When it comes to finding cheap holiday destinations in Europe, Mr Sunny and I have to do quite a bit of research. Due to the nature of my fulltime job, we are forced to take our holidays during peak travel times. Rarely do we score one of those £50 roundtrip deals that are part of flash sales or last minute travel specials you see frequently.
To plan for holiday destinations in Europe or to the US, we regularly use flight and hotel comparison websites like JustFly to see what’s available at the best price during the restricted dates we can travel.
Talking to family, friends and colleagues who travel throughout Europe about where the current hot places are for less has helped us make some great decisions and narrow our searches. In fact, we think we have nearly been to or have holidays booked to all the top cheap holiday destinations in Europe.
Our Travel Profile
We like city breaks and beach destinations and have a relaxed approach to our itinerary. It’s important to us to see popular attractions and have time to enjoy the regional cuisine. Not having children means we like when there is an adult pool at a hotel. Spas always attract our attention. We’re happy to spend money on quality, but appreciate a deal like everyone else who hasn’t won the Euromillions yet.
Obviously, we prefer to stay in 5 star accommodations, just like most people would. Generally, we can find hotels that aren’t ridiculously expensive but still have a “luxury” label. Budget accommodations don’t appeal to our travel taste.
If this matches how you and your partner like to travel and you’re restricted to peak travel times, then focus your research on the cheap holiday destinations in Europe below for your next trip.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Malta
Two years ago we enjoyed a 5-night holiday to Malta. We would recommend this trip to people who enjoy sun, water sports and excellent food. While it’s likely much cheaper during off peak times, Malta was less money during the popular summer months of July and August in comparison to other European destinations.
Saving money on meals allowed us to book more activities. We loved our day trip to Gozo and Blue Lagoon on a boat from our hotel in Valletta, as well as the full day we spent touring Game of Thrones locations used for the first season with a cast member.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Bilbao, San Sebastián and Rioja
If you are foodie travellers and love wine, this roadtrip trio of Spanish cities is a must do. We spent six nights touring the Basque Country and fell in love with the beautiful scenery and cuisine. This was a summer trip for us that we made cheaper than our normal trips by staying in some 4 star hotels instead of 5 stars.
Mr Sunny and I rented a car in Bilbao and spent two nights in each city. You could easily hike up your budget by dining on the many Michelin starred options in San Sebastián. However, we made our experience more attainable by enjoying pinxtos for lunch and early evening hours.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Prague
Having a reputation for one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe, Prague was high on our list. In terms of good food and beer for less money than you spend in London, Prague fulfilled our expectations. However, unlike Malta and Basque Country, Prague isn’t known for fancy food. You will save money in Prague but you will eat goulash, braised beef and dumplings. Don’t plan on getting any food porn for your Insta in this city! Unless of course you try the Trdelnik.
Because most of our days were under our normal daily budget, we did splurge on a Michelin starred dinner at our hotel one evening. It was the most we ever spent on one dinner, and we agree it was the best food experience we have ever had together. That includes all of the complimentary blog feasts we have had too.
Our trip to Prague took place in May. The 90° Fahrenheit temperatures really crushed my ability to fall in love with this city like most people do. So, since it’s not a beach destination, I would suggest it for the Autumn.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Vienna
This city has a reputation for some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. We visited in February and were able to still enjoy many winter themed activities that took place over the holidays. The temperatures at times were bone chilling, but obviously outdoor ice skating wouldn’t be possible any other way.
Vienna tends to get quite crowded in the summer. So if you want to hit the city and not face the summer or Christmas market crowds, February could be a great option for you too.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Budapest
Since going to European Christmas markets is something I would love to do, we booked a holiday to Budapest this year in November. Like Prague, Budapest is reportedly one of Europe’s cheapest cities to visit. Booking our flights and hotel in May allowed us to grab a good deal.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Lisbon
While Lisbon doesn’t generally sit on the top of the cheap European destinations leader board, we think it has potential. We have winter travel plans to Lisbon and are shocked at how cheaply we scored roundtrip flights on British Airways.
It looks like the regional food in Lisbon will be good and reasonable. Further, with its more southern location we are hoping the weather will be quite mild for winter.
Cheap Holiday Destinations in Europe: Final Thoughts
Sadly, one of my favourite places to visit was also the most expensive. In October 2018 Mr Sunny and I spent four amazing nights in Nice, France. While it easily was one of the best holidays I have ever had, a trip to the French Riviera sure isn’t cheap. Flights from London can be really reasonable. And, deals including hotels on the Promenade des Anglais aren’t too outrageous either. But, if you want to really enjoy the cuisine of the Côte d’Azur, you need to be ready to for some serious sticker shock at the dinner table!
What cities for cheap travel destinations in Europe do you recommend, Sunny friends? If you are forced to travel during peak times, what strategies do you use to save money?
This is a collaborative post.