Berlin! Paris! Rome! Podgorica? – While a fair sum of the continent’s capital cities are well known to us, there’s a whole bunch that would cause many a British student to fail a Geography exam if we were to spring it on them suddenly. The countryside has its pastoral charm and most cities have their own distinctive and worthwhile characteristics, capitals, however, are known to be a country’s heart and hub for culture, nightlife, art, fashion, food and architecture
Luckily for us, flights to a huge number of capital cities on the Mainland are dead cheap, all of them offer a diverse range of pricing on accommodation, and all of them are close enough that a weekend getaway isn’t going to be spent sitting on a plane for half of it. Whether you’re after a luxury weekend in Paris or heading to Sofia to eat, drink and be merry on a budget a trip to a capital city is, well, capital!
Paris, je t’aime – The city of love
If you’ve been to Paris before you likely want to return and if you haven’t it’s probably on your list of ‘must-see’ cities. And with good reason. Arguably the most romantic of European cities you only have to walk the streets to soak up the history and be swept away in its beauty. And of course, the landmarks of Paris are some of the most recognisable in the world; The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre – all of which are just a few steps in any direction away from any number of establishments offering the finest in food, coffee and/or wine.
Podgorica, Montenegro – From the mountains to the beach to the clubs in one day.
The capital of Montenegro sit at the meeting point of two rivers and has geographical advantages galore. The residents of Podgorica are the first to admit that it’s not the architecture that you come here for but the elements that make up this city that are so important. The history of the capital is fascinating, and any history buffs amongst you will spend hours in the museums learning about the effects of multiple regimes throughout time have had on Podgorica. For the adventurous, you can start the day with a hike into the mountains, spend the afternoon at the beach – the Adriatic is only 30 miles away – and spend the evening drinking and dining in Stara Varoš, the old Ottoman town. Food and drink is cheap here and with local beer sometimes costing less than a pound, fully indulging in the excellent nightlife is easy. Insider tip – bars can’t play music after 1 am according to the law, but never fear, while the bars close basement parties pop up all around the city that often go until the sun comes up.
Amsterdam – The city of sin/canals/bikes – everything?
Amsterdam has a reputation. For a long time, Britons have travelled here to cross to the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. Amsterdam was famous primarily for its liberal attitudes reflected in its cafes and red-light district that were a marvel to the UK’s stiff-upper-lipped generations of yore. Now, while these elements are still a very important part of the everlasting appeal of the capital of the Netherlands, people have clocked on to the fact the city is so much more. With a thriving arts scene, both street and gallery, an explosion of taste brought about by an unbridled interest in fine foods, and a reclamation and remembrance of the natural beauty of the inner city Amsterdam has something for everyone. Get on yer bike!
If you want to find the perfect hotel for you in the right part of the city, try KAYAK Heat Maps. Simply click on ‘Show map view’ in the the top right-hand corner of the results page where it says ‘Go to map view’. From here you can filter by what’s most important to you: Shopping? Food? Nightlife? Stay in the ‘hood that’s best for you.
Sofia – Wombling around to Balkan beats in Bulgaria
Growing up in the UK many of us might first have heard the name Bulgaria due to the eponymous uncle of kids TV classic, The Wombles. Now, older and wiser, we know his namesake was, in fact, this Eastern European country with a capital that is quickly becoming known as one the continent’s hottest spots. Nestled at the base of the marvellous Vitosha Mountain (where a single-day ski trip from out of the city is as easy as pie), Sofia itself is a visual feast as its clash of architectural styles compete for space. Home to some of the most beautiful medieval churches and resplendent with museums, Sofia still manages to be fiercely modern. With WiFi hotspots available everywhere, fantastic clubs and excellent local and international gastronomy – both food and drink is very reasonable priced here – Sofia is a city with its eyes on the future, and its heart in the past.
