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The Sunday Times Travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers.


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City breaks in August

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By Annabelle Thorpe, Editor of 101 Short Breaks

Who doesn’t love August?  School’s out, the sun is shining and it feels like the whole world’s on holiday. Particularly when you’re stuck in an airport queue, or shuffling around a museum with a thousand other overheated tourists.

A successful short-break in August is all about the planning; it’s not just about where you go, but how you choose to get there and what there is to do when you arrive. Some cities clear out completely in August, others have a programme of festivals and events throughout the month. Some bake in 40ºC+ temperatures, others barely break a sweat. The one guarantee? Wherever you choose, you’re bound to come back with a tan.

If you’re planning an August break, temperature has to be a major consideration. Footslogging around Athens or Seville in 40ºC heat is rarely a pleasant experience, but head to Scandinavia and you get more bearable temperatures and evenings where the sunlight stretches towards midnight. Stockholm – where 30% of the city is waterways and 30% is green space – is an ideal choice, with arts festivals taking place throughout the month, including the Stockholm Culture Festival and the Film Festival.  August is also one of the best months to visit Reykjavik, when the city hosts major festivals; Gay Pride, the city’s Culture Festival and a vibrant Jazz Festival.

Eastern European cities are a similarly good choice; Prague rarely sees temperatures above 30ºC, and the long evenings are the perfect opportunity for lazy alfresco dinners on one of the city’s picturesque squares. If Spain is your destination of choice, head to the north of the country rather than Andalucia in the far south. Cities like Santander are small enough to discover on foot – fuelled by plenty of tapas – and there are beaches nearby for when you need to cool down – Laredo and El Sardinero are both within easy reach.

If you’ve got the kids in tow, there are plenty of ways to make the break easy for all the family. Hotels can sometimes be a bit of a challenge with young children; stay in an apartment and you can go at your own pace and keep to the kids routine, while really feeling part of the city – there’s nothing like popping to the local market for food, or picking up bread from the nearest boulangerie to make you feel like a local. Check out for the best collection of child-friendly hotels, villas and B&Bs.

Here in the UK, you can rent a luxury lodge with your own outdoor hot tub in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. Choose between a 3-night weekend break and a 4-night mid-week break. See the latest special offers.

If you’re looking for a city break with plenty of party potential, there’s nowhere better to choose in August than Berlin, which kicks off the month with its annual beer festival, and then holds a range of individual events focusing on folk, classic and electronic music as well as the ‘Long Night of Museums’, when the city’s most famous cultural exhibitions keep their doors open until 1am.

And for vinophiles, August is a great time to visit the city of Porto; the narrow streets of Caisa de Ribeira, the picturesque old town, are cool and shady, and a cruise along the Douro River, flanked by terraced vineyards and rolling hills, offers a pleasantly breezy way to take in the spectacular views.

Last updated: 2 September 2019

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