as well as plenty of international restaurants. The Falcon Naama Star Hotel and the Royal Oasis Sharm both offer good facilities close to the beach.
To get totally off the beaten track, hire a sand buggy and head off into the Sinai desert and enjoy a traditional tea in a Bedouin tent and experience the desert life.
A foodie’s paradise, the best things to do in Marrakech centre around eating.
Head to Djemaa el-Fna Square at dusk for the world’s biggest and most colourful al fresco dining experience. Here you’ll find amazing street food and local delicacies such as harira, kefta tagine and incredible couscous.
If you fancy something more sophisticated, Marrakech is also known for its exquisite restaurants and tasting menus, ranging from Moroccan feasts to dishes with a more international fusion feel.
To really get into the swing of things stay in a Riad. Riad Al Mansoura is traditional accommodation close to Djemaa el-Fna square, while Demeures D'Orient Riad de Luxe & Spa offers a little more luxury.
While a city break to Paris can seem a bit obvious, there’s a reason why this historic city is one of the world’s top destinations.
Of course there’s the sights of the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre, but if you’ve already done the tour, head to the super trendy and vibrant Marais district, filled with bars, restaurants and boutiques to see the city at its best.
Wander down to the Left Bank of the Seine to experience Les Berges. Once a major road, this is now pedestrianised stretch embraces its industrial chic decor, with renovated cargo crates providing a place to hang out. It’s a great area to while away the hours, with food stalls and fun - including regular activities such a free ping-pong or chess and a chalk graffiti wall where you can make your mark.
Vintage-lovers should travel north to Paris’s vast flea market, Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which takes place every Saturday-Monday.
Staying central means you can walk everywhere, making the fashionable Bastille district a good choice. Try the Best Western Marias Bastille, or the cool Colour Hotel.
Jam-packed with relics, you’ll never be short of things to do in Rome.
The Colosseum, the Forum and Palatine Hill are not to be missed and for many The Vatican is essential viewing too.
For something a bit different visit Monti, arguably Rome’s hippest neighbourhood. A centre for all things artsy, this area just west of the Termini train station remains edgy, despite being home to an ever growing number of quirky boutiques and tasty food spots. Here you’ll find the Nerva Boutique Hotel, a great place to stay in Rome.
Even if you just spend a few days roaming the Ramblas, a trip to Barcelona is hard to beat.
Just off the main strip foodies should allow a few hours to truly enjoy the city’s huge indoor food market, La Boqueria. Here you can visit sophisticated tapas bars or eat ‘chipirones' (deep fried baby squid), or indulge in the colourful selection of fruit that fills many of the stalls.
Gaudi’s cathedral has to be seen to be believed and fans of the a Spanish architect (or indeed, anyone) will enjoy the stunning Park Güell in the north west the city.
There’s plenty of shopping around the Ramblas, as well as lots of great malls scattered throughout the city.
The huge Parc de la Ciutadella houses Barcelona Zoo, as well as an imposing Gaudi fountain and is a great place to take a break from the bustle of the city centre.
Hotel Barcelona Catedral in the Gothic Quarter is a brilliant base, a boutique hotel with rooftop chill out terrace, gym, and free bikes.