Vatican City - Rome

The 7 Best Cheap City Breaks

23 Nov 2018 By Danielle Gunner
Vatican City - Rome

Walk through cobbled streets, explore ancient relics and discover extraordinary cultures with an escape to some of the world’s finest cities. It’s never been more affordable to head on a weekend retreat, with inspiring capitals such as Budapest, Rome and Prague taking top spot as some of the cheapest city break destinations across the globe.

Looking for a budget-friendly holiday? You’ve come to the right place. Check out our top 7 low-cost city escapes that won’t break the bank.

Krakow, Poland

Scenic views of Wawel Castle in Krakow Poland

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Why visit? As the third largest and oldest city in Poland, Krakow is a medieval paradise retaining its old-world charm through its Old Town, colourful castles and Jewish district. It’s home to the largest city square in Europe where markets, ancient architecture and quaint restaurants captivate holidaymakers from the get-go.

Although renowned for its historical landmarks, cheap bars and restaurants – Krakow is only an hour away from the iconic World War II Auschwitz concentration camp.

Krakow holiday deals

How cheap is Krakow? With a pint averaging at around £2, it’s safe to say this cultural capital is budget-friendly. Grab yourself a hearty burger and fries from a restaurant for roughly £5, or feast on tasty street food for less than £2.50.

A 24-hour bus pass is 15 zloty which is around £3 depending on the exchange rate. But at this bargain price getting to Krakow’s most famous spots has never been easier.

Where to stay:

  • Boutique Aparthotel: You can still lap up luxury on a budget, this 4 star establishment puts you in the heart of all the action.
  • Regent: Located next to the famous Jewish quarter, this charming Bed and Breakfast is perfect for an affordable getaway.
  • Matejko: Just minutes from the city’s Old Town and market square, Matejko comes with free Wi-Fi and first-class facilities.

Top attractions:

  • Wawel Castle (1.3km from the centre)
  • Kazimierz (1.3km from the centre)
  • Krakow Old Town (1.0km from the centre)
  • Ojcow National Park (21km from the centre)
  • Schindler’s Factory (2.5km from the centre)
  • Rynek Underground (3.9km from the centre)
  • Auschwitz (61.6km from the centre)

Best for: Couples and friends

Need to know: When you’re crossing a road in Poland, it’s best to always use a crossing. Not only for safety reasons, but there’s a chance you could be fined if you don’t.

Top tips:

  • Save yourself a small fortune by ringing a taxi, this is around 30% cheaper than hailing one from the streets.
  • If you’re under the age of 26 and a student, you can bag yourself 50% off tram and bus transportation.
  • In Krakow the party starts early, to avoid disappointment arrive before 10pm and grab yourself a seat in the area’s most prestigious bars.

Budapest, Hungary

The Royal Palace in Budapest and surrounding landscapes

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Why visit? If the city’s numerous thermal baths haven’t tempted you, Budapest’s art nouveau and neoclassical architecture will. Hungary’s vibrant capital is also known as the ‘Queen of the Danube’, for its mesmerising sights dominating each side of the river. Get ready to be lured in by its fortress-like buildings, cheap pubs and spa parties.

Budapest holiday deals

How cheap is Budapest? It doesn’t get much cheaper, with a bottle of beer roughly costing £1.50 and a three course meal with a bottle of house wine at around £44 – stretching your money has never been so simple.

If that wasn’t enough, a bus from the airport to the city centre only costs £2.45!

Where to stay:

  • Soho Boutique Hotel: Next to Budapest Broadway, you’re moments from concerts, live shows and magical performances at this 4 star hotel.
  • Marmara Design Hotel: Enjoy the perks of a luxury hotel at a fraction of the price, along with views of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
  • The Three Corners Hotel: Situated on the eastern bank of the River Danube, this 36-room establishment even features a sauna and gym.

Top attractions:

  • Hungarian Parliament Building (1.0km from the centre)
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica (1.3km from the centre)
  • Central Market Hall (2.4km from the centre)
  • Buda Castle (3.6km from the centre)
  • Fisherman’s Bastion (3.3km from the centre)
  • Budapest Zoo (4.0km from the centre)
  • Gellert Thermal Baths (4.1km from the centre)

Best for: Historical sights and hen or stag parties.

Need to know: Budapest was once two separate cities split by the river Danube, one side Buda the otherside Pest. They eventually merged to form the Eastern Europe fairytale that it is today.

Top tips:

  • For late nights on the town, tram number six runs around the clock.
  • Ditch the Euros – it’s much more cost effective to use the local currency Forints.

Prague, Czech Republic

River views of Prague Castle on a sunny day in Czech Republic

Travel time: 2 hours

Why visit? Nicknamed the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ with over 500 architectural masterpieces dominating its landscape, Prague is an historical utopia. Bohemian art plays a huge part here, from its quirky street sculptures by David Cerny to Prague’s National Art Gallery.

