TRAVEL: The Best Autumn Breaks
If it already seems like your summer holiday was a distant memory, now is the perfect time to start planning your next getaway. Autumn is an ideal time to take yourself off for a mini break or long weekend and make the most of the last few rays of sunshine.
European city breaks across Spain and Germany are only a short plane journey from Birmingham, or if you’d rather a break slightly further afield, the Middle East has some great options. If you’d like to stay close to home, Edinburgh and Belfast are worth considering for a UK break.
Sun, sea and sangria in Spain
The summer heat in Madrid is intense, so a stay in Autumn might be more comfortable. Locals and tourists alike flock to the city’s public parks to enjoy the year-round sunny days. You can’t miss Retiro Park, a massive former royal garden that now has a boating lake and fountains. Foodies will revel in Madrid’s tapas culture. The La Latina neighbourhood is famous for its tapas bars, so plan to sample plates of patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo from as many as you can. It’s perfect for a culture-rich long weekend or a holiday, with lively atmosphere, food, music that goes long into the night.
Mallorca is fondly termed ‘the star of the Mediterranean’. Palma, its capital, with its pavement cafes, boulevards and grand architecture is the jewel in the crown. Palma is a fabulous place for shopping with its many boutiques and shopping streets of Placa Mayor, Placa Mercat and Placa Cort-which without doubt is Palma de Mallorca’s greatest treasure. It is a delightful place for exploring the island’s many gold and white beaches. Also, Palma’s old town is an appealing maze of narrow streets that are a must to explore on foot. You could spend weeks in the city alone- and still discover the fresh joys that the city brings!
Culture, arts and beer in Germany
Although best known for Oktoberfest, the Bavarian capital shouldn’t be ruled out as a city break destination worthy of a visit during the rest of the year too. Known as the ‘city of art and beer’, Munich boasts six major breweries meaning you can be sure to enjoy a good tankard at whatever time of day you fancy. Munich’s various quirks, make the city the place it is- whether it be the oompah band, the Bavarians outrageous dialect, the mad hat traditions of the Oktoberfest or the surfers on the Eisbach wave- when you are there you will surely discover the unpredictable aspect of Munich every day. For a slice of culture, visit Kunstareal, Munich’s art quarter, home to many museums and art galleries.
Understated, but just as charming as the other German cities, Hannover offers a laid-back vibe much-loved by ramblers and cyclists who explore the meadowlands along the River Leine. Popular with culture vultures, the city has an impressive choice of theatres offering opera, musicals, ballets and cabaret shows. The exceptional Baroque Herrenhäuser Gärten, the constructed Lake Maschsee and the Eilenriede, Europe’s largest urban forest, are all close at hand- where the first appearances might knock you off your feet.
Since the fall of the wall, Berlin has fast become a cultural and creative centre of Europe. Autumn is a great time to visit thanks to the city’s many beautiful gardens and parks. With sights including the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz and Checkpoint Charlie, the central Mitte neighbourhood is a must-visit. Berlin is multicultural metropolis where locals follow the motto of ‘live and let live’ and emphasise on creative lifestyle where drinking is a religious rite. The vibrant culture, tangible history and the exotic food keeps the city alive at all times. If you’re visiting closer to Christmas, the Berliner Weihnachtszeit is one of the most famous Christmas markets and well worth a wander around to pick up some local gifts and delicacies.
Scenery, history and whisky in the UK
Edinburgh is a city perched atop Castle Rock and wrapped in rocky hills. The city is brimming with things to do and sights to visit. Head to Holyrood and venture up Arthur’s Seat before enjoying the view from Edinburgh Castle and whetting your whisky whistle on one of the city’s famous distillery tours. If you’re willing to push the boat out, book into the Balmoral for the night, Edinburgh’s luxury railway hotel, and dine in the Michelin-star restaurant. Edinburgh is a city that begs to be explored!
Named the best place to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet, Belfast has undergone an incredible transformation in recent years so is well worth a visit if you haven’t ventured to Northern Ireland’s capital before. Voyage into the past when you visit Titanic Belfast and learn all about one of the world’s most iconic ships. If you want to venture a little out of the city, The Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a geological marvel made up of 40,000 interlocking rock columns created by an ancient volcanic eruption.
Beaches, reefs and spices in the Middle East
One of Egypt’s popular Red Sea destinations, offering miles of white sands, shimmering beaches and colour reefs. A perfect destination for divers, Marsa Alam has some of Egypt’s most unspoilt reefs with Elphinstone Reef being the best of the lot. Frequented with reef sharks, giant turtles and spinner dolphins, there’s a good chance you’ll see some of the marine wildlife.
Old Dubai is charming, especially the preserved narrow streets of Al Bastakiya, now known as the Al Fahidi Historical District. Near here is Dubai Creek, a vibrant area where the city began, full of street art, local cafes and colourful bazaars. The daring culture, extraordinary skylines, fashion, traditions and culture are opportunities that need to be explored if you are there! If you’re visiting for the first time, take in the view from the Burj Khalifa’s 124th floor observation deck, or visit the Jumeirah mosque, the most beautiful of all the mosques.
From the sea to the desert and all that lies in between, there are lots of reasons to visit Doha. The largely wave-free coastline is a huge draw for families. Add into the mix its colourful coral reefs, salt pans bustling with wildlife, and postcard perfect islands, it’s easy to see why the Gulf is so tempting.
All destinations are directly accessible from Birmingham Airport from airlines including Qatar Airways, Emirates, Thomas Cook, Flybe, easyJet, Lufthansa, Ryanair and Jet2.