Palma cathedral from across the beach


Cities To Explore On A Villa Holiday


City break or beach holiday. For many of us looking to jet away we face the tough decision between the two. For some, seven days of poolside relaxation is that bit too much, but then sometimes traipsing the streets of Europe’s finest leaves us more in need of a holiday than when we came away!

If you’re more of a ‘have-your-cake-and-eat-it’ type person (and who isn’t) then what you really need is your own villa in just the right location – somewhere between ‘the heart of the action’ and ‘away from it all’. It’s that coveted spot that puts you within easy reach of some of the world’s most stunning cities, but still whisks you away from life’s daily grind. Luckily for you, we have just those spots.

Pisa city break

In Tuscany’s rolling countryside you can enjoy a ‘feet-up-around- the-pool’ holiday, sipping fantastic wine and enjoying the spectacular views, while being close enough to visit no less than three top bucket list cities – Pisa, Siena and Florence.

Think the Leaning Tower, heaps of spaghetti and the warm buzz of Italian atmosphere that flows through the pristine architectural streets, and you’re in Pisa. The Leaning Tower is just the beginning of this city’s offerings too. Italy’s largest Baptistery is an iconic sight. As construction lasted from 1153 to 1363, it showcases a number of renowned artistic styles from across this period.

What to see in Siena

Siena in central Tuscany is as impressive as its coveted sister cities. The centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – a medieval city with preserved Gothic architecture and artistic importance. Simply remarkable sights are around every winding corner. The ‘Duomo’ of Santa Maria Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in all of Italy. The marble inlaid floor, crafted by 14th and 16th century artists, is a standalone masterpiece. As soon as you enter, the imposing use of white marble in the columns will have you instantly in awe.

What to see in Florence

Then of course there is Florence, the Tuscany region’s capital. Soak up the Renaissance art and culture in all its glory. The Uffizi Gallery is a must visit – a showcase of magnificent Renaissance works. Only a small number of visitors are let in at any one time, so as not to spoil the art or the atmosphere. Climb the Duomo and Bell Tower, eat gelato until your heart is content and explore the many museums.

Where to stay in Tuscany

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Villa Sorripati sits in the picturesque Certaldo town, nestled in the middle of the Tuscan lush surroundings. If you can drag yourself away from the impressive pool, Sorripati is perfectly placed for discovering the beauty and history of all three cities. Pisa and Florence are an hour away, while you can reach Siena in just 40 minutes.

Dubrovnik city break

The southern Croatian town of Dubrovnik is a hive of excitement. The two arched gates – Pile and Ploce – built into the walls mark your entrance to the Old Town. Inside the striking Gothic buildings are preserved just like new.

The rich and powerful presence of the 16th century inhabitants can still be felt while wandering the streets. Not least on the 300m of main ‘stradun’ (or street); paved with marble, it shines like polished glass.

With fantastic restaurants, delicious food markets and bars all on the Adriatic water’s edge, it’s a city bursting with vibrancy. Scale the city walls for spectacular views out to sea. Another great option for a bird’s eye view is to take a ride in the cable car that runs overhead across the Old Town, overlooking the Elaphiti Islands.

Banje Beach

Just outside the Old Town, the sparkling waters and powdery sand of Banje Beach offer an ideal spot for lunch and lounging. Dubrovnik is also a favourite backdrop for many TV series and movies (Game of Thrones and the upcoming Star Wars film to name just a couple), so it’s undoubtedly a fabulous setting for a day trip on your villa holiday.

Where to stay  in Dubrovnik

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To truly experience the best of both worlds, stay in the Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Holiday Resort. An exquisite beachfront location set in Mediterranean gardens, the accommodation has the feel of a retreat, while being a speedy 20 minute shuttle bus ride to Dubrovnik Old Town.

Palma city break

Spend a day drifting blissfully from restaurants to shops, taking in the historic landmarks and traditional Spanish setting as you go. Palma is every bit a contemporary city by the sea, yet its majestic Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria sits high above the landscape, serving as a constant reminder of this place’s past.

Castell de Bellver

A rare find due to its circular shape! Standing for nearly 700 years, the landmark is home to a museum and spectacular views across Palma.

When your feet tire from sight-seeing and shopping, take a welcome rest in one of the hundreds of cafés. Café culture is part of everyday life in Palma, and around every corner you can find a pretty place to grab a coffee and people watch.

Where to stay in Palma

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Stay at Can Fuat on the outskirts of bustling Alcudia. In just one hour by car through the Mallorcan landscape you could be eating in quaint tapas bars or dancing in flamboyant flamenco bars. Return to your beautiful bolthole to wind down with a lazy day around the pool.

If any of these great cities has put you in the mood for a villa holiday, take your pick from over 50 destinations

Danielle Cheney

Danielle Cheney is a Marketing Communications Manager at James Villa Holidays.

I’ve been told that 3 ways to describe me are; witty, stylish and a lover of a good...

See all articles by Danielle Cheney

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