I’ve become pretty practised at the humble city break, it being one of the best ways of fitting in lots of travel when you have a full time job. Jetting off for the weekend, exploring and eating your way around a new city and being back at your desk by 9am on Monday all seems like a pretty enticing prospect.
But but it is hard to fit everything in to two days and come out the other side intact, and not feeling like a shell of a human. How do you make the most of you time there, get the best of a city in a short amount of time? Here are five things I do on every cit break I go on, to ensure I have the best weekend ever!
1. Go on a walking tour
I’ve already long established my love of a walking tour, but it is genuinely the first thing I do when landing in a new city. Once I’ve booked flights and a hotel, the very next thing I do is look up what walking tours might be on offer, and how they might fit into my plans.
If you’ve only got a couple of days in a city, it can be really hard to get your bearings alone and see all the top spots in a short space of time – a walking tour can achieve this in just three hours! And, with the added benefit of being led by a knowledgeable, often local guide you can give you a really in-depth understanding of local customs, culture and history.
If I already know a city quite well, sometimes I look for a walking tour that is more specific – maybe a street art tour or a tour of a specific neighbourhood. My Jewish Quarter tour of Krakow was a real highlight of my trip, and I’ve done lots of pretty niche walking tours in London too.
2. Find the best view
I’ve seen many views in my time – from the top of Mount Vesuvius and from the treetops in Costa Rica, but there is very little indeed that can rival a view from across a vast city. It’s a great way to admire different architecture and really understand where you are in context to every building, river and green space. And if you are clever about it, you can find so many different ways of seeing the city from above!
Many cities have towers to climb – I’ve climbed towers in Paris, Berlin and Prague or even the spires of cathedrals, castles and churches. In Lisbon, there were specific miradouros which translates literally as viewpoints, set up to see Lisbon and all its treasures from many different angles and heights. In Barcelona, the view from Park Guell not only took in the vast city, but also elements of Gaudi’s unusual architecture. A quick search will give you many free and paid for ways of seeing the city you are in from an extraordinary angle.
3. Take an afternoon nap
Look, city breaks can be completely exhausting. Dashing around back streets, late nights at food markets and climbing up for those views can take their toll on even the fittest city breakers. And after all even if it is just a weekend trip, it is still a holiday. Enter then, the nap.
I’m a firm believer in a late afternoon nap, and it is something I will do most days on a city break when given the chance. I like to be up early to avoid the crowds, and many of my recent breaks have been to places that have a late night dining culture. If I’m not eating until really late, I’m definitely taking a nap!
4. Do something super offbeat and niche
Every city offers much to do for the tourist. Armed with my trusty guidebook and an itinerary, I always seek out the prominent places to visit, because they are prominent for a reason. I wanted to see the Sagrada Familia, the Notre-Dam and Prague’s stunning castle because I’d read about all of those things and wanted to experience them for myself.
But for every great attraction, there is something way more niche to see and do in a city too, if you only look a bit deeper for it. This could be anything from visiting an undiscovered neighbourhood to taking an underground tour (something I loved in Prague), and I find visiting these sorts of places give me a much greater understanding of the real culture of a city. The real feeling.
5. Buy a crazy souvenir
I feel that souvenirs have become something of a dying tradition, something to be sneered at. But I love to collect souvenirs from all the places I have visited, no matter how naff and uncool this might be. I always buy a fridge magnet with a city scape, because I love to remember all the cities I have visited every time I make a cup of tea, and I adore buying a tea towel for my Mum.
Perhaps rather oddly, I have also made a habit of collecting Hard Rock Cafe glasses from most places I have been. I’ve got one from Cozumel, which is the smallest Hard Rock Cafe in the world and one from Hurghada where there was a proud camel seated outside. Visiting the hard Rock Cafe might not feel particularly authentic, but its a tradition I started with my family and seeing them lined up gives me a huge amount joy!
I’d love to know what things you do on every city break – please let me know in the comments below!
ENJOYED THIS POST? PLEASE PIN IT!