Top Cities To Visit In 2009

Posted on: 16 December 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

City escapes to suit every taste and budget - from romantic retreats to once in a lifetime luxury trips or budget conscious 2009 breaks.

If you're looking for that elusive escape to the city but don't know where to go, you’re in luck as 50connect hand pick the best cities to visit in 2009 to suit every budget and taste.

From romantic retreats, lifetime luxury trips to budget conscious breaks, read on to explore cities where the sunshine swathes the sidewalks, meandering through markets is blissful and stumbling across tree-lined piazzas brimming with cafes its just the norm.

We show you why Northern Europe and the Americas are going to be hot next year. So whether it's new attractions, regenerated neighbourhoods or more for your money, we've selected the cities to be seen in for 2009.

Bristol, England

Dita Von Teese recently opened a new Harvey Nichols store alongside a Cinema de Lux and a wealth of luxury apartments at Cabot Circus - a long awaited boost to the Broadmead shopping district.

Not long after, Bristol’s robust eco-appeal got stronger as it was named the ‘most sustainable city in Britain’. Luxury consumerism and environmental sustainability look set to coexist in 2009.

Clifton Suspension Bridge, BristolHow To Get There: Bristol international Airport is situated 8 miles south-west of the city centre whilst Bristol Temple Meads train station is located approximately 15 minutes walk from the centre and has regular inter-city and regional train services from Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, London, Plymouth, Southampton, Swansea and York. 

National Express operates services to Marlborough St Coach station, located in the city centre, from cities throughout the UK including London. The journey from London to Bristol takes about 2hours 30minutes. Tickets are much cheaper if booked in advance online.

If travelling by car, the M5 and M4 motorways intersect near Bristol and the M32, a motorway 'spur', brings traffic directly into the city centre. The M4 links London with Bristol with a driving time of some two hours.

Copenhagen, Denmark

With 12 Michelin stars awarded in 2008 - that’s more than Vienna, Rome, or Madrid - plus a clutch of new boutique hotels and minimalist designed budget hostels, Copenhagen has become the ultimate gourmet and style destination.

Its green-credentials aren’t bad either, recently becoming the world’s first ‘Bike City’ with 36 percent of all Copenhageners cycling to work, school and university.

How To Get There: Denmark's capital city is an expensive airport to use, stopping airlines like Easyjet from offering more flights there. Some passengers opt to fly to Malmo instead, and use the stunning Oresund river crossing to reach the centre of Copenhagen.

Granada, Spain

With the credit crunch taking its toll many families will holiday a bit closer to home in 2009; travelling to Spain and France. 

More and more tourists will flock to the most beautiful of all Andalucian cities, Granada, where they will be mesmerised by the Alhambra and stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.

How To Get There: Budget flights fly from London Stanstead and Liverpool with a half an hour connection bus from the airport to city centre.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna’s festival calendar is a true ballroom blur, kicking off with the city’s glittering New Year balls and the annual splendour of the Vienna Opera Ball on 19 February 2009.

Come mid-May the city’s greatest festival, the Wiener Festwochen, comes into play with operas, theatre, music and performing arts, and Mozart’s operas are performed in the beautiful Schönbrunn Park until late August.

ViennaHow To Get There: Vienna has traditionally been seen by the no-frills airlines as a high cost place to do business, leaving national carrier Austrian Airlines as the only option for flights to Vienna from outside London, with a daily link from Manchester.

Although Vienna's Schwechat international airport does at least play host to budget airline Niki, their UK route network is currently limited to London Stansted. For this reason, many people searching for cheap flights to Vienna also look at Bratislava, which is just across the border in Slovakia.

Gdansk, Poland

Reputed to be the new Krakow in 2009, Gdansk’s old town has been spruced up and the picturesque Bergher houses that line its streets are interspersed with an influx of new hotels, restaurants and shops.

With direct flights from Liverpool, Stansted and Birmingham with Ryanair, Poland’s coastline could see a new influx of visitors to this part of the Baltic Sea.

How To Get There: As with the rest of Poland, Gdansk has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of flight routes from the UK in the last couple of years. Nearly all UK airports offer services to the Polish city.

Vilnius, Lithuania

European Capital of Culture in 2009, the Lithuanian capital is planning 120 art and culture projects, and over 900 cultural events.

Highlights include the Vilnius Book Fair in February, Street Musician Day in May, Culture Night on Midsummer Night, and the LUX Festival of Lights in November which brings socially deprived groups into the ‘lighted’ city, using science, nature and art to ‘light’ Vilnius at its darkest period of the year.

How To Get There: Flights to Vilnius are available from London, although budget airline Ryanair have chosen to operate cheap flights to Lithuania's second largest city, Kaunas, instead.

