Summer is a great time to plan that European holiday (as if we needed an excuse). And thanks to a combination of affordable must-see destinations and up-and-coming hotspots, there’s a city for everyone, no matter how many stamps you might have in your passport.
One of Europe’s most vibrant countries is also one of the most affordable. Cities such as Porto and Lisbon offer intoxicating music and culture, fresh seafood and unique wines, but let’s not forget port, of course, while a trip to the eccentric Pena Palace, just outside Lisbon, is a must for history buffs and architecture fans. From there, a car trip north via Coimbra and Amarante to Porto is an excellent way to see the country.
Admittedly, London is never cheap, but if you’re careful, there are ways to do it well within budget. After all, it has everything: world-class dining, palaces, shopping and a host of museums (don’t skip the V&A!) – and that’s if you don’t leave the city for a day trip to seaside Brighton or charming Rye.
Whether you stay on the mainland in Athens or go island hopping on Crete and Mykonos, the beautiful beaches and amazing slow, local food has never been more accessible. Unfortunately, this is due not only to a strong dollar but also to a local economy crippled by a significant recession – although tourist dollars are a huge help.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Flowing cava, tapas restaurants that spill out onto the pavements, and the markets are just a few of Barcelona’s wallet-friendly attractions. One important caveat: the city tries to rein in its tourists-it gets a bit swamped, especially in high season-so, if possible, time the trip for the off-season, where you can score some serious deals.
The Croatian cities of Zadar, Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik are increasingly on travellers’ minds, and for good reason: the country is known for its stunning beaches and beautiful old towns (many of which are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List), fantastic mountains to hike in and mouth-watering food culture.
6. Budapest, Hungary
A long-time favourite of backpackers, Budapest has plenty to offer travellers outside the hostel crowd. Castles? Check it out. Cathedrals? Check. And let’s not forget the beautiful baths the city is famous for (the canary yellow Széchenyi baths are a must), the delightfully bizarre totalitarian Memento Park, the funky art scene in District VII, or the coffee culture on practically every corner.
7. Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is one of Europe’s up-and-coming destinations, and while there isn’t much to do in the way of sightseeing, the city offers excellent Balkan cuisine, Savamala’s trendy art scene, a beautiful cathedral, and vibrant nightlife along the riverside bars.
Is this too much culture for you and would you rather have an active holiday in quiet surroundings? Maybe the Alta Via 1 is something for you. Or would you rather wake up every day with a different view? Have a look at the Alta Via 2 map!