Medieval cobbled streets, history-filled museums, world-class food scenes… is there anything more enchanting than a city break?
From fairytale Krakow to metropolitan Naples, we’ve rounded up eight European cities to visit on a budget.
Whether you visit for old town charm, fascinating historical sites or hip-and-happening nightlife, a city break to Krakow will fill your culture cravings.
Sightseeing takes in the medieval Rynek Główny market square, gothic St Florian’s Gate, and the synagogues of the historic Jewish Quarter, Kazimierz. For a deeper historical dive, the sobering memorial and museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau are just an hour away.
When it comes to food, eat your way through pierogi dumplings and obwarzanek pretzels from bustling food vendors or take your pick of artisan cafes lining the streets of old town. Come nightfall, go in search of an underground beer hall for revelry until dawn.
A pint or two of Prague’s famously cheap beer is essential on a city break to the Czech capital. Find a cellar bar or outdoor beer garden to soak up as much culture as beer, or head to the rooftop terrace of Hotel U Prince for views of the city’s iconic Church of Our Lady before Týn.
The city centre can easily be explored on foot – and with its pretty, cobbled streets, you’ll hardly notice the steps adding up. But if you’re short on time (or just want to rest your legs), Prague’s wallet-friendly e-bike and e-scooter services are fun ways to get around.
Prefer quieter days discovering the city’s sights? Visit the serene Old Jewish Cemetery or take a guided tour of the exquisite Klementinum library.
Combine a classic city break with a touch of luxury in Budapest. Hit up city sights such as the remarkable Parliament Building, the 19th-century Fisherman’s Bastion fortress and the central market in the morning then melt away all your stresses at the thermal spas of Szechenyi Baths.
If you luck out with the weather, swap soaking in spas for swimming with locals at the city’s outdoor lidos and enjoy alfresco lunches along the riverfront. For evening tipples, opt for one of the city’s ruin bars.
Into your food? Hungarian cuisine is a delight. Tuck into hearty portions of goulash and satisfy your sweet tooth with a traditional chimney cake.
The city centre is packed with incredible architecture to explore – think the stunning spires of the Sagrada Familia and the gothic church towers of Santa Maria del Mar – while along the coast, you’ll find long golden stretches of sand, waterfront restaurants and trendy beach bars.
There’s plenty for art lovers here too. Take some time to appreciate dazzling Gaudi designs or the fantastical Park Güell or visit one of the city’s world-renowned art museums. Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is a top pick.
If you’re a serial city breaker, you may have already visited Europe’s most popular cities. Enter Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. This overlooked city is packed with museums, markets, theatres and striking architecture around every corner – and for foodies, it’s a wonderful culinary journey.
Expect everything from hearty stews and grilled meats to light soups and delicate pastries, all a tantalising mix of Balkan and Mediterranean cuisines. Even better, eating out is wonderfully affordable, with a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant coming in at around £35.**
If you’d prefer a little more outdoor adventure, the city’s forest-fringed outskirts are perfect for hiking.
Rome has everything from fabulous food to Renaissance art – plus has the bragging rights to some of the world’s best preserved ancient ruins.
Spend your city break admiring Michalangelo’s famous frescoes at the Sistine Chapel, browsing local produce at Testaccio Market, marvelling at archaeological wonders at the Roman Forum and joining locals for an aperitivo in Trastevere.
When you need to refuel, delicious and filling food is never far away. Tuck into traditional thin-based pizzas topped with olives and artichokes, creamy pastas and plenty of gelato.
Luckily, even the city’s well-connected tram network is part of your must-do list. Tick off a ride on its iconic yellow Tram 28 on your way up to the castle, then meander back down to its main square, Praça do Comércio. Here, you’re close to the world’s first Time Out Market, where you can sample some of the city’s best food – don’t miss out on bacalhau (salted cod) washed down with Portugal’s renowned wine.
As you head along the coast to Belem via one of Lisbon’s more modern trams, make space for a custard tart or three at Pasteis de Belem. The UNESCO-listed Jerónimos Monastery and the modern art exhibits of Museu Coleção Berardo are also here.
Art galleries, sobering history, uber-cool nightlife… you probably won’t fit in all of Berlin’s best bits on a city break, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Start with a history lesson and delve into Germany’s past with tours of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial. Then, get a crash course in ancient history and art at the five museums of Museum Island.
As for evening entertainment, take your pick of chic cocktail bars and laidback craft beer pubs – or dance the night away at one of the city’s techno clubs and underground raves.
** Please note this price is indicative only. Prices taken from cost-of-living data website, Numbeo, on November 17, 2023.
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