Stockholm – The home of cool since 1252
Stockholm in Sweden is actually comprised of a bunch of islands. 14 to be exact. Its 50 bridges that crisscross the archipelago lead you to the old town of Gamla Stan whose medieval structures and haughty and beautiful. Maybe this is one of the reasons Stockholm has come to be recognised as a centre for fashion, both catwalk and street. Reflected in its innovative approach to food, design, and an abundance of unique neighbourhoods resplendent with cafes, bars and green spaces Stockholm is the place to head to get down with the cutting-edge.
Tallinn – Cultural contrasts and Estonian elegance
Tallinn in Estonia, was in danger of building itself a seedy reputation after the collapse of the Soviet Union as groups of young men were lured by cheap debauchery. The city reclaimed itself, however, and although a seedy underbelly can still be found by those that seek it, Tallinn now draws focus to the abundance of things that make this city amazing. The genetic makeup of Tallinn is heady in its vibrancy. Marrying the straight-out-of-a-fairytale charm of the walled Old Town with glass and steel skyscrapers, baroque building and flashes of Soviet architecture, its embrace of food, fashion and finery is as fresh as the first time you see its skyline.
Madrid – Spanish masters and masterful nightlife
Madrid, Spain, is famous for many things: its elegance, a cosmopolitan outlook, its historic buildings and its cultural and artistic heritage. Indeed, the galleries of Madrid, with their rich pedigree of exhibited artists: Goya, Velãzquez and Picasso to name but are few, draw art lovers back time and time again. It’s this passion, which reflects itself through all facets of city life, which makes this city really special, and this is most famously experienced in Madrid’s nightlife. The night starts and ends with a celebration of life which can be felt on every street corner. Put on your dancing shoes, hit the pavement and see where the night takes you.
Ljubljana – Street parties in Europe’s Green Capital
Slovenia’s capital city is also one of the greenest in Europe making a trip here in spring, summer or autumn equally appealing. With restricted traffic access in the inner city, and cafe terraces sprawling along river banks and along sidewalks the city always feels alive and neighbourly. The architecture is largely unspoilt, and even the modern building mostly feature fascinating design elements. As well as top museums, both modern and classical, and fantastic restaurants with fantastic prices Ljubljana’s strong student population ensure that the city is as exciting after dark as it is beautiful in the day.
Warsaw – Poland’s Renaissance city
Warsaw is a veritable hodge-podge of miscellaneous architectural styles spread across the city. A sign of the city’s will to survive history, especially after the end of the second world war, this motley collection of restorations, communist tower blocks and modern skyscrapers is a proud regeneration that makes Warsaw an incredibly important city that lives for the now. Divided into neighbourhoods, whether you want slick nightclubs or alternative answers, fine dining or fine street foods, a crash course in history in a museum or a feeling of a city alive in its gritty streets, Warsaw is the city for you.
Berlin – The city that gives as good as it gets
Berlin is not just Germany’s capital, in the last few years, it may have become the party capital of Europe. But while people waste their time googling how to get into Berghain they are missing out big time. The city is spoilt with a saturation of clubs and bars all of which are the cream of the European club scene. And the door policy is not that hard to figure out: be respectful and remember that you’re a guest here. The thing is, though, the famous clubs of Berlin are just the tip of the iceberg. Just start exploring, and you’ll find everything here.
Rome/Vatican City – A 2 for 1 chance in the Eternal City
Who can resist a two-for-one deal? Rome: the Coliseum, the wine, the Pantheon, the food, the Trevi Fountain, the coffee, the Spanish Steps, the shopping, the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the nightlife, the everywhere-you-turn-there-is-something-new-to-see-and-it’s-all-amazing! Then, within Rome itself is the independent city-state of Vatican City: the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Raphael Rooms and, of course, St. Peter’s Square. After hitting the two capitals that Negroni is going to well deserved.
These cities are only a portion of all the great capitals you can visit at great prices. Check out KAYAK Explore, filter by price and choose when you want to travel and we’ll show all the places (capitals included!) you can go.
Note: These rates are based on search queries made on KAYAK.co.uk on July 17th, 2017. The prices are quoted in GBP. Flight prices are based on results for a return economy flight search. Hotel prices are for double occupancy and include taxes and fees. Prices are subject to change, may vary, or no longer be available.