Europe’s vast cultural hotchpotch has been inspiring would be travelers since the idea of travel for pleasure began. If you’ve ever dreamt about sampling the paella of Madrid or idling down the canals of Amsterdam, then now could be a good time to make it a reality.
Many countries are currently doing their utmost to encourage the vital tourist trade, so it is a great time to visit. However, often your Euro won’t stretch as far as you’d like it to, so we’ve picked our top four destinations for value for money.
While many people look for the sun, sea and sand of the Costa del Sol, a trip to the Spanish coast cannot compete with Madrid’s rich architecture and beautiful open spaces. There’s nothing quite like city living in Spain. Picnic in the 18th Century Plaza Mayor or wander through the parks and gardens of Retiro Park in the west of the town, before heading to the hip district of Malasaña for tapas and non-stop nightlife.
Great value flights can be found to the Spanish capital, even in peak season. Keep costs down and avoid the overpriced areas like Sol; instead head for the liberal area of Chueca where authenticity goes up, and prices go down.
If enjoying the beach life is a prerequisite for you, then The Algarve, with its year round warm water and sandy shores, is just the place. Much like Greece, Portugal is more dependant on tourism than ever and every year it attracts an average of seven million visitors thanks to plentiful hotels, restaurants, bars and activities.
Three beaches, Arrifana, Odeciexe and Tavira Island have been shortlisted for the 2012 awards of Portugal’s best beaches, so if relaxing on some of Europe’s finest coastline doesn’t represent value for money, then what does? With excellent local food and wine to go along with the natural features, it is easy to see why the strength of the Euro has failed to put people off the Algarve experience.
Holland’s most liberal city may be synonymous with its Red Light District but many visitors do choose to take flights to Amsterdam for its other myriad attractions. Seemingly with as many hostels as bicycles, accommodation is readily available and affordable so you can put more of your money towards cultural excursions to the likes of the Van Gogh Museum.
Being Amsterdam, there are other weird and wonderful museums to see, which include the Museum of Bags and Purses and The Vodka Museum. Or simply take the laid back approach to exploring and sail your very own pedalo through the vast canal system, an attraction in itself.
With the Olympics heading to Britain this year there is no better time to book some cheap flights to London and join in with the city’s pre party atmosphere. With an estimated 5.5 million visitors per day expected during The Games, visiting early might be the best plan.
Get in and out before the Olympics begin and enjoy meandering through artistic Brick Lane on a Sunday, rifling through the stalls of vintage treasure at Portobello Market and savouring London’s latest obsession with street food: all without the crowds.
London is value for money because of the sheer range of things to see and do. However, head to outer boroughs like Hackney, where the hip cafés, shops and delis of Chatsworth Road and Broadway Market attract bargain hunters, foodies and clued up tourists alike.
These are just four of Europe’s best locations for value for money, each providing its own particular brand of holiday hotness. With passport in one hand and a careful eye on exchange rates, why not visit them all.