Our Favourite Autumn City Breaks
As summer sunshine gives way to cooler crisp days, travellers can bask in the quiet and calm as cities come into their own when autumn arrives. Whether you wish to discover somewhere new or revisit an old favourite, an autumn city break could be just what you need to keep you going in the coming months. Here are some of our favourite city break destinations, each with its own unique offering.
Any time of year, Nice welcomes its visitors with blue skies and sea. Autumn is one of the best times to visit the city as it is warm and sunny but not hot, ideal for enjoying all it has to offer.
The famous Promenade des Anglais
A few of our favourite things to do in this oceanside city include:
- Walk or cycle the Promenade des Anglais – Nice is visually framed by the famous Promenade des Anglais (English Promenade). Formerly a favourite resort for people during winter months, it is the most famous tourist attraction of the city. Walk from the old town of Nice to the Negresco hotel, passing through the Jardin Albert 1er and the Palais de la Méditerranée for a wonderful sense of this bustling walkway.
- Discover the Old Town of Nice with its shady alleyways, colourful facades and typical Mediterranean shutters. Visit the well-loved markets of Cours Saleya. On Monday mornings it becomes a big open-air flea market, perfect to people watch from one of the many terraces.
- Nice Castle Hill – The Castle Hill park (le parc de la Colline du Château) is located on the hill overlooking Nice Old Town. It owes its name to the military fortress that overlooked the bay of Nice from the 11th to the 18th century. It offers stunning viewpoints over the city, the Bay of Angels (Baie des Anges), the harbour and the mountains.
- For an art fix, visit the Marc Chagall National Museum which bears witness to both the spirituality of the artist’s work and his inclusion in the artistic trends of the 20th century. Paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics as well as stained glass, tapestry and mosaics, constitute a unique body of work where technical virtuosity, colourful inventions and a universal message of peace are combined.
- Nice Carnival, the largest carnival in France, this world-famous carnival takes place every year in February for 2 weeks, attracting several hundred thousand spectators, coming to enjoy the monumental floats and the famous flower parade (also called flower “battle”) on the Promenade des Anglais.
- Nice Russian Orthodox Cathedral, a listed historical monument, is the most important Orthodox religious building outside Russia. Built by Tsar Nicolas in 1912, this church is a work of art with ornamental and unique interiors, gorgeous wood work and collection of icons.
Where to Stay – Our Top Picks:
Hotel La Perouse
Hotel La Perouse is an intimate 56 room luxury oasis around the corner from the harbour of Nice and next to Old City, with breath-taking views on the Baie des Anges. This boutique hotel combines cozy intimacy with Mediterranean chic in an exclusive and quiet location. You will find charm, peacefulness and emotion in a place where accents of the South of France are expressed with a gentle modern touch. An outdoor swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a sauna, a small fitness room and a panoramic solarium.
Hotel Le Negresco
For over a century the Negresco has been writing the legend of Nice and the French Riviera.The striking pink-and white building itself, complete with a domed tower, is a National Historic Monument and faces the Bay of Angels. The most sumptuous suites have balconies overlooking the sparkling sea. Many hotels claim to have a world-class art collection but in the case of the stunning Le Negresco, it is utterly true—and then some.
Château Saint-Martin & Spa, Oetker Collection
Set amidst picturesque meadows, whitewashed houses and cobbled streets, the Palace is an idyllic sanctuary in the artistic heartland of the Côte d’Azur. Recently restyled and with sweeping panoramic views of the verdant landscapes, this prestigious property offers a total of 40 elegant guest rooms and suites and six villas, along with a stunning infinity pool, tennis courts and an award-winning spa. Savor the Michelin-starred gastronomy at Le Saint-Martin or the flavors of the Mediterranean at L’Oliveraie under a shaded olive grove. It remains a quintessential escape, where the charm of historic Provence blends effortlessly with a contemporary lifestyle, just a deceptive 10 miles from Nice Airport.
The Catalan Capital of Barcelona with a rich history that stretches back to Roman times and beyond, offers visitors a wealth of cultural experiences. In addition to the famous Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, there are so many hidden gems from quirky museums and one-of-kind bars, to authentic local tours, secret gardens in the Gothic Quarter, here is a small flavour of what this magical city has to offer.
- Parc Güell. Visit Gaudi’s park with its iconic viewing terrace, the Hypostyle room and the Dragon Stairway, unmissable features in this extraordinary whimsical park. Other works by Gaudi are dispersed throughout the city, the most well-known are Casa Batlló, with its iridescent dragon-like scales and skull and bone-like balconies, and La Pedrera with its stone façade and chimneys. Lesser-known is Casa Vicens, the first house he ever designed.
- Ascend the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. Take a guided tour with access to one of the church towers, from which you’ll enjoy panoramic views over the whole of the city – whilst also getting up close to some of the incredible architectural details at the top of Gaudi’s basilica.
