In the UK, we’re lucky enough to have the continent right on our doorstep, with many of Europe’s most beautiful, charming, and iconic cities just a short flight away.
If you’re planning a break and want to spend as little time travelling as possible – or you’re just not a fan of flying in general – the good news is that there are some truly spectacular destinations less than two hours away.
Whether you’re dreaming of a lazy beach holiday, a cultural break, or a rural escape, there’s a short-haul holiday for everyone.
So, to get you inspired, here are nine holiday destinations you can fly to in two hours or under.
1. Marseille, France
Located on France’s south coast, Marseille is a beguiling blend of modern and historic, and French and Mediterranean, and it offers equal parts beach bliss as urban delight.
France’s second-largest city is made up of 111 districts, each with its own identity and appeal, and it’s perfect for inquisitive travellers looking for diversity.
Just a two-hour flight from London, Marseille is also the capital of sunny Provence, and the gateway to this rural region’s many charms.
Provence encapsulates much of what’s most alluring about the French lifestyle: mouthwatering food, hilltop villages, exceptional wines, sun-drenched beaches, and lively markets.
Its pastoral landscape is also ideal for leisurely walks and cycles. As you pedal or stroll along these rolling hills, you can explore pretty vineyards, olive groves, and apple orchards, and enjoy the heady scent of lavender, herbs, and wildflowers in the air – an intoxicating aroma that’s unique to this region.
There’s plenty more to see and do in Provence though, such as visiting grand chateaux, discovering Roman ruins, admiring modern art, wandering through idyllic villages, hiking up limestone cliffs, and swimming in turquoise coves.
And, then there’s the cuisine: think colourful bowls of ratatouille, fresh bouillabaisse, local meats and cheeses, and cool glasses of dry rosé.
Find paradise in Provence
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark might be a small country, but it’s undeniably spectacular; boasting some of the most compelling culture, colourful architecture, and fascinating history in Europe. It’s also consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world and once you visit, it won’t take you long to see why!
The capital, Copenhagen, was ranked as the safest city in the world in 2021 thanks to its low crime rates and trustworthy, honest locals – and more good news is that it’s only a one-hour 45-minute flight from the UK.
Plus, due to its small size, you can easily discover the delights of this laidback, friendly city on foot or by bike.
Copenhagen is a fabulous choice for a city break, as it’s as hip as it is historic. You can people-watch from canalside cafes, visit excellent museums, learn about Denmark’s Viking history, admire the bright buildings in the historic Nyhavn district, and enjoy fresh, local, and seasonal food in trendy new restaurants.
Away from the city, Denmark is more diverse than its size suggests. Whether you want to kick back on beaches, hike through forests, or swim in pristine lakes, this country has it all.
The chalk cliffs and crystalline waters of Møns Klint are especially impressive, and you can enjoy sailing, kayaking, diving or snorkelling in this tranquil spot.
Discover the delights of Denmark
3. Salzburg, Austria
The Austrian city of Salzburg may only be a two-hour flight from London, but it may as well be in another world. This is a city so beautiful it doesn’t look real; its grandiosity and elegance will make you’ll feel as though you’ve fallen into a film set or stepped back in time.
Located on the banks of a sea-green river, Salzburg is home to gilded palaces, ornate concert halls, and magnificent Baroque buildings, and the hilltop fortresses and dramatic mountains that surround the city only make things more spectacular. As the birthplace of Mozart, there’s plenty of musical heritage to explore here too.
But while the city of Salzburg is the perfect destination for culture-seekers, its province, also called Salzburg, has a rather different appeal. The landscape here is quintessentially Austrian, from the Alpine meadows and rugged peaks of The Sound of Music, to astonishingly blue mountain lakes.
If you’re looking for a holiday that’s part city break, part rural escape, then Salzburg is the place for you. After you’ve got your fill of this fairytale city, head into the countryside to hike through quiet wooded valleys, swim in gleaming Alpine lakes, explore picturesque villages, and appreciate views that are iconically Austrian.
