3 European Capitals for your Autumn Break
Autumn has been in the air for a while now. The days are rapidly shortening and the temperature is dropping, making it a period in which many slow down and get a bit tired. If you are such a person who misses summer sun and holidays, then a short city break may be just what you need to recharge your batteries. November is the perfect month to escape from your busy life and relax before all the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year’s festivities start. Travelling during this shoulder season has many advantages: with the lack of summer or winter tourist crowds you won’t need to queue for hours, you’ll enjoy better prices for accommodation and you’re sure to come back fresh after a week’s break.
Here are three of our favourite city trip destinations in Europe that will guarantee fun and relaxation. Whether you are passionate about shopping, culture or cuisine, these three cities offer plenty of things to do to make sure you’ll get through grey November.
Why visit London? The English capital may be only figuratively speaking the hottest destination in Europe but the infinite offer of great activities in this vibrant metropolitan city makes up for the sometimes chilly or rainy weather. The wide variety of cultural events, pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas makes London a top destination for everyone who likes to get active and discover new things: whether you come in autumn, winter, spring or summer there’s always something going on in this fascinating city.
Wake up to a delicious English breakfast, try the typical pie’n’mash and shepherd’s pie, listen to the fascinating variety of English accents, watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and seek for shelter in Tate Modern if you feel some drops of rain… Or what about visiting this exclusive luxury yacht exhibition? One thing is for sure: if you want to spend refreshing autumn days that will leave you with great memories, then London is just perfect for you.
Need more reasons? The city is home to no less than 49 Michelin-starred restaurants (8 with two stars and one with three stars, namely Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Royal Hospital Road) and numerous other places where you can sample world-class cuisine and food from all corners of the world, over 300 museums and art galleries many of which with free entrance, gorgeous Royal Parks where you can take a stroll and enjoy the smell of fresh autumn leaves, and you can shop at the world-famous Harrods, one of the most exclusive department stores in Europe. London is of course also getting ready to host the 2012 Olympic Games, which means that you can take advantage of the ongoing renovations such as transportation system improvements, ideal to take a tour of all the most beautiful neighbourhoods and decide on your favourite accommodation area for the July-August event. Also don’t miss the spectacular Leonardo da Vinci exposition which is now on in the National Gallery. After no less than 5 years of preparation the collection of internationally borrowed works is now complete and gives an unprecendented overview of Da Vinci’s finest and most rare paintings made in Milan around 1480-1490.
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There is no need to tell you that Rome is an all-time favourite destination for city trips: the Italian capital is certainly one of the most beautiful cities you can visit and it has the richest cultural and historical heritage in Europe. Sheltered by the surrounding mountains, la Città Eterna has a year-round micro climate and enjoys very mild and pleasant autumn temperatures, perfect for travellers who want to avoid cold feet and indulge in quality time. There are many interesting events planned for November and December, such as the Romaeuropa Art Festival with a selection of international contemporary art and the famous Roma Jazz Festival, where music lovers will find plenty of great concerts.
And not only the weather’s great, because this spirited city is also perfect to experience the true essence of Italy. There’s no such thing as getting bored in Rome: this literal pièce de résistance is an impressive open air museum where you’ll spot remainders of its mythical history wherever you look. Classics are of course the Colosseum, the Vatican and the legendary piazzas such as Piazza Navona, but if you want to indulge in art and beauty you don’t even need to head to the typical tourist hotspots: neighbourhoods like Trastevere with its small cobblestone streets, San Giovanni with its impressive architecture and the area around the Colosseum with numerous picturesque bars and restaurants are perfect to soak up the Roman atmosphere. Without any doubt, this magnificent city has so many hidden corners that you’ll never stop discovering new treasures.
Only keep this one main rule in mind: when in Rome, do as the Romans do. As it’s impossible to talk about Romans without mentioning food don’t come here on a diet: love in Italy does go trough the stomach and it’s surely the best way to experience the soul of this city and its traditions. But there are worse things, as everybody will agree that Italy is a paradise on earth for food and wine. Great dishes offered everywhere in the capital are of course pizza and pasta – or it wouldn’t be Italy! Typical Roman pasta dishes you should certainly give a try are bucatini all’amatriciana (based on tomato, pecorino cheese and guanciale – dried pork cheek, but don’t let that scare you because it is heavenly delicious), spaghetti cacio e pepe (pecorino and pepper) and – the classic among all pasta dishes – carbonara (with egg, pancetta and cheese). If you don’t like all that pasta then sample the delicious saltimbocca alla romana (veal dish) and if you’re brave enough you can try trippa romana, a typically Roman speciality.
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Romantic Paris. This legendary French city has been the backdrop of many films and books, and numerous songs and ballads have been dedicated to the inspirational City of Light. And not without reason: Paris is a seductive city with a unique atmosphere characterized by passion for architecture, art, fashion and gastronomy. Elegance and charm in Paris are no myth or fantasy but a real lifestyle, and a contagious one.
If you’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower, the Pont des Arts, Montmartre or the Tuileries Gardens then you should of course grab your lover by the hand and go see these legendary and romantic spots as fast as you can, but even if you’ve already been to Paris and seen all the main tourist hotspots you’ll know that this is one of those cities worth to come back to: the metropolitan changes with every season and has so many things you can see and do that you’ll always find fresh, exciting inspiration.
Autumn is a perfect time of year to visit Paris as the city is buzzing with festivities, exhibitions, shows, films and other exciting events, an excellent remedy to chase away autumn tiredness and get recharged with new energy. Among the array of activities on offer in November and December there is the Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau - one of the world’s most celebrated wine events – as well as the Paris International Boat Show, where the latest boats and yachts will be presented the first week of December. Don’t forget to discover the hidden corners off the beaten track, take pictures in the small city centre streets, go hunting for souvenirs and Christmas gifts in the many shops and taste the delicious croissant and French crêpe… these great-tasting delicacies will surely fill you with joy and pleasure. And why not get a new suit, dress or winter coat in this trendy fashion city? With an endless list of exclusive shops, designer labels and trendy boutiques you’ll have to resist the urge to buy everything… or at least if you come by air.
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