Archive for the ‘City Breaks’ Category

The UK’s Smallest Cities

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016
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When it comes to city breaks we immediately think of locations like London or Manchester, but what about the UK’s smaller cities – the unusual cities, cities crisscrossed with cobbled streets and dominated by historic cathedrals? These unique cities are ideal for weekend or midweek breaks and can be found throughout the UK. So if you’re looking to book a city break with a difference, keep reading as we list our favourite small UK cities.

St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Well known for its spectacular cathedral, the city of St Davids’ calm atmosphere and easy pace of life would fool anyone into thinking it was a quaint Welsh town. Even though St Davids is officially the smallest city in the UK, there is still plenty to see and do here including tours of the cathedral, hikes along the Welsh Coastal Path and adventurous boat tours.

If you’d like to visit this pint-sized city on your next getaway then Sykes Cottages has a fantastic range of St Davids holiday cottages all within a few miles of the city itself.

Truro, Cornwall

Don’t let Truro’s small size fool you, as the only city in Cornwall Truro is more than equipped to cope with large numbers of locals and tourists. Known as the shopping capital of Cornwall, visitors from all over flock to the area to explore the independent shops, art galleries, pubs and restaurants. If you’re lucky enough to visit Truro during April, then you can attend the Truro Festival for Music, an impressive festival ideal for music, art and comedy lovers.

When planning your visit to Truro, be sure to check out our selection of Truro holiday cottages. These charming Cornish cottages are not only ideal for exploring the city but can also be used as a base for visiting the rest of Cornwall too.

Perth, Perthshire

With its picturesque riverside location and charming selection of independent shops and businesses, the unexpected city of Perth is the ideal location for a couple’s getaway. Here guests can take a romantic stroll along the River Tay, explore the Black Watch Castle and Museum or place a bet at the Perth Racecourse before discovering the miniature city’s many bars and restaurants during the evening.

If you’re interested in a romantic break in Perth then our selection of Perth holiday cottages are perfect for couples; with cosy fires, welcoming kitchens and plenty great places to eat and drink nearby.

Ely, Cambridgeshire

The historic city of Ely can be found just 80 miles from London, perfect for escaping the Big Smoke for the weekend. There are plenty of fantastic shopping opportunities in Ely from the independent boutiques, gift shops and craft stores to the Ely Cathedral complete with its unusual octagon tower. For an extra special day out, we suggest booking a boat trip down the Great Ouse which is sure to create wonderful memories for you and your party.

Perfect for exploring the city, our Ely holiday cottages come with stylish décor, comfortable furnishings and fantastic amenities close by.

Bangor, Gwynedd

As one of the smallest cities in the UK, Bangor can often be overlooked when it comes to booking a holiday, but with Snowdonia National Park and the North Wales coast on your doorstep, Bangor is a fantastic location for an active escape. Whether you’re taking a stroll along Bangor pier, exploring the grounds at Penrhyn Castle, or bouncing around in the underground caverns at Bounce Below there are plenty of attractions to discover in the Bangor area.

Our selection of Bangor holiday cottages are ideal for families looking to explore North Wales on their next self-catering break. These cottages come with plenty of space both indoors and out, and you can even bring the dog along as many of our Bangor cottages are pet-friendly.

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her husband.

City Break Locations for a January Break

Monday, December 7th, 2015
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With Christmas just around the corner and New Year’s Eve hot on its heels, thinking ahead to January can seem impossible. However here at Sykes Cottages, we know it’s never too early to start planning your next UK getaway. UK cities are perfect for a January break and whether you’re looking to hit the shops in search of a January bargain, or pack your day full of spa treatments to help you recuperate after the festive season, our UK cities are sure to accommodate your needs. Keep reading for a closer look at some of our favourite UK cities, ideal for a January holiday.


York is a city filled with history, romance, fantastic architecture and a wonderful atmosphere, all of which make it perfect for a break in January. If you’re not dining out at one of the many superb eateries then chances are you’ll be hitting the streets in search of a deal or two in the January sales. Not only does York boast several small boutique stores but there are also plenty of designer labels dotted about the city.


As one of Britain’s most iconic destinations, the city of Bath has a lot to offer visitors this January. As well as the numerous eateries and historic sites, Bath is also well known for its natural thermal waters which are ideal for those looking to relax this January. Book a spa weekend in Bath and not only can you discover the best preserved Roman Bath complex in Northern Europe but also enjoy some down time at the Thermae Bath Spa.

St Davids

As the smallest city in Britain, St Davids offers the perfect getaway for those looking for a city break with a difference. Surrounded by the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, this tiny city is a haven for artists, travellers and pilgrims. No trip to St Davids would be complete without a visit to the dominating St Davids Cathedral. This marvellous 12th century cathedral attracts thousands of visitors each year and is a must see for anyone in the area.

We hope this list of UK cities has helped inspire you to take a January break this year. For more information on our city break locations please visit our self-catering city breaks page.

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Nicole Jones-Gerrard

By Nicole Jones-Gerrard

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her husband.

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! And if you need somewhere to stay don’t forget to have a look at our Edinburgh holiday cottages where you’re sure to find the perfect place for you.

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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.