Food and energy prices are skyrocketing, lockdowns and reduced work have done the rest – many of us are on tight travel budgets at the moment, but our desire for vacation and adventure is even greater. Although Europe isn’t necessarily the cheapest travel destination: a city trip doesn’t have to be expensive, depending on the destination you choose.
City breaks in Turkey and Greece, for example, are relatively cheap, while the UK has some of the most expensive cities to travel to in Europe. This is evidenced by the “City Break Index” compiled by the British price comparison website money.co.uk.
The company analyzed and classified the costs of an overnight stay in an Airbnb accommodation, a day ticket for local transport, a cheap meal, a glass of white wine and a visit to the most famous attractions of the city. We present the ten cheapest major cities for a city trip.
10th place: Antwerp in Belgium
Shopping, gastronomy, culture and architecture – whatever is on your checklist for a city trip, Antwerp has a little bit of it all.
In the bustling port city on the Schelde, you can admire buildings such as the Church of Our Lady and the Grote Markt as you stroll through the old town, discover the history of design and fashion in the Museum of Fashion and taste the “black gold” that made Belgium so famous in the Chocolate Museum.
For an overnight stay you pay around 110 euros, but visiting Antwerp is particularly cheap.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): about 142 euros
9th place: Lisbon in Portugal
In the capital of Portugal, the sun shines up to 290 days a year and a cool sea breeze from the Atlantic always blows through the streets of the city – no wonder Lisbon is such a popular travel destination.
In the historic but modern city you can visit monasteries, churches and museums, take a boat trip on the Tagus River and enjoy spectacular views from the seven hills of Lisbon.
Absolutely to try the Pastéis de Belém, the puff pastry tarts filled with custard. But the city is also known for delicious food, which is very affordable at around 8 euros compared to other cities.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 140 euros
8th place: Bologna in Italy
Bologna is known as the homeland of tortellini, the stuffed donut-shaped pasta. The city is also called “La Grassa”, “la fat”. Not only because the oldest university city in Europe has been rich since the Middle Ages, but also for the sausages and ham that you can buy here of the highest quality.
But there are also many historical and cultural attractions in the lively capital of Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy.
Characteristic are, for example, the two leaning towers Asinelli and Garisenda. And the medieval arcades of Piazza Maggiore, with a length of 38 kilometers, are even listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 139 euros
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7th place: Valencia in Spain
A place full of contrasts awaits you in Valencia with a charming old town and futuristic buildings. The Spanish city on the Mediterranean Sea is ideal for exploring on foot. One of the most fascinating places is La Reina square with the cathedral and the Miguelete tower, which can be climbed over 207 steps.
Foodies can sample the city’s signature dish, paella, and experience Europe’s largest fresh produce market in the modernist covered market at Mercado Central. If you need a break from the pulsating cultural life, you can take a leisurely stroll on the beach and dive into the Mediterranean Sea.
Plus: holiday apartments (around 83 euros) and white wine are particularly cheap in Valencia compared to other cities.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 133 euros
6th place: Athens in Greece
The capital of Greece is a wonderful place to stroll. For a long time Athens was the hub of the Greek world, today almost no other city in Europe has so many preserved monuments from antiquity.
A visit to the Acropolis is a must. Greece’s best known and most popular tourist attraction has been enthroned on the so-called Holy Hill for thousands of years and not only enchants architecture enthusiasts with its spectacular ancient buildings.
In addition to historical sites, Athens also has numerous museums that tell the history of the city: from art and natural history to folk musical instruments and ancient coins. Especially in summer, numerous concerts, food festivals and sporting events take place in the Greek city.
You can get a delicious meal in Athens for around 7 euros and a bus ticket is also quite cheap at around 4 euros. For an overnight stay you pay on average almost 90 euros.
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Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): about 122 euros
5th place: Naples in Italy
Naples in southern Italy can also boast a long history and therefore attracts with the art and architecture of many centuries. In the winding streets of the historic center you can discover small hidden churches, catacombs and the underground city.
Naples is dominated by the still active volcano Vesuvius, which buried the nearby Roman city of Pompeii. On the long Lungomare, however, during a walk you can enjoy distant views of the Gulf.
Naples has a lot to offer in culinary terms as well. The metropolis of southern Italy is considered the birthplace of pizza. In addition to the countless pizzerias, there are many other cafes, trattorias and restaurants with relatively cheap meals (around 7 euros) that are worth a visit.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 119 euros
4th place: Porto in Portugal
Aside from Lisbon, Porto is another Portuguese city that is worthwhile for inexpensive city trips for bargain hunters. The coastal city is known, among other things, for its magnificent Dom Luís I bridge. It crosses the Douro River for a total of 385 meters. From there you have a breathtaking view over the city.
The Alto Douro wine region, where port wine is grown, is also located on the Douro. Wine enthusiasts should therefore definitely try a port wine tasting in the cellars of the Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood and take a walk in the vineyards while visiting the city.
Distances to Porto are short, so you can explore the Portuguese city on foot. It’s just a little further from the port cellars on the other side of the Douro, where a day pass for local transport is worth around 6 euros.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 118 euros
3rd place: Berlin in Germany
The third place is occupied by the German capital, where you can visit some of the most famous attractions such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall for free. Sights and great museums, but also the diverse cultural life make Berlin a popular destination for travelers from Germany and abroad.
In the capital there are large and small theatrical stages, countless modern and historical museums and cinemas. Berlin is also considered the street art capital of the world. Especially in Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, colorful murals adorn the walls of the houses.
The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife and club scene, which invites people of all nationalities and genders to celebrate.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 118 euros
2nd place: Thessaloniki in Greece
Thessaloniki is a vibrant seaside city, often referred to as the cultural capital of Greece. Despite over 23 centuries of wars and earthquakes, part of the historic center is still standing. The best view of the city can be found in the Kastra district, with its narrow streets and tiny whitewashed houses.
To the west of the city, on the waterfront, stands the symbol of the city, the 15th century White Tower. From there you can stroll along a promenade along the sea. Thanks to Thessaloniki’s long coastline, travelers can sunbathe on many beaches and bathe in the warm crystal clear waters for many months.
The Greek city has a lot to offer in culinary terms too with gastronomic influences from Turks, Romans, Byzantines, Jews and French, even for bargain hunters, as food and drinks are relatively cheap here.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): approximately 94 euros
1st place: Istanbul in Turkey
According to the City Break Index, Istanbul is the cheapest city break destination in Europe. Both sightseeing and accommodation and food are relatively affordable in the Bosphorus city.
Numerous architectural works in Istanbul recall its eventful history as the capital of various world empires. One of these is the Hagia Sophia: it was the cathedral of Constantinople, the main church of the Byzantine Empire and the religious center of Orthodoxy. Today it is a symbol of Istanbul.
But there are not only historical sites in Istanbul, but also skyscrapers and shopping malls. The city is a colorful mix of Western modernity and Eastern exoticism and, with its music and party scene, it has also become a popular holiday destination for young tourists. In and around Istanbul you will find many places to shop, discover and relax.
Daily index (costs for accommodation, transport, food, drinks, attractions): around 82 euros