You know us, always raving about the best places in London. But sometimes, it’s a good idea to leave the city and discover somewhere new.
We’ve teamed up with Stansted Express to offer you the chance to win a trip for two to Amsterdam and that got us thinking – with the train taking less than an hour to the airport from Zone One, and Stansted Airport linking you with 170 destinations all over Europe, you could leave Oxford Street at lunchtime and be having dinner on one of the most exciting main streets in another great city in another great country. So, why not give one of these a try this weekend?
Carrer de Verdi, Barcelona
Forget La Rambla and head somewhere with a truly independent spirit. Carrer de Verdi in the Gràcia district is a funky mix of bars and boutiques, including the upcycling workshop/store Costuretas Social Club, Çukor artisan confectioners and Alzira vintage furniture store.
Gran Vía, Madrid
This might be one of the most famous avenues in Madrid, but it’s also a brilliant place to take the pulse of the city in one long stroll. Go shopping or bar hopping if you like, but also make time to take in the architecture – the Metrópolis building with its striking bronze statue and the Telefónica building – and maybe catch a show at Lope de Vega or the Compac.
Temple Bar, Dublin
Okay, it’s Dublin’s worst-kept secret, but the narrow cobbled streets of this cultural quarter have a vibe like nowhere else in town, so it’s worth joining the bustle. Check out the weekend stalls in Meeting House Square, duck into one or two of the independent galleries then grab a coffee at Hippety’s and watch the world go by.
If you want ye olde Nordic charm, take a stroll through Gamla Stan, but for a little more edge, head for Djurgården. Okay, it’s not a single street, but it’s Stockholm’s leafiest inner island. It’s easy to explore and it’s home to some of Stockholm’s best galleries and museums. Get your culture fix before alfresco drinks at Djurgårdsbrunn.
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
From designer homeware to tweeds to vintage books, Victoria Street is hard to beat. Take a stroll on this curving shopping avenue as it heads down from George IV Bridge to Grassmarket, stopping off at one of the tasty cafés along the way. And as darkness falls, join the queues at the Liquidroom, frequently host to the best gigs in town.
Waterfront and North, Amsterdam
In amongst the new architectural landscape of Amsterdam’s Waterfront and North, the social life is buzzing. The free ferries that leave from behind Centraal Station take you across to Noord, for high-class dining at Samhoud Places, informal eating on the moored barge Barco, or a sip or two of simple café culture at Small World Catering.
If you want major label shopping, take a long walk down Strøget, Copenhagen’s seemingly endless main street. But if you fancy something different and uniquely Danish, you’ll have better luck along the smart, pretty Kronprinsensgade, famous for fashion. Check out Bruuns Bazaar for men and women’s wear.
Berlin sprawls, encouraging you to dart all over town for one-off bars, interesting stores and arty hang-outs instead of staying in one place. However, if you want designer gear, Mulackstrasse is for you. And if you want to pay a little less for it, the excellent designer vintage store here called Das Neue Schwarz should be your first stop.
Rua de São Bento, Lisbon
The Portuguese capital is best wandered to find the flavours, styles and even the music (when night falls) that you want. But if you fancy coming home with something quirky and unique, Rua de São Bento is a one-off haven for vintage and bric-a-brac.
Given that it’s over three miles long, it’s no surprise that the Ringstrasse has room along it for many of the Austrian capital’s most notable landmarks, including the Vienna State Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts. Hop on and off the tram along its route, or hire a bike and take in the magnificent views.