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30 City Break Destinations in Europe for 2023

Split, Croatia

With new routes announced from many Irish airports, as well as some old favourites, I have hand-picked some of the best city break destinations for 2023. 

I’m a big fan of city breaks. I love how much you can discover in a new city such a short space of time. However, if you’re not one for pounding the pavements and covering an entire city on foot, settling down with a coffee and people watching in a town square can be just as enjoyable. We are fortunate to have many of Europe’s top city break destinations available from a variety of Irish airports this year. I have picked 30 to inspire your next break away. 

 

 

 

1. Matera – Italy

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This Italian gem might be an unknown quantity for some of you, but believe me it needs to be on your radar. Some may have seen it in the opening scene of the new James Bond movie – No Time To Die, but it is even more impressive in person.

Located close to Bari in the heel of Italy, it is one of the most fascinating cities I have visited. The old town or ‘Sassi’ is full of boutique hotels, Airbnb’s and restaurants, built inside ancient caves.
 

 

 
It has a remarkable rags to riches story – to go from being Italy’s poorest city to the European Capital of Culture for 2019 is quite a feat. Located just 50 minutes from Bari Airport, which is serviced from Dublin with Ryanair, it is easily accesible. I have no doubt Matera will be one of the top city break destinations for 2023.
 

 

 
TOP TIP:  If time allows why not stay longer and explore Puglia? Aer Lingus and Ryanair have announced a new service to Brindisi in the south of Puglia. If you fly into Bari ( Ryanair) and return from Brindisi you can maximise your time exploring one of Italy’s best kept secrets!

Check out my travel guide to a weekend in Matera here.

Read: Three top places to visit in Puglia
 
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2. Copenhagen – Denmark

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert, takes a cycling tour of Copenhagen

I am always surprised by the amount of people who haven’t visited Copenhagen, and with Ryanair, SAS and Norwegian all flying to Copenhagen from Ireland, the competition is rife for cheap flights!
 

 

 
Copenhagen’s compact size makes it easy to navigate, and it is perfect for a short city break. The colourful Nyhavn canal is sure to impress you, as will Copenhagen’s great food scene. Tivoli Gardens is a beautiful year-round attraction that children will love, making Copenhagen one of the most popular city breaks for families.

Check out my guide to Copenhagen for some more info about this great city.

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3. Pisa, Tuscany – Italy

weekend break in Tuscany

While Pisa is not one of my favourite city break destinations, it is superbly located to explore the rolling hills of Tuscany – one of my favourite places to visit. Pisa is served from Dublin and Cork airports this summer, and airfares are great value.
 

 

 
There is a bus service to Florence following a Ryanair flight, but if you want to explore some of Tuscany’s magnificent towns and villages, I recommend hiring a car. San Gimignano is one of Italy’s most beautiful walled towns and is located just over an hour from Pisa.

There are many sights to see in Tuscany, but make sure you save time to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is located close to the airport so it is best seen when you arrive, or before you leave to fly home.

Read: Top towns and cities to visit in Tuscany

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4. Palma – Majorca

 

 
 
 
 
 
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The cultural city of Palma ticks all boxes if you are looking for city break destinations from Dublin, Cork, Shannon or Ireland West. Don’t miss a trip to Palma’s cathedral, and a stroll along the marina is a must in the evenings. Palma is also a great choice for a shopping break, and is an ideal launchpad to explore the rest of the island.
 

 

 
Read: Majorca holidays – how to choose the right resort for you

 
 
 
 
 
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If you are looking for something a little more exclusive, take the tram to the port of Soller or enjoy a day trip to Valldemossa – it is one of the prettiest villages in Majorca.

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5. Alghero, Sardinia – Italy

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sardinia is a great choice if you are looking for a beach / city combination. With cobbled stone streets, trendy boutiques and a great food scene, Alghero is a pleasure to stroll around. And if you are lucky with the weather, there is a gorgeous sandy beach on your doorstep! 

 

 
Alghero has its own airport, and the town is  just 10 minutes from the airport, making it ideal for a short break. I was there recently on a cruise excursion and loved it! Alghero can be reached directly from Dublin and Cork airports with Ryanair.

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6. London – England

 

 
 
 
 
 
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London is one of our top city break destinations. With numerous flights from most Irish airports, it can easily be enjoyed as an overnight escape or a longer city break.
 

