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Collage of Photographs of UK City Photographs

Best City Breaks in the UK 2021!

The UK has 69 cities in total for you to choose from for that perfect city break, and we have handpicked several of the very best for you! With dynamic nightlife and great places to eat and drink, these UK city breaks are fantastic for a luxury weekend away as a couple, or you could take an extended short break and bring the whole family and pets along too - the good news is we've selected destinations that are great for everyone!

From the UK's Capital City, to Scotlands and Northern Irelands, we plan on exciting your inner travel bug and getting your itchy travel feet in gear to choose an epic mini break away. You could enjoy a trip filled with absorbing culture, museums to explore, walks to ramble and delicious delicacies to eat, this could await you ... and so much more!

Top 5 UK City Breaks 2021


Edinburgh City Break

Liverpool City Break

London City Break

Manchester City Break

Belfast City Break

Collage of Photographs of Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile

Edinburgh

Scotland's Famed Capital City - From the Medieval Old to the Georgian New

The Jewel in the Crown of Caledonia! We couldn't compile a list of several of the best city breaks to explore in the UK without starting right near the top - Scotland's Southeastern Capital to be precise! Alongside the North Sea, Edinburgh is one of Scotland's most popular cities and is the perfect destination for a weekend or short break away. A hilly Capital City, famed for its medieval skyline and elegant neoclassical architecture, Edinburgh is bursting with exciting activities and sites to see, making it a staycation that needs to be near the top of your list of UK destinations to visit.

If you're looking for a countryside escape, or a short holiday at the seaside - the good news is that Edinburgh could tick many boxes for you. One minute you can enjoy a gander through Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile before enjoying a seaside stroll along Portobello beach. You could experience this relaxing break by staying in a local cosy cottage and visiting the city's shops by day, and relish a meal at an award-winning restaurant by night - the amazing fact is all this and more is available in this one exhilarating city!


Top 10 Sights to See and Things to Do in Edinburgh - 2021


  1. Visit Edinburgh Castle - Situated at the top of Castle Rock on top of an extinct volcano, Edinburgh's renowned medieval castle dominates the buildings of the Royal Mile (a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the city's Old Town). The most iconic building in Edinburgh, this magnificent Castle and its Esplanade offers some of the best views across the city. Appreciate the spectacular turreted skyline outlining this magnificent castle with parts dating right back to the 11th century - when it was a royal palace.

    You may find yourself intrigued by the vast history of the castle which can be explored in its many unique exhibitions and museums, including the fascinating Prisons of War exhibition. The regal Crown Square is also a true highlight, not only because you can admire Scotland's Crown Jewels (including the famous Stone of Destiny) but you will also get a chance to see the magnificent Grand Hall in all its splendour. Whilst you're there you can browse for a souvenir in the Portcullis Gift Shop, Crown Gift Shop or Whiskey and Finest Food Shop, and top it all off with a bite to eat at the Queen Anne Tea Room.
  2. Address: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG

  3. Tour the Real Mary King's Close - This extraordinary attraction has been voted Scotland's Best Heritage Tourism Experience. This one hour character-guided tour is an excellent way of learning about the captivating real stories of Edinburgh's past residents. Discover over 400 years of history with a myriad of tales waiting to be told about Scotland's intriguing Capital. Take a trip through time and uncover why the Close, once open air and bustling with trade, came to be underground. You can expect a unique look into Edinburgh's layered past and the tour also includes a walk through the city's uniquely preserved streets under the Royal Mile. The Real Mary King's Close has a Coffee House and Gift Shop to enjoy. It's advisable you pre-book tickets in advance via their website.
  4. Address: 2 Warriston's Close, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PG

  5. Explore Edinburgh Zoo - Okay, so you may already be feeling a little closer to nature by spending your city break staying in a countryside cottage nearby, but the experience doesn't have to stop there. Just a short bus ride from Edinburgh's city centre, Edinburgh zoo is home to over 1000 amazing and exotic animals, including the UK's only giant pandas - they are adorable! Set within beautiful parkland, visitors of all ages will adore the fabulous flamingos and mischievous monkeys. Also, if you're visiting the zoo around lunchtime don't forget to catch the world famous penguin parade where some of the many Rockhopper, Gentoo and even King Penguins leave their enclosure to enjoy a waddle about. On your visit you could grab a snack at the Jungle Food Court, Grasslands Restaurant or Penguins Café, and there is even a Zoo Gift Shop to discover.
    Disabled Access is available - An Accessibility Map is available on the Edinburgh Zoo website.
  6. Address: Edinburgh Zoo, 134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh EH12 6TS

  7. Appreciate Art in Scotland - Edinburgh has several art galleries to choose from within the city, including the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art (which is housed in two impressive neoclassical buildings). This Gallery includes an expansive car park full of modern sculptures and is a must-see for any contemporary art enthusiast. The Scottish National Gallery can be found in the heart of Edinburgh and boasts some of the world's finest paintings including Rembrant, Monet and Raphael. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, set in a beautiful red sandstone building, can be found in the New Town and is home to over 3,000 portraits of men, women and children from Scotland and beyond.
    These galleries are all free admission.
  8. Addresses: Scottish National Gallery, The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL + Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD + Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR

