I’m a sucker for a bargain, and when there are just so many places I want to visit in the world I have to hunt down deals and book smart. A cheap city break is much easier to book than a long haul holiday, and because you are only away for a couple of nights the risk is much lower.
That said, a cheap city break doesn’t have to be all shared bathroom and lumpy mattress. Over the years I’ve managed to score nights in some of the most luxurious hotels in Europe simply because I’ve been savvy about where and how I’ve booked them.
Here are 5 ways to have a super cheap city break in Europe for your next free weekend.
1. Keep an eye on deals websites
There are plenty of websites around that do all the hard work in searching websites for cheap city break deals and two I’ve had great success with are Holiday Pirates and My Holiday Guru. Both of these sites scour the internet for price glitches, price drops and package deals from companies and much like a blog drip feed the best deals on their site every day. I booked 3 days in Berlin with flights and a central hotel for two people for under £200 which is a fantastic price for a weekend away.
2. Book cheap flights
Sounds obvious, but so many people I know are still extremely snobby about cheaper flight operators like Ryanair and EasyJet. Things have moved on significantly in the last 10 years, and these operators whilst having no frills at all are fine for a flight lasting only two hours. You get allocated seating and everything these days!
With many budget airlines out there, how do you know you are getting the best deal? That’s where Skyscanner comes in. I use that all the time for checking the best price of flights, and if you aren’t fussed about where you end up, they have a search option for “everywhere” so you can book the cheapest destination for your dates.
Finally, ensure that you are just taking hand luggage with you on these cheap flights. If you are only away for a weekend you really can pack everything you need in one small suitcase or bag. Add ons like hold luggage are where operators like Ryanair pile on the cost, so don’t do it!
3. Choose cheaper destinations
If you have a long list of places to visit but you are on a budget, why not make choices based on the total cost of your holiday? There are huge fluctuations within Europe over cost of hotels, food and attractions, and you can save a huge amount of cash just by picking a slightly cheaper destination. Eastern Europe and Germany for example are generally cheap (Krakow, Prague and Berlin are all awesome low cost cities), whereas Northern Europe (cities like Oslo and Stockholm) tend to be much more expensive.
It’s also worth saying that mid week is cheaper than a long weekend, and school holidays are where the prices rocket!
The Telegraph have an excellent list of the cheapest destinations in Europe in 2016.
4. Visit free (or cheap) attractions
It really can all add up when you want to squeeze as much sightseeing into a trip as possible. However, with a bit of forward planning and organisation, you can absolutely see some of the top attractions in a city for free or for a much reduced cost.
- Check out the tourism website for that particular city and see if they have a card or deal. For example you can buy the Oslo Pass which gets you free entry to many museums, cheaper travel and discounted food.
- Try a free walking tour – Sandeman’s are my favourite company for this but a quick google search of your destination will help you find one. You’ll get to see a lot of the city without spending a dime.
- Plan an itinerary before you go so you can anticipate costs and take enough cash with you. For example if there are two or three expensive things to visit, you can make a plan of your weekend and decide which one you want to visit and add in free or cheap options too!
5. Shop around for your currency
Seriously. Don’t leave getting your holiday cash until the last minute – or the airport. You’ll also be charged for withdrawing from ATM’s and using debit/credit cards abroad with most bank accounts so it’s best to plan and ensure you have enough cash on your to last the weekend.
So how do you get the best deal? I always head to Money Saving Expert’s Travel Money Max tool in order to see where I can buy my Euros, my Krona or my Zloty’s at the best rate.
Do you have any tips and tricks to get a cheap city break? Please share in the comments because I have a long list of places to visit and not much money in the bank!
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