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A Three Day European Break

Author: Lauren Coleman

Other than a short trip to France later this month to see my father-in-law we weren’t planning on any holidays this year. Last week I had a brief hiatus in my morning sickness and started to hatch a plan for a three night trip to Europe sometime in June. Now the symptoms have come back with a vengeance I’m not sure how realistic it’ll be but I thought I’d do some research anyway.

We’re looking for a location around three hours from London with a shortish transfer time. It’s not going to be too active an affair instead it would be far more relaxing to spend some time chilling out. We wouldn’t mind soaking in a bit of culture while we’re there and dining in a bit of luxury.

Sóller, Majorca

First potential location is Majorca, and more specifically Sóller where I know Charlotte has visited before.
Travel Time From London Around 2 hours 45 minutes
Distinguishing Features Lemon and orange groves surrounded by mountain terrain and dense woodland
Highlights

  • The buzzing main square of Plaza de la Constitución with heaps of bars and cafes
  • The quaint and quirky Sóller tram travelling from town to port
  • Boat trips along the rugged coastline to Sa Calobra, where it’s a short walk to the spectacular deep canyon on the Torrent de Parei
  • Relaxing amongst the flora and fauna of Jardi Botanic de Sóller
  • Porto, Portugal

    Last year we had an epic time in Lisbon and on our way back from an afternoon at the LX Factory our taxi driver raved about Porto, Portugal’s second city which was also mentioned by a few readers too.
    Travel Time From London Around 2 hours 15 minutes
    Distinguishing Features Porto provides architectural wonders, a quaint old town with cobbled streets, stunning vistas and beautiful beaches
    Highlights

  • Wander by the cafes and restaurants next to the River Douro
  • Admire the baroque São Francisco church 
  • Visit the Mercado do Bolhão, a lively market selling fresh produce
  • Climb the landmark Clérigos tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city’s red roofs and hills. (I’m getting the impression Porto is as hilly as Lisbon!)
  • Drop into the neo-Gothic Lello Bookshop (a favourite of JK Rowling’s apparently)
  • Take in a tour of the port wine lodges
  • Hop on a boat ride and visit one the palm lines beaches
  • Paris, France

    I’m lucky enough to have visited Paris many times. The familiarity of the place is comforting but I’m wondering if we should spread our wings a little.
    Travel Time From London Flight Time 1 hour 15 minutes, Eurostar 2 hours 15 minutes.
    Distinguishing Features Ooh la la! It’s Paris! Stunning buildings with balconies aplenty, culture, history and apparently the most romantic place on Earth.
    Highlights

  • Take a trip down the Seine (previously we’ve just used the water taxi)
  • Dine on a rooftop terrace taking in a Parisian vista
  • Kick back in the Jardin du Luxembourg for a snooze in the sun
  • Take a stroll around Versaille
  • Eat crossiants 24 hours a day
  • Picnic in Parc de la Turlure with a view of the mighty Sacré Coeur
  • Rent a rowing boat in the Bois de Boulogne and relax out on the water
  • Any other recommendations for a cheeky three day break not too far from home? Where are your favourite places in Europe to spend a long weekend?

    {Contributors}

    Image of Porto via The Independent

    Author
    Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
    Follow Lauren on instagram @mrslaurencoleman

    58 thoughts on “A Three Day European Break

    1. Barcelona is my absolute favourite place city break and one I go back to time and time again. The flight time is short, two hours I think, and the airport is really close to the city so you can get a bus straight to the centre of Barcelona. A taxi is also very affordable.

      As a city break I think it has everything – amazing architecture and culture, crazy good food and drinks, a beach, and older part of the town, a zoo and some epic parks.

      My sister and I went for a child free 48 hours there two summers ago and it was the best time. We stayed at the Yurbban Trafalgar hotel which has really contemporary interiors and a rooftop bar/pool ideal for cooling off in because it can get hot!!

      Lisbon is top of my list of places to visit when we get the chance. We have a three year old and an almost 6 week old and are going to Menorca this summer for the second summer in a row because we found it ideal with a young family. Just three more months to go!

      Have an ace time if you do manage to get away!

