Ahh Europe. The continent that has it all. Whether you’re after adventure, culture, or just lazing on the beach, you’ll find it here. With a reputation for being expensive, you might be mistaken in thinking that European travel can’t be done on a budget. But it can.
We’ve compiled a list of the 12 best, surprisingly affordable, summer travel destinations on the continent.
The Netherlands capital may not be known as a budget destination, but done right, it doesn’t have to leave you out of pocket. The city is brimming with European charm. Quaint buildings by the many canals, all manner of museums, and stacks of history, Amsterdam is sure to offer you as much culture as you can handle. While the world famous coffee shops and abundance of locally brewed Heineken make it the perfect spot for a fun night. There’s a reason that the Dutch are a notoriously open minded and chilled out nation. What’s not to love about a city with more bicycles than people?
The Czech Republic has been on our radar as a top affordable European destination for years now. And if you’re on a tight budget, it really doesn’t get much more affordable than Prague. One of two contenders for the title of ‘The Paris of Eastern Europe’ and it’s not hard to see why. While it may not have The Louvre, there’s no shortage of art in all its forms in Prague.
Not only is the city an art lovers paradise, but it boasts possibly the best beer in Europe. And at slightly over $1 a glass it’s no wonder tourists are flocking here in their droves.
Spain’s capital is another must see destination for any art lovers out there. Brimming with spectacular architecture, and world-class galleries that show off centuries of artistic expression. For foodies, Madrid offers up a culinary experience to rival that of its decidedly more expensive Italian neighbours. Showcasing the best in Spanish cuisine.
Although be aware that visiting during the summer months is not for the faint of heart. Temperatures soar in the city, and even the locals try to escape to cooler climes.
Poland may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think summer travel. But over recent years it has emerged as a hot destination for travellers. Like many other cities in the region, it boasts new mixed with old. A myriad of bars and clubs, combined with reminders of a rich, if upsetting history.
But Krakow has more to offer than that. The summer months see many of the more sophisticated festivals take place in Poland’s second city. From the international soup festival to the new music festival, there is something for everyone. And not a sweaty drunken mosh pit in sight.
If a modern European metropolis is what you’re after, then head to Berlin. Unlike some popular European hotspots, it’s both unpretentious and laid back. Home to those who value freedom and a creative spirit above all else.
Berlin is nothing if not a good time. The (other) city that never sleeps. Clubs are open all night, and the party isn’t just reserved for Friday and Saturday night, Berlin is full of life all week long. And it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to join in.
Very popular with students, Lisbon is another city that loves to party. But it isn’t all go go go. During the day, Lisbon, like the rest of Portugal, is as relaxed as you’d expect from a place in the notoriously laid-back Mediterranean. Sporting historical cobbled streets, mouthwatering fresh seafood, and views worthy of any postcard. It’s a dream getaway spot.
Of all of the places on the list, Barcelona is the one that really has something for everyone. By the coast, it’s a slightly cooler Spanish alternative to Madrid. It boasts world famous architecture and art galleries. Impressive cuisine. A lively nightlife. All against the backdrop of relaxing beaches. Despite this abundance of things to do and see. Barcelona is a very affordable option in comparison to other cities in the region.
Forget Brussels, Bruges is a much more picturesque alternative when visiting Belgium. With buildings that look as though they’ve been taken straight from the pages of a fairytale. There’s no place like it in terms of medieval architecture.
Forget Ibiza, if it’s a week of unadulterated fun you’re after Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach is where it’s at. For a week spent lazing by the ocean by day, partying by night, the aptly named Sunny Beach is the perfect cost-effective solution. At long last Bulgaria is making a name for itself as heaven for beach lovers all over. If Ibiza for half the price sounds like a nightmare to you, you can always look elsewhere at one of the more serene, tranquil spots along the coast.
For pristine beaches against the marble streets of an awe-inspiring historical backdrop, head to Dubrovnik. Croatia has managed to keep this hidden gem. Well. Hidden. Up until recently, when more and more travellers began prising themselves away from their package holidays to Spain and France to venture further East in a bid to avoid the throngs of tourists (and the high prices that accompany them) in the summer months.
The second destination vying for ‘The Paris of the East’ is Budapest. And once you’ve spent a romantic evening looking out over the Danube at the lit up displays of architecture on show, you’ll see why. The city is dotted with haunting reminders of a tragic past, bullet holes remain visible on many of the buildings, and memorials to remember those lost in WW2 and all that came afterwards. But it’s not all doom and gloom. After a dip in the ancient hot springs, you’ll feel replenished and ready for everything else Budapest has to offer. Great food, great wine, and a language you’ll need a PHD to decipher. Oh, and it’s also probably the cheapest of all.
The place where East meets West. Istanbul is a diverse mix of two very distinct cultures. With a whole host of exotic foods to try, traditional coffeehouses to visit, and friendly, welcoming people to meet. You won’t regret the trip to this unique city.
You don’t have to spend a fortune or bust the budget to enjoy a Continental holiday. Our choices of the best affordable summer travel destinations in Europe can make your European vacation dreams come true.