Central Europe ‘s best city breaks

In the boom years of the late 1990s and 2000s, a widening airline network combined with vast disposable incomes led to the rising popularity of the city break with many British travellers. But while Western Europe destinations like Dublin, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam became firm favourites, some Central European locations were slower to pick up on the traffic of people hoping to see the best a city had to offer in just a few days. Now that the UK seems to be emerging from the recession, the number of people taking city breaks may see another peak. If you missed Central Europe’s great cities the first time round, here’s a round-up of the best for 2011.Often referred to as Germany’s most Italian city, Munich is one of Europe’s most underrated holiday locations. Start your Munich odyssey at its central square, Marienplatz, where you’ll find the entrancing Rathaus-Glockenspiel and the awe-striking Munich Frauenkirche. Combine these historic sites with its array of trendy bars and traditional Brauhäuser and you’ll also get to sample the best of Bavaria’s local beers. Serious beer fans should schedule a city break in Munich in October, when the world-famous Oktoberfest beer festival takes place.Further south, Austria’s capital Vienna offers old world charm to anyone seeking a sophisticated and historic destination for a short urban holiday. The grandeur of the Hapsburg palace of Hofburg is typical of Vienna’s atmosphere: after all, this is the city that gave the world Mozart and the Viennese Waltz. Other historic attractions include the Gothic cathedral Stephansdom and the gardens of Schloss Schönbrun, but the sleek modern MuseumsQuartier is a must-see for anyone interested in contemporary art and architecture.North-east of Austria, Prague in the Czech Republic is one Central European destination that did enjoy a rush of popularity before the recession with city-breakers in the know. If you missed out before, be warned that prices have increased somewhat, but this beautiful city is still well worth a visit. Essential areas to explore include the Old Town, where you’ll find Prague’s iconic Astronomical Clock, the Jewish Town and the Castle. What’s more, while many of its central bars may be occupied with hard-drinking holidaymakers, stray away from the tourist traps and you’re sure to find more tranquil Czech drinking holes.If you’ve already explored Prague, however, there are other exciting options for city breaks nearby. Bratislava, the capital of neighbouring Slovakia, also offers a handsome Old Town, a growing performance art sector and beautiful views of the Danube River. Budapest, Hungary’s capital, also offers an exciting atmosphere for tourists. In addition to the intriguing mesh of architectural styles that make Budapest such a beautiful city, a competitive exchange rate between the Hungarian forint and the British pound make its many world-class bars and restaurants eminently affordable. Vital business links between the UK and Central Europe’s major countries mean that travel links between the two areas are extensive. Moreover, its popularity with stag and hen parties mean that Prague flights from London are also frequent. From big travel hubs like Munich and Vienna, train travel between central European countries is easy too, so you may even be able to combine several city breaks into one trip.

 

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