When you’re craving a break but are short on time and money, a city break is the perfect option. There are plenty of European cities that are less than 3 hours away by plane from the UK, so you can afford to go for just a long weekend knowing you won’t waste loads of time on a flight! Whether you want to spend your weekend sightseeing, shopping or drinking, there’s a perfect city waiting for you.
How to Book a Cheap City Break
Go off-peak: Due to the warmer weather and school holidays, summer is the most expensive time for most city breaks. Go in the shoulder seasons of April-May or September-October, or embrace the cold with a winter break!
Travel mid-week: If your working hours allow it, avoid flying over the weekend as these are the most popular, and therefore expensive, flights. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly, or you can save money by flying at undesirable times – early in the morning or late at night.
Book B&B: Bed and breakfast packages will generally be a bit more expensive in terms of your upfront cost, but compared to buying breakfast in the city every day it’s usually a fantastic deal! If you book somewhere with a buffet-style breakfast, you can save more money by filling up on breakfast and just having a snack stop instead of a proper lunch.
Choosing Your Perfect City Break
Where you go on a city break really depends on what you like to do. If you love sightseeing, culture and history, you’ll feel at home among the ancient ruins of Rome or the quirky architecture of Barcelona. Paris and New York are heavens for shopaholics, while if you’re planning a weekend of partying Amsterdam, Prague or Dublin will welcome you with open arms.
Also take into account the time of year you want to book your trip – a lot of cities have a particular season when they really shine! Amsterdam is brought alive in autumn by the orange leaves on the trees that line the canals, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic fill their cities with Christmas markets in winter, and Paris is so lovely in spring someone even wrote a song about it! Summer will of course always be gloriously warm and sunny, but if you struggle with heat you may prefer to spend this season on the beach and leave your city breaks for cooler months.
Cheapest City Break Destinations
If you want to avoid spending too much money while you’re away, Eastern Europe is your best bet. Not only are hotel rates lower, you’ll find that the costs of food, drink, transport and sightseeing are also a lot cheaper than the more established Western European destinations like Paris or Rome. Consider a city break in Prague, Budapest, Zagreb or Krakow, where you could find yourself spending a fraction of what you would in Western Europe.
If you want to stay in Western Europe, a good tactic is to avoid the country’s most popular city and go for the second or third most popular. Instead of Barcelona, try Madrid, and rather than Venice, make Naples or Pisa your base. Remember that some countries just have a high cost of living – avoid Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries if you’re determined to keep costs down!