The top city breaks in the world

Got a taste for travel but not sure where to head next? Check out this list of the top 10 city breaks in the UK, Europe and beyond, all serving up generous portions of culture and history, often with sides of spectacular scenery and delectable local dishes.

These UK destinations deserve a spot on your travel list

Whether you're in the mood for somewhere cosmopolitan, charming or creative, you'll find a city break that fits the bill without leaving the UK. There's also a sizeable spread of holiday rentals, ranging from luxurious London flats with views of the Thames to modern studios tucked away in Edinburgh's medieval Old Town.

Lap up the broad-based offerings in London

Western Europe's largest city is always worth visiting, whether it's to hear Big Ben chime on the hour, peruse the bric-a-brac on offer in Brick Lane or see a musical in the West End. Hop on the London Eye and spy the city's most recognisable sights in one go, or stroll and sightsee along the Thames – you'll come across attractions like Tower Bridge and Shakespeare's Globe.

You'll be besotted with Edinburgh's charming cityscape

In Scotland's beautiful, hilly capital, you can visit imposing Edinburgh Castle then amble along the medieval Old Town's twisting cobbled lanes. Rest awhile in the Princes Street Gardens, then head on over to see the New Town's neoclassical buildings. Up for hiking an extinct volcano? Arthur's Seat is right in the city, and panoramic views of Edinburgh await at its rocky peak.

It hardly gets better than a Bristol city break

Bristol is a creative city whose famous sons include street artist Banksy and civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who designed the Clifton Suspension Bridge that spans the beautiful Avon Gorge. Families will enjoy the inventive displays at We The Curious, a science museum with a 3D planetarium, and the dockside M Shed museum that's housed in a 1950s transit shed.

Sky's the limit when it comes to European city breaks

From cycling along Amsterdam's waterways to camping out in Reykjavik to see the Northern Lights, these top city break choices in Europe offer a vast variety of experiences. A spacious, comfy holiday letting is an added convenience, especially if you pick one that's near your destination's top attractions.

Prague is a perennial favourite

Visit the 'City of a Hundred Spires' and see its stunning church towers, quaint cobbled lanes and beautiful bridges for yourself. Prague Castle towers above the Czech Republic's capital, while baroque statues line Charles Bridge, which links the city's Old and New Towns. Don't miss the Gothic Tyn Church's twin towers and the elaborate Astronomical Clock that chimes on the hour.

You'll rave about Reykjavik's stunning scenery

The Icelandic capital's coastal walks, fascinating museums and burgeoning culinary scene will surely charm any visitor, but it's the natural landscapes beyond the city limits that'll take your breath away. Reykjavik is a starting point for immensely popular Golden Circle tours, which stop at UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Hot Spring area.

Easygoing Amsterdam aims to please

The quintessential Amsterdam experience includes cycling along the canals or on the bike paths in sprawling Vondelpark, and getting drinks at a brown cafe or a chilled-out coffee house. The Rijksmuseum, whose remarkable collection features masterpieces by Vermeer and Rembrandt, is easily the city's top attraction. Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum are must-sees too.

There's no place like Rome

From the ancient Colosseum to the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's masterpiece in the Vatican, Rome has a surplus of world-famous attractions. Cool off with a cup of creamy gelato between stops at Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. You can't miss St. Peter's Basilica, even if you're just seeing it from afar – Italy's largest church dominates Rome's skyline.

Go on exotic exploits in these top city breaks worldwide

Leave the familiar comforts of the continent and fly off to far-flung destinations for a taste of what life is like on the other side of the world. It's time to book those long-haul flights – and a holiday rental where you can bed down comfortably when the jet lag sets in.

Tokyo's wide-ranging thrills are tough to beat

Don't be surprised if holiday lettings across tantalising Tokyo reveal different sides of the world's most populous city, since its 23 districts all have distinctive characters and offerings. For instance, Akihabara is the go-to area for Japanese comics and the latest gadgets, Asakusa boasts historic temples and Shibuya is all about fashion and youth culture.

Take a bite out of the Big Apple

Much has been said, written and sung about New York, but why not experience its buzzing big-city vibe for yourself? Brownstone holiday rentals in Manhattan put you in the thick of the action. You can go on a morning stroll on the High Line, then visit architectural gems like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal before catching a Broadway show at night.

Istanbul is a hotbed of cultural adventures

Perched on the border between Europe and Asia, Istanbul's unique East-meets-West culture is a thrill to take in. Sultanahmet Square is the historic heart and home to the city's must-see attractions, top-billed by the illustrious Hagia Sophia, a museum in a former cathedral and mosque. Shop for souvenirs at the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, then feast on fresh seafood in a restaurant along the Bosphorus.