Experience an Austrian adventure
4. Turin, Italy
If you’re passionate about food and wine, and you’re dreaming of a lazy holiday where you can explore pastoral landscapes, sample culinary delights, and soak up the sun, then Italy’s Piedmont region is for you.
This fertile district produces some of Italy’s very best foods and wine, and is widely considered to be a gastronomic gem.
Italy’s fourth-largest city, Turin, is less than a two-hour flight from the UK and it’s the gateway to Piedmont. With its elegant boulevards and fancy cafes, the refined city of Piedmont often looks and feels Parisian – and the views of the towering Alps might have you thinking you’ve wandered into Austria by mistake. But Piedmont itself is unmistakably Italian.
This is a land of undulating hills blanketed by vineyards, deep valleys and winding rivers, oak forests and hazelnut groves, and honey-coloured hilltop hamlets. The quiet country roads are perfect for strolling – although be prepared to stop off for regular photoshoots, as this patchwork landscape is truly dazzling.
Piedmont is known for its exceptional range of wines, from robust Barolo to sweet Moscato, and wine lovers will be in heaven stopping off at the countless vineyards. You can feast upon delicacies like porcini risotto, white truffles, and stuffed pasta in the many excellent restaurants, and history buffs will enjoy visiting the region’s ancient castles too.
Find pastoral perfection in Piedmont
5. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin may be a small city, especially as far as capitals go, but its reputation precedes it. This is a city that’s known around the world for its elegant architecture, beautiful green spaces, absorbing history, lively nightlife, and charismatic, hospitable locals. What’s more, it’s just a little over an hour’s flight from the UK.
Because it’s a compact city, you can easily explore Dublin on foot, wandering from medieval castles and cathedrals to the Georgian squares and houses that are living representations of its 18th-century heyday. Though, this is a city that’s also modern, multicultural, and artistic – and its stylish new buildings and state-of-the-art tramway are just as impressive.
You can’t visit Dublin and not visit the Guinness Storehouse, where you can learn all there is to know about this iconic drink. Have a go at pulling your own pint, then enjoy a few more from the top-floor Gravity Bar, where you can admire panoramic city views. But, there are nearly 800 pubs in Dublin, so you won’t be short of watering holes elsewhere!
Ireland is also home to some of the most glorious landscapes you’ve ever seen. From lush fields and flat-topped mountains to rugged peaks and heather-covered moors, it’s not called the Emerald Isle for nothing. Steeped with myths and legends, the land is also dotted with sacred sites, so culture and history enthusiasts will be just as spoilt as hikers.
Uncover the energy of Ireland
6. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most popular choices for a city break in Europe. In terms of romance, beauty, charm, culture, and history, it rivals iconic cities like Paris and Rome – but thankfully, it doesn’t come with the same hefty price tags as either of these capitals.
Known as ‘the city of a hundred spires’, Prague boasts some truly awe-inspiring architecture, from Baroque churches and gothic cathedrals to the dramatic Prague Castle, which perches proudly on a hilltop. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and losing yourself in these narrow cobbled streets is the best way to explore the city.
It wasn’t that long ago that Prague was tucked away behind the Iron Curtain, but today this city crackles with modern energy. If you’re a fan of beer, you’ll be in your element, as Prague produces some of the best brews in Europe and you can even visit beer spas here!
But of course, there’s more to the Czech Republic than its famous capital. The medieval town of Cesky Krumlov looks like it’s fallen from the pages of a fairy book; while the historic Sedlec, with its bone chapel, has an eerie, atmospheric appeal.
And, if you enjoy hiking, the hulking mountains of the Bohemian Switzerland National Park will be right up your street.
Experience the romance of the Czech Republic
7. Geneva, Switzerland
Just a one and a half-hour flight from London, Geneva might be best known for being the home of the UN, the producer of the world’s finest chocolate, and for being (wrongly!) considered the capital of Switzerland (it’s Bern). But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find another side to Geneva – one that might be less plush but is far more real.
Switzerland’s second-largest city might be small, but it’s slick, historic, cosmopolitan, and usually diverse: 39% of the population is non-Swiss.
