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European Summer Vacation Ideas for Any Budget

Read on for some of the best vacation spots for budget Europe trips, splurget ideas, and luxury getaways. Want to make the most of your Europe trip? We’ve also included tips on how to book multi-city flights around Europe and sticking to a budget on your trip.

Budget-Friendly European Destinations

Travelling in Europe on a budget is totally possible. You might have to skip certain cities in order to save your wallet, but there are tons of budget-friendly European vacation options out there to take advantage of the summer months.

Skyscanner travel tip: Book a multi-city flight rather than a round-trip flight from Canada and Europe. Play around with some European destinations during your flight search process and you might find that it’s cheaper to fly into a city like Reykjavik (as flights to Iceland can go for quite cheap), and back home from Paris. Learn all about booking multi-city flights and how this can help save you money.

Here are three of our best budget vacation spots for your Europe trip.

Lisbon, Portugal

Visit here for: a perfect blend of beach, nightlife, and food

How many days do I need in Lisbon?

Spend at least two full days wandering around Lisbon before taking off for other European vacation adventures.

What to see and do

Portugal is one of the cheaper countries to visit in Western Europe and has gained quite a bit of popularity in recent years due to the price. However, Portugal is still overall a budget-friendly destination. Start in Lisbon and explore the whimsy and romantic streets, especially the tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade and the arches in the main square. Don’t forget to look down to see the beautiful tile work across the city streets.

From Lisbon, you can easily travel to other amazing parts of Portugal including Porto for some Port tasting, Sintra for hiking and architectural marvels, or Algarve for white sandy beaches and great nightlife.

Summertime in Lisbon brings with it the Out Jazz Festival. Every Sunday evening, from May to September, some of the city’s public gardens host impeccable artists that will have you grooving the night away. The best part: entrance is free!

Sofia, Bulgaria

Visit here for: an off the beaten track, charming European city

How many days do I need in Sofia?

Plan for four days with the possibility of extending (because you will want to stay for longer).

What to see and do

Make sure to book plenty of time to explore Sofia, Bulgaria because once you arrive, you won’t want to leave – and the price will allow you to stay for as long as you want. There are plenty of tourist attractions to visit like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Banya Bashi Mosque and the Museum of Socialist Art. There are also plenty of great restaurants and cafés to really take in the vibe of this quirky city.

Make sure to grab a snack from one of the remaining “Klek shops,” where you have to squat down to the basement window to order.

If you happen to be in Sofia during the summer months, and more particularly in August, you might be around for the Udaya Live Yoga and Music Retreat. This is a four-day retreat but you can opt for a day pass to an all-inclusive experience that includes vegetarian food, yoga classes and more.

Budapest, Hungary

Visit here for: Some of the best nightlife and architecture

How many days do I need in Budapest?

You’ll need at least three days to experience some of the best of Budapest. Spend at least one day treating yourself on the cheap at one of Budapest’s beautiful thermal baths.

What to see and do

Budapest might just be one of the hippest cities in Europe, and it has become a bit of a mecca for backpackers. This means it remains a great value destination for those travelling on tighter budgets. Not only is the historic centre stunning but there are also a ton of thermal baths and ruin bars that keep this artsy city mighty popular for European vacations. The thermal baths in Budapest are a bit of a maze of saunas, steam rooms, warm pools, and springs. Before spending all of your time relaxing, make sure to drop by the Castle District.

For specific activities during the summer months, the Budapest Summer Festival runs over three months across three stages in the city. To experience more of Hungary’s folk heritage, the Festival of Folk Arts (August 18 – August 21, 2019) brings together performers to showcase skills that have been passed down in families for ages.

Splurget European Destinations

Get inspired for your Euro trip with these bucket list adventures and you can do some good splurgetting! Here are two great European “splurget” destinations for your summer vacation.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Visit here for: Extraordinary nature

How many days do I need in Reykjavík?

If you plan to stay in Reykjavík, four full days should be enough to see the sights. If you plan to do the Ring Road drive, aim for 7 to 10 days. It’s doable in 7, but it is much more enjoyable in 10 days.

What to see and do

The cheap flights to Iceland have made Reykjavík a top ‘splurgetting’ Europe trip destination. There are so many flight deals to get people to visit Reykjavík, but food and activities tend to be expensive when you land.

