Whether you’re happily loved up or enjoying being single, a break away with your girlfriends is a great way to alter predictable holiday routines and inject some spontaneity into faltering friendships. Running in Heels profiles five of the best girly breaks waiting to be experienced this spring.
Budapest – The Shoppers’ Retreat
Budapest is a city of two halves. Medieval buildings and gorgeous architecture dominate Buda’s cityscape, while across the River Danube, Pest is brimming with striking boulevards and trendy clubbing hotspots. But why go there? In a nutshell, Budapest is an undiscovered shopping haven making it great for gals with a shopaholic streak. If you’re a stickler for designer boutiques, head to the iconic Andrassy Avenue – a resplendent boulevard which is tagged as Budapest’s answer to Paris’s Champs-Elysees. It’s definitely worth a look, although the prices on show may mean you only manage to window shop. Another favourite is Vaci street with its selection of top brands, while the city’s modern West End City Center lays claim to being the largest shopping mall in Central Europe, housing over 400 shops.
Major international stores are there in abundance but for more unusual local purchases don’t neglect the city’s side streets and markets. The city’s Central Market Hall was built over 100 years ago and still has pulling power when it comes to shoppers, with small stalls selling foodstuffs, knickknacks, souvenirs and clothing. As well as the bargain prices on display, the building itself is a landmark and tourist site so a visit there also ensures you’ve at least done something vaguely cultural during your weekend-long shopping extravaganza!Apartments Apart offers a range of Budapest apartments that cater for larger groups.
Hedonistic Bliss on Ibiza
It may be clichéd to term Ibiza Europe’s clubbing capital, but its heady mix of cocktails, clubbing and chillout still attracts the continent’s party people in droves. Amnesia, Pacha and Privilege remain some of the best clubs on the island but a highlight for girls on a group break is likely to be recuperation the next day.
Ibiza is home to a temperate climate and beautiful beaches so there’s plenty of space for sunbathers to relax and re-energise. And be sure to bring big sunglasses for discreet people watching – with so much talent on display there’s plenty to distract girls on the prowl from their hangovers. Evenings are still best spent in Cafe del Mar, from where vibrant sunsets provide a spectacular backdrop for another night out.Ibiza Spotlight provides rental villas on the island. Prices start at €50 per person per night.
Cannes – A Seaside Town with Sparkle
If you’re looking for a stylish retreat, jet off to the Cote d’Azur for your girly break. Cannes has transformed from a humble fishing village into a town with star quality – quite literally as each May the movie world’s glitterati gather here for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Stylish starlets and Hollywood heartthrobs aside, Cannes is also a retreat for multimillionaire entrepreneurs and fashion–industry insiders so if you’ve got the cash to splurge on a trip to its exclusive bars and clubs is your chance to assume the role of high-flying socialite.
Sightseeing and sun-seeking are the best options for those on a more modest budget, however, and you don’t need to spend a cent to stroll along Promenade de la Croisette. Facing the Mediterranean Sea, the road is laced with designer boutiques, glamorous hotels and gourmet restaurants, while the nearby port is a depot for the jaw-dropping yachts of the super-rich. More traditional merit is found in the old town, where you’ll find the quaint cobbled streets of Le Suquet. A walk through the district leads to a hilltop that provides a spectacular view of La Croisette and the glamorous venues that lie below – so even if you can’t afford to visit them you still have the chance to look down on the people in them.Appropriately chic but relatively affordable, the central Hotel Renoir offers rooms from €125.
Get taught a lesson in Sorrento
Double maths and puberty are two things we’re glad to have consigned to history, but our schooldays did leave us with some lifelong friendships. To celebrate those bonds Go Learn To offers a range of holiday packages that concentrate on a shared learning experience, but rather than dissecting frogs or another sodden sports day spent jogging in the drizzle, participants are likely to learn the arts of photography, perfume making or even how to be a cowgirl. Our favourite, however, is the ice-cream making break in Sorrento, in southern Italy. This three-day course teaches students the techniques and essential ingredients needed for creating luscious and authentic Italian gelato. You’ll also become a whizz at making sorbets, mousses and yoghurt tarts!
And when you’re not whipping up some indulgent flavours, you can make a foray into the lovely town of Sorrento. It has a monastery, museum and gallery, while the ruins of Pompeii are nearby and the boutiques of Capri are a ferry ride away. Perfect whether your classmates’ favourite subjects were home economics, history, art or economics!
A three-day ice cream-making course, departing in May, costs from £310.
Heavenly Spas in Helsinki
For a bonding session with the girls, enjoy a weekend of sheer luxury, pampering and relaxation in Finland’s captivating capital, Helsinki. Facing the Baltic Sea the city is surrounded by hundreds of small islands, the waterways between them regularly frozen over in winter. With the spring thaw now setting in, try a sightseeing cruise and then escape indoors to a sauna, a popular pastime among the Finns.
The luxurious Hotel Kämp takes sauna sessions seriously. It has three in total, including a eucalyptus-fragranced grotto steam sauna and a gorgeous Turkish Hammam. It also offers a superb range of tailor-made spa treatments to help cleanse your body and rejuvenate your mind. The milk and honey body wrap, oriental head massage and instant glow facial are just a few of the tempting treatments available to leave you and your friends in a state of chilled-out bliss.The hotel’s milk and honey wrap costs from €75.