The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - HEATHROW EXPANSION -

Tbil­isi, Ge­or­gia

Among Euro­pean cap­i­tals with no di­rect flights from Bri­tain are Yere­van in Ar­me­nia, one of the con­ti­nent’s old­est cities, es­tab­lished in 782BC (30 years be­fore Rome), and Tbil­isi, cap­i­tal of neigh­bour­ing Ge­or­gia. Claire All­free rec­om­mends get­ting lost in the splen­dour of the lat­ter.

She writes: “These days, its fine art nou­veau build­ings and pretty, tra­di­tional bal­conied houses are what some would call shabby chic. Yet new ho­tels and shop­ping malls are spring­ing up and gen­tri­fi­ca­tion is un­der way in its more his­toric dis­tricts. Tbil­isi feels like a city fi­nally com­ing into it­self. In other words, get here fast be­fore every­one else does.”

Katie Melua, the singer, is an­other fan – it is, af­ter all, her child­hood home. “It’s steeped in his­tory – the Old Town, with its twist­ing al­leys, is par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing,” she says. “It’s a city that’s very much off the beaten track. Not many tourists have been there, which makes it all the more worth vis­it­ing.”

Berne, Switzer­land

Vis­i­tors to the Swiss cap­i­tal Berne must fly via Basel, or take the train from Zurich – enough to put off po­ten­tial trav­els. This is a shame, says Nigel Richard­son. He writes: “The city’s peren­nial at­trac­tions are its state of preservation, which has earned it Unesco World Her­itage sta­tus; its man­age­able size (you can walk the Old Town end to end in 20 min­utes); and a laid-back, friendly am­bi­ence.

“Two tow­er­ing fig­ures of the 20th cen­tury – Al­bert Ein­stein and the artist Paul Klee – have Berne con­nec­tions and sites as­so­ci­ated with them at­tract tourists from all over the world.”

Sara­jevo, Bos­nia and Herce­gov­ina

An­other Euro­pean cap­i­tal with­out a UK con­nec­tion has a tragic mod­ern his­tory, but is ready for tourists, says Adrian Bridge. “With its ex­tra­or­di­nary cul­tural and re­li­gious mix, and rich Ot­toman her­itage, Sara­jevo is a city that mer­its a visit,” he writes.

“Sur­rounded by green hills and bi­sected by a river, it is a place of spec­tac­u­lar beauty, and though the scars of the siege of the Nineties are still ev­i­dent, Sara­je­vans dis­play heart­en­ing re­silience and vi­tal­ity.”

Dres­den, Ger­many

One can fly to Dres­den from Barcelona, Am­s­ter­dam and Zurich – but not Bri­tain. “Dres­den is a mid­dle-Euro­pean jewel, hid­den from view dur­ing the 40-year life­span of Com­mu­nist East Ger­many,” writes Ivan He­witt.

“Be­fore that, it suf­fered an even big­ger mis­for­tune. In Fe­bru­ary 1945, the his­toric Old City was com­pletely de­stroyed by Al­lied bombers. You still see the scars, here and there.

“But Dres­den’s rise from the rub­ble is in­spir­ing. The cen­tre is a metic­u­lous re­con­struc­tion of Dres­den’s baroque glo­ries, but if you tire of the al­most too-per­fect Old City, there’s the gen­uine an­tique of the New City across the river Elbe, the ele­gance of the White Hart district, the cas­tles along the river and fine clas­si­cal mu­sic per­for­mances.”

The North­ern Lights in Tromso, Nor­way, above; Pi­azza Um­berto in Erice, in the Tra­pani re­gion of Si­cily, right

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