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We are quick, on occasion, to opt automatically for the obvious when considering a city break. Specialist tour operator Kirker suggests six alternative city breaks for this spring and summertime - places equally beguiling in terms of beauty and culture, but quieter, more authentic, and therefore offering a calmer and more meaningful experience.


Instead of Athens, why not try Thessaloniki – packing the ultimate cultural punch?

Athens has the Acropolis, but Thessaloniki – Greece’s second city – has always been the cultural capital. There is still evidence of Roman and Ottoman rule; however, it is the collection of preserved Byzantine architecture that has given the city UNESCO World Heritage status. A thriving port, where city life centres around the long, wide and much-loved waterfront promenade, Salonica (as it’s still often known) is a highly desirable short break destination. Vergina – where you can visit the tomb of Philip of Macedon – is a good day trip, and the many regional flights, connecting the city with Santorini and other islands, make a multi-centre trip both easy and appealing.

Stay at the five-star Electra Palace, overlooking Aristotelous Square and the sea, and close to the Archaeological Museum and the White Tower. There is an outdoor pool on the roof and another small indoor pool in the spa.
Three nights from £678 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.*


Instead of Milan, why not try Turin – the ‘Paris of Italy’?

Easily accessible by rail – it’s on the TGV main line from Paris to Milan – Turin gives Milan a run for its money in terms of architectural beauty. The city’s regal elegance and idyllic position, at the foot of the Italian Alps, make it a destination deserving of much more attention. Here you’ll find one of Italy’s most magnificent cathedrals, a prominent opera house, and two world-class museums: the National Museum of Cinema, and the Egyptian Museum (the most important collection of Egyptian antiquities outside Cairo). Explore Europe’s largest outdoor food and vegetable market, and pack in as many restaurant experiences as possible. The food here is consistently top notch, from tiny traditional trattorie to swanky establishments in hip neighbourhoods. Home to Martini, Lavazza, Fiat, and scenic location of the classic 1960s film The Italian Job, Turin is also the chocolate capital of Italy – the world’s first producer of chocolate bars, and the origin of the chocolate-hazelnut concept.

Stay in Turin’s historical centre at the four-star Grand Hotel Sitea. Savour a cocktail in the ‘American’ bar – or in the small courtyard garden during the summer – before dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, ‘Carignano’, famous for traditional Piemontese cuisine. Three nights from £748 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.* Kirker clients receive a 72-hour Torino Card which gives complimentary entrance to over 160 cultural sites, free use of the city’s overground public transport system, reductions on cultural activities, and the famous ‘ChocoPass’.


Instead of Paris, why not try Montpellier – stately boulevards with Mediterranean warmth?

Graceful and easy-going, Montpellier is a stylish city with elegant neo-Classical buildings, a North African vibe, broad boulevards branching from the impressive Place de la Comédie, bustling food markets, and dazzling white-sand beaches on its doorstep. This sunny city in southern France has its very own Arc de Triomphe and is home to the oldest medical school in Europe. The fabulous Musée Fabre, founded in 1825, has galleries which collectively showcase the last 600 years of artistic activity in Europe.

Stay at the brilliantly-situated Grand Hotel du Midi, next door to the opera house and on the fringes of the iconic main square, the Place de la Comédie. The hotel’s original Art Deco façade has been retained, whilst the bedrooms have all been renovated in a modern style with classical touches. Three nights from £789 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.* Kirker highly recommends including a performance at the beautiful Opera Comédie during your stay; the Kirker Concierge will happily pre-book tickets for you.

Valencia Spain

Instead of Barcelona, why not try Valencia – a more authentic glimpse of Spanish culture?

When planning a trip to Spain, Barcelona is often the first city that comes to mind for many travellers. However, a little further south, along the Mediterranean coast, lies the country’s glorious third city, a gem that is often overlooked – Valencia. The city is less crowded, and also offers a more immersive experience of the Spanish way of life. An exciting blend of the old and new, there is a beautifully-preserved historic quarter and striking modern buildings, including the spectacular new City of Arts and Sciences. Famous as the home of rice dishes such as paella, Valencia’s buzzy dining scene offers plenty more besides.

Stay in a small street in the centre of Valencia at characterful Ad Hoc, a privately-owned hotel with a charming colonial Spanish feel. Three nights from £698 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.* Guaranteed entrance tickets to the City of Arts and Sciences for all Kirker clients.


Instead of Berlin, why not try Hamburg – Germany’s top cultural destination?

Berlin is an incredible city, but it sprawls. If you prefer a place that’s more compact, with a distinct city centre, Hamburg is a better bet. Germany’s wealthiest city, it boasts the country’s largest collection of Michelin-starred restaurants and a rich programme of world-class cultural events. Berlin is defined by water – a bustling port, two lakes, three rivers, including the majestic Elbe, a system of narrow canals, and over 2,000 bridges.

Stay at the five-star Fontenay, a fascinating, curvaceous edifice on the shores of Lake Alster. The best views are from the top floor ‘Lakeside’ restaurant, where you can savour Michelin-starred cuisine from Chef Julian Stowasser. The hotel also has a sleek bar, a spa with a rooftop indoor/outdoor swimming pool, and a sun terrace.
Three nights from £1,248 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.*

Fez, Morocco

Instead of Marrakech, why not try Fez – for the most exhilarating medina experience?

More discreet than Marrakech, Fez is the oldest city in Morocco and it is also home to the oldest university in the world. The medina, a World Heritage Site, is the largest car-free urban area in the world and must be seen to be believed; it outshines any other Imperial city. Literally unmappable, it’s a wonderfully intoxicating, rabbit warren-esque underworld of twisting alleys with two-way donkey traffic, centuries-old mosques, and food markets that will have your eyes out on stalks. It’s almost biblical.

Stay at Le Riad Fez, a member of Relais & Châteaux, located at the edge of the medina. There is a swimming pool, a hammam and a roof terrace. Head chef Lalla Abida takes care of guests’ appetites at Gayza, the hotel’s rich-hued restaurant. Fez is world-renowned for its incredible cuisine and this hotel is a perfect introduction.
Three nights from £826 pp, including return flights, breakfast, private transfers, and the services of the Kirker Concierge.* A private walking tour of Fez is included for all Kirker clients.

*Please note: Prices are based on two sharing a twin/double room. Flights are from London (regional airports available on request).

For more information, or to book one of Kirker’s tailor-made short breaks, please call 020 7593 2284 or visit

Press: Please contact Gemma Minto or Sue Ockwell at Travel PR on 020 8891 4440 or email / At Kirker, contact Patrick Millar on 020 7593 2281 or email


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