Ask the experts: European weekend breaks

Our panel comes up with ideas for cheap and easy European weekend breaks

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 26 Mar 2015, 13:15 GMT, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 16:54 BST

Q: I want a cheap weekend away for two, flying from Birmingham or Bristol. We have just two nights so it has to be somewhere that's easy to get to. Our budget is £400-500. Where do you suggest?

National Geographic Traveller's associate editor, Sarah Barrell: Conveniently accessed by EasyJet's Friday and Sunday evening flights from Bristol, from £64.99 one-way, is a great classic weekend break destination — Barcelona. This arty Spanish city delivers, whether it's your first or fifth visit, with great cheap eats (for lunch, choose the menú del dia at most mid-range restaurants, this offers three courses and a glass of house wine for around a tenner), free entry to city-run museums on Sundays and, of course, the cost-free sights of the buzzing beachfront.

The city's business hotels often slash their rates at weekends and many have upped their game with boutique design quirks and perks, such as the Sky Bar, rooftop plunge pool and free wi-fi at H10 Casanova. Set right on the Grand Via, rooms start at €69 (£53) a night.

National Geographic Traveller's hotel expert, Julia Buckley: With great food, grand sights and a fast pace, Milan is a perfect weekend destination. Flybe goes direct from Birmingham, from £71, though I'd recommend the BMI Regional service from Bristol, from £118, which, with its 1-2 seating configuration, has the feel of a luxury private jet. Milan's stepping into the spotlight this year, with Expo 2015 bringing the largest Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition ever shown in Italy (15 April-19 July at the Palazzo Reale). This is Leonardo's city, of course — his Last Supper mural is at Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Hotels in the city centre are obscenely overpriced, but an easy 20-minute metro ride from the Duomo is the Nu Hotel — a stunning design-led hotel in the pleasant Udine neighbourhood. Rooms start from €103 (£80).

National Geographic Traveller's regular contributor, Suzanne King: Toulouse, in south west France, definitely fits the bill. EasyJet flies from Bristol six days a week (May-September), with returns from just under £50 per person. The flight time is less than two hours and it's only 20-30 minutes to the city centre on the airport shuttle bus, for €5.50 (£4) one way. For a good budget hotel, try Le Père Léon, where double rooms cost €90 (£66) a night and the location is ideal — it's right in the centre, within easy walking distance of the Old Town's attractions, shops and nightlife, and there's a metro station on the doorstep if you fancy going further afield.

Get in touch: If you're in need of travel advice, email our team –

Published in the April 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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