For great-value city holidays, look behind the capitals and big names; some of Europe’s most energetic cultural scenes are in the smaller, lesser known cities. This solution is ideal for people on a budget who still wish to sleep in hostels and dormitory bunk beds.
While Bruges can occasionally feel a little like a tourist trap, Ghent keeps it simple. The city still offers attractive Flemish architecture and ancient sites. You’ll also find a buzzing current creative sight too, with fashionable hang outs such as bar and gig spots, cycle cafes and avant-garde restaurants. The evenings are far more energetic too, with a big student populace partying throughout the city at night time. That bunk bed in your dormitory may stay cold all night.
Lyon is full up with more than plenty to contest with Paris for weekends away. From May 2015, Eurostar has been running direct trains to Lyon which means you can rech it from London within 5 hours. It’s well-known for its food scene, but lately it’s the restored dock area on the banks of the Rhône and the Saône that’s got a really nice atmosphere to it. There’s also a futuristic science and anthropology exhibition hall, as well as a new arts and music venue in a warehouse which used to store sugar, as well as a host of other stylish bistros and art areas.
Where else in Germany can you go to find a kebab shop which is vegan? Leipzig is sanctuary for apathetic Berlin locals who want a change of scenery. Leipzig has risen from its manufacturing past thanks to a new age group of young creatives looking for an inexpensive, fun and urban place to pitch up in. This year celebrates a decade since a vast former cotton mill was converted into an art workspace centre and it’s just one of many modern art spaces in the city that now comprises works by Kaufhaus Held, a department shop which has been repurposed into a creative setting in 2013. In the meantime, the entertainment at night encompasses fashionable, inexpensive pubs and bars as well as the legendary Distillery, one of Germany’s firstborn techno clubs.
Linz unites old town appeal with a growing creative scene that might astonish anyone who isn’t up to speed with these quick renovations. In December 2014 it was established within Unesco’s network of Creative Cities, and back in 2009 it was a European capital of philosophy. In each case helping nurture the profile of the city as a target for everything arts and music. The recently improved Ars Electronica Centre, which is a museum of the future, is a place to explore the interaction between people and the biosphere around them, and captures Linz’s status as an experimental, progressive city.
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