Our Favourite Second Cities

Our Favourite Second Cities

overlooked in favour of their larger counterparts,

second cities
rarely get the recognition they deserve. With
eye-catching architecture, sprawling green spaces and vibrant
cultural scenes, these are some of our favourites across the



While Toronto remains Canada’s bustling business centre and
Quebec draws in nature lovers, Montreal
proudly marks Canada’s cultural hub. Offering French-style
patisseries, rickety pubs, generations-old Jewish delis and
sprawling food markets that sell heaped servings of poutine, the
city’s culinary scene is a huge draw. Fuelled up, explore
Montreal’s bountiful cultural spoils. Admire architectural triumphs
such as the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Olympic Stadium and model
community Habitat 67, and wander along the Lachine Canal or through
Le Plateau Mont-Royal before spending the evening settling down in
any of the city’s many theatres for a night of comedy, jazz or
musical mayhem.


South Korea

When thinking of visiting South Korea, Seoul
is the city that springs to mind. While perhaps not offering as
many modern spoils as the country’s capital, Busan has sprawling
beaches, towering temples and hiking-mecca mountains that should be
enough to tempt. Spend mornings lazing on Haeundae Beach before
lunching at Jagalchi Fish Market – one of the country’s largest
fish markets in which narrow lanes bustle with rickety carts and
stalls selling stonking seafood. Don’t miss Gamcheon Culture
Village, an old mountainside slum-cum-art hub filled with colourful
cafés, galleries and twisting stairways.



Although recently popularised by Ed Sheeran, this bohemian city
has been steeped in culture for centuries. Walk along the River
Corrib, spot remnants of the medieval town wall, or stop by the
quaint shops dotted throughout the harbour city. If you’re there on
a Saturday, be sure to visit the centuries-old street market, where
countless food stalls are sandwiched between arts and crafts stands
and buskers playing merry Irish tunes. Don’t miss the Fishery
Watchtower – built in the 1850s to monitor fish stock, the
Victorian tower now houses a museum, but head to the top for
wonderful views across Galway’s waterways and rivers. It’s no
surprise this Irish city has been named the European Capital of
Culture for 2020.


United Kingdom

With a rich history of invention and progression, this
forward-looking city remains a popular stalwart in the UK. Manchester
refused to let the horrific Arena bombing in 2017 dampen its spirit
or its pride, instead responding by way of cranking up its
standards of inclusivity, tolerance and global outlook. A place of
sporting legend, it’s prime territory for touring the rival
stadiums of Old Trafford – home of Manchester United – or Man
City’s Etihad Stadium. If football isn’t your thing, spend days
exploring the centre’s many galleries and museums. Come sundown,
head to the Northern Quarter for cheap pints down the Oxford Road
Corridor, or sip on cocktails for an evening of opulence in



Home to mariachi music and wide-brimmed sombreros, Guadalajara
has cultural spoils galore – without the frenetic confusion of the
country’s capital. Get your history-fix by wandering around the
city’s historic core, admiring ancient colonial architecture such
as the Catedral de Guadalajara and the Instituto Cultural de
Cabañas before heading to centuries-old neighbourhoods such as
Chapultepec, Tonalá and Zapopan. Guadalajara is the capital of the
Mexican state of Jalisco, famous for being the birthplace of
tequila, so be sure to take a tour through the city to learn about
the drink’s history (and have a few shots along the way).



With sandy, glistening beaches, ancient historical landmarks and
quaint, old-world cafés – this Mediterranean port city has just
about everything needed for the perfect city break. Founded in 331
BCE by Alexander the Great, Alexandria has a history to rival any
other city, with tales of pharaohs, one of the Seven Wonders of the
World and a wealth of ancient knowledge. Today, the modern city
pairs faded remnants of its grandeur – think: catacombs and
fortresses – with a vibrant cosmopolitan scene and underground,
hipster corners.



Just off the country’s west coast, romantic views of the Göta
älv river are just as much of a draw as the buzzing city streets. A
champion of understated appeal,
is the kind of place to walk alongside the
17th-century canals or hop on a rattling tram before stopping for a
lunch of typical Swedish delights and a spot of vintage shopping.
Thrill-seekers should head to Liseberg, Scandinavia’s largest
amusement park, while culture lovers should while away the hours at
Röda Sten Konsthall, a defunct power station which now houses four
floors of contemporary Swedish and international exhibitions.

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European Cities Perfect for a Winter Weekend Break