Top city breaks for 2022

There’s nothing better than going away – and now the world is opening up after various lockdowns, many of us are keen to explore new places. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of our favourite city breaks for 2022.

Written by

Sheila Frampton

1) Venice, Italy

Venice, the most romantic of cities, is worth visiting at any time of year but particularly in October and April when the weather is pleasant and the city is less crowded.

There’s so much to do in Venice – visit historic churches and art galleries, take a gondola ride along the quiet canals, browse the stalls at the Rialto Market, visit the Doges Palace or head over to Murano, home of the glass factories or Burano with colourful shops selling hand-made lace. It’s delightful to sit sipping Prosecco in St Mark’s Square or sampling afternoon tea at Florian’s, the world’s oldest café opened in 1720 but that’s not easy on the pocket.

Venice doesn’t have to be expensive if you know where to stay. We recommend Giudecca, a string of small islands, which offers a wonderful view of St Mark’s Square from across the water.

Home to the Palladio-designed Il Redentore church and the famous Cipriani hotel, it’s a more tranquil place to stay and is just a short boat ride from the centre of Venice.

There are several excellent restaurants on the island which won’t break the bank – and for breakfast, there’s nothing nicer than sitting by the water with a pastry and a coffee from Majer (www.majer.it). The main hotel on Giudecca is the Hilton Molino Stucky but there are some stylish, well-priced Airbnbs. Take a look at the houses available to rent for a weekend at https://www.starfishapartments.it.

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

Tips for visiting Venice:

  • When you arrive, buy a three or five-day pass for the water bus at the airport. The pass enables you to travel at any time on the network of water buses anywhere in and around Venice except the airport. Travel to Murano, Burano, Torcello and Venice Lido independently rather than paying for a tour.
  • The best and quickest way to get to and from the airport is by private water taxi. It’s an exhilarating ride and doesn’t take long. You can book the water taxi at the arrivals hall and then walk down to the pier to meet your driver. Your hotel or your host will be able to book you a taxi for your return to the airport.
  • If you visit in the warmer months, take some mosquito repellent with you. Over the last couple of years, the mosquitoes have been a bit more lively than usual – you don’t want to spend the weekend itching.
  • Do what the Venetians do –indulge in cicchetti (pronounced chi-keti) usually mid-afternoon. A bit like tapas, cicchetti comprises mouthfuls of fish or meat, hot or cold, served on bread or polenta and is best accompanied with a ‘shadow’ of red or white wine.
  • For excellent ice-cream, head to the Suso Gelatoteca in San Marco (one of the best in Venice) which describes itself as the artisan gelato library! 
Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

2) Krakow, Poland

The golden domes and copper-green spires of Krakow’s Wawel Castle are an impressive and memorable sight, particularly when viewed from across the Vistula river. Krakow Cathedral as well as Wavel Castle – once the seat of the Polish monarchy – are set on Wawel Hill and here you’ll find an arcaded courtyard, half-covered in frescoes and Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of the Lady with Ermine. Arguably the most beautiful of Poland’s cities, Krakow has a wonderfully preserved medieval centre at the heart of which is the main square, Rynek Główny where St Mary’s Basilica, The Sukiennice (Cloth Hall) and the monument to Adam Mickiewicz, Poland’s national poet are located.
 

The city’s Kazimierz Jewish Quarter was used as the backdrop for Steven Spielberg’s iconic film ‘Schindler’s List’ and the actual Oskar Schindler Factory is now a museum.This atmospheric area is also home to the Jewish Galicia Museum, with an exhibition of 140 pictures depicting the lives of Polish Jews, The Old Synagogue and The Ghetto Heroes Square, once the biggest open space in the Krakow Ghetto. Modern Krakow is all about eating and drinking – there’s a host of cafes, bars and restaurants. Try The Old Town Restaurant & Wine Bar, which serves traditional Polish and European cuisine with gluten free and vegetarian options.

Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland

Tips for visiting Krakow 

  • You’ll be doing a lot of walking when in Krakow so make sure you’ve got comfortable footwear and be prepared for rain early and late in the season (April/October).
  • If you’ve got the time, take a trip to the Wieliczka salt mines, nine miles south east of the city. If you don’t like steps, enclosed or dark places this won’t be the tour for you – but it is a fascinating place. The mines have been in operation for over 700 years and one of the most impressive sites in Kinga’s Chapel, a chapel carved entirely from salt, lit by salt-crystal chandeliers. Do remember you’re walking in the steps of Copernicus who visited the mines as a student in the 15th The best way to visit the mines is on a guided tour (www.krakowshuttle.com/krakow-tours)
  • Many people who visit Krakow, take a tour of Auschwitz, the site of the most tragic genocide in history and say that the emotionally-taxing experience is life-changing. Obtaining tickets can be challenging so it’s best to book a tour.
  • Listen for the sound of the trumpet, played at the turn of the hour, from the highest tower of St Mary’s Basilica. The tune is cut short, commemorating the Mongol invasion in 1241 when, according to legend, an arrow cut short the trumpeter’s alarm signal to close the city gates.
Krakow, Poland
Krakow, Poland
Jewish quarter, Poland

3) Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a majestic city, full of history, architectural gems, hidden courtyards and secret gardens. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline and is worth a visit for the views it affords over the city. Edinburgh’s Old Town, named to differentiate it from the Georgian ‘New Town,’ is a UNESCO Heritage site. Wandering the cobbled streets, it’s easy to believe you’ve stepped back in time. Lined with quaint shops, the sweeping curve of Victoria Street linking George IV Bridge with The Grassmarket is said to have inspired Diagon Alley in JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ books.


The Old Town is packed with traditional pubs and restaurants. The White Hart Inn in the Grassmarket is one of Edinburgh’s oldest inns whilst Sandy Bell’s is a popular folk music venue. Mary King Close was buried under the Royal Mile in the 19th century when the Royal Exchange was built on top of it and now perfectly preserved, you can visit and hear tales of murder and mystery told by costumed guides. The Royal Mile leads to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Edinburgh home of the Queen with portraits, tapestries, antiques and gardens which include the ruins of the abbey, open during the summer months. (www.rct.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse). The New Town, home to the famous Princes Street, offers a mix of shopping, dining and culture.


Stroll in Princes Street Gardens, visit the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery which are within walking distance of each other or take a look at The Georgian House on Charlotte Street, revealing life in the late 18th century when the New Town was new.

Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Top tips for visiting Edinburgh

  • Scotland has a temperate climate and even on a sunny day, heavy rain can take you by surprise – so be prepared. The summer season is the hottest – so if you don’t want to face rain and wind, July and August are the best times to visit.
  • Everyone will tell you to take the walk up to Arthur’s Seat but it’s a trek up to the peak and not recommended if you’re unfit, don’t like heights and are wearing less than suitable shoes – and if you’re walking in hot weather. If you just walk half way up, you’ll be able enjoy the spectacular views over the city from a slightly lower vantage point. (kingarthursknights.com/arthurs-seat)
  • One of the best ways to take in the city is by buying tickets for the Edinburgh hop on/ hop off city buses. Some of the routes travel out to Leith (edinburghtour.com).
Edinburgh, Scotland
A man playing the bagpies
Edinburgh, Scotland

4) Bolzano, Italy

Bolzano may be a bit off the beaten track, but this beautiful city - the bilingual capital of Italy’s South Tyrol - is really worth the effort. The nearest airports are Verona, Innsbruck and Bergamo and then you’ll need to take a train into the mountains.

Once a city of merchants, Bolzano has charming, narrow streets filled with architectural gems, a mediaeval castle, fascinating museum, an abundance of green spaces and beautiful mountain views. Stroll along Via dei Portici in the heart of the historic centre where charming shops are tucked beneath arched porticoes. Take a bus from Piazza Walther and visit the Roncolo Castle, set high up in the mountains and dating from 1236. Amongst the castle’s frescos is the oldest fresco representation of King Arthur’s Round Table.

