Visit Milan during springtime and you’ll escape the manic peak tourist season, which means you can enjoy the city’s iconic attractions in relative peace. Milan is a treasure trove of gothic and neo-classical architecture, and any walking tour should take in must-see sites like the awe-inspiring Duomo di Milano Cathedral. Culture vultures can enjoy a concert, opera or ballet performance at the iconic Teatro alla Scala. Or if you’re in need of a little retail therapy, head to the “golden rectangle” - Milan’s famous fashion district, where you can browse the latest designs from Prada, Versace and Armani. Just don’t expect to find any bargains!
Portugal’s second city lies at the mouth of the River Douro, and like many coastal towns on the Iberian peninsula, it boasts a rich cultural history. Designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, Porto’s defining characteristic is perhaps its fading grandeur, which gives it a unique Baroque charm. Yet there’s nothing “fading” about the promenade fringing the beach at Praia dos Ingleses. And although it may not be warm enough to go sunbathing this early in the season, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a drink and watch the city’s smart set go by.
Located in France’s deep south close to the Spanish border, Perpignan offers visitors a chance to enjoy some warm spring sunshine, with average daytime highs starting to nudge above 20°C at this time of year. As one of France’s less “touristy” cities, the town retains much of its original charm, and the old town boasts a huge variety of small restaurants, many with their own specialities. Scan the hand-written menu boards and you’ll see a strong Spanish influence in the local favourites, like boles de picoulat (Catalan meatballs) and bullinada (a stew of mussels, potatoes, monkfish and prawns). And most dishes are accompanied by pa amb tomàquet (fresh tomato bread).
Once described as a mix of glamour and grit, Berlin offers a very different travel experience. And while it boasts the usual tourist offerings - fabulous restaurants, glitzy nightclubs, awesome architecture and art galleries, Berlin goes above and beyond when it comes to iconic attractions. After all, where else could you take a selfie at Checkpoint Charlie? Or walk a stretch of the Berlin Wall? Yet Berlin is about much more than its history, and this is very much a forward-looking city - its streets bristling with new technology, from the super-efficient public transport, to the green-roofed eco-friendly buildings.