Fall is the perfect time for weekend breaks. Whhhhhy? Because the weather in fall is not that hot that you can’t breathe either too cold that you can’t stay outside. It’s the best moment for pulling out your most romantic outfits and taking pictures in brownish beautiful landscapes. What I also love about fall is visiting cute cafeterias between my visits so going for a hot drink during a trip is one of my favorite things to do. To me, there is nothing better than all of this to enjoy weekend breaks and that’s why fall is my favorite time to take them!
Probably when you read weekend breaks for fall, you instantly will think of Paris in fall or Munich in Oktoberfest. These are good options, believe me! But there is an infinity of great and different and even better options for weekend breaks. That’s why I want to share with you 4 cities that I find perfect for visiting in fall weekend breaks and what to do in them!
1. Dublin and the nearby village of Howth (Ireland):
With the Liffey river dividing the city, Dublin is a great and humid city for weekend breaks. If you get to the city on a Friday night, have no doubt and head to the legendary Temple Bar. Joining the Irish and other tourists while drinking a pint of Guinness will probably be the highlight of your trip.
On the next day, you can focus on exploring the main spots of Dublin like the Trinity College Library or St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the morning. Then, in the afternoon, you can visit the Guinness Brewing Factory. It is a really interesting and didactic experience. Even for the less interested in beer – like me! Plus, when you finish, you will get to drink a pint and access to the best viewpoint of Dublin: the Gravity Bar!
You can find the different entrance fees and the online ticket shop in the previous links. I recommend you to book in advance your tickets since the queues can get really long, especially for Trinity College and Guinness Factory.
On your last full day, you can visit Howth and its’ cliffs. Howth is a small fishing village located 40 minutes from Dublin by public transport. It is the perfect place to spend a Sunday. You start with the Cliff trail walk – really easy and suitable for everyone – and then continue with the climb to Howth Hill. The hill’s only 171m tall and at the top, you will find really nice views of the port, the nearby islands, and the cliffs!
Before leaving Howth, don’t forget to stop in a restaurant. The best recommendation? Enjoy the local seafood or a fish and chips dish. Truly delicious! Before heading back to Dublin, I recommend you to enjoy a last walk in the port and lighthouse area. With no doubt, Dublin is on top when looking for weekend breaks with a diversity of activities.
2. Bratislava (Slovakia):
Bratislava is a beautiful – yet not that visited – city by the Danube river. It’s a small city but it’s full of history, culture, and things to do. Because the main sights are located around the old town, I highly recommend you to stay there. It might be a bit more expensive but you will avoid commuting 2-4km to the center every day. We all know that time is precious in weekend breaks!
The Slovak gastronomy is incomparable to any other I have ever tried in Europe. It is characterized for being a mixture of Central European and Slavic cuisine. In general, I would say it’s strongly based in potato, pork meat, and cheese.
That’s why arriving on Friday night, I recommend you to directly head to Divny Janko. It’s where I ate the best – and cheapest – Slovakian food of all my trip. I really loved their traditional Slovak sour potato soup (1,70€) and the Formársky Rezen (4,70€).
On Saturday morning, you can climb to Bratislava Castle hill and enjoy the views of the castle and of the Danube from there. For lunch, I would recommend you to go to Zylinder Cafe & Restaurant located in the Slovak “Ramblas” as some call them. Their filled triangular dumplings with cheese and the pink grapefruit and passion fruit lemonade are from another world!
In front of the restaurant, at 3:30 PM, you will be able to join the Discover Bratislava – City & Castle Free Tour. They will take you and explain to you the history and curiosities of the main sights of the city. It is a really recommendable experience that will help you understand the city and the country much better.
By the time you are done, you might be in the mood for snacking or taking a coffee. A really good option with lots of delicious cakes and good coffee is Enjoy Cafe.
After the coffee, you can get to the Danube Bay and contemplate the sunset from there. Once you are in the mood for dinner, you might want to visit Bratislavska Flagship. This enormous restaurant serves only typical Slovakian dishes. Although it’s usually quite crowded and that sometimes means less quality in the service, it’s still recommendable to visit it if you are around.
On your last day, one good option is to rent a bike and visit the ruins of the Devín Castle. If you don’t feel like biking, you can also reach it by public transport. At your return, don’t forget to stop by St. Martin’s Cathedral before leaving. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. As you can see, Bratislava is above on my top alternative weekend breaks destinations!
3. Sofia (Bulgaria):
The capital of Bulgaria has a perfect cultural mix. It is the proof, as some locals would say, that coexistence of religions and origins is possible. In the city center, in about one square kilometer, you can find one synagogue, one Orthodox church, and a mosque.
