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Friday 8 January 2016

Planning a European City Break

Having just come back from one of my favourite European Cities for New Years, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post sharing my top tips for planning a city break. I find that planning City Breaks is fairly stressful, as unlike a beach holiday you sort of need to plan stuff to do whilst you are there. 

1) Find your best accommodation options
When planning Paris, initially I was hit with the dreaded thought of having to find a cheap hotel which was still pleasant enough for sleeping in, and within a good location (trust me, after much searching, no such thing really exists in Paris!). With City Breaks I personally believe that AirBnB is the best way to go. It's a website where people put their apartments or spare rooms etc up for rent. This is what we used when in Paris, and it honestly worked out better. We had a fully equipped studio with free wifi and a kitchen to cook, which meant we saved a heck of a lot on food! If you are on a budget then I highly recommend using AirBnB, it also makes you feel much more like a local when you arrive in the city!
2) Write a list of places you want to visit
No one wants a rigid itinerary written precisely down to the hour, however knowing where you want to go each day can be really helpful. I bought a cheap notebook and wrote down all the places in Paris which we wanted to visit. That way we could research exactly which Metro was nearest the attraction, and could also find out the quietest times to visit. It also meant we didn't wake up in the morning stuck on what to do that day.
3) Check out nearby supermarkets etc
If you are planning to stay in a hotel then this doesn't really apply, however if you are staying in rented accommodation such as an AirBnB it is a good idea to research where the nearest supermarket is. Some supermarkets are much better priced than others for example in Paris, however we didn't find this out until we were there ourselves, and I sort of wish we had researched this beforehand. If you are in a hotel then it is also a good idea to research nearby restaurants, this way you can read reviews and hit up TripAdvisor before paying out for a meal that really wasn't worth it. 

4) Get to grips with the transport system
Getting a taxi everywhere is not an economically friendly decision, and transport systems in other European countries seem to be far cheaper than England. The Metro for example in Paris was super cheap, with a one way ticket to anywhere costing €1.80, and a bundle of 10 tickets costing around €14. Being able to understand the transport system will save a lot of confusion when you are trying to get somewhere. 

5) Book tickets in advance for attractions
This is yet another mistake we made when going to Paris, we did not book any tickets in advance, luckily in our case it did not set us back by much, but some attractions charge a lot more on the day. Not only the cost, but booking attractions in advance will save you queueing for ages at ticket kiosks too. Be aware that the most popular attractions do require you to book around a month in advance.

I hope my tips have been helpful, let me know where you are off to this year!

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