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Our top 10 autumn city breaks
Summer may be over in the UK for another year, but September heralds the beginning of the beautiful autumn season when we can enjoy bright and crisp walks and cosy nights in front of the fire.
However, whether you have annual leave to use up or have that itch to get away and see somewhere new, another benefit of autumn is that it is an ideal time to take a city break. With the swell of summer tourists abating and temperatures still pleasant in many places, it’s the perfect time to get away and explore.
Here are our top suggestions…
Paris is a classic city break destination, and after a hot and sleepy August, the city comes alive again in September. There will be plenty going on to keep you entertained, such as the Autumn Festival which kicks off on September 13 and sees a variety of dance, music, film and theatre acts flood the city.
The Montmartre Wine Harvest will please foodies when it runs from October 9-13, while culture vultures can enjoy ‘White Night’ on October 5. This sees a number of galleries, museums and other buildings throughout the city open late into the night and showcases special exhibits and events.
In addition, there are, of course, all of the classic sights to enjoy. Take your pick from visits to world-class exhibitions at the Musée D’Orsay and the Louvre, relax on a river cruise down the Seine and take a trip to the famous Eiffel Tower by night when it impresses in all its glittering glory.
Vienna is a magical destination in the run up to the festive season. The Christmas Markets open on November 16 and here you can spend a day enjoying roasted chestnuts, punch and traditional gingerbread while admiring the stalls and picking up gifts for under the tree.
December also plays host to ‘ball season’ when hundreds of glamorous balls take place across the city. You could be part of one of these prestigious events and build it into your weekend plan by visiting the Austrian National Tourist Office website and buying tickets.
In addition, Vienna has a stunning array of architecture to marvel at – for example the Hofburg Palace, the splendid Vienna State Opera House and Gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral. Be sure to finish your day by sampling some Viennese street food at a würstelstand (sausage stand), and – as the world’s largest wine growing capital city – a relaxing glass or two.
3. New York
New York has to be one of the greatest shopping destinations in the world, and when better to book a city break here than in the lead up to Christmas? You could spend hours wandering around Macy’s – one of the largest department stores in the world – before heading to trendy SoHo to pick up some unique gifts.
Other must-dos on your list should include visiting Central Park, trying out your ice-skating skills at the Rockefeller Centre and taking a trip on the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty.
Finally, why not take in a show while you are in the home of Broadway? Throughout autumn, ‘Wicked’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ are just a few of the many on offer.
Florence is a fantastic city to visit in any season, but in October the city often enjoys temperatures of up to 20 degrees, making it an ideal option for a weekend of sight-seeing in the sun.
With its abundance of stunning Renaissance architecture, vibrant piazzas and high-end shops, your only problem in the city will be finding time to fit everything in.
Highlights include viewing the works of great artists at galleries such as the Galleria dell’Accademia, admiring the jaw dropping beauty of the Duomo, and taking time out for a trip to the Boboli Gardens. Finish the day by enjoying al-fresco dining in one of Florence’s many restaurants or bars.
A trip to the Hungarian capital in autumn offers plenty to keep you entertained.
Split down the middle by the River Danube, you could spend your weekend relaxing on a cruise, exploring the Castle Quarter in ancient Buda or admiring Art Nouveau architecture in Pest.
Visit the spectacular Hungarian Parliament Building and take a look around the prestigious Hungarian State Opera House with its stunning Neo-Renaissance architecture. Better still, book to see a world-class performance of opera or ballet in fabulous surroundings.
If all the sightseeing has tired you out, then ease tired feet and soak away your troubles with a trip to one of the city’s thermal baths, such as the lavish Gellert Thermal Baths or the stunning and ancient Kiraly Baths.
A city break to Reykjavik in magical Iceland will enchant you with its abundance of natural wonders, so prepare to be wowed by glaciers, waterfalls, volcanoes and bubbling mud pools.
If you’re lucky, a visit here between September and April may reward you with the sight of the famous Northern Lights, when the ethereal aurora borealis lights up the night sky in greens, blues, yellows and pinks.
Sporty types may want to tackle the dramatic landscape by heading out on a hiking trail, trying out white-water rafting or mountain biking. Or, if that sounds too much like hard work, you could go whale watching in one of the top 10 places in the world or just enjoy relaxing in one of the city’s natural hot springs.
Fans of the big screen will enjoy a trip to the capital city of Sweden this autumn, when it plays host to the Stockholm Film Festival from November 6-17. Showcasing more than 100 films, you will be able to watch everything from big Hollywood blockbusters through to entries from unknown producers.
However, if films aren’t you thing, there is far more on offer for visitors to do. Built on 14 islands, you could explore the ancient area of Gamla Stan with its winding streets, old buildings and Royal Palace, or take a trip to one of the city’s museums such as the Skansen and Moderna Museet. Or how about donning your satin and sequins and taking a trip to the recently opened ABBA The Museum which pays tribute to the city’s most famous export?
The world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest, will once again get into full swing on September 21 and runs right through to October 6. So, pull on your lederhosen, get into the party spirit and be prepared to swill litres of beer in one of the 14 tents. For newcomers, the Hippodrome tent is one of the more famous, while the Schottenhamel seats up to 10,000.
But if a beer festival isn’t your bag, there is plenty more to keep you entertained in Munich. You could get back to nature with a visit to the English Garden – Munich’s largest park – and rent a boat, explore wooded paths or just relax away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
You could also take a day trip out of Munich and delve into Germany’s history with a trip to the Dachau Concentration Camp – one of the first concentration camps of Nazi Germany. A guided tour will allow you to learn about the history and background of the camp.
9. Las Vegas
If you’re looking for a long weekend where you can splash the cash and party all night in one of the world’s biggest playgrounds, then Las Vegas would be hard to beat.
Try out your luck at famous casinos such as the Bellagio and MGM Grand, take in spectacles such as the erupting volcano at the Mirage Hotel, or for an unforgettable trip, take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.
Vegas is all about opulence and extravagance, and another must-do while there is watching a show. There are residencies all year round, featuring singers, opera, magicians, hypnotists, dancers and variety acts, with current shows including Cirque du Soleil, Smokey Robinson and Elton John.
With temperatures still hitting 28 in September and 22 in October, Granada is the perfect option for a balmy city break.
You’ll have plenty to see on your trip, and a good place to start is the Alhambra. Arguably the city’s most spectacular sight, the Moorish palace complex is A UNESCO World Heritage Site which showcases intricately decorated palaces, picture-perfect gardens and wonderful panoramic views of the city below.
Other options to visit include the city’s old Arabic quarter with its maze of winding streets and the opulent and beautiful Granada Cathedral. Or, for those looking to immerse themselves in the culture of the city, how about catching a dance performance at the Casa del Arte Flamenco? And after all the sightseeing, there is no better way to finish your day off then with some scrumptious tapas in one of the city’s many bars.