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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
9 gorgeous - and unusual - spots to escape to
The one-hop European experiences you really have to see, taste, smell and feel this year.

ONE THING WE like almost as much as going on holiday is planning one.

We’ve rounded up some incredible escapes which are just a direct plane trip from Ireland.

Feel your heart stop at the top of this elevator journey…

Duomo di Milano via Shutterstock

The Duomo of Milan is the third largest Christian church in the world but the real attraction is getting into the very ordinary-looking lift to the roof… and stepping out onto one of the most breathtaking city views in Italy. On a good day, you can see all the way to the Alps.

Float on your back in the bluest sea

Sveti Jakov via antonikon/Flickr

Locals in Dubrovnik will whisper that the best beach in that part of Croatia is Sveti Jakov. It has a hidden cave and the old town above gazes out over the azure Adriatic. Excuse us while we close our eyes…

Let a snowball melt on your mouth in this foodie paradise…

Chocolate snowballs via Shutterstock

Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen is in love with gastronomy but the real trick is to wander down Vaernedamsvej Street – or ‘Little Paris’ – for unusual taste sensations such as kartoffelkage (potato cake filled with cream and covered in marzipan), artisan sausages or the famous flodeboller (snowballs) at the Summerbird Chokolaterie. The snowballs are covered in chocolate but the fillings are a closely-guarded surprise…

Immerse yourself in some extraordinary lives at this Victorian cemetery…

Highgate via Anders B/Flickr

A graveyard might not seem an obvious tourist spot but some of the most interesting people in London are residents at Highgate cemetery. Take a tip from us and book onto one of the guided tours which reveal all the secrets of the hallowed ground where the likes of Karl Marx, George Eliot, Douglas Adams and the wife of Charles Dickens have been laid to rest.

Feel the heat prickle your skin on this sauna boat…

Stockholm archipelago via Shutterstock

It might not occur visitors to Stockholm in Sweden to view it from the water. But it is built on an archipelago and you can take a waterscooter safari around the edge – or better still take a sauna on one of sauna boats and dive into the water to cool off, the city looming behind you.

Smell the rosemary in the scramble down to this stunning beach…

Corfu via Shutterstock

Mirtiotissa Beach in Corfu is a nudist’s paradise (if you want it to be) which author Lawrence Durrell thought was so wonderful, he wrote it into his book Prospero’s Cell. You’ll get your first sight of the azure sea after walking through a wood to reach the clifftop. The tranquility waiting below is worth the careful journey down the steep stone staircase to the beach.

Gasp with the exhilaration of getting splashed at this waterfall…

Rhine Falls via Shutterstock

Just a quick train ride from Zurich in Switzerland is Rhine Falls, the largest waterfall in Europe. The train ride is scenic in its own right but you can’t beat getting splashed in a waterboat tour while getting front and centre of the falls.

Wake up to ducks quacking on this canal…

Barge, Toulouse via Shutterstock

You can’t go to Toulouse in France and not live the life aquatic on the Canal du Midi. Go the whole hog and stay on a barge – either moored (like this one for rent), or one which you can untie and meander to your heart’s content along the shaded waterways.

Slake your thirst along this scenic cycling route…

Beer garden, Germany via Shutterstock

Rewards feel best when they come after a little hard work, right? You can rent a bicycle for free in Germany’s Frankfurt (you just need a credit card to leave a deposit) and pedal the newly refurbished route along the Main river. You can travel for miles and miles, passing through small picturesque villages and, best of all, nicely spaced out beer gardens facing the river. (And you and the bike can get the train home from Hanau.)

  • You can fly direct from Dublin with Aer Lingus to any of the above destinations – Book here from now until 21 March for up to 25% off every flight on over 70 routes across Europe and Britain.
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