The top 10 best European city breaks that should be on your list

By Bonusprint on 25 April 2019

From Budapest to London, we’ve got top ten European city break destinations that’ll make your long weekend one to remember. Plus, check out our tips on where to find the cities’ most photogenic locations.

A woman on a city break, with her back facing the camera, looking at a map in a quiet street on a sunny day.

Who doesn’t love a city break on a long weekend? With so many amazing European getaway destinations on our doorstep, there are loads of places to explore that are just a short flight or even a train ride away.

Here are our top ten picks for some of the most exciting cities in Europe. You can find where to catch the sunset in Madrid. We’ll take you through the secret passages of Paris. And we’ve even got you covered for the most photogenic spots in town that will look great on your Instagram feed and on the pages of your next bonusprint photo book.

1. Rome

A photograph of rooftops in Rome at sunset.

For a weekend trip away, Rome has tonnes to offer. As well as its Mediterranean climate, quirky shops, and beautiful neighbourhoods, there’s a real buzz about the city. It’s a must-visit destination for art and history buffs, with piazzas, churches, paintings, and some of the most iconic historical sites in the world. But it’s also a food lover’s paradise. Rome’s aperitivo scene is definitely one to sample – we’re talking meats, cheeses, and cocktails before dinner.

Where to photograph in Rome

Go to the top of the Janiculum Hill (Gianicolo in Italian) to capture the most amazing shot of the Roman cityscape. It’s best during dawn or dusk for an even more impressive snap. To help you do that view justice in the early morning or evening light, check out these tips on managing white balance on your camera.

2. Madrid

A photo of Madrid’s skyline on a bright, sunny day.

Why not make Madrid your next Spanish city break destination? It’s packed with things to do, and it’s the perfect place to visit if you want to mix a bit of culture with some Spanish cuisine. To see Picasso’s Guernica up close head to the Museo Reina Sofía. And for some classic local dishes, try the wood-fired flavours at Restaurante Botín – the world’s oldest restaurant, according to Guinness World Records.

Where to photograph in Madrid

The Temple of Debod was gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government, and it was brought over and then rebuilt stone-by-stone onsite. It’s walking distance from the centre, has unmissable views of the city, and is ideal for snapping your photos at sunset.

3. Paris

A photo of the Eiffel Tower taken across the river at dusk

Paris, the city of love, is arguably one of the world’s most romantic weekend getaway destinations. You and your other half can take a selfie at the top of the iconic Eiffel Tower, saunter around some of the city’s quieter streets, and soak up Parisian life outside the bars and cafés – très chic. The world-famous Louvre Museum is not to be missed, and there are loads of local shops and markets that are well worth a browse around too. Good luck fitting everything into one weekend.

Where to photograph in Paris

Once you’ve captured all those landmarks, try somewhere a little different. There are loads of highly-decorated covered passages in Paris that were built in the 19th century. Because they’re not your typical tourist hotspots, you can capture some really interesting photos without all the hustle and bustle.

4. Bucharest

A photo taken outside of a café in Bucharest at dusk.

In recent years, the Romanian capital has been growing in popularity as a weekend trip destination. It’s vibrant, boasts loads of affordable coffee shops and restaurants, and there are plenty of places to explore. You can chill in the local parks, browse around the bustling Old Town, and capture the unique mixture of architecture with your camera.

Where to photograph in Bucharest

Head to the Pasajul Macca-Vilacrosse – a glass-covered, arcade street in the Old Town. But if you want to mix good food with your photography, try the Caru’ cu Bere. You’ll find this historical restaurant in the Old Town as well, and its amazing interiors will make a great backdrop for any snaps over dinner.

5. London

A slow shutter speed-shot of the Gherkin in London, taken at night, with two London buses driving past.

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and a weekend spent there is one of constant discovery. There are legendary landmarks dotted around the city, which are a must for your first visit. But there are plenty of places to try off the tourist trail as well, with exciting new bars, restaurants, and coffee shops opening almost every day. The city’s crammed with free museums too, so if you need something educational to keep the kids occupied, they’re worth a visit for a family weekend away.

