32 of the best travel tips for your next city break

 L-R: New York streets and buildings, train lines between Paris buildings and bird's eye of Madrid's Gran Via.
Credit: Getty Images

These travel tips for your next city break will help you to get the most out of your trip - whether you’re short on time or budget or just want to make sure everything runs smoothly.

When you’re popping over to another city for a short break or just exploring a new, sprawling metropolis that you’ve not ventured around before, there can be so many minor inconveniences that crop up or local considerations that you’d not thought of before heading out.

From considering local transport options to the best types of accommodation to pick, these tips will help you have a fun, safe and comfortable trip during your next city break.

32 of the best travel tips for your next city break

1. Do a quick supermarket shop when you arrive

woman looking at wine selection in supermarket
woman looking at wine selection in supermarket

If you’re going to be out and about a lot, getting in a quick supermarket shop can help save you time and effort throughout your trip. Grab a few essentials and maybe a couple of treats to save you from heading out to buy anything you need when you’re tired after long days out.

2. Make sure to take blister plasters

woman taking off shoes
woman taking off shoes

A city break usually means steps on steps on steps. So with all that extra activity we’re getting in sightseeing and walking from place to place to save on transport costs, it’s no surprise that blisters will more easily pop up - and they can easily disrupt the rest of our plans. Take a packet of blister plasters to avoid this.

3. Opt for trainers

woman walking up stairs in trainers
woman walking up stairs in trainers

We all want to dress to impress when we’re away on holiday, but for long days out exploring the city, trainers are a must. If you still want to make a fashion statement, don’t be scared to pair them with a stylish outfit - just try out a couple of combos before you do your packing.

4. Check if any attractions need to be booked beforehand

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Most of us will have an idea of where we want to go and what we want to see, and while we’ll likely have made up some sort of itinerary, sometimes things can go awry if we’ve planned in a particularly popular attraction. Check before you leave if any need to be booked in advance to avoid this, and then plan your trip around this.

5. Don’t dismiss public transport

train lines between two buildings in Paris
train lines between two buildings in Paris

Public transport in other countries can be daunting, but it can go a long way to help the budget of your trip - especially during city breaks when you might be trying to pack in quite a few activities in a short amount of time. Check beforehand what kind of options they have available in the city - especially for your trip from the airport! Apps like Citymapper can be helpful to find the best routes.

6. A crossbody bag is a must

woman wearing crossbody handbag typing on phone
woman wearing crossbody handbag typing on phone

We all know that backpacks are great for long days walking around on holiday, especially if you have a lot to carry around. But if you only have a few things and you’re in an area where pickpocketing is rife, consider going for a crossbody bag instead (like the popular Uniqlo bag). This way you can always have eyes on it - and the weight is still balanced across your body.

7. Keep a pack of playing cards with you

close up of cards with friends in the background
close up of cards with friends in the background

For those down times with friends when you’re perhaps grabbing a coffee or having a little rest in between sightseeing, a pack of playing cards can really help to keep the morale up - especially if your group has had a particularly tiring day or is having a moment when they’re not quite getting on with each other.

8. A mini deodorant does wonders

woman walking through city with coffee cup
woman walking through city with coffee cup

City breaks are often jam-packed and often when you’ve been out and about all day you may not have time to head back to your accommodation and shower before you head out for dinner. Keep a mini deodorant in your bag to help you freshen up a little in these circumstances - it’s a lifesaver!

9. Keep a packet of tissues

tissue box on table
tissue box on table

Keeping a packet of tissues is helpful most of the time anyway, but it’s especially useful if you’re visiting a lot of different places and may need to venture into some dubious toilets…

10. Keep hand sanitiser on you

two friends applying hand sanitiser
two friends applying hand sanitiser

Most of us have gotten into the habit of keeping a bottle of hand sanitiser on us in the last few years, but it’s especially helpful when you’re exploring lots of different places in a city. Public transport, low-stocked toilets and messy meals - you never know when you might need it.

11. Take a refillable water bottle

woman holding refillable water bottle
woman holding refillable water bottle

Staying hydrated is always important when you’re out and about all day - and with all the extra exercise most of us tend to get on a city break, our bodies might need more hydration than usual. Save on money and plastic wastage by taking a refillable water bottle with you and asking local restaurants to fill it up for you - as long as you’re in a place where the tap water is safe to drink.

12. Pack a raincoat

woman walking in city wearing raincoat
woman walking in city wearing raincoat

You never know when you might hit a shower or two so make sure you pack a light raincoat with you - preferably a foldable one that can fit into your day bag easily.

13. Take a pair of nice flats

woman wearing smart suede loafers
woman wearing smart suede loafers

Having a day of sightseeing is all well and good, but city evenings call for exploring the local delicacies and maybe even hitting a bar or two. But after a long day of walking around, sore feet and blisters might stop you from whipping the heels out, so a nice pair of flats could save both your feet and your outfit.

14. Check out the local taxi services

taxi rank in city
taxi rank in city

Most of us will have a taxi app or two on our phones, but there are many cities that use their own apps or local taxis - and they’re usually cheaper. Do some research before you go to make sure you’re getting the best option.

15. Book central accommodation

underneath view of Eiffel Tower in Paris
underneath view of Eiffel Tower in Paris

A city break generally means quite a full itinerary of activities and places to see. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your time and your money by staying quite centrally, so that it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to get to the places you want to go to.