  9. Marvel over Sir Walter Scott - Take a trip to the largest commemorative monument to a writer in the world. Celebrating the Scottish Novelist Sir Walter Scott, and built in the 19th Century, this is one of Edinburgh's most exciting landmarks. Part of the challenge comes from the ascent up the 287 steps to the top enabling you to enjoy unprecedented views across the stunning city of Edinburgh and its breath-taking surrounding countryside.
    Tour Guides available - book directly with the Museum via their website.
  10. Address: East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ

  11. Learn how Scottish Government works - Potty about politics? Housed in a contemporary building in Edinburgh's Old Town, the modern Scottish Parliament Building is a great site to visit in the city. Open Monday-Saturday you can take a free Tour of the Debating Chamber, the Garden Lobby and the private office of a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP). If you come upon the debating chamber when Parliament is in session you could even view proceedings from the public gallery. Enjoy learning about its history, work, modern architecture - and there's even a Gift Shop where you can purchase a keepsake to remember your trip. You can book ahead of time via their website.
  12. Tours

    Art Tours - You can view selected pieces of the Scottish Parliament's Art Collection.

    Literary Tours - These engrossing talks explore the links with famous Scottish writers over the years.


    Address: Scottish Parliament Building, Horse Wynd, Edinburgh EH99 1SP

  13. Tartan or Whiskey? (of course) - If you travel along Edinburgh's Princes Street (commencing at Waterloo Place, situated at the East End through to Shandwick Place at the West End) you can delight in the interesting and unusual shops that run along its entire length. Similarly, if you stroll along Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile that leads up to the Castle, your family and you will be welcomed by an eclectic range of souvenir shops, selling anything and everything a tourist could want. Here you'll also find cafés, bars and award-winning restaurants!
  14. Relive your Childhood - Visit the Museum of Childhood and release your inner child with a fun day out for the whole family. Take a short break from adult life with a joyous wander down memory lane. At this Museum children can learn about the children of the past and discover a terrific range of toys and even play the games of the past; including hands-on activities like puppet theatre and dressing up. Together with an exciting Museum shop this will be a memorable visit for people of all ages!
    Free entry to the Museum, though donations are welcomed.
  15. Address: Museum of Childhood, 42 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TG

  16. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - This needs no introduction. This world-renowned botanical garden is a must on your itinerary of places to visit within the city. Break away from the everyday hustle and bustle of city life to leisurely walk through outstanding outdoor gardens and discover the warmth of exotic plants within the Glasshouses. Located just a short 20 minutes' walk from Edinburgh's city centre, you will encounter an enchanting collection of approximately 100,000 plants and explore 72 acres of glorious green space with 10 Glasshouses.

    It's the perfect paradise for relaxation and you can learn about the garden's flourishing and diverse history dating back an amazing 350 years. For an interval you could stop off for a bite to eat at the Gateway Restaurant, Terrace Café or the East Gate Coffee Bar. There is also a Botanics Gift Shop and Garden Shop. Take the opportunity to embrace Edinburgh's stunning botanical gardens and appreciate this awe-inspiring location at any time of the year. Witness the changing sights, sounds and scents throughout Edinburgh's varied seasons.
    Disabled Access is available, including wheelchairs for visitor use (to be booked in advance).
  17. Address: Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ

  18. Take a selfie at the Greyfriars Bobby Statue - Edinburgh is certainly a dog-friendly city and an ideal place to enjoy a holiday with your pooch. This monument will melt the heart strings of any pet lover, especially if you're accompanied by your four-legged friend. Potentially the most photographed Landmark in Edinburgh, you will find this famous Statue in Greyfriars Kirkyard. This is the heartwarming story from the late 19th Century, still admired in Scotland and shared through many books and films around the world, of a little Skye terrier called Bobby. The tale is that he kept a graveside vigil of 15 years when his police officer owner died - he truly was his man's best friend. It's recommended you book a tour in advance to not be disappointed. This excursion is ideal for couples, families, groups or solo travellers; with or without a canine companion.
  19. Address: At Junction of Candlemaker Row and George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ
    (opposite the National Museum of Scotland)


Eat and Drink in Edinburgh - the Scottish way!

Traditional Scottish food on your mini break is far more important than just finding something to eat. Each dish you savour is steeped in the country's culture and history, so give a few of these dishes a wee try and learn more about Edinburgh than you expected.