On your first day in Sofia, I recommend you to start with a free walking tour. I did it with the organization Free Sofia Tour and it’s the best free tour that I have done so far. They have different schedules for every day and they are run 365 days a year – included Christmas! Since the history of the city is so diverse, it’s essential to learn its background to understand how it is nowadays.
After the tour, you will probably be hungry and… you know what? Bulgarian food is delicious. Since this trip, I have been craving to find a Bulgarian restaurant in the nearby cities of my hometown. The gastronomy of Bulgaria has a lot of Greek and Slavic influence and it’s totally delicious. Above all, the most delicious dishes I tried were traditional soups and salads!
With your tummy full of food, I recommend you to revisit the inside the places that you found more interesting. It’s actually possible to visit the inside of the main attractions and do the walking tour in only 1 day. Perfect for weekend breaks, right?
On the next day, you MUST visit Rila Monastery. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is spectacular. Not only its history is interesting but also the location. Surrounded by mountains – and sometimes snow -, you will not get enough of this magical place!
It is possible to get there by bus, microbus, renting a car and even booking a private tour. You can find more practical details to get there in this link. I did it booking a car and the way there was amazing. If you also decide to it, be careful with the Bulgarian crazy drivers and the damaged roads!
4. Granada (Spain):
Granada is a beautiful city but I could never visit it in summer since it’s terribly hot. From October on, the temperatures start to decline but the weather is still warmer and sunnier than in the rest of Europe. That’s why, in my opinion, it’s truly recommendable to visit Granada in the fall season, especially in weekend breaks.
Once in Granada, you can start your trip exploring the Cathedral and Sagrario church. The access to the Cathedral costs 5€ for an adult but includes audioguide. There are also discounts for students and some free access options that you can check here. On the contrary, Sagrario church is free to access.
After visiting both churches and being delighted by Grenadine art and architecture, I recommend you to head to Albaicín. With a lot of Arabic architectural details, this neighborhood has a chilled vibe that will probably captivate you.
The reason why Albaicín is so unique is that it preserves the same structure and aspect as it did back in the medieval ages. Maybe, after I say that, you will wonder why in the medieval ages this area had such an Arabic influence? The answer is because, for more than 700 years, a big part of the Iberian Peninsula was under the Arabic rule.
By then, all the conquered territory – now Portugal and Spain – was named Al-Àndalus. Nowadays, the influence remains stronger in the south of Spain. It was the territory of Spain that was occupied for longer and more permanently by the Arabs.
After exploring a bit Albaicín, it will probably be a great time to eat. While in Granada, I really recommend you to try traditional regions from both the city and the region. Habas con jamón, olla de San Antón or Plato alpujarreño are only some of them.
The gastronomy of this area is characterized by its strong flavors. It will for sure be a surprise for you and your paladar. It’s quite different from what’s usually understood as Spanish food. To complete your meal, I recommend you to try a Pionono as dessert!
Once you move again, you should go for another light walk around Albaicín – believe me, these dishes are usually heavy to digest. This neighborhood has hidden gems everywhere and it’s really photogenic so you will not get tired of it.
Later in the afternoon, what is most recommendable – in my opinion – is to embrace the Arabic tradition. Go for a tea and contemplate the Alhambra while the sunset takes place. You will love it! You can do both at La Tetería del Bañuelo or do the first one at Tetería Kasbah and then enjoy the sun setting at Mirador de San Nicolás.
By the end of the day, after so much walk, you will probably want to rest. If you still don’t, you can head to the surroundings of the cathedral to eat some tapas as locals do. If the cathedral area is not convenient for you, check this link with the most recommendable places in Granada to go for tapas.
On the following day and probably last day, it will be time to visit THE PEARL. The Alhambra is undoubtedly the most visited attraction in Granada and probably the highlight of any trip to the city. The origin of the construction dates back to Al-Àndalus period.
It was initially built as a fortress and a palace by the Emir of Granada. Later, it was converted into a royal palace by the Sultan and experienced some modifications. Under the domination of the French, the whole construction suffered damages. It was not until 1830 when the restoration works started to recover the enchanting Alhambra.
When you visit the Alhambra, I recommend you to do an effort in arriving at the first hour. It will be really worth it, especially if you enjoy photography. It is also recommendable to book the tickets in advance since there is a limited amount of people who can access the Alhambra each day.
Once you are done with the Alhambra, you need to do a brief visit to the Arab souk. It has nowadays turned a bit touristy but still preserves some interesting architectural details. Also, it’s the best place to buy your souvenirs!
So.. this is all! Has any of these weekend breaks caught your eye? Which alternative destination for fall would you add? If you want to see more pictures of weekend breaks and more, follow me on Instagram!