Top 5 City Breaks
Looking forward to that long-needed escape? All our experiences offer you the opportunity to explore less travelled locations but here are some of our very favourite Untravelled Paths destinations for city breaks. So once the madness is gone and we are able able to pack a suitcase, jump on a plane and travel once more these cities definitely won’t disappoint.
Nestled in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and known as the gateway into Transylvania, the medieval Saxon town of Brasov is an absolute gem. A world away from the lively buzz of the capital city, Brasov provides the perfect base for exploring the Transylvanian countryside with its rural villages, fortified churches and thick forests as well as the infamous Bran Castle, the would-be residence of mysterious Count Dracula. Set against a beautiful mountain backdrop and rich in clean fresh air, the pace of life in Brasov’s Old Town is noticeably slower and more relaxed than in Bucharest and is the ideal location for those who prefer to take in the atmosphere at a leisurely pace, ambling around the cobbled streets, stopping for a drink in one of the clusters of quaint cafes or heading to a restaurant for lunch or dinner. The town’s distinctive medieval ambiance is reflected in its striking examples of gothic and baroque architecture, the most prominent of which has to be the Black Church with its smoke-blackened walls and looming presence over the beautiful old square in the heart of the town. All the sights worth seeing in Brasov are accessible by foot including the narrowest street in Europe and the climb up to the top of the Black Tower where the entire city unfolds before your eyes.
Want to visit Brasov? Then why not combine it with seeing magnificent Brown Bears… see more.
Exotic east meets modern west in a city where two continents collide. Istanbul is one of our all-time favourite cities, throbbing with atmosphere and brimming with cultural treasures including the iconic Blue Mosque, the Ottoman Topkapi Palace and the fascinating Haghia Sophia, conveniently all located in the old quarter of Sultanahmet. While the sights are unmissable, what we love most about Istanbul is soaking up the energy, haggling for spices and trinkets at the riotous bazaars, strolling along the sparkling Bosphorous at night or enjoying an apple tea and some jewelled lokum (turkish delight) as the call to prayer reverberates from mosque to minaret. Tick off a few of our top highlights while you’re in the city.
Want to visit Istanbul? Then why not combine it with a magical Balloon ride over the Cappadocia… see more.
The city of Kotor is over twenty centuries old and is a veritable treasure trove of 12th to 20th-century architecture. The most famous is the Cathedral of St. Tripun, which was built in 1166 on the foundations of an older pre-Romanic church dating all the way back to the 10th century. Although completely restored, you can still see the beautiful 14th-century frescoes that line the interior walls. Other churches are St. Luke’s Church (1195), St Ana’s Church from the late 12th century decorated with 15th-century frescoes, the Church of Santa Maria Colegiata from 1221, and the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas which dates back to the early 20th century and houses a rich collection of icons. The last decade has seen much of Kotor transform, with derelict buildings reformed to their original splendour, housing boutique hotels, renovated apartments, shops, stylish restaurants and much more. The hustle and bustle of the day with tourists filling the streets are forgotten by night and the evenings are magical. Bars and restaurants come to life, whether it’s a quiet corner restaurant or a lively bar, there is something for everyone.
Want to visit Kotor? Then why not combine it with a breathtaking Montenegro mountains… see more.
Anyone who is expecting modern sophistication and a tranquil paradise of calm is in for a shock. Marrakech is like no other place on earth, full of magic and mystery, mesmerising chaos and its own unique brand of unconventional beauty. The snow-dusted peaks of the High Atlas Mountains and the flaming red of the scorching desert create a backdrop of pure exoticism that will make you feel as though you’ve been pulled into a far-flung world forgotten by the clutches of time. Just make sure you come prepared for a serious case of sensory overload! Once the hub of camel caravans from the south, this bustling North African city still throbs with energy both day and night. A place where the air is infused with an exotic blend of burning incense, spices, soldered metal, leather and the sweet and woody scents of musk, rose and amber. Where the daily call to prayer echoes from the towering minarets that puncture the sky and struggles to be heard above the beeping cars and haggling street vendors. A sprawling labyrinth of dusty alleyways makes up the kaleidoscopic souks that burst to the brim with all manner of treasures and trinkets from hanging lanterns and tribal handwoven rugs to pyramids of rainbow-coloured spices and raw silk scarves and sparkling silverware. Meander through the souks in the late afternoon dodging donkey carts and mopeds that zig-zag through the crowds as you try your hand at haggling for that Aladdin-style silver lamp and those pointy-toed Babouche slippers. Make for the city’s lively main square just before dusk and watch the spectacle of Djeema el-Fnaa unravel before your eyes as darkness descends. You’ve no choice but to delve straight into the thick of it, perhaps pausing to snack on pigeon pie and roasted snails atone of the dozens of food stalls that fire up their kitchens with charcoal smoke and vie for your attention amidst snake charmers, tooth pullers and zealous acrobats. Of course, the hectic madness of the medina is balanced perfectly with the oasis of peace and the stylish sophistication of your riad where babbling water, rose petals and candlelit lanterns prevail. Treat yourself to an invigorating hammam massage before enjoying a decadent dinner at one of Marrakech’s chic restaurants where pastries are glazed with syrupy orange blossom water and rich tagines are laced with cinnamon and served with spiced couscous. We dare you not to fall head over heads in love with spellbinding Marrakech.
Want to visit Marrakech? Then why not combine it with a colourful sunset over the Sahara Desert… see more.
Bursting with colour, passion and sunshine, it’s hard not to fall head over heels for Seville (we do time and time again!). Romans, Muslims, Jews and Christians have all made their mark over the centuries, infusing the city with a rich blend of multi-layered history and fascinating culture. You don’t need to look far to see what we mean – each street corner is adorned with fabulous Islamic architecture, the majestic Alcazar Palace oozes Moorish style, and of course, you can’t miss the cathedral, which is the third-largest in the world. But gob-smacking architecture is just the start. Self-proclaimed home of tapas, the city also boasts over 3,000 tapas bars where you can feast to your stomach’s content on traditional classics or fusion tapas with a modern twist. Then there’s fiery flamenco – an experience that you mustn’t miss at our favourite authentic show! Neither too sprawling nor too small, the city’s old town is perfect for exploring on foot, strolling through orange tree-lined plazas and the narrow cobbled streets of the Santa Cruz quarter towards the major sights. Those with a little more time might also want to cross the bridge into the vibrant Triana neighbourhood, famous for its flamenco, ceramic tiles, and local market.
Want to visit Seville? Then why not combine it with a visit to the fascinating city of Cordoba, the beautiful town of Ronda or even getting a chance to see the majestic Iberian Lynx… see more.
Written by Marion Poerio, Untravelled Paths