16. Make a loose itinerary

city square
city square

Exploring a city on a whim and stumbling across little gems is of course the romantic notion that most people aspire to when they head out on a city break, but if there are specific sights you want to see, or it’s your first time visiting, make a loose itinerary so that you’re not missing out on anything.

17. Pack a tote bag

woman carrying tote bag
woman carrying tote bag

Take a tote bag with you on your holiday for any surprise purchases. A small, foldable canvas bag is comfortable and easy to pack with you on your days out. If you decide to do any shopping while you’re out and about, just unfold your tote and you’re good to go!

18. Purchase a public transport pass

woman putting in bus
woman putting in bus

If you’re planning on exploring different areas of the city or just have places you want to go to that might not be walking distance, a public transport pass can help you save on taxis or even paying for public transport separately each time you use it.

19. Plan your days according to location

birds eye view of Madrid Gran Via road
birds eye view of Madrid Gran Via road

If you’re heading to a big city and have particular places you want to see or activities you want to do, consider planning your itinerary according to your location so that you’re not going back and forth multiple times. This will save you time, money and, of course, effort!

20. Pack light

walking at bottom of stairs with wheelie suitcase
walking at bottom of stairs with wheelie suitcase

A city break often means that there are good public transport links, which can be tempting to use right from the get-go to save money on airport taxis or hotel transfers - but lugging heavy luggage around an unknown city isn’t the most fun experience, so pack light to make it a bit easier.

21. Keep a mini medical kit on you

person wearing plaster on shoulder
person wearing plaster on shoulder

While most cities will have plenty of pharmacies for you to get hold of anything you need, it’s never a bad idea to keep a mini medical kit for when those unexpected inconveniences arise. Pack plasters, painkillers, sanitary products - anything you think you might need to make your trip run smoothly.

22. Make restaurant bookings in advance

chef in restaurant applying garnishes to dishes
chef in restaurant applying garnishes to dishes

Now by no means do you have to book every meal in advance, as it can always be fun to stumble upon somewhere. However, if there are any restaurants on your must-go list or any that are quite popular places, it might be a good idea to book a few weeks in advance.

23. Use a zipped handbag

woman zipping up handbag
woman zipping up handbag

Busy cities can often be a hotspot for pickpocketing, so keep your belongings safe by using a zipped handbag to make it trickier for people to slip their hands into. And always be aware of your surroundings and your things when you’re out and about.

24. Keep an emergency wallet

woman holding coin purse and 10 euro note
woman holding coin purse and 10 euro note

Make up a small wallet or sleeve that you can keep in a pocket attached to your body somewhere - just in case your bag and other belongings get lost or stolen. Keep a small amount of spare cash and a card with your accommodation address written down so you can always get back home.

25. Opt for self-catered accommodation

three friends sitting around a breakfast table
three friends sitting around a breakfast table

While hotels are lovely for luxury and pampering, for city breaks when you’ll be out and about for most of the day it can often be a better idea to opt for a cheaper accommodation type like a self-catered apartment. It also gives you somewhere more homely to kick back in the evening when you’re done with your day.

26. Check out the sightseeing packages

couple on tourbus
couple on tourbus

If you’re a first-timer at your destination, check out the sightseeing packages that are available so that you can get everything done in one without having to stress about organising everything yourself. There are plenty of bus and walking tour options available in most cities, so see what suits you.

27. Plan your flights strategically

woman with suitcase looking outside airport window at plane taking off
woman with suitcase looking outside airport window at plane taking off

We’ve all done that early flight to make the most of our first day that ends up leaving us too tired to do anything by the time we arrive. It's best to plan your flights strategically to get one that’s late enough to give you just enough rest while being early enough to still enjoy the majority of the day.

28. Pack a day bag to take on the plane

woman with crossbody bag walking through airport
woman with crossbody bag walking through airport

To make the most of your time out there, prepare for your first day before you head on your flight. Keep a day bag that has everything you need for your day out with you on the plane, so that when you land you can just drop your luggage off at your accommodation and head straight out.

29. Check the weather every day

view of streets and buildings in New York
view of streets and buildings in New York

City break weather can be unpredictable, so make sure to check the local weather every day before you head out so that you know exactly what to wear and what to take with you - an umbrella, sunglasses or a hat!

30. Pack comfortable socks

woman putting on socks
woman putting on socks

While it might seem like a no-brainer, taking time to consider the socks we should be wearing is something that we can easily underestimate. Make sure to pack ones that fit you well without sliding down in your shoes and will still give you some support while you’re walking without feeling too hot or tight.

31. Familiarise yourself with local emergency services

close up of police car light
close up of police car light

With all of the holiday excitement, considering the worst is something we often - understandably - don’t do when we arrive on a city break. But take a quick moment to familiarise yourself with local emergency services - phone numbers and locations - so that if the worst should happen, you know where to go and what to do.

32. Download maps of important places before you lose wifi

woman looking at paper map in city centre
woman looking at paper map in city centre

Most of us have gotten used to using maps on our phones these days, but with data roaming charges often quite high, many of us tend to stick to wifi when we’re abroad. To avoid getting lost while you’re out and about, find important places and routes on your app before heading out and download the maps so that you have them there ready when you need them.