The green dome of the Church of St. Francis, which was built by the Knights of the Cross. Founded in 1233, the order had the right to collect tolls for the nearby Judith Bridge, later replaced by the Charles Bridge. The church's organ was played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonin Dvořák.
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Struggling for gift ideas? Give them a city trip!

Photo by Peter Adams

TRVL News Struggling for gift ideas? Give them a city trip!

There's only a week to go until Christmas, which is bad news for those of us who have yet to make a start on our Christmas shopping.

James Hiam
James Hiam Editor

You might have no idea what to get for your partner, or perhaps your parents have helpfully told you that they don't want anything (but you know they don't really mean that). What do you do? You book them a city trip with a couple of nights in a hotel, of course! (Don't have access yet? Request it here.) Now you need to decide where to send them, but don't worry – we're here to help. Here are a few of our favorite city break destinations to get you started, but if you feel like you haven't got enough time to do all of the required planning, simply reach out to a TRVL agent who can do that planning for you – for free!

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Built as the entrance to the International Exposition of 1889, engineer Gustave Eiffel’s Tower was described as “a truly tragic street lamp” and was supposed to stay up for only 20 years. “Sold” twice for scrap by a con man in the 1920s, it is now an icon of Paris and still the city’s tallest building as well as the most visited paid-for monument on the planet. Photo by Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Jurjen Drenth

Canon 1Ds Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/2000
ISO
320
Focal
34 mm

Built as the entrance to the International Exposition of 1889, engineer Gustave Eiffel’s Tower was described as “a truly tragic street lamp” and was supposed to stay up for only 20 years. “Sold” twice for scrap by a con man in the 1920s, it is now an icon of Paris and still the city’s tallest building as well as the most visited paid-for monument on the planet.

Paris, France

"Paris is always a good idea." You may have heard that famous Audrey Hepburn line many times before, but that's only because it's true. Discover the magical atmosphere of the Montmartre and Le Marais, breathe in the smell of freshly baked croissants, enjoy the sound of more than one animated conversation spilling out from a bustling wine bar – give the gift of (a weekend in) Paris!

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Massive surf conditions turn the Bondi Icebergs Pool white during the traditional winter weekly swim. Photo by Paul Lovelace

Paul Lovelace

Paul Lovelace

Massive surf conditions turn the Bondi Icebergs Pool white during the traditional winter weekly swim.

Sydney, Australia

With vibrant neighborhoods and iconic beaches, great restaurants and resplendent blue skies, Sydney brings together the buzz of the big city with the beauty of the great outdoors. Treat your loved ones (and yourself) to a couple of nights in Sydney, and you can look forward to enjoying rock oysters down at the harbor, catching a ferry up to Manly Bay, and then kicking back with a drink in Surry Hills.

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A view over Boston, with the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Tower in the background. Photo by James Hiam

James Hiam

James Hiam

A view over Boston, with the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Tower in the background.

Boston, USA

You don't need to be a history buff to enjoy a weekend in Boston, but if your Christmas present recipient is, then book it – you're onto a surefire winner. Follow the Freedom Trail around Boston Common, Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall for a flavor of the city's revolutionary credentials, before wandering around upscale Beacon Hill at dusk and finishing up in Fenway for drinks and dinner. While in Fenway, check out if the Red Sox are playing – one of the most iconic sports team in the USA.

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The green dome of the Church of St. Francis, which was built by the Knights of the Cross. Founded in 1233, the order had the right to collect tolls for the nearby Judith Bridge, later replaced by the Charles Bridge. The church's organ was played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonin Dvořák. Photo by Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Peter Adams

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II

Aperture
ƒ/16
Exposure
1/60
ISO
100
Focal
25 mm

The green dome of the Church of St. Francis, which was built by the Knights of the Cross. Founded in 1233, the order had the right to collect tolls for the nearby Judith Bridge, later replaced by the Charles Bridge. The church's organ was played by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonin Dvořák.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is tailor-made for weekend breaks or perhaps even longer; the bewitching 'Golden City' happens to be one of the more budget-friendly city trip destinations (very important in the festive season!). You can spend the day wandering the city's cobbled streets, gazing up at the 500+ spires and exploring Prague Castle, before hitting the town and diving headfirst into one of Europe's top spots for nighttime entertainment.

