Many tourists spend a week or two (or even longer) traveling around Europe on their own or as part of an organized tour.
There is certainly nothing wrong with experiencing the continent in this way. Tours allow you to hit all the major attractions in a certain region without having to plan your own itinerary.
But what if you only have a weekend? Many countries on the continent have great infrastructure including high-speed trains and cheap connecting flights that make it easy to cruise into an attractive tourist destination for a weekend getaway.
Want to enjoy the best of Europe, but only have a couple days of free time? Here are some great weekend getaway destinations.
1. Seville, Spain
Seville is well connected by rail. It only takes two hours to reach this charming Spanish city form the capital, Madrid, by high-speed train. Trains leave hourly during the day, meaning that you can basically just show up and climb aboard (though booking in advance is probably the best policy).
Seville’s atmospheric and historic Old Town is merely a short walk from the main train station, so you can start your sightseeing before you even check in at your hotel. The prevalence of tapas bars and nightspots in Seville means that you’ll be able to enjoy more than amazing sightseeing strolls during your weekend.
2. Heidelberg, Germany
This medieval city is a charming tourist destination for travelers in Germany. It sits only an hour from Frankfurt if you choose to take the high-speed rail link. Unlike many historic towns in the country, Heidelberg survived the bombardments of World War II intact.
This is a town of hill-top castles, buzzing cafes, and great ambiance. There is even a funicular rail line that saves visitors time and energy by taking them directly to some of the town’s best castles. You can round out your weekend with a stroll through the pedestrian-only zones of Heidelberg, which feature shops, cafes and open air weekend markets.
3. Thun, Switzerland
Thun is another medieval town in Central Europe. It sits near the Swiss city of Bern and is easy reached by train. Thun is a town with fairy-tale-like castles, pedestrian-friendly streets and a variety of cafes, restaurants and authentic inns. Summertime brings open air markets and the chance to stroll along the scenic Aare River.
4. Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey’s capital city is the perfect choice for those who want a more-exotic weekend getaway. Most major European airlines have regular flights to Istanbul. This city’s classic architecture and unique East-meets-West vibe give tourists plenty of options for a weekend city getaway.
Museums, cafes, miles of shopping streets and, of course, the chance to cruise the famous Bosporus River mean that any weekend warriors will be able to fill up their itinerary with completely unique experiences without any effort at all.
5. Cannes, France
This glitzy town of France’s Cote d’Azur can be easily reached from Paris or Nice by rail or bus. Cannes offer the quintessential Riviera experience, with cafes, palm-fringed beaches and a variety of restaurants, art galleries, and small museums. Virtually any town along this section of the French Riviera is easily reached by rail in only a few hours from Paris.