Bratislava? Get away...

Whatever happened to the original city break? A league table published by Travelscene, showing the 10 most popular European cities for Brits, could almost be mistaken for the same table 10 years ago: Paris and Amsterdam top the list, then and now. But if Paris seems passe, Amsterdam average and Madrid monotonous, follow The Independent's top tips for city break destinations that will really impress the neighbours.
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Istanbul

Once the gospel according to Spice reaches Turkish shores will be firmly on the map for the British. And if pop culture isn't your thing you won't be bored. was the capital of Western civilisation for centuries and the sounds and smells of old Byzantium and Constantinople still drift across the city. See what the Greeks, Romans and Ottomans have left by jostling with the crowds in the city's bazaars, stepping into opulent palaces, enjoying the coolness of some peaceful mosaic-gazing or just contemplating the skyline - a zig-zag of graceful minarets and bulging domes. Arriving in is half the fun, whether you fly in for the panorama, drive in on the route of the old Roman road, step off the train directly below the old sultans' palace or sail in across the Sea of Marmara.

Lyon

All that most people see of Lyon is a semi-focused wash of industrial buildings as they zoom past on the Autoroute du Soleil. That's a good thing, because it leaves the centre less congested with tourists. Grandiose and elegant architecture make for an imposing setting and Lyon is famed for its excellent textile museum and its food. Less well known are the traboules in the old silk-weavers' district - ancient passageways running between, and sometimes through, the houses. Originally built to transport silk without getting it wet, they can be hard to find - some have doors, some don't - but it is easy to see how they might have been used for shady dealings or undercover operations in the past. No surprise, then, that Interpol has established its HQ in the city.

Berlin

In 1987, Berlin was up there at number nine in the top 10 cities to visit, but this year, when the wall has been down for eight years, it has, surprisingly, dropped out of the tables altogether. Get your bearings with a visit to the revolving cafe at the top of the sky-skimming TV tower and then head off and explore the city for yourself. Life is sneaking back into Berlin and those who are in the know are already there, most of them sipping coffee with the beautiful people in cafes around Prenzlauer Berg. The way to enjoy it is to wander nosily along its streets rather than heading for the obvious sites.

Naples

Stroppy, scruffy and highly-strung - Naples is possibly the most vivid of Italian cities, yet most visitors shun it for its more glamorous sisters. The city itself puts across a chaotic and jumbled facade, but step behind the straining windows, noisy streets and peeling paintwork and you will often find immaculate apartments and their even more immaculate owners. The people are a big part of the attraction - confident, colourful and passionate - and the food is pure southern comfort. For relaxation, Pompeii, Vesuvius and the bay and islands are all within 50 miles. If that's not enough to get you saying "Buon giorno, Napoli", Sorrento, Capri and the Amalfi coast are all just alongside.

Bratislava

Despite having a name vaguely reminiscent of German sausage the place itself is magnificently exciting. Forget the Czech capital, Prague; neighbouring Slovakia's capital parades its pretty pastel cottages, trying-to-be-stylish cafes and architectural beauties before the downright ugly Slovak National Uprising Bridge. The bridge and its ugly sisters - the two main approach roads - have been crushing more aesthetically pleasing constructions in their wake since 1972. Thankfully, three-quarters of the city is stuffed with glamorous Gothic, Baroque and Ottoman architecture - and even an Art Deco post office. However, what will really sell Bratislava to the Brits are the prices, which are about a fifth of those in nearby Vienna.

Glasgow

Bangkok 1996, Lisbon 1994, Glasgow 1997. The American Society of Travel Agents (Asta) is descending on Glasgow in September, decked out in specially- created-tartan kilts. This will mean an influx of American visitors searching for tam o'shanters in Asta tartan, but why not beat them to it and get there first? Glasgow has none of the pretence or the glamour of Edinburgh but it does have much more energy and could never be described as bland. Places to visit are as eclectic as the city itself. They include a Museum of Transport, which keeps a Sinclair C5 among other exhibits, numerous art galleries and the unmissable Charles Rennie Mackintosh architecture. A bonus is that most museums are free.

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