4 brilliant European weekend breaks for learning a new skill

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Susan Devaney

In 2019, it’s all about visiting somewhere different, and picking up a new skill along the way. 

Whether you’re heading for the highlands in Scotland or jetting off to the sunnier shores of the south of Spain, a weekend break away is certainly good for the soul.

But in 2019, while taking a long weekend off why not opt to pick up a new skill, too? From learning to cook incredible Italian dishes in Tuscany to taking to the seas like a skilled sailor in Croatia, there is plenty to see and do on our doorstep in the coming months.

Take a look below at some of the best weekend stays out there. Go on, get booking – and come back with a new talent. 

Learn to cook in Tuscany 

Perched on the hillside of Tuscany, the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa overlooks the small town of Barga. Twinned with Scotland, the area is both home to extremely friendly locals and some of the best food you’ll ever taste in your life.

Located an hour’s drive away from the airport, the road leading to the resort follows lush green fields, simple local farms and some of the most spectacular mountainside scenes in Italy.

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the resort’s calming colourful exterior, along with its personal view of the town below. Over the weekend, you’ll visit the town to pick local ingredients to make a couple of dishes in your one-on-one cookery class. Hosted by an in-house chef, you’ll learn to make pasta (from scratch!), a soup and a dessert, too. You’ll even be given the recipes to take away and try again at home.

Not only will you pick up a new skill, but you can also take a trip to a local vineyard and see the inner goings on. From sitting down to a meal to trying various wines, it’s certainly a memorable insight.

Make sure to head to the spa, too. Not only will you be treated to a relaxing time but you’ll also leave feeling calm and rested before you head back to the city.

Book here: Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa

Take to the seas in Croatia

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking to the seas and steering your own ship then why not opt to try it out in Croatia? Not only is the country a rising hotspot (thanks to Game of Thrones) but it’s also home to some stunning scenery – especially its coastline.

While some sailing experience is required (level 1-2), you don’t need to be a seasoned sailor to ride the waves.

Located in Marina Agana – a small village (not far from Split) – it’s the ideal place to set off from to see the 1,000 tiny islands scattered across the Dalmatian Coast.

Open from April to mid-November, the temperatures are ideal and so, too, are the waters for first-time sailors. With plenty of waterside restaurants, you’ll also get to indulge in local cuisine and culture.

While you’re there you can also try your hand at scuba diving, paddleboarding and kayaking, too. Additionally, you can take a walking tour to see the now famous sights from Game of Thrones.

Book here: Sunsail  

Mosaic making in Spain 

If experimenting with your creative side is right up your street, then head to Spain to try your hand at mosaic making.

Located just a short distance away from Murcia (and its beautiful beaches), the retreat is surrounded by greenery making it the perfect place to embrace your creativity. 

Throughout the 4-day course, you’ll try your hand at glass cutting, shaping and laying techniques, along with how to cut, grout and place your tiles, too. Not only will you get to play with colour, but you’ll also learn from Dan – who has over 10 years of experience under his belt.

Working with a group, the short course is ideal for solo travellers as you’ll easily make friends with like-minded creative-types. And you’ll get some downtime, too, so you’ll be able to lap up the local culture and cuisine.

Whether you’ve tried mosaic-making before or keen to try it out for the first time, it’s suitable either way.

Book here: GoLearnTo 

Horse riding in Portugal 

If you haven’t ridden a horse since your childhood days then maybe 2019 could be the year to jump back on it. And where could be better to do so than surrounded by the stunning terrain of Portugal?

Found in the ideallic Portuguese village of Constância, the area is edged by trees and rivers, making it a truly relaxing place to ride. Each day includes a 2-hour hack and one hour lesson with professional teachers – and all levels are welcome. 

With 10 beautiful horses to pick from you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the right horse for you.

Staying in a rural family-run hotel not far from the equestrian centre, you’ll get to taste local delicacies and sample reginal wines, too.

Book here: GoLearnTo 

Images: Unsplash / Instagram / Sunsail / Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa / GoLearnTo


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.

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