12 Best Weekend Getaways Across The Globe

With a limited number of hours to revel in on the weekend, it's essential to maximize your time. Even more important is where you choose to spend the limited amount of time you have. There are endless destinations to pack a bag for, and depending on where you live, the perfect weekend away from home is merely a short car, bus, or train ride away, or maybe even a plane ride that may not be as long as it seems.

Within reach are weekends filled with fine art and dining, where you can stick your feet in the sand or in a pair of boots for a shady forest hike. You could take time to smell the tulips, feel the warmth of a hot spring, listen to jazz in its birthplace, and marvel at stunning architecture or the physical wonders of Earth. Nourish your soul with new surroundings, and don't bother counting calories as your nourish your stomach with fresh, delicious food from your weekend vacation spot. 

The destination choices are endless, but we've narrowed them down to the 12 best weekend getaways across the globe. Depending on which direction you're coming from, these places are easy to access and perfect to drop in for a weekend away. Let's start planning...

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Fun for all ages in a single weekend can be found in the Dutch port city of Amsterdam. The city begins at Centraal Station, and spreads out within the rings of canals that line the streets to Dam Square. There's a lot to take in within walking distance all across Amsterdam, but you can enjoy the sights by foot, boat, tram, or make like the locals, if you dare, and hop on a bicycle. International hotel chains are solid options, as well as Airbnbs, and even a Botel (a hotel on a boat)!

Amsterdam is filled with many earthly delights (be sure to smell the flowers during tulip season in April and May), which makes it easy for one to indulge in your vices. As far as food goes, sweet and savory pancakes make for a great meal any time of day (The Pancake Bakery is a popular stop), frites (or fries) with mayonnaise is a go-to snack, and the former Dutch colonial outpost offers endless Indonesian restaurants for dinner options. There's much to see throughout the city, and there's a lot in the Red Light District like you've probably never seen before. Culturally speaking, it's hard to beat the vast collection of Dutch artists they have on display at the Rijksmuseum or the multitude of works to see at the Van Gogh Museum. You also can't miss the Anne Frank House, where Frank penned her diary while hiding with her family for two years during World War II.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Want to dip your toes in the beautiful blues of the Caribbean without using a U.S. passport? Hit up the shining star territory of Puerto Rico. Beachfront properties await, many of which are moments from the airport. One hotel to stay at, or even just for a visit, is the classic Caribe Hilton, which is where, as legend has it, the piña colada was invented by bartender Ramón "Monchito" Marrero in 1954. Plenty of big-name chains and resorts are at the ready, but so are modern, luxury hotels like the O:live.

Since there are not a ton of all-inclusive options, you'll have to venture out to try some of the local fares. Think Pinky's for breakfast or lunch at various locations, elevated chews and views at Chloé in Condado, and cocktails at La Factoría.

The pools and beaches are sights to see, but don't forget to save an afternoon for sightseeing around El Viejo (Old) San Juan. On the edge of the water, tour San Felipe del Morro Castle (aka El Morro), and then stroll along the cobblestone streets to see lines of colorful buildings. Be sure to stop by and look up at Calle Fortazela for plenty of Instagram-worthy photo ops, and on Saturdays, the Mercado Agrícola Natural is a great spot to buy produce and support local farmers.

Vancouver, Canada

Outdoor pleasures are aplenty in Canada's jewel of a city on the Pacific coast – Vancouver. Stroll around the lush greenery of Stanley Park and VanDusen Botanical Garden, walk dockside at the Coal Harbor Seawall and marina, and make a splash canoeing, kayaking, or whale watching. When selecting a hotel, reserve a room with a wide view of the coastal area, like the ones that look out from the windows of the Fairmont Waterfront.

After admiring the magnitude of Grouse Mountain from the base, hike up it via the Grouse Grind (aka "Mother Nature's Stairmaster") or get there a bit quicker by the awe-inspiring Skyride. Set sail on an aqua bus to Granville Island and walk around their Public Market, and later in the evening, drop by Richmond to check out their Night Market. Go shopping in Gastown, watch the pucks fly at the Rogers Arena for a Canucks game, hover over nature at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, or uncover a hidden gem like Pink Alley. Perk up with coffee from Revolver, sip a sweet drink from the Shameful Tiki Room, and pull up a stool for some of North America's best sushi, including at Tojo's, where its namesake Japanese master invented the California roll.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

For a quick, sun-drenched weekend of relaxing under palm trees along crystal blue waters, head to Mexico's Riviera Maya and one of its many resorts that dot the 80 miles of the Yucatán Peninsula coastline. 

All inclusiveness is the name of the game at Riviera Maya. Whether you're taking the kids with you or you want some adults-only quiet to your weekend, there are plenty of resort options, from Nickelodeon to the numerous resorts that are part of the Barceló group's sprawling estateHotel Xcaret Mexico is also a well-known resort of gastronomic proportions. But wherever you stay, the key is to make reservations at the property's restaurants as soon as you arrive, especially if there's a hibachi option available, which is usually the hardest reservation to get. Most all-inclusive resorts offer live entertainment during the evening that's suitable for all ages, and there's generally a bar with drinks available for all who would like to imbibe.

