25 Best Weekend Getaways
Getting away for the weekend is a time-honored tradition that many abide by. Whether that means going on a quick city break or venturing out into the countryside, you'll have your choice of destinations depending on your point of origin. Here are 25 of the best weekend getaways to help inspire you:
1. New York City, USA
Visiting the Big Apple is a great idea no matter the occasion, but for those of you who prefer to avoid spending big, treating yourself to a genuine NYC experience for one weekend is still possible. You'll have enough time to see New York's most iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square. Additionally, taking a long walk through Central Park can be a refreshing experience, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA are both excellent facilities for art lovers. And don't forget about the still-fresh One World Trade Center, a testament to New York's resiliency in the face of adversity.
2. Barcelona, Spain
The Catalan capital is a marvel of design and architecture, making it the perfect city break destination if you've only got a few days. During your time, be sure to carve out some time for admiring Antoni Gaudi's creations, including the wavy Casa Mila and the still-in-the-works masterpiece La Sagrada Familia. Also, take the time to really take in the breadth and size of Plaza de Espana, one of Barcelona's foremost squares, known for housing the towering Venetian Towers and the Arenas de Barcelona bullring. Finally, you'd be remiss not to take a stroll on La Rambla, a pedestrian-only street that doubles as the city's main retail thoroughfare.
3. Toronto, Canada
One of North America's premier urban hotspots, Toronto is a city that offers a little bit of something for everyone. Weekend visitors can look forward to seeing classic Toronto landmarks like the CN Tower and Casa Loma, as well as to exploring the Royal Ontario Museum and Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Nature lovers owe it to themselves to pay the Toronto Zoo a visit, a sprawling complex that serves as a home for thousands of exotic animals. And if you want to experience that wide-open space feeling, Tommy Thompson Park with its gorgeous waterfront vistas is another must.
4. Las Vegas, USA
One of the ultimate weekend getaway destinations for people who love to party, Las Vegas has earned its reputation as a place where you can really let loose. Most of the action is concentrated on the 4.2 mile-long Las Vegas Strip, where many of the city's top casinos like the MGM Grand, the Bellagio and Caesars Palace are located. But even setting the Strip aside, the Fremont Street offers a slightly more laidback version of Las Vegas' attractions, while the Adventuredome Indoor Theme Park is a must-visit for thrill-seekers. And if you'd like to cap off your trip with a view from the top, there's no better place to do it than from the STRAT Hotel SkyPod.
5. Lisbon, Portugal
Once an underrated getaway spot, these days Lisbon has risen to become the perfect European destination to visit on the weekend. With a relatively manageable size, you can get around the city pretty easily. Among Lisbon's many highlights, the Belem Tower is an imposing medieval landmark that stands as one of the city's most iconic symbols, while Castelo de Sao Jorge showcases the Portuguese capital's Moorish influences. Lisbon also contains several other attractions that deserve your time and attention, including the vast Oceanario de Lisboa, the Santa Justa Lift and the positively-mesmerizing Rossio square.
6. Sydney, Australia
Australia's top city has lots to offer to visitors regardless of the length of their stay. If you're in town only for the weekend, you can spend part of your time dipping your toes in the ocean and enjoying the pleasures of Bondi Beach, or you can go on a tour of the city to experience highlights such as the Sydney Opera House first-hand. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another winner, particularly if you decide to view it from the Mary Booth Lookout Reserve. And for a dose of greenery, why not cap off your getaway with a trip to the Royal Botanic Garden, a vast oasis replete with glasshouses where exotic plants are grown.
7. Hong Kong, China
Situated on the southern end of mainland China, Hong Kong is an autonomous territory that's famed for its towering skyscrapers and state-of-the-art shops. Those who come here for a short stay can look forward to spending some time in Hong Kong's theme parks, with Disneyland and Ocean Park both offering numerous spectacular rides. You've also got the magnificent Victoria Harbour, which is best viewed from Victoria Peak, a lush lookout point accessible via the Peak Tram funicular. And if you're eager to sample some of Hong Kong's more traditional corners, the Tian Tan Buddha statue located on Lantau Island is a good place to start.
8. Paris, France
The city of lights and love makes for a fine weekend getaway spot, as long as you do your best to book everything in advance. Iconic sights like the Eiffel Tower can be quite busy, especially on weekends, so it's important that you buy your tickets ahead of time to avoid standing in line all day. This also applies to other attractions like the Louvre Museum and Musee d'Orsay. But some places such as the Palace of Versailles and Sacre-Coeur are free to enter, and make for a lovely display of Parisian beauty that anyone can appreciate. Add to that the iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard and the towering Arc de Triomphe and you have all the makings of a must-visit city.
