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Student holidays: 5 weekend breaks for 5 student types

Finished with tutorials? Got a reading week? No matter what the reason, it’s always good to have a break from the books and have some down time. We reveal the 5 best cities for a student break - from party-ready Budapest to sporty Barcelona.
Panoramic view of London - 5 best weekend breaks for students

Your student years are the best time to travel. And with so many cheap flights around Europe, it’s never been easier to visit some amazing cities (when you aren’t studying… of course). We reveal five amazing weekend breaks for five very different kinds of student.

Top 5 weekend breaks in Europe for students

  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Granada, Spain
  • Vienna, Austria
  • London, England
  • Barcelona, Spain

1. Budapest, Hungary: the party student

Budapest illuminated at dusk - top 5 weekend breaks for students

Budapest, without even really meaning to be, is perhaps the most well-equipped city for a student. It has some of the coolest bars in the world – and that’s not an exaggeration. Its most popular bar Szimpla Kert has been voted as the third best in the world. One of several ‘Ruin Bars’ housed in abandoned and previously derelict buildings in Budapest’s Jewish quarter, it’s crammed full of retro furniture and decorations, from the backseats of vintage cars to bathtubs.

Girls clubbing

Budapest’s nightclubs stay open until 6am, one being the infamous Instant, which recently moved to a huge ruin pub complex in Akácfa street. After hours of dancing and cheap beer and in the harsh light of day, drag yourself out of bed, order a large plate of hearty Hungarian food – chicken paprikash with dumplings in particular works a treat – and head to Széchenyi Baths. Their thermal pools are the best cure for that post-party headache.

Széchenyi Baths by night, Budapest, Hungary

More: Top 10 things to see and do in Budapest

Best places to party: top 10 clubbing cities in Europe

2. Granada, Spain: the bohemian student

Panoramic view of Granada, Spain - 5 best weekend breaks for students

Granada is a small enough city that everything is within walking distance, but not so small that you’ll run out of things to see and do. It’s definitely got an incredibly chilled-out atmosphere (by day anyway) and it’s hard not to adopt the laid-back style of its locals.

Flamenco dancer

This vibe is centred in Sacromonte – famous for its gypsy caves and thriving flamenco scene. The caves are an interesting place to explore, as the area was once a slum but now has wonderful gardens. Although some may be a little heavy on the weed cultivation, others have plumbing, internet and other modern amenities. Back in the city centre, the bars are always bustling with people drinking cañas (small beers) and eating the accompanying large plates of free tapas – ideal when you are on a student budget.

Two students visiting Granada, Spain

More: The best places to visit in Spain: 10 must-see destinations

3. Vienna, Austria: the cultured student

Vienna by night - 5 best weekend breaks for studens

With past residents such as Freud, Beethoven, Mozart and Klimt, among many other famous artists, composers and scientists, Vienna oozes an intellectual sensibility that can be seen all around the city. This is the city to wander around museums, such as the Belvedere, that is home to Klimt’s famous ‘The Kiss’, then have an intellectual debate over a Viennese coffee.

Colourful facade in Vienna, Austria

However, that isn’t to say it’s devoid of party atmosphere. The city’s full of venues showcasing the best opera (when in Vienna) and theatre productions. And for a serious student atmosphere, then head to the area known as the Bermuda triangle (Bermudadreieck), where locals go to drink and listen to live music. We recommend visiting The PUB, a bar where you can pull your own pint using self-service beer taps and touch screens.

4. London, England: the science student

The view from London Eye - 5 best weekend breaks for studens

A weekend break in London has much to offer for any sort of student. But for those interested in all things science, then this is the best place for you. There are some seriously weird and wonderful museums around the city. The London Science Museum has over 300,000 items and hundreds of exhibitions covering all scientific fields. For the more biologically persuaded, visit the Old Operating Theatre (the only remaining 19th century operating theatre in England) or the Wellcome Museum.

London street - 5 best weekend breaks for studens

Also worth a mention is the Faraday Museum at the Royal institution, the former home of 14 Nobel Prize winners. The Natural History Museum is also fantastic, particularly the Darwin Centre that has incredible displays and scientist-led events. In the evening, head to one of London’s ‘molecular mixology’ specialists a.k.a fancy cocktail bars. Try 69 Colebrooke Row, where you won’t fail to be impressed by the skills used to create some amazingly inventive drinks.

More: Best hotels in London for every budget

5. Barcelona, Spain: the sports student

Man on a roof watching the sunset in Barcelona - 5 best weekend breaks for studens

Home to Camp Nou, the 93,354 capacity stadium (the largest in Europe) with one of the biggest and most widely supported teams in the world, Barcelona is the ideal city for those students who value their sports societies just as much as their studies. You won’t fail to be swept up in the footy atmosphere.

Camp Nou, Barcelona's famous stadium - 5 best weekend breaks for students

Of course, this huge city by the sea has plenty more to offer those active students who aren’t keen on the beautiful game. Being on the coast, there are plenty of water sports to be enjoyed. Barcelona’s Olympic facilities for the 2010 games have now been converted into the world’s first sports theme park, Open Camp Barcelona. And don’t worry too much about drinking glass upon glass of vino and eating all that wonderful food while you’re here. The promoter has been quoted as saying the park is for everyone ‘even people with a beer gut’.

Barcelona beach - 5 best weekend breaks for studens

More: Where to find winter sun in February

*Revised September 2019. Information correct at the time of publication and is subject to change and/or availability.

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