London’s renowned for its diversity and plethora of must-see attractions. As we’ve stated before here at Londonforfree.net, Windsor, Stonehenge, Bournemouth, and Brighton are just a few of the easily accessible tourist hotspots within close range of the capital.
However, London is also known for being the ultimate travel hub with convenient transport links to other top European locations. There are countless options for weekend city breaks within a two-hour flight from the English capital.
For anyone looking to escape the Big Smoke for a few days, there are some captivating locations that all offer something slightly different.
Make Sure You Know How to Reach the Top Destinations
Before you dive into choosing a weekend break destination, it would make sense to check the logistics of different trips. For example, you’ll want to check the cost, flight time, and hotels in your destination of choice. There are a few nifty tools that allow you to search for things with your desired parameters in place. To decide on what flights would work for you and your budget, Opodo.co.uk allows you to explore the best deals for different cities around the world using the handy search tools on the site.
All you have to do is type in the name of the place you’d like to visit, and it will provide a list of flight options. You can even use it to browse hotels, keying in your requirements such as places with pools and fitness centers.
It’s also a wise idea to plan how you’ll get around in the city when you’re there. Many of the top tourist destinations in Europe have good transport options, including metros, buses, and trams. Some cities even have bicycle-sharing systems like the one found in London. Of course, it can also be beneficial to hire a car in some circumstances.
Paris – A Paradise for Culture and Art Lovers
Paris is a hugely popular location for travelers from London, as it only takes around one hour and 15 minutes to get there by plane. The average price for one person for a round trip is between £118 and £200, depending on your preferred dates and times. The French capital is the most visited city in the world and attracted a whopping 44 million tourists in 2022. There are various reasons why people travel to the famous City of Love, with it being particularly popular among those in search of a cultural experience.
There are several must-visit attractions dotted around Paris that make it an essential place for anyone to travel to at least once in their lives. The Eiffel Tower, for example, welcomes seven million people every year. Not only is the unique structure an excellent photo opportunity from the ground, but it also provides stunning panoramic views of the city when you travel to the top. The setting of the tower is also a fantastic spot for chilling with a picnic. Alternatively, many visitors enjoy relaxing with a coffee in one of the quaint cafes.
The Louvre Museum is one of the best places in the world for art lovers. It’s home to the Mona Lisa, one of the best-known pieces of art ever painted. The building itself is an absolute masterpiece, with truly exceptional architecture. There’s the iconic pyramid, accompanied by the sprawling palace behind it. The hotspot is highly accessible by metro as well, with Louvre-Rivoli and Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre nearby.
There are countless other cultural landmarks to see in Paris, but all of these can be seen easily over a weekend trip. They include the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, and Versailles Palace.
Amsterdam – Ideal for Party Lovers
If you’re someone in search of a more vibrant party scene, Amsterdam is the place to go. The Dutch city is famous for offering a wide range of nightlife options to suit different tastes. However, it should also be noted that the city is a prime spot for cultural travelers too, with a range of daily activities that shouldn’t be missed.
It only takes one hour to get to Amsterdam, with flights often coming in at around £100. For people who just want to fly there and start getting on it, there are various locations in the city that are known to boast a buzzing atmosphere. Leidseplein, for instance, is a bustling square with a great mix of pubs, clubs, and live music venues.
Londoners will feel like they’ve stepped into another world here, as it’s unlike any of the places we’ve already written about at londonforfree.net in the England capital. Paradiso is one of the top joints, famous for being a former church transformed into a music venue. Melkweg and Jimmy Woo are other cool spots to check out. A few other well-known nightlife hubs in Amsterdam include Rembrandtplein and Jordaan. The latter is more of a chilled-out spot for people in search of a laid-back experience.
Don’t worry if you’re not a party animal, there are loads of things to do in Amsterdam in the daytime as well. The city features many iconic canals and a lot of historic architecture. The best way to take it all in is to rent a bike and ride around the charming streets. There are also boat tours available along the canals. Some of the unmissable hotspots for tourists in the city include the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House.
Hamburg – Great for History Enthusiasts
Hamburg is the furthest distance away on this list, but it can still be reached in under two hours by plane. The flight takes around one hour and 30 minutes, and you can usually pick up tickets for around £150. The vibrant city is clean and picturesque, and it’s an amazing spot for history enthusiasts and food lovers.
It’s the second-largest city in Germany and its massive harbor is referred to as the Gateway to the World. That’s because it’s the largest seaport in the country and has always served as a crucial trade link between Germany and the rest of Europe. For anyone in search of a dose of rich maritime history, Hamburg is unmissable.
Indeed, there’s a strong connection to the sea throughout the bustling city. The International Maritime Museum is well worth a stop while you’re there, as it’s packed full of interesting ship models and artifacts. Tourists can also take a harbor cruise to see it all from the oceanside perspective. Thetraveltester.com has recommended that people take boat tours while there, with many different options to choose from. No matter which option you go for, you’ll experience breathtaking surroundings like nothing you’d see on the Thames.
Hamburg is also a major hotspot for foodies, and it offers a wide array of culinary delights. The cuisine is incredibly diverse, with traditional German offerings along with a vast amount of fresh seafood. If you’re a fan of the latter, Fischmarkt Hamburg is the place to go. It’s been open since 1703 and offers the widest range of fish you’ve ever seen. Don’t worry, though, less adventurous eaters can still get familiar foods like fish sandwiches.
Dublin – A Beer Enthusiast’s Heaven
Dublin is the final spot on the list and perhaps the easiest place to reach from London. It only takes one hour and 15 minutes to get to the Republic of Ireland capital, and tickets can sometimes be found for as cheap as £80. There are several reasons to visit the Irish city, with must-visit attractions, history, and nature. However, one of the main draws for the nine million or so people who visit every year is the fact that it’s the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous drinks: Guinness.
When you visit Dublin, you need to take a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, which is where the legendary stout was first brewed. It’s a seven-story brewery where you can learn about the intricate process involved with making the Black Stuff. There’s also a ton of information about the history and cultural significance of the drink, and you may learn things you didn’t know before. Of course, no visit is complete without enjoying a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the top. Not only is this one of the best-tasting pints you’ll ever have, but you’ll also have the chance to soak in panoramic views of the city.
Aside from drinking plenty of Guinness in the touristy hotspots of the city like Temple Bar, there are numerous other things to do during a trip to Dublin. For instance, Dublin Castle is an excellent place to soak up some rich history. The structure itself is a fascinating place to explore, but it also has some beautiful gardens and surrounding nature to relax in. If you want to escape the city center, you can also venture out to Dublin Bay and Howth for some fresh seafood and quaint scenery.
There are a few other great European cities that Londoners can fly to in under two hours, but these four are arguably the best. They all offer slightly different experiences, so you can plan your trip based on the activities you want to participate in the most.