2022’s cheapest European city breaks will take you to some of the continent’s most beautiful yet underrated cities.
We might have passed what has been coined by marketeers as the most depressing day of the year, but many of us still have a case of the winter blues. Whether you’re simply fed up of the long nights or actually struggling with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), one way to battle the blues is to make positive plans that give you something to look forward to.
For me this often involves planning some holidays, which after the last couple of years feels even more special than ever!
Many of us are beginning to feel more confident about booking that flight, and searches for ‘Best city in Europe for 3 days’ are on the rise.
But after almost two years of living with Covid-19,we’re now also having to deal with a big increase in the price of living, which is tightening travel budgets. However, less disposable income doesn’t mean no trip at all, as a recent study by LuxuryHotel.com found out.
Analysing the prices of Airbnbs and hotels, while factoring in the cost of a one-way flight from London, it put together a list of the ten cheapest European city break destinations, all coming in at under £70 per person.
And none of these are second-rate destinations – many of the cities that made the list are hidden gems, overflowing with beautiful architecture, engaging history and attractions galore.
So, if like me you’re considering a long weekend in Europe that won’t break the bank, I’d recommend considering the following destinations…
The Cheapest European City Breaks in 2022
Could Bucharest be the best European destination for three days of holidaying? Well, it’s definitely one of the cheapest places!
The LuxuryHotel.com study revealed that the Romanian capital of Bucharest is the cheapest European capital to visit in 2022. With an average daily rate of £58 for accommodation and a flight to the city, what’s not to love?
History lovers will particularly enjoy a visit to Bucharest, as there’s so much to see and discover about the city’s tumultuous past.
Bucharest has done its best to rebuild and restore the architecture that saw it named ‘Little Paris’ between the two world wars, but many of these buildings still stand in the shadow of concrete flats built during the communist era of Ceausescu.
We learnt a lot about this during our visit via walking tours. While Karis went with a Bucharest Food and Architecture tour that brought together the city’s history with local delicacies, I went on an Ashes of Communism walking tour that took us to the Romanian Athenaeum, Revolution Square and the Palace of the Parliament. The latter is actually the second biggest administrative building in the world behind the Pentagon and was built by Ceausescu as a gaudy show of power.
You’ll learn about the dark times, but there’s also a lot of beauty to be seen in the city and beyond.
If you have time, I recommend taking a day trip out from Bucharest into Transylvania. This was the highlight of my three-day city break – not only do the snow-topped Carpathian mountains look oh so beautiful, the region has some gorgeous places to visit including the quaint town of Brasov, the amazingly beautiful Peles Castle and, of course, Bran Castle – also known as the home of Dracula.
Here are ten of my favourite photos from my time in Romania. I dare you to look at these and not want to visit!
Skopje, the capital of Northern Macedonia, made it to second place on the list, and has the cheapest of all the cities’ accommodation rates (£24 a night for an Airbnb).
It’s known as the city of statues as there are more than 300 all over the capital created as part of a rebuilding project after many of its monuments were destroyed in an earthquake. Visitors love the kitsch monuments, many of which can be found within the city’s 2km centre, but the locals aren’t such big fans, as it cost millions in tax payers money.
There’s much more to Skopje than just its quirky statues however. Here you’ll find one of Europe’s oldest bridges, the Kale Fortress and inbetween, the Old Bazaar.
Taking a cable car up to Vodno Hill is a must-do, as is the St. Panteleimon Monastery, a 12th-century Byzantine. There’s a great guide to Skopje on the blog Chasing the Donkey, but also check out Skopje’s official tourism website.
Sofia, the capital and largest city of Bulgaria, has a history that stretches way back to the dawn of civilisation. It’s also been witness to some of the 20th Century’s most significant events.
As a result, the city is peppered with everything from Ottoman mosques to Red Army monuments, creating a dizzying clash of cultures. Sat amongst the jumble is the St Alexander Nevsky cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world.
There’s also the National Historical Museum, one of Eastern Europe’s most vibrant collections, cobblestone boulevards, enticing boutiques and some quality nightlife. So if you like Soviet-era tanks jostling with Roman ruins for your attention [and who doesn’t?] – all set against a backdrop of bars and restaurants – then book a trip.
With accommodation coming in at an average of £57 a night this really is a destination that provides a lot for your money.
Warsaw is an oft overlooked Polish destination, which makes me quite sad as it’s really beautiful city!
Personally, I think Warsaw has something for everyone. Whether you’re a lover of history, food, adventure, science, culture or shopping the city has something that’ll pique your interest. And, with an average accommodation cost of £64 a night, it should most definitely be on your travel radar.
Things to see include the Old Town with its beautiful cobbled streets, colourful buildings and gargoyles and grotesques, the Royal Palace, Uprising Museum, Copernicus Science Centre and Neon Museum.
