Why you should take a city break for your next vacation

Why You Should Take a City Break for Your Next Vacation

Please note that some posts contain links that earn me a small commission to help keep the site running.

Your vacation days are limited. When you book a trip, you want to get the most out of it, and often that means seeing as many places as you can squeeze in. But have you ever considered spending a full week in one city as your whole vacation? When you focus on just one city, you’ll see more of the city instead of just glimpses of a few cities. Here’s why you should consider a city break for your next vacation.

There’s more to a city than its monuments

The monuments and big attractions are great. They’re often the reasons why people want to travel somewhere. The Eiffel Tower attracts visitors to Paris, and the Colosseum draws tourists to Rome.

But those sights aren’t the essence of the city.

By staying for a full week, you’ll have time to see some of the important sights, but you’ll also have time to do other things. You can spend an afternoon wandering through different neighborhoods to get a feel for the non-touristy side of the city. You can become a regular at the corner cafe and chat with the person behind the counter.

Taking a city break and spending more time in one place lets you sink in a little more and truly enjoy a city.

city breaks

You’ll have more time to relax

Vacations are a break from work, a chance to relax and recharge, right? But rushing from one city to the next doesn’t help you relax. All those transportation days can actually add stress.

See more about losing time in transit here.

If you spend your vacation in just one city, you’ll have time to sit in a square with a book and something to drink, and you’ll get that relaxation. It’ll also give you time to soak up some of the atmosphere and vibe of the city. You can accidentally (or intentionally!) get lost and not have to worry about a wasted morning.

Vacation can be a great time to ditch the schedule you normally keep at home, which allows time and space to loosen up and recharge your batteries.

city breaks

Explore the local food

Food is a big part of any culture, and it can vary greatly from one part of the country to another. If you only spent a couple of days in a city, you only have a few meals to experience the food.

But if you stay for a full week, you have much more time to try different dishes and learn what makes the food special in that one place. Try as many kinds of sausage as you can in Munich, or try a different pasta dish every night in Rome. Or just try a different flavor of gelato every night.

Check out why I think food tours are the perfect way to explore a city.

city breaks

You can reduce costs

Going to one city for your vacation means you won’t have extra transport costs to get from one destination to the next. Public transportation is often cheaper too, because you can buy day passes or weekly passes.

You can rent an apartment instead of a hotel room and buy breakfast food for a week at the grocery store for about what it would cost you to buy breakfast at a cafe in just one or two days. Apartment rentals often come with WiFi (check before booking if this is important to you) so you won’t have to pay for internet somewhere else to check in with your family back home. Sometimes you can even get a discount for booking a full week in a apartment (or some guesthouses).

Click here for a credit towards your first stay with Airbnb!

If you plan on going to a lot of museums and other attractions, look for city passes that include reduced or free entry. These are more economical when you stay for more than a day or two.

city breaks

It’ll give you time to figure things out

It always takes some time to adjust to a new location. When you arrive, you have to figure out how the public transportation works, where to look for food, and you have to recoup from your travel day. On a trip with multiple destinations, you’ll have to adjust to each new city along the way, which can be disorienting.

On a city break trip, you have more time to make these adjustments. You won’t have to jump right into sightseeing the moment you get off the plane, which can be exhausting. Take it slow that first day, especially if you’re experiencing jet lag, and simply take some time to explore your neighborhood and get a feel for things.

city breaks

You’ll have more flexibility

If you only have a few days in one city, unexpected rainy weather can ruin your outdoor plan for the day. But if you have more time, you can postpone your outdoor exploration in favor of a museum or a quiet day in a coffee shop. You could also decide to skip the museums on a nice sunny day and hang out in a park or rent a bicycle. Some museums have free or reduced rates one day a week, and it’s easier to take advantage of these if you’re there the entire week.

It’s also easier to work around the days certain attractions are closed. You might find out about an event going on that you didn’t know about before arriving. Or maybe you’re just sick of sightseeing and you need an unscheduled day off. Having a full week in one place means you won’t have to cram everything into just a couple of days, giving you more options to be spontaneous and decide what you’re comfortable with each day.

city breaks

There are so many reasons why taking a week-long city break vacation can be much more enjoyable than hopping from one city to the next. Slow down, take a deeper look at one place, soak up the ambiance, and experience the many layers of the city.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of city breaks month!

Take a city break for your next vacation!

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  1. Matthew Cheyne

    I really like this concept of a “city breaks month”. Cultures vary so widely between countries and within individual countries that if you have a fast itinerary, not only do you exhaust yourself, you also don’t get a proper feel for the places that you have been to because you quite literally haven’t stopped long enough to smell the proverbial roses.

