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Saturday, October 26, 2013

5 (more) Affordable European Getaways

I'm back with another five destinations in Europe that will help you keep some money in your bank account. If you missed the first five, check them out here. I love Europe and hope to get to more countries in the near future. On our short list is Spain, Greece and Germany, some of which are on this list of affordable getaways. Of course, if you plan ahead and do your research, almost all trips can be more budget-friendly. So, check out these options to add to your own short list.


Vienna Photos
This photo of Vienna is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Vienna, AustriaGot a sweet tooth and also think ice skating sounds like fun? Vienna, Austria just opened a huge free ice rink. You just pay to rent skates. If you’re already in Europe, RyanAir has some fantastic flight deals. When you get there, strap on your skates and get some exercise, then put back the calories you just burned off with a dessert buffet. Try famous Viennese sweets like Sachertorte, Palatschinken, Knödel and grab a quick bag of Maroni on the streets (those are hot chestnuts). Vienna is a great place to buy “street food”. There are many types of sausages available at street vendors and you can visit the Naschmarkt that sells stalls full of local and international foods. If you need to warm up, try some of the local wine, as Vienna is one of few world capital cities that has its own vineyard. 


Prague Photos
This photo of Prague is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Prague, Czech Republic – Prague is a winter wonderland in December, plus there is so much to do for super cheap or even free! Some of those awesome free things include the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. These destinations are popular with tourists for a reason. You can save a little more and avoid crowds by sightseeing in the suburbs. Žižkov, Vinohrady, Smíchov and Holešovice are all great to explore with their parks, bars, museums and historical architecture. Street food abounds, too, which is easy to eat on-the-go and doesn’t leave your wallet empty.
Photos of Berlin Wall Museum (Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie), Berlin
This photo of Berlin Wall Museum (Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

GermanyThe site of both World Wars, Germany has a lot of history, much of which was bloody. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany has become a wonderful tourist destination. The whole country is rich with culture and cool things to see and do. Save on ticket prices by purchasing airfare to Frankfurt via Reykjavik on Iceland Air. Add Iceland as a stopover for as long as you want for no extra cost! Purchase a city pass for major German cities like Frankfurt and Berlin and save big on attractions on your trip. Get discounts on museums, gardens, transportation, restaurants and more.

Paris, FranceParis can be very spendy if you don’t plan out your trip ahead of time. And don’t let the fact that Euros sound cheaper than British pounds fool you. Spring, fall and winter are good times to travel to France. Anytime, but summer, really. Fall and winter are going to be the least expensive times and also the least crowded. While shops and museums may be open shorter hours, you will be able to do more than you would in summer, since tourists are scarse. If you plan to do any real sightseeing in Paris, you should get yourself a Paris Pass. Gain entry to 55 museums and monuments (unfortunately, the Eiffel Tower is not included), amazing attractions like the Seine River Cruise, unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER within Central Paris, an awesome guidebook and coupons for dining and shopping. Just looking to take a few relaxing days out wandering the streets? Well, that’s a great way to save money, especially since there are so many things to walk around and see without having to pay entrance fees. Stroll the Champs de Elysee, take pictures of the Arc and the outside of Notre Dame, cross the bridges over the Seine, buy a baguette or crepe from a street vendor, enjoy the sculptures outside of the Louvre and on and on. 


Reykjavik Photos
This photo of Reykjavik is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Reykjavik, Iceland – Iceland is #1 in cod production in the world. They fish extensively for it and create amazing dishes with it, too. Not only that, some Icelandic restaurants use geothermal vents for power and cook exclusively with the steam produced by these natural wonders. Amazingly, the heat from the vents can start water boiling in about eight seconds. Way to use the earth for economical and eco-friendly energy! While the restaurants may be on the expensive side, you can find lodging for relatively cheap and you can walk all over the city. You can always rent an apartment or house and save on your food budget and just go out for lunch or dinner each day. That way, you’ll be able to do more things than expected and also try the local cuisine without breaking the bank. Other great frugal activities include viewing the Northern Lights, soaking in hot springs and looking for the elusive Iceland elves.
Telling all your friends that you’ll be taking off for Europe will make you look wealthy and exotic, even if you only spend a fraction of what everyone expects you will. Between city pass cards that save you on attractions and yummy street food that enables you to spend the majority of your food budget on fancy lunches or dinners, your bank account can still sustain a longer trip at another time of the year or just extend this trip to a week or more. Bed and breakfasts or hotels that offer meals in their rates can save you even more. A trip to Europe can be within your reach and you don’t have to scrimp on the important aspects of your trip to make it happen. Plus, a weekend trip allows you to pack light to save baggage fees. Au revoir!
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