Living for the Weekend: City Breaks in Europe

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Ever thought you could be making more of your weekend? Like a weekend trip? It’s easy to fall into the trap of work/study, eat, sleep and repeat! There’s a whole world out there, and if long-term travel isn’t an option right now then making the most of your weekends could be the way to go.
We’re all exhausted by the time Friday lands, and then the weekend passes in a blink of an eye! But what if instead of rolling into bed or into a bar, you hopped onto a bargain flight to a city you’ve never been to before? If you’re living in Europe, then it’s easier than you may think.
Not yet convinced?! Then listen to Bill (Bryson), he knows where it’s at!: ‘I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything… Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.’
As you can imagine the team here at Hostelworld are a bunch of wanderlust-filled free spirits, so here are a few tips on making those weekend trips happen!
weekend trip stockholm
Images: Stockholm, Viktoria

Time-saving Tips for your Weekend Trip:

When you only have 24-48 hours to explore…

  1. Use apps: I know, you probably think Foursquare is so 2010. But if you want to have all the top picks, the best coffee shops, the best parks, cheap eats… within 10 seconds, it’s THE app. I’ve used it for more than six years now and the tips were always right and accurate. Viktoria
  2. Research: I normally try to do some basic research at home (I read travel blogs and even the travel sections of some newspapers) I also try to ask someone that has already been there, and of course I improvise a lot along the way. Marta
  3. Ask locals: When I don’t have much time to research beforehand, or I am too lazy to do it at all, I wait until I get to the hostel and ask the receptionist to help me out. Often they’ll point out places on the map. Or sometimes I’ll ask people that I meet in the hostel that have been there a while, and I often go on free walking tours. Jeff
  4. Just wander: Sometimes it’s nice to just explore and go where the wind takes you. There’s often no way to see a whole amazing city in that amount of time so don’t try to do it all at once. Colin

Money Saving Tips for your Weekend Trip:

Unless you’re minted, saving is key, but how else do you scale back on costs…?

  1. Flight Alerts: My recommendation would be to get flight alerts (Skyscanner) so you can get the cheapest flights available, and therefore have more money to spend on your trip. Corinne
  2. Food: Try to buy food in the supermarket to cook in the hostel if there is a kitchen. Sometimes on day trips I bring snacks or fruits. I save a lot of money on drinks, buying them in the markets and not much in the clubs. Jeff.
    Look out for hostels with free breakfasts. Viktoria
  3. Transport: I always walk when I can (I love walking and I also think it is the best way to get to know a city, but of course it depends on the weather, time etc) In terms of transport I always check if there is a travel card available to save money. Marta
  4. Freebies: So many landmarks, museums, galleries, theatres etc offer cheaper or even free tickets on certain days. The Picasso museum in El Born, Barcelona is just one example – you can go for free on Sunday’s after 3pm. Yes you may have to queue but every freebie counts! Johanna

Where to go on a Weekend Trip:

Obviously it’s up to you, but our recommended European city breaks are:

