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Thursday 25 July 2024

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Alternative city breaks – the ‘other guys’ well worth considering

Alternative City Breaks

Some cities tend to rule the roost when it comes to city breaks. They’ve obviously earned their places in our collective hearts, but the sad thing is that they can overshadow some equally wonderful cities – often right on their own doorsteps.

So when planning your next trip, why not take a break from the obvious and try out one of these alternatives – same country, same language, same travel card currency as their more famous neighbours, but offering you a whole new experience…

Hamburg, Germany, may seem like a strange choice with which to start this tour of the lesser known city break destinations. It is no shrinking violet and there is no question over the height of its profile – one of the world’s foremost ports, an important place in the history of The Beatles and the setting for a string of Hollywood movies. BUT… competing for visitors with capital Berlin and its unique west meets east atmosphere, or with Munich and all the oom-pah surrounding Oktoberfest, can’t be easy. There’s no end of things to do in Hamburg, whatever pace you’re looking for – marvel at the stunning architecture of the Rathaus, watch the giraffes being fed at the Tierpark Hagenbeck, or simply relax with a drink overlooking the fountain on the Binnenalster.

When people think of city break and Spanish coast they immediately think of Barcelona and that big church. Valencia’s the place to be though – it too has a golden sandy beach (and a lovely one at that), a cool and cosmopolitan feel, plenty of shops, bars and restaurants and – while Gaudi maybe didn’t make his mark here – it has some eye-catching architecture of its own. Highlights of this bold and bustling town include the Mercado Central, where you can sample some delicious local produce in art nouveau surroundings, and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. The latter is a cluster of cutting edge buildings housing museums and exhibitions, including L’Oceanogràfic aquarium – the impressive blue and white structures present an almost cooling sensation in the Spanish heat.

Being capital of the free world should make you the most famous city of all, right? There’s a friendly rivalry between Washington D.C. and its not-so-far-away neighbour New York, and that’s in no small part down to the latter hogging the limelight with its skyscrapers, famous department stores, Broadway shows… But the Big Apple didn’t hog all the good bits – head to D.C. for some truly iconic Americana. There are the landmarks – the White House, the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to name a few. And it’s not just an open air museum – all these government types need classy stores and cool bars too. And finally, is walking past “her from that thing” on Fifth Avenue a patch on being outside the White House just as the President takes off in his helicopter?

Caxton FX offers the best available exchange rates on both the Euro and US Dollar with its prepaid currency card – the perfect companion for visiting these unsung city break heroes.

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