5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe’s Most Popular Vacation Spots
So you want to take a trip to Europe, and you already have the perfect city in mind — but it just doesn’t fit into your budget.
Many of Europe’s most popular travel destinations are also its most expensive, with tourist demand pushing up prices. These cities are not only expensive to fly to and book a hotel in, but the cost of living is also high, leaving your eyes watering as you predict your vacation expenses.
European countries are some of the most popular vacation spots, with delicious cuisine, beautiful panoramas, and oodles of history and culture to explore. The good news is that you can still book your perfect European getaway without breaking the bank with these budget-friendly alternatives to some of Europe’s most popular travel destinations.
Instead of Paris, try Budapest
Paris is the quintessential European vacation spot. The City of Lights is renowned for being a gorgeous romantic getaway, perfect for both weekend breaks and longer trips. If you love the sound of buying fresh bread from family-run patisseries, strolling down old cobbled streets, and checking out some of the world’s most celebrated art in the Louvre, you probably long to see Paris.
However, Paris is also one of the most expensive cities in Europe, costing almost $150 a night. A cup of coffee will set you back $5.03 in the French capital, while a meal with your loved one costs over $50. What’s a couple looking for romance on a budget to do?
Try Budapest, Hungary’s “Paris of the East.” As the capital of Hungary, Budapest certainly doesn’t lack for things to do, and its beautiful architecture will bring out your inner romantic.
Accommodation in Budapest can be as cheap as $5 if you’re willing to stay a little outside of downtown, and its popular cultural hotspots, such as the cathedral, castles, and thermal spas, have low admission fees.
Instead of Venice, try Treviso
There’s no city as unique as Venice… or is there?
Venice is well-known for its beautiful canals and gondolas, making it a popular destination for couples, families, lovers of culture, and people who simply want a good background for their next selfie.
Venice is also one of Europe’s priciest cities, costing $151 a night. A meal for two costs an average of $95, while a ride on one of those famous gondolas will cost you $15. It’s certainly a beautiful city — but also a costly one.
If it’s relaxing boat trips down winding canals and gorgeous Venetian architecture you’re after, consider the little Italian village of Treviso instead. Just 40 minutes from Venice by train, Treviso is sometimes called “Little Venice” for its intricate canal network, and is enclosed inside medieval Venetian walls.
A night in Treviso should cost just $87 for two people, while a canal-side dinner for two will set you back $36. Treviso is a breathtakingly beautiful village, and if you fancy seeing Venice, after all, it’s less than an hour away.
Instead of Rome, try Civitavecchia
When it comes to sightseeing, you can’t go wrong with Rome. This ancient city boasts a bevy of incredible historical landmarks, including the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and the Sistine Chapel.
But Rome is not a city for those on tight budgets. A night in Rome costs $153 a night, while a meal for two is $53. As one of Europe’s most beloved tourist destinations, Rome has a lot to offer but will quickly eat away at your budget — particularly if you want to go sightseeing.
Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, allows easy access to the Eternal City while being a much more cost-effective place to stay. Civitavecchia is located just 90 minutes away from Rome itself, but it also has plenty to do. The enormous Forte Michelangelo, designed by Michelangelo himself, oversees the city, and tourists can also visit the former Roman bathhouses, the Terme Taurine.
As a major cruise port, Civitavecchia is also the starting and ending point for many cruises, making it the perfect beginning or finish for a longer city-hopping vacation.
Instead of London, try Manchester
England’s busy capital boasts history, culture, and a wide variety of famous landmarks to see. However, London is not cheap, costing $151 per night to stay in. A cup of joe will set you back $3.80, while a meal for two costs approximately $68 on average.
Luckily, England boasts another culturally rich, metropolitan city just a few hours from London: Manchester, home of The Smiths, Oasis, and Joy Division. Sometimes called England’s second capital city, Manchester has its own rich cultural legacy and history to explore.
While you will need to take a train to London to see Buckingham Palace or the crown jewels, Manchester has plenty of sights of its own to see, including its own cathedral, Manchester Arena, the bustling Gay Village, and the Victoria Baths.
Instead of Amsterdam, try Utrecht
Amsterdam’s colorful bohemian vibes attract tourists from all over the world year-round. Vacationers flock to the capital of the Netherlands for its rich artistic heritage, beautiful tulip stands, canal cruises, and museums — as well as some of its more illicit activities.
But Amsterdam is also one of the most expensive cities to visit in Europe, costing $151 per night to stay in.
The vibrant Dutch city of Utrecht is a fine alternative to Amsterdam, boasting cosmopolitan energy with colorful medieval streets, a bustling flower market, and plenty of historic landmarks of its own. In short, Utrecht has everything Amsterdam has to offer — without the tourists.
Utrecht is close enough to Amsterdam that the capital is just a day trip away. In the meantime, you can stroll the Oudegracht (Old Canal), explore Utrecht’s many little coffee shops, and check out St. Martin’s Domkerk, the tallest tower in the Netherlands.
A trip to Europe does not have to be expensive if you plan accordingly. When you make the most of your budget and choose a more affordable vacation spot, you can take advantage of more opportunities and activities — as well as choose a nicer hotel to spend your nights in.
Visiting any of these budget-friendly alternatives is sure to deliver a holiday you’ll never forget, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a relaxing weekend break, or an exciting vacation jam-packed with sightseeing and Kodak moments.