1. Manchester to Copenhagen
Manchester to Copenhagen , Denmark, from £167 return
For the whole of summer 2016, ten giant sand sculptures will be overlooking Hundested Harbour in Copenhagen. The Sand Sculpture Festival features a children’s play area and picnic benches, so you can take your family to enjoy the sandy sights, which last year including a dragon munching on a hapless knight! But if you want your entertainment a bit louder, head to Friday Rock at Tivoli Gardens. A different music act will be playing each Friday until September 23rd, with US band Haim being one of the upcoming highlights.
2. London to Milan
London to Milan , Italy, from £166 return
Leonardo da Vinci spent the best part of two decades living and working in Milan, and this is where he painted one of his most famous works, The Last Supper. The fabulous fresco is located in the Basilica di Santa Maria Della Grazie, but bear in mind that you’ll need to reserve a ticket online to see it, and they often sell out well in advance: entry is €8, and views of the painting are limited to 15 minutes. If you can’t get hold of a ticket through the website, try one of the local tours, which often have pre-arranged tickets. But if you’re still having no luck, you could always just go shopping – the glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, dating back to 1867, so you can explore some history while buying shoes.
3. Doncaster to Paris
Doncaster to Paris , France, from £156 return
From May 19th-31st , various locations on the Left Bank of the Seine play host to the Saint-Germain-des-Prés Jazz Festival (ticket prices vary, reserve through the website). The event has been running since 2001, and is now spread across more than twenty venues, including the stunning Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe. For something a bit different, check out the Monumenta exhibition at the Grand Palais (until 18th June, open 10am to 7pm, entry €11). Now in its seventh edition, the exhibition challenges an artist to fill the imposing space of the Grand Palais with something monumental – this time around, Huang Yong Ping has filled the hall with a 254 metre-long skeletal serpent that hovers menacingly over a colourful landscape of shipping containers, a comment on the shift in global economic power.
4. Newcastle to Palma, Mallorca
Newcastle to Palma , Mallorca, from £155 return
The huge cathedral that dominates the skyline in Palma de Mallorca is quite something to behold, thanks to its mash-up between Gothic and Renaissance styles. Work on the original building began way back in the early 1300s, but most of what’s evident today dates from the mid-1800s, when an earthquake severely damaged the building and extensive reconstruction was required. Inside the style changes again; famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí reworked the interior in the twentieth century, adding a canopy inspired by the crown of thorns above the altar. Opening hours are 10am to 5.15pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2.15 pm Saturday.
5. Newcastle to Corfu, Greece
Newcastle to Corfu , Greece, from £150 return
Paleokastritsa Beach is one of the most picturesque on the island of Corfu. It offers crystal-clear waters, along with plenty of sun beds for the tan-conscious, and you can head on a boat trip across the bay for only a few euros. Once you’re bored of bathing, head to Paleokastritsa village to take a look at its ancient hilltop monastery, which was founded in 1225 and houses a museum full of holy icons and relics. It’s free to enter, but donations are encouraged – and the hike up the hill is worth it for the stunning views across the sea.
6. Doncaster to Berlin, Germany
Doncaster to Berlin , Germany, from £148 return
The Story of Berlin (open daily 10am to 6pm, €12) relates 800 years of the German capital’s history across twenty-three themed rooms, as well as a guided tour through a nuclear bomb shelter that could have housed 3,600 people. The enormous shelter was built by the Allies in the 1970s at the height of the Cold War, and it remains a chilling reminder of just how close the world came to nuclear conflict. To find the museum, just keep an eye out for the huge airplane wing sticking out of the pavement on Kurfürstendamm (it’s part of a United States DC-3 that was used during the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949).
7. London to Brussels, Belgium
London to Brussels , Belgium, from £137 return
The Kunstenfestivaldesarts takes place from 6th to 28th May in Brussels, and bills itself as an international arts festival that focuses on theatre, dance, performance, film and visual arts. The programme varies widely, featuring everything from videos where the protagonists slide between video games and reality, to a sort of itinerant art installation and ‘ideas laboratory’ called Welcome to Caveland. But if all this sounds a bit too bewildering, there’s always art of the more down-to-earth variety at the Comics Art Museum (open daily 10am to 6pm, €10), where you’ll find a permanent exhibition on Hergé, creator of Tintin.
8. Bristol to Reykjavik, Iceland
Bristol to Reykjavik , Iceland, from £130 return
There are more than twenty different species of whale in the ocean around Iceland, and various operators offer whale watching boat trips from Reykjavik harbour. Minke, humpback and killer whales are often seen off the coast, and if you’re very lucky you may even see the majestic blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived. Whale Safari offers classic whale-watching trips lasting around three and a half hours for 9,900 ISK (about £55), but they also offer a combined tour featuring a trip to see the local puffins. Like most of the local whale-watching tours, you’re offered another free trip if the whales are a no-show on the day.
9. Edinburgh to Madrid, Spain
Edinburgh to Madrid , Spain, from £103 return
The Mercadillo del Gato has been called the “most chic pop-up market in Madrid”, offering an array of vintage and modern fashion, accessories, cosmetics, handicrafts, jewellery, art and food in a different venue each month. The next market takes place at the Westin Palace Hotel between 26th and 29th May, and will feature a gourmet area run by the hotel in addition to 60 exhibitors – so why not pick up a vintage dress before taking a turn around The Prado? For more inspiration on what to see and do in Madrid from local’s point of view, including where to hunt down the best chocolate and churros, have a read of our guide.
10. Belfast to Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Belfast to Amsterdam , The Netherlands, from £96* return
Amsterdam is synonymous with clubbing, and if techno’s your thing then you’ll be in hog’s heaven at the 909 Festival on Saturday 28th May. The line-up for this outdoor event in Amstelveen, just south of Amsterdam, includes artists such as Jeff Mills and Radio Slave, and tickets cost €39.50. But if you’re more into soul and jazz, the exhibition ‘Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait’ might be more up your street. This intimate show at the Jewish Historical Museum has been curated by Amy’s brother, Alex, and focuses on her family and school days, as well as her music and fashion. It runs until 4th September and tickets cost €15.