Spring is the time to explore the European cities and spend some weekends combining culture, shopping and good food. I have collected here two of my favourite city break destinations to visit in April.
Spring colours in Vienna
The Austrian capital Vienna is an exciting choice for a weekend destination for those, who love culture and history. With its numerous museums and palaces you can always find something interesting to see.
My favourite tourist attraction is the Imperial Palace, and especially its royal apartments, a museum dedicated to Empress Elisabeth. The other beautiful castles to visit are Schoenbrunn, the former summer residence of the imperial family and Belvedere, the summer residence of Prince Eugene. In both palaces you can easily spend a good half day.
For those who love architecture, the Hundertwasser is the area to experience eclectic style buildings combining the elements of mosques, Spanish villages and Venetian style palaces designed by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Vienna is also famous for its street cafes providing delicate breaks for city explorers. The most famous cake is definitively the original Sachertorte from Hotel Sacher, which is a traditional place for a Sunday afternoon tea. For evenings, Vienna offers a wide range of entertainment of every kind from opera to concerts and theatre to cinemas – tickets are recommended to book well in advance.
Romantic weekend in Venice
Venice is so different from any other European cities that you can call it unique. I find it fascinating walking around its narrow streets, exploring the labyrinth structure of the city and the graceful facades of the historic buildings.
The best way to get most out of the city is to organise a private tour with a local guide, who knows the history of the city and takes you to the areas where you wouldn’t necessarily find on your own. The Grand Canal, Piazza San Marco, The Bridge of Sighs, Rialto and much more… there are plenty of famous places in Venice that you must see while you are there. I would also recommend a day trip to the famous Murano island, the centre of glassmaking since 1291.
There are also some charming shops in Venice to buy some souvenirs. I love the small stores selling all kind of leather bags with fancy colours and fashionable designs. I also like the tiny shops with all kind of gloves in every colour you can imagine with affordable prices. Whatever is the season, you will always find a reason to buy one more pair or two. And if you would like to send some post cards from your journey, I would recommend visiting some local paperteries where you can find the most beautiful handmade cards – my favourite one is Il Papiro (www.ilpapirofirenze.it), Florentine paperterie which has few stores in Venice.
And before you go home, stop in Harry’s bar for an original Venetian Bellini – this is the place where the drink was discovered.
And where am I going in April this year? I will be in Thailand, visiting Helsinki and hopefully Damascus…