Summer’s Here – Where Do You Want to Go?
Where To Spend Your Summer Holidays?
What’s your pleasure? If you are looking for a summer holiday on the continent, you will be able to find a location that offers what you want in the way of activities for a very reasonable cost, if you are on a tight budget. And what student isn’t? There are some amazingly cheap holidays, if you are willing to forego 5-star hotels and fine dining in favor of great beaches, hiking, mountains and such. Somehow, you are probably thinking this all sounds pretty good, and it is. What follows are some general tips about accommodations and food, and then a list of the cheapest cities and town of Europe that offer what most young people want in the way of attractions.
If you have not tried hostels in Europe, you have missed out on a really cheap way to sleep. After all, how much time will you really spend in your room when you are on holiday? And, unlike years ago, hostels have really come a long way toward comfort. You give up privacy, yes, but you will have a clean, comfortable bed and, most often, a free breakfast. Most also serve a basic dinner meal at a really cheap price, as well as have an open kitchen should you choose to grocery shop and fix your own meals!
The other benefit of staying in hostels is that you meet young people from all over the globe, and that is always a good thing. And some of them are quite cool an unusual themselves. In Bacharach, Germany, for example, an old castle has been turned into a hostel; in other places, old moored ships or former prisons are now hostels.
Other Facts about Hostels:
Costs vary from 1 Euro in places like Budapest up to 10-11 Euros in larger, more popular cities like Rome and Amsterdam. Still, a bargain compared to even 3-star hotels.
Most now take reservations. So get on Hostelworld.com, pick your cities and towns, and get them made! If you use chain hostels, like HI, you can get a membership card for a reasonable fee and get a discount on your stay. It’s worth it if you are going to be hosteling for at least 6 nights.
Some Drawbacks: Some hostels have curfews, so if you intend to be “clubbing” far into the night, make sure your hostel has no curfew, and those with no curfew can be quite noisy at night, as the drunks return! Also, understand that many hostels close during the day, and you cannot get back in until about 5:00 p.m. Theft is sometimes an issue at hostels, so be certain to use the lockers provided, and have a money belt that “sleeps” with you. Otherwise, however, they are really quite safe.
Eating on the “Cheap”
The first rule for eating on a budget is that you eat in no hotel restaurant, or in any sit-down restaurant that is close to any tourist attraction. Here are the other “tips:”
- Cafeterias are cheap. And, if you are really on a budget, there are cafeterias in most major towns that are supported by institutions – churches, charities, hospitals – and they are really cheap. The food is certainly not exotic, but it is hearty and nutritious.
- Street stands are great places to pick up “to go” sandwiches for 2-3 Euros.
- Ethnic eateries are cheap too – because there is a large immigrant population in Europe, there are ethnic street vendors and little tiny restaurants. If you are into trying out Moroccan food in Italy, go for it!
- You will find American fast-food everywhere, and, while reasonable, they are not the cheapest. And some countries have their own versions (McCheaper in Switzerland) which are even less.
- Look for happy hours in local bars. Many of them serve free snacks if you buy a drink. Fill up!
- Look for bakeries and grocery store delis – they have sandwiches and salads to go that are very reasonably priced.
- Don’t forget – if your hostel has a kitchen, you can always grocery shop and make our own – even cheaper!
- If you do sit down in a restaurant, insist upon tap water only. Everything else is horribly priced.
- Keep nuts in your backpack at all time. They will stave off hunger until you can get somewhere cheap.
Holiday activities depend on personal preferences. While most students want beaches or mountains, there is something to be said for taking in a bit of culture and history. So, here are really cheap places for a holiday, based on attractions:
Beaches: Great beaches in cheap places can be found in the beach towns of Croatia; Tenerife, Spain (part of the Canary Islands); Lisbon, Portugal; Valletta, Malta; Santorini, Greece; and Nice, France.
Hiking/Climbing: Bosnia, Turkey, Greece, France, Switzerland, Austria – stay in hostels
Culture/Art: Florence, Italy (56 Euros a day and much cheaper than in Rome or Venice); old towns of Kiev, Ukraine; Bucharest, Romania; Sofia, Bulgaria; Krakow, Poland; Belgrade, Serbia; Warsaw, Poland; Budapest, Hungary; St Petersburg, Russia.
You will note that Scandinavia is noticeably absent from any of the listings in this post. These countries are very pricey, so, unless you have plenty of cash to spare, avoid them right now.
Overall Costs: Here’s a list of cities in Europe you can visit for less than 60 Euros a day:
Kiev, Bucharest, Sofia, Krakow, Belgrade, Warsaw, Sarajevo, Budapest, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Tenerife, Lisbon, Santorini, Valletta, Nice, Florence.
Your Own Development: While you are basking on a beach or relaxing in some great national park or preserve, consider that summer holiday should also be for some mental stimulation. Bring along a couple of books that might spark and interest or stimulate that “gray matter a bit. There are some great fiction and non-fiction new releases that you will find inspiring or entertaining.