Six city breaks for people who want to ditch the worthy stuff and have fun…
Going on holiday is supposed to be fun. But we often forget that when picking out what to do whilst away. The temptation is often to tick of the must-sees rather than do what we enjoy. And that leads to trudging round cathedrals and fine art museums rather than enjoying a round of mini-golf or a zoo.
It doesn’t have to be this way – here are some fun alternatives to the usual suspects in six favourite city break hotspots.
What you’re supposed to do: Watch the Vienna Boys’ Choir sing tunes that are considerably less catchy than, say, the Greatest Hits of Girls Aloud. Then look at royal furniture in the Schonbrunn Palace.
ENJOYED THIS POST?Then you may be interested in my book. Sharing the stories via Twitter (I'm @GrumpyTrav) or Facebook is always appreciated too. You can also 'like' the Grumpy Traveller Facebook page to get new story updates.
BOOK YOUR OWN ADVENTUREThe following sites are usually my first port of call when booking a trip - so I recommend them as somewhere to start when booking your own holiday.
HOTELS: Hotels.com (£) or Agoda (£)
FLIGHTS: Skyscanner (£) Kayak or Roundtheworldflights.com
CAR HIRE: Car Rentals (£)
GUIDE BOOKS: Amazon (£)
TOURS AND ACTIVITIES: Viator (£)
Fun alternative: Skip the palace and head for the grounds. There you’ll find a maze and the world’s oldest zoo. Alternatively, make a beeline for the Prater fairground with its rollercoasters, log flume and Ferris wheel. It’s a great place to pootle round on a hired bike, too.
If it’s a hot summer’s day, then the Gansehaufel island in the river Danube is the best spot – it has rowboats for hire, beaches and swimming pools.
What you’re supposed to do: Fight through a heaving crowd at the Louvre to get a short glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Then go up the Eiffel Tower to find the one thing missing from any photograph taken there is the Eiffel Tower.
Fun alternative: The Jardin du Luxembourg is great. There’s boules and sun-bathing for the adults, plus pony rides and playgrounds for the kids. But if you’re going to go for a museum, why not the Musée de la Magie? It traces the history of magic and illusion, and challenges you to work out the tricks by showing you the equipment used for them. Better still, magicians wander round performing tricks right in front of you.
What you’re supposed to do: Fill your days admiring a series of reasonably impressive churches. Or viewing bits of old vases at the Museum of Antiquities and Glyptothek.
Fun alternative: Munich’s old Olympic Stadium has been turned into a big playground. Adventurous types can strap themselves into harnesses and climb all over the roof as part of a special tour. And if you really want to get the heart pumping, you can abseil down from the top – a drop of 40 metres. Another adrenalin rush comes with the Flying Fox, a zipwire that allows you to shoot 200 metres across the stadium.
What you’re supposed to do: Empty your life savings in order to pay for a short gondola ride, then fight through walls of tourists to look at St Mark’s Square and tour the Doge’s Palace.
Fun alternative: There’s a spooky side to Venice’s history, and that’s where the ghost tours come into play. Dark tales of haunted houses, dastardly deeds and jilted lovers spice up the atmospheric back streets of the canal city. Viator sells a night-time ghost walk.
During the day, grab a beach ball and head to the Lido – Venice’s beach is just a short boat ride away from the city.
What you’re supposed to do: Nod respectfully at paintings by the old masters in the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum.
Fun alternative: Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo is one of the best in the world – and the red pandas are especially cute. But Amsterdam is most famous for its canals – although some boat tours are more fun than others.
The Pancake Boat is a winner for those with big appetites. It chugs around the waterways while everyone on board stuffs themselves with all-you-can-eat pancakes. Evening cocktail cruises with free tipples thrown in are a good bet for later on.
What you’re supposed to do: Stroll along La Rambla, keeping a sharp eye out for pickpockets, then nosy around the cathedral.
Fun alternative: Barcelona has its very own mountain – and you can get up there by funicular railway. Many go up Tibidabo for the views out over the city, but it also has an amusement park that should keep kids (and big kids) happy for hours.
Football fans, however, should make a beeline for the Camp Nou. Tours of FC Barcelona’s stadium let you get out onto the pitch and see how the other half live in the Presidential Box.
Disclosure: This story was originally written for The Sun.