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3 Great Alternative Autumn City Breaks in Europe

Strasbourg, France

Cosmopolitan and cultured, Strasbourg packs a lot in and provides the perfect alternative French city break.  Crammed with some of the best musuems in France (the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame and the Musée Historique to name just two) your days are best spent combining visiting a musuem and hanging out in one of the student filled bars in the pretty old town.

Strasbourg is cycle friendly so if you get lucky and have fine weather, take advantage of the vast cycle network and pedal around the city on the local cycle hire scheme.  One of the most-sees in the city is the famous Petite France, a quaint and historic area which contains riverside parks and narrow lanes, providing the perfect setting to soak up the atmosphere of the city.  Our favourite activity was rowing boats within the beautifully kept lake in the Parc de l’Orangerie – just be careful to stay away from the swans!   Strasbourg has some great places to eat – we recommend S’kaechele (the little kitchen), a cute, bustling restaurant that serves some great local food at reasonable prices.

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Strasbourg

Photo by Geoterranaute.

Hamburg, Germany

A city synomonous with the early days of the Beatles legend, Hamburg has got a lot more to offer than 1960’s music nostalgia. A port city in spirit and style, it offers the visitor a hedonistic night scene with the famous Reeperbahn mixing an edgy red light district and bouisterous bars and clubs.  With a real mixture of immigrants living in the city, a wide variety of international food including German, Asian and Portuguese offer a wide range of delicious restaurants.  Also, if you are lucky enough to visit on a warm Autumn day, the artificial river beaches are great fun to sit back and enjoy a beer with the locals.

Wherever you are in the city it seems you are surrounded by water (The city’s 2302 bridges are more than Venice, Amsterdam and London combined) and some of the best restaurants and bars are located next to picturuesqe waterside spots. However, our best meal was at the aptly named Meatery, located close to the Botanical Garden and serving some great steak and wine – make sure you book before as its very busy.  If you are looking to try some fresh fish, we also loved Fischereihafen, located closer to the water and serving popular dishes to a local   and international crowd.  If you want to visit the bar where the Beatles played their famous night long sets head to the Indra Club, and kick back and enjoy the unique slice of British Rock history in a fascinating, undervalued city.

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Hamburg

Photo courtesy of Luxtonnerre

Budapest, Hungary

Probably the most ‘unalternative’ of our featured ciites, Budapest still doesn’t quite have the number of tourists it deserves.  All the better for the visitors who do make it to this breathtaking and character filled historical city.  If Budapest is not near the top of your list of next cities to visit, shift it there now.  Situated on the Danube River and with the backdrop of the Buda Hills, Budapest offers a strikingly beautiful architecture and a real sense of the unknown.  It boasts fantastic food, stunning baroque and neoclassical history, mixed with a varied and high quality restaurant scene and nightlife.

We spent our days wandering the streets and taking in the sights and distinct character of the city.  Budapest offers low prices and you can therefore wine and dine with a sense of freedom.  We enjoyed a few (too many) cocktails in the famous Gresham Palace, an oppulant Art Nouveau masterpiece how renovated into a Four Season hotel.  We loved the island oasis of Margit-sziget, the perfect destination to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city – the island contains two public baths fed by thermal springs and an outdoor theatre.  Our favourite restaurant was easily the Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő –  it was the ultimate local Budapest experience and it did not dissappoint with huge portions of the classic beef goulash.  You also have to check out the upmarket Gerbeaud Cukrászda, which serves delicious cakes and pastries to Budapests young and affluent inhabitants.

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Budapest

Photo courtesy of R. Melero

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