  • Haggis - The most popular and adventurous dishes to try in Edinburgh is haggis. A meaty dish containing a combination of the heart, lungs and liver of a sheep or lamb. This is traditionally mixed with fat or suet, and some oats and onions. Seasoned, the mixture is then stuffed into a casing, similarly to a sausage and steamed or baked. You could enjoy this with a dram of Scotch for good measure - which leads us on to our next choice for you...
  • Scotch Whiskey - Whether you call this scotch whiskey or simply scotch, Edinburgh is the ideal location for you to sample a dram or two of this aged alcohol on your city break. A true scotch has one shared characteristic - that it has been aged for at least 3 years or more in an oak barrel. There are also single or double malt to choose, blended grain varieties or a combination of the two. This world-renowned peaty delight is a heady brew with a minimum of at least 40% alcohol by volume, as dictated by the Scotch Whisky Regulations.
  • Neeps and Tatties - These mouth-watering two side dishes are traditional food in Scotland and are often served accompanying haggis. A neep, similar to a turnip, in Edinburgh is boiled and mashed. Tatties are simply boiled potatoes and are a scrumptious familiar comfort food. When you indulge in a plate of haggis with neeps and tatties this is often referred to as a Burns supper (dedicated to the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns).
  • Cullen Skink - This hearty Scottish dish hails from the northeastern part of the country and is a popular dish in Edinburgh too. The silky and creamy smoked fish soup will suit anyone that's a fan of clam chowder, as cream and potatoes are added to smoked haddock to make this indulgent dish.
  • Cock-a-leekie Soup - Following on from Cullen Skink, is another delicious soup that will be comforting as the cool coastal weather sweeps in. Composed of chicken stock, leeks and onions this is the perfect classic soup when on a short break away to cure you of all troubles that ail you. This appetizing meal originated way back in the 16th century and is famous for being Scotland's National Soup.
  • Cranachan - Now something for your sweet tooth. This luscious dessert is a great way of completing your journey through delicious traditional Scottish food. Scotch whiskey is combined with raspberries and toasted oats (that have been soaked overnight in a dram of whiskey). This dish is topped off with honey and freshly whipped cream to make the perfect sumptuous sweet treat. The fun part is when you order a cranachan you are served all the ingredients separately for you to compile. This means you can layer together each ingredient in the quantity you desire and savour the memory of creating your own delectable Scottish dish. If you're enjoying a romantic weekend away as a couple then this is a great way to end your evening meal.

What is the best time of the year to visit Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is an all year round destination but there are certain months of the year which may be more appealing depending on what activities you have planned for your trip.

  • Best time of year for sightseeing - Edinburgh is great for sightseeing all year round whether you choose the months of May through to September, as the days are longer and the temperatures are warmer, or are keen to experience Edinburgh's dramatic winters for a Christmas and New Year's break.
    Holiday Extras Hack - Starting your break earlier or later than the peak summer or winter seasons could save you time, with shorter waiting lines and fewer tourists eager to see each attraction.
  • Best time of the year for warm weather - The warmest weather in Edinburgh tends to be in July and August, though rain can be expected at any time. However, if you're excited by the prospect of snow then pack your thickest Harris Tweed and head to the Scottish Capital during the winter months and revel in the awe-inspiring snow-capped views across this spectacular city.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August - An International Destination!

The Edinburgh Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. It takes place annually in August and has become a world-leading celebration of arts and culture. Known worldwide for its amazing theatrical shows including comedy, dance, circus, cabaret, musicals and opera performances.

If you're heading to Edinburgh for a city break in August you'll feel the bustling atmosphere that surrounds this fantastic event. It's worth booking tickets to the events in advance via the Festival Fringe Society Box Office and website. They also publish the programme online so you can check out what to go and see.


What is the best way to get to Edinburgh?

Plane - Travelling to Edinburgh from elsewhere in the UK has never been easier. Several British cities offer direct flights to Edinburgh's main airport; these include British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair.

Train - Depending on which city you're travelling from, the easiest and most comfortable way to get to Edinburgh could be by train. Especially if you're travelling from nearby cities like Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle. If you're travelling from further afield you'll probably find that flying is your fastest and cheapest option though.

Bus - Numerous coach companies travel between Britain's cities to Edinburgh - these include National Express and Citylink. Shop around for the best price so that you don't lose out.

Car - If you're keen to not let the train or other forms of transport take the strain, then consider taking a road trip to Edinburgh. Why not hire a classic car for that perfect tour and romantic getaway. Remember less hassle, more holiday!

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Collage of Photographs of Liverpool Cityscape

Liverpool

A maritime city, where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea

If you're deciding on the soundest city break to take in 2021, you may like to learn a little more about one of the UK's liveliest cities in the northwest of England. Liverpool is a metropolitan borough booming with life in Merseyside. The hometown of the famous pop group The Beatles, book yourself 'a magical mystery tour' or a 'ticket to ride' and jam-pack your schedule with fantastic sites to admire. Whether you're a music lover or a football fan, whatever takes your fancy, Liverpool is the ideal short break to take this year.

Music - The Lifeblood of Liverpool

Planning a weekend stay in Liverpool and need some musical inspiration?

The renowned Liverpool Docks thrive as the heartland for the arts, and Liverpool has been designated UNESCO City of Music since 2015. Thanks to the success of The Beatles, Liverpool and music are synonymous with the city but Liverpool's rich and diverse music history stretches right back to the 18th Century and the city's development as, not just England's but, one of the world's great ports.

