From Bergen to Córdoba, our tipsters share brilliant breaks in some of Europe’s less famous cities
Take a little staircase down from an old tollbooth on one of Leiden’s 88 bridges and hop on to one of the electric tour boats. I loved drifting along the canals of this stunning old Dutch city past townhouses as fine as any in Amsterdam, the botanical gardens, windmills, university buildings and the 17th-century observatory. Except in summer, ducks, swans and local wild swimmers outnumber tourists. You can scout out the best waterside terrace cafes for lunch, daydream about living on one of the many well-kept houseboats with their flower-filled decks, and plan excursions by water further afield; the city canals link up along the waterways for countryside day cruises to Delft, Haarlem or the coast.