European city break fashion essentials*

City breaks can offer a lot more than a week in the sun. Not only can you often get away with only taking a day or two off work, but there is just so much more to do in a typical European city. Cool bars, unique architecture, exotic local food, so much culture and, of course, some truly world-class shopping. You wouldn’t get any of that at the beach!

But if you’re packing your bags for a weekend away in Paris, Prague, Brussels or Berlin and only have room for hand luggage, choosing what to pack is vital as once you’re over there you will only have a small number of outfits to choose from. So, here’s my outfit essentials for a European city break.

A good coat

The best thing about a good coat from a short-haul flight perspective is that you can wear it on the flight and even store it beneath your seat and it won’t count as additional hand luggage. Consider a comfortable, long trench coat for winter vacations and a more subtle, light jacket for a summer sojourn.

Summer shorts

For summer city breaks, a good pair of shorts is an absolute necessity and if it’s very warm indeed you can even get away with wearing some rather short and thin little numbers. For winter city breaks, of course, you might prefer a decent pair of jeans.

Flat shoes

One thing that is uniform amongst all city breaks is the amount of walking you’ll be doing. Particularly in a larger city such as Barcelona or Paris, you’ll have to rely on your feet a lot to get you where you need to be without spending a small fortune. Leave the fancy shoes at home and stick with something functional like a pair of Converse and maybe an emergency pair of embellished flats. Avoid sandals though, as they certainly won’t hold up!

Lighter layers

For a springtime city break, lighter layers are ideal as they not only take up precious little luggage space but can be quickly and easily draped over a long-sleeved top or a swimming costume. They are also flexible enough to be mixed and matched with a variety of outfits. Cashmere is a wonderful option here.


Whereas a nice jumper or another pair of shoes will take up plenty of valuable space in your cabin luggage, accessories almost certainly will not. Consider accentuating your outfit with a pair of earrings or a light silk neck scarf and you’ll have plenty of room left for souvenirs!

Day bags

You don’t want to be carting your carry-on luggage around with you all weekend so always remember to bring a small, hands-free bag that won’t give your shoulders a workout and can fit your everyday essentials (phone, cards, keys, glasses).

Maxi dresses

These wonderful inventions are effortlessly flexible and can be draped over a bathing suit in the day and glitzed up with some accessories at night. Truly the ultimate city break fashion essential – besides your passport of course.

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