Just under two hours' flight from the UK, this South of France jetsetter's playground, nestled between pine-clad hills and the sparkling Med, makes a chic weekend break year-round. Stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, the curved promenade which runs the length of the Bay of Angels, and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in the sunshine on the terrace of Belle Epoque landmark, Hotel Negresco.
Shopping here is a sport (the city boasts 7000 stores!); stock up on local goodies like lavender soap, honey and pottery at flower market Cours Saleya, or browse designer goodies beneath chandeliers at the Fashion Gallery on Rue du St-Suaire. Don't miss the Musee Matisse, a permanent collection of the artist's work and at sunset, sip a pastis at a beach bar before hitting the restaurants and bars of Old Town for dining and dancing with a glam crowd.
This Catalan city is weekend break heaven; the flight is just a couple of hours, you can enjoy shops and bars then get to lie on a beach and the hotels are sensational. Pick up pieces for a tapas picnic in the busy La Boqueria market on Ramblas, then head to beautiful Park Güell to eat on mosaic-decorated seats amid the pine trees. Climb the towers of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's unfinished Cathedral masterpiece, then for city views that will cause an Instagram frenzy, take a ride on the Montjuic cable car.
And don't miss beach time; it's where you'll find tourists and locals sizzling at siesta. When it comes to a place to stay (or dine) our tip is hillside hideaway Gran Hotel La Florida, which boasts incredible panoramic vistas of Barcelona and the Mediterranean beyond. If you're on a tight budget, the new Generator Hostel is a design-led escape that's more funky boutique hotel than hostel.
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The city of love and lights is a great choice for time-short travellers; it’s fabulously close, (just over two hours by Eurostar or 90 minutes by plane), yet you feel like you’ve been transported to another world when you check into a hip hotel (check out Apostrophe on the Left Bank), stroll down the Champs Elysée and shop in the quirky boutiques of the St Germain. For priceless city views, conquer the steps of Montmarte to reach the doors of the famous Sacre-Coeur Basilica then turn to see the city spread out before you. A cruise down the River Seine on a Bateaux Parisiens is one of the most enchanting boat trips in Europe - go at sunset and you'll be captivated as you float past historic buildings and beneath romantic bridges.
And if you want to get off the tourist path, find Ile Saint-Louis on the map. This tiny island on the Seine is more like a small French village than a part of Paris; wander through the tiny streets and pig out on a dish of Berthillon, a neighborhood ice cream found only in this part of Paris. No weekend break here is complete without climbing iconic landmark the Eiffel Tower, but why not go a dusk, when the views of the city starting to light up are unforgettable? While you're there dine 58 Tour Eiffel, which Kim and Kanye are rumoured to have booked for their wedding celebrations.
A weekend in the Eternal City, Italy’s centuries-old capital for poets, artists and dreamers, will put a spring back in your step. Take selfies on the Spanish Steps, wander through the Borghese gardens and gorge on gelatos at San Crispino. At night, don’t miss the lit-up fountains in famous piazzas like Trevi and Navona (legend says you must throw in a coin to ensure you’ll return).
Obviously there is also the world famous Colosseum (pictured) to see too. We spoke to Monarch Airlines cabin crew staff who recommended that we pre book tickets online to the Colosseum and Vatican Musesums. For only 4€ extra you can avoid the 2 hour queue. If you need tickets on the day, rather than queuing for several hours at the Colosseum go around the corner to the Roman Forum and buy your ticket there. The ticket is exactly the same and allows entry to both sites.
Pack loose clothing because this city is all about dining and you can consume a lot of calories in a weekend. For a gourmet experience with a setting to match, book a table at Le Jardin de Russie, at the Hotel de Russie (George Clooney and Julia Roberts rate it, and if it's good enough for them…). And for homemade pasta so good you'll be dreaming about it when you get home, book a private table on the Mezzanine at The Library.