What to Pack for a City Break

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City breaks offer the perfect opportunity to escape the routine of daily life, explore new surroundings, and immerse yourself in the culture of a bustling metropolis. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended stay, packing efficiently is essential to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable trip.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the essential items you should pack for a city break to ensure you’re prepared for any adventure that comes your way.

Comfortable and versatile clothing

Woman making a checklist of what to pack for a city break.

As you begin to pack for a city break, choose your most comfortable and versatile clothing. Go for lightweight, wrinkle-resistant fabrics that allow for easy movement and don’t require ironing.

The capsule wardrobe concept is perfect for weekend getaways. For easy mixing and matching, pack essentials such as jeans, a jacket, and basic tops in a neutral color like black, gray, or beige. Accessorize with colorful items like scarves or jewelry to add flair.

Think about how you can maximize each piece of your clothing to create various looks. For example, pants can be dressed up or down for various occasions. A neutral-colored shirt can easily transition from casual daywear to a more refined evening look.

City break packing list for women

If you’re a woman, make sure to include a skirt or dress in your packing list that effortlessly transitions from day to night. Comfort should be your top priority, so choose clothing that allows you to move freely and feel comfortable throughout the day.

With so many soft fabrics and minimalistic styles, thong underwear is perfect for a city break. It’s breathable, hides panty lines, and takes up almost no space in your suitcase.

Don’t forget to pack a stylish scarf, too! It not only adds flair to your outfit but can also double as a shawl during cooler evenings. Plus, it comes in handy when you need to maintain modesty in more conservative locations, such as Vatican City.

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Comfortable footwear

Footwear can make or break your city break experience, so don’t cheap out on it. Invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers with good arch support. You’ll be thankful for them when you’re exploring museums, navigating cobblestone streets, or strolling through parks.

If you plan to enjoy some evening events, pack a pair of stylish yet comfortable shoes for a polished look without sacrificing comfort.

ⓘ PRO TIP: If your feet are feeling fatigued at midday, try switching to a different pair of shoes.

Weather-appropriate outerwear

Check the forecast before packing. Knowing the forecast allows you to pack accordingly, ensuring that you have the right clothing and accessories for the expected conditions.

If you’re visiting a city with unpredictable weather, ensure your shoes are waterproof. It’s also wise to bring a versatile, lightweight jacket or coat that can be layered over your outfits, as well as a compact travel umbrella if rain is in the forecast.

You’ll also need accessories such as a hat, scarf, gloves, or sunglasses, for added protection and style.

Important documents

hand holiing a US passport in an airport seat

Getting ready for a city break is always exciting, but it’s not uncommon for people to forget essential documents amid all that enthusiasm. To ensure a smooth and stress-free trip, taking a calm and organized approach to packing can make a world of difference.

To keep essential documents safe and easily accessible, consider using a travel wallet or organizer with designated slots for important papers. This not only helps to stay organized but also adds a layer of convenience to your travel experience.

Another helpful strategy is to create a checklist well in advance and then double-check it before hitting the road.

Don’t forget your transportation passes, whether it’s a city metro card or a printed train ticket. Additionally, pack any necessary medical documents, like doctor’s prescriptions, for unexpected situations.

ⓘ PRO TIP: Install TripIt on your phone. This free app consolidates all your travel plans in one place, from flight details to hotel reservations, tickets, and more. It updates your itinerary automatically and can even provide real-time updates. We can’t do without it when we travel.

Travel insurance

Including travel insurance on your city break packing list is a savvy move. While it might not go in your suitcase, it’s a crucial item for your overall travel planning.

Sure, it’s tempting to think accidents won’t happen during a brief getaway, but unforeseen circumstances can disrupt your plans. You might experience a sudden bout of illness or have an accident, and travel insurance can ensure you get the care you need without breaking the bank.

But it’s not just about health. Flights might get delayed, phones can be stolen, or luggage can decide to go on its own adventure (On one trip, ours ended up in London and Hong Kong!). Basically, travel insurance covers everything from lost passports to trip cancellations and more. It’s cheap financial protection and peace of mind.

City breaks may seem low risk, but you never know when travel insurance might come in handy. Keep the information in your wallet while you travel.

Toiletries to pack for a city break

Toiletry bag and packing essentials

Minimize your toiletries to save space, weight, and hassle on security lines. Everyone has their own routine, but here are a few basic things that most people pack for a weekend getaway.

