The Best City Breaks for History Lovers

    Top city breaks for history lovers

    If you’re short on time but want to escape the UK, then a city break is one of the best ways to uncover a new culture, without using up all your work holidays.

    Whether you love to sample new food, uncover the history of a city, or shop ‘til you drop, there are so many things you can do on a city break. If you’re the kind of person who wants to immerse yourself in history, then you’ll want to read on; as we’ve uncovered the top city breaks in the world for history lovers by looking at a range of factors, including the number of museums, galleries, guided tours, and more.

    Our Best 5 Historical Cities

    We’ve taken a deeper look at the best destinations for history buffs. Here’s our top 5 – see if you agree…

    1. Rome, Italy
    2. Tokyo, Japan
    3. Paris, France
    4. London, UK
    5. Berlin, Germany

    So, if you’re in looking for somewhere interesting to visit, read on to discover your next potential holiday destination, and don’t forget to book your airport parking with us, to unlock the best deals.

    Best city breaks for history lovers

    1. Rome, Italy

    With 3,248 historical tours on offer, in addition to 1,648 landmarks, and 1,511 archaeology tours, Rome tops our list as the best city break for history buffs.

    One of the most historical cities in the world, visit the crypts and catacombs that sit beneath the city, including the Capuchin Bone Chapel; wander around the imposing Colosseum, or tick another country off your list and visit Vatican City, where you can see the iconic St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Grottos underneath.

    Rome is also home to the greatest number of libraries (82); and if you’re a huge book lover, then make sure you visit Angelica Library, which opened to the public in 1609, and is home to more than 120,000 manuscripts.

    Colosseum, Rome

    2. Tokyo, Japan

    With the largest number of history and speciality museums, at 85 and 225 respectively, Tokyo is another great city for history lovers. In fact, it has more landmarks than anywhere else in the world, at a huge 4,989, as well as the most antique stores, and the second most museum and art galleries.

    For art lovers, you can’t beat Mori art museum, which is situated on the 53rd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, and focuses on Asia-Pacific art; as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Alternatively, if you want to pick up some Japanese antiques, then head to Oedo or Akasaka flea markets, which are free to enter, and see if you can bag a bargain.

    3. Paris, France

    Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris

    France’s capital comes in third place for history lovers, with the second largest number of historical tours (1,685), as well as the second most landmarks and libraries, at 2,512 and 50 respectively.

    Saint-Chapelle, the catacombs, and Père Lachaise cemetery are some of the key historical sites the city has to offer; but what you may not know about Paris, is that it also has six military museums – joint third on the list.

    Musée de l’Armée is one of those museums, with its current exhibition titled ‘Duels: the art of fighting’.

    4. London, UK

    With a rich and varied history, it makes sense that London would score so highly for history lovers. As for the reasons why, it has the joint most military museums, as well as the third most historical tours (1,402), and the third most art museums and galleries (314).

    Whatever period of history your interest lies in, there’s something for you. From the Tower of London, which saw many royal beheadings, to Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and The Churchill War Rooms, where you can learn more about WW2, you could spend a whole week and not uncover the full backstory of London.

    For something even darker, you could book yourself onto a Jack the Ripper walking tour, where you can walk the winding backstreets of Whitechapel in the dark and retrace the final steps of his victims.

    5. Berlin, Germany

    Brandenburger Gate, Berlin

    Rounding off our top five list of city breaks for history lovers is Berlin, with its own unique history. Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, and Brandenburg Gate are all key historical sites to see.

    With 391 historical tours, 50 history museums, and 120 speciality museums, there are plenty of things to do. Visit the DDR Museum to uncover life during the GDR, or tour the underground tunnels of Berlin, and uncover the “ghost” stations, deserted by the soldiers that once patrolled them.

    If art’s more your thing, then visit Bode Museum and Pergamon Museum, both located on Museum Island in the centre of the city.

    Looking at the top 10, Europe features the most – with six cities in total, followed by Asia – with Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul all placing in the top 10. New York is the highest scoring US city in 6th place, with Los Angeles In 14th, and Philadelphia in 15th place.

    Best Cities for Art Lovers

    If you love to spend time trawling through art galleries, admiring the architecture, and going antiquing, then you can’t get better than New York City. With 703 art museums and galleries, it has more than anywhere else on our list, including the iconic Met, Guggenheim, and MoMA.

    Istanbul, Chicago, and Seoul also scored well for art galleries, with Istanbul home to 272. Whilst Rome scores top for architecture tours, Kuala Lumpur comes second, with 215, followed by Barcelona and Dubai.

    Kuala Lumpur is a city of contrasts, with its architecture no different. From the imposing Petronas Towers and surrounding skyscrapers to the pretty Pink Mosque and intricate Batu Caves, the city is full of one breathtaking building after another.

    Alternatively, if a day of antiquing is your idea of heaven, then alongside Tokyo and London, head to New Orleans or New York, with New Orlean’s French Quarter one of the best places to shop.

    Best Cities for Museums

    Whilst Tokyo, Rome, and London have the most history museums, if it’s speciality museums you’re after, why not check out Beijing or Seoul? Must-see museums in Beijing include the Paleozoological Museum of China, where you can see fossils and human remains; and the National Museum of China, which is located near Tiananmen Square, and has almost 200 exhibition halls.

    And, if you’re in Seoul, then you can’t not learn more about the history of Korea and the division between the north and south. If you’ve got time, go on a guided tour of the DMZ, where you can learn more about life by the border, and look over into North Korea; or if you’d prefer to stay in the city, visit the War Memorial of Korea, which includes a dedicated exhibition to the Korean War of the 1950s.

    So, whether you want to discover a new city in Europe, the USA, Asia or beyond, we hope this has given you the inspiration needed to decide where to go next! Once you’ve sorted your flights, why not book an airport lounge, to start your holiday off in style; or try our airport hotel and parking combo, which is ideal if you have an early morning flight out, or late flight back?


    We used Time Out’s ‘Best Cities In 2024’ list for a seed list;

    All factors were then collected from TripAdvisor, which was ranked using a normalisation formula.

    Photos by:
    Dario VeronesiUnsplash | Chris AndersonUnsplash | Florian WehdeUnsplash