Where to photograph in London

St Paul’s Cathedral helps to shape London’s famous skyline. But to see it and snap it from a different angle, ride the Tube to St Paul’s Station and take the exit for One New Change shopping centre. Get the lift to the sixth-floor roof terrace, where the views of St Paul’s are some of the best you can get.

6. Lisbon

A photo of a tram in Lisbon on a sunny day.

If you’re looking for city break ideas with a bit of sunshine, head to Lisbon. You can explore the city’s quiet cobbled streets, while enjoying the warm Mediterranean weather. There are sandy beaches on the edge of Lisbon if you fancy a break from all the sightseeing. And during the summer months, you can immerse yourself in the Portuguese festas, which are big celebrations in the city. While you’re there, start working your way through Lisbon’s long list of affordable restaurants, and make sure you fill up on pasteis de nata – delicious little custard tarts that you’ll want to live off all weekend.

Where to photograph in Lisbon

The MAAT museum is worth a visit, and it’s the perfect location for photos too. You can capture all the lines of the building’s modern architecture, take some fantastic shots of the riverfront and the 25th of April Bridge, and get some beautiful sunset shots from the rooftop at dusk.

7. Hamburg

A boat on the river in between two buildings, where two forks of the water meet.

For a city break packed with live music and entertainment, give Hamburg a try. Germany’s second largest city is home to loads of unique venues, perfect for a weekend getaway with a difference. Hamburg is also the location of the country’s biggest port, so you’ll spot nods to its maritime history throughout the city. And if you’re in the mood for a bit of relaxation after exploring Hamburg’s nightlife, take a boat trip on the Inner or Outer Alster Lakes to unwind.

Where to photograph in Hamburg

Planten un Blomen is the perfect place to chill and get some great snaps for your photo book. It’s a park with a botanical garden, and it’s an ideal little escape for the busy centre. On a warm night, go and check out the musical fountains that light up and dance around in sync. And why not practice some of your shutter speed techniques, to see what kind of shots you can get of the water?

8. Gothenburg

A photo of the waterfront in Gothenburg at night.

Sweden’s second city has been ranked as one of the most sociable places in the world, and it’s considered to be the country’s culinary capital. It’s perfect for a city break with friends who love to explore the nightlife and discover local restaurants. And for activities during the day, you’ll find an eclectic mix of shops and cafés in the historic Haga district.

Where to photograph in Gothenburg

For a great shot of Gothenburg and its Harbour, head to Lilla Bommen, also known as the Lipstick. And if you want to add an inner-city shot of the centre to your photo book, go to Skansen Kronan – an old fortress perched on the Risåsberget hill.

9. Budapest

A photo of the Hungarian parliament building in Budapest by the river.

If architectural shots are your thing on a city break, then Budapest will be right up your street for a weekend away. Get capturing the Art Nouveau-style architecture and take a cruise down the River Danube for beautiful shots of the Buda and Pest sides of the water. You’ll also get some photo-book-worthy snaps from the city’s historic bridges too. When you fancy giving yourself and your camera a rest, make sure you visit Budapest’s traditional thermal baths, so don’t forget your swimming stuff.

Where to photograph in Budapest

For the best city shot of the weekend, go to the Margit híd bridge. And for the ideal cover photo for your city break book, try standing directly opposite the Hungarian parliament building, the Országház, at sunset on the other side of the river Duna.

10. Amsterdam

A photo of buildings in Amsterdam on the edge of a canal

As picture-perfect cities go, Amsterdam ticks loads of boxes for a photogenic weekend away. The first thing that strikes you when you arrive is the number of bikes – there are meant to be around three for every resident. They’re the best way to get around town, or you can see the city by canal, with a boat tour that’ll take you past rows and rows of traditional Dutch buildings. Amsterdam’s the ideal size for a weekend away too because there’s plenty to discover, but it’s small enough to explore all the major tourist spots, like the Van Gogh Museum, in a couple of days.

Where to photograph in Amsterdam

Hop across the river to Amsterdam Noord to the Eye Film Museum. There’s a fantastic terrace that overlooks the busy harbour, so you can get an alternative view over the city.

Where will your next city break take you? If you’ve got inspired by our top European destinations, make sure you capture your best moments on camera, so you can get creative with a photo book that’ll make those long weekends last a lifetime.

And to create your best photo book yet, check out our guide to photography basics for some top practical tips.

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