    My last vacation was way way back in 2006 and it was a week long trip to Sydney where I did a whole host of things, the most memorable of which was doing the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb tour. That alone from walking through the door of the tourist center to doing the two hour tour to leaving with your souvenirs chews up the bulk of half a day – not ideal if you’re on a fast itinerary but if you spend a whole week in a destination like I did, it’s an event and you can make a day of it and it’s not that bad. I had lived in Sydney for five whole months between August 2001 and January of 2002 and not got a proper feel of what the essence of Sydney was like comapred to that memorable week in between jobs in 2006.

    Mind you, and here is the caveat, whether you are fast or slow traveling, the most of the city you are visiting that you are going to experience is a snapshot in time. Come back to that place again say ten or twenty years later and the city may be completely different. Cities like Berlin, Shanghai, Beijing, Melbourne, Sydney, even Singapore and Hong Kong fit this description. So it means that you haven’t seen everything there is to see of a destination within a week, month or even a year. Cities like people, change over time and you can love that or hate that about them but if your heart is open enough, the cities you visit, just like the people you may encounter will change you.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      Thanks Matthew, glad you like it! You’re completely right, even a few months isn’t long enough to really get to know a city. I just wrote a bunch of freelance articles about Berlin, and in doing so, I realized just how many other things there are to do there that I didn’t know about while we lived there for 3 months. Spending a week instead of 2 or 3 days will get you so many more rich experiences since you can relax more and you don’t have to focus all your energy on just seeing the monuments and museums.

      Cities do change. Sometimes that makes it difficult to return to a place you loved so much years ago, but sometimes it’s fascinating to see those changes and it becomes almost like exploring a new city.

      I can’t believe you did the harbor bridge climb! You’ve probably mentioned it before, but I forgot. Amazing! I don’t think I could ever do that. I don’t have a big fear of heights, but that just sounds scary to me, despite all the safety measure. Very impressive!

      1. Matthew Cheyne

        It was before my Fibromyalgia became as serious as it is now and yes I do suffer from fear of heights too but I didn’t realize it until I almost reached the top. It’s an expensive experience but one I will always remember. Most visitors to Sydney nowadays would probably go for the Skydeck experience which is where they again kit you up but you go up to the top of a skyscraper in Sydney’s CBD and for about a half hour or hour or so get views all around from 250 metres up whilst being outdoors. It’s far easier and cheaper than the bridge climb but you don’t get all the history about what made Sydney Sydney.

  2. Anne

    In 12 days I’m off to Italy! 🙂 During my time there, I’ll be spending 9 days in Rome, after arriving there from Australia,and another three until the day I return to Australia. I will also spend 9 days in Reggio Calabria, 9 days in Venice, 12 days in Bologna, 3 days in Florence and 2 in Milan. I would have loved to stay longer in Florence but it ended up that way because of the scheduling, and I feel that even the amount of time that I’ll be staying in those places isn’t enough. Besides Italy I’ll be in Finland for two weeks. I’m a believer in slow travel for the reasons you mentioned.

    1. Author
      Ali Garland

      That sounds like an amazing trip, Anne! I never feel like I have enough time in just about any destination when I travel. There’s always more to see, more food to try, more about the culture and history to learn. Which is why I love slow travel so much, I at least get a little time to dig a bit deeper. I think you’ll have a *fantastic* time in Italy! I’m curious about your 9 days in Reggio di Calabria though. My mom’s grandparents were originally from there, before they moved to the US 100 years ago. My husband and I will be traveling through Italy from the end of September to mid October with my parents, and we’ll be spending a few days down there so my mom can see the area. I’ve heard the city itself isn’t too exciting, but we’ll see. Enjoy your time in Italy and Finland!

      1. Anne

        Thanks Ali. In Venice, besides sightseeing, eating and drinking, I’ll be celebrating my birthday as it falls during my stay there. As for staying in Reggio Calabria, I chose it as I decided I would like to see places in addition to the major tourist areas of Italy and it’s on the coast. Enjoy your travels in Italy too!

          1. Anne

            I’m having a great time in Italy so far. One of my most favourite things to do is go to the bar for pastry and cappuccino for breakfast and return for subsequent espressos. Simple things can be the most enjoyable part of travel.

          2. Author
            Ali Garland

            Anne, I’m so glad you’re having a good time in Italy! I love becoming a regular at places, especially when traveling. Somehow even for a week, it’s really nice to have the guy behind the counter recognize me.

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