Liverpool's links with America, Africa and Asia cemented a wealth of cultural and ethnic traditions that shaped its unique style and character. Being one of Great Britain's major ports, Liverpool brought cultural expansion over the years that can be felt in the city's grand concert halls and multiple music clubs, societies, pubs and associations. From the funky Merseybeat in the 1960s, to the excitement of the Erics, and the influential post punk scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

Recognised as the 'World Capital of Pop' by the Guinness Book of Records, Liverpool's diverse flavour of music can also be enjoyed at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and amongst one of the many vibrant festivals; featuring everything from Africa Oyé, to Liverpool's International Music Festival (LIMF), Liverpool Irish Festival, the International Festival of Psychedelia and Liverpool Sound City.

Top Things to do in Liverpool if you're a Football Fan

It is said that the authentic Liverpudlian has two passions in life, music and football and not necessarily in that order. If it's passion you're after then look no further then a visit to one of the city's icons of the beautiful game. Whether you're a committed Liverpool or Everton supporter, or just an admirer of the prowess and success of these world-famous clubs, at Holiday Extras we'll fill you in on what activities you can see and do during your holiday to this captivating Merseyside city. Great for any supporter bursting with pre-match excitement!

No visit to Liverpool would be complete without a football pilgrimage to one or both of Liverpool's football stadiums: Anfield and Goodison Park.

Anfield - Anfield district

  • Liverpool FC has played here since the club was founded. There are special fan zones next to the stadium and areas are open four hours before kick-off and include all sorts of entertainment and activities, including a big screen to watch the build-up.
  • You can pre-order food for collection or have an at-seat delivery (if you're within five seats from the aisle) to enjoy once the game kicks off!
  • On non-match days you can take a self-guided audio tour. A ticket to the tour enables you to visit the onsite museum, The Liverpool FC Story, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the dressing rooms and see the spectacular stadium and city skyline from the Main Stand.
  • Easily accessible through public transport. There are several buses that head to and from the stadium. It's approximately a half an hour drive from the airport and 10 minutes from Liverpool City Centre.

Goodison Park - Walton district

  • Everton FC originally played at Anfield but moved (by force, through a dispute over rent) in 1891. Liverpool FC was actually formed the following year to play in the empty stadium. This brilliantly blue stadium has a strong sense of community to it, with a keen local fan-base.
  • Enjoy one of the fascinating stadium tours and learn about the Everton FC legends and the stadium in all its splendour.
  • Accessible through public transport as several buses head there from Queen Square Bus Station. It's roughly a half an hour drive from the airport.
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Collage of Photographs of London Cityscape, including the Shard and London Tower Bridge

London

The Capital City, not only of the United Kingdom but 'The Capital City of the World'

Do you fancy a trip to this amazing country's Capital? Visit one of the best city breaks available in the UK. Standing on the river Thames, stretching over 600 square miles in every direction, London has welcomed visitors since before the Romans arrived 2000 years ago. A lifetime of experiences and attractions await the intrepid traveller and visitor alike - whatever your desire - London has it!

This fabulous Capital city has (deep inhale of breath) world class shopping and retail experiences, 170 museums, over 1500 galleries, 263 theatres, 162 markets, 20000+ restaurants that cater to all tastes, over 160000 hotel rooms, including 4 world heritage sites - the choice is endless. Whether you want to splash out on a luxury city break or save the pennies by only visiting the attractions with free admissions, there is so much to see and do and you won't be disappointed. At Holiday Extras we plan on filling you in on some of the finest tourist destinations London has to offer, including it's variety of world class theatres. We'll also let you know why this destination is perfect for a Christmas city break - so you have less hassle and more holiday to look forward to!


Top 5 Sights to See and Things to Do in London - 2021

  1. The British Museum - Discover the first public national Museum in the world and explore over two million years of human history, art and culture. From the Parthenon sculptures of Greece to the Rosetta stone that unlocked the secrets of ancient Egypt and allowed humanity to read the hieroglyphs they left, this epic Museum features some of the world's most important iconic objects. Marvel at the Mummy of Katebet, wonder at Oxus Treasure or stare mesmerised at the Sutton Hoo Ship Burial Helmet - you could easily spend a whole day of your city break in the British Museum and still have thousands of artefacts left to explore another day. There are plenty of exciting tours to learn from and exhibits to seek out as you travel through time throughout the Museum.

    Don't forget to enjoy a delicious lunch at the Great Court Restaurant and pick up a memento of your day at the British Museum Shop before you leave. If you're looking for a cheap city break in London, and are keen to save money whilst staying in the Capital, then Museum's like this one are completely free - we know, it's incredible isn't it! A visit to the British Museum is a fascinating experience for enquiring minds of all ages and is an outstanding attraction to visit for the whole family.
    The British Museum is easily accessible by public transport buses and tube stations.
  2. Address: The British Museum, Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG

  3. The Victoria & Albert Museum- The world's foremost museum of art and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human development and creativity, displayed in over 6 miles of galleries - the Victoria & Albert Museum is a must-see attraction. This is an extraordinary resource for the study of architecture, furniture, fashion, textiles, glass, jewellery, ceramics, art and design, theatre and performance all housed under one roof.

