16 Amazing Cities in Europe for a Weekend Getaway

Steve Cummings

traveling in Europe

We all wish for more free time to explore and travel. Even if your employer allows you a generous amount of time to get away from it all, you may need help to do all you want. Having just a weekend, for instance, does not sound like enough time to benefit from a break in Europe.

In this post, we will look at 16 amazing cities in Europe for a weekend getaway to help show that it is still possible, even if you have only enough free time to travel for a few days. We have tried to include places that will appeal to a wide variety of people so that you can find a great destination whether you are traveling as a couple, a single person, with children, as an art lover, a foodie, or a history fan. 

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark
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If you are looking for good weekend trips in Europe, Denmark and its capital, Copenhagen, should be near the top of your list. Much of the Danish capital looks like it was taken from a bright and vibrant fairytale book, with many pretty colorful buildings and structures and pedestrian streets that hug the waterfront, offering stunning sea views. It's not just the architecture and setting but the gourmet cuisine that makes Copenhagen a must-visit. What's more, with regards to fairytales, if you have enough time and want to learn more about the man who created so many memorable fairytales, Hans Christian Anderson, you can visit Odense, his hometown.

2. Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy
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Milan barely needs an introduction. It is famous for its internationally-renowned fashion show, fantastic architecture, and buildings, including the Duomo di Milano, great food, and even better shopping. Weekend European city breaks in Milan are jam-packed with activities. If you are interested in spending more time there or want to use Milan as a base, it is ideal for adventures to Bologna, the world's foodie capital, and the breathtaking natural beauty spot, Lake Como. These are just a short train trip away from Milan.

Rest assured, if you stay within the city limits, you will have an unforgettable Italian vacation experience. Milan never disappoints any of its visitors. 

3. Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland
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There are many reasons why one of the best European weekend trips you can book is to Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland. Not only is it the closest part of Europe to the U.S.A., but the two countries have a shared history that stretches back centuries. Culturally, there is much to soak up in Dublin, with pubs galore, live music, and the Guinness Storehouse, which deserves at least one visit.

If you are just looking to stroll along aimlessly, the grounds of the famous Trinity College and other iconic spots throughout the city are great ways to waste the day. You can also take some day and half-day trips to rural spots like the dramatic cliffs of Moher, Galway, and even Belfast in Northern Ireland.

4. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
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If you are looking for romantic weekend getaways in Europe, Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is one you should consider. It is just a short flight away from the eastern coast of the U.S.A. and is a beautifully colorful coastal city in which to spend a few days. Historic streets that all seem steeped in their history and heritage are lined with little shops and interesting architectural works. At the same time, the cuisine featuring the freshest and best-tasting seafood you are likely to try makes Lisbon more than worth exploring. When you want to go further afield, you are close to sites of historic importance like Sintra.

Related: 10 Fantastic Bars to Visit in Lisbon to Grab a Drink

5. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Royal Palace of Amsterdam
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If there is one place you should consider when planning a weekend in Europe, it is Amsterdam in the Netherlands, particularly if you are looking for a city with a lively yet laid-back attitude to life. In addition to the legendary hedonistic side of the city, there is so much to do that is calm and peaceful in Amsterdam. For instance, there are many well-maintained and beautiful canals to ride along on a barge. And as a city designed for cyclists, much of it can be explored on two wheels.

Dutch food is exciting, flavorsome, and very filling. And if you are so inclined, there are plenty of places to enjoy cannabis-infused delicacies.

6. Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain
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Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is one of the best cities in Europe for a weekend break. There is so much history on almost every street. As it's a compelling and continually evolving modern city with one foot in the past, you get a sense of the atmosphere of what it was like to live in old Madrid compared to the newer parts of the city.

The streets are so picturesque that even if you attempt to drive around the city, you will often want to get out and look around, so it is best to walk or take public transport. There is no point going to Madrid if you avoid one of the many tapa bars. If you are interested in art and history, Madrid has several internationally renowned museums and galleries where you can spend a good few hours.

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland
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Another of the best cities in Europe for weekend trips, if you want to go somewhere a bit different, is the astonishing Reykjavik in Iceland. Many options exist for day trips, exciting sites, and attractions, from the Reykjavik Maritime Museum and National Museum of Iceland to the Blue Lagoon and further afield at Diamond Beach and Gullfoss.

You will not regret spending any minute in this splendid city in one of the most northern European countries.

8. Brussels, Belgium

Bruges, Belgium
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While there are many popular and apparent choices when looking at the best European cities for a long weekend, Brussels in Belgium needs to be more noticed and deserves the credit. The city has much to offer, from food and drink, such as Belgian waffles to chocolate and moules frites. There is also the thriving and spectacular Belgian craft beer scene.