The Guntschna Walk, in the northern part of the city, is one of a series of beautiful. Starting near the old church of Gries, the path winds up the mountain slopes – and is a delightful place to stroll on a summer’s evening. For a special meal, try the Ristorante Castel Flavon on the southern side of Bolzano. The journey from the city centre is worth it – especially if you are lucky enough to get a table with a city view. (www.haselberg.it/it/ristorante)

Bolzano, Italy
Church of Bolzano

Tips for visiting Bolzano

  • Take the Renon Cable Car on the edge of the city centre and soak up the panoramic views of the Italian Dolomites on the 12-minute journey to Soprabolzano (ritten.com).
  • Visit the permanent Iceman exhibition at The South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology and meet Otzi, archaeological sensation, media star, research topic and museum exhibit. Otzi who lived more than 3,100 years before Christ was born, was discovered accidentally by hikers in 1991, his body, clothing and equipment preserved by the ice. The exhibition gives a unique insight into life in the mountains thousands of years ago.
  • Make sure you spend time at one of the many markets in Bolzano – with fresh fruit and vegetables on the Piazza delle Erbe in the Old Town and a big Saturday market in Victory Square. In Spring, the flower market is superb as are the October Autumn market and the famous Christmas market in Piazza Walther.
  • For your morning cappuccino and a delicious selection of pastries, head to the stylish Stadt Café Citta in Piazza Walther. Sit in relaxing surroundings indoors or watch the world go by from one of the outdoor tables. 
Boat house in Bolzano
Bolzano city
An old Seicento (600er) of around 1980 that made it well into the next millennium.

5) Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is a city like no other, a city of contrasts - surrounded by deserts and offering luxurious hotels, the world’s best shopping alongside traditional souks, beaches, stunning architecture and endless activities. If you want to make the most of the warm weather, there’s a choice of clean, well-maintained beaches in the city including Sunset Beach (Umm Suqeim Beach) which has a stunning view of the Burj Al Arab. If you want a livelier beach then The Beach by JBR has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. For an incredible shopping experience, head to Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping destination with over 1,200 stores including a branch of Bloomingdales.

At the heart of the mall, you’ll find an ice rink and aquarium. There’s also the Mall of the Emirates, another giant shopping centre with a more relaxed feel than Dubai Mall - and it’s also home to an indoor ski centre. A world away from the modern shopping centres are the souks. Wander around the labyrinthine walkways of The Gold Souk in Old Dubai to find authentic Arab designs, the Textile Souk on the Bur Dubai side of the creek, fine art and sculptures at the Souk Madinat.  Eating out in Dubai is a real pleasure – there’s a huge range of restaurants which have attracted celebrity chefs and countless smaller ones.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
A man with an Eagle in Dubai

Tips for visiting Dubai

  • Explore the desert with a tour of the red dunes – you’ll be picked up in a safari-style four-wheel drive from your hotel and taken into the Lahbab desert outside the city where you’ll be able to go sandboarding, dune bashing or even ride a camel and upgrade to a camp visit with henna art, barbecue buffet dinner and traditional dance show.
  • To enjoy a taste of the real Dubai, take a trip on Dubai Creek – the trips on offer can be as simple or as lavish as you like. One popular trip is a cruise inner on a traditional Arab dhow boat taking in the views of ancient Dubai with a meal and live entertainment. 
  • Winter is the best time for visiting Dubai – in summer, temperatures can rise to 36 degrees Celsius and whenever you go, do remember to keep hydrated.
  • Dubai might be a Westernised tourist destination but it is still a Muslim country. Women’s dress is particularly important – if you’re out in public, it’s wise to cover everything from shoulders to knees and always avoid showing cleavage or hips. If you’re on the beach, a swimsuit or bikini is permitted but never go topless. Keeping covered up is sensible anyway – the sun is fierce and it’s easy to burn. 
Camels on a beach in Dubai
Dubai
Dubai at night

6) Toronto, Canada

Toronto may not seem the obvious place for a city break, but Canada’s largest city is the most fascinating, multicultural destination offering art, food, beaches, shopping and nightlife. If you enjoy museums and galleries, there’s a host of them from the Art Gallery of Ontario to the quirky Bata Shoe Museum.

