Weekend travel in Europe
December 27, 2015 4:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm living in Europe right now, and I need ideas for activity-based weekend travel. Where can I go?

I'm living alone and traveling alone. I've found that I get more satisfaction from traveling when there is an activity that I can base my trip around (hiking to the top of a mountain, making gin, rolling a wheel of cheese down a hill, searching for elves in a cave, going to a unique festival that only happens once a year, I don't know/etc).

Some details: i'm looking for weekend trips between January and June. My preference is for Central/Eastern Europe but I'll go anywhere. I also prefer being more frugal, but if it is worth it then money isn't an issue. I'm okay with organized tours if I can meet people to talk to. I prefer trains whenever possible but my origin city is Prague so that's pretty limiting as far as train travel is concerned.

Where can I go and what can I do?
posted by aaanastasia to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's perhaps a bit far for you, but I really loved a weekend I spent in Sintra, Portugal a few years ago. So much history concentrated in a single place and stretching all the way back to the 8th Century Castle of the Moors. It's a UNESCO World Heritgage site.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:27 AM on December 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I've been using www.atlasobscura.com a lot for travel inspiration recently - it's particularly good for finding the most interesting/weird things in a given area (it can even do geolocation in your phone to show the most interesting nearby things). I bet you could find some very exciting options there.

I've also found the "things to do" section on TripAdvisor to be surprisingly useful. My wife and I have a habit of trying to take the top rated cookery course on TripAdvisor whenever we travel, and it's lead to some extremely memorable experiences.
posted by simonw at 5:50 AM on December 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Train
Vienna, Austria for Ball Season (Jan)
Budapest spring music festival (Apr)
Berlin festival, Germany (May)

Venice, Italy for Carnival (Jan/Feb)
Copenhagen Jazz Festival (Feb)
Cologne, Germany for Carnival (Feb)
Las Fallas (Carnival) Valencia, Spain (Mar)
King's Day, Amsterdam, Holland (Apr)
St. Petersburg, Russia for the White Nights (May)

Great outdoors destinations (year-round)
Sintra, Portugal (any time)
Interlaken, Switzerland (any time)
Cycle in Loire Valley, France (late Spring)
posted by nickrussell at 6:09 AM on December 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

Thirding Sintra--it's gorgeous there. I did a week in Lisbon a couple summers ago and went to Sintra on a day trip. Just walking around the town filled a day; I really wish I had had the chance to tour the palaces too. It's pretty hilly, so you'd get a workout, if that's a plus. You can also take a bus from Sintra to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point in Europe. There's a monument there and a beautiful view.

As far as logistics, you can take a train from Lisbon to Sintra pretty easily, too, and for frugality, Portugal is one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe.
posted by Kosh at 7:50 AM on December 27, 2015

Oslo if you want to do the fjords or go up and sledge down a mountain... Both activities pretty cheap- take a ferry around the fjord to the beaches in the summer and holmenkollen is easily accessible using the metro, flights are cheap. Beer is expensive!
posted by flink at 8:21 AM on December 27, 2015

nickrussel's suggestions are great - I'd just like to add that Vienna-Venice is a short train ride, and the Jazz Festival in CPH is in July.
I saw an episode of Two Hairy Bikers yesterday, where they went to Northern Sweden, and I was absolutely fascinated by the Same culture there. I want to go! it's not a good video, but I sat through it because the culture was so fascinating
posted by mumimor at 8:30 AM on December 27, 2015

Vilnius for Uzgavenes, or one of the other myriad city festivals they have there. Kaunas is also very much worth a visit. I believe there might be a train, but I would go for the very brief flight. Vilnius is very cheap, although I believe prices have crept up a bit now that they're on the euro.
posted by femmegrrr at 10:01 AM on December 27, 2015

In Bulgaria there's the Surva Festival, Rose Festival, plus Buzludzha....and lots more but those are the first ideas that comes to mind for the next 6 mos. Plus great places to downhill ski/snowboard...some of the least expensive options in the world. Both Romania and Bulgaria are very very inexpensive places to stay, and very very beautiful.
posted by hannahelastic at 10:36 AM on December 27, 2015

Best answer: Come to Edinburgh for Beltane in May, if you've a predilection for crazy fire festivals involving processions of dancing semi-naked people in body paint, drumming, and general good times. It's not close to you, but might be do-able by budget airline, and definitely fits the "unique festival that only happens once a year" suggestion.
posted by penguin pie at 12:50 PM on December 27, 2015

I recommend visiting some Czech villages if you haven't already - there are some really charming ones! Kutná Hora is very sweet; be sure to visit the Sedlec Ossuary while you are there. Also Český Krumlov is absolutely darling. Wander around the pretty buildings and bar hop between the like 5 bars they have, especially this goofy horror bar.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 12:59 PM on December 27, 2015

I would recommend central Switzerland. Interlaken, as noted, always has a ton of stuff to do and is beautiful, and Luzern is also quite beautiful and has a good Fassnacht/Carnival celebration.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:10 PM on December 27, 2015

The Liestal fasnacht is amazing.
posted by nickrussell at 6:40 AM on December 28, 2015

Best answer: Come to Ljubljana on the second weekend in May for the annual walk along the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. The path is open year-round, but most people (me included) only take the walk as part of the celebration of Ljubljana's liberation in WW2. You get a pin if you walk at least one section (from 4 to 6 km) and a medal if you do the whole circle (33 km). Of course, you can sign up for a "triplet run" if walking is too slow for you!
posted by gakiko at 2:13 AM on January 4, 2016

« Older What is being sung in this French-language song?   |   Beautiful complex mechanical puzzles, toys, and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.