INSPIRATION • January 2020
Feel the sand beneath your feet, fly high in a Ferris wheel or swoosh down the slopes – all within half an hour of leaving the airport. Travel editor Jill Starley-Grainger reveals the easiest and breeziest city breaks for 2020
From the airport: The train will get you to Amsterdam Central Station in under 20 minutes
What to see: The best way to see Amsterdam’s 18th-century gabled houses is from the water, so once you’re off the train, hop on a canal boat opposite the station for an hour-long cruise through the city centre. Back on land, drop your bags at the DoubleTree Hilton Centraal Station – don’t miss the rooftop bar with sweeping city views – then walk to Anne Frank House to see where she and her family lived in hiding. Afterwards, grab a beer in a nearby brown bar — the Dutch equivalent of a pub — then browse the independent shops of the adjacent Nine Streets area. Finally gawp at Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum and check out sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum (pictured).
From the airport: The train will get you to Copenhagen Central Station in under 15 minutes
What to see: Walk out of the gleaming Central Station straight into the Tivoli Gardens theme park, with more than a dozen vintage rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel and galley ship. Fast forward to the Hotel Skt Petri, which showcases the best of Denmark’s modern design. Check in, then make your way to Christiansborg Palace, home of Parliament and royal state rooms, but you’ll need to go to charming Rosenborg Castle (pictured) if you want to see the crown jewels. Later, explore the harbourside Nyhavn area for its friendly cafés, bars, restaurants and music clubs, including the excellent Standard a waterside venue with a cocktail bar and several restaurants serving modern haute Danish cuisine.
From the airport: The tram will get you to Carras stop in under 15 minutes
What to see: Hop off the tram and onto the palm-lined Promenade des Anglais, a four-mile stretch of golden sand. After dipping your toes in the Med, walk east on the pavement, alongside rollerbladers, cyclists and groups of Niçoise out enjoying the sun. At the end of the promenade, check into Hotel La Perouse for its sea views and ideal location. From here, you can walk into its cobbled old town to marvel at the Belle Epoque architecture, pavement cafés and market stalls. Save time to squeeze in a taxi ride up the hill to the Musée Matisse to see some of the artist’s most famous works.
From the airport: A taxi will get you to Crozet in neighbouring France, in around 20 minutes
What to see: The closest slopes to Geneva are Mont Jura - little known to Brits but popular with the Swiss and French. For a weekend break, these small mountains are perfect, with 24 runs that are mostly easy to intermediate, plus a large area for cross-country skiing and a few snowshoe trails. Recover with a drink in the bar of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix (pictured). Its lakeside location makes it the ideal base to explore Geneva’s cocktail bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and the thought-provoking and interactive Red Cross Museum.
From the airport: A Metro ride will get you to Martim Moniz station in around 20 minutes
What to see: High on a hill is Castelo Sao Jorge,where spectacular views over the city and Atlantic Ocean reward those on a walk around the ramparts. Then make your way down through Alfama, the city’s oldest district, past delightfully wonky medieval houses and on to your hotel, the four-star Mundial. You can board the historic number 28 tram nearby for the 90-minute trip through the city centre, or hop off along the way for shopping in Lisbon’s markets and beautiful shopping streets, many of which have colourful azulejo tiles on the pavements and external shop walls. But don’t leave Lisbon without sampling a pastéis de nata from Pastéis de Belém, where this flaky custard tart was first sold in the city in 1837.