If you’ve seen one poolside, you’ve probably seen them all. Resorts are great for a de-stress, but for a unique, original and truly interesting travel adventure, you can’t beat the European city. Learn a new language, document astonishing feats of architecture, and explore history as well as culture. Embrace the continental way of life, from the slowly sipped late morning espresso, to the evening meal which lasts well past bedtime. And if you’re on a budget, don’t despair, as city breaks to Venice, Budapest, or even Paris needn’t cost the earth if you know how to book smart.
Here are some top tips for cheap adventures which will broaden your mind, not your overdraft.
Choose your destination wisely
If you love Paris in the springtime, it’s likely everyone else will too. Instead, save the big hitters for future quiter days, and consider visiting somewhere you can relax and really allow yourself to spend money without worrying.
Make for glorious Prague, with its majestic castle complex or the entrancing Hungarian city of Budapest which persistently tops polls for the grandeur of its architecture and the atmosphere of its streets. Both offer cheap accommodation, food, and- some might say most crucially- beer.
Be a savvy booker
The cheapest flights are usually midweek, and you can get some incredible bargains if you choose to travel between late September and early March. While these months aren’t exactly the coziest, it’s unlikely you’re travelling to Europe to top up your tan. Wintertime has its own specific charms in Europe, including Oktoberfest, Christmas markets, hearty goulash and spicy mulled wine.
Look out for accommodation deals
In the off-season, many hotels offer four for three night deals or percentage discounts off their standard room rates. Booking last minute can pay dividends, especially if you’re feeling brave enough to call up and do a little haggling.
Take public transport
In most European cities, it’s ridiculously cheap. In big cities like Barcelona and Paris, use the Metro: it will take you almost anywhere in under 20 minutes. Yes, there are sometimes cockroaches and beggars. But there are also exquisite buskers playing beautiful (or hilariously terrible) music, real people, colorful stations and genuine experiences to be found underground.
Cheap food is easy to find
Nobody says you have to grab every miscellaneous bowl of steaming street food on offer, but crepes, waffles and pretzels are great sustenance on the go when you have places to explore. Don’t limit yourself to restaurants and bar food either; when in Rome, do as the locals do. Find the local supermarket, and stock up on snacks, wine and soft drinks to fuel lazy moments in the hotel room.
Just because it’s rich in culture, doesn’t mean European will be a drain on your resources. Find the right deal and use your initiative when you arrive, and you may never contemplate going back to the beach again.
Image by Moyan Brenn, used under the Creative Commons license.
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