The best budget European tour

Roisin Maguire

For those who are on a budget and with limited time only, a short two week tour of three or four European countries is certainly an option but only if you stick to your plan.

Europe is full of history and many different locations to marvel, you just need to do the research. Lucky for you, this brief guide might save you some money.

One easy way of travelling to four of the cheapest destinations in Europe is starting with Croatia then to Hungary, Slovakia and finishing with the Czech Republic. All four destinations can be enjoyed with a budget of around €50 to €70 a day. However, when it comes to visiting a number of countries, travel insurance is definitely worth it considering, a year can cost as little as €40 for young people with the right company.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia is a country where you might spend most of your time relaxing on a beach depending on the time you travel, so soak up all the sun while you can because the rest of Europe has quite a busy itinerary.

Dubrovnik in Croatia is a picturesque city with on the Mediterranean sea and it’s one of the filming spots for the Game of Thrones. Some people compare the breathtaking city to Venice as this old medieval city is quite similar in its architecture. 

One of the first things to do in Dubrovnik is walk the walls of the city. The walls were added into the city in the 13th century but are completely intact and surround the Old Town. Starting at Pile Gate and walking anti clockwise, this offers some stunning views especially at each of the towers. The walls can get very busy during peak times in the summer so September may be a better time to go and you can still experience the sun.

The streets of Old Town are a tour in themselves and people can spend a whole day wandering through them. Another great option for Dubrovnik is taking a boat trip to Lokrum Island. The island is quiet but overrun with peacocks and rabbits, perfect for an Instagram worthy snap.

Dubrovnik is a perfect relaxation trip and the best way to end it is by spending some time soaking in the Dead Sea which is a saltwater pool surrounded by Rocky Cliffs. The best piece of advice for Dubrovnik is to wear comfortable clothes and a pair of hiking shoes.

Budapest, Hungary

The city of Budapest is divided by the Danube River creating two sides: Buda and Pest. The Buda side is full of architectural wonders such as Buda Castle which is a must see when visiting Hungary. The first day is the perfect opportunity to go on a walking tour as this is where you will experience the real treasures of Budapest. Walking from the Pest side to Buda on the Chain Bridge is the best option. The bridge is famous for its lion sculptures. The castle is on the hill and this can be accessed from the funicular which is of course something that is on a lot of people’s lists, however it can become very busy and the queue can be over thirty minutes long. 

Fisherman’s Bastion is also close to Buda castle and offers some spectacular views and if you’re feeling like spending extra, there are some fancy restaurants around the area. 

Budapest wouldn’t be complete without a cruise on the Danube and prices start at only 10 euro depending on the offer. The best views are possibly experienced at night. Another “must do” is the thermal baths which Budapest is famous for. Some baths even offer parties.

For the food lovers, the Jewish Quarter in Budapest is full of restaurants offering some of the best Hungarian dishes. And for souvenir shopping, head over to Central Market. They also sell traditional Hungarian food as well as some quirky souvenirs.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava is in Central Europe and is close to Austria, Hungary and Poland and can be accessed by train or bus from all of these countries which makes part of the tour very easy without having to get a flight. 

Visiting a new place isn’t complete without visiting a castle so first up on the itinerary is Bratislava Castle. The castle dates back to the 9th century and can be accessed on foot from Old Town (and yes, there are a lot of Old Town’s in European countries). Once you get there, you will be able to see some serious views, including the Danube River, the UFO Bridge (names so because it looks very futuristic and very much like a UFO) and the medieval quarter. 

A tour of the Castle will only set you back around ten euro however a self guided tour of the castle grounds is completely free for those on a budget. 

Old Town is often a highlight of everyone’s trip to Bratislava. The architecture and colour filled streets is what always catches people’s attention. Michael’s Gate and its tower is one of the oldest buildings which is located at the very entrance of Old Town. The Museum of Arms is inside the tower and only costs around four euro. Inside you can learn about the history of Bratislava and see old artifacts such as military equipment. 

Prague, Czech Republic

Once again, travelling from Bratislava to Prague can be done by train so no need for flights and it usually takes around four hours.

Like the others, the first day of Prague is best spent just roaming the city. And a European city wouldn’t be complete without an Old Town. Prague’s Old Town Square is the popular part of the city but also the most crowded and most expensive. Old Town is host to the famous Astronomical Clock and the best time to go is on the hour when the clock chimes.

The real beauty of Prague, however, is Charles Bridge. The bridge is for pedestrians only so it is typically full of souvenir stands, artists making their living and jewelry stalls. This bridge possibly offers some of the best views of Prague and once you wade through the crowds to the other side you will come across the John Lennon Wall. The wall doesn’t actually have any association with John Lennon but it is full of some very Instagrammable graffiti.

For the vegetarians, apologies, but most of the food stalls in Prague offer only a lot of different types of sausages. However, there are still a lot of meat free alternatives in cafes and pubs.

Visiting Prague wouldn’t be complete without visiting Prague Castle. Prague Castle actually stands as the largest ancient castle in the world so it’s something you don’t want to miss. There’s a security checkpoint before entering so it’s important to bring ID. It’s free to explore the castle grounds on your own but you can also pay for guided tours which are worth the splurge.

Depending on how much you want to spend, all these cities can be done on a set budget and can still be very enjoyable. Having a clear plan and itinerary for the day ahead is important and since most of these places can be visited on foot on cobbled streets, a pair of runners or hiking trainers is the best option.

Roisin Maguire

Image Credit: Roisin Maguire