Things to consider
- Your clothing choices will depend on the time of year you visit and the likely weather conditions.
- For hotter climes opt for shorts and short-sleeved shirts in cotton or linen.
- In cooler seasons you'll prefer trousers, long-sleeved shirts and jackets in thicker cotton, wool or cashmere.
- Temperatures may vary a lot between inside and out – in summer buildings may have fierce air-con, whilst in winter they'll be toasty warm.
- Clever layering is the best way to cope with changeable conditions – e.g. wear or carry a jacket, over a fleece, over a t-shirt.
- Will any activities need special attire – such as swimwear for the hotel spa, or a smart outfit for attending the opera?
- Pick a simple colour scheme of neutrals plus one or two statement shades. Make sure all your clothes co-ordinate so they can be mixed and matched.
- Don't forget you will need an outfit to travel in – wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes where possible.
- Download our complete packing list below for all quantities and a checklist of items.
- Also see our City Break Capsule Wardrobe for Women
What we would pack for a city break
Casual Trousers or Shorts
These should be practical for days out. Choose fabrics that dry quickly in case of rain. Styles with detachable legs are a good option for varied temperatures, or you might opt for shorts instead for hotter climes. Pack a smarter pair for evenings too.
Suggested buy: Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pant by Amazon
Choose a pair that are comfy for day wear (team with a t-shirt and walking shoes) but can also be worn to dinner with smarter shoes and a shirt. Smart dark jeans would work well, or try a lighter Chino style in warmer weather. Some hotels and restaurants require men to wear long trousers (not shorts) in the evenings.
Suggested buy: AG 'Protégé' Straight Leg Twill Pants by Nordstrom
For warmer weather add in another pair of shorts. Make them tailored as an option for casual evening wear where permitted.
Suggested buy: RVCA Flat Front Twill Shorts by Nordstrom
Adds the finishing touch to an outfit. This Rogue money belt looks like a regular leather belt but has the added bonus of a secure zipped pocket to carry your cash – useful for emergencies, or when sightseeing in busy tourist spots that can be prone to pickpockets.
Buy from us!: Rogue Leather Money Belt by WhatToWearOnVacation
Pack simple tops in your favourite colours that will match your trousers and shorts. Collared t-shirts or shirts can be worn for casual evenings, then wear by day for sightseeing. Depending on the climate choose from long or short-sleeved, or a mixture.
Suggested buy: Fruit of the Loom Cotton Polo Shirt by Amazon
Choose smart shirts that can be dressed down with jeans or up with trousers. Short sleeved are fine if you prefer, but don't forget there may be chilly air-con in some restaurants.
Suggested buy: Russell Long Sleeve Fitted Shirt by Amazon
Fleece or Light Sweater
Even in hot climates a breeze can make it feel cool in the evenings, whilst inside air-con can also make it chilly. A fleece is light, cosy and packs well – or opt for a smart sweater if you prefer.
Suggested buy: The North Face Glacier 1/4 Zip Fleece by Amazon
You may choose to dress up for a concert or the opera, and some hotels or restaurants may have a ‘smart' dress code. Team it with your smart-casual trousers and deck shoes.
Suggested buy: Trim Fit Graph Print Blazer by Nordstrom
Just in case – a tie may be handy for smart venues, and will take up very little room in your bag.
Suggested buy: Red Navy Square Dot Tie by TM Lewin
Walking Shoes or Trainers
Most cities are best explored on foot, so you'll need some comfy flat shoes for all the walking.
We love: Logan Sneakers by Hotter
Take a lightweight comfy pair for evenings and relaxed exploring by day. Deck shoes look good with both shorts in summer and casual trousers any time.
Try these: Burton Shoes by Hotter
If it's hot you may prefer comfy sandals to walk in, but do check that they don't cause blisters
Suggested buy: Birkenstock Arizona Sandals by Amazon
Essential for sun protection in hot weather, or choose a woollen style to keep out the cold and wet in cooler climes.
Buy from us!: Canvas Breezy Sun Hat by WhatToWearOnVacation
The sun (or snow!) can be bright even in winter, and if you're out all day it can be a strain on your eyes – especially exploring with lots to see.
Suggested buy: Ray-Ban Original Wayfarer by Amazon
Good sunscreen is essential in hotter climes, and don't get caught out on cloudy days either – you can still get burnt. Remember that water will reflect the sun's rays too. Choose a product with a high SPF (protects from UVB rays) and also look for the star or PA rating which indicates protection from UVA.
Suggested buy: SPF 30 PA+++ Water Resistant Sunscreen by Murad
A light packaway raincoat is a good idea to carry with you on days out – it's ideal in case the weather changes quickly or you experience a sudden downpour. You can layer up underneath for warmth if necessary, or opt for a more substantial jacket in cooler months.
Suggested buy: Result Waterproof Jacket by Amazon
You'll need a lightweight bag for all your sightseeing essentials. Our packaway day sack folds up into itself and fits easily in your suitcase when not in use. It's surprisingly roomy, showerproof and light to carry – even in hot weather.
Buy from us!: Fold Away Day Sack on Amazon