Porto & Morocco: Every country is special and so different that it’s hard to pick. Being Portuguese, I definitely recommend people go there – Especially to Porto, it’s beautiful. Morocco is also good for a short trip, so different and unique, I loved it there! Raquel
weekend trip porto
Image: Porto, Jeff.
Porto & Berlin: Porto has two parts, the charm of an old city with different architecture and also the modern side with two beaches (of fine sand and small stones, and surrounded by several cliffs). There is amazing food and wine, very cheap compared to the rest of the Europe. Also the city has a river with nice view, and caves where you can taste great Porto wine. Berlin is another very good city to visit for a weekend. Great place to explore and walk around. With lots of big and powerful buildings with a lot of history. It’s very alternative, with plenty of parks and nice nightlife. Jeff
Paris: When I travel for the weekend, I’m doing so to escape. I want adventure and I want new experiences I couldn’t have back home. I lived in the United States, and one of the things I missed most about living in Europe was the ease of hopping from one country and culture to the next. It’s incredible that here in Europe we can with such little difficulty, experience the beautiful differences and nuances that make each great city and country in the continent unique. I’m absolutely head over heels in love with this idea. I love visiting Paris, because it’s so unique. There is nowhere in the world like Paris. The food, the sights, the sounds the smells. It’s such a rich vibrant city that helps me feel transported to a new realm away from the busy pressures of normal life in London. Likewise, Berlin is unlike Paris, and has its very own culture, sites, art, history and architecture, that all make it another stand out gem in Europe. Colin
Rome, Barcelona & Dublin: I would pick Rome because it’s really easy to get around and all the historical sights are pretty close to each other. Dublin is cheap and also small you don’t need longer than a weekend to see it all. Barcelona because you can eat, drink, party, hit the beach & see the sights in the same location. Corinne
Stockholm, Copenhagen, Lisbon & Vienna: I think Stockholm is of the coolest cities I’ve ever been. Everything is stylish, the streets are clean and green. Copenhagen is great because all you need to get around is a bike. If you want to soak up some sun, go to Lisbon and enjoy amazing sunsets from the hills. If you are looking for a city off the beaten track, go to Vienna. There are less tourists than in Amsterdam or London. It’s cheaper than the other cities and you can explore almost everything by foot. It’s the next big thing for citybreakers, so visit Vienna whilst it is a well-kept secret (and if you want to get local tips, you can ask us!) It’s just one-hour train journey from Bratislava and 2.5 hours from Budapest. Viktoria
weekend trip vienna
Images: Vienna, Viktoria
Amsterdam & Athens: Amsterdam as a city is quite small so you can spend one day cycling around to get a good understanding of it and then you can use the other day to visit some galleries and museums. Athens is easy to explore by walking, it´s perfect to sit outdoors (even in January!) and you can get a ferry to one of the nearby islands. Marta

Why hostels for your Weekend Trip:

It’s obvious what we’re going to say, but hear us out…

  1. They’re Social: The word hotel is missing the S that the word Hostel have. And that S stands for social! Very philosophical right? I love the young vibe and the fact that I get to meet other travelers and share experiences! Raquel
    Hostels are much more social. You’ll never ever feel lonely in a hostel. There’s always someone to talk to. You can ask the staff hundreds of questions about the city, they can show you their favourite places and you’ll find people with the same interests: exploring the world and having fun. Viktoria
    The hostel environment, chance to meet people, youthful mood, etc. When I am in a hostel, it makes me feel part of others people’s trips as well. Jeff
  2. They’re cheaper: For me it’s money. I love the solo travel lifestyle, and while the social aspect of hostels appeals to some, it’s not a massive priority for me. I want to save money to be able to explore and travel as much and often as possible without breaking the bank. Hostels allow that to happen without sacrificing on quality. Nowadays they’re so nice and comfortable that it seems completely ridiculous to pay twice as much for a hotel room of the same or sometimes worse quality. Colin
  3. They’re unique: It’s true hostels are amazing, they are unique and each one has a different personality, a different look, and different story to tell. Raquel

weekend trip berlinImage: Berlin, Jeff.

Stand-Out Memories:

These are our teams’ memories, now it’s time to make your own…

‘Should I talk about space cakes in Amsterdam? Or the amazing sunset and sunrise in the Moroccan desert? Or maybe the sea in Poland during the winter? It was completely frozen, hard to forget – and it was beautiful!’ Raquel
‘There are plenty, but one of my best trips was when I went by myself with my backpack to the Baltic States. Starting from Finland, then taking a ferry to Estonia, a bus to Latvia and another bus to Lithuania. It was amazing, meeting lots of people in the hostels from everywhere, sharing rooms, parties, going around the city by myself, pub crawls etc. It was really fun and an amazing experience.’ Jeff
weekend trip
‘When I was in Copenhagen I set aside a little time to find a particular statue in a particular church that I have wanted to see for a long time. But I let some time around it to just let myself get happily lost while looking for it. I ended up stumbling upon one of the most beautiful and peaceful parks I have ever seen. Sometimes the best experiences happen accidentally.’ Colin
‘During our Copenhagen trip, we stayed at the Generator. At the end of our last night we chilled in their amazing hammocks. Within 3 minutes we were talking to two guys from the US. One of them was wearing a zebra suit. A zebra suit! We had so much fun, and we took a selfie at the end. Even if we don’t see them again, we’ll have that crazy memory forever.’ Viktoria

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