    The History of the Victoria and Albert Museum is a story as unique as the collection itself. From early beginnings as a Museum of Manufactures in 1852, a repository if you like to the glory of the Victorian manufacturing age, to the laying of the foundation stone by Queen Victoria herself on May 7th 1899 and the beginning of the modern museum. Over the years the museum has evolved with the times and now features state of the art galleries housed in a group of the finest Victorian buildings in the United Kingdom. The Victoria and Albert Museum remains among the finest and most forward-thinking museums in the world. No short break to London???s South Kensington Museum quarter would be complete without a visit!
  4. Address: Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL

  5. The Tower of London - UNESCO World Heritage Site - Be your interests peaked by Royal Jewels, Yeoman Warders, ravens and raven masters, royal intrigue, prison tales, The Royal Mint and coins of the realm or arms and armour, then The Tower of London will not disappoint. It can be found on the edge of the Old City of London and is easily accessed by bus, Tower Hill Tube station or the river. All of the Towers' mysteries lay ready to be explored during the day and, differing from its sometimes dark past, when the final visitors leave and the gates are locked The Tower of London��s thriving community comes to life. The Yeoman Warders and their families reside in the Tower grounds in wonderful houses and it's also home to the Resident Governor and a garrison of soldiers, along with a doctor and a chaplain all going about their daily lives. Perhaps the best kept secret of all is that they even have their own pub!
  6. Address: St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB

  7. Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site- Mentioned in the doomsday book, Greenwich has always been a centre for maritime cosmopolitan exploration and travel. The home of time itself, the Greenwich Observatory sits on the meridian line separating east from west, while just down the hill through the park lies 'The Queen's House' - Inigo Jones' architectural masterpiece and home to an internationally renowned art collection. Remember to bring your sea-legs as alongside is the National Maritime Museum which holds the nation's maritime treasures.

    All Aboard the Clipper!

    One of the best ways to travel to Greenwich from central London is down the Thames itself. Uber Boat Thames Clippers run from 23 piers along the river between Putney in the west, to Woolwich (Royal Arsenal) in the east and this service runs seven days a week from early morning till late night. Check times and places to confirm your service. Hop on board and you will enjoy the many unique historic sites along the river that are unable to be viewed any other way.

    On arrival at Greenwich via the river, you are greeted with the breath-taking sight of the famous tea clipper the Cutty Sark. To her left is the Old Royal Naval College which is the centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich described by UNESCO as being of "Outstanding universal value" and also described as "the finest and most dramatically sited architectural landscape ensemble in the British Isles". With its world-renowned painted rooms by Thornhill and its beautiful chapel, Greenwich has to rate as one of the most romantic places in the capital.


  8. Borough Market- A 2-minute walk from London Bridge Station, sitting alongside Southwark Cathedral in the shadow of the majestic London Shard, sits the phenomenon that is The Borough Market. With a history that goes back a thousand years, 'The Borough' as Londoners know it has become an internationally renowned food market and is a must visit for foodies of all inclinations during a break to the city. Its revival and reputation began to grow in the 1990's when artisan food producers moved in to the old warehouse buildings, attracting the likes of Neal's Yard Dairy and the fantastic Spanish food aficionados Brindisa, along with Turnips the fine fruit and vegetable suppliers, a Food Lovers Fair was held and the rest as they say is history.

    Tantalise your taste buds at the market today which has transformed into a food experience attracting 4.5 million visitors a year, sampling and buying and eating the finest produce the United Kingdom has to offer - with over 100 stalls artisan producers offer meats, fish, vegetables, cheeses, oils, herbs and spices, bakery and so much more (doesn't it make your mouth water just thinking about it). The market also offers many restaurants and bars and it has become a hub - an information exchange for Chefs, food writers' and restaurateurs. More than just a market, The Borough has become a wonderful food experience that takes place 7 days a week. The perfect place to visit during any short break or longer stay in the Capital!
  9. Address: 8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL

What is the best destination for a Christmas City Break in the UK?

Without question London has established itself the number one destination at Christmas. Along with a variety of delightful Christmas Markets and attractions in literally every London Borough during this time of the year it's a joy to be in the city. It is the destination for a Christmas break in the UK because of the mixture of entertainment and excitement that surrounds the festive season. If you're looking for weekend break ideas, particularly in December then look no further than our glorious Capital.

If you find yourself in London on a winter break taking in the sights and sounds of the most vibrant city on earth your thoughts may turn to some retail stimulation - yes, you guessed it we're going to talk about shopping during the season of Jingle Bells and Holly Berries. Fear not, you shall not be disappointed for London is truly the home of the most wonderful retail experiences' to be had anywhere. As with everything else London caters for everyone, be you on a luxury weekend away looking for a couture dress to go with your newly commissioned sports car, or a keen bargain hunter in search of London style but at a cheaper price tag, then London has it all for you.

To list every single shop, retail outlet or area that is sensational in London is (quite honestly) an epic task to take on, however at Holiday Extras we have the solution and have compiled a list of our super seven areas and some retail outlets for guaranteed retail joy for all; either during your winter break at Christmas time or at any time of the year for that matter. Ever since the earliest times London has provided retail excellence to the world so, as well as buying a few last minute Christmas presents when in London, why not treat yourself to a little something too - go on, you deserve it!

