You always hear about places like New York, London, Paris and Rome, but there’s a lot to discover in smaller cities too. Equally full of romance, beauty, style and excitement, next time you’re thinking of slipping away somewhere new, consider some of our top unusual city break picks.
For those who can’t decide whether they want the city or the sea, Nice combines the vibrancy of a buzzing cosmopolitan town with the beauty of the Cote d’Azur. The Promenade des Anglais that overlooks the stunning Bay of Angels curves around the city’s edge and gives way to white sand beaches and sparkling shades of Ceylon blue sea for miles. Head over to the Promenade du Paillon, a park that runs from the city center to the coast or wander through Nice’s old town to soak up the scents of the South’s most acclaimed flower market. With amazing cuisine and just enough French Riviera glam, the city of Nice is way more than just nice.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for views that will take your breath away, Azur Vilefranche might be your dream villa. Perched on the hillside above Beaulieu and with stunning views of of Cap Ferrat, Villefranche Bay and the Rade de Villefranche, this modern, stylish home offers the ultimate in comfort, luxury and privacy.
2. Puerto Vallarta
On Mexico’s more wild and rugged Pacific coast you’ll discover Puerto Vallarta, one of the country’s most sophisticated destinations. Puerto Vallarta is at the center of Mexico’s dramatic coastline and has the turquoise-blue waters of the Bay of Flags (Bahía de Banderas) to one side and the Sierra Madre mountain range to the other. There’s plenty to do both in the city and out on the ocean. Take a boat trip to the best diving spots or go for a horseback ride, explore hidden coves and off the beaten track beaches, or head to the city center for shops, restaurants and the city’s dynamic nightlife.
Where to Stay: With all the charm of old world Mexico and all the amenities of a contemporary home, sit back, relax, sip on a cerveza and let Villa Encanto lull you to your happy place. Located right on the beach and within walking distance of Bucerias, this villa is the perfect location for a hassle free, relaxing Mexican getaway.
Often called Tuscany’s best-kept secret, the small town of Lucca, located close to Pisa, offers historic Italian charm without the throngs of tourists. Lucca lies behind large, imposing walls, but gives way to the most delightful cobblestone streets, promenades, cafes, restaurants, museums and churches. Discover why this town is one of Italy’s top silk producers while perusing some of their many shops, sit down for a classic meal with a glass of Lucian wine, or sample some of the town’s coveted olive oil.
Where to Stay: Have you ever wanted to stay in a home owned by architects? Created as a place to explore their ideas, Villa Alibia is a breathtaking home built into the white marble rocks of the cliff side overlooking Lucca. Light, bright, cool and airy with incredible views, this is one piece of art you will never forget.
4. La Jolla
One of the most popular beach destinations in the golden state, La Jolla, known as ‘The Jewel City’ lies just north of downtown San Diego. Surrounded by ocean and backed by the gentle slopes of Mount Soledad, this small, seven mile slice feels like a picturesque Mediterranean village. Whether you want to spend your day on the beach, soaking up the sun or wandering among the charming streets, this little area packs a lot of punch. From the famous Torrey Pines golf course to the Museum of Contemporary Art, upscale boutiques, and acclaimed restaurants, there’s something for every traveler in this California gem.
Where to Stay: Right on the La Jolla shores, La Jolla Tradewinds has classic beach house features with a serious sense of elegance and style. From the bright, spacious open concept floorplan, to the panoramic ocean views on the front terrace, this home will have you living the California dream.