City breaks on a budget

Going away for a romantic weekend to a European city can be a relaxing, magical and idyllic break. The good news is that this small slice of heaven does not have to be as expensive as you think.

With a little bit of planning there are many ways you can keep the cost of your trip down so that you can make the most of the sites, the food and the culture.

Timing is everything

Weekend breaks are popular, but traveling midweek can save a chunk of money. If you can only travel at the weekend, avoid bank holidays and weekends during, or either side of, school holidays. Check if there are any big events or festivals taking place during the weekend of your visit, as this may push the price of flights and accommodation up.

Consider rental

Hotels are inescapably romantic, but they’re expensive. Instead, look at home rentals with a reputable rental site like Airbnb or HomeAway. Don’t be afraid to haggle with the owner on the price and be sure to check if there are any additional costs such as cleaning fees. If possible, pay with a credit card for added protection.

Plan ahead

On a city break, far too much money can be spent on unnecessary fees like taxi fares and touristy restaurants. Before you travel, find out if you can get a train, tram or bus into the city from the airport and where the best places to eat on a budget are. The more organised you are, the more money you’ll save – plus, you get the added bonus of living like locals.

Fun for free

In most major cities there are free sights and activities. Again, it’s all about the research: before you travel, search forums, look for articles and ask friends and family who have visited the destination for their top tips. Whether you’re wandering hand-in-hand through a beautiful city park, exploring a free museum or taking in the view from a public vantage point, you don’t have to spend to be impressed.

Consider an alternative destination

Paris, Rome and Madrid are often viewed as the top places to go on a city break, yet there are so many more affordable adventures to be had all over Europe. In November 2017, the Telegraph used research from the Post Office to compile a list of the 20 cheapest city breaks in Europe. The city that came out on top was Vilnius in Lithuania, with Riga in Latvia in second place. While Vilnius has a huge medieval old town and a cool café culture, Riga boasts stunning architecture and a thriving party scene.

Stay closer to home

You don’t need to jump on a plane to experience the romance of a city break – there are plenty of destinations closer to home offering stunning accommodation, great food and world-class attractions. In Liverpool, you could stay in a chic hotel overlooking the River Mersey and go out on Mathew Street, where the Beatles used to play; in Glasgow, the architecture is amazing and live music – much of it in the city’s pubs and bars – rings out across the city. If you fancy a break in the capital, try lastminute.com for discounted London hotels and good deals on West End shows with a pre-theatre dinner.