Even though Krakow may be a little more complicated to reach than other large European cities, it’s definitely worth it if you’re on a budget trip. The Polish city has a tight and historic city centre which is rich in centuries of history and culture. You’ll struggle to find another city that has as much to offer Krakow with its castles, towers, cathedrals and stunning town squares. It’s still pretty much undiscovered by the influx of tourists clutching their cameras. The best feature for travellers is that to discover the city it’s not going to break the bank – food and drink is ridiculously cheap, as is transport and hotels.
Krakow is already geared up for the tourist markets with a great infrastructure and excellent selection of affordable modern hostels and budget hotels. It’s more of a stopover city for a few days than a week long holiday. Definitely one for a quick getaway when you have some spare annual leave days to use up.
It’s not as economical as Krakow but Budapest is next on the list. Visually stunning and full to the brim of worthwhile sights, everywhere you go is a bargain compared to the likes of Barcelona or Rome. Beautifully elegant and breath-taking, this gothic city has a wow factor around every corner. Make sure you spend a good afternoon in the Castle Hill sights as well as downtown Pest. Try to avoid eating around the River as the restaurants take advantage of the tourists who mill around here. However most other places are really reasonable and will offer local delicacies as well as other cuisines. Before you travel here, do some research around the spa centres which are dotted around hot-water springs – they’re really relaxing and fun as it’s a different experience and will offer something unique for your trip. You can fly to Budapest with EasyJet from many UK airports – get a discount online by searching for discount codes for Flybe.
You might not have expected for Istanbul to be ranked in this list, but Turkey is in fact in Europe. As one of the world’s most significant and historical cities, Istanbul has been placed up on the tourist maps for a few years now meaning it has been getting more and more expensive. But recent political and environmental effects have meant that the Turkish Lira has come down in value over the past few months so it’s again a hotspot for cheap holidays.
There’s something quite exotic about Istanbul with its markets, cathedrals, temples and castles but its rapidly becoming a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its slap bang in the middle of Asia and Europe so it’s difficult to compare it to other European cities.
If you are on a low budget it’s really easy to get by eating sandwiches and tasty street food as they are really cheap plus alcohol is fairly cheap too. Just be careful when booking hotels as they can be very costly, so search for a good deal.
Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has been a weekend break destination for the British for years now, and in recent years more so for hen and stag do’s looking for a cheap few days away. The city is not as cheap as it used to be as is overwhelming crowded in the popular tourist areas. Hoteliers have definitely taken advantage of this by pumping up room rates so you’ll need to search for a cheap and cheerful hostel for your stay. Don’t be put off though, there are some really nice ones that even have private rooms or dorm rooms for up to four people.
While you’re here an absolute must is sampling the local beer – from as little as 70p you can have a good quality beer from a brewery not far from the centre of the city. For the best experiences off the tourist trail, saunter down the side streets and cobbled lanes to find restaurants that serve English menus and you’ll be able to get a heart-warming meal from a selection of local dishes too.
Lisbon is often not the Mediterranean city of choice for a weekend getaway, but you’d be surprised to find how much cheaper it is than the likes of Barcelona, Madrid and Naples. Aesthetically it’s a stunning city overlooking the port and spread over seven hills. The beautiful gothic historical buildings in their terracotta and bleached white colours bounce the light off the sun and sea so it’s very different to other major European cities. It’s never one to really be placed on the map of European tours for travellers which is probably due to its location on the far west coast of the continent, but you’ll find that the tourist is very well catered for here. There are many budget hostels that are more like 3* hotels as they rank amongst the best hostel establishments in the world. Unlike the rest of Europe, the Portuguese offer tourists a really good deal with excellent bargains to be found on hotels, delicious fresh seafood restaurant deals and refreshing cocktails. If you’re after a relaxing break with a mixture of aimlessly wandering around intimate alleyways and taking in contemporary culture and traditional architecture then Lisbon is the place to go.