It’s around about now I start to think about what I’d give to hop on a plane and escape the university bubble for a while; semester two is well and truly underway, and summer still seems like a lifetime away. I’m forever wanderlust, but it is in the midst of deadlines and piles of work that travelling and exploring seems even more desirable. Having a trip booked, and what I call a “finishing line” keeps me motivated, and it’s great to come back feeling refreshed again. There’s nothing that makes me feel distant from work and responsibilities like a city break!
They are the perfect getaway – you aren’t away for too long, so you can fit one into your schedule whenever possible. A short break abroad doesn’t have to break the bank and send you deep into your overdraft either. All you have to do is be smart about your searches for the perfect destination. Here’s how to do it:
Don’t be hasty – do your research.
You may have found cheap flights to a certain city, but is the city itself cheap once you get there? Don’t be quick to book a city break if the flights and the hotel are reasonably priced. It’s a great start, but you have to consider the amount you’ll spend once you’re there. Head to Google and search for the cheapest city break destinations. There’s loads of articles, lists, and forums out there that can help you.
Flexibility is the key.
University timetables are a blessing. We aren’t restricted to school holidays because we usually have more time off. Flights and accommodation tend to be so much cheaper when kids are still in school, making the likes of mid-June (post-exams, of course) and early September the ideal time to jet off. If you aren’t in university 5 days a week, you could even consider whether a long-weekend away would work for you.
Keep a look out for deals and discounts.
Save money where you can and look out for any deals or discounts with airline companies and accommodation sites. Check whether it’s cheaper to book your flights and accommodation separately or as a package. You can also compare prices across sites; TripAdvisor is great for comparing prices across multiple sites. It’s also worth checking whether the hotel you have in mind is cheaper when its booked directly. It may take a little longer to get something booked, but it can save you quite a lot of money. Also, don’t forget Hotels.com offer 10% student discount on fully priced stays!
And if you need some inspiration on where to go, look no further. Here are my three favourite places to explore. They are ideal for students – they can be appreciated fully in just a few days, they are cheap destinations, and it’s also pretty easy to find good deals on places to stay in these cities. There’s also something for everyone in each of them.
Where I stayed: Motel One Alexanderplatz
Berlin is ideal for those interested in modern history. There’s so much to this city, and because it had to be built back up following the war, there are so many modern parts to it, such as Alexanderplatz which is a great location for bars and shops. That said, around every corner there’s another reminder of Berlin’s rich history, whether it be a cathedral, a remainder of the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, or Checkpoint Charlie. And if you’re a foodie like me and take great interest in the culinary experiences on offer, the German delicacy currywurst will not disappoint!
Where I stayed: Holiday Inn – Avenida António José de Almeida
There are so many parts to this amazing city. There’s the wash of colour that is Alfama and its narrow streets lined with bright, boldly coloured houses, and parts like Baixa with glimpses of gothic architecture and Lisbon’s famous Elevador de Santa Justa, allowing visitors to admire the views of the city at a height of around forty-five metres. And if you do head to Lisbon, visiting Time-Out market is a must! There are over 50 food stalls to enjoy, and it’s the perfect place to try a range of Portuguese treats.
Where I stayed: Jurys Inn
Prague is my favourite city. It’s a bold statement to make, but it’s worthy of the title. Maybe it was the Christmas markets that were still up when I visited in January that extended the festive feel, or maybe it was the cheap beer? Jokes aside, Prague is a beautiful city and it’s impossible to give it enough credit here in such a short space. It’s the perfect place to walk around and enjoy fresh air – I didn’t use public transport for my entire visit. The cathedral is magnificent – like nothing I have ever seen before – and the surrounding area with its quaint riverside cafés is the perfect backdrop for enjoying trdelnik, a Czech cinnamon pastry that often comes filled with ice cream, fruit and chocolate. Need I say more?