Six perfect unsung city breaks in Europe – from Ghent to Naples

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No famous capitals, fewer tourists, loads to see, excellent food – and all a train ride away

The Netherlands’ second city is a winner for those weary of its more famous (and oversubscribed) rival. Sure, there’s water – it’s Europe’s largest port, after all – with rivers, canals and harbours at every turn. But this sprawling metropolis doesn’t yield its pleasures as easily as Amsterdam, largely because second world war bombing destroyed most of the historic centre. Its pioneering postwar architecture is, however, what makes “Manhattan on the Maas” so fascinating.

Treasures include the 1970s Cube Houses designed by Piet Blom, the landmark cable-stayed Erasmus Bridge, the 1960 retro-futuristic Euromast and eclectic buildings in the leafily landscaped Museumpark. Alongside design museum Het Nieuwe Instituut and the Kunsthal gallery, a must-visit is The Depot, an ambitious €94m bowl-shaped “storage facility” for the city’s art collection, its rooftop cafe boasting panoramic views. Equally compelling is Delfshaven, which escaped bombing, and is now home to waterside pubs, a microbrewery and tucked-away restaurants.

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