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October 11-14Brest, France: 48.99 pounds round tripFly Ryanair from London Luton to Brest

Start your visit at the city’s foremost landmark, the Castle of Brest.

The Naval Museum of Brest within the castle tells the story of this port city that once amassed 80 warships in its waters at one time and was used by American soldiers as a landing point. The museum also houses a collection of French ship models and nautical paintings.

Also worth a visit is the Tanguy Tower with a vast collection of artifacts recounting Brest’s history as well as several large dioramas that show Brest as it was before it was nearly destroyed by constant bombing during World War II.

Families should visit the Oceanopolis, a premier ocean discovery center with three sections — polar, temperate and tropical — that tell the story of the oceans. This vast marine world includes 45 massive aquariums with more than 10,000 animals from 1,000 species, according to Brest Ocean Metropolis Tourism Office.

As an important naval port, the city’s waterfront is bustling with sailors on shore leave and tourists enjoying a variety of water sports. It is along this waterfront that visitors will find restaurants, bars and cafes to enjoy all the while watching boats come and go.

December 5-7Dortmund, Germany: 68.97 pounds round tripFly easyJet from London Luton to Dortmund.

According to the Dortmund tourist office, the city’s three most-visited museums are the Ostwall Art Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art and Cultural History.

The Ostwall Museum specializes in 20th- and 21st-century media art with paintings, sculptures, photographs and more than 2,500 graphic works on display. At the Natural History Museum, visitors can explore Earth’s history through displays on rock crystals, pressed plants, insects and a huge aquarium.

The Museum of Art and Cultural History, the oldest museum of its kind in the Ruhr Valley region, has a collection of objects that trace the city’s history from the Middle Ages to the present.

The attention-grabbing Dortmund Concert Hall is well-designed and has fabulous acoustics. The Dortmund Theater’s opera house offers classical and modern operas, ballets and musicals. The theater next door holds dramatic events.

If shopping is on your agenda, head to Hansa- strasse for luxury clothes and leather goods, and to see the latest catwalk creations. The Westenhellweg shopping street runs through the heart of the city and offers a range of goods. To the south is the Propstei shopping mall, home to many up-market clothing stores.

Then take a breather at one of the many restaurants and traditional bars on Alter Markt (Old Market) and enjoy a beer and Pfefferpotthast, a pepper beef stew with onions.

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