Visiting a new country or city does not need to mean a complete break from the norm, either. After all, if you’re set on the type of holiday you usually enjoy, you don’t have to stray too far from your comfort zone to experience a little adventure. A change of scenery could simply add a little spice to your break and introduce you to fascinating new cultures, sights and sounds.
Here are some exciting holiday alternatives that will sate your wanderlust this summer.
Been to Barcelona? Make Valencia your next Spanish adventure
Barcelona has long been established as one of the leading cities in the world for tourism. The attractions in this bustling city seem almost endless, with millions of travellers visiting jaw-dropping Antoni Gaudi sites such as Park Guell and Casa Batllo.
If you haven’t been to the classy capital of Catalonia before, it’s is wholeheartedly recommended but, further down the coast, Valencia is quickly making a splash with its stunning architecture, lush greenery and sensational art scene. Let’s take a look at how some of the top attractions from each city compare:
Sagrada Familia vs Valencia Cathedral
As one of the most breathtaking buildings in the world, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is tough to compare. The timeless and famously unfinished work of Antoni Gaudi is hard to describe, with eight towers of marvellous artistry to explore.
If you fancy seeing a church that is actually finished, then the majestic beauty of Valencia Cathedral should not be missed. Constructed on the remains of a Roman temple in the 13th century, the place of worship boasts many different architectural styles which have been added over the years; ranging from Gothic to Romanesque and Renaissance. It provides a compelling insight into the history of the city and makes for unforgettable photo opportunities.
Picasso Museum vs City of Arts and Sciences
Curating a collection that does the flamboyant work of Pablo Picasso justice is no mean feat, but the Picasso Museum in Barcelona has been doing just that since 1963. It has over 3,000 pieces to explore and the collection is based across five medieval stone mansions, creating a magnificent atmosphere befitting of the artist.
While Barcelona celebrates one of the pioneers of the past, Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences looks to the future with a marvellous assortment of scientific and cultural exhibitions. Made up of seven unique buildings – L’Hemisferic, El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L’Umbracle, L’Oceanografic, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or and L’Agora – the complex features a magnificent array of things to do.
Whether you wish to explore the city’s agriculture in L’Umbracle, or take the kids to the tranquil waterpools, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in this spectacular development.
Love Portugal but want to try somewhere new? Swap Lisbon for Porto
For many, Lisbon presents the ideal city break and it’s easy to see why. Newcomers will certainly love the sun, culture and mouth-watering food, but those familiar with the Portuguese capital should take a look at a serious contender further north: Porto.
Wine connoisseurs will probably be familiar with the delights of Porto, but there’s much more to it than its variety of tipples. Let’s take a look:
Lisbon Cathedral vs Igreja de São Francisco
Lisbon Cathedral stands as one of Portugal’s most iconic buildings. It’s a building steeped in history, boasting a mix of Romanesque, Baroque, Neoclassical, Rococo and Gothic architectural styles. What’s more, its treasury contains further historic works, including relics, icons and art from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Porto has magnificent history of its own to explore. The Igreja de Sao Francisco features awe-inspiring interiors, many of which are covered in glistening gold. You may recognise the style of the traditional blue and white azulejo tiles from your holidays to Lisbon, but there are some particularly fine examples in this church.
Alfama vs Ribeira Square
After leaving Lisbon Cathedral, travellers will be right in the middle of the city’s oldest district – Alfama. This stunning labyrinth of winding streets features some of Portugal’s most celebrated buildings. Jump on the number 28 tram to see the neighbourhood in all of its glory, then take your time visiting outstanding sites such as Lisbon Castle and St Anthony’s Church.
Porto has its own answer to Alfama in the shape of the incredible Ribeira Square. Ancient buildings mix with shops and restaurants in this beating heart of the city. The three-storey Fonte de Rua de Sao João fountain is a popular photo opportunity and the Mercado de Fusao is the perfect place to try local food and put your feet up.
History buff? Make Rome for Naples!
The everlasting impact of the gargantuan Roman empire can be seen across much of the world, so why not go right to the heart of it with a trip to Rome – undoubtedly one of the most historic destinations in the world? It’s hard to beat for tourists, though there is an excellent alternative further south in Naples. Here’s how the two compare:
Roman Colosseum vs Teatro di San Carlo
The Roman Colosseum has been the symbol of Rome since its opening 80 AD. While it was originally a venue for savage gladiatorial battles, it is now best known for its architectural beauty and colossal presence. After years of restoration work, the amphitheatre provides a mesmerising trip back in time with amazing artefacts to explore. The Roman Forum is also next door for those wanting to dig deeper into the past.
To immerse yourself in true Italian culture, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples is a monumental theatre, dating back to 1737. It is the oldest active opera house in Europe and stands proudly as an icon of Neapolitan culture. Adorned with visually-arresting art and a dazzling ceiling fresco, it’s the perfect place for a night at the opera.
Pasta Carbonara vs Neapolitan Pizza
Of course a holiday in Italy isn’t all about the sights – you don’t want to miss out on that mouthwatering authentic cuisine! Rome is the home of pasta carbonara, while we have Naples to thank for delicious Neapolitan pizza. We can’t possibly choose between the two, so let’s take a look at the top eateries.
The variety of restaurants means choosing somewhere to eat in Rome can be tough, but L’Arcangelo cooks up one of the city’s best carbonaras. The dish’s creamy texture has made it a hit for years, though the portions are plentiful, so leave lots of room! The intimate Da Enzo 29 and the traditional Da Sergio are other excellent options and each put their own stamp on the classic recipe.
As the capital of Neapolitan Pizza, Naples has a similarly wide choice of amazing eateries to choose from. If you’re looking for a sit-down meal, Pizzeria Trianon Da Ciro should not be missed, with over 20 delicious toppings available. For those on a budget, Pizzeria Di Matteo offers delightful pizzas at great value – and it’s a favourite of former US President Bill Clinton!