Whether you're after an exciting city break or looking for something more mellow by the sea or in the European countryside, these holidays don't have to cost a fortune. Sure, major cities will typically be more expensive than quaint coastal villages. But whatever you want to do, it's still possible to get great holiday deals on a tight budget.
There are several all-inclusive holiday deals to be found when looking for European breaks, which usually work out cheaper. When booking an all-inclusive package, make sure you are saving money. Most online travel agencies and organisers can get special rates with airlines, hotels and airport shuttle services. It's worth looking at these services individually to understand the price difference.
In addition, several European countries have hidden gems that act as ways to limit overspending. We've compiled a list of the best destinations for a cheap European break so you can start planning your next budget adventure.
Spain is a classic destination for warm beach holidays, but its rich culture and vibrant food scene make its cities exciting places too. To avoid breaking the bank in Spain, always aim for accommodation on the outskirts of any major towns or cities. Public transport is good in Spain, so getting to the exciting parts is easy - even if you stay further out.
Spanish beach breaks
Spain's islands are an excellent option if you want to decompress and enjoy a coastal break. If you're booking a holiday for ultimate relaxation, look at all-inclusive deals for Majorca, Ibiza, the Canary Islands, and Tenerife. When you book all-inclusive, you don't have to worry about anything once you arrive, and if you're on a very tight budget, you won't have to spend anything once you are there.
Avoid major tourist destinations like Palma (Majorca) and Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife). If you're keen on an Ibiza trip, avoid party areas like Ibiza Town. Despite its reputation, Ibiza has many regions which are much quieter like Portinax, Cala Llonga, Puerto San Miguel, and Santa Eulalia.
Spanish city breaks
Spain's iconic cities are a must-add to your travel bucket list. Barcelona and Madrid can be expensive, but staying outside of the cities and taking public transport inward to see the sites is a great way to save cash. When booking accommodation, self-catering is cheaper and gives you more flexibility. Spain's tapas and drinks culture mean you can eat out relatively cheaply while enjoying authentic Spanish cuisine.
Greece and the Greek Islands are the best destinations for a cheap holiday. If you don't have an airport transfer booked, Greece offers affordable car rentals.
Islands such as Rhodes and Crete have areas that are less of a tourist haven and slightly more secluded with many secret natural gems for relaxed beach days and stunning walks. Island hopping is a great way to make the most of your time in Greece and ferries are very affordable.
The Greek capital Athens is a hub of ancient historical sites. So if you're interested in the ancient history of greek mythology, it's the city for you. Athens has very affordable public transport options, but renting a vehicle is cheaper if you're travelling with a group of people and you're planning on being in Greece for an extended period.
Be prepared to use cash regularly in Greece as the local vendors prefer it. It's also easier to negotiate better deals when you have cash!
Bear in mind the main tourist attractions, such as the ruins at the Acropolis, can be expensive to get into. However, there are plenty of points in Athens where you can see the ancient sites from a distance. If you're keen on immersing yourself in the culture of Athens, there are also several museums in the city where entry is free.
Cyprus is a foodies paradise and somewhere you need to visit for seafood, beautiful white sandy beaches and coastal scenery. It's also very cheap to eat out, and you don't have to pay through the roof for accommodation either.
Cyprus is home to several beach resorts offering all-inclusive accommodation deals that will save you money and food and drinks in the long run. Cyprus also tends to stay warmer even out of peak tourist season. To save money on travel packages, consider travelling just before or after the tourist season.
Travelling in April or May is ideal if you can't wait to get out into the sunshine again. However, if you've saved your holiday time for towards the end of the year, October is ideal as it's still sunny and warm - perfect tanning weather!
Portugal is known for its flavoursome meat dishes and historical cities and villages. Overall, Portugal is a cheap destination for holidaymakers and flights from London are also pretty cheap, especially if you go outside the main tourist season.
The thriving city of Lisbon is an excellent option for a city break on a budget. Lisbon is known for fantastic street food, older forms of public transport like trams, and rich history. In addition, Lisbon is an architectural enthusiast's dream as it is home to landmarks like St Jorge's Castle, Jeronimo's Monestry, Commerce Square, and Rossio Square. You can experience most of these sites simply by walking around the city. However, you can pay for a ticket to get into some of the buildings.
Portugal's coastline is another ideal destination with many holiday packages perfect for anyone needing a cheap holiday. Destinations like the Algarve are perfect for beach breaks. If you like to swim, be warned that the Atlantic water is slightly colder than the Med!
