Our top tips for short stays and quick getaways!

sunset Florence italy short stay tips

During our travels we have had our fair share of quick stops, weekend getaways and brief layovers. This experience has given us an insight into how to best enjoy and get the most out of a short visit. Examples of times we only spent brief spells in cities included our visits to Prague, Budapest, Athens, Florence, and Ho Chi Minh, where we only spent 1-2 days in each of these locations. See a few of our thoughts below on how to maximise your enjoyment and get the most out of the brief stop.

Our top tips for short stays & quick getaways

Stay in the heart of the action:

If you are only visiting for a short stay, we highly recommend you find accommodation in the centre of town or near where things are you want to see. We advise that you prioritise this over the “best” accommodation (e.g. dream villa on the outskirts of town). Staying close to the action will allow you to minimise the ‘wasted’ travel time, and be able to see more and enjoy what the city or area has to offer.

Don’t try to ‘see everything’:

This is a big ‘trap’ for many tourists on holidays, even if having longer visits. We actively embrace not ‘seeing everything’ while on holidays, especially on shorter stays, and find this leads to a much more enjoyable visit. We encourage you to release expectations, as it is unlikely you can fit in everything in a short stay, and it is highly possible you leave feeling like you have missed out.

Research in advance!

If you only have limited time, don’t waste it on ‘overrated’ attractions or sitting in massive tourist cues. Spend some time researching attractions, hidden gems, great food and more so that you are well prepared when you visit. This research, often through travel blogs like ours, allows you to pick a few top things to do that match your interests. Additionally, good research into what areas to stay so that you can book accommodation in the heart of the action will make a difference (as mentioned above).

Pick a few of your top things to do:

Pick a few things to see and do these few key things well. Following on from our advice to release expectations on seeing everything, we recommend you pick a few key things you want to do, and plan to do them well. This may mean getting up early to beat the crowds, or booking in advance to avoid disappointment.

Book in advance:

Many key attractions, events and popular restaurants will sell out in advance, so research and book early to avoid disappointment. We encountered this during a brief visit to Florence, where sadly the Duomo was booked out for a week in advance despite it being shoulder season. If you have a few things you desperately want to do, don’t wait until you get there, book in advance.

Get up early:

Okay, this isn’t for everyone, and it may depend on what your travel has been like leading up to this. However, we have found getting up before the crowds and exploring the city streets is a great way to maximise your short stay. You will often get an authentic experience, not have to battle the crowds, and also get some amazing photos.

Skip the lines:

Again, this might not be for everyone, but for a short stay, we urge you to consider ‘skipping the lines’ of big attractions and enjoy the ‘simpler’ things in the city instead. An example of this would be on a short stop to Rome, you may find the lines to the colosseum are a few hours long, and spending your time exploring the city and having a wine overlooking that same colosseum may be better use of time. However, if you have a few key things you want to see, you might consider these ques worth it.

The ‘little things’ are often more enjoyable:

And finally, you may find that sometimes the little moments like having a wine in a square and people watching is actually a lot more enjoyable that pushing through the crowds in that busy art gallery you wanted to visit. Again this isn’t for everyone, but for short stays, consider ‘enjoying the moments’.

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