Reykjavik, Iceland

The country’s economy may be frozen, but travel to this beautiful city certainly is not. Reykjavik has been the destination of choice for the latter part of 2008 and this will continue through 2009, particularly during the summer months when the sun shines all day long.

The falling value of the Krona means with a 40% saving for Brits on last year, there has never been a cheaper time to visit.

How To Get There: Reykjavik is the home of Icelandair, who've been operating flights between the UK and Iceland for over 60 years.

St Petersburg, Russia 

Russia’s most romantic city has surged in popularity over the past few years and this is set to continue in 2009.

As well as popular sights such as The Hermitage and Winter Palace and St Isaac’s Cathedral, visitors can enjoy a Russian banya (steam bath) and take a stroll through Pavlovsk Park.

How To Get There: British Airways and Russian airline Pulkovo offer flights from London to St Petersburg. Connecting flights are available via cities such as Helsinki.

Fes, Morocco

With new direct flights from Gatwick starting in December 2008, with the low cost airline Atlas Blue, it won’t take long before the tourists turn east from Marrakech’s crowded souks, to explore Morocco’s spiritual and cultural hub.

The narrow streets of Fes are alive with commerce, and all lanes lead to the Karaouiyne mosque, established in 859, one of the oldest and most illustrious mosques in the western Muslim world.

How To Get There: A limited range of direct flights to Fes is available from London, with more connections generally being available either from within Morocco, or from Spain and France, which have much better flight links in North Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa

A view of Table Mountain in Cape TownThe hosting of the World Cup in 2010 means that visitors in late 2009 will see an upgraded Cape Town Station and the arrival of the One&Only Cape Town luxury resort, complete with Africa’s first branch of Nobu.

Cape Town looks set to raise its tourist game in 2009 as it gears up for the sporting events of the following year. Add this to the world famous vista, outdoor activities, and affordable prices due to the exchange rate, and it’s a good time to visit.

How To Get There: Competition for flights to Cape Town is not as strong as it is to South Africa's larger hub at Johanesburg, despite the city's wider appeal for inbound tourists.

Washington DC, USA

Fresh with reinvigorated patriotism, tour the Eastern Seaboard by train or bus, heading south from New York to the home of the founding fathers in Philadelphia, then on to the seat of American government.

With the largest library in the world (Library of Congress), the National Museum of American History and Arlington National Cemetery, not to mention the White House, Washington DC is a vision of marble and light, with icons and monuments at every turn.

How To Get There: WAS is the Washington DC generic city code. There are three main airports serving the US capital region - Dulles, BWI (Baltimore) and Washington Reagan National, which is primarily used for domestic flights.

Seattle, USA

With a new Four Seasons hotel just unveiled, a new Hyatt at Olive 8 opening in January 2009 from the Hyatt brand, and a large new “eco-friendly” hotel called “1” scheduled to open mid 2009, a good nights sleep in Seattle is scheduled for next year.

Something you need in a city that can see you catching a rock show or taking in the sleek downtown area by kayak, all in one trip. A truly modern American city surrounded by acres of stately redwoods, misty coastline, and glacial caves makes for intriguing juxtaposition.

How To Get There: British Airways offer regular non-stop daily flights to Seattle from London Heathrow, with the frequency often increased during the busy summer season.

Connecting flights to Seattle are also available with Northwest airlines from Amsterdam, which has regular feeder flights from numerous UK regional airports, courtesy of Northwest's partner KLM. Seattle is also well connected with every major airport in the US and Canada, so it should never be a problem finding a flight.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, ArgentinaThe old port district of La Boca will feature a major exhibition of France’s surrealist master Marcel Duchamp at the recently revamped Fundación Proa art gallery in February.

In June the Puerto Madero docklands district opens the first-ever Fosters & Partners (led by Sir Norman Foster) design project in Latin America. The uber-hip residential space will be the centrepiece of a new cultural district. The bicentenary of Argentina’s independence from Spain is in 2010 but next year offers the chance to go before the hordes do.

How To Get There: Pistarini International is the main international airport serving the Argentine capital - see our flights to Buenos Aires general page for more details.

Darwin, Australia

With Baz Luhrmann’s new must-see movie, Australia, hitting the screens on 26 December, Australia’s Northern Territory is bound to be a popular destination for 2009.  Its famous Kakadu national park, hot red earth and rough Australian outback with Uluru – formerly known as Ayres Rock - on the doorstep – will draw hordes of holidaymakers to Darwin.

How To Get There: Darwin's position on the north coast of Australia makes connecting flights from Asian cities such as Singapore or Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) a far more convenient option that reaching Darwin via internal flights from other Australian cities.

Have you been to any of these cities? Are you planning a city break in 2009?

If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below or share your thoughts with other readers in the 50connect forums.

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