Italy is the perfect amalgamation of food, culture, and passionate people. A week in any of its cities or towns will inspire you and give you a new zest for life. Areas like Venice and Rome are busy with tourists for most of the year. As a result, they are among the more expensive Italian destinations. However, there are always restaurants in the cities that won't break the bank while serving beautiful and authentic Italian food.
If you're a wine lover, rent a cheap car and drive through the breathtaking landscapes of Tuscany. The Winelands there are beautiful, especially during the summer. If you're on a budget, you may not be able to purchase your favourite wines, but the views and the Tuscan culture are something to experience in themselves.
Sardinia and Sicily
Areas like Sardinia and Sicily are perfect for Mediterranean breaks on a budget. These places are all about incredible food and a relaxed beachside atmosphere. The best way to get around is by renting a car, which is relatively inexpensive. Many travel agencies will offer specials on flight and accommodation packages, so it's worth looking at these too.
Croatia has recently become one of the top tourist destinations for the summer months. Visitors may be surprised to find a heavy Italian influence in this Eastern European country. Croatia is home to beautiful islands and beaches, which are great places for anyone with a limited budget.
Croatia's capital, Dubrovnik, is a great place to experience the country's rich history and culture. Accommodation in the city centre will be expensive, however, a self-catering facility on the city's outskirts is the best thing to book when looking to save money on your trip. Car rental is also recommended for travelling around the city and surrounding areas.
Split is one of the islands just off the coast of Croatia and is known for exceptional scuba diving and marine life activities. All-inclusive packages for Split and other Croatian islands will ensure your travel expenses and food are covered, allowing you to explore the natural beauty they offer, either on foot or by driving.
Nele van Hout from The Navigatio also mentioned Split when speaking to Age Times, telling us: "Visiting somewhere other than the capital is a great way to save money – these are usually much cheaper and less touristy. Split in Croatia, Den Bosch in the Netherlands or the Czech Republic’s Brno all make for fun and more affordable city break destinations."
The trick to exploring France on a budget is to avoid commercial tourist attractions at all costs.
The capital city of Paris is home to some of the most famous artworks in the world. Still, getting into attractions like La Louvre and Versailles costs a pretty penny. So if you're on a budget, take the chance to discover cafes slightly outside the main tourist areas. For sites such as the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Cur, you can get your pictures in without going into the attractions.
There are many free museums and attractions in Paris so you can enjoy the city's history without making your wallet cry. The Petit Palais, for example, is ideal for art lovers as it is known as the City Museum of Fine Arts. Here you'll find an eclectic mix of artistic mediums and some of the classic artists of the renaissance and romantic periods.
France is also home to beautiful coastal towns and wine regions. Saint-Tropez is one of the most popular places to go if you need some time in the sun while lounging on one of the many white sandy beaches. Because of its popularity, many hotels and accommodations offer guests all-inclusive options for the ultimate holiday of relaxation.
French Getaways with good wine
If you want to experience French wine culture, keep an eye out for small towns that could be more challenging to reach. Car rental in France is much cheaper than in the UK so rent a car from wherever you land and head out into the French Countryside. Not only will you see more than if you travelled by train, but you'll also have the freedom to explore more of the area without paying for public transport. Some of the best towns include Vosne-Romanee, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr.
Home to flat landscapes and iconic Dutch windmills, the Netherlands offers travellers something different on their European breaks.
Amsterdam is an absolute must for anyone looking for a city break. However, it is on the more expensive side, so renting a self-catering property in the city is recommended. On the other hand, if you don't mind sharing your space with others for a night or two, backpackers' hotels tend to be the cheapest options and are well-maintained.
Rotterdam is another city in the Netherlands but with a very different culture from Amsterdam. It's an excellent destination for a city break during the summer months. It's also ideal if you are on a budget because of the unique architectural designs throughout the city. After Rotterdam was heavily bombed during the Second World War, the city went through a massive phase of architectural revival, erecting some of the most quirky and artistic buildings in the world. The famous Cube Houses and the Markthal building are two must-see attractions in the city. Markthal is free to enter and the Cube Houses are accessible on foot.
