10 of the best cheap weekend breaks
Get the lowdown on the best weekend breaks for your wallet
If you want to go on a city break this year but you’re feeling the pinch, then check out some of these cheap weekend breaks in Europe. Whether you want a girly getaway, a romantic trip with your partner or simply a good weekend away with your mates then we’re sure you’ll find a city (or two!) that you simply have to visit in our recommended weekend breaks. We’ve included a few recommendations on places to visit, eat and drink to get you started on planning your trip.
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Top 10 cheap weekend breaks in Europe
The capital of Germany is an exciting city to visit, full of history, art and amazing nightlife. Spending two days there will only leave you wanting more, but find time to squeeze in a walk along the East Side Gallery, a large stretch of some remains of the Berlin Wall that’s now covered in murals and artwork.
Head over to Museum Island and check out some of the excellent museums there, including the Pergamon, the Old Museum and the Old National Gallery, then take a stroll down to the Brandenburg Gate, before heading to the Holocaust Memorial.
Enjoy the local food from delicious, fresh kebabs at Superhahn, to currywurst from Curry 36, or if you want to enjoy a restaurant meal, check out Max und Moritz, serving up everything from goulash, schnitzel and stews in a traditional German setting. Wash it all down with a delicious German beer – we’d recommend Augustiner Hells and Rothaus Tannenzäpfle Pilsner!
If you want to explore a stunning medieval city then make sure you add Tallinn to your list of places to visit. In the Old Town, you can see the Town Hall, Raekoda, which towers over the main square, endless beautiful churches such as the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and admire the Toompea Castle. Tallinn has one of the best-preserved Old Town’s in Europe and it gained UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1997, so it’s not to be missed!
Head to Balti Jaam market to try out some of Estonia’s local delicacies, such as blood sausage, pork jelly (aspic) and kvass, a traditional fermented beverage made from rye bread. You can also wander around the market and shop for antiques, clothes and more in the various stalls.
For eating and drinking, you’ll find lots of Soviet retro design cafes such as Must Puudel and Tops. For some fun nights out head to Loftas, which is one of the biggest clubs in Vilnius, or if you prefer something a bit more lowkey check out Bambalynė.
If you want a good mix of nightlife, beaches and culture then head to Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe. You can spend as little as 3 days or as long as a week in Lisbon, as there is so much to do. Ride the infamous tram 28 between some of Lisbon’s coolest neighbourhoods; enjoy drinks in Bairro Alto, sightseeing in Belém, to visiting Praça do Comércio in Baixa.
Lisbon is a fantastic destination for anyone that loves seafood. Indulge in Lisbon’s favourite fish dish, Bacalhau à bras and eat amazing shellfish at the excellent Solar 31. We’d also recommend trying Carne de Porco Alentejana, a classic Lisbon dish of pork and clams served in an aromatic sauce. And make sure you try Lisbon’s choice of drink, ginjinha, a sour cherry liquor that you can find just about anywhere.
As well as delicious food and amazing nightlife, you can also visit some of Lisbon’s numerous museums, including the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, housing some of the most valuable art collections in Europe and the more unusual museums, like the Hospital de Bonecas (we’ll let you look that one up yourself!)
Prague, Czech Republic
The picturesque city of Prague, nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Spires”, is well known for its stunning Old Town Square, Gothic churches, and medieval astronomical clock – make sure you hang around to see it chime, on the hour, every hour.
You can walk just about everywhere in Prague, from the famous Charles Bridge up to Prague Castle (although older/less able folk may be better off taking the tram up as it’s up a very steep hill). From there you can see fantastic views over the whole city. Don’t forget to check out the so-called John Lennon wall, a wall in the Mala Strana area that has been filled with John Lennon inspired art, lyrics and graffiti, as well as some lyrics from Beatles’ songs.
If you want to enjoy traditional Czech food in Prague, then prepare to enjoy dishes such beef steak tartare, schnitzel, goulash and dumplings. Check out Lokál Dlouhááá for some classic Czech dishes, or if you fancy going further afield we’d recommend trying U Bulínů.
Prague is well known for its delicious and cheap beer so take advantage of this whilst you’re visiting. The most well known Czech beer is Pilsner Urquell and you’ll find it in just about every single bar and restaurant. Served up ice cold and in a big stein glass, it’s very moreish, especially when enjoyed in one of Prague’s many beer gardens in summer. If you want to order one beer its “Pivo prosím” and if you’re ordering two its “Piva prosím”!
Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and is the capital and largest city of Greece. If you decide to visit Athens you need to visit world-famous UNESCO site of the Acropolis and check out the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Whilst there are so many ancient Greek monuments to see and a lot of history to learn, Athens isn’t just about its history; it also has a thriving nightlife scene with many great restaurants and bars.
You can find delicious and cheap eats in Athens, with tons of cafes and family run restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Greek food, such as moussaka, spanakopita (flaky filo pastry with various fillings such as aubergine, feta cheese, spinach and meat) and souvlaki (grilled meat skewers served with tzatziki sauce, pitta bread, salad or rice). Try Liondi Greek Restaurant for excellent local food, in a typical Greek restaurant setting, or if you want something a little different head to Ta Karamanlidika tou Fani for Greek/Turkish fusion food.
