Sunny City Breaks: Where To Go When You Only Have A Few Days To Get Away

Only got a few days to get away? These are Team STELLAR's choice cities only a couple of hours away, and perfect to visit for a long weekend in the sunshine

Porto, Portugal

By Jeanne Sutton

It’s the same time zone as Ireland, only a quick flight away and it’s not absolutely overflowing with tourists like so many other European cities.

Where to stay

Although hotels are generally quite affordable, Porto is an Airbnb paradise. So log on and try and nab a bedroom in the Vitoria, Ribeira and Miragaia neighbourhoods for some old-town stylings.

What to pack

Summer dresses and sunglasses. The sun can be pretty intense, which means sidewalk café lounging is obligatory. When it comes to shoes, Birkenstocks or Keds are ideal. Think glam gran on her holidays.

Where to eat

If you’re a carnivore, you’re in for a treat – lamp chops and boar dot menus, but stuffed peppers are also all over the place. Book in for some tapas and wine at Vinum (grahams-port.com) and order those famous custard tarts as dessert.

Where to drink

Eh, everywhere. This makes Porto sound like a 24/7 bacchanal but most restaurants have an extremely affordable and delicious wine listing. Sangria flows like water and then there’s actual port, the lifeblood of the city.

Best for

Spending money. Food, drink, life in general is cheaper compared to Irish life, even in touristy hives like the Rua de Santa Catarina, the city’s commercial beating heart.

Worst for

Sightseers. If you’re the type who loves seeing everything in the travel guide, you may be disappointed at just how laid back the place is. It’s not a hive of historical checklisting, even though its port city history is fascinating. Make sure you visit the 13th-century cathedral and Stock Exchange Palace which was built between 1842 and 1910.

Don’t miss!

The sea! You can get a taxi straight to some pretty nice beaches, an itinerary item generally lacking in a lot of city minibreaks. Miramar is seven miles south of the city and rarely crowded.

Reykjavik, Iceland

By Nadia El Ferdaoussi

It’s like being transported to another planet, but one that’s only a two hour cheap flight from Dublin. You won’t find anywhere as diverse so close and easy to get to!

Where to stay

Hlemmur Square has both fancy hotel rooms and more budget friendly (Iceland is expensive) hostel accommodation and is walking distance from all the best bars, shops and restaurants.

What to pack?

Sunglasses and layers for summer, it’s bright almost 24 hours but can still get pretty chilly.

Where to eat

Laundromat Café for casual bites and the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand, which means ‘the best hot dog in town’. Order one “with everything”

Where to drink

Kex hostel has the coolest bar in the city, it doesn’t look much from outside but you won’t be disappointed with the people watching and affordable Prosecco

Best for

It’s one of the safest cities in the world and Icelandic people couldn’t be more friendly or accommodating. You really feel like they’re happy to have you!

Worst for

You’re going to go home with empty pockets, nothing much is cheap in Reykjavik. An average drink will cost about €10. Eating out, accommodation, tours and car hire are all expensive too.

Don’t miss!

If guided tours aren’t your thing, take a rental car on your own sightseeing trip. Reykjanes is only 45 minutes from Reykjavik and much less popular than the Golden Circle route, meaning you’ll be able to really enjoy the natural hot springs and bright blue lakes without the crowds ruining your holiday photos.

Barcelona, Spain,

By Sinead O’Reilly

Hipsters, historians and huns rejoice, Barcelona has a little something for you all. With a constant stream of festivals and fiestas, Barcelona offers its visitors a total feast of activities and fun, and that’s long before you even crack open the Sangria.

Where to stay?

Gothico for Culture. Barcelo for the beach. The city’s architecture is one of its main attractions, so if you can, Airbnb is the way to go.

What to pack?

Think city chic slash Copacabana. Barcelona has such a wealth of things to do that a bikini, hiking boots and a pair of killer heels are all staples. Pack smart by bringing must-haves only.

Where to eat?

Can Paixano is an all standing bar tapas that is amazing for gambas and pinxtos. Not a meat eater? Go to Juicy Jones for cheap and cheerful vegan eats.

Where to drink?

The Born area. Fall in and out of glossy bars with extensive gin lists. Make your way later to any of the surrounding clubs, but prepare for hefty cover charges.

Best for:

A little bit of what you fancy. My favourite place is El Raval, one of Barcelona’s most mod districts. It’s filled with the most eclectic vintage stores, tiny nooks for tapas and drinks and street art mapped across every corner.

Worst for:

Being a tourist trap. Be wary of pick-pockets, Hens, Stags and overly enthusiastic club reps.

Don’t miss!

Park Güell. The public park created by Gaudi is one of the most stunning sites of the city. Put a whole day aside to wander around here. Hiking mount Tibidabo is also a serious experience.

This article was first published in STELLAR’s May issue. Our August issue is on shelves now! 

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