Best historical city breaks

Monday, 3 October 2011 4:25 PM

For history buffs, a city break can be a great learning experience as well as a holiday. Europe is home to approximately 370 cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites, more than any other continent in the world. In addition to these sites, Europe also contains some of the world’s best museums where you can learn about the history of almost anything. Here’s our list of Europe’s top historical cities.

Rome of course had to be in our list, a city that embodies history itself. The very name – Rome conjures up images of gladiator fights, Roman battle scenes, grand architecture, temples and elegant baths. Today, lingering ghosts of Rome’s historical past lay scattered all over the city. There are so many important historical sites in this city that the whole city centre has been in fact declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Some of the most important and interesting historical sites in Rome include the Forums, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Pantheon, Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the religious and public buildings of the Vatican City, which lie inside Rome. And don't forget the Colosseum, now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

Athens too is a city that could not be left out, a great city in its time, the capital of the Greek Empire and the ancient world. It is also one of the oldest cities in the world, having been around for around 3,400 years - what more could history lovers want? Athens has many remnants from its glory days; one of the most important is the sprawling site of the Acropolis which includes the Parthenon, the Erechtheon and the Propylaea, all very important historical buildings. There are also a few UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby which can be seen on day trips. These include the monasteries of Daphni, Hosios and Loukas; the archaeological site of Delphi; the archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns, and the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus.

You don’t have to travel far if you’re after history as our own capital has heaps of it, and every time you come here, there’s more to discover. London is home to no less than four UNESCO World Heritage sites and countless numbers of world-class museums on every single subject imaginable. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites include, Westminster Abbey, Palace and St Margaret’s Church, Kew Gardens, Greenwich and the Tower of London. You can learn about the history of the city at the Museum of London and world history at British Museum or the Victoria and Albert.

Russia’s proud historic capital definitely has enough to quench your thirst for history with its grand old buildings, historic soviet monuments, the iconic Red Square, the infamous Kremlin and impressive yet beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral. Numerous museums tell the tale of this city which has had an interesting, glorified and turbulent past. Learn about the horrors in the camps at the Gulag History Museum, relive the glory of the Russian space age at the Cosmonautic Museum or get the whole story at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre.

So why not take the opportunity on your next city break to learn something new about our world’s fascinating history? We can guarantee that you’ll remember more than reading a book and find it much more stimulating than a history class or course.

Barcelona - Best autumn city breaks

Best autumn city breaks

Autumn is a great time to travel and the perfect time of year to grab some holiday bargains. Many are back at school and work, hotels and attractions are cheaper and quieter, and in many places within a few hours flight away, are still sunny and warm.

Europe's best weekend city breaks

Europe's best weekend city breaks

While it's always a real thrill to fly long-haul to an exotic destination and spend two weeks soaking up the sun, sometimes commitments at home can get in the way.

Discover eastern Europe's amazing cities

Top city breaks in eastern Europe

If you're planning a short holiday in Europe, why not break the mould and travel to an eastern rather than western destination? There's plenty of scope for discovering what this part of the continent has to offer even if you only have a few days to spare.

Ten best value city breaks

Ten best value city breaks

New research by travel money provider M&S Money has revealed the top ten most affordable city breaks. While some of the destinations on the list are to be expected, others have taken us by surprise.

Half term city breaks

Best city breaks for February half term 2013

Now that Christmas and New Year are well and truly over, our minds are set on the next chance for a getaway – the February half term. With just under three weeks to go, it’s time to start planning, so just where are the best city break destinations to take the family in February?

View from the Shard

Top 5 city views around Europe

With London’s The View from The Shard opening to the public tomorrow, February 1, we’re taking a look at some of the best views of some of Europe’s best loved cities, and they’re not always from where you’d expect.

Best unknown Spanish city breaks

Best unknown Spanish city breaks

Spain doesn’t always have to be about summer breaks to the coast, the beaches and the nightlife, or the famous city breaks to Barcelona and Madrid. In fact Spain is one of the best countries in Europe for short cultural city breaks and there are many small undiscovered Spanish cities to explore. From the historical, to the cultural, to those full of architectural beauty and charm, these cities have it all.

Naples' coastline is popular for sailing

Sailing breaks: perfect for a short getaway with the kids

Let’s face it, we all seem to have very busy lives nowadays and there never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and still have time for some rest and relaxation. It can even be tough to squeeze in holidays, which is why short breaks are increasingly appealing to people from all walks of life.

Coffee with a local in Amsterdam


This week is in Amsterdam drinking strong black coffee with local Machteld Ligtvoet, who gives us tips on some of his favourite local haunts – including where you can go to find one of the best views of the city.

Top five alternative Christmas markets

Alternative Christmas markets

Forget the likes of Germany and Eastern European favourites, Budapest, Krakow and Prague this year and why not head to some alternative Christmas market destinations for something a little different this festive season?