Pack up your troubles and head North, South, East or West – every whichway has a treasure trove of fun to offer travellers
Dublin's fair city is ranked as one of the top tourist destinations for backpackers and students alike. World renowned for its pubs and Irish charm, today you’ll find it’s a city where youth has visibly taken charge of tradition, resulting in a glorious mix of young and old culture. Don a massive stupid green hat and become convinced you’ve got Irish roots at the St Patrick’s Festival (Thu 12-Tue 17 March), where you can sample the best of Irish music and comedy or join in the Paddy’s day parade. Alternatively immerse yourself in Guinness (ok, not literally) at the Guinness Storehouse - devoted completely to the pint of Kings.
Home of legendary graffiti artist Banksy and big UK dance music names like Massive Attack, Roni Size and Krafty Kuts, the formerly gritty Bristol is now one of Britain's most progressive cities. The crumbling docks have been modernised and cutting edge architecture meets café culture with beautiful old warehouses along the waterfront, one of which houses the newly refurbished Bristol Youth Hostel. The streets are packed with restaurants, designer bars, world-class museums and, of course, record shops. The city’s media and music scene have led some to hail it as the new London, though it’s more like London’s cheekier - and cooler - cousin.
Berlin rocks. Grand public buildings alongside an amazing nightlife and a history of division still reflected in the striking differences between the glitz of the West and grey of the East. Berlin is a sophisticated city that has a lively nightlife and an obscure love of bleepy techno. Visit the remnants of the Berlin wall and wonder at the cities ancient history. We also recommend you check out Fat Tire Bike Tours for an alternative way to see the sights. It’s a fascinating city to explore.
Krakow’s old town has more pubs and bars per square metre than anywhere else in the world. Unlike its more tourist-y rivals (such as Paris and Prague) Krakow retains an old world charm, with an honesty that makes it easy to feel like you’re on a movie set. It is arguably the prettiest of Poland’s main cities, largely because it survived World War II without being blown to smithereens. History buffs could take a bus to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, 60 kilometres outside the city or take a wander round the 16th Century Wawel Castle.
Amsterdam is a wonderful big melting pot of colours, cultures, languages and smells. One minute you’re in a beautiful canal-side café stuffing your face with pancakes and the next you feel like you’ve wandered into the orient. Buy flowers for almost nothing, fit four people on a bicycle or wander round dressed like a cabbage. Amsterdam gives you some of the most beautiful museums and galleries Europe has to offer, alongside an awesome party culture – what other country celebrates its Queen’s birthday with an orange street party?
Some independent travellers write off Malaga as a package holiday destination without realising the beautiful old town that lies within. Malaga radiates class and culture, with a rough Andalucian edge. The birthplace of Picasso offers beautiful Moorish architecture, narrow maze-like streets and leafy boulevards filled with history. Despite the influx of Brits to the coast, Malaga remains quintessentially Spanish. Don’t even think of going out before 9.30pm. If you’ve got a strong stomach, check out a traditional bullfight at the Plaza La Malagueta - but be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted.