We all need to escape the monotony of everyday life from time to time. So when it's time to get away, the Stylist team knows a thing or two about travelling to some of the best weekend destinations.
Check out our selection of the 50 hottest places to jump ship to come Friday afternoon - with insider tips for each. From city breaks to beach-side havens and rustic country retreats, you'll be itching to throw a pair of heels in a weekend tote and head for sunnier/more glamorous and sophisticated climes once you've made your way through this lot...
Simply click on an image to launch the gallery and let us know which weekend breaks you rate - or any suggestions we've missed - on Twitter or in the comments section below.
Why you should go: Less touristy than Reykjavik or Stockholm, Oslo has a small, thriving creative scene. The city overlooks fjords – think a Nordic Brighton but without hen nights and with prettier people – just don't forget to pack a faux fur as temps can drop to -15ºC.
Lake Garda, Italy
Why you should go: Everyone visits Italy for the food and Lake Garda is no exception. In addition to the food, the culture ranks high (in summer the lake’s all about jazz and opera festivals while September plays host to wine events).
Why you should go: With a two hour journey on the Eurostar from London, Paris is the perfect weekend getaway. A must see is the Marais district – a maze of twisting alleys, hidden bars and stylish boutiques.
Why you should go: Definitely visit the Rome staples – the Capitoline Museums, National Gallery of Modern Art, Borghese Gallery, Colosseum, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, to name a few. Try to go first thing or late at night if it’s open, or you’ll end up being jostled by bumbags while trying to find six inches of space in which to have your picture taken.
Why you should go: Take a taxi to Kritsa, one of the island’s oldest villages. You're guaranteed to return loaded with souvenirs as well as a generous supply of local cold-pressed olive oil and kalamata olives. If you are travelling around the island, make sure you avoid the midday heat which is unforgiving the minute you step away from the coastal breeze and go inland.
Why you should go: Gamla Stan (the Old Town) is a must to take in the Royal Palace and its epic architecture. Or make like a local and hire a bike to coast your way round chilled out Djurgården with its many museums and waterside cafes. For an unparalleled view of the city, take a ride in a glass pod 30 metres up on the SkyView.
Courchevel, French Alps
Why you should go: Get snapped at the top of La Saulire for the best views above cloud level. Or, if you really want to break their hearts back home, book yourself on a torch-lit descent from the mountain top which can be organised by your nearest ski school.
Coworth Park, Berkshire, UK
Why you should go: Snap the rolling fields and autumnal trees in Coworth Park’s impressive 240 acres.
Windermere, Cumbria, UK
Why you should go: Stay at the luxurious Gilpin Lake House. With a pool and sauna inside, and beautiful grounds to stroll around, it offers the best of both worlds for a cosy weekend away. Lakeside, there are several jetty loungers to curl up on with a good book and an original Victorian rowing boat in which to take to the water.
Why you should go: Versailles is a slice of Parisian chic but with slower-paced sightseeing and brisk country walks and bike rides. Trianon Palace launches its own ice rink and luxury Christmas market in December. Sip on mulled wine as you snap up Guerlain spa treats, champagne and foie gras.
Why you should go: Take a trip to the Unesco world heritage site of Alberobello, 12 miles from Savelletri. It boasts over 1,000 traditional Trulli (Apulian houses) that resemble white stone igloos.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Why you should go: Monte Carlo’s natural harbour lies in the Mediterranean. The port is fit to burst with yachts the size of small cruise ships thanks to year-round sunshine; temperatures in February are around 12C.
Bath, Somerset, UK
Why you should go: Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage City, full of character and home to Britain’s only natural thermal spa. Plus, it’s great for shopping.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Why you should go: Not only does Amsterdam cater to every cultural palate, it's also filled with endless canals, pretty townhouses and tableaus of cutesy bohemian living, making the city prime turf for would-be photographers. If you’re keen on graphics or street art, you’ll find a photo-worthy piece around every corner.
Why you should go: Devon really is a beautiful part of the world and the coastline is epic, with towering cliffs, secluded coves and rugged rock faces. A trip without a stroll around the headland via the National Trust coastal path is wasted. We wandered for hours just to take in the scenery but you could do a whole day’s expedition – just remember your sandwiches.
Why you should go: No visit would be complete without a quick train ride to Zürich-West; a vast expanse of ex-industrial space that’s been developed into an arty hub packed with designers, warehouse spaces turned tea shops and a nine-storey Freitag shop made entirely from shipping containers. It’s edgy, chic and has that bohemian ‘anything could happen’ atmosphere which east London and Berlin had 10 years ago.
Why you should go: Aside from the value, the real pull of Cornwall is the location. The harbour town of Mevagissey and Porthpean beach (a classic Cornish cove) is a two-mile walk or cycle along a beautiful nature trail – and if you're feeling especially touristy, The Eden Project and Lost Gardens of Heligan are just a short drive away.
Saint-Paul De Vence, French Riviera
Why you should go: Hop in your car and take a spin through a maze of tiny villages until you get to the medieval town (and home of Bono) Eze, which looks a little like a giant fairy-tale castle atop a hill. Take your comfiest shoes – it’s a car-free zone – and walk up the cobbled streets, passing tiny stalls selling handmade lavender pillows and jewellery and huge carts housing hundreds of brightly coloured spices, until you get to the top. Deep breath and pray you’ve charged your camera as you’ll want to remember the view. Forever.
Why you should go: In the last decade, traditional fincas, farmhouses and estates have fast been transformed into stunning agroturismos (rural hotels) where rustic Mallorcan style is cleverly combined with urban minimalism.
Mykonos, Greek Islands
Why you should go: Hospitality at the Mykonos Grace is second to none; from free SUV-style airport transfers, to the sunset cocktails delivered to your suite. And while Mykonos boasts many stunning (and windswept) beaches, just below Grace lie the crystal waters of Agios Stefanos beach, with candy-coloured sun loungers attached to a traditional taverna.
Why you should go: As well as top notch sunbathing opportunities, Dubrovnik is a cultural treat. An exploration of the old town is essential. The early 18th-century Dubrovnik Cathedral is also fantastic as it houses a rich treasury of relics and paintings, including Titian’s 1552 The Assumption Of The Virgin Mary. Dubrovnik is also a great base to explore the many islands dotted round the coastline. Take a boat trip to the sleepy island of Sipan where an alfresco lunch at acclaimed restaurant More will prepare you for an afternoon of sailing on the Adriatic waters.
Why you should go: Florence may not be Milan, but its mark on the fashion world is clear. It’s the hometown of Guccio Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo, who both have museums dedicated to their work. The Museo Ferragamo (museoferragamo.it) is a shoe-obsessive’s dream, featuring case upon case of the master cobbler’s creations, dating back to the Twenties.
Cannes, French Riviera
Why you should go: Only a two-hour flight from the UK, Cannes is the place to be seen and boasts 12 hours of sunshine per day during the summer.
Why you should go: It’s rare to find a city so exotic so close to the UK (after a no-fuss three hour flight you can be sipping on a sundowner in a rooftop bar). Marrakech’s trendy side is also exploding; new art galleries such as the gorgeous Yahya Création showroom guarantee an even hipper future.
Ponta Do Sol, Madeira
Why you should go: The top spot is the Ponto do Sol Hotel on the south coast of the island, which has a hot tub in the spa area overlooking the cliffs. As the sun sets, the views are to die for.
Why you should go: Top of the list for snaps is the Castelo de São Jorge, a hilltop citadel that was once a fortress, where it is possible on a clear day to see across the whole of Lisbon.
New Forest, England
Why you should go: A stay in Lime Wood luxury country house hotel (limewoodhotel.co.uk) is certainly a country retreat to remember. What sets Lime Wood apart is the small touches; a Scrabble box beside the fire; a series of bespoke lamps creating shadows; the pencil beside the bed crafted from a twig, and a ‘room pantry’ complete with giant Buttons and sherbert fountains. In the main hotel the quirk factor continues, with a boot room stacked with Hunter wellies, which are perfect to walk through forest trails – accessed from a Secret Garden-style back gate yards from the hotel. Spa lovers should also pay attention; treatment rooms, pools and a Hammam open during the summer.
Why you should go: Nothing complements good wine like good food, and at L’Albereta – nestled in its own vineyards in the wine-growing region of Franciacorta in the hills of Lombardy (albereta.it) – you get both in spades. The nearby Bellavista winery (bellavistawine.it) is the largest producer of franciacorta sparkling wine. Nicknamed the champagne of Italy, franciacorta is more complex than prosecco – and harder to find in the UK.
Why you should go: Lose yourself completely in possibly the most famous (and luxurious) wine region in the world. For the Jackie O of vineyard stays it has to be Epernay in northern France – the capital of the Champagne region. Sitting prettily in the midst of the Marne Valley’s rolling hills and ancient chateaux, are 20,000 hectares of vineyards that are as prestigious as they are picturesque.
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
Why you should go: With 200 miles of beaches (117 in total) and ridiculously clear water, superboats akin to those bobbing in the waters of St Tropez and Monte Carlo are already dropping anchor here and resorts like Banyan Tree and Four Seasons have moved into town. With a tourist clientele that’s not 100% Brit (how refreshing), the coastline also boasts various places to visit: the walled old town of Budva, with quaint streets and walkways dating back to the 5th century is 10 minutes away, and slightly further afield are the medieval towns of Kotor and Perast boasting baroque architecture.
Why you should go: Offering some of the UK’s most breathtaking backdrops, Pembrokeshire has been compared to Devon and Cornwall but manages to fly under the radar, attracting fewer tourists and offering more than 50 beaches, many of which were deserted when we visited at the height of summer. There’s a real community spirit in the area too and a hive of activity.
Why you should go: A recent facelift has transformed the graceful architecture of the city of Bordeaux into honey-coloured limestone façades. Now a world heritage site, cars are banned from the city, making the trams a useful necessity.
Why you should go: A little less obvious than Italian lakes Como or Garda, Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s natural jewels where you can snake along the lake, taking in both baroque architecture and stripped back lake houses from an open-top boat.
St Tropez, France
Why you should go: St Tropez is slowly shedding its show-off exterior and channelling its rustic charm instead, opening it up to those seeking a little culture from their holiday.
Forte dei Marmi, Italy
Why you should go: Versilia is essentially the Cannes of Italy and there’s no better place to soak up the opulent atmosphere than the Principe Forte Dei Marmi’s rooftop bar – the highest point in the area which boasts some serious views.
Lake Wörthersee, Austria
Why you should go: Lake Wörthersee is the largest Alpine lake in Europe and is lined with modern hotels with Michelin-starred chefs in the kitchen, chic shopping boutiques and a selection of cool bars. It’s very healthy too – the most popular way to get around is by bicycle, and with plenty of designated paths it’s safe and easy. Alternatively, hop on a boat in Pörtschach and discover the town of Velden by foot. Aptly dubbed Austria’s answer to Monte Carlo, it boasts an array of eateries and boutiques.
Why you should go: While most Alpine resorts are geared towards legions of adrenaline seekers, Gstaad has chosen to focus on the more ‘luxury’ side of winter sports. The likes of Rolex, A Lange & Söhne, and Blancpain all have outlets here, as does Prada and Ralph Lauren. Think Bond Street, but with a lot more snow. And you don’t have to worry about the language – all the shops assistants we met spoke better English than we did.
Why you should go: Put aside your reservations about boat tours – the best way to see the city is from the water. Hop on one of the many tours leaving from the Nyhavn to glimpse architectural feats such as the Black Diamond extension to the Royal Library and the stunning Opera House.
Why you should go: Nestled in the south west, Bristol is the kind of city where you can spend the morning soaking up its vibrant arts culture before rewarding yourself with a glass of wine, fresh oysters and a harbour view at No.1 Harbourside.
Why you should go: The real beauty of this city is that everything you could possibly want to see is within walking (or punting) distance. The colleges really are worth ducking in and out of – many are open to the public for set hours of the day and King’s College and Trinity College are two of the grandest. If the weather’s nice pack a picnic from Fitzbillies, a 90-year-old bakery which reopened last year and still makes everything on site. Wicker hampers can be hired for £20 deposit and it’s only 100m from the punt station.
Why you should go: The impressive waterways become Venice’s hindrance in the summer thanks to the influx of tourists. Instead, like Stylist, choose winter to visit and take advantage of the cubby-hole coffee shops and bars. To discover the ‘real’ Venice, lose yourself amongst the maze of walkways. A group of boys orienteering or women washing their laundry makes a charming contrast to the city’s hustle and bustle.
Why you should go: Most visitors head for the historic Prado museum, or the shopping boulevards of upmarket Salamanca, but it’s areas TriBall, Chueca and Malasaña (Penélope Cruz owns an apartment there) that are really buzzing. A hive of designers, musicians and artists, you could stroll around all day, people watching and checking out the indie boutiques and cafes.
Maspalomas, Gran Canaria
Why you should go: Maspalomas is famous for its sandy dunes. This part of the island was the film set for many legendary Spaghetti Westerns in the Sixties and Seventies. The wild and windblown setting is even more magical at sunset.
Babington, Somerset, UK
Why you should go: Stay at the lush Babington House and treat yourself to an array of exemplary treatments at The Cowshed Spa.
East Lothian, Scotland
Why you should go: A stay at the Archerfield House is the ideal weekend break, especially when combined with spa treatments at Fletcher’s Cottage. The spa menu has a long list of enticing therapies, employing Voya skincare products and new Cornish range Spiezia Organics - perfect for revitalising tired skin.
Why you should go: One of the best spots to see the Lights is in northern Finland. There are a number of places to pick from, but we like Nellim, a tiny village not far from the Russian border. Its Wilderness Lodge is a great base, with expert local guides who are often able to predict when and where the displays are most likely. But it’s not all standing around looking at the sky – there are snow-mobile safaris, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, or you can ride a sledge driven by teams of huskies through the snow-covered forests.
Why you should go: Bordering Croatia to the east, with Austrian influences to the north, and Italian to the south west, Slovenia isn’t huge, but it punches above its weight in terms of attractions. The city of Maribor has a fascinating secret identity as a spa city – with the high mineral content of the water, this Slovenian capital gives you plenty of places to repair the party damage.
Why you should go: Edinburgh is a lovely city and a stay at the luxurious Hotel Missioni is sublime. Every one of the 135 rooms is unique, designed to make guests feel like residents rather than anonymous clients. The unmistakable Missoni print – vibrant candy colours in zigzags and stripes – adorns every interior, and each room boasts Missoni dressing gowns, toiletries, coffee cups and sheets.
Why you should go: Sometimes getting away just means slipping away from your flat and checking into a chic hotel. For such a feat, Stylist suggests a stay at the Bulgari Hotel & Residences in Knightbridge. Silver is the theme for Italian brand Bulgari’s new outpost – you pass handmade silver silk drapes, sit on dove-grey upholstery and gaze at solid silver chandeliers, all echoing the brand’s origins as a silversmith. Italian flair is all about doing something once, perfectly so there’s one bar, one restaurant and one spa. Just what you need in on convenient place.