 

 
London is extremely popular with families too, as there is a host of family attractions to choose from, including the London Eye, Legoland and the Harry Potter experience.
 
Read: Top things to do in London with kids and where to stay

 
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7. Nice – France

Best City Break Destinations for 2019 - Nice
The South of France is always a good idea, and Nice certainly deserves a place on this top city break destinations post. The flight time is only 2 hours 30 minutes from Dublin airport, and the town centre is only 4 miles from the airport, so you can be sipping cocktails on the Promenade des Anglais within a half hour of arriving in France🍸.
 

 

 
Nice has some gorgeous boutiques, amazing restaurants, and of course a fabulous long sandy beach – but that’s not all. Its location in the South of France is ideal for visiting Cannes,  St Tropez, Monaco, you can even pop into Italy on the train for your lunch!

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8. Porto – Portugal

weekend in Porto

I loved our trip to Porto and would highly recommend Porto for a city break. As well as being home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is packed with colourful buildings, delightful streets, and has a great food and wine scene. The announcement of direct flights from Shannon to Porto is a welcome addition to the service already from Dublin airport.

Check out my guide to Porto to see why it is one of the best city break destinations for 2023.

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9. Greek Islands getaway

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Up until a few years ago you had to book a package holiday for one or two weeks if you wanted to visit the Greek Islands. We are so fortunate now to have a selection of Greek islands to choose from, with most flights operating two or three times per week.

Corfu is served from Dublin and Shannon airports, while Santorini, Crete, Rhodes and Kos are served from Dublin airport. There are also flights to Thessaloniki and Athens on the Greek mainland from Dublin airport.
 

 

 
Corfu, Kos and Rhodes Town are ideal city break destinations, they both offer pretty old towns with gorgeous sea views.

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands in Greece and boasts a rich historical past mixed with modern resorts and luxurious hotels. Rhodes Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage City and the Colossus of Rhodes is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Don’t miss a trip to the whitewashed, picture perfect village of Lindos too.

Lindos, Rhodes

Read: Rhodes holidays, where to stay for couples, families and groups

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If you prefer a more low key vibe, the old town of Chania in Crete might suit you. Famous for its 14th century Venetian harbour and its waterfront restaurants, it has an Italian feel, but without the crowds. 

There are numerous boat trips departing from the harbour too, including day trips to Santorini. We holidayed here a few years ago and loved it.

Read: Top things to do near Chania

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10. Edinburgh – Scotland

Edinburgh from Ireland West Airport

Edinburgh is a super choice for a city break, and it is accessible from Cork, Shannon, Dublin and Ireland West airports. It’s medieval old town and stunning castle are a pleasure to explore.
 

 

 
Edinburgh is easy to navigate and is one of those cities that you can’t help but love. Don’t miss Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park for the best views, and make sure to visit the pubs on Rose Street for the ultimate Edinburgh experience. 

Read: Top 10 holidays from Ireland West Airport

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11. Lisbon, Portugal

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Lisbon is one Europe’s top city break destinations, and after my recent visit I now know why. It has a beautiful old town, with pastel-coloured buildings with terracotta rooftops as far as the eye can see.

Lisbon is best explored on foot, but if you don’t fancy walking, there are delightful old trams and tuk tuks available to help you enjoy this great city. 

Read: Top 10 things to do in Lisbon

Read: Where to stay in Lisbon – my top 10 Lisbon hotels

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12. Rome – Italy

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rome is always a great choice for a city break. There are ancient wonders at every corner, amazing shopping on the Via del Corso, and let’s not forget the food. We visited recently and fell in love with Rome all over again. The home of pizza, pasta and gelato, Rome is a feast for the senses.

Rome is served from Dublin with Aer Lingus and Ryanair, and from Cork airport with Ryanair.

Read:  Top things to do in Rome

Read: Where to stay in Rome, my top picks of 3, 4 and 5-star hotels

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13. Split – Croatia

Split, one of the best city break destinations for 2022

I am a massive lover of Croatia. I have visited many times, but have yet to visit the seaside city of Split, which is actually the second largest city in Croatia.
 

 

 
The old town is home to numerous historical sites, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site – Diocletian Palace, and there is a sandy beach within walking distance if you fancy a swim or some dining options with sea views.

Aer Lingus and Ryanair fly to Split from Dublin airport.