- Go on a free walking tour. Sign up for a free walking tour when in Barcelona to get your bearings while exploring the narrow labyrinthine of the Gothic Quarter (just one of the medieval districts that make up the Old Town). A walking tour is a great way to soak up some of that history and hear some of the legends and stories of the Catalan capital.
- Take a trip up Montjuïc, the hill to the south of the city, rising from Plaza d’Espanya. Montjuïc is home to the Olympic Park and the huge Olympic stadiuim, as well as numerous museums and garden including the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya formerly a majestic palace.
- Barcelona is an art lover’s paradise – visit the Fundació Joan Miró, the Museu Picasso or take a day trip to Figueres to see the Dali Theatre-Museum, the second most visited museum in Spain after the Prado in Madrid.
Where to Stay – Our Top Picks:
The Hotel Arts has a unique location on the sea-front, within Barcelona’s Olympic Village area.
Hotel Arts, operated by Ritz-Carlton is a striking, contemporary hotel, with a graceful silhouette and offers spectacular views of the city and the Mediterranean. The hotel is known for its superb service, a wealth of indoor and outdoor dining options, luxuriously appointed rooms, suites and 28 duplex Penthouses with every amenity sophisticated travelers expect. In 2004, the hotel opened its new, dual-level spa on the 43rd floor, with amazing views and a wide range of treatments.
El Palace Barcelona
Central to the hustle and bustle of downtown, El Palace Barcelona is located steps away from the exclusive Paseo de Gracia, the mythic Las Ramblas and the historical Gothic District, yet inside the hotel is a quiet haven of blissful elegance. Boasting one of the largest rooftop terraces in the city with a 360º view, the sun dips behind far-off cupolas. Feel the pull of the history from 1919 when you are back in your spacious and neo-classical room, the huge marble bathroom in muted tones surprises as well as the original fireplace, all combined with the state-of-the-art facilities. End a blissful day exploring the city experienced the atmosphere in the unique Bluesman Cocktail Bar: you can travel from the rhythm and blues to the Cuban notes on Fridays, shaken by the Cocktail Master’s magic hands and soul.
The Brandenburg Gate
Next stop is one of the most exciting cities to be found in Europe. Having earned a reputation as a trendy, unique, world city of culture, Berlin offers not only offers a youthful, hip tourist vibe but is the capital and chief urban centre of Germany, along with buildings and sights that represent the history of an entire nation.
Some of our favourite attractions in Berlin:
- The Brandenburg Gate. A former city gate, the Brandenburg Gate was rebuilt in the late 18th century as a neoclassical triumphal arch and is now one of the most well-known landmarks of Germany. When arriving in Berlin the first stop must be here at this iconic monument.
- The Reichstag is an internationally recognized symbol of democracy, which also serves as the home of the German parliament. Originally constructed to house the imperial diet of the German Empire which now houses the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany’s parliament
- East Side Gallery – Berlin Wall. The East Side Gallery memorial is an open-air gallery on the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall. It consists of a series of murals and street art painted directly onto the remnant of the Berlin Wall, commemorating and celebrating freedom after years of pain and sorrow.
- Museum Island. Berlin’s Museum Island consists of five world famous museum buildings from the time of the Prussian rulers combined with more modern elements such as the James Simon Gallery. Museum Island is one of the city’s oldest and most important museums and can be found between the River Spree and the Kupfergraben in a 400 metre-long canal.
- Checkpoint Charlie: A trip to Berlin would not be complete without checking into Charlie. The former border crossing Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most important and most visited sights in Berlin. It was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War and it was here, at the height of the Berlin crisis that American and Soviet tanks came face to face.
Where to stay: Our Top Picks
Regent Berlin, Charlottenstraße 49 Berlin, 10117
Located directly at the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt square in the historical centre of the capital, Regent Berlin is certain to satisfy with its remarkable view of the two 18th – century cathedrals as well as the old concert Hall.
Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Unter den Linden 77, Berlin 10117
The Hotel Adlon Kempinski is located right next to Berlin’s most famous landmark Brandenburg Gate in the heart of the city, Berlin’s premier address, which has fascinated guests since 1907.
SO/ Berlin Das Stue, Drakestrasse 1 Berlin, 10787
One of Berlin’s most reputable hotels would be the luxurious lifestyle hotel SO Berlin Das Stue, located right in the city centre, in Berlin’s diplomatic quarter. Originally built in the 1930’s, inspired by Danish classicism, SO/ Berlin Das Stue’s diplomatic legacy is evident in the heritage building’s stately architecture and modernist façade.
Italy’s Floating City is to be explored by foot or by water.
Venice sits on a network of 26 picturesque canals. There are no cars or buses in the winding, Renaissance-era streets. Stroll through Venice’s mythic cobbled Old City or enjoy a gondola ride, the quintessential Venetian experience.
Here are just some of the city’s top things to do.
- Wonder at the treasures in St. Mark’s Basilica. Known as the “golden church” because of the priceless treasure it contains and immediately recognizable from its unique facade, the Basilica is a centuries-old testament to Venice’s long history. Its Square, surrounded by elegant buildings and leading directly onto the water, is equally iconic – as is the Campanile, one of the tallest in all of Italy.
