By Amelia Edgell-Cole 3rd year English Literature
Amelia Edgell-Cole takes us through her top three destinations to visit this Easter if you fancy something a little lesser known, and a little more authentic.
With the easter break looming, the likelihood is that you have all kind of dissertation/ essay deadline/ exam revision stress occupying your time - but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a few days out for a mini trip abroad. In fact, taking some time out will probably make you feel even more revitalised for working, as a change of scenery and venture into a new culture will provide ample mental stimulation; who said going on holiday wasn’t beneficial? So without further ado, let me offer up my top three destinations that are perfect for a short trip abroad, which won’t break the bank, and aren’t as predictable as Budapest/ Amsterdam/ Barcelona.
Known as Estonia’s cultural capital - as well as it’s actual capital - Tallinn is the perfect quick getaway with flights taking around 2 hours 40 minutes and starting at £100 from Bristol Airport. Once there, be sure to visit its intriguing monuments with architecture dating back to the middle ages - perfect for any history buffs. The Town Hall square at the heart of the city today sets the stage for various events, whilst a climb up the Town Hall’s 34 meter tower will allow for stunning views across the old town, complete with winding cobbled lanes and colourful houses. The Town Hall Square also boasts Europe’s oldest continuously-operating pharmacy, which has been open since 1422. From here, take a tram to the Kadriorg Palace, a magnificent baroque palace dating from 1718 that now houses Art Museum of Estonia's foreign collection. Wander amongst the hundreds of 16th - 20th century paintings and be sure not to miss the stunning main hall, with its intricate stucco ceiling. When sightseeing gives way to hunger, grab a cheap bite to eat in one of the old town’s affordable cafes; III Draakon in the town halls serves up the local delicacy of pirukad - essentially a pie filled with vegetables and meats - for €1-2, whilst the medieval Olde Hansa offers delicious and affordable meals cooked with traditional 15th methods. When it comes to accommodation, AirBnb’s across the city are incredibly affordable and average around £30 a night for the entire property.
Sticking with the Eastern Europe theme, Bulgaria’s historic capital city of Sofia has culture, history, and food a drink aplenty, all offered up with a chilled out, ‘off-the-beaten-track’ vibe. Start off your sightseeing experience with a trip to the iconic Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, its stunning Neo-Byzantine style a sight to behold, before perusing The Sofia History Museum - which features a real-life retro tram you can climb inside. As for food and drink in the Eastern European city, you can’t leave without trying kyufte and kebapche, grilled spiced meatballs, and lyutenitsa, a spicy spread that can go on pretty much anything. For tasty, freshly baked bread and dips, a trip to SunMoon will not go amiss, whilst burgers, kebabs and local favorites cevapi and baked beans can be found at street vendors throughout the city. Use the city’s location to your advantage and take a day trip to one of Bulgaria’s quaint coastal towns - with a third of the country’s Black Sea coast being made up of sandy beaches, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring the city’s outskirts. Alternatively, take a trip to the Rila range, Bulgaria's highest mountain range, for a day of hiking and taking in the stunning scenery. With flights from around £90 depending on when you go, Sofia offers all the escapism you could want without breaking the bank.
Flickr / Antonio Ortega
For a taste of the mediterranean without having to use up your entire student loan, Valletta in Malta is your place. As both a a European Art City and a World Heritage City, this miniture capital has a lot to offer in just a small space. Begin your day with a visit to one of the stunning gardens - the The Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hastings Gardens and the Lower Barrakka Gardens all provide stunning scenery, with the Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens offering amazing views of the glistening harbour. Also make sure to schedule trips to the neoclassical St. Publius Parish Church, the Triton Fountain and the ruins of the Royal Opera House site, which dates back to 1866. When it comes to getting around, eating out and sightseeing, Valletta is incredibly affordable; plan to spend around 25-30 euros a day if being frugal, or 45 if planning to splash out a bit more. Eating out need not be expensive; nestled in a 400 year old cellar, Trabuxu Wine Bar offers delicious wines and a changing menu, whereas Café Jubilee is perfect for a quick bite or delicious bowl of ravioli. As is to be expected, fresh pizza and pasta can be found throughout the city and won’t require a significant amount of wandering around to find. Accomodation wise, Airbnb does have some good, affordable options, but staying in a hostel may be a slightly cheaper option; a quick Google will reveal numerous hostels around the city.
So there you have it; three brilliant destinations definitely worth spending some of your second term budget on. Take in the sights, sip on a pint, taste the local delicacies and come back feeling inspired and refreshed, ready for exam period hell…!
Featured Image: Flickr/ Ava Babili
Do you have a special lesser known destination? Let us know!