3rd Jul 2019 SEE IT

Europe Weekend Getaways

With school over, the holidays loom long and often empty and it can be hard to think up things to fill the days.  Short weekend trips are the perfect solution – your kids don’t get bored and you don’t have to take time off work! Below we have listed our top choices for weekend trips, with our favorite hotels, restaurants and the reasons why you should visit.

Florence

This beautiful city is just two hours from London and features some of the world’s best-known art. Stroll through the streets, explore the churches and museums, eat pasta on the banks of the Arno and marvel at the beauty of the Ponte Vecchio.

 

Stay:

  1. The Relais Santa – is the perfect mix between modern luxury and classic Florentine design. Here you will find clean cut lines and modern furniture contrasting with antique marble and Renaissance frescos. It’s a short walk from the Arno and an even shorter walk to the Santa Croce church.
  2. Portrait FirenzeThis stylish hotel is located directly on the Arno river and if you’re lucky enough to get a room at the front you will be directly overlooking the Ponte Vecchio.
  3. Belmond Villa San Michele– This beautiful hotel sits in the hills just outside Florence and is ideal if you are looking to stay outside the city. Its view is spectacular and there are plenty of activities on offer for the whole family, from the swimming pool to cooking classes.

 

Eat:

  1. fornois a classic Italian bakery that uses only local produce, from grain to butter, in its delicious snacks. You will find biscotti and ceccine as well as panninis, muffins and cakes. Perfect for breakfast or a late afternoon pick-me-up.
  2. Bucadell’Orafois a must. This no-frills restaurant will cater to all your pasta cravings. It has been around since the 1940s and is hidden in a 12th century palace down a little back street. Once you walk in you will be transported into the Florence of antiquity. You will find everything from Spaghetti Pomodoro to more traditional Florentine dishes.
  3. Pensavo Peggio– This little restaurant is where you will find locals and travelling Italians alike. Its known for its Pici dish (Tuscan spaghetti) and its charming atmosphere. You will also find traditional meat dishes and delicious desserts. Be sure to book in advance.

See:

  1. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore, also known as the ‘Duomo’. This stunning cathedral is in the center of Florence and is one of its most famous landmarks. The building was built in the 1200’s and features designs from both Cambio and Brunelleschi.
  2. If you want to see great Art head to The Galleria dell’Accademia. Here you will find Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture as well as a large collection of pieces by world famous artists. The Uffizi Galleryis also a must-see. It exhibits many of the works of ‘The Greats’,  including Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation”,  as well as pieces by Raphael and Michelangelo.
  3. Palazzo Pittiwas once the home of the famous Florentine banker, Luca Pitti, and was later bought by the Medici family in the 1500s. Over the years the owners amassed a remarkable collection, including jewelry, art and furniture which is currently on display.

Barcelona

This Catalonian City is one of the most popular in Spain and will not disappoint. Here you will find incredible architecture from geniuses such as Gaudi and Domenech I Montaner, as well as some of the best traditional Spanish and Catalan restaurants in the country. It is located next to the sea, so you get a city break with a beach to boot!

Stay:

  1. Cotton House – has the traditional interiors you would expect from an old Spanish palace but with all the modern perks and amenities. With open events for all guests to join and a unique eye for detail, this is a comfortable and convenient choice of hotel.
  2. Soho House BarcelonaWhile some might think of Soho house as being a trendy spot for young adults, their Barcelona location has everything you would want for a family as well. It is centrally located, overlooking Port Vell marina and with 57 rooms, 2 pools and various restaurants you will be well set up for a memorable weekend with the kids.
  3. The Barcelona Edition– The Barcelona Edition is new to the city and in high demand. It’s perfectly located in the old city, close to both the sea and the Gothic Quarter. It is also close to various museums which are on hand to distract your children! This is a little funkier than the other two hotels suggested so it’s worth taking a look online beforehand!

