I love city breaks and holidays! from choosing a destination and then the research about the place using books and the internet. I always make up an agenda for the break which seems rather OTT but it is very useful having an agenda to stick to or even as a rough guide. I tend to go for a 4 or 5 day city break. A 3 day break is OK but it makes everything a bit of a squeeze and exaustifying [sic].
How do I start? Well, often I go to Skyscanner and type in a few dates and in the destination box put ‘anywhere’. I shift the dates around a bit and look for what destination is cheapest to fly to! Generally I am looking for a northern European city that has an interesting history – which is most of them!
Once I have decided on a destination, I book flights direct with the aviation company, not through Skyscanner. I use Tripadvisor for the rest: researching hotels, what to see and restaurants, which I often book in advance, especially for the first night when we don’t know the layout of the city, it’s nice to know dinner is sorted.
I lean towards Booking.com to book hotels as they have been reliable for me. The ‘in your Pocket’ guides which you can find on the internet are often helpful if they are up to date. I also look at Official Tourist Info sites, blogs and buy a good up to date guide book if there is one. The Lonely Planet Guides are normally very good and the DK guides are pretty good too if you like lots of pictures. Reykjavik Grapevine is also a great resource for anything Reykjavikish.
This thorough and diverse approach can reap rewards- I have found flights to Bergen for only £19 ! [Which helped offset the expense of staying there]. I think the best bargain I found was 4 nights in Krakow at £150 per person and that included flights and hotel. YESS! If you want to get a good deal, be it a hotel or a flight, BOOK EARLY if you can.
I have also started using Airbnb. We stayed in an excellent place in Reykjavik. So called ‘affordable’ hotels were more than double the price and not in the town centre. So a great first experience for us.
The research literally takes me hours! When looking for a hotel I like to consider:
Price – I am after a bargain- normally 2* or 3 * accommodation is fine for us.
Facilities – Hairdryer for Leashia. We tend to travel light, even in the winter, no hold luggage, so things like this really help.
Location- Is it near the town centre or main sites? Is it near the bus or railway station? – we generally use public transport to and from the airport so this is important. Google maps is helpful here.
Internet Reviews- Some people REALLY like to complain ! If a person leaving a negative review is bucking the trend of generally positive reviews I tend to ignore it.
Sometimes, a package City Break can be competitive, especially to popular destinations, but generally I book my own flights and accommodation. Anyway there are no packages to places like Riga or Sofia that I could find.
The opposite tends to be true for our holidays in The Peloponnese. I have tried booking flights and accommodation separately but cannot get near the prices that Thomas Cook or Tui charge for the holiday.