We’d recommend purchasing a zippered toiletry bag that’s big enough to hold everything you may need. It’s also added protection in case something leaks. Just remember that if you’re flying, you can only bring 100 ml bottles in your carry-on bag and that they need to be in a clear, 1-quart zip bag.

Many brands offer travel-sized versions—far more than you’d need for an entire weeklong city break. If you can’t find your favorites or want an eco-friendly option, purchase reusable travel containers and fill them with your preferred products.

Along with your toiletries, bring a small first aid kit with band-aids, a pain reliever, and a pocket sewing kit. You’ll want to bring any prescription medications you might need, of course, but carry them on board with you. You don’t want any issues if your checked luggage goes astray!

ⓘ PRO TIP: Store your toiletry bag in your suitcase, with an extra set of all your travel essentials. It will be ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice, and you won’t forget anything!

Day pack or crossbody bag

When exploring a city, you’ll want a convenient bag to carry your essentials. A daypack and a crossbody bag are excellent choices because they keep your hands free while ensuring the safety of your belongings.

The main differences between the two relate to size, wearing style, and capacity. A daypack is worn on the back and offers more storage space, suitable for carrying essentials and extras. A crossbody bag is worn across the torso, providing convenience for quick access to necessities, with a more compact design.

Whatever style you choose, it should emphasize functionality, security, and comfort for a hassle-free city exploration.

What to look for in a daypack

  • Big enough to hold essentials like a phone, battery pack, water bottle, camera, map, and a light jacket.
  • Multiple compartments for organization
  • Security features like anti-theft zippers and a hidden pocket for IDs and emergency cash.
  • Adjustable straps and padded back support for comfort.
  • Water-resistant material to shield valuables from unexpected weather.
  • A neutral color for versatility and to avoid drawing unnecessary attention.

ⓘ PRO TIP: Choose a bag with RFID-blocking technology to safeguard credit cards and passports from electronic theft.

Travel adapters, chargers, and converters

Travel fashion accessories

Simplicity is key, so focus on gadgets that enhance your experience without weighing you down.

Tech essentials include a compact power bank to keep your devices charged all day, along with a universal adapter and cables for overnight charging. If you’re driving to your destination, a cigarette lighter USB charger may come in handy.

Consider a compact camera for capturing city moments, along with an extra battery and memory card. Bring versatile earbuds for music and calls and toss in a portable Bluetooth speaker for spontaneous room entertainment.

Stash everything in a travel tech organizer for easy access and protection against any unexpected spills or bumps.


City breaks often involve downtime between sightseeing and dining. Be sure to pack some entertainment options to pass the time. This could include an enjoyable book, your Kindle, a tablet with your favorite movies or TV series downloaded, or a compact travel board game for fun with friends or family.

These might seem unnecessary, but after a long day of sightseeing, you might enjoy unwinding with a book or board game before you head out to dinner!

Travel guide and offline maps

Man and woman looking at a map

While smartphones have become indispensable for travel, having a physical travel guide or city map can be a lifesaver when navigating unfamiliar streets or looking for hidden gems. They don’t rely on batteries or internet access, making them a reliable backup.

Reusable water bottles and snacks

Staying hydrated is essential, especially when you’re out exploring all day. A reusable water bottle will help you reduce waste and save money by refilling it at water fountains or cafes. To save room, pick a collapsible water bottle that you can fold up and stow in your bag when it’s empty.

Additionally, pack some healthy snacks like granola bars, trail mix, or nuts to keep your energy levels up between meals. This also helps avoid impulse purchases of overpriced snacks at tourist hotspots.

Eco-friendly tote bag

An eco-friendly tote bag is a practical addition to your packing list. It’s handy for carrying groceries or souvenirs and helps reduce plastic waste during your city break.

Many cities around the world are embracing sustainability, so having a reusable bag is not only convenient but also environmentally responsible.

Personal touches

Finally, don’t forget to pack a few personal touches that make your city break special. This could be a favorite book, a travel journal, or a small memento from home. These items can provide comfort and a sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar place.

Man and woman behind carry-on suitcases. The text overlay says "Your ultimate city break packing list"

Final thoughts…

We know that making sure you have all the essentials can be quite costly, so why not ask for some of these items as travel gifts? Remember, the key to a successful city break is not just what you pack but how you pack it to make the most of your travel experience.

Getting ready for a city break is all about finding that sweet spot between comfort, versatility, and being ready for anything. Review the items mentioned above and personalize your packing list to fit your needs and destination. This way, you’re all set for a stress-free and enjoyable urban adventure!

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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