Forget the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay if you’re looking for a cheap and chilled break – they are overpriced and over-populated with happy-snapping tourists. Instead, set up home hanging out in a Paris pavement café, soaking up the tasty coffee and inimitable atmosphere.
For water babies, the Seine’s open-top Bateaux-Mouches riverboats are a popular way to see the sights; most depart from Pont de l’Alma. Word of advice: stick to a one-hour trip and give the touristy dinner cruises a miss.
Live out your Marie-Antoinette fantasies at the incomparable Château de Versailles, just outside Paris. The regular ‘Spectacles’ nights are a mad mix of fireworks, acrobatics and super-stylish fancy dress.
Head to the Crazy Horse on Avenue George V for a kitch cabaret night. The helpful staff in the tiny theatre venue bring drinks to your seat, meaning you never have to tear your eyes from the super-entertaining scantily-clad burlesque dancers.
Enjoy summer in the city: visitors can now make a trip to the beach without leaving central Paris, thanks to the palm-tree-lined white sand of Paris Plage, a summertime addition to the right bank of the Seine.Five things to do in… Copenhagen
Copenhagen is one of Europe’s design capitals. Pay a visit to the Danish Design Centre on HC Andersen Boulevard; it’s worth it for the strange ‘supermarket’ in the basement alone.
If you can keep your vertigo at bay, for a truly unbeatable view of the city take a trip on the Golden Tower or Star Flyer rides at the Tivoli Gardens. Not one for the faint-hearted…
Fancy a gorgeous new hand-made bike? (Don’t we all!) Then stop off at one of the branches of Cykelmageren dotted around the city. A slightly cheaper option is to borrow one! The city provides free bikes from May to December, so pop your pennies in the slot, head off on your travels, then return the bike to any of the 125 city bike drop off/pick ups to be reunited with your coin.
Take a spin on the water. In Copenhagen, you can rent a small motor boat for exploring – or for some high-octane ocean racing, try a spin in a speedboat. For a more sedate sight-seeing trip, take a guided tour by kayak in the canals of the city.
A great excuse for a mid-afternoon beer is to visit the Carlsburg Brewery where you’ll be able to observe the brewing process and sample a few ales. Once you’re suitably inebriated, head to NASA bar – a space-themed club that is Copenhagen’s hottest ticket.Five things to do in… Amsterdam
Explore your artistic side. If you can drag yourself away from the strip-lighted cobbled streets of the red light district and the lure of the ‘special’ brownies in the cafes, dabble in a spot of culture at the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum or the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum, which are all within a short walk of the centre.
Eat at Supper Club. This hip restaurant and bar is coated in white paint and filled with beds, where you can recline and tuck into a fabulous feast of five delicious courses. A tad pricey but very cool and surprisingly unpretentious.
Stay at the Flying Pig. These Amsterdam youth hostels are world famous for their relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and ‘one price covers all’ motto, which literally means everything is included, from food, internet and lockers, to tours and maps.
Enjoy a free shred at Amsterdam’s huge indoor skate park. Situated in an old warehouse, there are 1750 square meters of riding potential with a super-smooth concrete bowl and moveable, changing obstacles so you can make your own perfect spot.
Stop for a well-earned bevvy in Bar Lux. An arty, laid-back spot near the Leidseplein with a projection screen above the bar showing retro movies. Enjoy a free film, or indulge in people-watching the writers, painters and designers sipping cosmos in crazy outfits.Five things to do in… Barcelona
See the sights the lazy way. If you can’t be bothered trekking up the hill to Gaudí’s Parc Güell, opt for drinks on the strikingly surreal roof of La Pedrera to get spectacular views over the city. If you fancy a bit more of a tipple, the Codorniu Winery just outside Barcelona offers daily guided tours.
Need an adrenaline fix? Then sample some fresh air at the Extreme Sports Café on Beach Barceloneta which has a host of outdoor activities on offer. Choose from skydiving, windsurfing and paragliding, with kit for hire at around 40-Euros for three hours.
Enjoy a free impromptu gig at Ciutadella Parc. At the weekends, drummers regularly play here to entertain the locals who will inevitably be hanging out in the sunshine. Las Ramblas is also full of free street entertainers (and pickpockets): keep your eyes peeled for the 8-man-high human towers (and the sneaky chaps with nimble fingers who’ll have your wallet in a jiffy).
For creative types, there’s plenty of art and architecture on offer. Gaudí’s Sagrada Família tops the list, although the Museu Picasso and Fundació Joan Miró are also worth a peek.
Tired of tapas? Then head to the Bocadilla food market, just off the Ramblas, where you’ll pick up some of the best grub in town for a fraction of the price you’ll pay in a restaurant.