Thinking of whisking your loved one away on a city break this Valentine’s Day? Well, before you book, you might find you can save a lot of money by doing a little extra research. From travel tips to free things to do, here are 13 easy ways you can save money on your next city break.
1. Pick cheaper destinations
Got your eye on a weekend break in Paris or Rome? Although these cities might have that romantic charm, you’ll probably find your money goes a lot further in Lisbon, Budapest or Istanbul. No doubt just as magical, dinner for two in these cities is far less likely to break the bank.
Want your money to go further on holiday next year? Check out our guide to the best value holiday destinations for 2020.
2. Avoid peak season
If you’re looking to jet off this February, you’ll probably find many European city break destinations are out of their peak season and are noticeably cheaper than in the summer months. Cities close to the ski slopes however may be more expensive, so make sure you do your research before you go.
3. Travel mid-week
Think you can spare a few more holidays off work? If the answer is yes, you’ll notice a substantial difference in flight prices if you travel mid-week. Check the prices for Sunday – Tuesday rather than Friday – Sunday and see how much you can save.
4. Use flight comparison sites
Another easy way to save money on a city break is to use flight comparison sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Websites like Skyscanner, Kayak and Google Flights can all help you find the cheapest flights to your destination. Just make sure you clear your browser history or use an incognito browser window to make sure all your searches don’t cause prices to shoot up.
Top tip: There are also cheap flight clubs (such as Jack’s Flight Club) you can sign up to that will send you the best deals when they appear.
5. Travel with hand luggage only
If you’re confident you can travel light, flying with just hand luggage can be a great money saver. In fact, some airlines, such as EasyJet, have no weight restrictions on their hand luggage, only size constraints. Just make sure you check your airline’s hand luggage allowance before you book – otherwise you could have a hefty bill at check in.
6. Compare different accommodation options
With so many accommodation options these days, hotels are no longer your only choice. Check a mix of hotel comparison platforms, such as Booking.com and Trivago, as well as Airbnb to see if you can get a good deal on your accommodation.
Top tip: You might find staying in a city’s business district on a weekend is much cheaper.
7. Utilise self-catered facilities
If you do end up booking an Airbnb or opting for self-catered accommodation, eating in one night is a great way to cut costs. If cooking isn’t your idea of fun, eating your main meal at lunchtime is another good way to save money on a city break.
8. Check if there are any free museum days
Did you know that many museums around Europe are free on certain days of the year? If you’re heading off to Rome, you’ll find that many of the city’s top attractions, such as the Colosseum and Roman Forum are free on the first Sunday of every month. In Barcelona, the Picasso Museum is free on Thursday afternoons and the first Sunday of every month. Even world-famous museums like the Louvre in Paris are free at certain times of the year. So, before you book your ticket, double-check if you could get in anywhere for free during your stay.
9. Order your travel money in advance
Getting caught out by the airport’s poor exchange rates or at a cashpoint abroad is never a good experience. Give yourself enough time to research the best exchange rates near you and order in your currency before you depart.
10. Check out sightseeing passes
If you’re a bit of a culture vulture, you might be able to save money by buying a city pass. Getting you into lots of top attractions for free, these passes are available in many European cities and can be good value if you’re planning on doing a lot of sightseeing.
11. Use public transport
Getting taxis around a city can add massively to your holiday bill. If you can, see if you can walk the distance or if there’s a good public transport alternative.
12. Hunt for free things to do
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually plenty of free things to do in many European capitals. Lots of cities, including the likes of Amsterdam and Berlin, have free walking tours around the top attractions – a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive.
Lots of museums are also free to enter. Berlin’s Topography of Terror is free all year round, as are London’s Natural History Museum and Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado. If museums aren’t really your cup of tea, why not grab a picnic and enjoy it in a local park?
13. Look for discounts
Got a senior or student card? You’ll probably find it’ll get you a discount going into many sites around Europe – so don’t forget to use it!
Want to spread the cost of your next getaway? Take a look at our holiday loans page to see if you can find a loan that’s right for you.