Exams are nearly over, summer is almost here, but you’re still stuck finding a summer destination that doesn’t break the bank. Look no further and check out these top three city breaks.
Portugal’s second city, Porto is a favourite of interrailers and year abroad students due to its lively nightlife, abundance of culture and close proximity to the Atlantic surf beaches of Matosinhos.
Where to stay:
The Passenger Hostel located in the historic Sao Bento railway station is a unique way to immerse yourself in the UNESCO World Heritage protected district of the city. Remember to book in advance due to its popularity and remain vigilant when arriving late at night. Dorms are from £19 a night.
What to do: Soak up the sun while port tasting in Sandeman’s winery, then take to the skies with a visit up the Clérigos Tower for panoramic city views. Alternatively, if you are looking for something active, cycle along the river Douro or take the metro to nearby beaches for water sports, but don’t forget to check if your travel insurance covers such activities.
Where to eat and drink: For traditional sandwiches, cheap wine and good hospitality take a visit to Lareira Baixa or find Instagram-worthy Zennith, a trendy restaurant for all day brunch. Go for a drink at the Caso do Livro that has a too cool for school library décor or if seeking a bar with a view try Miradouro Ignez at sunset.
Where to party: The party scene of Porto is young and emergent, catering to a wide range of tastes. After bar hopping in the Galerias district, head to Plano B, one of Porto’s most frequented clubs, for a good atmosphere and an eclectic range of music.
The city is southern Poland’s jewel. Cheap, rich in history and urban legend has it that Kraków is home to the highest density of bars in one square mile.
Where to stay: Ginger Hostel. It’s one of Krakow’s most established hostels and is located centrally, making it is great base to meet other travellers and explore the old town. Dorms are from £12.
What to do: Wawel Castle is not be missed – see it best with a free walking tour of the Old Town. Spend an afternoon trawling the old markets located in the Medieval Square or head over to the Jewish quarter and embrace its café culture.
Where to eat and drink: Mr Pancake is great for a hangover breakfast, Moa burger for a quick bite and Restauracja Miod Malina for traditional Polish cuisine. Wodka is a finer establishment specialising in – you guessed it – vodka; it’s a small bar offering generous tasters of 5 different flavoured vodka shots for under 6 euros. Try Black Gallery bar and sit in their hidden garden for a relaxed drink. Be cautious of being drunk in public as you can be fined.
Where to party: Hala Główna is a cool student haunt with weekend DJ sets – cheap and lively. But if in need of a serious boogie go to Frantic Club with four bars and two dance floors host to a variety of pop, house, R&B, EDM, and hip-hop spun by both Polish and international DJs.
A summer classic! City with a beach alongside, trendy bars, art galleries and seafood restaurants. Take a trip to the capital of the Catalonian world to get lost in the gothic quarter and party in the El Raval district.
Where to stay: There are many different places to stay and it depends what type of city break you want, but Pars Tailors Hostel has hip interior and offers a well-rounded introduction to the city with arranged tours, bar crawls and a pretty terrace to sit out on. Dorms are from £21.
What to do: Take a cable cart to Montjuïc Castle to escape the bustle of the city. Visit Barcelona’s modern art museum MACBA in El Raval, even if it is just to witness the skateboarders outside and soak up the hipster atmosphere. Spend a day on Barceloneta beach.
Where to eat and drink: Barcelona will spoil you, but for local tastes head to Tapas Blai 9 or Elisabet’s Restaurant. A good vegan alternative is Café Camelia. Drink at Ocana cocktail bar for a classy night or if looking for cheap cerveza head to hole-in-the-wall Bar Patis.
Where to party: A serious party scene exists in Barcelona so get prepared to stay up until the sun rises to keep up with the locals. Moog famed for its techno DJ sets or for student favourites try Sidecar or Les Enfants. Have fun but remember to be wary of your location and keep any eye on your drink at all times.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your suitcase, find your passport, check the Foreign and Commonwealth travel advice and get on that plane!
Text by Eve Willis
Picture research by Donna Darafshian and Juliéy Pham. Featured image from u.osu.edu/.