      1. Love Barcelona Jennifer and we haven’t been there for a few years. The hotel sounds perfect! x

    2. How about Gothenburg? I think from London the flight time is less then two hours.

      We absolutely loved it. A highlight was getting the tram to the archipelago and a boat trip to one of the islands https://www.goteborg.com/en/to-do-in-the-gothenburg-archipelago/

      And “fika” with HUGE cinnamon buns 😋 https://www.goteborg.com/en/cafes/

      The city felt quite calm. Lots of green space and the air felt clean. We had a toddler with us so couldn’t do too much site seeing, well we saw lots of playgrounds!

      Good luck deciding and fingers crossed you get to go!

    3. Firstly, sorry about the sickness. It never ended here so I know how you feel. For me, it was linked to not eating early enough or little and often (I could Time it religiously. 5.15pm was the worst which, as we all know, transfers to outside the womb and is the dreaded witching hour).

      Now, holidays and babies. Personally, city breaks are doable with babies in slings and carriers so save things like Paris and Porto for avec le babe. You will however, never again, get to lie by a pool and do sod all with a book. Either one or both of you will have to watch a roaming toddler, be consistently slathering on sun cream, be in the room whilst it naps in the shade etc. My advice would be to get all the relaxing holidays in NOW. Whilst you CAN.

      We were like you and used to do days, move on, days move on. This is so impractical. Before you resolve yourself to planning these on spreadsheets to cheer yourself up whilst taking yet another holiday to Cornwall and promising yourself you will see more of the world when they’re grown up (but Cornwall is middle class and wholesome!! And they’re just as happy there as they would be travelling in a car around Italy! *eyeroll*).

      Basically, go luxury. Go relaxing. Do it for meeeeeeeeeee

      1. YES to this! We have an 8.5 month old and city breaks are doable (though rare because now we have got ourselves in gear to do them we are poor due to unpaid mat leave starting!) but I know that beach holidays or even spa breaks where we do very little other than lie and relax will be quite a few years away! So I second the idea of going for something luxury (ideally adults only!) as a real treat xx

        1. Seville has now joined my list of places to go after reading all of these comments.
          Have you thought about Marrakech or Essaoira? You’d be able to relax next to a pool but also great for culture and exploring.

      2. Good point Rebecca. I was actually wondering about a luxe break in Cornwall but you’re right – I’ll be going there for the next fifteen years!

        1. I’d basically be advising the following:
          Pre Pregnancy: Africa, India, Asia (i.e. exciting, tropical, requires some effort physically in terms of modes of transport etc. to do it for less than a gazillion quid)

          Pregnancy: Lying down anywhere. Ideally with something cold in hand next to something blue.

          0-6 months: Roadtrip. California. Australia. New Zealand, Canada. Before they start moving and will sleep in a car for journeys but with decent healthcare and a language you speak in the event of emergency.

          6 months+: Cornwall, Wales, Scotland. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

          3.5 years: Abroad again but £££ because you’re paying for seats and taxes and rooms.

          My work here is done. You’re welcome.

      3. YES to this comment, as a mum of a 3 and 1 year old I agree with all of the above! Lie in the sun and do nothing and enjoy every moment!! 🙂 x

      4. YES YES YES!!!!!!! I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 12 week baby, and good god what I would do for just one day in the sun, by a pool reading a book and snoozing (I’ve not been able to pick a book up in over 2 years….) Go somewhere where you don’t have to do anything. ANYTHING. The Greek islands have some fantastic lux hotels and are still easily accessible. City breaks are so doable with a sling as the baby will just sleep with all the movement and being close to you. Obviously up to you, but that’s what I would be doing if I had my time again!!

    4. We had a fantastic time in Gdansk in Poland last year. Beautiful city to stroll around with a great juxtaposition of the old city and the new hipster warehouse conversion type parts. Everyone was really friendly and there was so much to occupy us for 4 days even with a toddler in tow. It was super cheap too!
      On the scale of expense we went to Copenhagen on a cheeky babymoon and I really appreciated the chance to amble around the super cool shops, bars and cafes that I wouldn’t dare enter with our hurricane of a child now!
      I’d always recommend any Italy city as well but maybe they’d be a little too hectic at the minute!