Read: The best places to stay in Croatia

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14. Barcelona – Spain

Park Güell, Barcelona

It’s no surprise that Barcelona is one of the world’s best city break destinations. It’s got amazing architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, buzzing nightlife and excellent shopping, and let’s not forget its location on the Mediterranean Sea. 
 

 

 
Barcelona can be reached from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Ireland West airports.

Read: Where to stay in Barcelona and the top things to do

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15. Amsterdam – Netherlands

city breaks in Amsterdam

With Aer Lingus, Ryanair and KLM all flying to Amsterdam from Dublin, and Aer Lingus also flying from Cork, there has never been a better time to visit. City breaks in Amsterdam are very much on trend in 2023, from top class museums to cycle trails along its canals, you will be spoilt for things to do.

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16. Bordeaux – France

Saint-Emilion close to Bordeaux in France
Saint-Emilion

Bordeaux is France’s sixth largest city and boasts a massive World Heritage site, stunning architecture as well as being one of France’s top gastronomic and wine capitals. 

You could easily spend a few days here and not leave the city. However, it would be a shame not to explore the picturesque villages and charming Châteaux on the Bordeaux wine trail, Saint-Emilion in particular is a little piece of heaven.
 

 

 
Bordeaux can be reached from Dublin and Cork airports or you could choose to take the ferry and bring home some wine!

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17. Dubrovnik – Croatia

Dubrovnik

The medieval city of Dubrovnik should be on everyone’s wish list. It is so well preserved and looks like something straight out of a fairytale.

There are many great hotel choices both inside and outside the walled city. I like to stay on the outskirts and catch a water taxi to the centre in the evening time, and watch the sun set over the city walls.
 

 

 
Dubrovnik can be reached direct from Dublin airport with Aer Lingus and Ryanair, and from Cork airport with Aer Lingus.

Read my top tips on discovering Dubrovnik

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18. Venice – Italy

Top things to do in Venice and where to stay
The unique floating city of Venice has to be visited at least once in a lifetime. There are so many iconic sights, that simply wandering around its streets and canals will captivate you. However, sipping a latte on St Mark’s Square and taking a gondola ride through the canals have to be done too!
 

 

 
Venice can be reached from Dublin airport with Aer Lingus and Ryanair, and from Cork airport with Ryanair.

Read: Top things to do in Venice and where to stay

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19. Athens – Greece

Best City Break Destinations - Athens

Athens is a place that is on my own wish list this summer. I can’t wait to see the Acropolis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – I am told it is visible from all over the city.
 

 

 
Athens is a tale of two cities, with a modern city below offering trendy shops, top class restaurants and a cosmopolitan vibe. If you fancy a stroll along the beach, there are plenty outside the city to choose from, just a short bus ride away.

Athens can be reached from Dublin airport with Aer Lingus and Aegean Airlines.

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20. Malaga, Spain

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Malaga is one of our most popular destinations, but it is mostly used as a gateway to the Costa del Sol. I finally got around to staying in Malaga City recently and couldn’t believe what I had been missing!  Its a fabulous city packed with a historical centre, lots of sights to see, and some great restaurants!
 

 

 
It is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso who is celebrating his 50th anniversary this year so there will be lots of cultural events taking place throughout the year. It is also on the coast, so if you want to mix some beach time on your city break – look no further.

Read: Malaga travel guide – top thmgs to do, where to stay, where to eat.

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21. La Rochelle, France

La Rochelle, top city break destinations from Ireland
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The new service to La Rochelle from Cork airport, as well as the existing service from Dublin will ensure it is one of our top city break destinations in 2023.
 

 

 
We visited many years ago and loved its lively Vieux Port (Old Harbour),  car-free historical town centre and its great value restaurants and hotels. 

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22. Seville, Spain

Seville
Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay

The capital of Andalucia is having a moment. The newly announced flights from Cork were a welcome surprise, and compliment the existing flights from Dublin.

As well as mouth watering tapas and wonderful wine, you can expect to a medieval centre that is packed with an eclectic mix of architecture, where many palaces have been converted to luxury hotels.
 

 

 
The world’s largest cathedral is in Seville, and houses Christopher Columbus’ tomb, and there are many more sights to see here. Seville will be hot during the summer months, so it is probably best avoided during July or August.

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23. Olbia, Sardinia


Sardinia

Aer Lingus surprised us this month by announcing a new route to Olbia in Sardinia to compliment the existing service to Alghero with Ryanair. Olbia is renowned as the gateway to the Costa Smeralda, one of Europe’s top destinations for the rich and famous!
 

