Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
That picture-perfect city you pinned on your IG at the weekend? We'll bet our first-class Eurostar tickets that it was some culture-packed Dutch destination. You know the type: grand and glorious townhouses, tulip-flanked canals, handsome cafés, swathes of bunting and more bicycles than the Tour de France. Our carry-on is practically zipping itself up. Yours, too? In that case, Nijmegen - the Netherlands' oldest city - should be your next adventure.
Situated a 90-minute drive south-east of Amsterdam, just a few kilometres from the German border, the city has all the ingredients for a stellar city break: forward-thinking concept stores and design-driven boutiques; warehouse music venues; green-starred restaurants; an annual four-day hiking fest; and a hedonistic summer festival. Ready to explore it for yourself? Here's how to do it in style.
A charming cobbledstone street, left, and a collection of vinyls. | Photo credit: Frans Blok & Hatice Yardim / Unsplash.com / Shutterstock.com
There's a fierce independent spirit on Nijmegen's shopping streets. Start on Van Broeckhuysenstraat, where you'll find the contemporary concept store 512. Browse stylish garms, potted greens and home furnishings across its airy, two-floor set-up. Then, wander across to the storied Lange Hezelstraat district, whose Bob & Bill is a haven for vintage gems, and Make My Day is brimming with the sort of design-led souvenirs you can't help but flaunt.
Where to stay?
A quartet of individually designed bedrooms make for the perfect base at boutique hotel Box 5. We love Room Four for its retro steamer trunks used as coffee tables, soft lighting and Chesterfield sofas buried beneath plush patterned cushions. The breakfast menu is one that lends itself to a room service call, with its fresh fruit, cheese and charcuterie offering.
Where to go for dinner?
Yep, you're absolutely right in thinking we've shouted about the forest-foraged plates at three-starred Restaurant De Nieuwe Winkel before, but it's simply impossible to not pay a visit to the city's leader in the sustainable dining game. Chef Emile van der Staak works with the likes of pickled vegetables, dried berries and pine needles to craft plant-based perfection in a setting we'd argue is worthy of an award in itself. Be sure to taste-test one of the botanical juices - we couldn't get enough of the juniper berry. Fancy something a little more laid-back? Vegan café Bhalu is your answer, with its plant-clad interiors, blonde woods and basement yoga studio making for a health-fuelled getaway.
A DJ mixing tunes, alongside a bowl of healthy goodness. | Photo credit: Yasin & Caroline / Unsplash.com
And for a drink…
The Netherlands knows a thing or two about dance music. Make tracks to Paak Vinyl Bar for all-day drinks and standout DJ sets. It also has a vinyl shop showcasing legendary (and hot, new) labels, and offers a handful of quirky workshops. Think DJ sessions that will see you learning how to mix your favourite records and cocktail masterclasses packed with top tips on how to nail a margarita.
Who to take with you?
Your friend who's prone to a Lycra-clad expedition. With some 60km of scenic cycling highways cutting through the university town, there is no better way to explore Nijmegen than on a pedal-powered tour.
Essentials to pack
A scent that promises a blissful night's sleep? Our eye mask is twitching with excitement. Pack the Jo Malone London Pillow Mist in the Moonlight Camomile scent for a solid eight hours of pillow time. Infused with English camomile leaves, night-blooming moonflowers and white musk, the fragrance is designed to provide the ultimate level of relaxation.
How to get there
Fly from London to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, then either hop on a scenic two-hour train ride or rent a car for a quicker, one-hour journey to Nijmegen.