City trips are à la mode, with many of us visiting London for a weekend, Amsterdam for a night or Milan from Monday to Friday. At Accor, we quizzed Belgium’s city trip-lovers about their favourite destinations and why they so love short stays in European cities.

Conducted by the research agency MWM2 on behalf of Accor Hotels, the poll’s aim was to ascertain the most popular city trips among the Belgians and Dutch. And it was the major Western European capitals that came up trumps, along

The most visited cities

We asked the participants to name the cities they’ve visited in the past three years and to rate them in order of preference.

Most visited cities

Paris still No. 1
Nearly half of those questioned said that they’d visited Paris at least once during the previous three years. Amsterdam (39%) and London (36%) also figure among the most popular destinations for a city trip, a fact not unconnected to their easy accessibility from Belgium.

A clear preference for the South
Another interesting finding is that the south is outstripping the north, with Barcelona and Rome particularly popular. Oslo, in contrast, is one of the least visited destinations (4% of respondents), while Stockholm (4.2%), Dublin (4.7%) and Copenhagen (6.1 %) are encountering little more success.

City Popularity

Barcelona delights
Although Paris takes top spot in terms of number of visits, it’s Barcelona that most enchants Belgian tourists. The Catalan capital obtains an average score of 8.5/10, closely followed by Rome (8.3) and then Lisbon (8.2). Brussels gets the lowest score (7/10), doubtless because it offers less of a change of scene… The same effect is seen in the Dutch survey, where Amsterdam obtains the lowest score. The same city is not one of those most loved by Belgians either, as although we visit it regularly, we don’t go overboard in our appreciation, giving it 7.6/10, the same as Dublin.

What make us visit a city?

Every city has its own charms and specific reasons for a visit, so we asked the interviewees why they choose one city trip over another. The visual below illustrates the 5 main reasons: shopping, culture, tranquillity, price and business.

Top cities

Serenity in Scandinavia
Although we tend not to head north much on our city trips, the Scandinavian countries are our destinations of choice when we’re after rest and relaxation. The Top 3 in this regard are Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen, while we also appreciate Amsterdam and Lisbon for their tranquillity.

London for the shopping!
When it comes to going shopping, it’s London which possesses the strongest pull, followed by Milan, Amsterdam and Paris

Prague: culturally crucial and cut-price
When asked which city is most worth a visit for cultural pursuits, Belgians are unequivocal: Prague! The capital of the Czech Republic is followed by historic Rome, while Berlin, which has gained in popularity over the past three years, comes in a respectable 3rd.

Prague is also the most appreciated city in terms of price. According to Belgians, it’s the ideal destination for a low-cost cultural getaway, while Lisbon is also deemed a good destination for an inexpensive trip. The Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid, to which many cheap flights are available, also do well on this criterion.

And for work?
When Belgians take a city trip for business purposes, they often stay in their own country, with Brussels leading the way in this regard. Italy, however, is also a frequently chosen destination for business city trips. Milan, for instance, comes out second, while Rome stands in fifth position. The remaining members of this business Top 5 are Madrid and Prague.

Who do we travel with on our city trips?

Our city trips generally involve staying in hotels as a couple: 57% of Belgians travel with their spouse/partner, while 13% go with friends and 11% as a family.

Travel Companion
Hotels are the form of accommodation most commonly chosen for a city trip. Nearly 80% of the interviewees said that they stayed in a hotel on their last city trip. When we don’t opt for a hotel, we stay in guest houses, youth hostels or with friends.
In summary then, when Belgians take a city trip, we clearly prefer to head south rather than north. Paris is the most visited city and Barcelona the most highly appreciated. And when we do head north, we do so in particular for the calmness that can be found there. So how about you? Where are you heading for your next city trip?