Living in England, we often take for granted how easily we can tick off a new country with just a short weekend away! Exploring European cities over a weekend is something I love to do, as you only need to take one day off work (or none if you want a really quick trip). A weekend away in Europe is also perfect if you’re on a tight budget. If you can be flexible with dates, you can get return flights for as little as £20! Plus, with a short stay you can take hand luggage only, which will help keep costs down. Below are my top 8 European destinations for a weekend away on a small budget.
7. St. Petersburg, Russia
Granted, getting a visa for Russia can be expensive, but if you want to see a lesser visited city that’s only a 3 hour flight away, then St Petersburg should be it! I was so excited to visit Russia for the first time, as (other than my native Russian friends) I didn’t know anyone else who had been. St Petersburg exceeded above and beyond my expectations, and became a city I instantly fell in love with. When you’re there, everything is pretty cheap, so it’s easy to see all of the sights the city has to offer without breaking the bank.
6. Trogir, Croatia
If you’re flexible on dates, and can travel outside of peak seasons (i.e. school holidays) then it’s easy to nab great deals on cheap flights to Croatia. Set up price alerts on Skyscanner to get notified when prices are dropping. Trogir is a small town about 1-2 hours outside of Split. It’s a sleepy marina town that is just as beautiful as it’s bigger, tourist heavy neighbour. As it’s less visited than Split, accommodation, shops and restaurants are a lot cheaper. Plus, Split is just over an hour on a bus, so you can easily do a day or afternoon trip to visit Split as well.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
The Scandinavian countries have a reputation for being the more expensive destinations within Europe, but this is a misconception for some of the more easily visited destinations. Copenhagen was the first place I travelled to as a solo traveller, and this of course played a part in the cost. However, it IS possible to do Copenhagen on a budget.
I found return flights from London for £20 with Norwegian, and stayed in a really great hostel in the city for just £8 a night. You can get a cheap return metro ticket to the city from the airport, and it’s easily walkable once you are there, so no need to spend on taxis, etc. Instead of eating at restaurants, check out Papirøen food market for endless tasty and affordable options!
4. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona has a special place in my heart, not only because two of my best friends live there, but also because it’s an incredible city that has so much to offer. Not only do you have the city and the beach within walking distance, you also have amazing parks and hikes, great food and even better nightlife. I can’t blame my friends for choosing to settle there at all, I think if I moved somewhere in Europe I’d be drawn there too. The public transport makes getting around super affordable, as you can buy a metro ticket of 10 journeys for €10 (including getting to and from the airport), plus there are SO many amazing restaurants that are pretty cheap for a city too.
3. Edinburgh, Scotland
A little closer to home, Scotland’s gorgeous city of Edinburgh is another affordable destination that has so much to offer. You can find pretty cheap flights from London to Edinburgh with easyJet, and there are plenty of affordable accommodation options. There is so much to see simply from wandering around the city, and if you head there in December you can also visit the Christmas markets too!
2. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is easily my favourite city in Europe so far (there’s still a lot I need to tick off) and my trip there was one of the best weekends away I’ve had. I visited in 2016 with my Mum, and from memory I think the flights cost us around £50 each. We stayed for two nights in an AirBnB in the Jewish quarter which was SUPER cheap (linked) and the location was great as it meant we could get around on foot. We found everything in Budapest to be cheap, from the thermal baths, to taxis, restaurants and bars, so we really made the most of our visit to the city. Our favourite restaurant was Mazel Tov, and if you want a cool place to have cheap drinks, you have to visit Szimpla Kert ruin bar.
1. Krakow, Poland
Although Budapest was insanely cheap, the number one spot for a budget weekend away HAS to go to Krakow, Poland. Again, not only are flights and accommodation ridiculously affordable, everything else is too! We ate in a gorgeous Polish/Georgian restaurant in the main square one evening and were expecting to pay quite a lot for the meal. Two starters, two mains, one desert, four drinks and two shots of vodka later, the bill arrives and its £25… we were so shocked!
Of course, Krakow is also a destination with a lot of history, so while you can save a lot of money in the city, I’d recommend paying to do a guided tour of Auschwitz. You can visit for free if you make your own way there, but the guided tour really didn’t cost a lot and it was so worth it, because the guide was so knowledgeable.