Archive for the ‘City Breaks’ Category

A Solo Day Out In Edinburgh

Friday, November 13th, 2015
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Today the Sykes Cottages blog sees the perfect itinerary for those taking a trip to Edinburgh. Taking in some of the most famous spots in the city as well as a stop off point for a tasty lunch, it’s perfect for those visiting the Scottish capital, so take a look and see which attractions you fancy paying a visit.

National Gallery of Scotland

We’re going to kick off the day at the National Galleries. Situated on The Mound, right in the heart of Edinburgh, it houses Scotland’s National Collection of fine art, from the renaissance all the way through to present day masterpieces. Amongst the collection, you’ll be able to set your eyes on famous pieces by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Raphael and Botticelli, amongst a whole host of other celebrated artists.

Lunch at the Elephant House

Then if you’re feeling peckish you’ll want to head down to the Elephant House. Not too far from the National Galleries – it’s about a 10 minute walk – the coffee shop is perhaps most famous for its much publicised connection with Harry Potter. The Elephant House used to be a favourite haunt of J.K Rowling when she lived in Edinburgh and was where she wrote a good portion of the early books. They might not serve up chocolate frogs or butterbeer but it’s well worth a visit for a lunchtime refuel.

Edinburgh Castle

Now let’s be honest, no day out in Edinburgh would be complete without a trip up to the castle. Again it’s just a 10 minute walk from the previous stop off, but this time your route takes in the sights of the famous Royal Mile. The castle itself boasts being the country’s most visited tourist attraction with the crown jewels, the stone of destiny and of course the one o’clock gun drawing in countless visitors.

Edinburgh Zoo

Once you’re done at the castle you’ll want to head on over for an afternoon at Edinburgh Zoo. It’s a fair distance out from the city centre so you might want to take a taxi if you don’t have your car with you, but it’s well worth the journey! Amongst the zoo’s main attractions are the famous pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang and, of course, the ever popular penguin parade!

So there you have it, the perfect itinerary for a solo day out in Edinburgh. We hope that you have a great time exploring the beautiful city, and we’d love to see some holiday snaps if you happen to take any whilst you’re out and about – just share them over Facebook or Twitter!

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

The Best Ways to Explore a UK City

Saturday, June 20th, 2015
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Sometimes cities can be a little overwhelming, especially when you’ve never visited before. The crowds and tall buildings, mixed with everything else going on, can often leave you feeling confused and not sure where to start. Today we’re taking a look at some of the ways that you can explore a city, whether you’re a first time visitor or not!

Enjoy a Cruise Along The River

If you’re staying in one of the UK’s fabulous cities that are located beside a river, why not spend an afternoon on the water and see your chosen city from a new angle? River tours are available in cities across the UK and they are a great way to see the sights away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds on dry land. You could even go on a river tour that includes a meal and dine as you travel along the river, taking in the sights as you go.

Hop on a City Bus Tour

Sightseeing bus tours are a personal favourite of mine. Not only do they offer you an overview of the place you’re visiting and allow you to hear historic information and anecdotes from the on board tour guide but you can also ‘hop on, hop off’ at any of the designated stops along the route. This is ideal if you are short on time, as you can multi-task by travelling to your next attraction whilst also learning more about the history of the city you are visiting.

Take a Helicopter Tour

Rise above the crowds of your chosen city by booking onto a helicopter tour. This may not be the cheapest option for seeing a city, but if you have the cash to splash it is certainly worth it for the bird’s eye view you will get! Flights are usually around 15-45 minutes and as helicopters only seat 2-3 passengers, you can be sure that your helicopter experience will be a personal one.

Just Walk

One of the greatest ways to discover the hidden gems of a city is to explore it by foot. Wear comfortable shoes and utilise street maps or follow brown signs to discover the nearest attraction. Alternatively, why not forget the regular tourist trails and make your own route through the city? As long as you stay safe there’s no reason why you can’t divert from the guidebooks and the tour groups.

