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Make the most of a long weekend with a short-haul trip around Europe. Here are the best places to visit and what to see while you’re there.
Soak up the spring sunshine with a stroll alongside the city’s enchanting Canal Saint-Martin, whose picturesque quaysides are lined with bohemian shops, galleries, music venues and bars. Pick up some picnic food in the historic Marché St Martin and lunch al fresco in the pretty, petite Jardin Villemin or hang out with the hipsters at Chez Prune, a traditional French bistro.
Discover Italy’s modern art legacy at Casa Museo Boschi di Stefano – what was the former home of collectors Antonio Boschi and Marieda Di Stefano. Their super-stylish 1930s apartment is awash with works by great twentieth-century Italian artists, including Botero, Morandi, Boccioni and Fontana. Nearby Pasticceria Cova has welcomed everyone from Verdi to Hemingway in its 200 years and is an iconic destination for traditional Milanese treats.
With its woodland glades, grassy meadows and scenic views, Munich’s historic Englisher Garten is a vast oasis in the city. A simple – if somewhat unlikely – pleasure here is watching the thrills and spills of wetsuit-clad surfers riding the ice-cold Eisbach river wave. Head to the lake to sip on a stein of beer and sample local savoury specialities at the Seehaus beer garden.
Madrid’s Art Walk is a cultured way to achieve your daily 10,000 steps, featuring a raft of famous art museums. If you have to choose just one, make it the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum whose collection deftly traces the history of European painting, with works by Caravaggio, Rubens, Monet and Van Gogh. Just one metro stop takes you to Casa Alberto, an authentic old taberna, for tapas and a glass of something cold.
Combine culture with cuisine in Dublin’s fair city. The Old Library at Trinity College is home to the Book of Kells, a ninth-century illuminated manuscript that is revered as Ireland’s greatest treasure. For a little less hush, catch a performance at the Abbey Theatre, founded by poet W.B. Yeats. Reward your legwork at The Greenhouse, where Michelin-starred chef Mickael Viljanen conjures up innovative contemporary Irish cuisine.
Don’t underestimate the serious business of making people laugh. The comic strip is a particularly Belgian art form, and the format that gave us Tintin, Asterix and the Smurfs. Housed in an elegant Art Nouveau building, the Belgian Centre for Comic Strip Art celebrates this ‘ninth art’, its greatest characters and the clever artists who created them. Take lunch in-house at the museum’s Brasserie Horta.
Part time capsule, part art installation, Dennis Severs’ House is unique. Created by artist Dennis Severs, this Georgian house tells the story of an imaginary dynasty of Huguenot weavers from the eighteenth century onwards. Each room is eerily evocative – a fire burns in the grate, a breakfast left half-eaten, a caged canary sings as the family fortunes wax and wane. Today Spitalfields is one of London’s liveliest quarters, with dining opportunities aplenty; check out the latest at Ottolenghi or tuck in to a traditional Sunday lunch at Hawksmoor.
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