 

Eat:

  1. Cloudstreet– This is a bakery you should not miss. It’s been around for a few years and has a restored wood burning oven that makes everything that passes through it completely delectable. The store is packed with delicious baguettes, sour doughs, muffins and so much more. It also uses organic ingredients.
  2. La EsquinicaFor Spanish tapas head to La Esquinica.While it’s a little out of the way in Nou Barris, it’s well worth the trip. If you are faced with a line don’t worry, it goes quickly and is just a testament to how good the food is. The recommended items include all the classics such as Patatas Bravas and croquettas.
  3. Kaiku– This little restaurant is where you will find a perfect mix of tourists and locals all craving the same thing – delicious food and amazing views. Perfect for lunch, the restaurant has a choice of either indoor or outdoor seating as well as being located extremely close to the sea. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Opt for the traditional Catalan dishes!

See:

  1. The Basilica of Sagrada Familia was designed by the famous Spanish architect, Antonio Gaudi. The church is still unfinished and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is worth walking around and going inside…you will never see anything else like it. The way it has been designed is somewhat mystical and the stain glass windows will keep you occupied for hours.
  2. Park Guell is a must. You will have seen this place many a time without even realizing it, as it is one of the most photographed areas in Barcelona. (This collaboration between Guell and Gaudi could be considered make believe… However, it’s not!) You and your children will have an amazing time exploring this stunning park. Top tip – the free tickets get you into the park but not the best parts – it is worth buying proper tickets in advance.
  3. Picasso museum  Whether you are a fan of art or not you will love the Picasso museum. It is spread across multiple palaces (yes, palaces!) and has examples of work from every period of his life. With over 4000 pieces you can easily track his artistic movement from classic styles through to Cubism. There are paintings, sculptures and ceramics.

Dubrovnik

This city, made famous by the popular ‘Game of Thrones’, will be one your kids are sure to love.  The buildings and churches are stunning and will have you roaming around its medieval streets for hours. There is a huge amount of history here and if you get bored of strolling around you can head to the beach – its sits right on the Adriatic and has lots of seaside beach clubs and restaurants that are accessible to everyone.

Stay:

  1. Hotel Excelsoir– is part of the Adriatic luxury hotel collection and is situated perfectly. You get sea views as well as overlooking the old town. The hotel is housed in a former royal villa and is just a few minutes away from the old towns walls. Perfect for an evening stroll and view of the sunset.
  2. Villa Orsula Dubrovnik This hotel gets nothing but rave reviews. A traditional Serbian stone villa with only 13 rooms, all are individually designed and with local architectural features. Because the hotel is so small it allows for exceptional service and luxurious perks. Not only are you incredibly close to the centre of everything but their pool is perfect for day-dreaming or splashing around.
  3. Villa Dubrovnik d.d– This modern gem is built into the rocks and located right on the water. It boasts private sea view balconies and first-class hospitality. Sit and sip cocktails on the veranda under the shadows of the Cyprus trees or frolic with your children by the sea. This hotel is understated chic and ultra-private.

 

Eat:

  1. Nautika– Could be considered the best food in Dubrovnik. Its location alone is utterly unique, overlooking both the Adriatic and the Fort of Lovrijenac and Bokar. Here you will find traditional Croatian and Mediterranean food with a twist. Known for using the highest quality of ingredients and supplied by local farmers.
  2. AzulAzul’s moto is ‘fun dining, rather than fine dining’ and that’s exactly what you will find at this understated little restaurant. It sits on the edge of the old town, so is the perfect place to visit if you want to go for a stroll after a long day’s resting by the pool. The theme is Mediterranean with an Asian twist. You will find fresh seafood with chili twists, Mediterranean samosas and other unique offerings.
  3. Gradska KavanaArsenal Restaurant– In Dubrovnik’s main square, this restaurant sits in the heart of the historic old town. The menu is traditional Mediterranean featuring fresh fish, meats, salad and lots of olive oil. Clean eating at its best if that’s what you’re looking for. If you can’t make it for dinner its worth stopping by for a drink so you can marvel at what the Old Town would have looked like in its hay day!

 

See:

  1. The Dubrovnik cable car– This is great for a morning activity before returning back to the sea in the afternoon. The ride is fairly quick and gives you views of the entire city as well as of the coastline and the various islands off Dubrovnik.
  2. War photo museum– This is the place to go if you want to learn about the history of Dubrovnik, and specifically the Croatian war of Independence. We suggest this if your children are older as they will be able to understand everything a little better.
  3. Sponza Palace– is located in Luza square in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. The building was built in the 16thcentury and has served the city in many different ways. It now houses the city’s archives, dating back to the 12th If you like architecture check out the inner courtyard!