  • Mayfair and St James's – Couture, Designer, Bespoke, Jewels, Art & Fine Dining.
  • Covent Garden – Eclectic Fashion, Boutique, Opera, Bohemian Chic, Tec & Indi Design.
  • Regent Street – Liberty London, Children's Toys, Exclusive Gifts, Carnaby Street Chic.
  • Oxford Street – Selfridges, John Lewis, Disney Store, St. Christopher's Place Boutiques.
  • Knightsbridge & Belgravia – Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Sloane Street, Brompton Road.
  • The City of London – The Royal Exchange, Leadenhall Market, One New Change.
  • Camden Lock – Vintage, Retro, Handmade, Design, Punk, Gothic, Street Style.

All of the above areas are easily accessible on public transport - bus routes and tube stations are all within easy walking distance.


London is the Land of Theatre

Are you planning a weekend break in London with a show and wondering where to be marvelled by the spectacular medium that is the theatre?

Well quite simply London has some of the very best theatres in the UK to choose from and enjoy on your next weekend break. Part of any stay in London should involve a trip to the theatre and the Capital offers some of the finest live performance experiences in the world. Our most famous son of the theatre William Shakespeare, although born in Stratford Upon Avon, adopted London as his home. London has always had a rich culture of live entertainment, be it in the form of large famous West End theatres producing spectacular musicals or the smaller venues showing intimate drama London has it all.

Central London is where most theatres can be found, tightly grouped around several streets and squares in London's West End. (Covent Garden, Charing Cross, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, Oxford Circus, Victoria to name but a few). All of the West End theatres in London can be reached easily by public transport - bus and tube stations are all in walking distance. All budgets can be catered for whether yours is luxurious or limited, it doesn't matter. We'd like to let you know that ticket prices can vary wildly though, as a very general guide they can be from as little as £15 for a seat at the highest levels of the theatre "In the Gods" to as much as £200 for the "Best Seats in the House" - whatever your budget London theatre at its best is truly magical.

It's worth mentioning outside of the West End theatres there are many other venues and performances to be enjoyed. Located on the South Bank of the Thames (a short walk from the Borough Market) is two of the finest repertory theatres in the world, Shakespeare's Globe and The National Theatre. These are repertory theatre companies and they feature a number of shows that are rotated every so often so the theatre goer can have a selection of performances featuring the same players in a short space of time. Shakespeare's Globe is a masterful recreation of The Bards 16th century theatre workspace he managed and vision for the performance of his work. A celebration of Shakespeare's work with enactments from April to September the theatre also includes many performances of his contemporary playwrights. Tours and workshops are also available.

The National Theatre is a creative haven, it specialises in breaking new ground and developing new theatrical talent. Being subsidised it is able to take commercial risks and develop talent that may have not have been otherwise produced. Among its long lists of successes is War Horse, developed from the wonderful novel by Michael Morpurgo, it originated at the National Theatre and went on to be seen on stages across the globe.

As Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players" so when you're next in the capital for a weekend break or longer then go - take in a show!


Holiday Extras has created a superlative collection of city breaks packages just for you - The View from The Shard London with Hotel Stay at one of three luxurious London hotels, a London Thames River Cruise with Afternoon Tea & Hotel Stay or transport yourself on a Nimbus 2000 to the wizarding wonderland that is Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter with Hotel Stay & Breakfast for Two.

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Manchester Cityscape

Manchester

The Powerhouse of the North

Of all the city break holidays to enjoy in 2021, Manchester has to be recognised as one of the best. A metropolitan borough and the UK's second most populated urban area, this city has a lot to offer every traveller. Noted not only for its industrial architecture, scientific and engineering output (being the textile powerhouse of the 18th Century) Manchester also transformed itself at the end of the 20th and into the 21st Century as the Northern hub of music - producing a wealth of internationally recognised bands - including the Smiths, Oasis, Joy Division, Happy Mondays and Take That. Many amplified through the scene known as 'Madchester' in the 1980s and 1990s.

A perfect mini break destination, Manchester is bursting with entertainment, from it's legendary clubs and nightlife, to its many pubs and restaurants. Swanky Nightclubs like Eden, Chinawhite Manchester and Impossible are amongst around 500 licensed premises to be experienced in the city. Perfect for when you fancy partying and creating your very own Madchester memories!