Cape Town, South Africa

The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben – all of them manmade structures, all of them defining features of their respective cities. Cape Town's skyline is defined not by a building but by the glorious Table Mountain. Like Sydney, Cape Town seamlessly blends the bars, restaurants and cultural vibrancy of its neighborhoods (including Woodstock and Bo Kaap) with its stunning natural surroundings. Surfing, vineyards, verdant forests – Cape Town is just perfect for the getting-out-and-about types.

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Interior shot of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Canada. Photo by James Hiam

James Hiam

James Hiam

Interior shot of the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, Canada.

Montreal, Canada

Toronto and Ottowa might be the economic and political capitals of Canada, but Montreal is its beating cultural heart. For theater, dance and, especially, music, Montreal punches well above its weight, and there are close to 100 festivals to take your pick from. Winter sports enthusiasts can look forward to hitting the nearby slopes, while taking a late-afternoon stroll up Mont Royal to enjoy the view is a good idea the whole year around. Know a culture-vulture with a penchant for snow? Montreal fits the bill!

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Eating out, such as at this satay stall in Lau Pa Sat, is popular with those wishing to escape crowded apartments and enjoy the cool evening air after humid days. The average Singapore family spends less than 10 percent of its income on food shopping, with the drop in eating at home reflecting the rise in women in the workplace. Photo by Edwin A. Franken

Edwin A. Franken

Edwin A. Franken

Nikon D800

Aperture
ƒ/4
Exposure
1/60
ISO
1600
Focal
28 mm

Eating out, such as at this satay stall in Lau Pa Sat, is popular with those wishing to escape crowded apartments and enjoy the cool evening air after humid days. The average Singapore family spends less than 10 percent of its income on food shopping, with the drop in eating at home reflecting the rise in women in the workplace.

Singapore

Singapore is the cosmopolitan gateway to South East Asia, a global financial hub of smart suits and looming skyscrapers. But there's more, of course – much, much more. There's the organized chaos of Chinatown, the spice stores of Little India, the shophouses, mosques and temples. Then there's the food – from sizzling street food to the some of the most highly-rated restaurants in the world, Singapore is a culinary masterpiece perfect for the adventurous foodie.

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In summer, rising hot air over the land in California draws in water-laden air from the Pacific Ocean, which turns to fog as it meets the currents along the coastline. "The Valley sucks, and The City blows,” they say here. Foghorns on the Golden Gate Bridge operate about two and a half hours a day, averaged over a year, but during the summer fog season they can sound for days at a time. Photo by Brandon Doran / Creative Commons

Brandon Doran

Brandon Doran

Nikon D90

Agency
Creative Commons
Aperture
ƒ/11
Exposure
40
ISO
200
Focal
24 mm

In summer, rising hot air over the land in California draws in water-laden air from the Pacific Ocean, which turns to fog as it meets the currents along the coastline. "The Valley sucks, and The City blows,” they say here. Foghorns on the Golden Gate Bridge operate about two and a half hours a day, averaged over a year, but during the summer fog season they can sound for days at a time.

San Francisco, USA

The city of the Golden Gate Bridge and City Lights Bookstore, of rolling fog and heritage streetcars, of the Mission District, The Castro and other vibrant neighborhoods, San Francisco is a hive of creativity. Today, the city sits at the forefront of digital progress – Silicon Valley is only a 30-minute drive from Downtown – but in the 1950s and 1960s was all about the Beat and hippie generations. Techies, free spirits and pretty much everyone else you know will love it.

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With an enigmatic aura hard not to adore and best represented by its famous fado music — bittersweet melodies consisting of sets of three, three-minute songs — Lisbon is steeped in romance. Here, a young couple enjoys a summer afternoon on the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara. Photo by Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Jochem Wijnands

Nikon f5

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/250
ISO
50
Focal
50 mm

With an enigmatic aura hard not to adore and best represented by its famous fado music — bittersweet melodies consisting of sets of three, three-minute songs — Lisbon is steeped in romance. Here, a young couple enjoys a summer afternoon on the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara.

Lisbon, Portugal

From the pastel painted buildings and fado houses of the Bairro Alto to the historic, winding streets of Alfama, Lisbon is a feel-good city if ever there was one. You can tuck into fantastic, super-fresh seafood in the city's food markets and upscale restaurants, drink with the locals long into the night (or morning) in an old-fashioned wine tavern, and take a picnic up to one of the city's seven hills to watch the sunset. Go on, indulge yourself – oh, and whoever else you might want to bring along with you. It's supposed to be their present, after all.

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