Known as little Amsterdam, Utrecht is a smaller, quieter canal city with canals, gable houses, quaint street bars, restaurants and cafes. As the city is about a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam, eating out here is slightly cheaper than it is in the Netherlands' capital. You will also get to experience more authentic Dutch culture than what you experience in Amsterdam. For Utrecht, we recommend finding a self-catering Airbnb - somewhere just to rest your head for the night.
A less revered Dutch city, Den Bosch is home to quaint shops, cafes, and classic Dutch architecture, not to mention some of the best Bossche bols around! The surrounding countryside is perfect for long bike rides through farmlands and along the banks of beautiful lakes and rivers. It's recommended you rent a bike when you're in the Netherlands. The roads brilliantly cater for cyclists, and once you have a bike, you won't have to worry about refuelling.
Travelling around the Czech Republic is way cheaper than doing so in the UK. The Eastern European country has a rich history embedded in medieval times, and you'll stumble across castles and forts that are over 2000 years old.
Prague has become a popular city break for those looking to experience Europe on a budget. Flights from London Airports to Prague are affordable, with airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet frequenting the city's international airport. Transport from the airport to central Prague on the safe, reliable transport system will only cost around £1.50 for a one-way journey. Like with any other city break, book accommodation on the city's outskirts to save cash. If you want to see the attractions, take a walk around the city to marvel at the architecture.
Turkey has it all! Stunning beaches, vibrant cities, and incredible food. For those with a flair for fashion, it's also one of the best places for cheap, hand-made clothing. You'll find great deals at markets, and bartering is highly encouraged. So you'll be able to score some fantastic deals on your shopping!
Overall, Istanbul is cheap for eating out, and the markets are a spectacle as well as great places to find bargains. You can find accommodation in the city for around £20 per person per night at hotels and guest houses close to the city centre. It's also cheaper to visit Istanbul outside peak tourist season, so visit before May or after September.
Turkey is also ideal for beach breaks with post-card-worthy scenes of the blue sea and vast, white, sandy coastlines. Some online agencies offer all-inclusive beachside packages, but to save money, try to book something about a mile away from the beach. Hotels set further back from the sea tend to be cheaper.
To save on flights, fly into Istanbul and rent a car for your time in Turkey. There are several efficient bus services, but these can be difficult to navigate as a tourist. Renting a vehicle is cheap and easy in Turkey.
Malta is growing in popularity as a cheap European break. Accommodation, food and drinks fit a tight budget perfectly, especially if you're travelling with a group of friends. Many self-catering villas and holiday rentals are affordable if you split the cost.
The island is home to some of the Med's most stunning beaches and historic buildings which you'll be able to visit without breaking the bank. If you're travelling as a couple or solo, you'll be able to pick up some incredible all-inclusive deals. To save pennies, visit Malta just before or just after the tourist season when accommodation is less expensive.
Germany is generally expensive, but there are ways around spending too much. If you don't eat out and avoid paying hefty tourist rates to visit attractions, you'll be able to have a great time and experience Germany on a budget. Instead, get food from local shops and try to find a hotel that includes breakfast in the price. A good breakfast will set you up for the day, so your only challenge will be to resist the delicious smells of huge Schweinshaxen and Eisbein.
Arguably one of the most historic cities of the modern Western World, Berlin is a sought-after destination for those fascinated with European politics. As Germany's capital city, Berlin is a vibrant hub of art, history and famous buildings. Although it is one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe, you will need to stick to a strict budget. Getting into the main tourist attractions like museums is expensive, so the best way to experience the city is simply by walking around.
Berlin's nightlife is another aspect of the city you have to experience on your trip. Buying drinks in bars and nightclubs is costly, so try to limit this. When you go out in Berlin, you'll likely come across German techno or rave music. Even if it's not your cup of tea, the atmosphere is something to behold.
Bulgaria has recently appeared on the map as one of the top beach holiday destinations. The country's 378km coastline meets the black sea with dramatic cliffs, white beaches and beautiful bays. Nessebar, Varna, and Sozopol are three of Bulgaria's coastal towns popular with tourists. Accommodation is cheap, and many hotels offer all-inclusive deals so you can enjoy a relaxing time away.
Budapest is an excellent option for a cheap city break with affordable accommodation, great nightlife, stunning scenery and rich history. Budapest is divided into two sections, with the Danube river running directly through the middle. The Buda side of the river is home to the famous Buda Castle, which you can walk up to for free. The Pest side is flatter in landscape and home to the incredible St Stephen's Basilica - free to attend for anyone who wants to be blown away by the artwork and religious history of the city.