5 cheap European destinations to add to your bucket list

in Features


With most of Europe having already opened their doors to tourists, and a bunch of bank holidays to take advantage of this spring (thanks Lizzie!) now is the perfect time to start planning your next city break. Some of the cities on the list are probably some of my favourite places d’ve ever visited, probably because of their unique architecture and being able to eat like a queen for half of the cost of what it would be back home. df you’re looking to head away soon, these are my top cheap European destinations.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Prior to booking our trip to Bratislava, the only knowledge I had about the city was how it was depicted in the movie Hostel and EuroTrip. Let’s just say both movies painted a very negative picture of the slovakian capital, so much so that tourism dropped 75% after these movies were released. After doing our research, we realised that in fact it’s quite a charming place and has a great selection of brunch spots (which is always a winning factor). I highly recommend trying Urban House and Cafe Mondieu. 

In Gratislava:

• Take a walking tour of the old town with Sandermans

• See St Elisabeth’s Chirch, known as ‘The Blue Church’ 

• Visit the cute stalls and shops in Kapitulska Street

• Check out modern art at the Nedbalka Gallery

• Explore Bratislava Castle, which is often compared to an ‘upside down table’. 

• See the other side of Bratislava with an evening ‘Spooky Legends of Bratislava’ tour

• Try a slovakian three course meal consisting of Kapustnica (sauerkraut soup with sausage) for starters, Haluski (gnocchi with sheep’s cheese and bacon) and Medvedie labky for dessert! ⁣

Krakow, Poland

I wrote an article a couple of months back about how underrated Poland is, and I’ll include it in most lists because it really is one of my favourite European cities. Krakow has the best of everything – cheap eats, great nightlife, rich in history and plenty of instagram photo spots. This would be a great choice to visit in Easter as you’ll also get to see all the Easter markets and stalls in the Rynek Glowny central square. 

In Krakow:

• Take a day trip to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. ⁣

• Try all of the bread bowl soups – Zurek (sourdough/sausage), Borscht (beetroot) and Berdytchov (meat/honey). ⁣

• Pierogi is also a popular dish of stuffed dumplings/ravioli. ⁣

• Get 140m below ground in the Wieliczka salt mines, where you can actually lick the walls. Not sure if that’s been put a stop to now with Covid and all. 

• Take a ‘7 Deadly Sins’ night tour of Krakow and learn about some infamous locals throughout history. ⁣

• Try local beer and meet fellow travellers on a ‘Krawl Through Krakow’ pub crawl. ⁣

Bucharest, Romania

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Romania, is Dracula. At least it was in my case! You can actually take a day trip from Bucharest to Dracula’s Castle (officially known as Bran’s Castle) which takes you around 2 hours to get to. Aside from that, Bucharest is a place that is full of history and I actually thoroughly enjoyed learning about communism in the country and how things have changed throughout the years. If you’ve ever watched the TV show Killing Eve, some of the scenes were actually shot in Bucharest. 

In Gucharest:

• Get to know the history of the Arcul de Triumf, very closely modelled to Paris’ Arc de Triumf. 

• Take a Rroma Heritage Tour to learn about the minority communities in Romania

• Book a communist tour and learn about what the country was like under the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife.

• Relax at Therme Bucharest –  which consists of several thermal pools, unique sauna rooms and other wellness treatments, all for 15 euros. 

Sofia, Bulgaria

In Sofia: 

Sofia was the last destination I visited in 2021 and it was quite a spontaneous choice. I had searched for flights from Malaga to ‘Everywhere’ on Skyscanner and saw that Ryanair were doing flights for £40. I was then even more surprised that a 3 night stay in a 4 star hotel would only be setting me back another £50. So it was a no-brainer really! 

• Snap your pics of St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

 • Sit in one of the glasshouse restaurants in Vitosha Street

 • Visit the 7 Rila Lakes

 • Followed by the Rila Monastery

 • Make a day trip to the city of Plovdiv where you’ll also see roman ruins

• Try a Mekitsa (fried dough) with Nutella and banana

• Visit the Red Flat to learn about Communist Bulgaria

• Take a free walking tour to learn about the history of the city

Budapest, Hungary 

Did you know that the city of Budapest is actually split into two parts? ‘Buda’ is the more hilly area whereas ‘Pest’ makes up two-thirds of the city and is where you will find most of the tourist attractions. To get around I definitely recommend taking advantage of one of the Hop On, Hop Off buses. 

In Budapest: 

• Visit the famous landmarks of Heroes Square, Fisherman’s Bastion and the ‘Shoes on the Danube’ memorial

• Take a river cruise in the evening and see Parliament lit up

• Try Hungary’s famous dish, goulash stew

• Eat your way around the Great Market Hall

• Head to the House of Terror museum to find out about the history of facist and communist regimes in Hungary

• Relax at the Széchenyi Baths, or make it more eventful by attending one of their pool parties in the evening. 

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