If someone in your party is looking for a bit more adventure than lying around and reading a good book, there are always aquatic sports on the property to try out for an additional fee. You can also expand your horizons by leaving the resort and checking out nearby Mayan ruins, the city of Tulum, or travel a bit to take a dip in a cenote (a natural spring sinkhole).

Québec City, Canada

Break out your best French accent in Québec City, a true winter wonderland, where you'll feel like you're in Europe without having to cross the Atlantic. As one of North America's oldest cities, you can learn some history while walking around the historic walled city, or by climbing up and down some of its memorable sets of stairs. No wonder Alfred Hitchcock used the picturesque city by the St. Lawrence River as a backdrop for his 1953 thriller, "I Confess."

Whether you've checked in there or not, it is hard to avoid the grandeur and awe that the famed Château Frontenac inspires. The hotel that has called Queen Elizabeth II its guest hovers over the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but there are plenty of other great viewpoints of Québec City to also check out. Located on the 28th floor of the Hotel le Concorde, the Ciel! restaurant offers all patrons a fantastic, 360-degree rotating view while enjoying a delicious meal. Another restaurant with interesting views and dishes is Aux Anciens Canadiens, which is located in a house that dates back to 1675. Oh, and don't forget to grab your daily bread each morning at Paillard!

If time allows, head 15 minutes out of town to the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, where multiple views of the majestic Montmorency Falls can be had, including from a suspension bridge overhead.

The Hamptons, Long Island

You don't need to own a summer home in the Hamptons to enjoy it for yourself (but you can certainly rent one!). While the crowds generally flock to the Hamptons on summer weekends, less traffic awaits those who are leaf-hunting in fall or looking for a winter escape. Whenever it is you decide to go, know that the southern fork of Long Island is best explored by car for beach hopping, seafood, wine, and art. 

If you're looking for snacks, stop by Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton for plenty more treats than just cookies in a green bag. Or, grab a brew at Montauk Brewing Company's tasting room, and get cracking on some seafood at Lobster Roll Southampton, Cowfish, or Out of the Blue Seafood in Hampton Bays. For an elevated stroll on the beach, head to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, where you can get a bird's-eye view of the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound.

There are plenty of cute boutiques for shopping in towns like Sag Harbor and East Hampton, and culture vultures should stop by the studio of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner and the Parrish Art Museum. While the North Fork is known for its wineries, the South Fork grows and shows off its vines quite well too, with tours and tastings recommended at vineyards like Duck Walk and Wölffer Estate. You can dream while you're awake and casually drive in the tony neighborhoods, and you might even pass by the infamous Grey Gardens house.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland's unbelievable scenic wonders await visitors who seek enchantment, whether it's during long summer days or during the winter months when sundown begins at 3:30 p.m. You can use the endearing capital of Reykjavík as a base, where modern hotels are affordable for all budgets, and then embark on day or night trips of natural beauty. And, if the stars align, you'll even see the Northern Lights

Visit the stunning Hallgrímskirkja church and make your way to the top of the bell tower for an overview of Reykjavík. Then, catch a show at Harpa, or head to the Perlan to learn of the island's wonders. You can drive around the entire island on Ring Road within 13 hours, but that doesn't include stopping to take in any of the wonders. Companies like Reykjavik Excursions offer day tours that cover a lot of ground and activities. They'll take you to enjoy wellness soaks in the hot springs and lagoons, hike around waterfalls, see volcanos, and even spot some whales out in the ocean. 

Because of the climate, a lot of foods have to be imported to Iceland, so it's best to stick to the local cuisine. Try skyr yogurt for breakfast and fresh fish for lunch and dinner at places like Matur og Drykkur and Mat Bar. Splurge on yourself before leaving town and buy a local wool sweater, known as a lopapeysa, so you'll remember your Icelandic saga long after you've returned home!

London, England

Hop across the pond to London for a whirlwind weekend of pints, kicks on the pitch, and royal points of interest in the heartbeat of England. Plan to stay somewhere centrally located, like the posh Claridge's or the iconic St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, so you'll have easy access to everything you want to see. You can head underground to get on the tube to destinations everywhere. or opt to take a red double-decker bus tour to give you a good feel for the city.

Grab a scone and clotted cream at a GAIL's bakery and head west for shopping at Harrods department store. Drop in at the V&A Museum and Natural History Museum, and reserve a table for a fabulous modern Indian lunch at Dishoom. Perhaps you'll walk off your food with a stroll along the Thames, keeping your ears peeled for Big Ben to chime on the hour. Enjoy some traditional fish & chips at the Mayfair Chippy, nibble on the delightful tapas that Barrafina has to offer, or sit for a spot of tea at the Instagram-worthy sketch restaurant. Take in one of many excellent walking tours that run the honor artists like the Beatles and Jack the Ripper, and cap off the night with theater in the West End or crawl your way from one classic pub to another. Cheers, mate!

