5 fantastic European holidays on a budget
Looking to save some cash on your next epic vacation around Europe? Whether your idea of a dream vacation is skiing the slopes, exploring a new city, or lounging in the sun on the beach, here are five diverse vacations to spend in Europe without breaking the bank.
City break: Istanbul
Although the European continent offers various budget city breaks, one of the best is Istanbul. The city is, on average, about 40% cheaper than Barcelonawhich means that things like hotels and meals are very affordable for travelers.
With key attractions like Hagia Sophia, the iconic Blue Mosque (free entry!) and Topkapi Palace, Istanbul is perfect for history buffs. But tourists looking for an urban adventure will enjoy strolling the streets of Istanbul, feasting on Turkish gastronomic delights, shopping at the Grand Bazaar and boating along the Bosphorus.
Besides the relatively low cash rates for hotels (some as low as $60 per night according to Hotels.com), it’s also possible to find budget point offers. There are a number of Marriott Bonvoy city properties that cost between 8,000 and 20,000 Bonvoy points per night.
Ski trip: Livigno, Italy
For Swiss-style powder at Italian prices, consider Livigno for your next ski holiday. The area, just across the Swiss border from St. Moritz, offers Swiss-style pistes at a fraction of the price. Day ski passes cost around $32, while day passes in nearby St. Moritz can cost nearly double that price, or even more on peak dates.
A quick search on Airbnb shows that comfortable apartments with mountain views start at just $85 per night. By contrast, sophisticated alpine resorts that would cost between $500 and $900 per night in ski destinations like Switzerland or Austria offer rates from $244 per night.
Livigno has another advantage: it’s duty-free for skiers who also like to browse the shops. This means you can shop to your heart’s content without having to pay value added tax.
Beach vacation: Fuerteventura, Spain
One of Europe’s most affordable beach destinations, Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands has wild and virgin stretches of sand. The best part? As well as being ideal for budget travelers thanks to low-cost accommodation and meal options, the island experiences sunshine and warm temperatures all year round, meaning you can enjoy a holiday epic winter sunshine or an iconic summer break – truly, a year-round beach getaway.
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Once there, it’s a cinch to find cheap accommodation, from affordable all-inclusive hotels to low-cost beach rentals. Surfboard rentals are only $11 per day and the island is also exempt from value added tax.
Train Adventure: Prague to Budapest
For a scenic and affordable adventure, take the train between two of Europe’s most beautiful and inexpensive cities: Prague and Budapest, Hungary. The seven-hour trip costs as little as $21 each way on RegioJet.
The journey is as magnificent as it is profitable. You’ll pass scenic landscapes like hills and castles, and even catch a glimpse of the Danube on the way.
Although Budapest is 12% cheaper than Prague, the two cities reign supreme when it comes to affordable dining, accommodation and activities. For example, entry to Buda Castle costs around $4, and it’s simple to find a pint of beer in either city for less than a few dollars.
Road trip: Croatia
Whether you love iconic natural landscapes like remote beaches and glistening waterfalls or prefer to discover red-roofed villages and historic sites, a road adventure through Croatia has it all.
It costs less than $10 per day in low season to rent a car at Croatia’s Zagreb airport from popular rental companies like Avis or Sixt, according to Kayak. From there, you have options.
You can head east to the Istrian peninsula to discover beautiful fishing villages and quiet beaches, visiting destinations like Porec, Rovinj and Pula.
Another alternative is to head south but stay inland, stopping at the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park as well as Rastoke, known as the “mini” Plitvice Lakes. Or head south along the coast to Krka National Park and Split. If you’re traveling out of season, continue to Dubrovnik, which is much more affordable (and less touristy) outside of the busy summer months.
A getaway to Europe doesn’t have to break the bank
Whether you love the road trip or prefer to ski, it is possible to travel despite the rising costs. In addition to selecting the right destinations, now is the perfect time to tap into that pool of points to save on accommodation or airfare. Combining strategies, like choosing affordable places and using your points, means you might be able to have a luxury vacation without spending too much.