With a low Canadian dollar, travelling Europe might be seemingly off-limits for your pocket book. We’ve rounded up our best European vacation packages and tips to travel Europe cheap, so travelling without breaking the bank is still possible.
Avoid the big three
If you’re looking to save some cash on your Europe vacation (and the more you save on flights and hotels, the more you have for wine and cheese in the park, remember!), avoid the most popular destinations: Paris, Rome, and London. As much as we love these destinations, they’re busier than busy during high tourist season, and you’ll not only pay through the roof for your vacation, but tourist attractions will be swarmed with thousands of others trying to get the perfect photo to make friends back home jealous. Think of your time as money: divide the cost of your trip by the time you spend in Europe (ie. If your total trip cost is $2300 divided by number of hours there (say, a 7 day trip) = 2300/168 = 13.6). Each hour you spend is worth $13.6…why waste several of those standing in long lines? Choosing a cheap European holiday means exploring somewhere different, somewhere unique, and somewhere you’ll be able to immerse yourself into the culture of the country.
Consider countries that don’t use the Euro
Go off the beaten path to countries like Poland and the Czech Republic that don’t use the Euro and stay away from exchange rates that don’t seem to be benefitting travelling Canadians. These countries have their own currency (the zloty and koruna respectively) meaning exchange rates aren’t in as high a demand and fluctuating as often, taking the Canadian dollar further. We can’t complain about that. Eastern Europe is known for being considerably cheaper than the rest of Europe – even if the accommodations add up, extras like a mug of beer, a meal, and transportation will be considerably less.
Fly to a larger city rather than your final destination
Travelling within Europe is cheap with so many smaller European airlines between cities and options like the Eurotrain. Flying into a larger hub like London or Frankfurt’s airport might mean you get the best deals to get across the pond – then opt to look at smaller carrier flights within Europe, rather than flying direct to a smaller airport or city if you’re look for a cheap European holiday.
Consider travelling during the shoulder season to travel Europe cheap
The best way to travel Europe cheap is by planning to visit during the shoulder season: before the rush of summer travellers arrive in June, or when things are dying down between mid-September and mid-October. You’ll find deals on flights, accommodations, and more, when the industry is looking to bring in travellers to boost the economy and stretch the season a little further. Travelling when students have gone back to class, families are back in scheduled routines, and vacation time is often limited means you’ll stand in fewer lines – no matter where you’re going – and find more deals.
So, where should you go if you’re looking to travel Europe cheap and not spend your savings on your European vacation?
The cheapest cities in Europe:
Lisbon still hasn’t caught on as a huge destination for European vacations, but is growing in popularity, making this year the time to visit: the city is full of stunning architecture and delicious seafood and wines, but it isn’t over-crowded or over-priced like other European destinations. Explore the brightly coloured buildings and trams that cascade down to the clear blue waters, where art boutiques are next to bars and history meets culture in a perfectly blended way.
Prague, Czech Republic
Explore this historic and romantic city, with its large castle that looms over the city’s skyline. Prague is a brilliant spot to visit when you’re looking for the cheapest cities in Europe. With countless free activities – including strolling the famous Charles Bridge – and its rich history and architecture throughout the city, you can truly experience Prague without spending much. Other must-visits are seeing the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square and several of the city’s historic churches (most are entrance upon donation), like St Nicholas Church.
Italy might not stand out as one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit, but with recent deals from Air Transat on their European vacation packages, this seaside area of Italy is do-able. You’ll find plenty of options for accommodations making your stay fit whatever your budget is, and with the Amalfi Coast and Naples nearby, a trip here won’t have a lack of things to do.
Stick with Eastern Europe for some of the cheapest destinations. Croatia, nestled in the southeastern part of the continent, is known for its natural beauty, culture, weather, and amazing (and sometimes unexpected) beaches and bright blue waters. Don’t just visit Dubrovnik, the top destination for tourists, but get out to the coast where the weather is warmer, or visit one of Croatia’s islands to truly dive into the culture through a festival or small town market.
How are you making sure you can still travel this summer with low exchange rates? Comment below!