While Geneva is known for its fancy chocolate shops and exclusive watchmakers, there are also underground jazz bars and quirky boutiques to explore, so don’t take this city at face value!
Plainpalais is one of the city’s liveliest districts and is packed with students, expats, and locals. If you’re looking for a fun night out, the restaurants and bars of this bustling neighbourhood are definitely where to head.
But of course, Switzerland is also known around the world for its beauty, and most visitors to Geneva make sure they leave time to explore the natural splendour of this country.
From rugged, towering peaks to deep, verdant valleys, and thundering waterfalls to gleaming glaciers – not to mention pristine turquoise mountain lakes – this is a landscape that needs to be seen to be believed. You can hike through flower-filled meadows, visit picture-perfect Alpine villages, listen to church bells ring through the valleys, and enjoy sensational views from the funicular railway.
Experience the spectacular beauty of Switzerland
8. Antwerp, Belgium
Antwerp is Belgium’s second city, but it’s not only considered the capital of Flemish Belgium, it’s also considered the capital of cool.
Its reputation for exciting nightlife and forward fashion may be recent, but this city has been pushing boundaries for centuries – from being a hotbed of illicit literature back in the 1500s to producing visionary painters like Rubens.
Despite enduring heavy bombing during WWII, Antwerp’s medieval heart remains intact, and you can enjoy wandering through cobbled streets packed with cosy cafes, and visiting the riverside fortress and impressive cathedral. But Antwerp is also a modern city with a lively cultural scene, a flourishing fashion industry, and more top-ranking restaurants than you can attempt to enjoy.
Belgium is known for its indulgent cuisine, from moules frites and Trappist beers to loaded waffles and praline chocolates, and Antwerp is one of the best places in the country to try these delights.
The city is only a one-hour flight from the UK, so it’s the ideal destination for a quick city break. Though, if you have time, it’s definitely worth exploring.
With three official languages and an intense rivalry between the Flemish-speaking north and French-speaking south, Belgium is one of the most complex and intriguing countries in Europe. Brussels, Bruges, and Ghent are all worth visiting, and there are gorgeous stretches of scenery in the hilly, wooden south.
Discover the unique beauty of Belgium
9. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam has long been one of Europe’s top mini-break destinations, but the Netherlands has more to offer tourists than just its capital.
The fact that the Netherlands is a small country and only a one-hour 10-minute flight from the UK means you can still go for a short holiday and see many of this remarkable nation’s best sites.
Amsterdam itself needs no real introduction. This compact city is perfect for exploring on foot – or by bike, like the locals – and discovering the delights of this canal-crossed city is always enjoyable. This is a city that’s jam-packed with creativity and culture, and it beautifully combines compelling history with modern, gritty edginess.
If you’re interested in art and architecture, there’s plenty to keep you busy, from striking bridges and grand gabled buildings to some of the world’s finest museums and galleries – including the world’s largest Van Gogh collection. There are all kinds of diverse neighbourhoods to explore here too, not to mention the notorious Red Light District.
Outside of Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ pancake-flat landscape is packed with other exciting places to visit – and because they’re crammed into a pretty small area, you can usually cross a few off while visiting.
Pretty villages dot the countryside and the country’s famous tulip fields are a sight to behold; while, in the north, you can walk (or relax!) on the long stretches of sandy beaches that line the coast.
Get acquainted with Amsterdam
There are many beautiful, interesting, and characterful holiday destinations just a short flight from the UK – and these are just nine of them!
Whether you’re looking for a culture-focused city break or a rural retreat, many of Europe’s most fascinating cities and countries are less than two hours away. And because these destinations are so different, there’s plenty of diversity on offer too.
If you’re happy to travel a little bit further, you have even more options: just have a read of our article, 10 amazing countries you can get to in under four hours, or head over to the travel section of our website for more inspiration.
Looking to book your next getaway?
Are you tempted by any of these trips? Or do you have your own suggestions for the best holiday destinations you can fly to in two hours or less? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.