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City Breaks: Ideas to Inspire You

Would you like to escape the everyday and broaden your horizons without spending too much time and money? If so, Lisa de Silva says a city break might offer the perfect solution

Alongside the perennially popular beach holiday, city breaks are the UK’s favourite type of vacation. Traditionally a short break of between two and four nights, the city break has surged in popularity owing to several factors which we discuss below, along with some ideas and suggestions to inspire you.

City breaks suit all budgets

Possibly the main reason for the rise of the city break is that it suits all budgets. So, whether you want to splash out on a luxe Parisian apartment or grab a few days in a caravan on the Suffolk coast, there is ample scope. What’s more, you can travel light and inexpensively, with just hand luggage, which helps to minimise the cost of any flights involved.

A tatste of something new

City breaks are also a great way to satisfy our perpetual curiosity and desire to explore. They are perfect for sampling a new culture, exploring a new place and for trying new activities. Whether you plan to visit a long-cherished dream destination or to see more of the UK, a short break provides the perfect respite from daily life. Leaving work on a Friday night and waking up in a new location on Saturday morning ready to explore, is one of life’s great pleasures. Often there is no need to break into your holiday allowance, particularly if you travel over one of the bank holiday weekends.

A chance to travel solo

This type of break can also be a chance to push out of your comfort zone by travelling solo. It can be easy to blend into a city and indulge your passion  for art, museums, a specific cuisine, or even shopping. With only yourself to please, you may find you enjoy the time alone more than you anticipate. Taking a solo trip is a great way to boost self- confidence and can act as a gateway to more lengthy independent adventures.

The adventure of the journey

While low-cost airlines have led to a sharp rise in city breaks, bringing exotic destinations, like Marrakesh and Istanbul within affordable weekend reach, a city break is a chance to experiment with different forms of travel. Car, train, ferry and even coach travel are all far more comfortable than in the past, so don’t be afraid to take advantage of special deals and promotions to places which may not be on your current radar.


Endless accommodation options

When you are only staying for a couple of nights there is less pressure to find the ideal accommodation. For those  on a budget, hotel chains, Airbnb apartments, caravans, and hostels (which now offer ensuite rooms), all provide great value for money. It can also be cost effective to find a hotel with breakfast and simply pick up lunch at a local store or bakery. For those travelling outside of the peak season, there are usually great bargains to be had, with even the priciest hotels offering substantial discounts.

At the other extreme, when you are only staying for two nights it can be an opportunity to upgrade your accommodation as an indulgent treat. A suite overlooking the Venetian Grand Canal with a private balcony and hot tub will live long in the memory.

Where to go?

With most of Europe and the UK easily accessible for a short break there are several ways to approach the issue of where to go. For the more spontaneous, taking advantage of a last-minute cheap deal or flight can add to the potluck excitement of getting away. Alternatively, to get the
most from your break, do your holiday homework and research elements of the trip such as flight times, available accommodation, destination travel logistics, sightseeing opportunities, and local cost of living.

Europe vs UK

While some may wish to visit Europe’s major honeypots such as Paris, Berlin, Venice, Barcelona and Amsterdam, a city break is a chance to experience the path less travelled. You will get  far more value for money and encounter far fewer crowds in both Eastern Europe and Portugal, so do consider places such as Krakow, Tallin, Riga, Bucharest, Ljubljana, Lisbon, and Porto.

Similarly, the UK has a wealth of historic cities and scenic national parks awaiting discovery. Again, try thinking  outside the box. While Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, and York will always be popular, consider more off-the-beaten track destinations such as Chester, Portsmouth, Canterbury, Norwich, and Belfast.

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