If you’re looking for cocktails then you must check out Noel, a very hip bar/restaurant in the centre of Athens that’s lively and buzzing at all hours.
Budapest is a great choice for a cheap weekend break in Europe and there is a great range of activities to do, sights to visit and of course, plenty of bars to visit. Budapest is perhaps most well known for its thermal spas and hot springs, and it’s ruin bars like Szimpla Kert, Corvin Teto and Instant.
Spend the day at Castle Hill and take a very unique ride on the Sikló, a funicular railway that was built way back in 1870, up to Buda Castle. Head on over to the Parliament building and admire the stunning Neo-Gothic architecture which looks over the River Danube. Relax in the Szechenyi Baths and Pool, the largest medicinal bath in Europe, that has water supplied to it by two thermal springs.
Enjoy local food such as goulash, which is one of the most well known Hungarian dishes, and try more unusual dishes like Lángos (deep-fried flatbread with toppings, usually garlic sauce, cheese, sour cream or sausages) and Somlói Galuska (a dessert made from sponge cake, layered with chocolate cream, walnut kernel, run and whipped cream on top), one of Hungary’s favourite cakes. We’d recommend Kispiac Bisztro, where you can enjoy Hungarian dishes such as stuffed pigs trotters (csülök), roast piglet (malac) and lamb goulash.
Next on our list is Warsaw, the capital of Poland and a city that’s bursting with tons to explore, from diverse architecture to great nightlife. Check out the Old Town Market Square with its beautiful, colourful buildings and then head over to the Royal Castle, which was destroyed in World War Two by the Nazis and rebuilt between 1971 and 1988. Today it stands as the pride of Warsaw and is not to be missed!
As well as historical sights, there are also tons of museums to explore such as the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Uprising Museum.
Try out delicious Polish cuisine like stews (bigos), blood sausage (kaszanka), dumplings (pierogi) and pork knuckle (golonka) and of course, drink plenty of vodka and krupnik, a traditional sweet alcoholic drink similar. Eating out doesn’t have to cost a lot, with a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant averaging at £20-£25.
Once you’ve seen the sights and dined, stick on your dancing shoes and check out some of Warsaw’s bars and clubs. Plan B is one of the most popular bars in Warsaw known for live music, with everything from rock to jazz. If you’re a night owl, you must head to Lemon, which is one of the few places in Warsaw that’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
Riga is the capital of Latvia, a country on the Baltic Sea that sits between Lithuania and Estonia. With a beautiful Old Town, endless churches and art nouveau buildings, there’s so much to explore in the city. Don’t miss the House of the Blackheads, a stunning and very unique looking building that is situated in the Old Town.
You can also visit the Baltic Sea whilst you’re visiting Riga, by travelling just 30 minutes to Jūrmala via train. Explore the beautiful white-sand beach and cafes, restaurants, bars and Kemeri National Park.
To eat and drink like a local in Latvia, you’ll have to embrace a lot of rye bread, which is enjoyed with many meals, fried mushrooms and smoked fish such as cod, pike and eel. If you’re after reasonably priced local cuisine, check out Folkklubs and enjoy dishes such as traditional Latvian meatballs (kotletes) and Russian dishes such as stroganoff. After you can head to fantastic bars in the Old Town. We especially like one called Ezītis miglā for very reasonably priced drinks, that’s popular with the young locals.
Next we head to another country in the Baltic States, Lithuania, to its capital city Vilnius, which has a great mix of history, street art and plenty of cool cafes to check out.
One of the must-visit museums is the Museum of Genocide Victims, situated in the former KGB building, where crimes of the Soviet regime were planned and executed. It will give you a great insight into Lithuanian history but you should be aware that it’s quite a harrowing experience.
Check out the neighbourhood of Užupis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an Independent Republic, to see some incredible street art, cafes, restaurants and art galleries.
If you’re interested in the local cuisine, then you’ll find dishes such as potato dumplings (didžkukuliai or cepelinai), beetroot soup (Šaltibarščiai) and potato pancakes (Bulviniai blynai). We’d recommend checking out Senoji Trobele if you’re after traditional Eastern European food and want to splash a little bit of cash (it’s still cheap compared to the UK, but more expensive for Vilnius) or if you’re looking for a more reasonably priced affair, try Snekutis.
For the final destination on our list, we’re heading back to Poland but this time we are going to Krakow, the second largest city after Warsaw. There is plenty to see, do and eat in Krakow for a super cheap long weekend away.
If you’re interested in European history then Oskar Schindler’s Factory should not be missed. This museum is housed in a former metal factory and covers German occupation of Krakow in World War 2. Other points of interest are Wawel Castle and nearby Cathedral, St. Florian’s Gate, the entrance to the Old Town and St Mary’s Basilica, which is a really beautiful church.
If you want to sample some classic Polish dishes, then we’d recommend Morskie Oko, a traditional restaurant with excellent food and live musicians. Once you’ve wined and dined, then check out some of Krakow’s nightlife. There are plenty of bars and clubs to check out in Krakow such as Ambasada śledzia, a great gastropub that sells shots of flavoured vodka and reasonably priced beer (we’d recommend trying the mango vodka if you get a chance!) Café Camelot is also a great little spot for after dinner drinks, and despite being a café, it is open for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks late into the night.