Toronto’s diversity is evident in the range of cuisine on offer – Persian, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Chinese and so much more. Toronto, on the shores of Lake Ontario, has beaches, waterfront paths, water sports including kayaking and stand-up paddling and huge green spaces including Queens Park, Kew Gardens and High Park, home to Toronto’s Zoo. In the winter months, skate outdoors – City Hall has a lovely ice rink.

There are so many great places to shop in Toronto but The Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto is the busiest shopping mall in all of North America which isn’t surprising given the variety of shops, places to eat and drink and the world’s largest multiplex theatre. Yorkville is also a great place to shop with speciality stores, fashion, jewellery and antique shops and art galleries. The Hazelton Lanes shopping centre has over 100 exclusive shops and restaurants. If you’re not tired out by the day’s exploring, Toronto has a vibrant nightlife with theatres including the lovely Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre that offers backstage tours.

Toronto, Canada
Toronto, Canada

Tips for visiting Toronto

  • The best time to visit Toronto is late spring or autumn – choose the latter and you’ll see the trees in their glorious shades. Approaching Toronto, it seems like the landscape is relatively flat but the city is home to a network of ravines that forms an urban forest, a wonderful natural habitat covering more than 2700 acres. Follow the footpaths and cycle trails and explore the natural aspect of the city. For centuries, these ravines were home to native Canadians.
  • If restrictions have been lifted, the CN Tower is a must. Once the world’s tallest structure, it is still an iconic landmark and a symbol of the city. Dining, or simply taking in the views from the CN Tower is an experience but only buy your tickets from the official source.
  • Take a trip to see the spectacular Niagara Falls – if you’re visiting the city in winter, you might see the Falls partly frozen – a magical sight. Several companies offer trips from Toronto including Niagara Tours. It’s a full day tour and some of the tours stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake’s famous wineries and you have a chance to sample some of the wines on offer.
Toronto, Canada
Toronto at night
Niagara Falls

7) Montpellier, France 

Montpellier is the medieval, Mediterranean, French city, you might not yet have heard of.  It is the 7th largest city in France (3rd largest on the south coast) and it’s currently the fastest growing city in France.

Less than 3 hours from Barcelona and just 11km from the Mediterranen, Montpellier is an ideal spot if you want discover a historical yet young city, rich in so many different resources and hidden treasures. A multifaceted land of the South, a city that embodies a mosaic of culture, wellness, and trade surrounded by some of the very finest natural World Heritage sites.

Montpellier is bursting with tiny medieval streets symbolizing its glorious history . Rue de la Valfère, Rue du Bras de Fer, Rue de L’Argenterie are sure to take you back in time and introduce you to a whole new world… Our recommendation? Forget all about your map, and just follow your instincts as you wend your way along these narrow streets. Why not go shopping in the boutiques with their vaulted ceilings and visit designers, antique dealers and tearooms, or see some art at Carré Ste Anne (closed actually), Galerie St Ravy etc... enjoy a journey back through time!

Massive gates, huge, luminous courtyards, stairs with wrought-iron balustrades – Montpellier and its surrounding area together boast almost 80 private mansions of the classical period. Nowadays these private courtyards, veritable hidden gems, can only be visited on guided tours organised by the Tourist Office… However, keep your eyes peeled! When you turn a corner in the street, you might just happen on an open door and be able to take a rare glimpse inside. This adds a whole new dimension to strolling through the city

Montpellier, France
Exterior of the Grand hotel du Midi, Montpellier, France

Tips for visiting Montpellier 

  • The most popular means of transportation among local folks and travelers is a bicycle. Bicycles can easily be rented in one of the numerous rental centers all over the city. 
  • Get an overview of everything there is to see in the city on a free walking tour. It's a convenient and comprehensive way to get an overview of the city, and you're sure to learn more about Montpellier's history than if you were to explore on your own
  • Look for a menu du jour in local restaurants at lunchtime, which is typically a prix-fixe menu at a reduced price using whatever is fresh that day. For even better deals, get out of the touristy historic center when you're looking for a restaurant. You'll not only pay less but also find out where the locals eat.
  • Do not pass on the chance to socialize with locals. And who knows? That might be the highlight of your trip to Montpellier. The Odysseum is an open-aired leisure and vibrant commercial hub.
Montpellier, France
Montpellier, France
Montpellier, France

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