We recently visited Amsterdam, and for us full-time workers, keeping these city breaks short is the only way that we get to see so many beautiful places. Attempting to see a city in a day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for those of you like me who can’t say no to an opportunity to see somewhere new, I figured I’d put together a little “how to” guide, so you can get the most out of even the shortest of trips.
Find yourself cheap flights
This might mean that you have go travel on a week day, book last minute or go from a different airport, but the more you can save on flights, the more money you have to spend in the city itself. I once read that Tuesdays are the cheapest day to fly, so if you can book a day off work to be able to explore somewhere new for half the cost, do it. Check out SkyScanner to find the cheapest flights!
Scope out what you want to see and do
Wherever you go there will be an endless list of places you want to visit, but realistically you won’t be able to visit them all in a day. If you work out what your ‘priority places’ are, then if you don’t have time to do everything, you know which stops to leave off the agenda.
Plan your itinerary hour by hour
Once you know where you want to go, map it out on Google via My Maps. Darryl did this for Amsterdam and paid £1.99 on O2 for unlimited data so he could follow our route every step of the way, though from the 15th June using data in Europe won’t cost you anything extra.
Check the weather before you go
The weather has the potential to make or break a city trip, so be sure to have back ups just incase the forecast rains on your parade! If this happens, there will be plenty of indoor attractions for you to check out.
Organise your transport to save time
By planning your transport to and from the airport, you save so much time. As soon as we got to Amsterdam we got our return train tickets to the centre and worked out exactly what time we needed to catch the train back so we didn’t miss a single minute.
Scout out the best food hotspots
One important tip is to plan everything down to your food stops, because if like me you want to try a certain cuisine whilst you’re there, knowing exactly where to go so you don’t waste time walking endlessly in and out of every other restaurant or cafe is wise. You can usually find good places on Instagram by searching hashtags. The power of social media eh?
When you only have a day in a city, you don’t want to be lugging a huge bag around. As long as you have your passport, boarding passes, money, sunglasses, camera, phone and charger, and maybe one or two other little bits like hand sanitiser, sun cream and tissues, you’ll be fine. Another benefit of this is that you don’t have to wait around for your luggage in the arrivals lounge at the airport, so, win win.
Prepare to spend the whole day on your feet
We find that exploring a city by foot is way better than spending half your day getting on and off buses and trains. Plus it’s free. We walked 27,000 steps in Copenhagen and 30,000 steps in Amsterdam. You’ll definitely feel it in your legs and feet as the day goes on and you’ll be exhausted by the time you crawl into bed, but it’s completely worth it. There’s no better way to experience a new place then by walking alongside the locals and countless other tourists all day.
On that note, wear something comfy. Trainers are your best bet and dress in layers so you can be prepared for all weathers. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable when exploring a city.
Explore outside the chaos
The center of a city is usually packed, so Darryl and I often stray away from the hustle and bustle every now and then to explore the back streets. It’s times like this that you discover some of the best, most secluded parts of a city. Doing this in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Bath, Zurich, Schaffhausen and Lucerne helped us to find so many hidden gems that we never would have seen had we stayed within the typical tourist hot spots!
These trips of ours might be short, but we make the absolute most of them every single time and head home with so many incredibly memories. I love a beach holiday, but there’s something about a city break that is so enjoyable. The best bit? They don’t have to be expensive!
What has been your favourite city break? Any recommendations?