There is lots of culturally and historically stunning architecture to explore. If you have the time, you can take day trips to Bruges and Ghent, two other equally stunning Belgian cities.

9. Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece
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Athens may be a little further from the U.S.A. than other locales mentioned in this guide. But trust us when we say it is one of the best European cities for weekend trips. The incredible capital city of Greece has more than enough to see and do to make the journey more than worth it. Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Temple of Zeus, the Agora, the Parthenon, and the Acropolis, highlight the country's religion and mythology-steeped history. There are many great modern additions and attractions, too.

You can enjoy beautiful, fresh, and flavorsome food. There's even an outdoor cinema that shows modern films when you want to unwind. You can also look out over the sea, take in the views of turquoise waters, and listen to the birds and the waves.

10. Paris, France

Paris, France
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There is a reason why Paris, the French capital, often tops the list of best European weekends away destinations. The City of Love, or the City of Lights as it is usually referred to, is nothing short of magical. From the architectural delights of the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe to the many patisseries and eateries where you can sample the best and tastiest of French cuisine, from the expansive and astonishing collection of art from the ages that are the Louvre to the antique treasures of the flea markets – Paris never fails to delight!

Whatever you choose to do in Paris in the little time you have there is bound to be unforgettable.

11. Stockholm, Sweden

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If you are interested in experiencing a little bit of Scandinavian charm, one of the best places to visit in Europe for a weekend is Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. More than just the home of IKEA and Abba, Sweden is a country with a checkered history that is always pointing to the future. In Stockholm, you can see this for yourself by wandering around the medieval alleys in Gamla Stan that take you back in time or by visiting the Vasa Museum to learn more about the city and the country's long and impressive maritime history.

Maybe you want something a bit more exciting to do – then Grona Lund amusement park is worth a visit, especially if you are traveling with children and adrenaline junkies.

12. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria
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Looking to spend a weekend in Europe and learn about the continent's great and not-so-great history? Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a perfect place to travel to, full of sophistication and history. Stunning sites you should make some time to visit include Belvedere Palace and Schonbrunn Palace, which has beautiful gardens to wander around. The Albertina Museum is also a must for some informative and fascinating exhibits.

When you are not checking out historical places like St. Stephen's Cathedral or Hofburg Palace, you should enjoy some great Austrian food and coffee at places like Café Central or try to take in a show at the Vienna State Opera.

13. Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy
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Many people may argue that if you have a weekend in Europe, there are better places to visit than Rome due to Italy's capital's sheer size and expansiveness. However, we would disagree. It's all about managing your expectations of what you can see and do in such a vast and essential city. Even with a short time in the Italian capital, you can take in the Roman Forum and Colosseum, two of the most iconic European landmarks, while also visiting the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.

Foodies will love exploring the many small or more illustrious eateries, and you can't visit Italy without trying some gelato and Italian coffee, done the Italian way, at a bar, in a small shot glass.

14. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain
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For another of the most popular romantic weekend getaways in Europe, you should visit Barcelona, the cultural melting pot of Spain. Colorful, vibrant, and full of life, Barcelona is home to many Gaudi masterpieces, such as Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. La Rambla is part of Barcelona, which has many excellent shops and entertains street performers.

If you want to get lost, you can walk through the Gothic Quarter's streets. You can also enjoy panoramic views from Montjuic and the spectacular Magic Fountain light and water show. Art lovers will also treasure a visit to the Picasso Museum.

15. London, United Kingdom

The London Eye Ferris Wheel
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The U.K. capital is often considered one of the best places to visit in Europe for a weekend, with good reason. London is easily accessible, and there are many sites and attractions to explore, including the historic Tower of London, regal Buckingham Palace, and the impressive Big Ben. Along with the big sites that make up the skyline, there are many pretty and iconic markets and streets throughout London where you can find amazing secrets and gems. When you want to sit, eat, and maybe have a few drinks, you should visit one or more of the cozy and friendly pubs.

16. Cologne, Germany

Travelers in Germany
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We could have chosen several different German cities, but Cologne is one of the best European cities for a long weekend. It can feel intimidating and imposing to newcomers, but you can visit most of the iconic spots in the city over a weekend break of just three days. Make sure you spend some time exploring the Old Town and Cologne Cathedral. There are plenty of charming and attractive alleyways to get purposefully lost walking down, as well as the Lindt Chocolate Museum for Chocolate Lovers and Cologne Cathedral.

Final Thoughts

Planning a good weekend trip in Europe can feel daunting. However, it doesn't need to give you stressful headaches. As you can see from the guide above, there are many great cities where you can still get the best experience possible, even if you only have a weekend to spend.

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