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15 best cheap city breaks

Fancy a budget-friendly adventure? Here are some great cities to visit without breaking the bank.

Colourful buildings in Poznan Old Town, Poland

Credit: Yarm_Sasha - Shutterstock

There's no denying that travel can be expensive. The cost of flights, accommodation, food and activities can quickly add up if you're not careful.

However, there are lots of ways to save without sacrificing enjoyment. Cheap city breaks allow you to escape the daily grind and exam stress to experience a fun-filled getaway.

From the colourful old towns of Latvia to idyllic Romanian castles, here are some incredible places to add to your bucket list.

To reduce the environmental impact of travelling, it's a good idea to offset your carbon footprint where possible.

Best cheap city breaks

Here are some of the best budget travel destinations worldwide:

  1. Poznań, Poland

    Often flying under the radar, Poznań is one of Europe's hidden gems. Although it's risen in popularity in recent years, it's yet to succumb to large crowds. However, with affordable flights from several UK airports, it's only a matter of time.

    While you can see many things for free, you'll typically pay a few quid to visit highly-rated spots such as the Palm House and the Town Hall.

    A bed in a hostel is about £10 – £15 per night depending on the time of year and eating out is relatively inexpensive.

    Here's what I thought about Poznań:

    What surprised me most about Poznań was the lack of crowds. There are tourists, but it's nowhere near as busy as other European cities.

    I visited Old Market Square at 11am on a Monday morning and there was barely anyone else around.

    With over-tourism rife across the continent, it was a welcome change. I highly recommend visiting before it gets too busy.

  2. Budapest, Hungary

    A woman watching the sunset from Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest, Hungary

    Credit: maxbelchenko - Shutterstock

    Located in Eastern Europe, Budapest has it all – nightlife, culture, amazing food, you name it! Not only do its ruin bars make it a lively place for a night out, but you'll spend way less than you would back home.

    There are also plenty of free things to do and you can eat for as little as £20 per day. In fact, you could spend even less if you take advantage of your hostel kitchen and make your own meals. All it takes is a bit of meal prep.

    If you're not convinced, Budapest is often voted one of the best cities to visit in Europe.

  3. Prague, Czech Republic

    Looking for a fairytale escape? Then head to the Czech capital. Home to Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and many stunning viewpoints, it's been a hit with frugal travellers for years.

    It's got a bit pricier over time, but it's still somewhat affordable. You can even get a stein of beer for less than £2. Cheap night out in Prague anyone?

    With accommodation options starting from around £15 per night, you'll pay much less than in the likes of Paris, Stockholm or Vienna.

  4. Riga, Latvia

    Known for its dynamic nightlife and picturesque charm, you can spend a weekend in Riga for less than £200. Most of the top attractions are free and you can even eat out at a fancy restaurant without it costing a bomb.

    Not only is Riga super accessible if you're on a budget, but it's way less touristy than the likes of Budapest or Prague. If you want a trip without crowds, this may be your best bet.

    Riga is one of the cheapest places I've ever visited:

    Travelling over the weekend can often mean increased costs, but that wasn't the case in Riga. I stayed for two nights, but had three full days to see the city.

    In total, I spent around £250 on the trip which included flights, activities, accomodation, eating out sampling the nightlife. About £95 of that was spent on cocktails so when you take that into account, visiting Riga doesn't cost much at all.

  5. Lisbon, Portugal

    A view of Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal with the sea in the distance

    Credit: Neirfy - Shutterstock

    For art, culture and tiles galore, make your way to Lisbon. Located in Western Europe, you may think it'll be pricey. However, it's way cheaper than Paris or Amsterdam, especially when you know how to cut costs.

    Reasonably priced restaurants make it easy to sample the local dishes without a hefty price tag. And, you can look out for bars with two-for-one sangria during happy hour to experience the nightlife for less.

    The cost-effective transport network helps you get from A to B with ease and many must-see hotspots (such as the Alfama neighbourhood) are free to check out.

  6. Berlin, Germany

    Like Lisbon, Berlin is another European city that's not as expensive as you might think. Landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery have long been a hit with budget travellers, but there are many other free activities on offer.

    Enjoying the world-famous nightlife is pretty inexpensive too so if you're bored of student nights back home, a night in Berlin might be just what you need.

    Hostel dorms start from around £15 a night (if you're travelling during the low season).

    Read our guide to the best travel accessories to ensure you're fully prepared no matter where you go.
  7. Tallinn, Estonia

    As one of the cheapest city breaks in Europe, Tallinn has become more popular in recent years. With a picture-perfect old town, fab viewpoints and a great art scene, we highly recommend visiting before tourism soars.

    Savvy travellers on the hunt for a cost-efficient trip can take advantage of hotel deals, reasonably priced food and free attractions.

  8. Bucharest, Romania

    Fancy a spa day after months of revision, coursework and exams? Then you may want to visit Bucharest. As the largest spa in Europe, Therme Bucharest is worth the journey. Plus, with tickets starting from around £10, it's not too pricey either.

