Budget-Busting European Cities To Visit
When it comes to budget-friendly travel, not all countries are equal. If you’re after a thrifty trip, you’ll want to avoid places like Scandinavia and Switzerland, where a reasonable meal out can easily set you back £100 – ouch! Thankfully, there’s a wide choice of alluring destinations where the opposite is true, and you’ll find your money goes further than it does at home.
You might find that accommodation prices are very competitive, or that activities and excursions cost a small fraction of your budget. However you like to spend your holiday funds abroad, there’s increasing interest in destinations which don’t require a gigantic savings account to visit. Here are our favourite European city breaks where you’ll see your hard-earned pennies go further.
It’s no surprise that Portugal’s capital is visited by 4.5 million travellers each year. In addition to its many attractions, from the historical area of Belem to the vintage trams to their impossibly delicious pastel de nata pastries, it’s arguably the most budget-friendly destination in Europe. Here, you can enjoy a delicious three-course meal made with the freshest ingredients for around £40. And when it comes to drinks, enjoy a frosty beer for less than £2.50. The reasonable prices mean you can enjoy the world-class attractions this capital has to offer without the sting of prices seen in London, New York or Paris.
Eastern Europe continues to provide excellent value for money for Brits. And not only is it light on the pocket, but it’s big on things to see, especially for those interested in modern history. Remnants from Bucharest’s Soviet era still dot the capital – check out the former headquarters of its secret police, which still bears bullet holes. In the evening, take in another side completely – the city is buzzy with bars and modern restaurants, which are excellent value for money. Romania uses the leu rather than the euro, which means you can get a lot for your currency. A beer costs around £1.50, and even a fine dining splurge at Kaiamo, from a former Noma chef, is just £83 for nine courses – you’d easily pay twice as much if it were in London.
Not only is Vilnius attractive on price, it’s a fascinating destination that’s less touristy than others, with a more relaxed pace. It’s a very walkable city, meaning you’ll save in transport costs. Take a wander around the cobbled streets of its old town, or head over to Cathedral Square – that’s where you’ll find the Basilica of St Stanislaus and St Ladislaus. Elsehwere, you can spot filming locations for hit shows like Stranger Things and Chernobyl. You won’t have to save too hard for a visit; a reasonable two-night visit will set you back around £150 – much more doable than you might expect.
Stretched out over the Dalmatian Coast, Croatia is always a great choice of destination, but especially when you factor in its cost. Of its destinations, the capital of Zagreb is arguably the best on price: the average one-bed Airbnb here is just £51 a night, making it a great choice for cost-conscious travellers. Aside from the financial draw, it’s a beautiful city with picturesque views and stunning architecture. It has more museums per square mile than any other European city too – so take a peek inside its quirky museums, like the Museums of Broken Relationships or the Museum of Hangovers!
A tight budget will stretch far in Poland’s second city. An average hotel room is around £65 a night, a good meal is around £10, and a pint of beer will only set you back £2.50, so you won’t need to spend heaps to explore the city in earnest. Not only is it cheap, but there are also plenty of free things to do – for starters, hang out at Rynek Główny, the largest medieval market square in Europe. Or Krakow Nights Festival (Krakowskie Noce) are monthly free events in the warmer days, covering jazz, museum specials, dance and theatre. And best of all, it’s even cost-efficient to get there: budget airlines Ryanair, easyJet, Wizz Air and Jet2 all fly there direct from the UK, which helps keep fares competitive.
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