A wise man once said “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. We couldn’t agree more – there’s no better pick-me-up than a cheeky little getaway somewhere new – but what if you’re not actually rich? The wise man makes a very good point, but you still need to be able to afford accommodation and bus fare from the airport…
With that in mind, we’ve tracked down 9 travel destinations that’ll make you feel like a million bucks no matter what your travel budget. Whether you’re into cocktails in the sun or action-packed city breaks, one of these gorgeous spots might just be your next favourite place…
Not only is Gdansk a remarkably pretty little spot, and not only do you get a beautiful Baltic beach thrown in with your city break when you go there, and not only are you in the land of pierogi, the world’s greatest stodgy comfort food – but Gdansk is also very easy on the wallet. You can get a pint there for under €2, and even in one of the really fancy coffee shops in the city (and there are loads of them, and they are great) a large cappuccino and a beautiful slice of cake will only set you back about five euro. Wander through those charming streets feeling fancy, because you can afford to.
Go to Marrakech if you want to feel like you’re really getting away. It’s only a short flight away but you’ll feel like you’ve landed in a different world. It’s great at any time of year too, so if you absolutely have to get out of the cold January weather and feel a little heat on your skin, this is the perfect place to go. There’s so much to see and do that it’ll make your head spin, and it’s not too hard to have a great time without spending next month’s rent.
Budapest has loads of the grandeur and beauty that you’d expect from any of the ‘big’ European tourist cities – impressive buildings, the beautiful big Danube, the Buda hills, no end of excellent cultural attractions, a really good nightlife… but Budapest has one big, fat advantage. It is the cheapest place in Europe to buy booze. You know that €7 glass of wine you got in Paris to sip by the Seine? I’m sure it was lovely, but you could get seven of those by the Danube in Budapest. Seven. So yeah, maybe you won’t get to go up the Eiffel tower, but after seven glasses of wine, who cares?
If you haven’t been to Lisbon yet, it’s somewhere you should seriously consider. It’s getting better, cooler and busier all the time too, so the sooner you see it for yourself the better. There are a few things you really have to do when you’re there – 1) jump on Tram 28 and see the sights in the best way possible; 2) scoff an obnoxious amount of the most gorgeous custard tarts you’ll ever eat, and 3) buy something kitsch that you couldn’t get anywhere else in one of the city’s little retro shops or flea markets. When the sun drops, head into the Bairro Alto to see what the nightlife in Lisbon is all about. You might not ever leave.
Barcelona might be the most popular tourist destination in Spain, and that’s fair enough – it’s a brilliant city – but don’t automatically choose it over Madrid without having a little think about things first. Madrid is wonderful – it’s slap bang in the heart of the country, so it has a little bit of everything you want from Spain. It’s the city for flamenco, fiestas and food, and even though it looks all grand and regal – full of stately, imposing buildings – it’s actually incredibly laid back, fun and welcoming. There’s a bucket-load of stuff to see and do, and you won’t feel like one of a million tourists the way you can in Barcelona. Give it a go. And do not leave the city without trying a bocadillo de calamares.
Ahhh Malta is such a little treat of an island. Actually it’s a little treat of an archipelago, but you get the idea. It’s not just the beautiful amber-coloured coastal rocks and the sparkly Mediterranean all around that’ll get you, or even just the beautiful sunny weather… Malta is a perfect ‘sun and sea’ holiday spot, but it’s loads more than that too. Valletta, the capital city, is like a film set that will steal your heart and make you feel a bit like you’ve stepped back in time. All over the island there’s a serious amount of history to discover, loads of outdoorsy stuff to do, and the food is great (just escape from the main tourist strips when you’re seeking sustenance. And order octopus stew at least once).
Everyone should visit Venice once in their lives. It’s just like nowhere else on earth – everything about it is pure theatre and opulence. It’s definitely not a cheap place to visit, especially if you actually stay in Venice, but you know what? There are some things that are worth gritting your teeth and paying for. I know that people who write about places use the word ‘enchanting’ so much that it’s become a bit meaningless… but Venice really is. It’s spellbinding. Just be prepared for a few things like: big crowds, expensive coffees, and the inevitability of getting completely lost. Repeatedly. You’ll love it.
If there’s one word you’ll hear over and over again when people talk about Nice and the Côte d’Azur, it’s ‘glamorous’. You might hear ‘glitzy’ quite a bit as well. And those words are used for good reason – it is both of those things, and it’s little wonder the place is a magnet for the rich and famous. But you don’t have to be rich or famous to enjoy it. Yes, you can definitely spend a lot of money there if you want to, but there are ways to do it for less too – it doesn’t cost much to lounge on that gorgeous beach all day with your Primark/Penneys shades on! Just don’t miss out on a Fennochio’s Glacier, whatever else you do.
If you thought Nice was glam, Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda will make your teeth curl. The coastal resort was pretty much built as a playground for rock stars, film stars and oil barons – and the prices of food, drinks and accommodation along the coast reflect that. But it’s really and truly beautiful. The beaches are genuine bathtub-sea and white-sand holiday heaven. If you feel like you want to splash out to enjoy a little European paradise, you couldn’t find a better place to splash. And have a little splash in the beautiful waters of the Spiaggia del Principe while you’re there, that’s where the beautiful people go!
- Dee Murray