      1. We went to Venice a few years ago when we went to Lake Garda. I was blown away when we first stepped out of the car. All those canals look unreal!
        Have a fab time in Soller Rebecca x

    5. I love Barcelona but also rate Seville too. Beautiful city and great tapas! I actually went to Madrid when I was about 4 months pregnant and that was great – I luckily didn’t have horrific morning sickness but found I got tired really easily so we’d go off exploring after breakfast, find some lunch somewhere before heading back to the hotel for a much needed siesta before going out to dinner. Not the most action packed or wildest break but was perfect for me at the time!

      1. Great suggestions Sophie. I’m lucky enough to have visited all three and loved them all.

    6. Bruges get my vote – you can be as chilled or as lively as you like – everything is in easy walking distance – yummy food and plenty of fine dining places to try – loads of culture if you fancy it – and it is a short flight to Brussels and then train transfer to Bruges 🙂
      Definitely grab your relaxing holidays now 🙂 x

    7. Prague! If you’ve never been then please do. It’s the most beautiful city and so walkable. Loads to see and do. Lots of parks and a beautiful river. The weather will be gorgeous. What’s not to love?

    8. Have you thought about Seville? It’s the most beautiful city, and June would be a wonderful time to visit. It’s absolutely gorgeous, quite compact so easy to navigate, with really delicious (and cheap!) tapas. The gardens in the Alcazar are just stunning, you can easily lose an afternoon to them. And there is a lovely food market close to the river with lots of lovely outdoor seating which is well worth a visit.

      It’s up there with Lisbon in my favourite ever European cities ratings – I would be hard pushed to choose between the two. xx

      1. I went to Seville on a hen do a few years ago and fell in love. Would love to take James back with me though so that’s a great suggestion.

    9. San Sebastian is top of my short break list, meant to be amazing for food.

      Positano for those Instagram photos!

      We went to Florence last year with a 17month old and pregnant, was great altho couldn’t enjoy an aperol or as much cheese as I would have liked!!

      Def go for a relaxing holiday, the only sitting by a pool you can do with a baby is nap time or tagteaming child management!

    10. I absolutely love Croatia. Fly to Split or Dubrovnik and use the local ferry services to explore the little islands. Hvar is dreamy!

      1. My sister-in-law is going this summer and that’s her itinerary Alice! We went to Zadar a few years ago and loved it.

    11. My friend has just come back absolutely raving about Budapest. Apparently there is a really vibrant bar/cafe culture and its really beautiful. Its defo gone up my list of potential city breaks to try!

      1. James went to Budapest on a stag do (is there anywhere my husband hasn’t been on a stag do?!) and came back raving about it too! I think it’s relatively inexpensive too.

            1. It was for our honeymoon (over a year after our actual wedding!). It was wonderful and I’d highly recommend it. The cottages were so relaxing and you can pay extra for home cooked food. Budapest was really interesting. Brody House has a list of recommended restaurants in the bedroom so we had a delicious meal in a restaurant we wouldn’t have found ourselves. We went on to Croatia after that. We fitted a lot in two weeks!

    12. I would say Scandinavia! I have been to both Stockholm and Copenhagen and they really are my happy place. So calm, clean, friendly, relaxed and easy! Perfect for a baby moon xx

    13. We went on a girls long weekend to Palma when first of our group was pregnant. Was a nice mix of city break and beach, we had an air B and B opposite the cathedral which was really central and nice to be able to go back and chill out. But pre-baby we had a last minute week in Lanzarote which was great too!
      Top tip for abroad with baby/toddler would be to find people to go with who have similar age kids (or grandparents if you can handle them for a week or two!) We went to a villa in Menorca last year with one of my best friends, her husband and toddler (same age as my daughter). They loved playing together, we took babysitting turns so we each had a night out, and being on the same schedule worked well. Plus during nap times we could lounge by the pool and pretend we were still young and childfree 😂

      1. I’ve always loved Palma Linsey. I went with my parents years ago and thought it was gorgeous.

    14. As a mummy of an 18 month old I am jumping on the relaxation bandwagon! Holidays won’t be the same for a while (no lying by the pool reading a book a day!) – they’ll be different but just as wonderful in their own ways.

