Orla Brady


Five of the best cheap and cheerful European locations to escape the stresses of uni life.

Following a tough academic year of classes, deadlines, dissertations, and exams, there’s nothing more therapeutic than booking a flight and getting away from it all for a while. However, this can be extremely difficult when student life has drained your funds and money’s tight. But fear not - here are some recommendations of European holiday destinations that may not immediately cross your mind but won’t break the bank. 

Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a truly fantastic holiday destination. The city is rich in history and I promise that you’ll be continuously learning as you experience all that the city has to offer. Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory is something that must be included in your agenda, alongside one of the many historical walking tours on offer (a great deal of which are free and can be easily found on the main square!). The Wieliczka Salt Mine is something different, but interesting, to try and it’s essential that you visit the stunning cloth hall located in the main square to buy traditional polish gifts and souvenirs. You also must dedicate an afternoon to hire a bike and cycle around the grounds of Wawel Castle and beside the Vistula River, where you can stop to have lunch and soak in the beautiful and relaxing surroundings. Although a visit to Krakow will equip you will an invaluable understanding of Poland’s tragic history, it’s fantastic to witness the way in which Krakow has grown to become a popular, modern and cosmopolitan city. The nightlife is fantastic, with numerous vodka-tasting bars and bar crawls spread around the city centre. It’s also an exceptionally (and sometimes unbelievably) cheap place to visit, which means that you can eat and drink well for an affordable price, whilst also filling your days with unique experiences. 

Budapest, Hungary

There’s a great deal more to Budapest than the Instagram-haven it is so often portrayed as online. That said, pictures will never do justice to how stunning the city’s Széchenyi Baths and other popular tourist sites are. These are Europe’s largest spa baths, hosting 15 indoor and three outdoor pools and are certainly a highlight of the city. Flights to Budapest are very reasonable if booked in advance and, if you’re willing to shop around, accommodation is also equally as affordable. There’s a great deal to do and see in Budapest, so your agenda will certainly be full if you wish it to be. Walking across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, or taking a boat ride down the Danube River, showcases impressive views of the city. Visiting Budapest promises an unforgettable, but budget-friendly trip.

Salou, Spain

If you’re looking for a sun, sea, and sand holiday but aren’t willing to break the bank, Salou might just be the place for you. Located on Spain’s Costa Daurada, it is a resort town with a great deal to offer at a low price. Llevant Beach is a short walk from all of the main hotels and apartments, as is the old town which is home to lively, yet traditional Spanish bars and restaurants. For those who enjoy party holidays, Salou has a small strip which features a variety of busy clubs, pubs and bars which, if you get your hands on the right deal, can result  in a cheap night out for the whole group. There are also a lot of opportunities for day trips if you decide to base yourself in Salou, with Barcelona under an hour and a half away on the train and Portaventura Adventure Park and Caribe Water Park a short drive away. Salou offers the perfect mix of fun activities and chances to relax that are so needed after a hard year of study. 

Athens, Greece

You may be turned off considering a holiday to Greece due to the rumours that it’s expensive to travel there. Although this can be true, if your flights are booked well in advance, it is possible to find an affordable way to get there. If you’re intrigued by Greece, Athens must be at the top of your list of destinations. What you spend on flights to Athens will be justified by how inexpensive the city is once you get there. Athens hosts an outstanding variety of metropolitan and modern bars and restaurants (the rooftop bars are a must!), as well as a high-standard of traditional Greek tavernas. It’s a very special experience to enjoy drinks or dine al fresco knowing that you’re beside world-renowned historical sites. It’s true that a trip to Athens will require conscious saving if you are living on a student budget, however the discipline is certainly worth it. 

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