Maribor is Slovenia’s second city, an industrial centre that is undergoing a cultural and creative renaissance. Time your visit for the massive Lent Festival, 24 June - 9 July, featuring everything from chess tournaments to metal gigs, or the classical music festival, with concerts in castles and courtyards around town.
If you need a break from all that culture, relax in Mestni Park, watch the world go by from a café on Main Square, or bag a bargain at Evropark, one of the largest shopping centres in central Europe. Joining in the fun are five Capital of Culture ‘partner towns’, like Novo Mesto, which hosts a jazz festival, and Velenje, with its rather bizarre annual Pippi Longstocking festival. Find flights to Slovenia
Guimares in northern Portugal is also a Capital of Culture in 2012. Portugal’s oldest city, its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while today almost 50% of its inhabitants are under 30, giving it one of the youngest populations in Europe.
There are events going on all year, from video games workshops to an open-air production of Macbeth in the city’s atmospheric Garden of the Centro Cultural Vila Flor. Foodies really should try the city’s speciality – ‘meat cake’ – a kind of pizza with such toppings as sardines and pig, best eaten al fresco on a sultry summer’s night. Wash it down with a good glass of port – what else? Find flights to Portugal
Turku is situated on Finland’s Baltic Sea coast in the south-west of the country. A Capital of Culture in 2011, it’s a buzzing place with happening nightlife thanks to its large student population. Before you hit the bars, pay homage to arguably Scandinavia's finest composer, Sibelius, at a museum dedicated to him, admire some Finnish art at The Art Museum, or embrace Finnish culture of a slightly lower brow variety with a trip to Moominworld. What, you didn’t love these cute-as creatures when you were a child? It’s rated as one of the world’s top 10 theme parks, so it’s got to be worth a visit. Find flights to Finland
The Estonian capital Tallinn looks like something out of a fairy tale. A Capital of Culture in 2011, it is well worth a visit any year. The city is a heady blend of the medieval and modern, with narrow cobbled streets, dreamy spires and an Old Town designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amid the carved stone walls sit cosy cafes, hip bars, tempting patisseries and alluring restaurants while Tallinn’s historic gems shine like rays of lights through the city’s Soviet era. If you have time, the surrounding countryside is particularly pretty, and you can even hit a choice of beaches just outside the city such as Pirita and Harku. Find flights to Tallinn
Marseille, capital of Provence, is a thriving, exciting city ideal for a weekend break. As it smartens itself up in the run-up to being a European Capital of Culture for 2013 it may well shed its reputation for being a bit rough around the edges. Big projects are due for completion in time for 2013, like the ‘Museum of the Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean’ and the renovation of the Musée de l'Histoire. But there’s still time to experience the unpolished feel of some of the cooler districts. So go local, prop up the bar with a pastis at 10am and get yourself down to La Boîte à Sardine for super seafood fresh off the boats. Find flights to Marseille
Sharing the Capital of Culture honour with Marseille next year is Košice, Slovakia’s second-largest city after capital Bratislava. Situated on the edge of the brooding Slovak Ore mountains near the border with Hungary, the city is full of history, evident in interesting architecture like the wondrous Gothic St. Elisabeth Cathedral. If you are after faster-paced thrills than gazing at buildings, go to a game of ice hockey at the Steel Aréna, home of local favourites HC Košice and a venue for the 2011 Ice Hockey World Cup. After all that excitement, you’ll need a beer, or at least coffee and cake and with many atmospheric cafes and bars in Košice, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Find flights to Slovakia
Always updated with travel chat, deals, ideas, polls and fun. Join the crowds! Be our friend on Facebook!
© Skyscanner Ltd 2002–2012