9. Chicago, USA
The Windy City is the kind of place that can really put the spring back into your step if you choose to select it as a weekend getaway spot. Navy Pier is an obvious highlight, a top-notch entertainment center that you can get lost in for hours on end. But then you also have Millennium Park, with its iconic Cloud Gate Sculpture, and Grant Park, home of the beautiful Buckingham Fountain, where you can go to relax and enjoy the city's world-famous skyline. While you're in town, be sure to enjoy the views from high-up by booking a trip to the Skydeck observation point at Willis Tower, and spend some time perusing the exhibits that adorn the Art Institute of Chicago.
10. Cape Town, South Africa
The picturesque city of Cape Town has everything you'd want from a weekend getaway place, from the pristine curated beauty of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden to the sandy penguin-filled cove of Boulders Beach. But for pure action-packed enjoyment, nothing beats the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. This rich tourist complex comes with its own aquarium, art museum and amusement park, in addition to offering great views of Table Mountain in the background. You can even use it as a departure point for a quick visit to Robben Island, where a famously brutal prison once held many of South Africa's top luminaries, including Nelson Mandela.
11. Napa Valley, USA
If you're the kind of person who enjoys partaking in a glass of wine now and then, Napa Valley is the perfect spot to escape to on the weekend. The California Wine Country is filled with top-notch wineries that offer guided tours during which you can sample their finest products. One such example is the Tuscan-inspired Castello di Amorosa in nearby Calistoga, where wine tasting is done in a heavenly environment and with the aid of proficient guides. Another highlight is Domaine Carneros, which stands out due to its French style and supreme elegance. Before you leave, be sure to stock up on your favorite wines by paying a visit to the Oxbow Public Market.
12. Turks and Caicos Islands
Due to their proximity to North America and English heritage, Turks & Caicos is among the most accessible destinations in the Caribbean, a real-life paradise that will have you chomping at the bit to experience some seaside fun. You can spend your days lounging at Grace Bay Beach, or go on a cruise tour of the archipelago's islands, which include the diving hotspot of Parrot Cay and the charmingly petite Pine Cay. Golfing enthusiasts will also want to play a quick round at the Provo Golf Club, while history lovers will find the Turks & Caicos National Museum to be a real treat.
13. Florence, Italy
With its rolling hills and perfect weather, Tuscany is the kind of region that travelers dream of, and Florence is its epicenter. This historic city has been at the forefront of art and culture since Medieval times, and people coming in for a quick visit have much to look forward to. From standout monuments like the Cathedral of Maria del Fiore and Ponte Vecchio to celebrated museums like the Uffizi Gallery, there is no shortage of things to look at here. For the best overview of the city, head to Piazzale Michelangelo, where you'll also find the famous bronze statue of David overlooking Florence from the center of the square.
14. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Either seen as a haven of liberty or a den of debauchery, depending on who you ask, in reality Amsterdam is simply a genuinely beautiful city that everyone should experience at least once. There are numerous things to recommend it, from the spectacular Royal Palace of Amsterdam to the impressive Rijksmuseum with its generous collection of European masterpieces. But if you're only in town for a few short days, you definitely should book an Amsterdam canal cruise that lets you admire the city's famous dancing houses, a row of colorful canal houses that stand on the precipice of the water. And if you are inclined towards a rowdier time, Amsterdam's Red Light district is there to let you indulge in your favorite vices without breaking the law.
15. Melbourne, Australia
The second Australian city to feature on our list is another worthy weekend getaway spot thanks to its year-round warm temperatures and numerous points of interest. Simply riding the railway can be a fun and fast way to take in what the city has to offer, especially if you board a historic ride like the Puffing Billy Railway. The city's green vistas are on full display inside the Royal Botanic Gardens, but there are modern landmarks like the Eureka Skydeck just waiting to be explored as well. And don't forget about notable hotspots like St. Kilda Beach or the Melbourne Zoo, which offer sights and thrills that the people of all ages can enjoy.
16. Agra, India
For an exotic weekend escapade, you can't go wrong with picking India's Agra. This northern town is famed primarily for being the home of the Taj Mahal, an illustrious mausoleum that serves as one of the country's primary symbols. Strolling through the picturesque gardens of the complex is indeed an unforgettable experience that everyone should partake in. But Agra also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, including the titular Agra Fort, an incredible monument that served as a residence for the Mughal dynasty, and the smaller but nevertheless impressive Itmad-ud-Daula mausoleum, sometimes referred to as the "Baby Taj".
17. New Orleans, USA
The Big Easy is a great city for anyone who loves good food, great art and the kind of easygoing vibe that New Orleans is famous for. Just walking down Bourbon Street can feel like an electric experience, what with all the different bars and restaurants that make up the heart of the French Quarter. But if it's wide-open spaces you crave, then Jackson Square with its towering St. Louis Cathedral can be quite the sight for sore eyes. If you're big on jazz, you also owe it to yourself to visit Preservation Hall, a storied institution dedicated to one of America's greatest music genres.
18. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The birthplace of tango and one of the most elegant cities in South America, Buenos Aires can imbue your weekend getaway with a sense of style and sophistication. This is evident in the city's attractions, with Recoleta Cemetery and Casa Rosada being just two of its top highlights. Buenos Aires is also a great place to indulge in the arts, whether that means catching a play at the historic Teatro Colon or a concert at Centro Cultural Kirchner. Last but definitely not least, the Argentinian capital boasts several green spots where you can kick-back and relax such as Bosques de Palermo and Jardin Japones.
19. Dubai, UAE
Sure enough, traveling to Dubai has almost become a rite of passage for tourists who wouldn't have thought to set foot in the city a few decades ago. That's because in the last 20 years or so, Dubai has completed its transition from a sleepy port city to a cutting-edge metropolis. It currently boasts the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, a 160-story skyscraper that comes with multiple observation decks, as well as a number of other incredible landmarks such as the Burj al Arab luxury hotel and the immense Dubai Mall. But visitors can also look forward to learning about the city's history at the Dubai Museum, or exploring it first-hand in the Al Fahidi historical district.
20. Lake Tahoe, USA
Located on the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a year-round attraction renowned for its incredible beauty. One need only take a stroll through the Emerald Bay State Park to witness breathtaking natural vistas like the Eagle Falls and Fannette Island, not to mention the famous Scandinavian mansion known as Vikingsholm. Aside from that, the scenic swim area of Sand Harbor is as beautiful as any oceanside beach, with shallow waters and sandy shores that beckon any weary traveler. Sprinkle in some top-notch resorts such as Squaw Valley and the Northstar California Resort and you have yourself an excellent little getaway spot.
21. Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
If you're in the mood for a seaside getaway with an exotic twist, Sharm El Sheikh has everything you're looking for. The charm and understated elegance of places like Naama Bay and El Fanar Beach virtually guarantee that you'll be having plenty of fun under the sun during your stay, while other landmarks such as Saint Catherine's Monastery ensure that you'll be in for a diverse experience. Since this is Egypt, you'll probably also want to make time for Cleo Park, a pharaoh-themed waterpark with slides suited for all ages. And don't forget about the Ras Mohammed Nature Reserve, a gorgeous stretch of land that doubles as an excellent dive spot.
22. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Situated in northern Cambodia, Siem Reap is as exotic and as history-filled as it gets. Most famous for housing Angkor Wat, a massive temple complex that's also the largest religious monument in the world, this Cambodian gem has several other worthy points of interest. One such example is Angkor Thom, a well-maintained city that served as the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Among its many highlights, Bayon Temple stands out for its smiling face statues, while Baphuon impresses with its pyramid-like structure. And if you'd like to catch a breather from all that exploring, Siem Reap's Pub Street is nearby, ready to welcome you with drinks and a party-like atmosphere well into the night.
23. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Who doesn't like a quick sun-filled escapade, especially during those cold northern hemisphere winters? Enter Playa del Carmen, one of Mexico's most popular spots for sun chasers. Known for its lush beaches and busy nightlife centered around Fifth Avenue, this Mexican hotspot is actually quite multifaceted. There are places like Museo Frida Kahlo where you can take in some fine art, and oddities such as Xcaret Park, a state-of-the-art eco-archeological wonderland that blends water-centric activities such as snorkeling with cultural landmarks like a large-scale replica of a Mayan village replete with its own cemetery.
24. Cartagena, Colombia
A bright and colorful city located on Colombia's northern coast, Cartagena has grown in popularity in recent years. Which is no surprise, given that the city boasts top-notch attractions such as Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, an iconic 16th century fortress known for its underground tunnels, and the Clock Tower Monument, which still acts as the main gate to the historic center of Cartagena. The Colombian city's style and verve is also evident in places like Plaza Santo Domingo and the Bocagrande neighborhood, which both burst with life and are a real joy to explore on foot.
25. Ocean City, USA
One of America's historic summer destinations, Ocean City in Maryland welcomes travelers year after year with its wholesome blend of fun activities and interesting sights. One need only walk down the Ocean City Boardwalk to get a taste of what the city has to offer. From thrill rides galore at the Jolly Roger Amusement Park and Trimper's Rides to cozy romantic spots like the pier at Northside Park, the city is teeming with possibilities. Ocean City's 10-mile beach is a focus point as well, while the presence of other attractions such as Ripley's Believe it or Not and the Embers Island Mini Golf course ensure that you'll never lack for options here.
The best thing about traveling is that there's no right way to do it. If you've got a free weekend and enough cash to get by, you can choose a destination and book your trip instantly. The locations we've provided are just a primer of what you can look forward to, but feel free to expand your horizons beyond them as your search for your perfect weekend getaway.