When we think of travelling in Europe, we often think of the expensive cities, like Paris, Barcelona and Rome.
As prices go up and money has to stretch further, more and more people are turning their attention to the hidden gems in Europe which offer better value for money.
We take a look at five of the best destinations to visit in Europe on a budget…
The picturesque city of Budapest is one of the cheapest cities in Europe for travellers, and a treasure to visit.
You’ll find Budapest packed with incredible castles and cathedrals, medieval streets, and romantic architecture. There are lots of museums and galleries to explore in Budapest, like the incredible Hungarian National Museum, and the engrossing House of Terror.
A major appeal of Budapest is the thermal spas in the city, which offer competitive prices and hours of pampering and relaxation.
Look out for accommodation a little away from the river Danube, as the hotels in the centre can be expensive. If you opt for self-catering, you’ll find the supermarkets stocked with affordable groceries too. Transport around the city is very cheap, and you’ll be able to eat out well on a budget.
The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is a romantic city which offers great bargains for travellers. As Europe’s second-oldest capital city (after Athens) it has some outstanding World Heritage monuments to discover, and is uniquely located on a series of hills.
Stand out attractions include the Tower of Belém and Monastery of the Hieronymites at Lisbon harbour, and there are lots of exceptional museums to visit, many of which are free. However there’s lots to be gained by simply strolling around the charming streets, taking in the beautiful views, riding the old trams, and exploring medieval neighbourhoods.
You’ll find that hotels in Lisbon are good value for money, and you can eat out at the city’s many restaurants for a very reasonable price. What’s more, Lisbon enjoys a mild temperature so it’s a pleasant place to visit even in the winter.
As the ancient place where east meets west, Istanbul is a unique city for a cheap European holiday.
If you’re visiting Istanbul you’ll find a host of museums and attractions waiting to be explored. The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, the Grand Bazaar and Archaeological Museum are all star attractions, but it’s the iconic world heritage site of Hagia Sophia which is the standout. A landmark monument for the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, this stunning museum perfectly encapsulates the merging of cultures that form the backbone of Istanbul.
You might need to do some research to find the cheapest hotels, and will get the best bargains if you look for budget hotels, but flights from other European cities are competitive, as is transport within the city. You’ll find bargains in the markets, cafes and restaurants, and can enjoy wandering the city and soaking up the diverse culture.
You might not immediately think of Berlin when you try to think of a cheap European city to explore, but it’s filled with affordable activities and places to stay.
It’s the cultural and arts scene of Berlin that’s the real appeal for travellers. The complex of extraordinary buildings on famous Museum Island will appeal to fans of history, art or craft, but there are also landmark palaces, theatres and art galleries to visit. The excellent museums allow visitors to understand more about the complex history of Germany and learn more about the Prussians, the horrors of Nazi Germany, the Berlin wall and the German Democratic Republic.
Buy a Berlin WelcomeCard, which gives fantastic discounts on the city’s star attractions, to make the most of your budget trip to Berlin.
You’ll find that shopping and dining are also affordable in Berlin, and there’s lots to explore if you want to stroll around the city during the day. Look out for mid-range accommodation, which is great value for money in this superb city.
If you visit Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, you’ll find a surprisingly vibrant city that’s great value for tourists.
Ljubljana is a lush green capital city with extraordinary alpine views and abundant caves, forests, rivers and lakes. This makes it a particularly good destination for fans of outdoor activities, like skiing, cycling and hiking, and attractive throughout the year.
The city itself is beautiful to explore, and its long history means that there are ancient Roman ruins, medieval buildings and Baroque architecture to soak up. The people pride themselves on their friendliness, and the cafes, restaurants and shops are lovely to visit.
As well as being on train routes, Ljubljana has a local airport giving easy access for travellers. Accommodation is reasonable within the city too, but as Ljubljana was voted second in Lonely Planet’s Best in Europe 2014 list, it’s bound to increase in popularity soon, so visit while it’s still a hidden gem.
What are your favourite affordable destinations?