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Blog>Quick UK Getaways: 8 European Cities to Explore

Quick UK Getaways: 8 European Cities to Explore

A city break is the perfect opportunity to lose yourself in another culture, take some time to yourself to relax, and make some incredible memories. The good news is that some of Europe's most beautiful and interesting cities are closer to the UK than you might think. Choosing to visit a nearby city means you can minimise the time you spend travelling and maximise the time you have to explore.

As a result of the events of the past few years, a spontaneous weekend break is the perfect way to make up for lost travel time.

Where can you fly within 2 hours of the UK?

To help you choose which city to head to next, we’ve selected 8 of our favourite European cities which are surprisingly close to the UK and listed them by flight duration. We’ve also included a handy airline guide — so whether you’d prefer to fly from London, Manchester, or Edinburgh (the UK cities with the busiest international airports), you’ll know which airlines fly direct to each European city. Keep reading to find out where you can fly to within 2 hours from the UK.

As displayed in the photograph below the flight time to London from Belgium is around an hour long, Paris to London and Amsterdam to London is around an hour and 10 minutes.

Top Tip: Book flights to any of the destinations listed below with Alternative Airlines. Add flight protection when you book your flights through Alternative Airlines, and be confident that you're covered if you need to cancel your flights for a number of reasons outside your control.

Some of Europe's top cities are only a short flight away from London!

1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands. The city is immensely photogenic, with a winding canal system lined by narrow buildings with elaborate facades — legacies of the city's 17th century Golden Age.


The city is known for being a liberal hub, but Amsterdam is also a lot more than what it’s known for legalising, thanks to its diverse culture and history. Amsterdam boasts a large Museum District, where a must-visit has to be the Van Gogh Museum — a large museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh, and one of the most popular museums in the world. Nearby, you’ll also find the Rijksmuseum, home to artworks by some of the best loved names in classical art, including Rembrandt and Vermeer. The Anne Frank House is another one of Amsterdam’s most visited sites, a museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank.

Hiring a bike is one of the best ways to explore Amsterdam and is a popular way to travel between the city’s tourist sites.

Top Tip: Spring is a great time to visit Amsterdam, which bursts into colour thanks to the tulips that adorn the city's canal banks.

Take me from the UK to Amsterdam

One of the shortest flights from London to Europe is to Amsterdam. Only an hour and 40 minutes from Edinburgh, flying really is the quickest way to reach Amsterdam. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Airport (AMS), known locally as Schiphol Airport, is the primary international airport serving the city. The airport is located 9 kilometres (5.6 miles) southwest of the city and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the centre of Amsterdam from the airport by taxi.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 1hr 10 minutes
Airlines: British AirwayseasyJetAir France, and Vueling

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 1 hour, 15 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and KLM

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 1 hour, 40 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and KLM

2. Paris, France

Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world. From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the gothic Notre Dame to the Louvre Museum, Paris is bursting with iconic landmarks and unmissable experiences. The café culture in Paris is unrivalled and the restaurants are a foodie's galore. If you're thinking of a quick trip away then, as Audrey Hepburn herself put it, “Paris is always a good idea”.

The Louvre, Paris.

If you live in the UK, there are a million reasons why Paris should not be a one-visit-wonder — no matter how many times you head to this enchanting city there is always more to discover. If you’re visiting London from the United States or elsewhere far afield, then why not plan a multi-city itinerary and hop over to Paris during your stay?

Take me from the UK to Paris

Fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), also known as Roissy Airport, which is the largest international airport in France. The airport is 23 km (14 mi) northeast of Paris. A train runs from the airport approximately every 15 minutes and takes about 50 minutes to reach the centre of Paris. There are more airline options if you fly from London, but it is also easy to fly directly to Paris no matter where you are in the UK. Fancy extending your Paris trip to somewhere else in France? Check out our domestic flights in France page.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 1hr 10 minutes
Airlines: British Airways, easyJet, Air France, and Vueling

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 1 hour, 20 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and Air France

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 1 hour, 50 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and Air France

3. Antwerp, Belgium

Just a short flight from London is Antwerp, a port city on Belgium’s River Scheldt. The city is a wonderful mix of old and new, with a history dating back to the middle ages as well as a modern arts and fashion scene that could rival any of Europe's most cosmopolitan cities.

Antwerp city centre

Antwerp's formally abandoned dockside district has been revitalised in recent years. The district’s great warehouses and rusty maritime outlets have been transformed into museums and trendy coffee bars. Head to a vintage store and browse through vinyl before relaxing at a swanky cocktail bar.

