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Summer is over. Weep. Staying sunny (in our disposition, if not our geographical location) we’ve decided to do more with our weekends – these under-the-radar cities are a great starting point when it comes short breaks.
A haven for artistic types since time immemorial, the ancient city of Arles is Southern France’s chicest arts mecca. Gucci knows it (Alessandro Michele staged his 2019 cruise show here), Vincent Van Gogh knew it (the artist painted four scenes of the historical necropolis Alyscamps in October 1888) and we know it too. Explore the once provincial capital of Rome; parading up and down the Promenade des Alyscamps – a tree-lined Roman necropolis where Paul Gauguin came to paint – you’ll quickly tap into Arles’ spiritedness.
Austin’s music scene is a lauded one – giant guitar sculptures and local musicians provide a larger-than-life greeting for visitors touching down in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Seriously good food ups the city’s popularity too. Check out its downtown area – a quirky collective of concept-dining spots, some achingly cool hotels and unwavering Southern charm.
3. Valletta, Malta
This teeny Mediterranean island just 50 miles south of Sicily deals in modest beauty. Explore the old, narrow streets of Valletta before taking a trip beyond the city and daring to jump off cliffs with the locals into natural pools. This city is unspoiled by tourism, so history buffs should come like bees to honey – you could spend hours taking in the city’s prehistoric temples and medieval buildings.
Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city (Plovdiv was founded around 8,000 years ago), draws a discerning crowd keen explore the city’s historical landmarks. For a change of scene, the Kapana artistic quarter is breath of modernity with new hotels and an inexhaustible nightlife that keeps this patch of the city youthful.
5. Krakow, Poland
The city is rife with creatives, and like-minded travellers will reap the most from a visit here. Offbeat art galleries and museums housed in formerly dilapidated factories aside, the former royal capital hasn’t completely given itself over to absolute bohemia. Seek out something more prim and proper at any number of Krakow’s shiny new restaurants – but be sure to end your night at a vodka bar.
The coolest city spot in Central Asia? Maybe guys, maybe. As one of the bigger stops on the famous Silk Road, Samarkand in Uzbekistan is a culture- and history-rich destination. Being a Unesco World Heritage Sites – we lost count of the many mosques and mausoleums we saw – the city beguiles its visitors.
A meeting point for creatives and vagabonds – Allen Ginsberg and Truman Capote were frequent holidayers here in their heyday – Tangier has an air of mystique about it. Today, the bustling city is populated with upscale boutiques, buzzy bars and traditional craft shops. Photography enthusiasts will appreciate Tangier’s art deco structures and the vibrancy of its medina.
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