Book a City Break with Sykes Cottages

If you’re now inspired to go ahead and book a weekend (or longer) stay in one of the UK’s fantastic cities, why not book a self catering holiday cottage or apartment with us at Sykes? We have a range of properties available to book in York, Chester, Lincoln and beyond! Just take a look at our holiday properties in a city on our website.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

The Ultimate Family Day out in York

Friday, May 29th, 2015
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Today sees something a little different on the Sykes Cottages blog, as we’ve planned the ultimate family day out in York. We’ve tracked down four of the best attractions that will keep everyone interested with Vikings, chocolate and a bit of shopping all included! Handily they’re all located within the city centre, meaning that they can be easily reached, either on foot or via public transport. Why don’t you take a look through and starting planning your next trip to York?


Where else is there to start but with Jorvik? One of York’s best loved and most popular attractions, it’s entertained and educated countless kids over the years. Based upon the Coppergate excavations which uncovered much of York’s Viking past, Jorvik contains a complete reconstruction of the excavations featuring many artefacts well over 1000 years old! Then there’s the opportunity to fully step back in time and actually make your way through York’s Viking streets, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of Viking life!

The York Chocolate Story

The York Chocolate Story, it sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Surprisingly, York has quite a long association with the chocolate trade and it’s here that you can learn all about it! Whether it’s in the Story Zone, where you can learn all about the history of chocolate from its discovery in Central America, through to York’s Quaker families, who perfected making their delights in the cocoa houses and chocolate shops of the 18th century. Then there’s the factory zone, where you can watch the transformation from bean to bar right in front of your eyes and even try your hand at being a chocolatier extraordinaire! Just try not to spend too much in the Indulgence zone at the end of the tour!

National Railway Museum

Or just down the road, a couple of minutes’ walk from York station, is the National Railway Museum! With demonstrations, classes and exhibits, it’s the perfect way to pass a couple of hours with the kids in York! Amongst the engines housed in York you’ll be able to find the Mallard, the fastest ever steam engine; the “Chinese Engine” which, at just under 100 foot long, is the longest steam engine to have been built in the UK; and even a Japanese Bullet Train that’s capable of travelling at over 130mph!

The Shambles

The final stop off in our family tour of York is the ever popular Shambles! Originally built to house the city’s butchers and their shops during the Middle Ages, the Shambles has since developed into one of the city’s premier tourist attractions. With a wide array of independent shops, cafés and restaurants packed into its higgledy-piggledy buildings, it makes for the perfect spot to relax and refuel with the kids.

So there you have it, our guide for the ultimate family day out in York. The only problem is that there’s so much to fit in that you’d struggle to get it done in just a day, so why don’t you treat yourself and book out one of our York Cottages so that you have somewhere to put your feet up at the end of the day?

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Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.

Things To Do in Norwich

Friday, February 6th, 2015
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Norwich is getting a bit of the limelight at the moment due to it hosting Radio One’s Big Weekend this May, but the city is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year – music festival or not! Today we’re putting the spotlight on this gem of a city and sharing some ideas of things you can do, see, eat and of course, where you can stay in Norwich.

Things to See in Norwich

With so much history, you are truly spoilt for choice of things to see on a trip to Norwich. Top of many a visitor list is Norwich Cathedral. The cathedral had once been voted Norfolk’s favourite building, and it’s not hard to see why; the mix of Roman and Gothic architecture gives this building an ornate and unique feel whilst visitors are spoilt for choice of things to do on a visit to the cathedral. Another must see is Strangers’ Hall, one of Norwich’s oldest buildings. The museum brings to life the days of the Tudors and Stuarts as visitors walk through a series of interlinked rooms that are full of fascinating objects and paraphernalia of these time periods. No matter whether it is just a flying visit to the city, or a more leisurely holiday, no Norwich visit is completed without a wander through the Lanes. Norwich Lanes play host to not only independent shops and eateries but also a wealth of history!

Things to Do in Norwich

There are only a handful of puppetry theatres in England and Norwich Puppet Theatre is one of them. Whether you want to try your hand at creating a puppet or want to watch a show, there is something for absolutely everyone at Norwich Puppet Theatre. Those with a brave disposition will love being scared senseless on a Norwich Ghost Walk. The walks take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning April 2015 and each will both delight and frighten walkers. Just like a visit to any city, having a bit of a shop is a must when in Norwich. With a host of choices from name brands to smaller independents, there is sure to be a shopping experience for all tastes in this wonderful city.

