Best Euro-free city breaks

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Every week we fill you in with the latest news & money saving tips to enjoy life on a budget!

Since Brexit was announced back in June, the pound is still suffering against the Euro. With major holiday destinations like Spain, Greece and France all using the Euro abroad, it means one of two things for holidaymakers:

  1. Spending more pounds to get the same amount of Euros as they would have done a year ago
  2. Getting less Euros for their money, meaning they have to stick to a stricter budget on holiday

However, there are many places in Europe that don’t use the Euro, which is ideal if you don’t want to have to worry about fluctuating Euro conversion rates. Take a look at where you could have your next adventure here!

Hungary

Hungary is one of several EU countries that have opted to keep their own currency, which is the Hungarian Forint. The exchange rate is approximately 370 HUF to the GBP*, although rates fluctuate regularly.

Despite the capital Budapest becoming increasingly popular with tourists, the city is still extremely cheap. If you’re looking for a city break on a budget, then this is a great option.

A meal in a restaurant will set you back by about 1,500 HUF (approx. £4.30) – even if you go into the main square of Vörösmarty tér, the most you’ll pay is about £10.

There’s no doubt that Budapest is a beautiful city with lots of stunning architecture. Parliament of course springs to mind, but Hősök tere (Heroes Square) and exclusive tree-lined Andrassy Avenue are other areas to visit too.

Whilst Budapest isn’t as large as the likes of London, if you’re only there for a few days, you may struggle to see everything on foot.

The metro is very affordable and whilst it might be quite old fashioned, trains run regularly. The main tourist attractions are connected on the M1 line – you can find a map here.

In terms of tourist attractions in Budapest, costs are relatively cheap: if there’s one thing you must do in Budapest, it’s visiting a spa. The most popular is Széchenyi thermal baths, with its outdoor pool set at a warming 38 degrees Celsius – perfect for swimming in the summer or winter. A day ticket is 4,700 HUF (£13.50), but as it’s open from 6am – 10pm every day, it can be a very cheap day out.

Another attraction to visit is Buda Castle – even if just for the views. Whilst entry is free, the castle is situated up a steep hill, which can be a bit daunting if you’ve already spent the whole day wondering around (been there, done that!). Instead, you can catch the funicular return for 1,800 HUF (£5) – whilst it may not save you money, it definitely saves you time.

When it comes to going out at night, even the drinks are cheap. A bottle of domestic beer will cost you around 350 HUF (£1), and at the more expensive bars like ‘Blue Fox’ and ‘KIOSK’ a cocktail will cost you 1,500 HUF (£4.30).

Poland

Poland has always been cheap for us Brits to visit, and the fact it uses the Polish Zloty means that you don’t have to worry about Euro exchange rates.

No matter where you visit in Poland, the rates are cheap. Krakow is probably the most obvious tourist destination; yet you can buy a meal in a restaurant for around 18 PLN (£3.65), or a cappuccino for 7 PLN (£1.40).

One of the main attractions when it comes to Krakow is a trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. For 89 PLN (approx. £17), or 247 PLN (£46) for a family of four; you get a two hour tour of the underground labyrinths complete with chambers and the Chapel of St Kinga, which is still used today.

Wieliczka is situated around 6 miles out of Krakow and is easily reachable by bus or train. A return ticket on the bus will set you back by 7.2 PLN (£1.35), with travel time a mere 30 minutes.

The other must-see destination is of course, Auschwitz. The former concentration camp is located 66km outside of Krakow, without any direct public transport. It’s worth booking a tour through an operator like Escape 2 Poland where, for less than £25, you can get picked up outside of your hotel, and are given a guided tour of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

If you’re planning to spend a few days in Poland then you may prefer to visit Warsaw instead. As a capital, eating out prices are slightly more expensive, but still extremely reasonable – a meal in a restaurant will cost around 23 PLN (£4.30), and a bottle of beer is approximately 8 PLN (£1.50).

If you’re looking to keep costs down, you can enjoy the views of the city for free – the pastel coloured buildings in the Old Town Market Square or Castle Square are both well worth a visit.

Alternatively, you could take the bus to Warsaw’s Royal Baths Park, where Lazienki Palace is located. Entry to the palace is free on Thursday, although tickets are cheap anyway, at 25 PLN per person (£4.70). There are extra charges if you want to visit additional buildings – find out here.

Stockholm

Sweden

Scandinavia may have a reputation for being expensive; and sure, compared to Eastern Europe it is. However, it’s no more costly than the UK, and with a bit of planning in advance, you can visit on a budget.

The currency (Swedish Kronor) is fairly stable, so you won’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates.

Stockholm is invariably the city that springs to mind when considering a city break in Sweden. A meal out in the capital will cost you around 100 SEK (£8.60). If you want to wash this down with a bottle of beer, expect to pay 60 SEK (£5). Where you choose to eat will play a big part in costs – the tourist trap of Gamla Stan will be higher, but venture a few streets back and prices are slashed.

Instead, you could catch the t-bana to hipster Södermalm and hang out with the locals – Meatballs for the People serves the Swedish classic of… you guessed it, meatballs! Alternatively, Usine is good for brunch.