It’s also the home to some of the world’s top beers, and with microbreweries dotted around the capital you can sample the country’s finest concoctions.

Prague holiday deals

How cheap is Prague? Luckily, you can enjoy a pint of that famous beer we’re referring to for roughly £1.20. Entrance fees to most major attractions such as Prague Castle range from £8 to £10, while meals such as a chicken tikka masala average at £6, leaving you plenty of money for dessert.

Where to stay:

  • Carlton Prague Hotel: After a day of exploring the major sites, which are conveniently only 10 minutes from this hotel, take advantage of the top-notch facilities and free Wi-Fi.
  • Green Garden Hotel: Situated in the heart of the city, this neo-renaissance accommodation has a historical background much like its surrounding landmarks.
  • Galileo: Five minutes from Wenceslas Square and the National Art Museum, this hotel has a winning location.

Top attractions:

  • Prague Castle (4.4km from the centre)
  • Charles Bridge (2.7km from the centre)
  • Old Town (0.9km from the centre)
  • St. Vitus Cathedral (3.7km from the centre)
  • The National Art Gallery (0.8km from the centre)
  • Prague Zoo (5.7km from the centre)
  • The Jewish Quarter (1.0 from the centre)

Best for: History buffs and friends

Need to know: Need some more cash? We only recommend changing your money at the bank. Exchange offices in Prague are not to be trusted.

Top tips:

  • The neighbourhood of Zizkov is home to an excellent strip of bars and it’s even cheaper than the centre of Prague.
  • Head to Charles Bridge at 6am to avoid crowds and watch the sunset.
  • For a quirky night out, head to Parukarka Nuclear, a club in a WWII bunker.

Marrakech, Morocco

famous square and market place in Marrakesh's medina quarter Jamaa el Fna Marrakech.

Travel time: 3.5 hours

Why visit? Boasting a year-round warm climate, Marrakech welcomes you with grand palaces, tropical gardens and maze-like alleys that you’ll want to get lost down. The bright bursts of colour from the vibrant souks will lure you in to discover handmade treasures and bargain buys.

The fourth largest city in the country and founded over 1,000 years ago, this cultural hotspot sits on the edge of the Sahara and beneath the snow-capped high Atlas Mountains.

Marrakech holiday deals

How cheap is Marrakech? If you’re sampling authentic Moroccan cuisine while on your adventures, street food costs around £3 and you can pick up a local beer for £1. Eating in the centre of Marrakech can vary from £5 to £10 for a main meal which isn’t too different from prices at home.

Where to stay:

  • Riad Palais El Miria: This 5 star hotel and its lavish surroundings will have holidaymakers enjoying first-class amenities for less.
  • Kasbah Igoudar Boutique: With mesmerising views of the Atlas Mountains, beautiful pool area and private shuttles to the heart of Marrakech – what’s not to love?
  • Labranda Targa Aqua Parc: Take advantage of the wet and wild waterpark, All Inclusive service and central location.

Top attractions:

  • Jemaa el-Fnaa (3.1km from the centre)
  • Majorelle Garden (1.4km from the centre)
  • Bahia Palace (3.6km from the centre)
  • Koutoubia Mosque (3.1km from the centre)
  • Medina Souks (3.4km from the centre)
  • Saadian Tombs (3.6km from the centre)
  • Imlil (5.7km from the centre)

Best for: Bargain buys and warm weather

Need to know: If you opt to take a taxi during your Marrakech stay, agree on a price with the taxi driver before you set off, and try to haggle for a lower fare. Otherwise, you may find your ride is pricier than expected.

Top tips:

  • Haggle for the best prices at the souks.
  • If you’re heading to a place of worship, wear clothing that covers your body.
  • Only drink bottled water in Morocco.

Riga, Latvia

Dramatic river views of Riga city in Latvia

Why visit? A natural beauty and vibrant cosmopolitan city, Riga is famously known as the ‘Gem of the Baltics’. Surrounded by Art Nouveau-styled buildings, flamboyant gothic spires and the flowing waters of the Daugava River – this is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.

Home to 52,000 pieces of art, 17th century wooden houses and a chocolate museum – do we need to say more?

Riga holiday deals

How cheap is Riga? Transport from the airport to the city centre is around £2.08, while a 48-hour travel card averages at £9.05. A steaming cup of coffee will cost you roughly £2.20 and a bottle of beer £1.80. When it comes to food, meat dishes such as chicken and potatoes or steak and chips are priced between £5 to £10.

