When you’re travelling on business, it can be very tempting to spend all your downtime in the hotel. There’s WiFi, room service and probably even a spa – so why leave?
Well, for one, business destinations have a lot more to offer than just hotel spas and conference centres. They might not be popular with tourists, but that’s part of their appeal. The streets aren’t crowded, the queues aren’t massive, the restaurants are excellent but affordable. Even if you only have a few hours in between meetings, you can still explore the city. We’ve rounded up the best ways for you to spend your time in four popular business destinations with regular flights from Birmingham Airport.
Birmingham Airport has daily flights to the European business destinations of Milan, Hannover, Copenhagen and Glasgow.
As Italy’s business, banking and fashion capital, Milan has a lot to offer business travellers. It might be less iconic than Rome or Venice, but it’s got substance and style enough for you to while away a couple days.
A few hours: Dine, stroll and people-watch in the Navigli district, which boasts a superb selection of bars and restaurants. Order the risotto alla Milanese, a saffron-coloured local speciality. After you eat, visit the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see Leonardo da Vinci's famous mural, "The Last Supper."
One day: You can’t visit Milan without seeing the Duomo, the city’s ornate gothic cathedral. Climb the spiral staircase to a rooftop terrace with a stunning view. Another Milan must is shopping, preferably for the latest in stylish clothing. Check out La Rinascente or UPIM department stores for high quality and reasonable prices, or splash some serious cash in the elegant Quadrilatero d'Oro shopping district.
Two days: If you love football, ask your hotel concierge for the best way to buy A.C. Milan or Inter Milan tickets. If art is more your style, visit Milan’s trio of excellent art museums – the Castello Sforzesco, the Pinacoteca di Brera and the Museo del Novecento. If you’d rather just relax, head for the greenery of Parco Sempione in the city centre.
Hannover might be better known for its tradeshows and conferences than its cultural scene, but the city is a hidden gem for any business traveller. Locals know how to have fun; Hannover hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in Germany.
A few hours: Created at the end of the 17th century and inspired by Versailles, the baroque Herrenhausen Gardens are among the finest in Europe. Enjoy the manicured greenery and visit the recently renovated Palace, an architectural focal point that houses a small museum.
One day: Buy an English-language guide at the tourist office and follow the “Red Thread,” a 4.2km trail around the city that connects 36 prime attractions. Stop for lunch at the Market Hall and then check out the panoramic view from one of Hannover’s iconic landmarks, the New Town Hall.
Two days: Dispel Hannover’s buttoned-up reputation with a visit to the trendy Linden district. Pubs, cafés and restaurants abound if you want to eat, cool boutiques dot the streets if you want to shop, and nightlife is good if you want to let loose. Spend a day museum-hopping from the Museum of History to the Sprengel Museum for contemporary art to the Wilhelm Busch Museum for Caricature.
The Danish capital is often touted as one of the world’s best cities. It’s easy to see why with its great design, innovative food and commitment to the environment. A plus for busy business travellers – the city is compact and everyone speaks perfect English.
A few hours: Biking in Copenhagen is a must. It’s the best way to see the city and feel like a local. Wide bike lanes and GPS-enabled bike rentals make it a breeze. Explore the city on your own or take a themed bike tour on architecture, history or sustainability.
One day: Copenhagen is a major foodie destination. Food here is rooted in New Nordic cuisine, emphasising simplicity and seasonality with delicious flavours. Try the famous open rye sandwich or smørrebrød at Øl & Brød, or eat at one of many affordable high-quality restaurants like Baest and Amass. Pick up souvenirs along Strøget, a 1km pedestrian-only street with big department stores, flagship outlets and local brands.
Two days: Sleek, minimalist Scandinavian design is everywhere in the city. Visit the Danish Museum of Art and Design to discover more about the icons of mid-century Danish design. To get a feel for old Copenhagen, visit Slotsholmen, a canal-encircled island where the city’s development began. Take a tour of Christiansborg Palace, which houses Denmark’s Parliament and Supreme Court.
Glasgow’s long industrial heritage has cemented it as a business destination. It more than lives up to its reputation as Scotland’s culture capital, offering lots for business travellers to see and do.
A few hours: Grab a bite and a pint at one of the city’s iconic pubs. The Horseshoe has one of the longest bars in Britain and is famous for its pies. Sloans has been in business since 1797 and serves up a scrumptious macaroni and cheese.
One day: Sports fans can’t miss Hampden Park, Glasgow's 52,000-capacity stadium. Imagine yourself part of the ‘Tartan Army' in the stands, or get a backstage tour. Music fans should indulge in Glasgow’s status as a UNESCO City of Music, with a lively and diverse scene. Check out a show at legendary venues like King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut or Barrowland Ballroom.
Two days: Soak up the city’s art and history at its museums. Start with the eclectic collections at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum or The Burrell Collection, both treasure troves of art and artefacts set in beautiful green grounds. Book a walking tour with the Glasgow School of Art to really dive into the city’s public art and architecture. Step back in time at the Tenement House, a small 19th century flat that has been meticulously preserved. For something flashier, visit the striking Riverside Museum, which houses transportation-themed exhibits.