      We went to Santorini for 4 nights on our mini moon. Perfect for a quick eacape! Gorgeous sunsets of course. Oia has beautiful places to stay with a sprinkling of sunny luxury. 😊

      1. My friends are going to Santorini next week Sarah and I’m jealous. And I’m bloody obsessed with a good sunset!

    15. I’m not sure on the details from London, but I had a four days in Budapest last July. We felt like we had seen all the sights and had a good wander around at a relaxed pace in that time. It was a really relaxed place with gorgeous buildings and lots of lovely cafes. The food was so good at Kuglof Cafe we went there for breakfast/brunch everyday.

      Some of my highlights – the view from the citadel is amazing, the Fisherman’s Bastion which has more of an old town feel in the surrounding area, the Parliament buildings are stunning, boat trip on the Danube, seeing St Stephen’s basilica lit up at night with an Aeperol spritz in hand at a nearby bar, the thermal baths.

      The metro was really easy to get around. As well as Hungarian hufs, a lot of places also took euros. I would highly recommend Budapest.

    16. Soller is so lovely. We stayed at 1902 Townhouse which is a new boutique hotel – stunning rooms and pools in the town. It was bliss. The owners were fabulous and had two lovely cats. George and Booboo! The breakfasts were a three course dream each day. I can’t recommend it enough.

    17. I fancy a little break in the sun in Majorca at some point, I’ve read many good things on RMS about it. We went to Lisbon and Porto last year, taking the high speed train in between. Loved both. Porto is super cool, the views over the river to both the port houses with their huge ‘Hollywood’ type signs and back from there are amazing. We found an amazing roof toop terrace bar in Porto, drank a beautiful bottle of white port and tonic and just felt so alive! We went on a food tour in Porto that was really enjoyable and I would recommend. You also have to try the local sandwich, a Francesinha. We went somewhere where they did a veggie version for me – pure filth but great fun!

      I also think I agree with the other comments, enjoy a lazy holiday as it won’t happen again for a while! We’ve been to Lagos in Portugal a few times on girls holidays. I have been to Scandinavia/the Baltic region with work and whilst the high cost of alcohol puts me off going now, if you’re pregnant that’s not a problem! Edinburgh was also great last weekend (I’ve drafted a submission I just need to polish it!).

    18. Agreed – lazy holidays with babe in tow are hard! Unless you’re able to tag in extra adults to help out as well, which we’re planning to do with my in-laws next month when we head to the south of France, and have discussed doing with other baby/toddler having friends in future. But even then you’ve half an eye on what’s going on, over the top of your book! We’ve managed a bit of sight-seeing cultural stuff with her too – Prague at the 3 months old, Italy last summer (in 40 degree heat!), and definitely aim to take advantage of not having to pay for a full seat whilst they’re under 2, if you can.

      In terms of places to go, I’m not sure I can help much. I love to experience new – Copenhagen, Prague, every Italian city ever are all places I’d happily go back to, also Seville and Cordoba. I’ve lived in Brussels, but not for a long while, and I think it’s probably better for a winter break (Christmas markets galore) though I love a stroll around the Cinquantenaire or Tervuren, and architecturally there’s a lot of interest.

    19. I am completely obsessed with all things Scandi to went to Copenhagen and Stockholm last year. I loved them both! I have a friend who lives in Stockholm and her instagram pictures currently are beautiful – lots of blue skies.
      Ben and I went on one of our first holidays to Strasburg because we just went on Skyscanner, chose the destination as ‘anywhere’ and it was the cheapest one! I would never have thought of going there but it was lovely – super clean pretty city with lots of flowers along a canal (think Amsterdam with no red light district) then it was just a short drive into ridiculously picturesque mountains. We watched a storm roll in the safety of our hotel room from the and it was super romantic!
      Also would love to go to Seville! Really enjoying everyone else’s holiday recommendations x

    20. Catching up with this and massively agree with the person who suggested Morocco! Fez, Marrakech, yoga break- so much to explore and so beautiful! A gorgeous Riad hotel with a pool and amazing food. How wonderful!

      You know I would always go Italy for recommendations but actually it’s so great when you have kids (we took S to Bologna and Siena at 4 months and Florence at 18 months) that I would say leave it this time. Budapest is a great shout with the spas and all the guilt free cake you can eat.

      But from your list, Porto sounds fabulous! Go go go!

    21. Nice has it all. Old town, vintage hunting, shops, galleries, great food, beach and port, all less than 2 hours away. Less obviously, we had a brilliant few days in Nîmes and would also recommend Valencia.

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