For a unique adventure, rent a car or a camper to drive around Iceland’s Ring Road. This road encircles the entire country so you can explore everything Iceland has to offer like the lava fields, glacial lakes, lagoons, fjords, and waterfalls. The Ring Road is open all year round but the summer months will provide the best driving conditions and the most daylight. If you want to splurge on specific activities, you can go on a glacier walk, a helicopter tour, rent a snowmobile, go on a volcano tour, or even go snorkelling at the Euro-Asian tectonic plate.

Barcelona, Spain

Visit here for: an artistic scene like no other

How many days do I need in Barcelona?

Spend at least three full days in this magical city during your Europe trip.

What to see and do

If you’re more into visiting world-famous architecture or partying until 6 a.m., Barcelona is your city to visit. Barcelona is home to many of the works of the Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, like the Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Park Guell. You will also have to stop by La Sagrada Familia to see the on-going construction of this enormous and controversial project.

Visiting Barcelona might require a siesta if you plan to partake in the nightly activities. Between flamenco shows, tapas, rooftop bars, concerts and a mass amount of nightclubs, you will find plenty of reasons to stay up late.

Barcelona’s summer calendar is always full of events and some of the most energetic festivals around. Grec Festival occurs all over Barcelona and culminates over 20 acts consisting of music, theatre, circus, and dance.

Istanbul, Turkey

Visit here for: the blend of East meets West

How many days do I need in Istanbul?

For a trip to Istanbul, we recommend at least 5-7 days to get a taste for the rich culture and experiences this destination has to offer.

What to see and do

Istanbul is the perfect splurgetting destination because it is a great value city with the perfect balance of budget-friendly and splurge-worthy experiences.

A trip to Istanbul in the summer months is the ideal time to experience the incredible hot-air balloons of Cappadocia. While this experience is on the pricier side, witnessing the sunrise over the valley is unforgettable. The rest of your time in Istanbul can then balance this out with free things to do such as visiting the infamous Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, and even slowly meandering through the sights and smells of Grand Bazaar, where you can choose to spend on a wide variety of luxury items.

Of course, if you are a history buff, a visit would not be complete without going to Hagia Sophia Museum and Galata Tower, where you can get a view of the city from the top floor or indulge in some Turkish coffee and Turkish delight at the base while people watching. The variety of things to see and do in Istanbul, coupled with the interesting fusion of cultures, will be sure to charm you into wanting to return.

Luxury European Destinations

If you’re looking for a more classic and quintessential European vacation for the summer months, there are plenty of options. Below are some of the top vacation spots for a luxury European vacation.

London, England

Visit here for: World-renowned landmarks

How many days do I need in London?

You could spend a week in London and not see everything on your list. We recommend at least five days if you’re keen on historical sites and museums.

What to see and do

Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey… need we say more?

London is a classic city for a more luxurious European vacation and it is a great time to visit throughout the summer months. While it is possible to do London on a budget, especially as many of the museums are free, it is a pricier destination. Moreover, while in town, you will definitely want to splurge on theatre tickets, afternoon tea, and perhaps some high-end shopping.

Looking for fun things to do in London this summer? For five nights a week throughout the summer months (July 9 – August 3), catch a classic favourite flick on a sunset, river cruise along the Thames. If you are more of a foodie, then the London Dessert Festival (August 17 – August 18) is right up your alley! Then enjoy a cool dip after a hot summer day exploring at Beckenham Place Park. Starting July 20, there will be a new open water spot open to the public.

Paris, France

Visit here for: Excellent cuisine and romantic neighbourhoods

How many days do I need in Paris?

Paris requires a solid chunk of time, so plan for at least four full days if you are okay with being on-the-go from sunrise to sunset. A France tour requires over a week.

What to see and do

We don’t have to tell you how many wonderful sites there are in Paris to entice you into going to this bucket-list city of romance. Instead, we will entice you by telling you about all the amazing cities you can visit once you’re in Paris on your Euro trip!

Once you’ve seen all of Paris, head west to Caen in the Normandy Region, stopping in Rouen on the way. Then head south to the Loire Valley, which is one of the most beautiful regions in France and known for its enormous Chateau Chambord. Head even more south to Lyon, which is a must-see area for foodies and museum-lovers. A final destination of your France tour could be the picturesque Aix-en-Provence, where you can eat locally produced food and admire the open air.

