City breaks are a great way to get away from it all for a few days, giving you the chance to explore a new place and take in some culture.
And, according to research by the ABTA, they are officially the most popular choice of holiday in the UK, with 53% of the population saying they took a city break in the twelve months up to August 2016.
But, with so many different ways to book and so many destinations on offer, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to your own holiday.
So, we’ve taken the time to create this handy guide with everything you need to know about booking a city break.
The first thing you need to work out is the budget for your city break as this will (unfortunately!) come to influence most of your subsequent decisions.
But don’t despair, as city breaks can be done on any budget, from a shoestring vacation to a luxury blowout.
You just need to work out whether spending £400 on a three-day break is affordable, or whether you could get by on half of that. Once you have an idea, you can begin to shop around.
DIY or Use an Agent?
Many people DIY their city breaks and there can be multiple benefits for doing this. By searching for your own travel and accommodation, you can mix and match your providers and take advantage of different deals. You can also book directly with hotels and airlines, meaning you cut out the fees of an agent.
However, booking with an agent can give you more peace of mind, knowing that your holiday is in the hands of a professional. It can save you time through research, as well as acting as a point of contact should anything go wrong. Your agent will act on your behalf to assist you with any issues, which you’re unlikely to find with a DIY holiday.
See this post by Nomadic Matt for more information.
When to Book
It’s important to consider when to book a city break to get the best deal (and the best weather!)
According to an expert from Travelzoo, it’s generally cheapest to book a European city break from January until the end of March, when the prices tend to increase as the weather improves. You can also get some good deals in August and the latter half of December when airlines tend to have summer and winter sales.
It’s also important to consider the weather. Whilst a trip to Kraków in winter produces some beautiful snowy scenes, it can also be extremely cold, which could be something to take into consideration.
The next step is to pick your destination. This is where you get to personalise your trip to your own interests, so make sure you research all the sights and activities in your chosen city. So, whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, make sure your destination can offer you the best experience.
It’s also important to consider the costs once you’re in a city. For example, you might be able to get cheap flights to Geneva but it can be extremely expensive when you get there. Taking in-country costs into consideration is essential when choosing a destination.
This post by Travel Supermarket has some great destination suggestions.
The next thing to consider is the type of accommodation you want to book, with lots of options available for city breakers.
If you’re going for a budget break, a hostel could be more suited to your needs. However, if you’re splashing out on your trip, a luxury hotel with a spa will give your break an added oomph.
Or, for the best of both worlds, a serviced apartment would give you the space of a hotel but on a smaller budget, and is perfect for a city a break. Clarendon offers some great apartments for a London break.
This will obviously depend on where you intend to travel, but it’s always a good idea to book well in advance to take advantage of cheaper fares.
While you can get some cheap last minute deals with airlines and train operators, for peace of mind we wouldn’t recommend leaving things to chance. Skyscanner is a good place to start for flights and offers email alert services for deals, while most train operators will also offer deals on fares.
This handy guide by Wonderful World gives you more hints and tips for a city break