10 Best Relaxing City Break Ideas in Europe

A view towards boats and colourful buildings in Copenhagen's Nyhavn waterfront district

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Looking for the best relaxing city breaks in Europe?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re planning a city break or visiting a busy destination. Europe has so many amazing cities but I totally get that some can feel chaotic and difficult to navigate. 

Having travelled extensively through Europe and visited a load of its cities – I’m here to help you out! From Valletta to Venice, here are some of the best ideas for a romantic and relaxing city break in Europe in 2024.

1 Dubrovnik, Croatia

A view across the sea towards the Old Town in Dubrownik

The first relaxing city break on the list is Dubrovnik. Jutting into the sparkling waters of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik doesn’t feel like a city at all.

This is a city break that’s all about leisurely exploring – visiting historical sites, wandering cobbled streets and taking in the views. It’s a picture-perfect destination and a great choice for a chilled-out break!

It’s also an amazing city where you can relax at the beach. Banje Beach is a pretty spot with views across the Old Town.

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It might not be the quietest destination. But Dubrovnik is still a lovely choice for a sunny European getaway – and way less stressful than some of the big capitals.

2 Montpellier, France

A grand golden arch with a French flag in Montpellier

Often overshadowed by Nice and Cannes, Montpellier is a laid-back gem that’s perfect for a relaxing city break. Oozing with old town charm, this is a walkable city and one that has a pedestrianised historic centre.

During the day, you’ll be able to shop at independent boutiques, visit art galleries, and people-watch in the sun at one of city’s many cafes!

If you want the beach, you can do that from Montpellier too. There’s a tram from the city that takes you to the southern coast.

3 Copenhagen, Denmark

As the country of hygge, it’s probably no surprise that Denmark’s capital is a great choice for a relaxing city break.

With a culture focused on mindfulness, simplicity and appreciating the good things, Copenhagen is a low-key and laid-back city.

A great thing about Copenhagen is that you can get around by foot or by bike so it’s easy to explore. You can also join a relaxing canal tour to experience the best of the city from the water.

Copenhagen is also an amazing city for foodies so you could spend your city break cafe and bakery hopping!

4 Valletta, Malta

A quaint, cobbled and narrow street in Valletta, framed by golden buildings

When you think of Malta, you probably picture package holidays with gloriously golden beaches. And while that’s definitely true, the capital Valletta is a fab choice for a city break, too!

For such a small city, there’s lots to see and do – but unlike other places, you won’t feel rushed to take it all in.

This is a city that’s filled to the brim with 16th-century elegance… it’s cute, cosy and postcard-worthy.

Key attractions include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Grandmaster’s Palace and the Upper Barrakka Gardens where you can sit back and take in the views.

5 Venice, Italy 

An artist’s paradise and an architectural gem, Venice is a beautiful spot for a relaxing city break.

As a destination that’s unique, romantic and thoroughly enchanting, there’s a lot to love if you visit.

It’s also entirely car-free, so your days can be spent cruising the canals by gondola, exploring the maze of pretty alleyways and leisurely checking off landmarks.

READ MORE: Is Venice Still Worth Visiting? (11+ Pros & Cons)

And if you’re worried about crowds? Venice makes a great winter city break if you want to travel off-season when the streets are a little calmer.

TIP: For somewhere to stay, consider a hotel in Mestre. This suburb is just 10 minutes by train and saves the stress of lugging suitcases across Venice.

6 Krakow, Poland

Whether you visit in winter when the city’s in snow, or you enjoy the rays of summer, Krakow is always a winner.

This picturesque city has so much charm with its UNESCO Old Town, cobbled streets and grand squares.

While you’re there, you’ll be able to visit the Jewish Quarter, head to the majestic Wawel Castle and spend the evening relaxing in a jazz bar.

TIP: For somewhere to eat, Cafe Camelot is a gem close to the main square. We went there multiple times it was so good!

7 Seville, Spain

Majestic buildings at Plaza de España in Seville on a clear sunny day

In southern Spain, you’ll find Seville – a sultry city with fairytale architecture and sun-washed plazas.

If you travel to Seville in summer, you’ll be able to visit the main attractions like Real Alcázar and Plaza de España in the morning, before a leisurely siesta to avoid the afternoon heat.

If you love nightlife, Seville will tick all the right boxes, too. Boasting balmy evenings, your nights can be spent discovering flamenco, dining alfresco and drinking sangria at one of bars that spill across the city.

8 Bruges, Belgium

Pocket-sized Bruges feels like a fairytale but has more than enough to keep you entertained.

As a small and compact city, it’s a lovely place to leisurely explore – the main attractions are the Market Square, canals and tranquil Lake of Love. 

In addition to the city’s UNESCO-listed Old Town, there’s also great shopping and food in Bruges – from Michelin restaurants to trendy brunch and dinner spots. You’ll also be able to try Belgium’s famous craft beer, chocolates and waffles!

Christmas is extra special in Bruges, too. It’s an enchanting time for a city break with its picturesque market stalls and magical festive atmosphere.

9 Ljubljana, Slovenia

A bridge crossing a river in Ljubljana

Ljubljana has to be one of Europe’s prettiest capitals – this small and sweet city is a maze of pastel buildings set alongside the River Ljubljanica.

In this city, it’s all about the atmosphere, so you can enjoy soaking up the vibes, chatting with locals and hopping between cafes and bars.

Known for its music scene, you’ll find plenty of festivals and events throughout the year, too. Plus, the city boasts parks and green spaces that are perfect for a picnic or leisurely stroll.

If you want a trip out of the city, Lake Bled is also close by.

10 Porto, Portugal

The metal arch Dom Luís Bridge across the river in Porto

Often overlooked in favour of Lisbon, Porto is an amazing city break that needs to be on your radar.

Packed with history and culture, Porto’s old town is one of the oldest in Europe – and it’s a really pretty one at that.

Despite its hilly terrain, this is a city that’s compact enough to be walkable, so you can spend your trip scouring historic landmarks, hunting street art and visiting cellars to sample Port.

If you have time, a day trip to the Douro Valley is perfect for a nature fix.

Inspired for your next city break? Europe offers so many unique ideas for a relaxing city break. If you’re yet to visit these cities, make sure you add them to your list!

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