Cheap City Breaks for When You're Broke

Ok, so maybe not broke broke. If you’re broke broke, it might be wiser to stay home, live on baked beans and packet noodles, and prioritise the rent.

 

But if you have some cash to spare, and you’re craving a little adventure (but you don’t want to max out the credit card on €7 coffees on the Champs Elysées), head for somewhere where your money stretches a little further.

 

Seeing Europe needn’t cost the earth, and we fly to some very cool places that are perfect for anyone looking for cheap city breaks – so read on to get a little inspiration for a budget break that won’t break the bank…

Bucharest

Bucharest Palace of Parliament

As far as tourism goes, Bucharest is still pretty off the beaten track. That means that you’ll come across a few challenges that you might not get with cities like Paris or Rome, which have been catering for mass tourism for decades.

 

It also means that you get to be a little intrepid, exploring somewhere that not so many people have been before. And since Bucharest is the second cheapest city in Europe to visit, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to ‘eat good, sleep good, live good’ here for a few days either.

 

To give you an idea of the sort of bang you get for your buck here, you can easily get a seriously top-drawer, fine dining restaurant experience here in the city centre for under €50.

 

That’s worth a flight in itself, if you ask us. Don’t miss the Palace of the Parliament either, a building so big it has heating and electricity bills of some €6,000,000 a year.

 

Price preview:

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €0.40 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €1.02
Cappuccino (regular): €1.06
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €5.11
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket):€4.09

Krakow

Krakow

Krakow is so, so pretty – one of those places that’ll have you totally charmed within minutes of you setting foot in its lovely streets.

 

The word ‘enchanting’ can be a bit overused by people who write about places, but honestly, Krakow deserves the accolade. One very charming thing in particular about this place is the fact that, as it’s the third cheapest city in Europe to visit, you get to be enchanted without being bankrupted at the same time.

 

Krakow has one of the biggest Medieval Town Squares in Europe, the Rynek Główny, and it’s a great place to hang out and people-watch. The Jewish Quarter is a great little place to explore too, and if you can get to the Salt Mines and to Auschwitz for a tour, both are really well worth seeing. Have at least one meal in a Milk Bar.

 

Price preview: 

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €0.46 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €1.60
Cappuccino (regular): €1.59
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €4.12
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket):€4.54 

Sofia

Sofia

Sofia is the perfect place for people who like to immerse themselves in a city’s culture and feel part of things, rather than like an outsider looking in.

 

It’s one of our newer routes and like Bucharest, it doesn’t have the decades of tourist clout that the Parises and Romes of Europe have – but it has something else entirely.

 

You won’t spend a weekend walking from sight to world-famous sight checking off your must-see list like you would in somewhere like Rome, so you have a lot more time to experience how people live here.

 

It’s easy to blend in and more importantly, it’s easy to befriend locals who aren’t jaded by seeing throngs of tourists everywhere. And the locals here are very cool, very welcoming, and lots of fun.

 

Price preview:

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €0.40 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €1.02
Cappuccino (regular): €1.06
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €5.11
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket): €4.09 

Budapest

Budapest parliament

Budapest has all the swagger and glamour you’d expect from any of Europe’s big capitals – big impressive buildings, beautiful views over the city, great museums and restaurants... but what it doesn’t have is the hefty price tag that often accompanies such things.

 

Sure, if you want to go there and spend a lot of money, you can – there are plenty of high end restaurants, shops and hotels where you can hobnob with the fancy people. But if you’re on a tight budget, Budapest can be done on the absolute cheap – and it’s one of the cheapest cities in Europe to drink in.

 

Head to the ruin pubs for your nightlife fix where you can get beers and wines for as little as a euro each, and at the same time experience something totally unique to the city. If you’re feeling a little tempted, check out our list of things to do, see and eat there for under a tenner, and it might just seal the deal!

 

Price preview:

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €1.44 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €0.75
Cappuccino (regular): €1.24
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €4.81
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket): €3.85

Vilnius

Vilnius Old Town
Vilnius Old Town

Vilnius really worked its charm on me, so much so that even if it were a much more expensive place to go, I’d still be a walking advertisement for it.

 

It’s a place with a lovely vibe. From the slightly cracked (in a good way) population of The Republic of Uzupis (its little state-within-a-city), to the completely pleasant atmosphere of the Old Town’s main street, it’s an ideal place to go if you want a fairly chilled city break – and one where you can eat like absolute royalty while you’re at it.

 

A visit to Trakai just outside the city is definitely worth doing; the castle and lakes there are beautiful – and if you fancy some fresh air, get it at Europos sculpture park where it’s accompanied by some very cool art and acres of beautiful pine forest.

 

Price preview:

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €0.70 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €2.00
Cappuccino (regular): €1.87
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €5.00
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket):€6.00

Bratislava

Bratislava Blue Church

Bratislava had a bit of a rough time last century and it’s nowhere near as renowned among tourists and travellers as its neighbour Vienna… yet.

 

We say yet, because any city that can spearhead a movement like the Velvet Revolution the way Bratislava did in the late 80s is destined for big things.

 

Take a walking tour of the city to learn more about its fascinating history and see its sights, including the Blue Church.

 

Head to the castle too – even if you don’t go inside – just for the gorgeous views you’ll get back down over the city. And check out our foodie guide to the city for when you want to refuel.

 

Price preview:

Taxi 1km (normal tariff): €0.70 
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught): €1.50
Cappuccino (regular): €1.77
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant: €5.00
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range from supermarket):€5.00

 

- Dee Murray