City Trips Are Back:
8 Cities To Explore In 2023
It’s official – cities are back with a bang this year. Expedia recently released their travel trends for 2023, and city breaks are on everyone’s minds.
After a few pandemic years of nature escapes and going off-grid, Expedia’s new survey suggests city trips and urban landscapes will return to the top of the list for travellers this year.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the best city breaks across Australia and New Zealand – where to eat, what to do, and of course, where to stay.
Adelaide is one of our favourite city breaks. This smaller southern city is known for its epic events scene, from the month-long Adelaide Fringe to WOMADelaide giving you the perfect excuse to book a trip.
While you’re there, venture just beyond the city limits and explore a handful of spectacular wine regions, or break up urban exploring with a day by the seaside in Glenelg.
Best new restaurants to try: Bandit Pizza, Bistro Francais, Good Gilbert, Hnly, Press Food & Wine, Pastel Wine Bar
Best events to travel for: Adelaide Fringe (Feb 21 - Mar 14), WOMADelaide (Mar 10-13), Tasting Australia (Apr 28 - May 7), CheeseFest (TBA), Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (2024).
New Zealand’s biggest city isn’t your average urban escape. Within the city limits you can find dozens of islands, gorgeous beaches and around 50 volcanos(!!).
But if you do choose to stick to the concrete jungle, there’s world-class food, wine, shopping, and an incredible arts scene to explore.
Best new restaurants to try: BOSSI, Aigo Noodle Bar, Shake Out, KOL, Inwards Goods, Taco Medic, Palmer
Best events to travel for: Auckland Pride Festival (Feb 1-26), Lantern Festival (Feb 2-5), Te Matatini (Feb 22-25), Aotearoa Art Fair (Mar 2-5), Pasifika Festival (Mar 4-19), Auckland Food Show (Jul 27-30), Farmers’ Santa Parade (Nov), Sculpture in the Gardens (Nov-Jan).
If it’s been a few years since you stepped foot in beautiful Brisbane, then you might not recognise this rapidly changing city.
Australia’s subtropical capital has matured into a world-class city destination with amazing food, culture and an enviable lifestyle. Wander down to the riverfront Howard Smith Wharves precinct, then eat your way along Fish Lane after checking out art at QAGOMA.
Best new restaurants to try: Casa Chow, Etna, Exhibition, Clarence, Sushi Room, Tillerman, Ramona, Allonda.
Best events to travel for: Curiocity (Mar 22 - Apr 2), Brisbane Cycling Festival (Mar 15 - Apr 16), Ekka (Aug 12-20), Bridge to Brisbane (Aug 25), Brisbane Festival (Sep 1-23), Oktoberfest (TBA).
With almost 60km of golden sandy beaches and a reputation for its thrilling theme parks, the Gold Coast might not be the first place you think of when considering a city escape.
But Australia’s sixth most populous city is on the rise. These days it feels less beachy village and more cosmopolitan cool – and there are plenty of big events to draw you there.
Best new restaurants to try: Piatto, The North Room, Bar Evelyn, Banana Blossom, FINEPRINTCO Art Bar, Yamagen, Social Eating House, Tommy’s
Best events to travel for: Gold Coast Running Festival (Apr 23), Gold Coast Pro (May 6-13), Blues on Broadbeach (May 18-21), Cooly Rocks On (Jun 7-11), SWELL Sculpture Festival (Sep 8-17), Gold Coast 500 (Oct 27-29), BLEACH Festival (TBA).
A classic Aussie city escape, Melbourne is an obvious choice for a long weekend or week-long adventure bouncing between galleries and cultural events, or feeling the atmosphere of live sport roar through a stadium.
Predicted to overtake Sydney as Australia’s most populated city, Melbourne just keeps getting better and better. From fashion and food, to sport and culture, Victoria’s capital is always a good idea for an urban escape.
Best new restaurants to try: Enter Via Laundry, Figlia, Leonie, BKK, Jeow, Freyja, Parcs, Yugen
Best events to travel for: Melbourne Food & Wine Festival (Mar 24 - Apr 2), Melbourne International Comedy Festival (Mar 29 - Apr 23), Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix (Mar 30 - Apr 2), Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix (Oct 20-22), Melbourne Cup Carnival (Nov 4-11), Australian Open (2024).
The iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House. The famous arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The sweeping curve of golden Bondi Beach. Gorgeous Sydney is a must-visit for both international visitors and Aussies for good reason.
On a city escape in 2023, you could admire these famous views while sipping cocktails at the Opera Bar, or be brave and climb over the world-renowned coathanger itself.
Best new restaurants to try: Aalia, Bar Louise, Ante, Da Orazio, Fontana, Gildas, Kiln, Rekodo, MuMu, Ele by Federico and Karl, The Charles, Parlar
Best events to travel for: Mardi Gras (Feb 17 - Mar 5), Sculpture by the Sea (March 3-20), Vivid Sydney (May 26 - June 17), City2Surf (Aug 13), Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (December 25), SydNYE (December 31), Sydney Festival (2024).
Go on an unexpected city adventure and journey out to Toowoomba, Australia’s largest inland city after Canberra.
Located 140km from Queensland’s east coast, the heritage city explodes with blooms each spring for the massive Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. If flowers aren’t your thing, you can visit any time of year and see the magnificent street art Toowoomba has become known for.
Best new restaurants to try: Cork & Lever, The Rock, The Brewhouse
Best events to travel for: FarmFest (Jun 6-8), Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (Sep 1-30), Australian Camp Oven Festival (Oct 5-6 2024).
New Zealand’s capital is often overlooked by travellers in favour of Auckland, but this underdog city offers no shortage of things to do and sights to see.
There’s a vibrant arts scene, award-winning restaurants to explore, and brilliant wine bars and craft breweries to taste the terroir. Make an essential visit to the Te Papa museum – Māori for 'the treasure box', this is New Zealand’s national museum and art gallery, and inside you’ll find plenty of national treasures.
Best new restaurants to try: Margot, Kisa, Graze, Damascus, Concord, Chaat Street, Fred’s Sandwiches
Best events to travel for: Wellington Pasifika Festival (Feb 11), NZ Fringe (Feb 17 - Mar 11), Homegrown Music Festival (Mar 18), CubaDupa (Mar 25-26), World of WearableArt (Sep 21 - Oct 8), Matariki ki Pōneke (TBA), Gardens Magic (2024).
Where to stay? With us! Oaks has properties all across Australia and New Zealand, with a choice of hotels in each city to suit your budget and needs.