lisbon-portugal-feature

Improvements in flight routes, last-minute accommodation and cheap travel mean a stolen weekend away is easier than ever. Enter the micro-break: a way to soak up holiday vibes in just 24 hours. While these getaways may be bite-sized, don’t underestimate the power of a well-planned itinerary with hourly time slots and transportation time accounted for.

1. Paris, France

Parisian escapades in 24 hours are best achieved when you know the aim of your trip. To experience Paris à la art connoisseur, curate your itinerary with that one thing in mind. Book a stay at Hotel Brach; the 1970s sorting house is a centralised based for artistic excursions. Housed in the beautiful Hotel Sale and featuring 5000 pieces of the Spanish artist’s work, Musee Picasso has quickly stolen our hearts away from The Louvre. If you’re in the mood for art al fresco, wander through the gardens of Musee Rodin where sunlight and greenery breathe fresh life into the artist’s large-scale sculptures, or for a modern take on things, Palais de Tokyo showcases cutting-edge exhibitions and a stroll down Canal Saint-Martin reveals an array of galleries. Restaurants on the agenda should include Les Marches, Girafe and Ensemble. Then it’s back to Gare du Nord for your evening train home.

2. Bruton, Somerset

A holiday that doesn’t involve airport queues and luggage restrictions is always a welcome change, and the three-hour train to Bruton is as idyllic as its destination. You’ll find modern stresses melt away amid hopelessly quaint chocolate-box cottages. Long walks in the countryside are punctuated by longer fireside afternoon teas, so your itinerary is likely to be leisurely in pace. A number of cosy B&Bs are available but Durslade Farmhouse is a standout. For wholesome fun, take a climb up King Alfred’s Tower or sample West Country cheeses at Westcombe Dairy. Alternatively, thanks to the recent opening of a spectacular Hauser & Wirth gallery, this small town is now home to an exciting emerging art scene. The gallery is a stunning showcase of contemporary art against the unlikely delightful backdrop of English farmland.

3. Dublin, Ireland

Dublin may be the largest city in Ireland but it’s still small enough to get your fill of Irish craic over the course of a mini-break. Beloved for its constant reinvention as well as it is for its rich history, you’ll find cobbled streets lead the way both to modern refinement and historical secrets, but to make sure you don’t waste any precious time we suggest booking onto one of Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours. We’re not usually one for tourist traps, but for Pat Liddy we’ll make an exception. An historian, artist, writer, broadcaster, map-maker, environmental lobbyist and all around funny bloke, there’s no one more qualified to show you around Dublin’s nooks and crannies. Come night time, although there’s a trendy scene in the skirtings of the Temple neighbourhood, a raucous Irish pub is always preferable and when choosing from the many available – the rowdier, the better. There’s no better way to experience Dublin than with a pint of Guinness in hand and a friendly local chewing your ear off – except maybe a spot Irish dancing which we also suggest you try your hand at (preferably in Coppers, a right of passage to any Dublin trip and an downright dive).

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

If anywhere makes for a fashionable micro-break, it’s Copenhagen. Thanks to a rise of Danish it-girls and fashion labels, the capital has earned itself a reputation so chic it’s been dubbed the new Paris. Fashion-crazy or not, it’s a destination worthy of your holiday days. Wander through the trendy centre of Norrebro for a vast choice of healthy eats – a crowd-pleaser is Sonny, where their eponymous combo meal is packed with enough nutrients to help cure that hangover from yesterday’s cocktails at Ruby’s. Shopping here is mandatory, and whether you’re browsing for Danish design at Stilleben or trying on everything at Ganni, you’ll be heading home with a heavier suitcase. You’ll also want to hit up Glyptoteket for your art-fill (go on a Tuesday when admission is free) as well as Rosenborg castle for 16th-century opulence – the well-groomed gardens are a highlight.

5. Lisbon, Portugal

Totally disparate from England, it feels like the two-and-a-half-hour flight from London to Lisbon should be much much longer – but we’re thankful it’s not. Vibrant and exciting, Lisbon positively glows – and not just metaphorically. The seven hills on which Lisbon is sprawled across, form a geographical amphitheatre which effectively collects and reflects sunlight, giving it that golden hue. With a contemporary culture heavily informed by Portugal’s colonial past, you’ll find a plethora of influences here from Brazilian to Mozambican. Take a walk across the calcada Portuguesa (the intricately patterned limestone pavements) and find yourself wandering between medieval ramparts, hole-in-the-wall bars and family-run restaurants. For shopping, you won’t do better than one of Lisbon’s many markets like Ferra de Ladra on a Tuesday and Saturday, or Sundays spent at the LX Factory Sale. When the sun sets, the riverside clubs invite you to indulge in glasses of ginja (cherry wine) and hours of dancing. Check in at Memmo Alfama and book your table at JNcQUOI with haste.

6. Palermo, Italy

Home to magnificent medieval architecture, some of the finest Italian cuisine and an intriguing past of coded paintings and hidden thoroughfares, Palermo satisfies all your Italian escapade needs. Start your day at one of the city’s many food markets – we recommend Ballaro, a fish and farmer’s market that stretches across alleys and piazzas, boasting crates overflowing with fresh Sicilian produce. The city centre features a selection of modest churches painted in pretty pastels which, although wonderful themselves, are only a precursor to the exquisite Monreale Cathedral. Once you’re back in the city, make your way to Piazza Marina, a lush garden of giant ficus trees, for a languorous stroll. Finish the night off with an Aperol spritz at Bar Garibaldi.

7. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam has shed its reputation for coffee shops and red lights (although both certainly do still exist) in favour of a burgeoning art and culture scene, and with trains running twice daily from London it’s an ideal spot for a mini jaunt. To experience the city to the fullest, it’s best to bed down in a barge, though if you like being able to stand upright, a canal-front lodging will do. The Canal Ring is a must-see; a triad of beautiful canals encircling the city’s historic centre, this is where you’ll get those classic Dutch sights: colourful houses, nostalgic bridges and tree-lined waterways. If you’re in town at the weekend, the Noordermarkt Square holds a weekly flea market where you can lose hours trawling through vintage finds. A trip to Museumplein is advised for art enthusiasts and be sure to pay a visit to the recently renovated Rijksmuseum before getting into the more contemporary scene at the Stedelijk.

Discover More...

The Best Budget Euro City Breaks

You May Also Like

City Guides

You know how you have that one incredible friend who knows their city inside out? That’s us. We take the world’s most dynamic destinations, hand-pick the best bits and give them to you in one place. This is the kind of guide that you don’t need to run by a local – it was written by one. Eat your heart out, shop until you drop, drink like a fish, dance your socks off, sleep – then repeat.

Bundles

Curate your bookcase with the full SUITCASE library. From Volume 2 through 24, we've been around the world, explored uncharted landscapes and reexamined travel perceptions along the way. We invite you to do the same; grow your collection today.

Download Suitcase App
Learn More