Cultural Europe: For culture vultures, foodies and a little shopping

We take a look at smaller, easily reached cities, which pack a punch for three or four days of wanderings and exploration.

Bilbao, Spain

Tucked up in northern Spain, firmly in the Basque country and a UNESCO City of Design. Visit the stand-out Guggenheim Museum Bilbao for modern art, the Fine Arts Museum for works dating back to 12th century and the Basque Museum for insights into the local fiercely held traditions. Food focuses on dishes from the sea, particularly eels and cod. The moreish snacks or starters, pintxo, make for tasty accompaniments to txakoli, a local white wine. On Sunday morning head for Plaza Nueva for the open air flea market.  In the Azkuna Zentroa you’ll find up and coming Basque designers and artists selling their collections, within Phillippe Starck’s modern building. For elegant high-end shopping, head for the Ensanche and the so-called Golden Mile. 

Bilbao Tourism

Thessaloniki, Greece   

It’s got to be food as a major attraction in the city, although it’s got history and shopping too. You can take a Food Tour here, strolling through the Modiano market, built by the Jewish engineer of the same name in the 1920s. It is a seriously foodie haunt, with tiny bars and cafes serving sea fresh fish and other delicacies, alongside the produce stalls. Then there’s the Kapani market, based on the Ottoman style, a reminder of the people who lived here for centuries. You can sit right beside the Hellenic and Roman remains of the forum, enjoy coffee in a converted hammam, visit the Upper City, Ano Poli, where houses feature the overhanging upper window along narrow streets. At the top of the hill are the remains of the city walls, The Trigonion Tower and the Gate of Anna Paleologina, with a stupendous view down across the entire city to the sea and the iconic White Tower.   

Thessaloniki Travel

Maastricht, The Netherlands

This city is hard to beat for its buildings – medieval in parts, with churches and monasteries from across the centuries, cobbled streets and three main squares, edged with cafes and restaurants. It is awash with religious relics and artifacts: those in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius span 1,500 years. The Bonnefanten Museum will delight art lovers, displaying both Old Masters and modern works. It’s a city of festivals too, from jazz in the autumn to the culinary arts at Preuvenemint in August to the world-class European Fine Art Fair in March. Local dishes such as zuurvlees, a delicious meat stew, served with chips and apple sauce or bitterballen, fried meat balls, go well with regional craft beers.    

Visit Maastricht

Next steps

For city breaks, ideal for romantic breaks, call 0800 412 5678 – our Silver Travel Advisors will suggest hotels and flights to suit you.  

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