San Francisco, California

There is no American city quite like San Francisco, which feels somewhat like a dreamscape city à la Venice, Italy. When visiting, plan to trolly hop all around town, or even rent a car and challenge its breaks on the mammoth hills while zig-zagging down Lombard Street. Stay at the Palace Hotel and marvel at the splendor of their Garden Court Restaurant, or spread out a bit more and stay at the Inn at the Presidio, a former Army post that's been turned into a boutique hotel.

If you're looking for family-friendly options, head over to Fisherman's Wharf for some welcoming seal noises and try out all kinds of games at the magnificent Musée Mécanique. History buffs can take the ferry over to the historic Alcatraz Island, while nature lovers can look up in awe at the giant redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument. If you stay in the city, go peep the row of Painted Ladies houses (including the "Full House").

Food won't be an issue while you're visiting. Chow down on clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, seek out amazing Chinese food in Chinatown (and see fortune cookies take shape!) or search for Mexican food in the Mission. If you want a really nice sit-down meal, head to The House of Prime Rib for overly stuffed baked potatoes and tableside beefy carvings. And of course, no San Francisco trip would be complete without a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii does not require a passport and is under six hours away from the West Coast, so it's easy to warm up to the idea of saying "Aloha" to the state's capital, Honolulu. Within the city, Waikiki Beach has plenty of first-rate hotels, shops, and eateries to keep you busy all weekend.

The Brady Bunch set the standard for how to do up Oahu's largest city. You'll want to be sure to check out sights such as Pearl Harbor, the grand view looking down from Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Park, and the magnificent wonder that is the Hālona Blowhole. The island isn't large, so a car can quickly whisk you away to watch surfers navigate the Banzai Pipeline, sip on pineapple whip at the Dole Plantation, or recreate your favorite scenes from ABC's "Lost." 

Nibble on some fresh local fruit or pick up some donuts from Leonard's Bakery while you sip on that morning cup of Kona coffee. The poke is so fresh everywhere that even the local Safeway's seafood counter offers up excellent and affordable options. If you get tired of fish, head to Chinatown to explore the numerous Asian culinary influences that converge on the island at hip places like The Pig and the Lady or Lucky Belly. Wherever you end up, don't forget to say "Mahalo" to the people you meet along the way. 

Paris, France

You don't need to be named Emily to say "J'aime Paris "(I love Paris). There's much to see in the City of Light, so be sure to leave plenty of time and stomach space for the array of boulangeriespatisseries, cafes, brassieres, and restaurants like Le Moulin de la Galette, which has been documented in the works of artists like Renoir and Van Gogh. Don't forget to pick up some macarons at Ladurée on the Champs Elysées. Live like a local for the weekend, picking up baguettes, fromage, and good wine for your meals. 

As far as entertainment goes, the Louvre is a time-consuming venture. Instead, visit the more compact, equally beautiful impressionistic Musée d'Orsay art museum, which is housed in a former train station. You'll get the best views from the top of the Eiffel Tower, and on the dreamy streets that descend from the hills of Montmartre. Cemeteries make for oddly beautiful and serene places for reflection, and at Père-Lachaise, you can pay your respects to Georges Seurat, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morrison. If it turns into an extended stay, you're only a train ride away from the majestic Palace of Versailles, and even Disneyland Paris. Lesser-known fun awaits too, so why not marvel at past amusements at Les Pavillons de Bercy – Musée des Arts Forains or show off your game on one of the world's oldest basketball courts?

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy is perhaps the easiest choice for the best weekend getaway. Food and drink options are aplenty in New Orleans, especially as you lose yourself to the boisterous and jazzy streets of the French Quarter. You can also stroll through the other lively, local neighborhoods of Treme and the Warehouse district. Stay in the heart of it all at a historic hotel like Hotel Monteleone or Le Pavillion, where peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk are served daily.

Take your desires on a streetcar out to the gorgeous Garden District. Wander around the side streets to see the famed old houses and where the famous, like Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, and Brad Pitt, have owned homes. Dress up for a jazz brunch at Commander's Palace, or create your own food tour munching on a muffuletta from Central Grocery & Deli, a daiquiri from the Organic Banana, and powdery beignets and chicory coffee from the infamous Café Du Monde. Don't forget to try some fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House or Willa Jean. You cannot go wrong with any Cajun culinary choice you make!

Take a break from the action and find peace and quiet in New Orleans City Park. Hop on a bus tour to see the further reaches of town, like other famed cemeteries. You could even discover the bayou through an airboat tour to see some alligators in the swamp. Let the bon temps roll!