City breaks in Europe are a popular choice of holiday for a reason. For such a small continent, it packs in a huge variety of cultures, cuisines, styles of architecture, and complex history, and visiting almost any city in Europe for a short while can be a truly fascinating travel experience.

But at Not In The Guidebooks, our off the beaten track city breaks take turn your average city break into an unforgettable one. You’ll enjoy activities that truly get you under the skin of a city to see it’s authentic, local side, whether that’s on cooking classes, wine tours, or foodie walking tours that uncover the city’s secret gems whilst introducing you to a regions local flavours.

But with so many options to pick from, where should you pick first for your 2022 European city break? We’ve selected our top 5 city breaks in Europe for 2022, to provide you with the inspiration you need to go and explore our continent’s wonderful cities.

1.     Porto Off The Beaten Track


river douro in porto at sunset

Porto is a truly beautiful city, even by European standards, with its maze of cobbled streets, winding staircases climbing from fishing harbours to panoramic views of terracotta roof tiles, and cosy tavernas and al fresco dining around every corner.

On this off the beaten track city break in Porto, you’ll get to know the city like a local on a food tour that’ll help you get to grips with the best bits (and the hidden gems) in the city, and immerse yourself in local Portuguese cuisine as you visit the locals favourite food spots.

You’ll also escape the city limits to visit the heart-stoppingly beautiful Douro region, an area of lush vineyards and valleys that has been producing wine for over 2000 years, on a wine tour that’ll take you by train to a traditional winery.

By the time you leave Porto, it’s almost certain you’ll have been enchanted by the wonderfully slow pace of life in the city, and will be yearning for your next adventure back.

2.     Offbeat City Break in Florence

ponte vecchio in florence

Incredible food and wine, magical architecture, an unparalleled history in culture and the arts, it’s no wonder Florence is one of the most popular destinations for a city break in Italy. But on this off the beaten track city break in Florence with Not In The Guidebooks, we’ll help you escape the crowds and experience the Florence that many visitors miss.

Kick off this wonderful example of our city breaks in Europe by getting your bearings on an e-bike tour with a local guide, where you’ll be able to drink in the incredible main sights, the hidden gems, and enjoy the kind of gelato that only really exists in Florence.

And sticking with the food theme (as it’s hard not to in Tuscany), you’ll also get hands-on with some authentic Italian cuisine on a cooking class with a local chef. Of course, at the end of your experience you’ll also have the chance to enjoy everything you cook along with world class local wines.

With some free time built into your itinerary for you to explore independently and discover Florence for yourself, you’ll begin to understand just how much of Florence there is to uncover and start planning your return trip.

3.     Valencia Food and Wine Break

glass of wine in a vineyard near valencia

Now for a city break which takes you beyond the city limits. On this food and wine break in Valencia, you’ll visit a city often (mistakenly) overlooked by tourists when they’re looking for their next Spanish adventure.

After three nights exploring networks of caves underneath nearby villages, stunning winelands and buzzing local markets, of cooking up authentic Spanish cuisine and tasting local wines on small-scale vineyards, you’ll understand why Valencia is one of the most compelling travel destinations in Spain.

With local guides who will introduce you to the best hidden gems to eat and drink, excursions to olive oil mills in the countryside and a day with a chef, where you’ll experience local life in the morning market and use the ingredients you’ve bought to learn to cook real, authentic paella, and you have yourself an immersive food holiday like no other.

And with its beautiful Old Town and cutting edge City Of Arts And Sciences, there is plenty more to explore in Valencia during one of your next city breaks in Europe.

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4.     Off The Beaten Track in Paris

Whilst Paris may be one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth, there is plenty you can discover that lies a little further off the beaten track that will delight even the most seasoned traveller.

On our off the beaten track city break in Paris, you’ll join a local guide who will help you explore Paris from a unique, local perspective. They’ll show you the very best places to find the best authentic Parisian food, and ensure you can spend the rest of your time in the French capital as a culinary expert.

Enjoy wine tasting with an expert sommelier, there aren’t many cities in the world better for this, and learn to master Parisian cuisine on a cooking class with a local chef, who will uncover all the secrets that make French food so world-renowned.

Paris may be one of the most visited cities on earth, but it holds that title for a reason, and with Not In The Guidebooks, you can enjoy an offbeat experience of the city you would never find on your own.

5.     Spring City Break in Lisbon

yellow tram in lisbon

One of our favourite cities in Europe to visit now, at one of the very best times of year. Lisbon in the springtime has a special air about it, with the days gradually growing longer, the city filling with new perfumes and colour, and on this unique city break, you can discover the best of local Lisbon at this magical time of year.

Experience the otherworldly atmosphere of a traditional Fado performance over an authentic dinner in a Fado house, about as Portuguese an experience you can imagine but one that is not especially easy to seek out on your own.

Learn to craft local specialities with produce you’ve bought from the morning market with your chef and guide, and head to a nearby winery to immerse yourself in all things food and wine – one thing is for sure, you’ll be well fed on this tour!

And what with Spring being well underway now, this is the perfect time to take a spontaneous trip to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe at a time of year when life just seems to move more slowly.

Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we are always searching for new ways for our travellers to experience a destination. We recognise that cities like Paris, Lisbon and Florence are extremely popular for a reason, but we also realise that some people don’t want to be herded around the same sights as large groups, or only shown the touristy surface of a city.

That’s why we’ve developed our range of off the beaten track city breaks. They are designed to show you the very best of a city from a unique, local perspective, whilst packing your itinerary with interesting, alternative things to do that really help you get under the skin of the city, and leave feeling as though you’ve enjoyed a genuinely memorable city break.

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