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City breaks are enormously popular. Many of us struggle to get long-periods off work in the summer months, and if you are tied to school holidays, a summer holiday can be ridiculously expensive. A city break offers a fantastic alternative.
Even if you do manage to take an extended summer break and go on fantastic summer holidays to sunny beaches with glorious seas and deep blue pools, city breaks can offer something extra. They give you the chance to see more of the world, without needing more than a few days off. They can be significantly cheaper than a big summer package deal, but still, give you a break from real life. Many of us try to fit in a city break when we can. Exploring somewhere new each time.
But, city breaks can come with a lot of pressure. Especially if you are only going away for a night or two. On a two-week beach break, if you have a tired day, or the weather isn’t great, it’s not the end of the world. You can spend the day inside resting. You’re not losing much. Even a miserable hour on a city break can change the trip. You want to make the most of your break, see as much as you can and get the most out of your destination. You want to see the best it has to offer, eat in the best places, visit the best shops and tourist hotspots and see it all. You don’t want to waste even a second of your precious time in a beautiful place.
This kind of pressure can end up ruining the trip altogether. If you want to have a relaxing, yet exciting city break where you see lots of sights but manage to take some time for yourself, to have the perfect city break, here’s what you need to do.
Research before booking
City breaks are often booked last minute. Sometimes after a quick scroll down a list of top cities breaks for the year. We can be tied down to a budget or the days we have off work. So we book the flights that fit in with our schedule and the most budget-friendly accommodation we can find, without much thought.
Well, this can be a huge mistake. Firstly, you could end up staying somewhere there’s nothing at all to do or nothing that you really want to see. Then, even if there is plenty to do and see, you may find that you are that far outside the town centre that you spend most of your break navigating public transport and don’t have time to enjoy anything.
So, before you book, do your research. Look at the location carefully, make a rough plan of the things that you’d like to see in the city, including any museums, places to eat, tourist spots and shopping districts. Then, find the best accommodation to suit your needs. Some, like the Sandy Road Hotel in Galway, are right in the thick of things and ideal for the perfect break. But, if you need to stay a little out of town, make sure there are easy public transport links to where you want to be, making sure to take note of the details of the stop closest to your accommodation.
Make a plan
When you’ve researched the places that you want to go, and booked your trip, you can plan in more detail. Take a look at a map of the area, and the opening times of all of your highlights. Then, plan which to go to first, looking at how long it takes to get to your next stop to allow you to fit in as much of your day as possible. It can be a good idea to start at the spot furthest away from your hotel, so you are working back, getting closer to where you are staying as you start to get tired. Remember to factor in rest stops, food breaks and anything else that you can think of.
Having a plan is great. It’s certainly the best way to see everything that you want and make the most of your trip. But, be too rigid, and you’ll only put yourself under more pressure and risk missing things you want to do or not getting the enjoyment you should get out of what you do.
Keep your plan in mind but allow yourself some flexibility. After all, it’s easy to make a plan from home, looking online at what’s on offer. But, not quite as easy to stick to that plan when you arrive, and you are surrounded by things to do and see. If the scenery is stunning and you fancy taking a long walk, that’s fine. If there’s a street lined with tiny boutiques you want to spend time savouring, that’s fine too. If there’s still lots left on your plan at the end of your break, you can always head back another time.
When you head off on a short break, you want to take as little luggage as possible. But, it’s still important to be sensible. Check the weather forecast, but make sure you are prepared for changes. You’ll also want a small, secure bag to take out with you while you are away, comfortable shoes and perhaps a refillable water bottle, so you don’t dehydrate while you are busy.
We’re so used to living in a world of social media, that when we’re away, we want to tell everyone. We spend time checking in on Facebook, posting our holiday snaps on Instagram and telling our followers about our trip on Twitter. You spend time thinking about what other people can see, instead of focusing on what you can see. Instead, leave your phone at the hotel and explore without it.
Enjoy yourself without caring about what anyone else thinks. Don’t let yourself get distracted by your social media feeds. Just enjoy the world. Part of having the perfect city break is not trying to. Don’t pressure yourself, just have a great time.