Top 5 Sights to See and Things to Do in Manchester - 2021

  1. Bar and Restaurant Scene - Manchester has plentiful places to eat out. There are numerous bars and restaurants to savour in this vibrant city. Perfect for getting in your partner's good books - make memories at a romantic hideaway, an activity hideout or a restaurant with rooftop views to suit all culinary tastes. From the popular Flight Club in the heart of Manchester, with it's glitzy circus-themed and instagrammable decor, to mouthwatering dishes served at the Menagerie restaurant bar in Salford - the choices are endless!
  2. Visit Old Trafford - The home of Manchester United and nicknamed 'The Theatre of Dreams' by Bobby Charlton, this world-famous football stadium needs to be top of your itinerary. You can visit on a non-match day and take pleasure in a behind the scenes Stadium Tour, then score a delicious bite to eat in the Red Café and round off your away game by picking up a memento in the Stadium's Megastore. There is plenty to do and it's an ideal day out for the whole family.
  3. Address: Manchester United, Old Trafford, M16 0RA

  4. Track down LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre - Delight in a tremendous and fun-packed family day out at this popular attraction - aimed at children of all ages. Let your children's imaginations go wild and expect an exciting day with features including a 4D cinema, LEGO models of local landmarks and a bundle of rides. Fill up on refreshments at the Coffee shop and purchase one of the many LEGO products in the LEGO store on-site. Being the largest LEGO store in the North-West, there are over 900 products to choose from. So, start building your trip today!
  5. Address: Unit D5, Barton Square, intu Trafford Centre, Manchester M17 8AS

  6. View Manchester Art Gallery - A publicly owned art museum, this gallery contains a wealth of collections. These range from historical collections to international contemporary art. The fresh perspectives could spark imagination and debate as you explore over 25,000 objects of fine art, decorative art and costume (developed over 200 years and still growing). Complete your masterpiece of a trip with a funky purchase from the Gallery's Gift Shop, after satisfying your artistic taste buds in the Gallery Café.
  7. Address: Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley St, M2 3JL

  8. Marvel at Manchester Cathedral - At the heart of the city's rich and diverse history for nearly 600 years, Manchester Cathedral had its royal charter signed by Henry V in 1421 granting permission for this collegiate church to be built. The church became a Cathedral in 1847 when a new Manchester diocese was created. This Northern Soul of Manchester has been captivating the faithful for almost six centuries, don't miss a chance to experience one of the most moving Cathedrals in the United Kingdom.
    Open 7 days a week and admission is free.
  9. Address: Manchester Cathedral, Victoria St M3 1SX

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Collage of Photographs of Belfast Architecture

Belfast

Beal Feirste - the mouth of the sand-bank ford

If you're looking for city breaks in Ireland, look no further than the Capital and largest city of Northern Ireland. Belfast is actually the 12th-largest city in the UK and the second largest on the island of Ireland. Belfast's cityscape ranges from the architectural style of Georgian buildings through Victorian to Edwardian. The birthplace of the RMS Titanic, Belfast is a city filled with history to discover and heritage to learn about, including in and amongst its tremendous 44 Museums.

Wander into Game of Thrones territory or marvel at the way this bustling city gained its nickname 'Linenopolis' because of the important role played in the Industrial Revolution in Ireland. Experience the city and beautiful countryside with its natural wonders and over 100+ landmarks to rejoice in, that make Belfast a popular UK staycation. Whether it's a midweek break you're after or a fabulous weekend away, in this land of literary delights there is much to see; including the C.S. Lewis Square which boasts seven inspiring sculptures from the author's most famous work 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and many more.


Top 5 Sights to See and Things to Do in Belfast - 2021

  1. Walk in Game of Thrones Territory - Northern Ireland is the Home of the Thrones. The best-selling books by George R. R. Martin inspired the successful TV series which was filmed in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. The rugged coastlines and stunning scenery were the perfect setting for this epic story. Book a Game of Thrones luxury coach tour and enjoy the full experience by getting the chance to explore the unique filming locations. Not only will you journey into Westeros, the themed tour also includes a stop at the breath-taking Giant's Causeway. If you're taking a romantic city break away and are fans of the series you'll love learning the behind-the-scenes facts and all the gossip. You can keep your eyes on the scenery and relive the iconic scenes as the expert driver takes care of the journey.
  2. Address: Tour Pickup at a central Belfast Hotel

  3. Book a Ticket at The Ulster Hall - One of Belfast's most iconic venues situated at the heart of this city's vibrant entertainment scene, the venue truly has it all and is a cultural delight to be adored by all the family. Originally designed for grand dances, book a ticket for a show at the Ulster Hall and enjoy a comedy gig, theatrical performance or family-friendly show to warm your heart. Savour a delicious meal in one of the nearby restaurants before or after the performance; including Belfast's award-winning OX Belfast, Deanes EIPIC or The Muddlers Club Restaurant to name but a few.
  4. Address: The Ulster Hall, 34 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7FF

  5. Delve into the History at Titanic Belfast - On the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built, Titanic Belfast is the World's largest Titanic visitor experience and must-see attraction in Northern Ireland. Opened in 2012, this monument to Belfast's maritime heritage not only tells the stories of the Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage in 1912, but also of her sister ships RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic. This monumental attraction has a series of galleries and community facilities. There are multiple dimensions to the Titanic Experience that will engage the whole family. The Titanic Belfast alone extends for over nine interactive galleries, drawing together special effects, dark rides, full-scale reconstructions and innovative interactive features.

