Five Cities That Are Closer Than You Think

Five Cities That Are Closer Than You Think

When planning a weekend getaway, most travelers think of places that are easily accessible and relatively local. Yet with many airlines and rail services offering reduced weekend fares, there’s no reason not to expand your horizons to more distant locales. Combined with last minute hotel deals, the savings can be significant, resulting in a surprisingly inexpensive — and somewhat exotic — getaway.

For rest and relaxation, along with a wealth of historic and cultural sites, consider Budapest. This capital city — formed of the twin cities of Buda and Pest — has been famous since Roman times for its thermal springs and popular spas and bathhouses that dot the cityscape. Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers remarkable architecture that can take the better part of a day to explore.

A little further north, the Latvian capital, Riga, also offers its share of unique architecture, history and cultural sites, including a world-renowned collection of German Art Nouveau architecture, known as “Jugendstil”. Be sure to stop at the tourist information office in the main square of the Old City for a booklet describing two walking tours of the city. During the off-season, the city offers a wide range of cheap hotels and discounted attractions.

The Czech capital Prague is a huge city with an expansive sightseeing district and a vibrant nightlife, and is an ideal spot for a weekend getaway. It’s also a great place to find last-minute hotel deals, especially during the off-season. Prague is divided into distinct districts, or “praha”, with most of the historic and cultural attractions located in Praha 1. For nightlife, consider Praha 3, a district known for its bohemian flavor and wide variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants.

Vienna is well-known as a city of romance, but the wealth of historic buildings, including castles and cathedrals, as well as scores of museums and galleries make this city a great getaway, even when romance is not on the ticket. Consider visiting the city during the Christmas holidays to visit some of the most splendid Christmas markets in the world. The markets offer an ideal spot to rest during your exploration of the city’s sights, and visitors and locals alike gather at the markets to drink punch and mulled wine and sample the local fare.

As one of the largest cities in Eastern Europe, Bucharest offers visitors a split personality, boasting both historic gems and contemporary sites that date to the reign of Nicolae CeauÅYescu. Of the latter, one of the most notable is the parliament Palace, the world’s second-largest building. Constructed in 1984, this 3,100-room building offers a stark contrast to the reconstructed traditional buildings located in the city’s open-air Village Museum. The city’s active nightlife scene is becoming well known among students and tourists who enjoy clubbing and after-hours venues.

Easily accessible by air and rail, all of these cities offer great last-minute hotel deals for tourists who are looking to expand their holiday options.