When it comes to sightseeing in Stockholm, start off in Gamla Stan (the ‘Old Town), with its winding streets lined with souvenir shops; next to the Royal Palace. You can even catch the tram out to Djurgården where Skansen (home to excellent Midsummer celebrations!) and Gröna Lund are located.

Alternatively, you could visit Gothenburg, which has a more distinct Swedish feel to it. It’s a great shopping destination (you could easily spend all day in Nordstan shopping centre!). At the back of here you’ll find the harbour – depending on where you’re staying in the city, you could even catch the ferry back home. Single tickets are 25 SEK (£2.15) or you can purchase a three day pass for use of ferries, buses and trams for 170 SEK (£14.60).

Shopping aside, if you love rides you can visit Liseberg – a ticket with unlimited rides costs 245 SEK (£21). Alternatively, if you just want to enter the part without going on any of the attractions, just buy a 100 SEK ticket (£8.60).

If you’re visiting Sweden in the summer, then Malmö – with its golden sands on Riberborgsstranden, is a great place to visit. On one side of the sea you can see the iconic Turning Torso building; and on the other side the Öresundbron stretches to Copenhagen. If you’ve got some spare time, you can easily visit the Danish capital for the day – trains run three times an hour and only take 35 minutes, with one way tickets costing as little as £8. Find out more here.

Croatia

Even though Croatia is growing in popularity as a tourist destination, there’s still a lack of crowds from other popular holiday countries like Spain and Greece.

With low-cost carriers like EasyJet and Jet2 operating regular flights to the Balkan country, you can get there relatively cheaply.

The currency used is the Croatian Kuna, with approximately 9 making up every British Pound (rates do vary on a daily basis).

If you’re a fan of warm weather, then head to sunny Dubrovnik to relax on the beaches – the islands of Koločep and Lopud are a short ferry ride away and boast excellent sandy shores.

Back in mainland Dubrovnik, the Old Town is just waiting to be explored. There are plenty of restaurants serving Croatian cuisine – expect to pay around 70 HRK (£8) for a main meal; or 22 HRK for a bottle of beer (approx. £2.50).

Alternatively, you could fly to the capital, Zagreb, which is located in the north of Croatia. Prices are even cheaper than in Dubrovnik – a meal out will set you back by 45 HRK (£5), and a bottle of beer by 14 HRK (£1.60).

There are lots of bars to try out in Zagreb. For cocktails, head to chic Dežman Bar on Dežmanova (you can grab a slice of cake while you’re at it too!). Cocktails cost an average of 43 HRK (£4.82). Alternatively, sample the traditional Croatian delicacy of rakija at Rakhia Bar.

During the day, most of the attractions are centred around the main square, Ban Jelačić. Join a two hour walking tour where you can see the best that Zagreb has to offer. They run every day and only cost 1 HRK (10p), but tips are welcomed.

From the square, you can catch tram 11 and 12 to Maksimir Park. An open green space with a big lake, it’s the perfect city escape. Maksimir Park is also home to Zagreb Zoo, which is open from 9am – 4pm. Tickets cost 30 HRK (£3.40) for an adult, and 20 HRK (£2.25) for a child.

Russia

Russia is a country shrouded in history and intrigue, and is definitely a place that should be on everybody’s list to explore.

The Ruble is the currency used in Russia, and there are approximately 80 RUB per £1 (although rates fluctuate daily). Plus as it’s not in the EU, you can take advantage of the duty free shopping at the airport!

If you’re visiting Moscow, then the most iconic area is of course, Red Square. Home to the impressive Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s Mausoleum, it’s somewhere you’ll probably find yourself visiting multiple times during your stay.

When it comes to nights out, head to the former Krasny Oktyabr’ chocolate factory on Bolotny Island - here you’ll find a host of art galleries, hipster bars and trendy restaurants.

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, watch the world-renowned Bolshoi ballet perform in Moscow. You’ll need to book well in advance if you want to get tickets – you can find out when their performances are here.

Also at the top of your list should be a trip to GUM: the most opulent, over-the-top shopping mall in Moscow (and possibly all of Russia). Home to top designer brands including Moschino and Burberry, it’s where the new rich come to shop, and it’s made it to the top of the list as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

The rival city to Moscow is of course, majestic Saint Petersburg. Home to hundreds of regal buildings and winding canals, the city is so beautiful it’s like being in a fairytale.

Begin with a walk down the famous Nevksy Prospekt: home to many flagship stores of both high street and high-end brands (here, you’ll find probably the grandest Zara store ever created!).

At the end of the shops, you’ll reach the Winter Palace – once the residence of the Romanovs. If there’s one thing you’re going to visit in Saint Petersburg, it has to be the Winter Palace (also known as the Hermitage Museum). Entrance is very reasonable – to visit the whole museum is 600 RUB (approx. £7.40). However, if you want to visit purely so you can feel like you’ve walked off the film Anastasia, then you can buy a ticket for 300 RUB (£3.70), which grants you entry to the palace. Please note that if you want to take pictures, you’ll have to pay slightly more.

If you plan on visiting Russia, you’ll need to sort out your visa in advance. Find out more about applying for one here.

Before you go on holiday, don’t forget to get your travel money sorted! For more money saving tips and advice, check out our blog.

Remember, do not spend more than your disposable income allows.

*Please note prices were correct on Tuesday 6th December 2016.

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    Best Euro-free city breaks