Thanks to cheap airlines, it's never been easier to hop on a plane for the weekend and visit one Europe's cool and arty cities. Whether you're on the hunt for for historical architecture, modern design museums or fancy exploring a new district after dark, taking yourself off the weekend and experiencing a new culture really is a great way to get inspired and, come Monday, bursting with fresh ideas.
Here we round up some of our favourites, as well as a few recommendations of where to hang out.
01. Helsinki, Finland
The cosmopolitan city of Helsinki won the World Capital Design title in 2012 and it's easy to see why. From sleek furniture shops to modern art galleries and Gothic architecture, it's the perfect place for designers to come and find inspiration. The Design Museum (opens in new tab) is well worth a visit, as is the art deco Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall (opens in new tab) and the Olympic Stadium, built to host the 1940 Games – with everything just a short walk or tram stop away.
The nightlife is also pretty vibrant and there’re lots of bars and restaurants to hang out, like the exceptionally cool Story bar and hotel and Restaurant AG. Known as Helsinki's bohemian quarter, the Kallio district is one of the best areas to savour the city's nightlife.
02. Copenhagen, Denmark
Just like Helsinki, Copenhagen offers a mixture of periodic and modern design and hpme to some of the world's most acclaimed art galleries. Modern art lovers can indulge in the likes of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, whilst the Designmuseum Danmark boasts one of the best permanent design exhibits in the city.
And, as with Helsinki, some of the city's most inspiring and sleek designs can be found in the many modern bars and restaurants to the unassuming street lamp.
03. Derry, Northern Ireland
Named the UK City of Culture in 2013, huge investments over recent years have transformed Derry into a sleek and chic destination. Whilst an old city, Derry has one of Europe's youngest populations, which is likely to account for its vibrant art scene and extensive list of pubs and clubs.
The Void and the Centre For Contemporary Art are two of the city's biggest art galleries, although with a celebration of individual expression, there're lots of smaller art spaces to visit too, including Context, Eden Place and Cowley Cooper.
04. Torino, Italy
Perhaps a little less well-known that Italy's grandiose cities, Turin is a scene of castles, piazzas and Art Nouveau architecture – all set against a backdrop of the Alps. Italy's fourth largest city is also home to the car brand Fiat and the first-ever slow food supermarket, which perhaps reflect the character and diversity that the city has to offer.
As a smaller destination, designers can hop from modern art galleries to contemporary installations very easily, and explore the city's 40-plus museums, including the Gallery of Modern Art (opens in new tab), Castello di Rivoli (opens in new tab) and the MuseoTorino, a new museum designed to collect and conserve knowledge about the city.
05. Marseille, France
France's second biggest city may have once been synonymous with drug gangs but a £6bn makeover and 2013 status as the European Capital of Culture has seen Marseille emerge as an exciting city to visit. From the photography gallery Ateller de Visu to the urban Backside Gallery and the more recently founded Galerie Gourvennec Ogor space, the city provides an endless list of modern art soures to draw inspiration from.
Not surprisingly, this artistic vibe seeps into the city's restaurants and bars and you can almost guarantee a weekend of both fun and education.
That's all for now – have you visited any of these cities? Or are there any that we've missed? Let us know your creative weekend destinations in the comments below!
Words: Natalie Brandweiner (opens in new tab)
Natalie Brandweiner is a writer and social media expert, and is currently digital content marketer.
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