A mini-break is short and sweet but that’s the beauty of it.
It might be a fleeting visit but there’s still plenty of opportunity.
It might be a fleeting visit but there’s still plenty of opportunity to see the sights and discover hidden gems, charming architecture and restaurants off the beaten track, all without eating into your precious annual leave allowance.
From a whistle-stop tour of Paris to a long weekend in Lisbon, these are the city breaks we’ve tried and loved.
Lareese | Porto
I live for a city break me! I find it really hard to sit still on holiday, so a city break is my idea of a perfect trip since there’s so much to do but you can also enjoy a bit of downtime too. It’s the best of both worlds.
I went to Porto & Lisbon last September with my boyfriend for a few days and loved it. I’d never been to Portugal before so doing two cities was a great way to get a feel for it. From the fresh Pasteis de Nata to the charming old tram and laundry-lined back streets, it really is a wonderfully unique and vibrant city.
The LX Factory is a must when you’re in Lisbon. It’s full of independent boutiques, food stalls, trendy coffee shops and book shops. There’s a nice outdoor bar area for you to chill in the sun with a beer after you’re done mooching around or stop for a quick coffee and a sweet treat in WISH. It’s a slow coffee house in the LX Factory.
When it comes to good grub, Lisbon didn’t disappoint. We went to a lovely restaurant called BouBou’s for some contemporary Portuguese food – the gambas were amazing. I still think about them now! The Time Out market is also a foodie’s dream. We’d go there for our daily pastel de nata fix – they make them fresh in front of you so they’re warm from the oven. It’s dribble worthy stuff.
We also took a short trip across the river to Almada for the day. The pace is a lot slower there and it has some beautiful views of the famous 25 de Abril Bridge. We walked around and stumbled across a great seafood restaurant right on the water called Restaurante Ponto Final. The scenery is just beautiful!. I very much recommend soaking up a few hours sat here with a glass of wine.
If you’re a sucker for a beautiful building, Casa de Serralves is a must-see. It’s a pastel pink art deco mansion and it looks like something straight out of a Wes Anderson film.
Danielle | Boston
My City Break recommendation is Boston! I know it seems a bit long-haul but I thought I’d mix it up from cities in Europe and talk to you about one that doesn’t get as much love. I went to Boston with my partner and another couple in Feb 19′ and it was SO GOOD, cold but not absolutely baltic so we could do lots of walking, which is exactly what you want from a city break.
We hit so many bars including the infamous ‘Cheers’ barDanielle
We hit so many bars including the infamous ‘Cheers’ bar, speakeasy-style bars like ‘Wink & Nod’ and Yvonne’s, and lots of sports bars like Beer works and The Harp. There were just as many great restaurants with tons of lobster, an Irish quarter and an Italian quarter. We loved The Paramount for breakfast! Honourable mention goes out to Mikes Pastry for the most ridiculous amount desserts that were all freshly made and mouth-wateringly good.
For activities, we did the Freedom Trail in the city centre which has so many historical bits and is super easy to follow. We visited Harvard for a day which was just like the movies, I did my best Legally Blonde quotes on campus. We headed over to Salem for a day and headed to one of the witch museums it was SO interesting, we had an amazing lunch at Sea Level. For sports went to see a Celtics basketball game at TD Garden which was great fun and as the baseball season wasn’t on we went for a tour at Fenway Park but couldn’t catch a Baseball game – which is my fave sport to see in the states! We were also there for the Super Bowl which was incredible, so great to see it with so many Patriots fans and as they won they had a parade the next day with all the players.
Boston is generally pretty ‘grammable one of the prettiest places was Acorn street but every road we walked down was BEAUTIFUL.
Zoe | New York
I chose New York City as my ultimate city break, and although a little further to go from here in the UK (you’d definitely want to make it at least a four day weekend Friday-Monday if you were a bit more limited for time, anything less than that I wouldn’t recommend as there is so much to see and do) it’s somewhere that has completely stolen my heart! I first visited NYC in 2014 but it was extremely fleeting and it was for work so I didn’t get to explore! In 2018, I went back for my birthday for a week with friends and family and we had the best time. As someone who doesn’t love the hustle and bustle of big cities (London and I have a very love-hate relationship), I was half expecting to find NYC very overwhelming and daunting, but because of the street grid system they have, you can always find your bearings and I find I never get lost!
The city has so much to offer, cute little shops and cafe’s if you head a little more south-west, Central Park in midtown which I could spend a whole day in and the traditional tourist spots you see in movies and all over everyone’s Instagram! I went recently in December and spent some time in Brooklyn and absolutely fell in love with it, so would highly recommend a night or two across the river! Williamsburg is full of quirky shops and independent cafes and is a little less busy.
One thing I would highly recommend is booking restaurants in advance for dinner, if you spot somewhere you really want to eat, chances are others will have the same idea, and you could end up in a very long queue. So research is key when it comes to planning a city break to NYC. Places you should visit include: Central Park, Greenwich Village, East Village, The Highline, Williamsburg, Dumbo, Brooklyn Bridge, Top of the Rock at sunset, Times Square & Broadway. Places to Eat: Milk for the tastiest ice cream, Joes Pizza, Jacks Wife Freida, Beauty & Essex, The Flour shop for the best cake bites you’ll ever eat, Sunday in Brooklyn for EPIC pancakes, Memoria for delicious pasta, Buddakan for a fancy meal and edamame dumplings that I think about on the daily.
New York is just one of those cities that I instantly fell in love with and felt completely at ease in! I find something else each time we go that makes me want to plan my next trip on the flight home!
Also wanted to give a little nod to Amsterdam as this is also a city I fell in love with! We already have another trip planned for this spring. I love the atmosphere of Amsterdam and the little cobbled streets with so many independent shops and food places! The canals are so beautiful and calming and there is so much to see and do!
Maddie | Paris
Paris is a bit of a home away from home for me but I love it so much and always pine to go back if it’s been too long.
My favourite time to visit is for my birthday in JuneMaddie
It’s a city that’s beautiful all year round but my favourite time to visit is for my birthday in June. The city is in full bloom and the parks and streets are covered in flowers that it makes an already stunning scene that much more.
I love to wander around my favourite quarter le Marais, drink a cafe in Les Places de Vosges, stroll around Les Jardin des Plantes, explore the many cobbled streets of Montmartre and stop by Trocadero at sunset to see the Iron lady in all her glory.
Charlotte | Rome
Rome was my most recent city break but by far my favourite! I’ve been on plenty of trips where vegan food is somewhat … lacking (to put it nicely) but I was pleasantly surprised by the options in Rome- I’m actually considering another trip purely so I can relive the IN-CREDIBLE dairy-free carbonara and tiramisu I had at Rifugio Romano!
I’ve been on plenty of trips where vegan food is somewhat…lackingCharlotte
Most of the main attractions and hotspots were within walking distance of each other (I’m talking the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps) which made ticking off the must-see places doable in a short trip.
The Metro system was easy to fathom and made further out spots like The Vatican City accessible too. I visited at the end of May and the weather was perfect for walking around without the threat of sweating through a grey tee, whilst being warm enough for shorts or a summer dress in the day. Do I sound like I’m getting commission from the Italian tourist board yet?! In all seriousness, a 10/10 trip!
Lauren | Sicily
I really want to go on more city breaks as I’m so interested in the various styles of architecture across Europe, especially Italy as it’s one of my favourite places!
You can really get a feel for the city in a few daysLauren
Last year I went to Sicily, which may not seem like a traditional city break but the capital of Taormina has lots of culture on offer in such a small space that you can really get a feel for the city in a few days.
The city has breathtaking views of the ocean and Mount Etna, and because it’s been invaded so many times throughout history, the range of culture and architecture you find around each corner is amazing. Obviously the range of food available is incredible, and there are so many places to see including the amphitheatre and Isola Bella Island – make sure to try the Granite at Bam Bar!
Holly | Budapest
I LOVE a city break. Catch me exploring well-known cities over a beach holiday ANY DAY. One of my favourite cities I’ve been to is Budapest, Hungary. I went in February with 2 of my best friends for 3 days and we had much fun. There were so many things to do and see so I’m going to bullet point for you here or I won’t be able to stop.
My first tip is to buy one of the 72 hour Budapest Travel Cards. The trams are so easy to use and so handy when some of the top spots are pretty far away from each other. With a magnitude of history and museums, I was in my element. We decided on the ‘House of Terror’ and it was so insightful. Quite eerie when you’re in there but worth it if you’re interested in that sort of thing.
We went to the Outdoor Thermal Baths which were lovely to relax in but I would recommend not planning a whole day around it. I get a bit fidgetty and it is pretty much just sitting in an outdoor bath. If you’re going to Budapest, chances are you’ll go to the ruin bars. Szimpla Kert was unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Every room is completely different. Very difficult to get a table but the atmosphere is electric and there are different ruin bars all over the city so if you’re like me, you can go on a Bar Crawl and get ‘Ruined’ – Get it?
One last thing that you absolutely have to do in Budapest is to walk to the castle on top of the hill. The views on the way up and at the top are insane. I think this was one of my favourite parts and it’s super interesting to see the divide between Buda and Pest. If I’m honest the last thing I’ll say on the subject is if you go with good people, you’re gonna have a blast.
Darcey | Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great place to go for a short city break, with so much to do and everything is fairly close to each other! There’s a lot of fun things to do in Amsterdam, I went on a boat trip down the canals which was really nice and gave you a chance to explore more of the city. We, of course, went to the sex museum (which I didn’t actually rate much, but I think it’s a must when you are visiting).
The Heineken experience is super cool, and you get a lot of free beer which is always a plus! There are so many food options too that you can have a different cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You get a lot of free beer which is always a plus!Darcey
I, unfortunately, couldn’t visit the Anne Frank Museum as it was fully booked (so if you are planning on going, book in advance!).
What’s great about Amsterdam is that there are cultural things to do, but also many fun things as well! If you are a fan of the nightlife, the clubs are pretty good there too, but quite expensive!