9 unusual city breaks
to add to your next
Fed up of travelling the world for work but seeing only hotel rooms, meeting rooms and the inside of planes and taxis? The next time you travel for business, why not up the excitement level and add on a night or two to explore the city you’re in?
You don’t have to be travelling to the big cities or classic weekend break destinations either – there’s a wealth of culture out there, waiting to be discovered, even if you’re not somewhere obviously touristy. So, get a different perspective on your next business trip with one of these alternative city add-ons:
Just under seven hours from London by Eurostar, Marseille is proof enough, should you need it, that you don’t need to head to Paris to get a taste of La Vie Française. The city’s Old Quarter, Quartier du Panier, is stuffed full of quirky cafés and cosy restaurants, as well as being home to a number of rather swanky art galleries and shops selling local crafts and unique, homemade curiosities. The city’s main sight is the enormous Nôtre-Dame de la Garde church, and if you’re a fan of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, don’t miss a visit to the windswept Château d’If.
Named European Capital of Culture in 2017, Aarhus is lesser known than its bit brother, Copenhagen, but is definitely worth a trip. It’s a youthful, exciting city with a penchant for artisan coffee (best accompanied by a Danish pastry, of course) and a number of worthwhile sights including the peaceful Botanical Garden, the Den Gamle By open air museum and the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, an art museum with a circular rooftop skywalk, which boasts a circumference of 150m, as well as fabulous view of the streets below.
Just two hours by car from New York City, Philadelphia is an easy couple of days’ add-on to a business trip to the Big Apple. The birthplace of United States’ democracy, Philadelphia’s rich history can be uncovered at the Independence National Historical Park, where the country’s forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. And once you’ve seen the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, you’ve every excuse to indulge in one of Philly’s famous cheesesteaks, which drips with steak, onion and melted cheese, and is served everywhere from food trucks to fancy restaurants.
Johannesburg, South Africa
A thriving metropolis, and the largest city in South Africa, Jo’burg, as it’s affectionately known, is usually overlooked in favour of Cape Town. But if you’re here on business, it’s worth hanging around for a day or two to explore the city’s architecture and museums, which sit comfortably alongside glossy skyscrapers and a chic restaurant scene. Take a guided tour of Soweto to discover the house where Nelson Mandela lived and don’t leave town without browsing the very moving Apartheid Museum, which tells the story of the people of South Africa and their struggle against racial discrimination.
EasyJet started flying to Serbia’s lively capital in August 2018, and have been singing the praises of this little city ever since. Stepping out from behind its gritty, war-torn past, today’s Belgrade is a happening place, set along the riverbanks of the Danube and Sava, and boasts a buzzing cultural scene. Stroll to Trg Republike, the main square; wander onto Kalemegdan, the city’s largest park; get lost in Skadarlija, the city’s ‘bohemian quarter’ and home to some of its most famous restaurants, then party to the small hours in Cetinjska, Belgrade’s popular nightlife spot.
While nearby San Sebastian, Santander and Bilbao get all the glory, Leon sits happily away from the coastal crowds, quietly enticing in visitors with its exquisite architecture and tasty tapas. When not sampling the local cecina (cured, smoked beef), the number one thing to do in Leon is to take a look around the cathedral, which is adorned with some spectacular stained glass windows, but it’s also worth seeking out Casa Botines, one of just three buildings designed by Gaudi found outside Barcelona.
Glasgow’s striking Victorian and Edwardian architecture, swanky bars and world-class restaurants, plus its jam-packed calendar of concerts and arts performances, have at last allowed it to step out of Edinburgh’s shadow and into the Scottish spotlight. Take to the fashionable streets and shop to your heart’s content, explore the museums and browse the galleries, the best of which is the beautiful (and totally free) Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. And don’t miss Pollok Country Park, a slice of peace and quiet just a few miles from the city centre, which offers plenty of walking and running trails as well as mountain biking and the odd highland cow.
If you’re in Canberra on business you might think it’s not worth hanging around afterwards. But that’s where you’re wrong. And it’s not just down to the coffee: Australia’s capital may not quite reach the dizzy heights of Sydney and Melbourne but there’s still plenty to see and do. The city is laid out in concentric circles radiating out from the glass-covered roof of Parliament House, which is well worth a visit for an insight into the country’s political workings and to admire the fine views from Capital Hill.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam may top the Netherlands’ must-see list but Rotterdam definitely deserves a look in for its imaginative architecture, up-and-coming restaurant scene and fascinating history. You can learn all about it at one of the many museums – choose from the Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen, which houses both ancient and modern art, the Nederlands Fotomuseum, which focuses on photography, or the rather quirky Museum of Chess Pieces. Don’t leave town without visiting one of the city’s seven windmills.