I feel so lucky to even be writing a post title like that. Best European Weekend Trips? Really? Yes. The truth of the matter is that I have done quite a bit of traveling, and more importantly- a lot of traveling on the weekend. People think you need a ton of time to see a city and really get a feel for it. Of course, more time is better, but you would be amazed at how much you can see in just 48 hours (or less!). So, without further ado, here are my recommendations for the Best European Weekend Trips. Of course, they go in no particular order.
I spent just 48 hours in Toulouse and Bordeaux, splitting the time in half. I LOVED both cities, and felt that one day in each city was enough to experience it, but would have loved to have had 48 hours in each. They are both small, charming cities with lots of beautiful buildings, old streets, cute cafes and restaurants, and little shops. The perfect getaway!
Lyon was lovely and 3 days was plenty. Two days would have been enough to get a feel for it, but even after 3 days, I have the itch to go back. It´s charming and quaint, and you´ll love the charm (and the cheese!)
If you are going to see both cities, I would recommend taking a 3 day weekend. Two days in San Sebastian is enough to stroll along the beach, go to the top of the mountain via cable car, and try your fair share of pinxos. When you´ve had enough, head to Bilbao by bus (less than an hour ride) and see the Gugenheim, walk along the river, and have a delicious lunch in the old town.
There is a LOT to see in Barcelona, but you don´t have to pay to enter every site and just walking along the street, visiting the outside of the Gaudi houses, and walking through the Gothic Quarter will give you a great experience.
Of course I have been in Madrid for 2.5 years, but I think you can be here 2 or 3 days and see all of the highlights. In 2 days, you can see the Palace, Plaza de España, Sol, Plaza Mayor, Mercado San Miguel, Gran Via, and more. You´ll see everything Madrid has to offer and maybe, just maybe, you´ll end up stayed forever 😉
Sevilla and Cordoba are beautiful cities that really say “Spain!” to me. They’re quiant and beautiful, but each city can be thoroughly enjoyed in just 48 hours. Do yourself a favor and package them both into one 3-day weekend. More bang for your buck!
Granada is wonderful, for it’s tapas AND for the Alhambra (which you MUST visit). Granada can be thoroughly enjoyed in 2-3 days, since you can spend one day at the Alhambra and one day exploring the rest of the city. And get yourself some tapas!
What a wonderful little town! Oporto is absolutely beautiful, and usually quite inexpensive. It offers a great selection of Port wineries to visit, biking along the river, and fresh fish dinners. You won´t need more than 2 days.
I spent 1.5 days in Lisbon and 1 day in Sintra and it was the perfect amount of time to sit at the beach with a good book and a coffee, eat cod cakes, and ride the famous cable cars. It´s incredibly easy to get to Lisbon from Sintra by taking the public train, and if you like hiking, you´ll be so happy you went!
Budapest is a beautiful city, and if you can go in the summer, it´s so much fun! Full of young people, lots of bars and restaurants, and of course, those famous baths. Two or three days will be enough to explore the famous sites, have an afternoon in the baths, and decide which you prefer: Buda or Pest?
Geneva (and all of Switzerland) is beautiful! Two to three days is enough time to walk throughout the city, take in the views of the impressive mountains, and get yourself some cheese and chocolate. If you’re feeling adventurous, go to Chamonix for the day!
Places You Should See With More Time
Poland (See Krakow, Warsaw, and Auschwitz in about 5 days)
Paris (I think 4 days minimum. It`s so big that with just 2 days, you will spend a lot of time in transit)
Amsterdam (I had such a good time in Amsterdam that I think 4 days in perfect. From the river rides, to the biking, eating, and seeing the Anne Frank house, there is a ton to do. Also, it´s large and spread out)
London (London is beautiful, but absolutely huge and very spread out. Give yourself at least 4 days!)