Perfect for a long weekend away, city breaks are the stuff of dreams. Whether you’re after a quick European break or want to head somewhere slightly further away from home, city escapes have loads to offer. You get to experience a different culture in a place packed full of restaurants, museums, bars and quirky coffee shops. From exploring historical landmarks in the Eternal City to shopping on the streets of New York, here’s how to plan (and have) the perfect city break.
Choosing the right city break for you
First things first, you need to pick your ideal city break. Do you want to revisit an old favourite or wish to explore the streets of someplace completely new? While the former will allow you to dive deeper in a city you already love, the latter will offer you the opportunity to discover a brand new place with new, unexpected quirks.
If you feel like going somewhere familiar, then we cannot recommend revisiting a top city break spot more. Sometimes you can’t beat the comfort of going back to a place you are somewhat familiar with. Making this an ideal strategy if you’re planning on travelling solo!
Already been to Paris? Going back will allow you to try out new local restaurants (you can never go to enough of these – the Paris restaurant scene is always booming) or see attractions you might have missed out the first time round. With every street basically having a landmark, you’ll be forgiven if you keep coming back for more Paris city breaks.
If you’ve got too many places on your radar, then a new city break might suit you better. Dreaming of visiting an ancient European capital with history dating back to more centuries than you can count? Sofia might be the one for you (seriously, the area has been habituated since at least the 30th millennium BC). Love those gorgeous Central European cities mixing cultures and architecture from both sides of the continent? Looking at you, Prague! Simply after another foodie holiday? Get those tickets to Copenhagen – one of the new popular kids on the food map.
Never been to Reykjavik? Seeing the northern lights is a once in a lifetime experience many have on their bucket lists. So how about you tick it off yours? The peak season for northern lights viewing is September through March when the Icelandic nights are at their longest. So seeing these famous lights is a lot more probable, making it the best time to visit Reykjavik.
Find the best time to visit
When it comes to city breaks, one size really doesn’t fit all. Choosing your destination is only half the work, now you’ve got to find out what the best time to visit is too.
While New York is gorgeous in winter, you might prefer to visit it during the autumn months instead. This is when you’ll see the New York City of the movies, but you’ll also benefit from milder temperatures. Not to mention how glorious Central Park looks in the fall!
Madrid is lovely in May and June before the temperatures truly soar, why we love Barcelona in summer to make the most of that beach. Don’t got to Paris or Rome in August when it’s boiling and the cities are deserted by their locals, but do consider visiting a city further up north
You might also want to consider avoiding the peak season for your destination if you’d much rather quieter streets and attractions. If you’re less picky than that, then just grabbing a last-minute deal might be more to your liking – see where this takes you!
Booking your city break
Now you’ve chosen your city break destination it’s time to book it. We’ve got a fab range of city breaks to choose from at loveholidays, so that you’ve got it all in one place. You can use our smart search to find a holiday which works best for you in terms of budget, flight dates and hotel star rating. In order to discover your perfect city break flight and hotel combo, narrow down your search by selecting how much you’d like to spend or what’s your ideal departure airport (no need to go to Gatwick if you’re based in Birmingham is all we’re saying!). Only 5-star hotels would do? Or perhaps you just need to know your city hotel comes with an indoor pool? Yup, we’ve got a filter for that too!
Getting around the city
Gone are the days of huge maps and countless of guidebooks taking up the space in your bag. No matter your city break, chances are there’s an app to get you to grips with the place. Citymapper is perfect for getting around the city and finding the quickest or cheapest routes. With an ever expanding list of cities to cover, no wonder so many people choose it. Rome2Rio is another one of our top choices (it covers more city breaks than just…well, Rome and Rio). Mapping up your whole route from A to B (for example, from your airport to your hotel), the app also gives you a price breakdown so you know how much you’re about to spend on travel. You can check our list of top free travel apps for more, too.
But if you do love that feeling of reliable book in your hands, you can never go wrong with a Rough Guide to give you all the scoop on interesting places to visit while in the city.
Build an itinerary
Depending on the reasons for your city break, it’s best to get straight to it once you arrive. With only a few days to enjoy the city, build an itinerary for yourself so you’re able to do and see everything you want to during your stay. Make a list of all the important sights you want to see, all the fun activities you would like to do, and all the local foods you’d love to try. Whatever it is, once you’ve listed the things you want to explore and split them up into an itinerary for each day, your city break will be a lot more organised.
You might decide to venture out of your itinerary once there, but it’s handy to have something to always go back to when in doubt.
If you can’t be bothered to do one yourself, or just want to make it even easier, here are some of our most popular city break itineraries to get you started. If you’re visiting one of these cities, you might as well copy our short weekend break step-by-step guides.
Here is how to spend 48 hours in:
Finally, you’re on your city break to enjoy yourself above all else. Explore the city, sample the delicious cuisine and experience the lively nightlife. Completely immerse yourself in the city you are visiting, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to see it all, and remember to have fun!