Planning A Budget-Friendly European Weekend Trip

Are you longing for a quick European getaway but worried about breaking the bank? Fret not! With some smart planning and a dash of creativity, you can embark on a budget-friendly European weekend escape that won't leave your wallet weeping. In this ultimate guide, we'll walk you through the steps to plan an affordable and memorable weekend adventure in Europe.

1. Destination Selection: The Budget Traveller's Dilemma


Choosing the right destination is crucial when you're on a budget. While famous cities like Paris and London are incredible, they can also be expensive. Consider exploring lesser-known gems like Riga, Tallinn, or Krakow, which offer rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture at a fraction of the cost. We took a short break to Tallinn and it was beautiful and so cheap, so I would highly recommend going there. Another tip is to opt for cities within budget-friendly countries such as Portugal, Greece, or Poland. Your money can go a long way in these countries.

2. Off-Peak Travel

The timing of your trip can significantly impact your expenses. Avoid travelling during peak seasons when prices for accommodation and attractions skyrocket. Instead, opt for the shoulder season or even the off-peak months, which usually have milder weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. Plus, you'll have a more authentic and peaceful experience.

3. Hunting For Transportation Deals

Getting to the destination is often one of the most significant expenses of any trips:

  • Use fare comparison websites to find the best flight deals such as Skyscanner or Kayak.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates.
  • Consider flying to nearby airports, which might offer cheaper options.
  • Sign up for fare alerts and newsletters from airlines and travel agencies to be the first to know about discounts.
  • Search for discount codes online for car hire and sign up to the company's emails for the best deals.
You could also consider one of the many short breaks abroad provided by coach companies like Shearings. A package deal offering coach transportation, hotel, meals and excursions can be surprisingly cost-effective. 

4. Budget Accommodation

When it comes to lodging, your choices can make or break your budget. Here's how to sleep smart:

  • Look beyond hotels: Consider hostels, guesthouses, caravans, lodges or even camping. 
  • Read reviews to ensure quality and safety. Tripadvisor is your friend here.
  • Opt for accommodation with a kitchen to prepare some of your meals.
  • Check for free breakfast options, as this can save you money and time. Who doesn't like a free breakfast?
5. Navigating the City


Once you've reached your destination, make sure to navigate the city without draining your funds. Walk as much as possible to explore the city, use public transportation when necessary, and consider purchasing city cards or passes that offer discounts on attractions and transportation. 

6. Saving Money On Food

Sampling local cuisine is one of the highlights of any trip, but dining out for every meal can add up quickly. Here's how to enjoy local food without emptying your wallet:

  • Eat where the locals eat: Street food stalls and small local restaurants often provide authentic, budget-friendly meals.
  • Share dishes: Splitting meals with your travel partner can save money and help you taste more local flavours.
  • Grocery shopping: Buy snacks and breakfast items from local grocery stores to save on dining expenses. In Iceland for example the Bonus supermarket chain was very well-priced compared to eating in cafes. 

7. Free And Low-Cost Attractions

Europe is brimming with free and affordable attractions. Don't miss out on:
  • Parks, gardens, and scenic viewpoints.
  • Museums with free or reduced admission days.
  • Historic sites and architecture that you can admire from the outside.

8. Plan And Prioritise Must-Sees

Create a flexible itinerary that prioritizes your must-see attractions. This way, you won't waste time and money on places that don't interest you much. A mix of paid and free activities will keep your budget in check while ensuring you have a fulfilling experience.

9. Currency Considerations

Understanding currency exchange rates and avoiding additional fees is vital. Use ATMs wisely to withdraw cash in local currency, and consider using no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards like the Halifax Clarity credit card for purchases.  Notify your bank of your travel plans to prevent any issues with your cards.

10. Buy Thoughtful And Frugal Souvenirs


Instead of splurging on traditional tourist trinkets, consider purchasing unique, locally-made souvenirs or postcards that won't strain your budget. Or, better yet, capture memories with photos and journal entries.

11. Pack Light And Save On Baggage Fees

Travelling light can help you avoid checked baggage fees and make it easier to navigate public transportation. Pack versatile clothing and use packing cubes to maximize space in your carry-on bag.

12. Stay Connected With Data And Wi-Fi Tips

Don't overspend on data or international phone plans. Use free Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels, and public areas, and consider getting a local SIM card for affordable data and calling options.

13. Stay Safe On A Budget

Prioritise your safety without overspending. Keep your belongings secure, be aware of your surroundings, and have copies of important documents like your passport and travel insurance.

14. Plan for Next Time  And Start Saving

As your budget-friendly European weekend escape comes to an end, start planning for your next adventure. Set up a separate travel fund or use a budgeting app to save for future trips. Make use of sites such as Fantastic Voucher Codes or Quidco to save money on your normal purchases. Every little helps. 


A budget-friendly European weekend escape is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. By choosing the right destination, timing, and accommodations, being savvy with your transportation and food choices, and enjoying free and low-cost attractions, you can make the most of your adventure without emptying your wallet. Remember, the best experiences often come from exploring like a local, so embrace the culture, savour the moments, and cherish the memories while staying within your budget.

Bon voyage, budget traveller! Europe awaits your affordable exploration.

*Collaborative post

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