Things to Eat in Norwich

Being in Norfolk, home of the Cromer Crab, it will come as no surprise that Norwich is just bursting at the seams with high quality restaurants and eateries. Whether you’re coming with small family members who will like to eat in their usual chain favourites or if you’re looking for independent gastronomic delights, Norwich will have the perfect place for you to refuel!

Where to Stay in Norwich

The Granary, Norfolk

property 14213 The Granary

Of course, the obvious answer here is to book a self catering holiday cottage in Norwich or the surrounding area. Give yourself somewhere that you can make yourself feel right at home but with much more space than a hotel room. At Sykes Cottages we have a number of properties in Norfolk that are perfectly located for your visit to this stunning city.

Find Out More About Norfolk in our Visitor’s Guide to Norfolk


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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Book a city break with Sykes this January

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
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Christmas may be over, but for many, the shopping continues. With its legendary sales, January is the month of choice for many a big spender. If you’re planning to shop ‘til you drop this New Year, why not make a weekend of it with a short break from Sykes? We’ve got self-catering cottages to rent in some of the UK’s best loved cities, including Chester, Edinburgh and Norwich, giving you plenty of options for the annual bargain hunt. Here’s an in-depth look at the towns and cities you should consider taking a break in this January.


Chester City Centre – Via Flickr

Chester City Centre – Via Flickr

Get your spend on within the historic walls of Chester this January, and you’ll find more than just the usual hum-drum high-street. This remarkable heritage city is brimming with retail opportunities, with big name stores and independent retailers jostled together in the city’s distinctive town centre. Aside from its timber-framed shop fronts and olde-worlde cobbles, Chester has another stand-out feature: The Rows, a series of medieval walkways which effectively create a second high-street. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in town, make for Cheshire Oaks, where you’re bound to find a bargain or two.

Click here to view our Chester holiday cottages.


Norwich Lanes – Via Flickr

Norwich Lanes – Via Flickr

From the Romans to the Saxons, we bring you the wonderful city of Norwich. Once England’s second largest city, Norwich has all the trappings of a proper ‘ye olde’ English city; think narrow streets, cobbles and oak fronted shop fronts. For shoppers, the city doesn’t disappoint. First, there’s the Norwich Lanes, a series of cobblestoned byways brimming with independent stores. Next is the Royal Arcade, whose elegant façade has attracted a number of luxury retailers. Then of course there’s the city’s two inner-city shopping centres, which each house an impressive array of shops.

Click here to view our Norwich holiday cottages.


Grafton Street, Dublin – Via Flickr

Grafton Street, Dublin – Via Flickr

Shopping aficionado? Forget London and travel to the Irish capital instead. Dublin is not only a great place to spend your hard-earned, it’s a wonderful destination in its own right, with pubs, eateries and attractions aplenty. But enough about that; we have business to attend. As you’d expect from a capital city, Dublin is a real gem when it comes to retail therapy. The city boasts a number of famous shopping districts, including Grafton Street, which was dubbed the fifth most expensive shopping street in the world in 2008. Take a tour of the city and who knows what treasures you’ll unearth.

Click here to view our Dublin holiday cottages.


Grassmarket, Edinburgh – Via Flickr

Grassmarket, Edinburgh – Via Flickr

From one capital to another; Edinburgh is the undisputed king of retail north of the border. High street stores, independent retailers, speciality markets – you name it, Edinburgh has it. For all your high street essentials, make for Princes Street or St Andrews Square. You’ll find luxury, high-end items on George Street, whilst the city’s historic Grassmarket is home to no-end of independent boutiques. Jenners is also well worth a visit. This unique department store was first opened in 1838, and features an eye-catching interior far-removed from the bright, white aesthetic of other department stores.

Click here to view our Edinburgh holiday cottages.

Book a 3-night city break today with Sykes Cottages!

A self-catering holiday home may not be the first thing that springs to mind when planning a city break, but they offer a flexible and affordable alternative to a hotel. Whether you opt for one of our inner city cottages, or rent one on the outskirts and catch the bus, a January short break in a Sykes’ holiday home could be just what you’ve been looking for.

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Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.