Looking for a different kind of destination to get away? Keen to discover somewhere new? Pack your bag and head to these cities which you've probably never visited.
There's life outside London, Paris and Lisbon, plenty of it! Behind the facades of the usual capital cities, there are endless beautiful and less frequented destinations that are a true gift to anyone who is keen to explore the heart of a country. So why not plan a visit to one these less mainstream places with their hidden cultural, architectural and gastronomic gems? Just pack your bag, grab your camera and book a flight to one of these wonderful destinations. Which will you choose?
1. Tel Aviv
Seize the opportunity of a long weekend to discover the charms of this Israeli city. It's so Mediterranean there'll be times when you think you're in Barcelona or Rome. Tel Aviv is a melting pot of different cultures and sensibilities that come together in a vibrant capital packed with bijou shops, cafés, markets and restaurants where you can practically smell the sea - after all, the whole city faces the Mediterranean.
Things to see in Tel Aviv
To be honest, it's more a question of wandering through the streets of the old city, known as Jaffa, although as you dip in and out of shops and cafés be sure to take a stroll down Rothschild Boulevard to see the Bauhaus buildings, explore Yarkon Park and visit the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, home to works by Dalí, Rembrandt and Kandinsky.
Thinks to eat in Tel Aviv
Lovers of gastronomy are in for a real treat in Tel Aviv. Not only does the city offer an enormous range of international cuisines, but the local people are immensely proud of their rich gastronomic culture and adore fresh produce, which means fantastic markets (don't miss the Carmel Market). If you're crazy about cocktails and nostalgic for the spirit of the 1920s, you absolutely must visit the magnificent Bellboy Bar, one of our favourite places in the whole world.
There's tons to say about the Bavarian capital because it offers numerous attractions for visitors. You'll end the day exhausted but happy after touring the shops, popping into restaurants, having a few beers and seeing the sights.
Things to see in Munich
The best place to start your tour is Marienplatz, the nerve centre of the city and home to the Viktualienmarkt, Munich's most important market and a genuine festival for the senses. Saint Peter's Church, the Cathedral, the Deutsches Museum, the "Glockenspiel" on the town hall, the magnificent BMW Museum (housed in a contemporary building that will captivate you even if you have no interest in cars), and the lovely Olympia Park are some of the attractions you cannot miss. And that's all before you head to Glockenbackviertel and discover the gorgeous paradise that looks like someone just finished decorating every last inch of it five minutes before you got there.
Things to eat in Munich
Be sure to visit the Milka shop and some of the legendary breweries, like the famous Hofbräuhaus where the waiters serve you in the traditional Bavarian costume and you can discover Germany at its most authentic.
3. A Coruña
Those of us who love Spain's northern cities, those elegant places like Oviedo and Santander whose glorious past lives on in our collective imagination, can never resist the temptation to escape now and again to A Coruña.
Thinks to see in A Coruña
You're guaranteed a fun time in the Galician capital. As the saying goes, "Vigo works, Pontevedra sleeps, Santiago prays and A Coruña plays." The fact is, there's nothing the people of A Coruña like more than heading to the streets, from the lovely little squares in the historic centre to the sensational waterfront (one of the city landmarks) lined with glass balconies, to celebrate anything and everything. You should also make some time to visit the beautiful Xardín de San Carlos in the upper part of the city, the bustling Plaza de María Pita and the emblematic Tower of Hercules.
Thinks to eat in A Coruña
The bon vivant spirit of the people of A Coruña makes its presence felt on every corner of this buzzing city bathed by the Atlantic and where life unfolds outdoors: in the tapas bars, where you can try the excellent Galician wines (the healthy state of the local vineyards is a gift for wine lovers), in the restaurants and in the taverns. That's not to mention the markets, like the Mercado de San Agustín, always teeming with people.
Any time is a good time to toss a few clothes in a bag and escape the routine in a place where everything is deliciously topsy-turvy. Paradoxically, the permanent hustle and bustle of this Moroccan city has a calming effect on stress and worry. And if you agree to play the game the city invites you to play, you'll have so much fun that you won't remember your name and will want to stay forever.
Things to see in Marrakech
The Marrakech Medina is a place to wander aimlessly and make adorably unnecessary purchases while trying to escape from all kinds of impossible business deals proposed by the locals. You'll eat delicious food in the wonderful Jemaa el-Fna square (spelt any way you like), you'll stay at idyllic little riads that will transport you to the pages of The Thousand and One Nights (book your riad through Vueling so you pick up some Avios), you'll visit palaces and mosques, you'll discover ancient Moroccan customs, and, if there's still time, you can end an exhausting day at one of the hammams. And when you go to the new part of the city, there are a couple of places you won't want to miss: the Majorelle Gardens, designed by Yves Saint Laurent, and the deluxe La Mamounia hotel, which has been hosting international celebrities of all kinds for nearly a century.
If you're one of those people who regularly gets a longing to go to Italy, and if you're naturally drawn to Renaissance buildings and like to wander aimlessly through narrow streets steeped in history, Genoa is your place: a typical city in Northern Italy that invites enjoyment and self-indulgence. This Italian city revolves around well-being and is as far removed as you can imagine from the edgy hustle and bustle associated with the south of the country. And of course, like everywhere in Italy, the gastronomy is to die for.
Things to see in Genoa
Strolling down Boccadasse, climbing up to the Spiadatta Castellatto viewpoint, visiting a magnificent Duomo, and watching the morning slip away as you explore the buildings in Piazza de Ferrari are just some of the attractions that await you in Genoa.
Things to eat in Genoa
And when it's time for lunch or dinner, all we can say is that in this city you'll find a sensational trattoria on every corner: the range of options is so great and so delicious that the best thing is to be guided by your instincts, because the food is great wherever you go. However, be sure to try the pesto, very typical in this city, as well as the marvellous farinatta and the original stew known as u toccu. All finger-licking delicious!