A cheap weekend in Europe away from the daily grind can do amazing things for your mind and body. This summer looks set to be a scorcher in Europe and so it’s time to make the most of it with a little trip over the waters. There are plenty of places in Europe that could actually be cheaper than home, if you know where to go and what to do.
I’ve travelled Europe solo, with a partner, with a friend and in a group, and I’ve been to almost 100 cities on the continent – they’ve all got their pros and cons.
Here are my top 5 destinations if you’re looking for somewhere cheap for a cheeky weekend trip this year.
1. Barcelona, Spain
Of all the European cities in all the land, it’s Barcelona I’ve spent the most time in. I’ve loved it since I visited as the first stop on my four months in Europe in 2010. Since then I’ve probably been back about five times, mainly because my brother lives there but also because it’s awesome.
If you’re looking at hostels, expect to pay around €15 a night, but if you’ve got a little more I’d definitely recommend checking out Airbnb. You can get a pretty sweet place near the centre for around €20 if there are a few of you.
Café con leche, aka coffee, is a euro, there’s loads to do outside for free and cheap, and of course, there’s the beach. I love all the unique bars here, and the fact you can easily go from one to the next sampling the pinchos (visit Calle Blai, where they’re all just a euro each). Gaudi made the city what it is and the Sagrada Familia is the most impressive church I’ve ever seen.
2. Tallinn, Estonia
I didn’t really have any expectations of Tallinn before I arrived, I didn’t know much about the place. After deciding to eat my way round the city I came to find there’s a whole hipster café scene with great value blends, the cobbled street Old Town is filled with trinket shops, cool barbers to add to the effect and a huge fortress you can climb up for free.
Tallinn is an easy place to navigate on foot, and if you do want to venture out and see the beaches, just hop on the public bus, it’s easy. It helped that when I visited it was glorious sunshine, but I’d also love to visit Tallinn in the winter too. With a little market, great value healthy food and Eastern European prices, I’d definitely recommend Tallinn for a weekend away.
Expect to pay around €15 for a hotel, €10 for an epic meal and €2 for a coffee.
3. Budapest, Hungary
Oh my days I loved Budapest. Unfortunately after this I went to Bucharest, where my phone was stolen and my laptop broke and I lost all my write ups, so you won’t have read much about the place on my blog. But trust me, one day my love for Budapest will reveal itself in all its glory, right here.
Budapest is a great value destination, making it the perfect choice for a weekend away. Visit the famous Ruin Bars and you’ll find beers for around €2, or less. If you go for happy hour in the main streets you’ll always find some sort of cheap deal too.
The natural baths here are one of the main attractions and entry for a full day starts at around £11. I stayed in an airbnb when I went the second time, in a studio apartment for around £15 per night just a short walk from the River Danube. All for me, until my friend came.
One of the most popular foods here, and what I pretty much survived on was the doner kebabs. For less than €2 dinner was served in just a few minutes from the street side stalls. Make sure to try the langos too, a delicious doughy treat that can be covered in anything. Healthy whaaat?
4. Lake Garda, Italy
With glasses of Prosecco for around €2, that come with nuts and crisps appetiser, Italy’s Lake Garda was a lot cheaper than I thought. I might’ve blown the budget on gelato, but that’s fine.
I went to Lake Garda with my friend Chloe just before my birthday last year. We had so much fun. Our hotel had bikes to rent, you can easily fill up on cheap but delicious pizza and walking round the lake popping into all the little villages as you go is a cheap and fun past time.
If you don’t fancy Lake Garda, then nearby Verona is awesome too. Or, just putting it out there, you could go to both.
5. Porto, Portugal
I know I’ve said this about all the destinations, but I love Porto. The fact that you can sit in port caves and drink the good stuff makes it an absolute no brainer for my favourites list.
I first visited in September 14 for a blogger conference and then got my friends on board ASAP and went straight back in the March the following year.
There are some great hostels in Porto, I stayed at the Tattva Design Hostel the first time, and then got an Airbnb the next year. You can definitely get somewhere decent for around £20 each per night, events and holiday time might be different.
Budget days can be filled with wandering the hilly streets, exploring the city via the retro trams, chilling on the beaches or admiring the art work around the city. You need to try the fishy bouillabaisse in Porto, and the little custard tarts (pasteis de nata) too. Trust me, they’re guilt free after wandering the hilly streets of the city.