Dreaming of exploring the wonder of Europe but worried about the cost? Fear not! There are several captivating destinations in Europe that offer incredible experiences without breaking the bank. Let me take you on a journey to my favourite European holiday destinations – Krakow, Budapest, Sofia, Berlin, and Prague.
Krakow, a historic gem in Poland, is a budget-friendly destination bursting with culture and history. Stroll through the UNESCO-listed Old Town, visit the iconic Wawel Castle and explore the sombre Aushwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. Enjoy affordable Polish cuisine at local eateries and sample traditional pierogis, Barszcz and Oscypki.
Hostel price per night pp: £15 – £45
Average beer price: 15 PLN (£3)
Average meal price: 30 – 50 PLN (£6-£10)
My favourite meal: Barszcz (Traditional Polish beetroot soup, usually served with pierogi).
My favourite attraction: Energylandia (Europe’s biggest theme park located around 1 hour’s drive by public transport from Krakow’s city centre).
Budapest, the “pearl of the Danube”, captivates visitors with its stunning architecture, thermal baths, and vibrant atmosphere. Walk across the Chain Bridge, Soak in the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, and explore the historic Buda Castle. Additionally, Budapest offers affordable dining options, where you can savor traditional Hungarian dishes like Goulash, Halaszle and Toltott Kaposzta.
Hostel price per night pp: £30 – £50
Average beer price: 1000 (£2.20)
Average meal price: 3000 – 5000 HUF (£7-£11)
My favourite meal: Goulash (a Hungarian-style spicy beef and vegetable stew, usually served with cooked potatoes).
My favourite attraction: Gellert Thermal Baths (A smaller, yet strikingly beautiful thermal bath featuring turquoise and marine-green Zsolnay mosaics and ceramics, punctuated by neoclassical cherub statues and botanical friezes).
Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, seamlessly blends ancient history and modern charm. Marvel at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, visit the ancient Roman ruins of Serdica and wander through the charming streets of Sofia’s city centre. Enjoy affordable Bulgarian cuisine and experience the city’s lively markets.
Hostel price per night pp: £10-£30
Average beer price: 4 BGN (£1.50)
Average meal price: 10 – 15 BGN (£6 – £10)
My favourite meal: Tarator (a fresh cold soup made with cucumber, garlic, walnuts, yoghurt, dill, herbs, and lemon).
My favourite attraction: Vitosha mountain – take in the breathtaking views of the whole of Sofia from the height of 2,292m.
Berlin, a vibrant city renowned for its history, art, and nightlife, can also be enjoyed on a budget. Discover iconic landmarks such as the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, explore world-class museums, and take a stroll along the historic Unter den Linden boulevard. Additionally, Berlin offers a variety of affordable dining options, including street food markets and budget-friendly eateries.
Hostel price per night pp: £25 – £60
Average beer price: €4 (£3.40)
Average meal price: €17.5 (£15)
My favourite meal: Kartoffelpuffer (Shallow pan-fried pancakes made from grated ground potatoes mixed with flour, egg, onion, and seasoning).
My favourite attraction: East Side Gallery
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, the “City of a Hundred Spires”, enchants visitors with its fairy-tale architecture, cobblestone streets, and lively atmosphere. Explore the Prague castle complex, cross the iconic Charles Bridge, and wander through the charming streets of the Old Town. Indulge in affordable Czech cuisine, and don’t forget to try the famous Czech beer.
Hostel price per night pp: £18 – £35
Average beer price: 60 CZK (£2.15)
Average meal price: 160 CZK (£5.72)
My favourite meal: Beef steak Tartare
My favourite attraction: St. Vitus Cathedral
Extra travel tips
Exchange some cash before you travel
I exchange around £50 cash for the currency of the country I am visiting before I travel. You can do this at a foreign currency exchange in Dundee (at either the Post Office or No1 Currency Exchange). Check which foreign currency exchange has better rates by visiting these two links:
Don’t do this at the airport or at the city of the country you are visiting as rates tend to be worse! Also, don’t leave this until the last day before your departure because the foreign currency exchange may not have the currency you are requiring on the same day.
Book flights early and pack light
Booking flights early (I suggest 3 months or so in advance) can be cheaper compared to booking flights late (around a month before your trip). The cheapest European flight carriers are Ryanair and EasyJet. However, make sure that you can fit all of your clothes in a small backpack as these carriers charge extra for 10kg cabin baggage – sometimes taking this kind of luggage is more expensive than the flight itself!
Look for cheap accommodation online
Looking for cheap hostels is best through booking.com. Airbnb is another option, yet it tends to be more aimed at those looking for more luxurious accommodation.
Exploring Europe on a student budget is entirely possible, thanks to the affordability and charm of cities like Krakow, Budapest, Sofia, Berlin, and Prague. These destinations offer a wealth of historical and cultural experiences, captivating landmarks, and delicious cuisine, all without breaking the bank. SO, pack your bags, plan your itinerary wisely, and get ready for an incredible European Adventure!