Today, travelling abroad and seeing a few places in a couple of days is simpler than ever. Whether by boat, plane or train, many cities – and even countries – are much easier to travel between than you might realise. The hardest part is often deciding which destinations will cater to your interests as well as those of everyone you’re travelling with; particularly if you are in a large group or, like increasing numbers of us, taking a trip with your immediate or wider family*. This all-too-common dilemma was highlighted by recent research from American Express. For example, the study** showed that 43% of British parents said they would forgo a new holiday experience, like a multi-destination trip, due to concerns about catering for all ages. However, combining two holiday experiences into one trip can be more straightforward than you think.
So to help to solve the problem of where to pick for your next dual destination break, Stylist has teamed up with American Express to round up no-hassle multi-stop trips that allow you and your companions to see the best of both cities in just one holiday.
BERLIN AND PRAGUE
An overnight train service means you can fall asleep in Germany’s happening capital and wake up in the quaint old city of Prague. Alternatively, you can take the trip in daytime in less than five hours.
When it comes to city breaks, Berlin is a point scorer. Dine in Michelin-starred restaurants or snack on gourmet street food. Sip cocktails in elegant bars or explore the family-friendly Grunewald forest on the city’s western fringe. If you’ve got room in your case, head to the iconic KaDeWe department store in West Berlin or the store-lined Friedrichstrasse in the east. Hotel de Rome, a bank-turned-hotel, is bang on Bebelplatz public square, perfect for sightseeing.
Must-sees in Prague include the fairytale-worthy Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral. If it’s a special occasion (or even if it’s not) treat yourself to lunch or dinner at La Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise, a Michelin-starred offering hidden in a romantic back street in the charming Old Town, which has recently reopened after refurbishment and welcomes (well behaved) children.
Prague is still reasonable for a European capital – a bottle of wine averages around €6 if you leave the main tourist trails – and your itinerary should feature a stop in a traditional pub, many of which are housed in ancient buildings.
VIENNA AND BRATISLAVA
If you can’t decide whether to prioritise a cosmopolitan vibe or scenic charm, why not tick both boxes? Start with the cool and culturally rich Vienna, then take a train to laid-back and architecturally impressive Bratislava, which takes just an hour and costs less than €10.
See the best of the Austrian capital by strolling around the Ringstrasse – a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district – enjoying the views of the Opera House, the hellenistic-styled House of Parliament, the Fine Art and Natural History museums (the latter with some child-charmingly impressive animal displays). Behind the palace lies its gardens, the Burggarten, home to a marble statue of Mozart. Vienna is famous for its atmospheric coffee houses – from the famously grand Café Central to the wood-panelled civility of Café Mozart. For great views without leaving your hotel, stay at the Hotel Lamée, where the roof terrace offers a panorama of the city.
If you’re only in Bratislava for a day or two then spend most of it in and around the Old Town, where you can enjoy a glorious panorama of the Slovakian capital and discover its main sights, including the Church of St Elizabeth, Michael’s Gate (the only remaining gate of the city’s medieval fortification) and Bratislava Castle, which dates back to the stone age.
During the summer months you can do the journey between the two cities by river cruise, on a high-speed catamaran along the famous Danube River and past the Donau-Auen National Park.
ROME AND COSTA SMERELDA
An hour’s flight or around an eight hour scenic ferry ride links the ancient ruins of Rome to the golden beaches and turquoise waters of Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda.
Get the most out of the Italian capital by staying somewhere central such as Hotel Barocco, a stylish boutique hotel overlooking Piazza Barberini. It’s worth investing in a Roma Pass – €28 each for a two-day discount card (available online or from tourist information offices) that gives free entry to two museums of your choice, reductions for others and unlimited use of citywide public transport. It also means you’ll avoid the large queues which tend to build up around the biggest tourist attractions, which is especially handy if you have kids with you. If travelling with children, you can rent four-seater family bikes at Villa Borghese gardens. After a couple of busy days exploring the Colosseum, Pantheon and the Vatican, climbing the Spanish Steps and throwing coins in the Trevi Fountain, you’ll look forward to relaxing on Sardinia’s most dazzling coastline.
Costa Smeralda has some hotels offering affordable five-star luxury, including Cervo Hotel (rooms from £162 per night), and you can have an excellent, reasonably priced dinner at the likes of Il Pomodoro. During the day, prepare your own picnic with cured meats and cheeses from your nearest pasticceria.
Plus, one of the biggest pulls of Costa Smeralda is the beaches, which are free to access. For the clearest waters and guaranteed towel space head to Spiaggia Liscia Ruja, the largest beach on this stretch of coast, found at the end of a 2km track.
*Mintel: The Rise of Multigenerational Tourism in Europe, February 2015
**Research by American Express from 4 March to 8 March 2016 of a survey size of 2000 parents with children aged from 0 – 18 years of age
HAVE FAMILY, WILL TRAVEL
American Express helps smooth the path for family holidays
A family holiday needn’t be a compromise – long haul, multi-destination or city trips can all be manageable and fulfilling options for every age group. For help with making your choice, check out our mini travel guides to Long Haul Destinations, A to B Family Adventures and Emerging City Breaks, which have been designed to help you to get even more out of your trip, whoever you are travelling with and wherever it is that you’re going.
What’s more, if you’re an American Express Cardmember you have access to:
•Over-the-phone advice to get connected with an approved English speaking doctor or lawyer almost anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, with Global Assist®¹
•Discounts or complimentary wine or treats when dining at any of 400 specially selected restaurants – each one has been specially handpicked by locals²
•The opportunity to redeem Membership Rewards® points on eligible car hire with Europcar, Hertz and Sixt³
For family travel tips and to find out how we could help you on your way, visit americanexpress.co.uk/whyamex
1. Exclusions apply. American Express Services Europe Ltd. Part of our Global Assist Service. Not available with the Costco TrueEarnings Card or Harrods Card.
2. Terms and Conditions apply. More information and full Terms and Conditions can be found at americanexpress.co.uk/taste
3. Only applicable to Cards enrolled in the Membership Rewards program. Terms and Conditions of Membership Rewards apply and can be found at https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/aboutTerms.mtw. Points are not earned on American Express Travellers Cheques, Foreign Exchange and other Account Charges including Membership Rewards fees and annual Card fees.
American Express Services Europe Limited has its registered office at Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom. It is registered in England and Wales with Company Number 1833139 and authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.