As you wind around the cobbled streets of the city you'll also discover a stunning mix of architecture, inducing Art Nouveau, Jugendstil and Neo-Classicism — in fact, the Zurenborg neighbourhood is widely held as one of the best Art Nouveau suburbs in the world. As you explore the city, don’t miss out on visiting The Rubenshuis, the former home and studio of renowned painter Peter Paul Rubens, and make sure you tick-off the Museum aan de Stroom, which has unrivalled views of the city from its upper outdoor viewing deck.

Top Tip: Visit in the summer and coincide your trip with the ‘Summer of Antwerp’ festival, when abandoned gas factories are transformed into urban dance halls, an outdoor cinema is open for free and a number of bars pop-up across the city.

Take me from the UK to Antwerp

Fly to Antwerp International Airport (ANR), a small international airport which serves the city of Antwerp. KLM is the only airline that flies from the UK, flying directly from London City Airport. The journey takes less than an hour and is operated at least three times daily. Note that the flight will likely be operated by the airline’s codeshare partner, Air Antwerp.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 1 hour
Airlines: KLM (operated by Air Antwerp)

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: no direct flights

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: no direct flights

4. Cologne, Germany

If you’re a fan of unique and quirky, it’s time to seriously consider visiting Cologne. As well as being one of Germany's oldest cities (more than 2000 years old!), there are many reasons why you could argue that Cologne is also the country’s coolest. Cologne’s locals are known for their liberal, joyful, and life-affirming attitude. This can be best experienced during the city's Pride festival (held each July), which is one of the best in Europe!


If the quality of the nightlife scene is high on your list of priorities, then just a 2 hour flight from the UK to Cologne can get you to the perfect city break. There are nightclubs and bars to cater for all, from understated cocktail bars to basement techno clubs and a number of punk-rock digs. But don't miss out on also visiting some of the city's most popular and historic sites — especially Cologne Cathedral, a gothic, twin-spired architectural masterpiece.

Take me from the UK to Cologne

Cologne Bonn Airport (CGN) is the major international airport serving the city. The airport is 15 km (9.3 miles) from the city centre, the easiest means of transport being via the sophisticated train system which links the airport with Cologne.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 1 hour, 20 minutes
Airlines: British Airways, Eurowings, and Ryanair.

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 1 hour, 35 minutes
Airlines: Ryanair

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 1 hour, 50 minutes
Airlines: Eurowings

5. Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva is a city in Switzerland, and an absolute powerhouse — home to the headquarters of the United Nations, as well as a number of international corporations.

Picture of Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva sits on the shore of the magnificent Lake Geneva, a crystal-clear lake which is one of the largest in Europe. The city is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains, offering great views of dramatic Mont Blanc. If you're looking to escape the dull prospects of London on a grey weekend, you can fly to Geneva in just an hour and 40 minutes, and soon be hiking your way up the nearby Salève mountain.

Feel the spray of one of the city's most famous landmarks, Jet d’Eau, a gigantic jet fountain that sits at the centre of the harbour in Lake Geneva. Or, get your geek on and learn some particle physics at CERN, where you’ll find the Large Hadron Collider.

Take me to Geneva

Geneva Airport (GVA) is unofficially known as Cointrin Airport and is the international airport serving the city of Geneva. The airport is located just 4 km (2.5 mi) from the city centre, with easy connections via public transport and taxis.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 1 hour, 35 minutes
Airlines: British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.comTUI Airways, and Swiss International Air Lines

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 1 hour, 50 minutes
Airlines: easyJet

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 1 hour, 15 minutes
Airlines: easyJet

6. Barcelona, Spain

No matter what your interests and tastes may be, there really is something for everyone in Barcelona. If you're after sun and sea, Barcelona boasts miles of exquisite sandy, palm-lined beaches. If art and culture is more your scene, you’ll be pleased to hear that the city certainly isn’t short on museums.

Park Guell, Barcelona

Antoni Gaudi, the renowned architect and designer, played an instrumental role in the Art Nouveau movement in Spain, which flourished towards the end of the 19th century. Gaudi’s work can be found all over the city, including the La Sagrada Familia, a Gaudí-designed landmark church, and the Park Güell, a sprawling park showcasing many of the artist’s sculptures and buildings.

Be sure to roam along Las Ramblas, one of the longest and most famous main streets in Europe, where you can window-shop and absorb the colourful and unique architecture of the boulevard. This is where you can also find La Boquería, a famous traditional market where you can taste 100% authentic local food.