 

 
The area is known for its turquoise water and fine-sand beaches so its an ideal summer destination, however the historical centre has some cultural sights, and is popular with foodies and shoppers alike. 

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24. Naples, Italy


Visit the Amalfi coast from Naples

Naples may not be one of Italy’s most popular city break destinations, but with direct flights from Dublin and Shannon, it will certainly be a popular spot this summer. It is a gateway for Amalfi Coast so if you don’t want to spend time in the city, you can easily hop on a train or transfer to one of the more picturesque towns of Sorrento, Positano or Amalfi. 

Read: The ultimate guide to the Amalfi Coast

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25. Cornwall, UK

visit Cornwall from Dublin airport
Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

If you fancy a city break closer to home, take advantage of the new services from Ryanair and Emerald Airlines (via the Aer Lingus website), to Newquay from Dublin airport.

Known as one of the Celtic nations, Cornwall has a quaint centre that is full of old world charm.  Its southern location ensures warm temperatures during the summer months, which are ideal if you want to relax on some of its golden sandy beaches. Families will love the futuristic Eden Project – where sustainability combines with family fun.

Read: 10 unique family breaks in the UK

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26. Valletta, Malta


visit Valletta Malta on a city break from Ireland

With over 300 days of sunshine each year, Valletta is a popular city break destination all year round. There are direct flights from Dublin and Shannon and it is ideal for a city break or as a summer holiday destination.

Valletta is a small city, so you can see most of the highlights over a short break. I like that it is not overrun with large hotel chains, and has plenty of chic boutique hotels within the city walls. You will also discover local shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a lively atmosphere.
 

 

 
Art lovers will be interested to know that Michelangelo Merisi, also known as Caravaggio, worked in Malta from 1571-1610. His world famous ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ is still on display in the Oratory of the Cathedral of St. John in Valletta as well as another one of his famous works, St. Jerome.

Read: Top 10 reasons to visit Malta

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27. Reykjavik, Iceland

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Reykjavik is a small city and could easily be explored in a day, but a visit here will undoubtedly see you venture further to explore some of Iceland’s top sights.
 

 

 
In the summer time you will should experience the midnight sun, which is a reason in itself for a visit, but it is also an optimum time to bathe in one of the many outdoor pools, or take a trip around the Golden Circle or to the Blue Lagoon.

Flights are available from Dublin with Icelandair and Play Airlines.

Read: Top tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon

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28. Gothenburg, Sweden

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Sweden is a country that is on my own wish list, and with the new service to Sweden’s second city from Dublin, this might be a good way to explore it.
 

 

 
Despite its seaside location, Gothenburg is known as the Green City. It has an abundance of green spaces, and its work on sustainability has made it one of Europe’s leading cities in this field. Gothenburg is an inviting city renowned for its friendly seaside charm, as well as its great food and craft beer scene. Thrill seekers might also like to try the many rides and rollercoasters at Scandinavia’s largest theme park – Liseberg, whose rides are powered by wind energy. 

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29. Marseille, France

 

 
 
 
 
 
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I visited Marseille this year during a Mediterranean cruise and it is a city that I would love to return to. It has a fabulous and a historic old town – did you know it is France’s oldest city? You will also find some great restaurants, chic boutiques, and plenty of cultural highlights. You can also choose to combine a day or two on one of Marseilles beaches, or take the opportunity to explore the region of Provence.

Flights are available from Dublin and Shannon this year.

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30. Madrid, Spain


Where to stay in Madid

Spain’s capital may surprise many of you when you visit for the first time. It is historical city with lots of cultural offerings, but it also boasts vibrant nightlife, superb shopping, and is well laid out with plenty of open green areas. 
 

 

 
At an altitude of 2,000 metres it has a dry climate but temperatures in summer can be very high, so it is best visited outside July or August. Flights are available from Dublin with Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Iberia Express.

Read: Madrid Travel Guide, top things to do and where to stay

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We are blessed with the amount of cheap city break destinations from Ireland at our disposal. A few days away and a change of scenery can make all the difference, and many of the above options shouldn’t break the bank. Go somewhere new in 2023 and choose one of these top city break destinations for your next adventure.
 
Please note that some of the links in this post on best city break destinations from Ireland are affiliate links, where I  receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional charge to you. 

 

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