City breaks are my favourite way of seeing Europe and living in Britain, we are lucky to live so close to so many different countries and cultures. A lot of people enjoy city breaks, but I do think they are very different from planning & going on your typical beach holiday. So, if you’re thinking about planning your first city break. I’ve picked up a few tips along the way, which really help me plan & enjoy my city breaks. Here are my Top 7!
Ok, so this one is rather obvious, but I can’t stress how much this will help when your there! City breaks are really different from beach holidays. If you don’t know what you want to see & do, before you get there, you might struggle seeing everything you want. I usually start my planning with a quick google search on the city I want to see. I’ll have a look at any blogs or articles that have ‘Top 10 things to do / see’. Ill then keep a list of all the places I want to visit … next step is buy a guidebook.
Amazon or Waterstones are great for travel books, my personal favourite is the DK Eyewitness books. They have pull out, separate maps, to take out with you & lots of useful tips and information. I have one for every city I have been. They usually cost around £10, but they are definitely worth it!
2. Booking the hotel
Before you book your hotel, use the map from your guidebook and mark down all the places your hoping to see. This will give you an idea of which area you should try to stay in, within the city. It’s really crucial to have a hotel, with a good location on a city break!
This will also help you decide which attractions you will be able to do in the time you have, I often find that some places are too far out of the centre & will take too much time to visit. (although we try to cram in as much as we can, we still want to relax & not stress about travelling too much!)
3. Attraction passes / pre-booking
If your visiting a city with a well know attraction, then pre-booking your tickets is essential. If you don’t, it’s likely they will either be fully booked, or you will be stuck waiting in queues for hours! When your only in a city for 3/4 days, you don’t really want to spend 2 hours a day in queues. If you do buy a DK eyewitness guidebook, for your chosen city, then check it! As it will usually tell you if that attraction/Gallery/museum will need advanced booking. Make sure you check for multi-passes, most cities now offer a ticket which will allow you into a few different places for less! 3. Time Managing your time is crucial, as I’m sure you can imagine. But one of the most important things I’ve found, is leaving some time free! Chances are, you will discover something you didn’t even know existed, or hear about an event which is going to be on, during your mini break. So leave some time free to enjoy the unexpected. Or just spend a few hours walking round & immerse yourself!
Get to the gate early! … For nearly all city breaks you will have a carry on luggage allowance only. Most airlines will also ask your handbag to be inside your carry on, so each passenger only has one bag. Which means all of your documents/ money/ clothes/ makeup will end up in the one bag. It seems to be, that the first 100 or so passengers to board, will keep their hand luggage. After that your case will be checked in and stowed. The last thing I want is someone to take that bag and stow it with the rest of the luggage under the plane. Not only does it mean that all your possessions are out of sight for the next couple of hours, you will now also have to wait for the luggage carousel , on the other side.
4. Take note of things going on around you.
European cities are some of the friendliest places I have been & I have had nothing but great experiences. However, city breaks aren’t like the usual holidays in Spain or Crete, where everything is aimed at tourists & you are basically kept separate from normality. Most capital cities, these days, are really safe (despite what you may have read) but I always watch what areas of the city we are walking through & what streets we are walking down. I’m sure we all know areas of our home town’s that we would probably avoid!
I would usually always put style above comfort. Apart from when I’m on a city break! I love the idea of wearing ankle boots in Paris, or cute strappy sandals while walking the cobblestone streets of Rome. But the truth is, your feet will be in all types of pain if you do that! It’s not very glamorous, but take your comfy trainers & socks. Your feet will thank you!
For some reason, us brits Brits seem to think you need to eat out every night of a holiday. If your on an all inclusive then go for it! If your an average/normal traveler, like me, you probably won’t have the cash to eat a fancy meal every night.
So what! I don’t eat like that at home, so why do I need to eat that way when I’m on holiday? There is no shame in having a McDonald’s or a quick pizza for your dinner/tea one night.
Not only is it cheaper and keeps the cost down, it’s quick! This gives you more time to go an explore the city at night!
7. Find the right person
If your the type of person who doesn’t mind travelling alone like Jack Karuac, on the road, then this doesn’t really apply to you (I am also very envious!)
I personally, feel better knowing I have someone with me. I love having someone to share my experiences with. I’ve been really lucky that both my best friend & boyfriend, who I’ve previously travelled with, know me well & we all enjoy the same type of things. Which is really important for a travel buddy, especially for fast paced city breaks!
I really hope some of the above tips help, when you’re thinking about your next holiday / break. If you haven’t been on a city break before, make 2017 the year you try it out! I know that anyone would be pleasantly surprised at how relaxing & enjoyable they are!