    Explore the shipyard, travel to the depths of the ocean and uncover the legend of the Titanic for yourself - in the city of Belfast, where it began. During your visit indulge in a range of delicious menu choices within The Pantry Restaurant, which includes the best of Northern Irish Produce, or partake in afternoon tea and sandwiches in the Galley Café. Alternatively, grab a drink at the destination bar Hickson's Point which offers an authentic 1900's public house setting, with locally produced food, traditional music, heritage decor and entertainment.
    Tickets can be booked online, in advance via the Titanic Belfast Website.
  6. Address: Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queens Road, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9EP

  7. Learn at Linen Hall Library- This remarkable library is one of Northern Ireland's most important cultural institutions to visit during your city break in Belfast. Since the late 18th Century this literary powerhouse has been the home of many internationally renowned collections as well as operating as a modern, fully-functioning library. Book one of their popular tours and familiarise yourself with the oldest and last subscribing library in Northern Ireland.
  8. Address: The Linen Hall Library, 17 Donegall Square N, Belfast BT1 5GB

  9. Belfast's Grand Opera House - Designed in the late 19th Century by renowned architect Frank Matcham, this spectacular theatre boasts the majestic Victorian main auditorium. The Grand Opera House is Northern Ireland's premier theatre attracting tourists from all over the world. Showing everything from dance, drama and comedy to pantomime and premier West End shows. During 2020 the Opera House embarked on its most ambitious restoration and development project in 40 years, with the aim of returning the 1895 auditorium to its original splendour. Along with this, the audience facilities have been upgraded with improved access for all. The Opera House offers various refreshment options so why not, before, during or after the performance, indulge in a tipple at one of the well-stocked theatre bars.
    The Opera House has an Access for All Scheme and tickets can be booked via their website.
  10. Address: Grand Opera House, 2-4 Great Victoria St, Belfast BT2 7HR


What is the best time of the year to visit Belfast?

By now I'm sure you're aware that there's much more to this artistic city than just its history, and there are many exciting reasons to holiday in Belfast. The great news is this is an all year round destination, however as with any trip, there are certain months of the year which may be more appealing in terms of weather and the excursions on offer.

  • Spring (March-May) - A break during Spring 2021 could be the perfect time to visit Belfast. With the Belfast Film Festival for movie fans, and the Spring Fair and Flower Show for any horticultural lover, all taking place in April it's a great time to bring along the family and enjoy these colourful delights. You may need to pack an umbrella as rain often accompanies this season, though the cool weather will be warming up come the months of April and May.
  • Summer (June-August) - Considered to be the best and most popular time of year in which to visit Belfast, the warmer weather will allow you to truly appreciate the city. Packed full of fun activities, visiting Belfast in the Summer months will ensure you have a full list of things to keep you occupied; from numerous music events to cultural activities. Don't be surprised if the city is packed with tourists throughout the most popular months of June-August, as well as hotel rates being at their peak. Tour Belfast during the Summer and become part of the action.
  • Autumn (September-November) - Fall for the magic of autumn in Belfast as it's a great time of the year to appreciate sightseeing in this beautiful city. Take the opportunity to wander amongst its parks and open spaces and witness the city's transformation to golds, as the green spaces embrace the kaleidoscopic tones of autumnal colours. One of many highlights is a walk through Ormeau Park, the oldest municipal park in Northern Ireland. Cherish the peaceful and relaxed atmosphere now that the rush of Summer tourists has wound down. As it's not peak season you could also book competitively priced accommodation and travel packages - perfect if you're on a tight budget.
  • Winter (December-February) - Book a delightful winter getaway to Belfast during this festive season and admire the abundance of celebrations that are in full swing. Experience Belfast City Hall, along with St George's Market, as they transform themselves into winter wonderlands. Situated in the heart of the city, Belfast's Christmas Markets are regarded as the highlights of the city's year, attracting over a million tourists from around the globe. These Christmas Markets are packed with gifts and food to cater for every taste. Pack your cosiest celtic clothing for the trip and you may even get to enjoy the odd snowfall over Christmas and the New Year.

What is the best way to get to Belfast?

Plane - Northern Ireland has three airports and is easily accessed by plane. You can fly direct to Belfast from over 20 European cities and from a number of North American locations. Belfast City Airport is located just three miles from the heart of the Capital, and the Translink Airport Express 600 bus service runs between the airport and Belfast City Centre.

Belfast International Airport is a 30 minute drive from the City Centre. Airlines including EasyJet and Ryanair all fly to and from this International Airport. Once again, the Translink Airport Express 300 bus service runs between this airport and the centre of Belfast.

Ferry - Belfast is easily accessed by sea with sea crossings from both England and Scotland. You can travel by superfast ferries from port to port with journey times from as little as 1 hour. One example is the Stena Line, travelling from Liverpool and Cairnryan. Depending on where you are in the UK you would need to travel either by car or train to the relevant port.

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Holiday Extras A-Z

Holiday Extras

"On that trip I learnt something very important. Escape through travel works. Almost from the moment I boarded my flight, life in England became meaningless. Seat-belt signs lit up, problems switched off. Broken armrests took precedence over broken hearts. By the time the plane was airborne I’d forgotten England even existed."

Alex Garland, The Beach