If you happen to be travelling to Paris during July 14, you mustn’t miss Bastille Day where a parade starts off the day at the Champs-Élysées and ends in a spectacular firework show behind the Eiffel Tower. And of course, the finale of the Tour De France traditionally takes place in the streets of Paris, and if you want to catch the cyclists whisk by, you can catch the event on Sunday, July 28, 2019.

Mykonos, Greece

Visit here for: amazing, turquoise beaches and picturesque villages

How many days do I need in Mykonos?

To fully luxe it out in Mykonos, aim to spend at least 4 days, if not a week in this gorgeous getaway destination.

What to see and do

If you’ve seen Mamma Mia or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, then you have undoubtedly dreamed of admiring Greece’s shimmering ocean waters and postcard-worthy islands. Mykonos is one of Greece’s most well-known islands and spending time here is definitely a well deserved luxury European vacation.

There are several ways you can make your trip to Mykonos memorable. Soak up the crystal clear waters at the world-class beaches such as Merchia Beach and Elia Beach. If you are up for more exploring and interested in Greek history, the famous church of Panagia Paraportiani or the island of Delos (the birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis) are fantastic options. Mykonos is a city where you can discover some of the best fashion and nightlife, as its nickname “The Ibiza of Greece” suggests. After a day of lazing at the beach, party it up at Cavo Paradiso Club, known for hosting some of the biggest DJ names.

A luxury vacation in Mykonos would not be complete without staying in luxury accommodations. You can stay in idyllic settings that will make you feel as if you are in a film, ideally with an infinity pool looking over the waters and daily views of the glorious sunsets. The splurge worthy Bill and Coo Suites and Lounge is one of those places. Book your next European summer vacation to Mykonos for some well-deserved indulgence.

Tips for Saving Money While Travelling in Europe

Beyond the best flight deals with Skyscanner, there are a few other tips and travel hacks for saving money while travelling around Europe this summer. Follow these few tips to see more of Europe for less. Don’t stress, we’re here to help out!

Create a budget

Always expect a trip to be more expensive than predicted, so never stretch your budget too far at the start of planning. Don’t skip this step – especially if travelling with other people. Furthermore, consider your transportation costs and options seriously. Check out prices of flights, accommodation and any transportation in between cities like car rentals or trains to get a sense of your major expenses. Opt to change cities less often or stick to nearby places to keep your transport costs to a minimum. Outline your budget and stick to it.

Make a bucket list

Create your ultimate European vacation based on the cities and routes that fit in your budget. Check out which dream European destinations match up with what you are able to spend and the experiences you want. Not all countries have the same cost of living. Visiting London will be a very different budget than visiting Istanbul. Head east in Europe and you’ll notice prices on food, accommodation, and pretty much everything else just drop. Also, note the currency exchange rates and where you can make the most of the Canadian dollar.

Skip the checked baggage

If you are willing to travel around Europe with just a carry-on, you can save money and back-ache all at once. Many budget airlines that fly within Europe charge extra for checked baggage, which can be skipped altogether if you pack super light in a carry-on bag. In addition, walking through cobblestone streets or avoiding bicycles in Amsterdam are all much easier to do with a smaller travel bag. So pack light to make gallivanting around Europe much easier, and more fun!

Take your time

As much as you want to cram into your vacation days, it can be nice to stay longer in one particular city. That way can get to know it beyond the main tourist attractions experience the place a little deeper. Not only will you save money on transportation, but you will also be able to pick up some groceries and do some shopping so you can get to know the part of the city has the best restaurants or coffee shops.

Discover 10 tips to help you save money on your next Europe trip.

Travel to Europe in pairs to share costs

Solo travel in Europe can be an amazing experience, but it does tend to be a bit pricier than if you travel around with a friend or a partner. When travelling in pairs you can share costs of taxis or rideshares, hotel rooms and guesthouses, and even meals! You don’t even have to arrive at the destination in pairs. You can make friends along the way and share costs. If you’re travelling with someone, see if you can narrow down a few European cities in your itinerary to make the most out of your trip.

Skyscanner travel tip: Make sure to check the European visa requirements with your passport.

Friends "cheers-ing" pints at an outdoor pub patio in London | Skyscanner Canada
Tips for Saving Money While Travelling – Euro Trip | Skyscanner Canada

Ready to start planning your Europe trip? Book your flights and get packing! Head over to Skyscanner to get the best deals on flights, accommodation, and car rentals to make it a summer to remember!

Use Skyscanner’s flight search below and start saving on your next Europe Trip.