Did you know, Barcelona is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back over 2000 years?

Take me from the UK to Barcelona

Just a short flight from London will take you to Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN), the major international airport serving the city of Barcelona. Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport is located 12 km (7.5 mi) southwest of the city centre, a journey which takes just 20 minutes by taxi.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 2 hours
Airlines: British Airways, easyJet, Vueling, Ryanair, and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 2 hours, 20 minutes
Airlines: easyJet, Ryanair, and Vueling

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 2 hours, 45 minutes
Airlines: Ryanair

7. Prague, Czech Republic

Known as the 'City of 100 Spires', Prague combines Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture in a wonderfully enchanting way. Prague really could be straight from the pages of a fairytale. The red-roofed terraces, cobbled streets and secret gardens of the city entwine around Prague's most unmissable landmark — its large castle complex.


Not only is Prague one of Europe's most beautiful cities, it’s also one of the cheapest. From its unique Czech lager to its boutique hotels, top restaurants, and tourist attractions, the city really is budget-friendly.

If you base yourself near the city's Old Town and all the top sights will be within easy walking distance, including the Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge (an iconic Gothic bridge which was built in 1357), the magnificent Church of St Nicholas, and the Astronomical Clock (a medieval clock tower which was installed in 1410 — making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world).

Take me to Prague

Just a 2 hour flight from the UK is Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG), the international airport serving Prague. PRG is 12 km (7 mi) west of the centre of Prague, a journey which takes about 35 minutes by taxi.

easyJet and Ryanair operate direct flights from airports across the UK to PRG. British Airways also flies from London.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 2 hours
Airlines: British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 2 hours, 5 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and Ryanair

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 2 hours, 20 minutes
Airlines: easyJet and Ryanair

8. Salzburg, Germany

A quick flight from London is Salzburg, a majestic Austrian city on the border of Germany, with views of the Eastern Alps. Most of Salzburg's top sights can be ticked-off in a day, making this compact city the perfect destination for a weekend break. The city is famed for its baroque architecture, and around every turn you'll discover twisted spires and romantic gardens.


Salzburg's historic buildings largely avoided damage during the Second World War, and in 1997, the city of Salzburg became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most striking features of Salzburg's skyline is the Festung Hohensalzburg, a 900-year-old fortress which towers above the city and is easily reached by cable-car from the city centre.

Perhaps best known for being the birthplace of Mozart, visitors can explore the world-renowned composer's former home, and experience his music at one of the hundreds of concerts held throughout the year.

During your visit to the city, you can even follow in the footsteps of Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp, as Salzburg is home to many of the locations where the 1965 film 'The Sound of Music' was filmed.

No matter when you visit, Salzburg has much to offer. During the winter, the city transforms into a snowy winter wonderland, with traditional markets and scenes that could be straight from a Victorian Christmas card. During the spring and summer, the lush green hills of the surrounding countryside really do come alive and are abundant with meadow flowers.

Take me from the UK to Salzburg

There is one major airport in Salzburg: Salzburg Airport W. A. Mozart (SZG). Located just 3 km (1.8 miles) southwest of Salzburg city centre, you can reach the heart of the city in just 15 minutes.

✈️ Flight time from London: From 2 hours
Airlines: British Airways, Ryanair, easyJet, Tui Airways, and Norwegian Air Shuttle

✈️ Flight time from Manchester: From 2 hours, 10 minutes
Airlines: British Airways,

✈️ Flight time from Edinburgh: From 2 hours, 20 minutes

What is the cheapest city in Europe to fly to?

One of the cheapest places is Madrid, Spain where you can go to experience elegant boulevards and the famous Plaza Mayor. Madrid may be a cheaper destination in Europe however, it's known for being cheerful and vibrant at all hours with busy streets dotted around and all kinds of shops and restaurants with world cuisine and unbeatable nightlife.

Another option if you are looking into the cheaper cities would be Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. This city has a lower population of around 1 million however, the total absence of heavy industry makes Stockholm one of the world's cleanest metropolises. It is famous for its beautiful buildings and exquisite architecture, abundant open water and numerous parks.

Last but not least on our list of cheaper cities to make sure you visit this year would be Rome, the capital of Italy. Rome can be affordable depending on the time of year you choose to go for example: October to April is ideal for you if you don't mind wrapping up warm and heading off when the tourist crowds have dissipated and room rates are lower. Rome is definitely on most tourists bucket lists due to its history, art, architecture, and beauty – and perhaps its gelato and pasta! If you haven't been yet then your missing out.

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