Getting out of the city for a short break is a great way to reinvigorate oneself. Not only will you discover another part of the world, you will also be thrust into the very life and soul of a new location. However, finding these hidden gems in not always easy, and a quick trip to Paris or Amsterdam soon looses its appeal. So try to break the boundaries and find somewhere more remote for your next city break. Here are our 5 picks:
Essaouira, Morocco’s Windy-City, is famed for its ancient fortified walls. As a destination that is widely considered a vestige for traditional Moroccan beauty and culture, it makes for a sublime break. Unlike Marrakesh, where tourism has overpowered the ambience of its charm,Essaouira is still a snapshot into the past. The coastal breeze makes the hot climate more bearable, and it is one of the preferred destinations for water sports. The narrow alleys, stunning riads and ancient medina make the old-town a Unesco-listed site of unparalleled splendour. It has called writers, artists and musicians from across the globe to visit for inspiration and remains a must-visit destination of all intrepid gentlemen. For places to stay, try the Riad Dar L’Oussia or the Palais de Remparts, and for the best in traditional culinary delights, head to the Elizir on the Rue de Agadir. Remember to polish up on your French gentlemen.
Little compares to the outrageous beauty of Provence, a much visited destination by the British. Although Marseilles, St Tropez and Cannes see the most footfall, the smaller town of Aix-en-Provence is truly stunning and steeped in ancient history. Founded way back in 123 BC, Aix has many historic beauties down its cobbled streets; make sure to visit the Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur. The imperial Cours Mirabeau, with its first empire architecture and plane trees transports you to the romantic history of provincial France. Le Deux Garçons, Aix’s most famous brassiere, which was once frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Émile Zola and Paul Cézanne, is not only unequivocally charming, but also produces some of the finest food in the city. When looking for somewhere to stay, try Le Pigonnet or La Maison d’Aix for a traditional luxury experience.
What Segovia offers is a piece of unadulterated Spanish history. Unlike Barcelona and Madrid, Segovia has a slower pace of life, where you’ll be able to truly enjoy your time wandering around its historic landmarks. The enormous gothic cathedral, Turismo de Segovia, and the magical castle, Alcázar de Segovia, are must-see sites, and the old-town, a Unesco world heritage site, offers up a joyous atmosphere. A wonderfully romantic city, make sure you take your better-half, gentlemen, and stay somewhere equally romantic. The Caserio de Lobones offers traditional Spanish hospitality and passion and the Parador de Segovia welcomes you with modern chic, so there’s something for all tastes. A mere 30 minutes from Madrid, reaching Segovia couldn’t be easier.
Iceland is well famed for its many scenic wonders and is an adventurers dream. From cycling tours to discover the volcanic island on two wheels, to coastal voyages for whale watching, there are an endless number of outdoor activities. Heading into the city itself, the vast array of culturally rich wonders will keep you perpetually wanting more. For all night time forays, try Kol Restaurant or Public House Gastropub and meet likeminded locals, and for the best place to stay Alda Hotel or Centerhotel Arnarhvoll, which both combine Scandinavian luxury with a downtown location, are great picks. For a destination that is truly off the beaten track, head to Reykjavík and start exploring.
Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is a much-overlooked destination. Most head to Zurich or Geneva for their Swiss fix, but Bern is where the true heart of Switzerland lies. The historical old town is another Unesco world heritage site, and a marvel to walk around. The late gothic dominance of Bern Minster, the gargantuan cathedral situated a close walk from the banks of the river Aare, is a must see, whilst the numerous parks and open spaces offer wonderful sights of both the city and the Alps alike. For a chic night out, Eclipse Bar is a great spot, and for a gentlemanly aural experience, head to Marians Jazzroom for live late-night jazz. Remember you’re in Switzerland, and the Swiss know how to do luxury. For old-world charm, try Hotel Schweizerhof and for something a little more edgy, Hotel Allegro is perfect for you.