    If you'd rather swap the capital for myths and legends, trips to Romanian castles run daily from the city centre for about £25 – what a bargain.

    In terms of hotels, even fancy ones are inexpensive:

    I visited Bucharest for my birthday and decided to treat myself to a nice hotel. It was centrally located, super spacious, beautifully decorated and came with a complimentary mini bar. And I only paid £75 a night.

    If you split that between two people, it's really not that much and you'd pay a lot more elsewhere in Europe.

  9. Kraków, Poland

    Views of St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow's main square, Poland

    Credit: Mazur Travel - Shutterstock

    Poland (and Eastern Europe in general) is renowned for low-cost holidays and despite not being the capital, Kraków is often the city break of choice.

    Unique tourist spots such as Wawel Castle, Wieliczka Salt Mine and the distinctive St. Mary's Basilica place Kraków high on many travel bucket lists. What's more, tickets for these landmarks are sold at bargain prices.

    Elsewhere in the city, you can indulge in traditional dumplings, hearty soups and flavoured vodka (the national drink).

    If you love history, delicious food or a great night out, this Polish city should be your next stop.

  10. Bratislava, Slovakia

    For a relaxed getaway and historical charm, head to Bratislava. The Slovakian capital has something for everyone from impressive buildings to beautiful outdoor spaces, many of which don't cost a penny. Even the grounds of the castle are free to roam.

    You can typically dine at Slovakian restaurants for around £10 – £15 (or less) per person.

    Need a place to stay? Then expect to pay around £15 for a night in a dorm bed.

  11. Sofia, Bulgaria

    Sofia is one of Europe's most underrated cities with much fewer visitors than most spots on this list. If you're looking to explore without crowds, it's a good option.

    Most attractions in the city are either free or less than a fiver so if you're off on an interrail adventure, you should add Sofia to your itinerary.

    You can find a bed in the city centre for less than £15 a night and if your hostel has a kitchen, you'll save on eating out too.

  12. Vilnius, Lithuania

    Panoramic view of Vilnius Old Town with lots of greenery and blue skies

    Credit: Vitold Drutel - Shutterstock

    Similarly to the other Baltic capitals (Riga and Tallinn), visiting Vilnius doesn't cost an arm and a leg. If you manage to bag some cheap flights, you can easily visit on a budget.

    There are countless low-cost activities to keep you entertained. And if you happen to be visiting on the last Sunday of the month, you can even visit the city's museums free of charge (as long as they are state-owned).

    The Open Gallery (an area full of street art murals) is also free so if you're big on art, it's not to be missed.

  13. Marrakesh, Morocco

    When it comes to cheap travel destinations, Morocco is the place to be. Although it's a little further afield, you can get return flights for less than £100.

    And despite its bustling souks full of spices, art and home decor, you can visit Marrakesh for less than £30 a day if you resist the urge to shop.

    However, this depends on your itinerary. Going on lots of day trips or hot air ballooning with desert views will obviously set you back a few bob.

    Booking a hostel or riad with breakfast can help you save money on food and boost your energy for a day of sightseeing. When you do eat out, opt for local dishes like tagine and couscous to avoid increased costs. You'll find that Western food is more expensive.

    I've personally spent a lot of time in Morocco:

    Morocco is my favourite country in the world. So much so that I spent almost four weeks there on my last visit and it still wasn't enough.

    As someone that travels solo 80% of the time, I tend to stay in hostels. In Marrakesh, you can expect to spend about £7 – £15 per night.

  14. Lincoln, England

    Instead of going overseas, try being a tourist in your home country. Not only is it better for the planet, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

    Lincoln offers cheap hotels, English charm and affordable attractions. In fact, many of the top activities are free of charge. Take a stroll up Steep Hill, get out in nature or join a walking tour. The possibilities are endless.

  15. Glasgow, Scotland

    Across the border, Glasgow is a must-see for art enthusiasts, music lovers and foodies. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive compared to Edinburgh.

    Nicknamed the music capital of Scotland, you'll find lots of live music venues hosting low-cost concerts and performances.

    In the West End, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is free and full of historical exhibitions, impressive paintings and more. Or, if that's not your thing, you can check out the many street art murals instead.

How to travel cheaply

saving money for travelling

Believe it or not, you don't need to spend a small fortune to explore the globe. As well as visiting cheap destinations, there are many other ways to travel on a budget.

For example, being flexible with dates can save a lot of money. Not only that but being open to off-the-beaten-path locations can work in your favour too.

Before booking your next adventure, keep an eye out for deals. Ryanair often runs seat sales with flights from just a few quid.

While you're on the road, you can also stay in hostels, cook your own food and use your student discount to reduce your outgoings.

Fancy making money while travelling? You may want to work abroad instead.

Lauren Allen

WRITTEN BY Lauren Allen

Lauren Allen, content editor at Save the Student, is a freelance writer and editor. Passionate about travel, she’s always searching for budget-friendly getaways. Lauren has been featured as a travel expert by Iamsterdam, Wapp Travel Insurance and many more.
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