A blog about travel, books and navigating your twenties in one piece

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A City Break Guide | My Top Tips

Summer may be pretty much over for us Brits (and, to be honest, I'm secretly quite excited for Autumn), but whatever time of year it is, a city break makes the perfect holiday. As you'll probably already know because I've been banging on about it basically non-stop, I was lucky enough this Summer to travel to and explore five European cities. It taught me a lot about the best things to do to prepare for a city break and what's really useful to know/have when you're there. So, just in case you're thinking of planning one anytime soon, I thought today I'd throw together my top five tips to help you make the most of your city break.

1 // Book to stay in a central location - Being a student, I planned my holidays this Summer to be as inexpensive as possible and tried to save money wherever I could. One thing I think is definitely worth the extra cost though is booking an Airbnb, hotel or hostel that's in a great location relative to the sights of the city you're going to visit. It makes everything so much easier when you're there; you don't have to worry about getting home if you're out late, you'll have more time to fit things in because you won't have to spend time getting into the centre and out again, and you'll probably even save money as you won't have to fork out as much on public transport or cabs getting to places. All in all, this is the one place I'd recommend spending a bit more money as there are so many pros to being in a good location.

2 // Research what you want to do/see before going - City breaks are typically short and no more than a long weekend, so you'll want to spend as much time as possible out and exploring. To make sure you have the maximum time to do this, I'd really suggest at the very least having a list of some things you know you definitely want to do before you get there. I'm a planner by nature so I like to make a rough itinerary as soon as I arrive in a city but I always make sure I've put together a list of things I know would be fun to do before going there, meaning I can just look up the logistics of them when I get there rather than having no idea beforehand. I've got into the habit of bookmarking travel blog posts of places I think I might want to go and I can't tell you how handy they've been this Summer. Real people's recommendations are the ones that I've found are the most trustworthy and I've so far never been let down when following ones from blogs I read.

3 // Look up articles for restaurant suggestions, don't just rely on Trip Advisor - Knowing which restaurants are going to be good and affordable just by looking from the outside can be one of the hardest things to judge in a completely foreign city. The best way of finding some real gems that I've found is looking up articles completely devoted to the best budget restaurants of a certain city. This was a complete life-saver in Verona, Venice and Paris for me with the following articles one, two and three and I honestly had some of the best food I've ever tasted because of these recommendations. On the times I tried using Trip Advisor to find places to eat, I struggled to have much luck and found that articles like the ones above were much more clear and offered a range of options.

4 // Eat in when you can or have picnics - Of course, one of the best parts of going abroad is trying the local cuisine and treating yourself to meals out. However, if you're trying to save your pennies a great way of doing that is to eat in for the majority of your stay if you're in self-catered accommodation and to just eat out a few times as a treat. Alternatively, you can really save money by having picnic rather than restaurant lunches. When my friend Rosie and I were in Paris we had an amazing picnic which included salami and brie baguettes, fresh fruit and chocolate in the Jardin du Luxembourg and it was my favourite lunch there. The food was great (picnic-y lunches are my favourite) and we got to look around the beautiful gardens - a real win-win and definitely something I'd suggest if you stumble upon somewhere that would make a good picnic spot.

5 // If you can afford it, pay for mobile data to use maps - Completely inessential but something that makes life a bit easier when you have no idea where you're going (or just a truly terrible sense of direction like me), being able to use Google Maps abroad is incredibly useful. It can be really fun to get lost in new cities and eventually find your way to wherever you were looking for but to have the ease of knowing you can just open a maps app should you get lost to help you find your way is great and something I'd say is worth investing in if your network provider has a good deal!

So those are my top five tips to get the most out of your city break! If you've got any planned please go ahead and let me know where you're going - I love hearing about other people's travels and adding to my very long list of places I want to see!

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