Travelling all the way to Europe for spring break might not sound like the best idea for a week-long holiday when you’re on a tight budget, but you might just be surprised by just how affordable some European destinations are. Once you have faced the expense of actually getting to Europe in the first place, you’ll find that travelling on the continent can be very cheap, and the following places are just some of the best destinations for those who don’t want to break the bank. Since all of the following destinations are members of the European Union, no tourist visas are required for US citizens either.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Situated right in the heart of Europe, Prague is one of the most popular city break destinations on the continent. For those looking for an affordable vacation, Prague is the perfect choice. Not only is the city truly magnificent with its great abundance of cultural and historical attractions and numerous daytrips – it is also a mecca for party lovers.
The Czech Republic has yet to adopt the Euro as well, making the exchange rate rather more favourable for those on the US dollar. Springtime in Prague is one of the best times of year to visit as well – the beer gardens start to open and festivities abound. Hotels are affordable, and buses and flights from other European capitals tend to be very cheap as well, not to mention that it typically costs well under $2 for a half litre of some of the world’s best beer. The most affordable and convenient way for Americans to get to Prague is usually to fly directly to Frankfurt and then get a budget flight or a bus the rest of the way.
2. Pag, Croatia
Pag is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, and it is here where some of Europe’s greatest spring break parties take place. This is also when the local tourist season starts, and a quick search on the Web will quickly show just how popular the destination has become for American students. The most popular place to stay is the resort town of Novalja, a bit over a mile away from the beautiful Zrce Beach.
The best time to go is late spring, once the weather is warm enough for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. During spring, many group discounts and pre-planned itineraries are available, and prices are significantly lower than many other European destinations. Here you will be able to party with people from all over the world, and famous DJs come from far and wide for some of the best springtime parties around. However, if you want to escape the parties for a while, the beautiful historic city of Zadar is only a short ferry ride away on the mainland.
3. Kraków, Poland
For American tourists on a short trip, the Polish city of Kraków might seem a little bit out of the way, but this town is well worth adding to your itinerary, particularly if combined with Berlin, Prague or Vienna where you may be able to find affordable intercontinental flights. Kraków is Poland’s most popular tourist destination, and it boasts an eclectic nightlife as well.
However, Kraków is also home to some of the country’s best attractions such as the Wawel Castle, the City Square and the old Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. If you plan to visit Kraków on your spring break trip, be sure to set aside a day or two for daytrips to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp and the ancient salt mines in the nearby town of Wieliczka. While not quite the bargain it used to be, Poland is still one of Europe’s more affordable destinations, particularly as it has not yet adopted the Euro. Visitors will also be able to choose from an abundance of great hostels and numerous entertainment venues.
4. Berlin, Germany
While not a budget destination in itself, Germany’s capital is generally much more affordable than many other Western European capitals, and it is one of the easier and cheaper for Americans to get to for a short break. The old crossroads between Communism and Capitalism during the Cold War, Berlin offers something for everyone with its world-class museums, restaurants and alternative clubbing scene.
Spring break students should consider staying in the main student district of Kreuzberg, located mostly in East Berlin. There are dozens of budget hostels and hotels, most of which are concentrated around this district and the neighbouring Friedrichshain. Among the many tourist attractions that any visitor to Berlin should take the time to check out are the infamous Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz. Culture junkies will also love the world-class museum scene in the German capital.
5. Corfu, Greece
The Greek island of Corfu is warm and sunny much of the year round, with the tourist season starting in late March. However, during spring, hotels and other tourist venues tend to charge lower prices than they do during the summer months making this a very affordable destination. The island is one of the most popular spring break destinations in the Mediterranean, and with a highly developed tourist infrastructure and many programs and itineraries aimed towards spring break students, this is an ideal destination for beach bums and partygoers alike.
However, if you want to try something a little bit different than your typical spring break party holiday, you can go on a cruise or visit one of the smaller, more family-friendly resort towns. You’ll also find an enormous range of accommodation options including hotels, hostels, campsites, self-catering apartments and out-of-the-way rural farmsteads. Those coming from the United States will need to stop in Rome and/or Athens to reach Corfu.
6. Budapest, Hungary
Another popular Central European destination, Budapest, like Prague, offers the full range of things to do and see, and it is an affordable destination for most. The city is only a few hours away from Vienna by bus as well, making it an ideal stopover during any spring break trip in Central or Eastern Europe. The Hungarian capital sits on the mighty River Danube, and it perhaps most famous for its truly stunning Parliament Building, built in the highly elaborate Gothic Revival style.
Other attractions include the Chain Bridge, the Fisherman’s Bastion, Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. Budapest is also well known for its alternative nightlife and clubbing scene and café culture, and during the early spring, the open-air parties and festivals start to come to life. Hungary is a little more expensive than Prague, but being out of the Euro Zone, it generally offers relatively favourable exchange rates for US citizens.