- For an authentic, local experience, consider exploring the Dorsoduro district filled with great Cicchetti bars all within an easy walk of Piazza San Marco. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is also located in this locality. This satellite gallery of the famous Guggenheim in New York occupies the 17th-century Customs House, featuring modern and contemporary works of art.
- The islands of Murano and Burano, with their artisan glass and lace workshops, are just a ferry ride from Venice. Delve into the practice and history of two of Venice’s great artisan traditions by visiting glassblowers in Murano and traditional lace-making workshops in lesser-known Burano.
- Visit Palazzo Ducale and discover the history, art and culture of Venice. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the building and its sculptural decoration date from various periods. The interior, with works by artists such as Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, A.Vittoria and Tiepolo, includes vast council chambers, superbly decorated residential apartments, and austere prison cells.
- The Venice Art Biennale, the 59th International Art Exhibition runs until 27 November 2022. The Biennale which takes place between the two sites, Giardini and the Arsenale not far from St. Mark’s Square and showcases the works of 213 international artists from 58 countries. Art lovers will not want to miss it.
Where to Stay, Our Top Picks:
Aman Venice is a historical Palazzo located on the Grand Canal at the heart of Venice.
The Palazzo has museum quality art and treasures. It was built in 1550, and is one of only 8 palazzo monumentali on the Grand Canal. It features 2 piano nobile – the grand floors that were used for lavish entertaining by the Papadopoli family who acquired and transformed the Palazzo in 1864. It was restored and opened as Aman Venice in June 2013. The reception rooms feature chandeliers, frescoed ceilings, terrazzo floors and sparkling views of Venice. The Palazzo now has 24 rooms , some with the original historical details. The Palazzo features two gardens, with the main garden facing on to the Grand Canal. The gardens ensure that wherever you are in the Palazzo, there is light all around, a unique in Venetian Palazzo.
The Baglioni Hotel Luna
Housed in a magnificent 12th-century Venetian palazzo, reputed to have played host to the Templar Knights, the Baglioni Hotel Luna is the most ancient hotel in Venice and just a stone’s throw from St. Mark’s Square. The hotel offers spacious, tastefully furnished rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the Lagoon, some with large private terraces like the stunning San Giorgio Terrace Suite. Its refined Canova Restaurant serves excellent Italian cuisine, and the 18th-century frescoed Marco Polo Ballroom welcomes guests for a unique morning breakfast. Baglioni Hotel Luna is part of the Baglioni Hotels, a collection of Italian luxury hotels.
Elevador da Bica – jump on one of these trams up the hills of Lisbon.
Ever popular, ever accessible, with its rich history, abundant culture and beautiful pastel buildings, Lisbon makes for a perfect Autumn short-stay getaway. With so much to see and do from visiting museums to listening to traditional Fado music, you can easily busy yourself from morning to night. Alternatively, simply amble about, meander its streets and absorb the smells and sounds of this energetic and beautiful city. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, a group of friends or looking for a romantic break, Lisbon delivers, in abundance.
Lisbon offers visitors so much to see and do. Our favourite things to do in a weekend:
- Experience Lx Factory – dining, retail and street art. Housed in a factory complex dating back to 1846, Lx Factory is where retail, dining and street art collide. Here you’ll find over 50 shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. A weekend hotspot for brunch, you can buy everything from crafts to fashion and accessories, both new and second-hand. Don’t miss the highly instagramable Ler Devagar bookstore!
- Feira da Ladra – the Flea Market held on every Saturday and Tuesday is one of the city’s most iconic markets, where ou’ll find original, kitsch and vintage treasures.
- The incredible ceiling at The Igreja & Museo de São Roque.
- The medieval monastery of Convento do Carmo.
- Sunset at Cais de Sodre – you’ll often find a free concert taking place there in the evening.
Where to stay: Our Top Pick:
Bairro Alto Hotel, Praça Luís de Camões, 2 1200-243 Lisboa Portugal
One of our favourite places to stay is the 5-star Bairro Alto Hotel. Located in the heart of Lisbon in the historic neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, it is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. It reopened in 2019 after a full renovation and now has 87 rooms and suites offering its guests tranquillity and comfort in a perfect location.
Each room and shared space, from the lobby to the lounge, has been lovingly created with the soul of Lisbon as its inspiration evident through the colour palette, interior design, soft furnishings and materials. It has the lovely balance of modern and bohemian and retains the charm of the heritage building.
Dining at BAHR – Bairro Alto Hotel Restaurant: Located on the 5th floor with a fabulous view over the river Tagus, open to guests and non-guests, visitors can expect a modern and informal atmosphere where the kitchen plays the starring role. The exclusive menu created by Chef Nuno Mendes and Executive Chef Bruno Rocha is full of surprising culinary combinations where you will be treated to the best of Portuguese cuisine. You will want to return here because of its rich interiors, sumptuous dining and wonderful service.
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