Interest piqued? Then I recommend you take a look at my post Ten Things You Mustn’t Miss in Warsaw.
Warsaw has it all, including beautiful parks scattered throughout the city the biggest of which being Lazienki Park, a huge green space dotted with lakes, palaces and even an amphitheatre for summer Chopin concerts.
It’s a truly wonderful city that offers elegance and luxury without breaking the bank.
Culture, history, beautiful parks and strong, passionate people. Discover why Warsaw is an amazing option for a European city break.
Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania takes fifth place in the 10 cheapest European city breaks list. It’s one of the cheapest cities to fly to from London, with flights from as low as £17.
The city was actually designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1994, so you know it must have a lot to offer, including a famous graffiti scene.
I’ve not personally visited the capital, but I can vouch for Lithuania’s low travel, accommodation and food costs as one of our cheapest European city breaks was to Kaunas, Lithuania’s ‘second city’.
As it’s still under the radar for many tourists, prices are low and you’ll find that many of the city’s attractions are yours alone to explore!
It’s a great place for lovers of history and all things quirky, with a small but pretty old town and castle, a wonderfully weird Devil Museum, the Presidential Palace and Christ’s Resurrection Basilica.
This church towers high over the city, and is well worth a visit. The giant art-deco masterpiece has a crazy history, having also been used as a soviet radio factory and a Nazi paper warehouse.
Riga – Latvia’s main city – is a pocket-sized wonder busting at the seams with things to see and do. It came to prominence as a major Baltic port, which brought it great wealth.
This supported an explosion of arts and culture; a blossoming that was tragically cut short by the Second World War. First the Germans invaded and then the Russians occupied and brutalised the city, a dark history brought grimly to life by the KGB Museum, a must visit destination.
Despite this, Riga has preserved a vast amount of its cultural heritage, including some amazing Art Nouveau architecture; some of Europe’s best examples. There are also bustling street markets, first class bars and restaurants and some great galleries and museums.
Best of all, it’s not expensive. You can fly from London to Riga for as little as £22… at that price you’d be daft not to sample this historic location’s diverse and vibrant culture.
Minsk may have gained international notoriety thanks to tv show Friends, but it still continues to be a low-cost European destination for a cheap city break.
Average daily accommodation costs are £68 per person and flights from London go from as little as £35. It’s not considered a city overflowing with attractions, but the same could be said for Kaunas, and we still didn’t get to see everything the city had to offer during our three-night stay.
One of the blogs I regularly read, Kami and the Rest of the World, recently put together a handy city guide for Minsk, where I learnt the city has some epic Soviet architecture and coffee shops.
Minsk is also renowned for its street art (I’m a big fan, but no city’s been able to beat Tallin’s street art so far…) and although they might not be as grand as those of Moscow, I’ve heard the metro stations are also worth checking out.
If, like me, you like to explore places that are a bit more off the beaten track, I reckon Minsk would be a great destination for a cheap long weekend!
Albania isn’t considered a popular travel destination, but as I’ve discovered researching this article, it’s got so much to offer!
Bucketlistly blog has a brilliant in-depth guide to Tirana, but a must visit is the Ottoman-era Et’hem Bej Mosque, located right in the middle of the city’s main Skanderbeg Square.
This is also where you’ll find the clock tower, the best place for views across the city (as long as you have a head for hights).
Bunk’Art 2 also sounds amazing – a nuclear bunker turned museum highlighting Albania’s 45-year communist regime – as does Tirana’s New Bazaar. Could this be one of Europe’s hidden gems? Get there before the crowds catch on!
Number ten in the list of top 10 cheapest European capital city breaks is Belgrade, coming in at an average daily accommodation cost of £66 a night and with flights available from £42.
Kami is great for guides to Eastern Europe and her post on Belgrade doesn’t disappoint. She says Belgrade reminds her a a bit of Warsaw or Bucharest – the capitals where recent history wasn’t easy on them and where you can still feel its impact.
This can make these cities a little less easy to visit, but as she rightly puts it “once you dig deeper into the layers, they all turn out to be pretty amazing”.
Attractions worth checking out for your cheap weekend break include The Kalemegdan Fortress, Saint Sava Church and the Museum of Yugoslavia.
You also shouldn’t miss a slow stroll along Knez Mihailova Street, lined with beautiful buildings from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.
Europe’s top 10 cheapest capital city breaks
So there you have it, our guide to Cheap European city breaks for 2022. These prices are basically if you sourced you own accommodation and flights, but I’m pretty sure if you prefer an easy life that you could find good deals on Easyjet or Tui city breaks.
If you’ve visited any of these places before we’d love to hear your experiences, and if you end up booking a trip off the back of this post, we’d also love to know where you ended up.