How Many Days Should You Spend in a City?

Tips & Tricks

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When you're traveling, figuring out your final destination is only the first part of the planning. How many other cities or destinations do you plan to see? How many days should you spend in each? Fortunately, this isn't as much a guessing game as it might seem to be. Here are a few things to keep in mind when structuring your itinerary.

How Fast Do You Want to Move?

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If you're looking for a leisurely pace, make sure to book for longer than you initially think is the right amount. After all, isn't it nicer to be left with some free time in a city you'd like to get to know rather than feeling rushed?

When you spend more time in a city, you get a better feel for what it's actually like. This also helps you get an idea of whether you'd like to visit the city again. Some cities may not be worth a second trip, while others might feel like a completely new experience no matter how many times you visit them.

Are You Visiting Other Cities?

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In addition to how fast or slow you want to move, you need to keep the itinerary in your head. Are you visiting three cities in five days? You might be better off cutting one city off the list and opting to spend more time in the other two. Don't forget to account for travel time between the cities. If you're looking at a seven-hour train between cities, you might want to adjust your schedule to allow for more exploring.

You also need to keep the respective sizes of cities in mind. Some will take you much longer to explore than others, and you want to make sure you don't end up feeling like you're stretching yourself too thin in your quest to hit as many vacation objections as possible. We'll look at how much time you might want to dedicated to certain cities in the rest of this article.

Major Cities: 3 Nights is the Minimum

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If you're talking about a big, sprawling city like New York, London, or Paris, there is so much to see and do that even a few weeks wouldn't be enough to take it all in. For cities this big, you'll want to set aside as much time as possible, especially if you're not sure when you'll be back again.

When you're planning a trip, you might not want to pack in more than one city this size. If you try to tackle too many, you may end up looking like you didn't have enough time to even start to get to know a given city. Of course, feel free to break the rules, just know ahead of time that you might be cheating yourself if you opt for fewer than three nights in one of these larger cities.

Compact Cities: 2 Nights Minimum

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For smaller cities like Dublin or Copenhagen, you may not need as many nights as larger cities. You're probably not going to run out of things to do, but it's worth keeping in mind that if you're also visiting a larger city, you may want to give it more time than these smaller cities.

Be sure to check on how big a city actually is before you visit. Plenty of people will visit somewhere like Dublin and say they expected it to be larger. There's still plenty of city to go around, but not nearly as much as some larger cities.

Don't Forget Day Trips

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You can get so caught up in planning that you just assume you have to stay a few nights in every place you visit. This will extend your overall time, which may not be bad, but it can also ensure you burn out on one city when you could have spent more time in another one.

If you're not sure how long to spend somewhere, don't forget the value of a good long day trip. Even if a city is a few hours by train from where you are, the right trip at the right time of the day can even make your travel time pleasant. Why not hop over to the Cotswolds for a break from the bustle of London?

This is especially true if you're only going to a city for one main reason. If a certain museum or other attraction has you wanting to visit a city, don't feel obligated to stay there. If you really fall in love with a city, you can always come back another time.

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