Lying between Berlin and the Baltic in the far north-west of Poland, Szczecin has only very recently appeared on the city breaker’s radar thanks to new flights from the UK. Check out this elegant, exciting city on the River Odra before the crowds get there – it could be the new Krakow or Tallinn. What’s more, you could combine seeing the city with a couple of days on a Baltic beach – despite the name, it’s hot in summer!
Where? Even the most ardent of French fanciers would be hard-pushed to place Rodez on the map, but with such cheap flights, the capital of nowhere in particular (it's roughly north-east of Toulouse) is well worth a cheeky break. Rodez’s godlike gastronomy will keep foodies enthralled to such a degree that a whole weekend could be spent eating, but be sure to take a tour of this ancient city, even if it’s just to work up an appetite.
If Rome is too touristy and Venice too cheesy, whisk away the object of your desire to a real Italian city where you’ll get more gelato for your euro. Trieste is at the crossroads of Europe, Italian by political geography, yet virtually in Slovenia on the map, and Viennese in nature. If we were prone to cliché, then ‘melting pot’ would be on the tip of our coffee-and-cake-covered tongue, and we’d have ruined our appetite for that candlelit dinner…
You could say it was a lightbulb moment. Timisoara was the first place in Europe, and second in the world after New York, to have electric street lights. Despite this claim to fame, this stately city in the far west of Romania doesn’t draw many visitors, which means you’ll have sights such as atmospheric Huniade Castle to yourself. Take a boat trip on the Bega canal, watch the world go by over an ice cream in Victory Square and take in a performance at the marvellous Romanian Opera House.
To its north, Bergen, to its south, Stavanger: with these two Norse behemoths as near neighbours, it’s not really a surprise that tourists overlook the fine city by the sea, Haugesund. Gorge on fresh seafood and hang out in bars that are cooler than an autumn night, but a trip here should not be confined to the city limits, for just beyond are mountains high, fjords deep, waterfalls, beaches and the island of Utsira, where you can seriously get away from it all.
Vilnius takes all the tourists, but Kaunas is the city for experiencing the real beating heart of Lithuania, free of stag-partying Scousers dressed as Superman. Must-sees include the Mega Aquarium - a shark tank in a shopping centre - and the Lithuanian Aviation Museum, where old Soviet MIGs and choppers rust in peace.
But surely there’s some mistake? Yes, yes, we realise that London is the epicentre of the world right now, what with the Olympics and all that, but a new website encourages people to by-pass Buckingham Palace and see the secret sights of the south-east. If you’re going through Gatwick, pause in sunny Sussex, with its rolling South Downs, or stop for a sojourn in scenic Surrey to see England’s green and pleasant land at its most, er, pleasant.
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