It’s not news that Europe can be expensive, however, the exchange rate is moving in the right direction. As fuel prices keep airline fares steady and the dollar continues a strong exchange with the Euro and the Pound now is the best time in years to head to the European Continent.
Most people are familiar with the big names of European sightseeing; Paris, London, Rome. The names flow off the tongue but the prices reflect these epic cities.
The key to keeping costs down in Europe this summer is to head to the smaller towns. Visit the lesser known destinations and the off-the-beaten-path villages. Here are some of our recommendations for the best places to visit in Europe without breaking the bank. You may save enough money that you are inspired to check on the prices of a private jet charter to your destination!
Ronda is a stunning town set high in the mountains of Spain’s Malaga province. The El Tajo gorge separates the 15th-century “new” town from the old town dating back to Moorish occupation. Ronda’s Plaza de Toros is the legendary 18th-century bullring, and one of the most recognizable landmarks for sightseeing.
Ernest Hemingway loved this city and many of his novels revolve around his time spent living here, as did the 19th-century bandits who preferred to call the surrounding hills and caves home. Modern day travelers will appreciate the stunning views from the Puente Nuevo (new bridge) overlooking the deep gorge below.
This is actually two cities, Buda and Pest. Combined they make up one of the most fascinating cities in Europe divided by the Danube. The hilly Buda district is connected to the flat Pest district by the very scenic 19th-century Chain Bridge. The streets and venues are alive with music, ranging from the classics to viral gypsy music. Hungarian goulash is just the start when eating your way through the city.
A must visit spot is the 13th-century Matthias Church. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit Fisherman’s Bastion for superb views of the river and city below. Budapest is renowned for its healing waters and a visit to one of the many thermal baths in the area.
Estoril is one of the best places to visit in Europe since it is a stunning beach side town that sits just west of Lisbon. It strikes an excellent balance between charming small town and tourist destination. Restaurants are in abundance offering up the freshest seafood imaginable. Also, eating the day’s catch with your toes in the sand is a such a treat.
Estoril is home to the country’s largest casino filled with nightlife and activities. It is also only a short walk to the beautiful fishing village of Cascais making it a nearly perfect destination to please all members of your traveling group.
Antalya is your Mediterranean dream come true. The Old Harbor is filled with yachts, and the beaches are lined with hotels gazing out over the turquoise sea. Yet the town has a small town feel rather than a ritzy resort. Restaurants offer outdoor seating spilling into the streets and bringing a wonderful zest for life to the town.
Ancient remnants remain as a memory of Antalya’s times as a major port for the Romans. Make sure to check out Hadrian’s Gate, built for the Roman Emperor’s visit in 130A.D., along with the 2nd-century Hidirlik Tower which offers sweeping views over the sea.
Croatia has well emerged from its turbulent past and taken on the tourism industry with full force. Zagreb, the country’s northwestern capital, is one of the best places to visit in Europe because of its rich 18th and 19th-century architecture. Famous for its cobblestoned paths and colorfully tiled roofs, the centerpiece of town is the twin-spired Cathedral and 13th-century St. Mark’s Church.
Croatia has become the jewel of the region. You will find sidewalk cafes, outdoor restaurants, museums, shopping, and parks all at your disposal. There are three main areas of the city. There is the thousand-year-old Upper Town which contains the Presidential Palace. The 19th-century Lower Town is the hub for shopping, restaurants, and nightlife, and the New Town has modern high-rises with little to offer travelers.
All that is required to have a good time is to simply sit in a cafe and watch the day go by surrounded by history.
Corfu Island is off mainland Greece’s northwest coast in the Ionian Sea. It is a melting pot of cultures, therefore making it one of the best places to visit in Europe. This mountainous island offers up hotel-studded beaches and an active nightlife while embracing the influence from years spent under Venetian, French, and British rule before uniting with Greece in 1864.
For those travelers wishing to experience the culture and history of the island head over to Corfu Town, on the eastern coast, to check out the 18th-century Church of Agios Spiridon and the Archaeological Museum. The north of the island leads you to serene beaches and those burnt out on history can check out the family-fun at Aqualand.
Because Europe as a destination has SO much going for it, the best places in Europe to visit don’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. Each country, and even city within the countries offers unbeatable diversity. Sightseeing ranges from mountain tops to sea level, from cityscapes to remote countryside, and from ancient wonders to modern-day skyscrapers.
The food will keep even the most discerning foodie coming back for more, and is as diverse as the sightseeing. Relish the freshest ingredients all put together with love based on century-old recipes and passed down from one generation to another.
So many Americans have their heritage based in Europe and, combined with the fascinating sites, the interesting history, the amazing food, and the ease of crossing borders there is simply no reason not to go! Why not make 2017 the year you make your European travel dreams become a reality?