With the traditional two-week family holiday now off limits for most Brits thanks to everyone tightening their belts, a low-cost weekend break is an increasingly popular option. Cheap flights and reasonably priced hotels or hostels mean savvy adventurers can still get their holiday fix without taking time off work or having to book during the more expensive school holiday times.
Whether you’re looking to soak in the cultural jewels of Venice, hit the shops in Barcelona or enjoy cocktails in Manhattan, there are plenty of options out there for a fab weekend away without breaking the bank. Have a look at these top five weekend break destinations:
What to do – shop in style on The Portal de l’Angel
Just off Placa de Catalunya, this is one of the most exclusive shopping areas in central Barcelona and the street is lined with exclusive brands of clothes and accessories. If that’s a tad pricey, then head to Placa de Sant Josep Oriol which boasts an array of designer boutiques and handicraft shops. For international fashion then you need Avinguda Diagonal, which plays host to fashion gods Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and Gucci.
Where to stay: TwentyTu Hostel, Calle Pamplona 114-116
There is a slick new breed of hostel in town and it is characterised by well-equipped ‘tech hostels’ like TwentyTu.
What to do – hunt out little known cultural highlights like Palazzo Fortuny
Palazzo Fortuny is an intriguing and fascinating museum found in the San Marco region of Venice. It was originally the studio of the famous artist Mariano Fortuno and was donated to the city on his death in 1956. It’s a hidden gem and, although off the beaten track, well worth a visit in between wandering along the Grand Canal and checking out the Doges Palace.
Where to stay: CaSa Linger hostel, Castello – San Antonin 3541
The CaSa Linger is centrally located and it boasts free Wi-Fi and cheap and cheerful rooms.
3. New York
What to do – see the iconic city without spending a fortune
The Big Apple is much easier to get to today than it used to be. With companies like Jet2 offering cheap flights to one of the most famous cities in the world, visitors can trace the steps of the Sex and the City gang on its halcyon streets. Seek out the Sex and the City Tour and work out whether you’re more like Carrie or Samantha!
Where to stay: Hostelling International, 891 Amsterdam Avenue
The biggest – and reportedly the best – hostel in New York offers free tours of the city each day.
What to do – find a little ooh la la in the city of romance
It’s the most romantic city in the world so whisk your partner up the Eiffel Tower, take a stroll down the Seine and quaff French wine in an intimate bistro in the warmth of the evening. In the morning don’t forget to enjoy coffee and croissants at a sidewalk café before bargain hunting at the Saint Pierre fabric market.
Where to stay: Vintage Hostel, 73 rue de Dunkerque
Located just by the Gare du Nord, this hostel makes a perfect base for exploring.
What to do – indulge your inner Kafka
If you’re a fan of the existentialist author, then check out his statue outside the Spanish Synagogue. It’s a surrealist monument to the great man, which has only been there since around 2004, reflecting Prague’s mixed attitude towards Kafka. Although he was born and lived in Prague, he wrote in German and the Czechs have never fully accepted him as one of their own. But this is still the place to come – have a look at the veritable industry of cafes and restaurants surrounding his old neighbourhood in the Jewish quarter of Josefov and soak up the genius.
Where to stay: Arpacay hostel, Nerudova 40
Nestled beneath Prague Castle, this hostel offers a hearty breakfast to set visitors up for their day of exploring local pubs.