Cote d'Azur waterfront

Few places have the allure of Cote d’Azur. (Photo: Getty Images)

Weekend Getaways

Upgrade Your 3-Day Europe Getaway in These Top Spots for a Weekend Break

A weekend break is an ideal way to get a quick travel fix — in the right destination, you can easily squeeze plenty of awe-inspiring travel moments into just a few days. Thanks to ease of travel between cities and countries, Europe’s top weekend break options are plentiful.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

best europe weekend getaways
(Illustration: Yeji Kim)

The Glam Getaway: Cote d’Azur, France

Few places have a more glamorous reputation than France’s iconic coastline. If it’s relaxation you’re after, join the rows of beautiful people sunning themselves on beaches or dining in upmarket seafront restaurants.

However, it’s not just about seeing and being seen in Cote d’Azur. The area also boasts gorgeous hiking in the nearby hills and hidden mountain villages where you can feast on local wine and produce. Or head toward the water and take a boat trip to one of the gorgeous islands nestled in the surrounding blue seas.

The Sky-High Charmer: Chandolin, Switzerland

chandolin village with mountains
Be charmed by Chandolin. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nestled in the Swiss Alps at an altitude of nearly 2,000 meters, this village ranks as one of the world’s highest villages to be inhabited year-round. Dotted with quaint wooden cottages and surrounded by snowy peaks, it’s the ideal place to lose yourself in an Alpine wonderland for a few days.

In the cold months, the area is popular with ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Come spring and summer, it’s a beautiful spot to base yourself for a hiking holiday.

The Culture and Nightlife Hub: Berlin, Germany

berlin skyline
Berlin dazzles arts and culture lovers. (Photo: Getty Images)

The German capital packs a big punch when it comes to city breaks. In addition to its renowned nightlife (it’s home to famed nightclubs such as Berghain and Tresor), the city is steeped in historical sights and packed full of museums.

It also boasts a thriving arts scene, including what claims to be the world’s first contemporary gallery, Schinkel Pavillon. Although there’s a lot to see and do, Berlin’s relatively compact size means most sights are no more than 30 minutes away if you base yourself in the center, making it ideal for a weekend trip.

The Scandinavian Beauty: Bergen, Norway

colorful houses in bergen
Bergen is a colorful wonderland. (Photo: Getty Images)

With its rows of colorful houses and jaw-dropping setting in the middle of seven fjords, Bergen is the quintessential Scandinavian destination.

You can use the city as a base for exploring the surrounding mountains, or spend a few days wandering around its quaint streets. Highly regarded art museums such as KODE Art Museums and Composer Homes — one of Scandinavia’s largest cultural hubs dedicated to art, craft, design and music — and a young student population, thanks to the University of Bergen, makes for a buzzy atmosphere, too.

The Wilderness Escape: Nesjavellir, Iceland

geothermal activity in iceland
See natural wonders in Iceland. (Photo: Getty Images)

For a wilderness getaway, head to this geothermal area in southwest Iceland and explore the country’s famously unique landscape — think waterfalls, lagoons, glaciers and hot springs.

Book a room at the eco-friendly ION Adventure Hotel, Nesjavellir, a Member of Design Hotels and capture that lost-in-nature feeling. Plus, it’s not far from the capital, Reykjavik, making it surprisingly easy to reach.

The Foodie’s Favorite: Edinburgh, U.K.

edinburgh old town
Dine on delightful eats in Edinburgh. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Scottish capital looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a fairy tale with its cobbled streets, mountain peaks and a castle at its center. Edinburgh’s also a fabulous foodie destination, with everything from Michelin-starred restaurants to farmers markets and street eats.

In summer the city is home to the renowned theater festival, with venues across the city hosting all kinds of comics and performances, but its beauty and buzzy energy make it a great destination all year round.

The Idyllic Island Town: Chania, Greece

chania greece waterfront
Relax by the water in Chania. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nowhere encapsulates the best of Greece quite like Chania on the island of Crete. Its UNESCO-listed Venetian port is beautiful enough to warrant a trip by itself, but it’s also close to pristine beaches, fantastic hiking routes and ancient sites.

Crete also has some of the best food in the region thanks to its long produce season, and it has a rich musical tradition, too. Take an afternoon trip to a traditional mountain village such as Anogia to experience these at their best.

The Multicultural Marvel: Istanbul, Turkey

istanbul skyline
There’s much to explore in Turkey. (Photo: Getty Images)

For a weekend trip with a mix of all things at your fingertips, it’s hard to beat the East-meets-West marvels of the Turkish capital. Take in spectacular sights such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, get lost in the famous souks, and enjoy delicious fresh fish while looking out over the Bosphorus strait.

Craving a change of pace? Take a day trip by boat to the nearby Princes’ Islands, where locals head to swim and sunbathe.