Where to stay:

  • Bellevue Park Hotel: Next to the Instagram-worthy Victoria Park and just five minutes from the Old Town, this 4 star hotel will become your home-away-from-home.
  • Monika Centrum: Spread over five floors, this accommodation is the perfect choice for budget-conscious travellers, and it’s only footsteps from the iconic Art Nouveau quarter.
  • Rixwell Elefant: This ultra-modern establishment has all your essentials covered and places you moments from the Old Town and 10 kilometres from a waterpark.

Top attractions:

  • Vecriga (2.8km from the centre)
  • Freedom Monument (1.0km from the centre)
  • St. Peter’s Church (1.6km from the centre)
  • House of the Blackheads (5.2km from the centre
  • Riga Central Market (1.5km from the centre)
  • Riga Castle (2.3km from the centre)
  • Powder Tower (1.2km from the centre)

Best for: Art enthusiasts

Need to know: The tram is the fastest way to get around the city and the cheapest.

Top tips:

  • Head here at Christmas time and experience the magic of the markets.
  • Treat your taste buds to Riga’s twice-monthly gourmet market – you’ll save a few quid feasting on street food.

Rome, Italy

Horse & carriages, and tourists surrounding the ancient Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Travel time: 2.5 hours

Why visit? One of the most romantic and historical cities in the world, Rome takes the crown when it comes to ancient landmarks. With the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain at your fingertips, each street corner has a fascinating story to tell.

When you’re not meeting the pope at the Vatican, overindulge on pizza and pasta – Italy’s finest delicacies.

Rome holiday dealsHow cheap is Rome? Find sensational deals when it comes to your flights and accommodation. Holidays to Rome are often cheaper than a weekend stay in London. Many iconic sights are free of charge and the likes of the Colosseum will cost around £8.

You’ll find most major attractions within walking distance from each other, but for those who’d rather take a bus you’re looking at roughly £3.

Where to stay:

  • Radisson Blu Rome: Boasting 5 stars, this stylish establishment is home to a rooftop pool allowing you to take in the amazing landmarks while you swim.
  • Occidental Aurelia: Just a quick drive from the Sistine Chapel and Spanish Steps, this spacious hotel is exactly what you need after a long walk around the ‘Eternal City’.
  • Ariston: Thanks to its prime location, most hotspots can be reached by foot from Ariston. This hotel also features a bar, Wi-Fi and room service – what a treat.

Top attractions:

  • Colosseum (1.9km from the centre)
  • St. Peter’s Basilica (3.6km from the centre)
  • Roman Forum (1.4km from the centre)
  • Pantheon (2.6km from the centre)
  • Trevi Fountain (3.7km from the centre)
  • Sistine Chapel (4.8km from the centre
  • Vatican Museums (3.7km from the centre)

Best for: Couples

Need to know: Monday’s are known as a rest day in Rome, so most major attractions will be shut.

Top tips:

  • Taxis are pretty pricey, you can take a metro almost anywhere for a fraction of the price.
  • On the first Sunday of each month, landmarks such as the Colosseum and Palatine Hill are free – so time your visit right!
  • Carry a water bottle and fill it in the surrounding fountains – you don’t need to pay a penny for water.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Night views along the canal in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Travel time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Why visit? One of the most popular city destinations in Europe, Amsterdam is brimming with treasure-packed museums, art and architecture. Its 17th century charm and Golden Age canals have drawn holidaymakers in for decades. You can’t walk more than five minutes without bumping into a famous landmark such as Anne Frank’s House and Van Gogh masterpieces.

Amsterdam holiday deals

How cheap is Amsterdam? Just a short flight away, you can bag a stay in Amsterdam for just over £100. Walking tours and boat rides cost between £5 to £12, while museums entries can vary from £8 to £14 depending on the attraction. A pint costs roughly £2.50, while a light lunch such as a panini in this hotspot can be around £5.

Where to stay:

  • XO Hotel Blue Square: Amsterdam square is conveniently five minutes away from this 4 star hotel. Choose from 180 rooms and be welcomed by a 24-hour reception service upon your arrival.
  • Ozo Hotel: This modern accommodation oozes luxury and is just moments from Amsterdam Arena.
  • XO Blue Tower: Affordable and chic, this hotel is based in the historical centre of Amsterdam.

Top attractions:

  • Anne Frank House (6.1km from the centre)
  • Van Gogh Museum (8.0km from the centre)
  • Canal Cruise (8.5km from the centre)
  • Dam Square (7.1km from the centre)
  • Heineken Experience (8.5 km from the centre)
  • Vondelpark (5.9km from the centre
  • Royal Palace of Amsterdam (7.2km from the centre)

Best for: Museums, art and friends.

Need to know: There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there is permanent residents according to the Amsterdam Tourist Board, so be mindful when you’re wandering the cobbled streets.

Top tips:

  • Visit during the week for cheaper accommodation!
  • Get an I Amsterdam Card for free entry to top sights and transportation.

Grabbing yourself a cheap city break has never been so easy with these stunning destinations just a short flight away!

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