South Africans know all too well how much money goes into a European holiday. Starting with the cost of flights, we then have to convert our hard-earned Rands into Euros and spend a fortune on accommodation, food, transport and entry fees to tourist attractions. The good news is that not all European countries need to break the bank. In fact, there are many idyllic choices that are relatively inexpensive and allow you to stretch out your holiday by a few extra days. We take a look at some of Europe’s most budget-friendly destinations.
Compared to other European countries, Bulgaria comes out tops for affordability. Think R75 for your average meal, R150 for dormitory-style accommodation and R300 for a decent hotel room. While being a hub of traditional folk music, dance and crafts, it ticks all the boxes for lovers of the outdoors too. Seven mountain ranges stretch across the interior, offering unrivalled hiking trails, while picture-perfect beaches attract sun-worshippers from afar.
A melting pot of European and Asian cultures, Turkey is an intrepid traveller’s dream come true. From Istanbul with its rooftop bars, vibrant bazaars and baklava cafes to the glittering Lycian Coast in the south stretching 540km, Turkey offers unrivalled natural beauty, ancient history and vast cultural riches. With an average daily budget of R550 – R1000, covering accommodation and food, you can easily stretch out your holiday by a few extra days.
3. The Czech Republic
One of the European Union’s newest members, The Czech Republic brings history and folklore to life. Its capital city, Prague, is a treasure trove of Gothic architecture, palaces and old-fashioned bars, while the quality of its beer is world famous. Across the land, old beer-brewing traditions blend beautifully with hip micro-breweries to offer the thirsty traveller a mightily fine selection of beers and ales. Then there is the countryside – a spectacle of misty meadows, pine forests and fairytale castles. Even though The Czech Republic is welcoming more tourists, and therefore inevitably becoming more expensive, it is still a good bet for budget-conscious travellers.
On everyone’s bucket-list, Croatia embodies seaside perfection with its glittering waters, terracotta-roofed homes, delicious seafood and coastline dotted with islands. There’s plenty of sun-worshipping and adventuring to pursue too. Whether you choose to hop between the many islands on a yacht or perhaps hike through the more remote Istria region in the north, you’re guaranteed a memorable holiday. Set aside on average R1000 per day to cover food, accommodation and public transport.
Wonderful Greece with its hospitable people, biblical landscapes and famous islands is surprisingly affordable, especially if you venture beyond the beaten tourist paths. Islands like Mykonos and Santorini may be iconic, but there are plenty of others that are just as beautiful, more authentic and much more affordable. Take Andros, one of the largest islands of the Cyclades. It has white-washed seaside villages, farm-to-fork food, historic monasteries and a wide selection of hiking trails to choose from. It’s largely undiscovered by the tourist masses and not overpriced.
Know before you go:
On Foot Holidays, one of Europe’s leading self-guided walking tour operators, offers South Africans all-inclusive holiday packages to all the destinations listed in this article. Accommodation, meals, excellent wines and information packs are provided on all the routes. Walkers select their departure dates, luggage is transferred between inns each day and all routes are designed by locals and tested by staff from On Foot Holidays. There are over 28 walking routes throughout Europe to choose from.
For more information and expert advice on walking holidays in Europe, contact On Foot Holidays on +44 (0) 1722 322 652/ firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.onfootholidays.co.uk.
Franki Black is a South African travel writer living in London. She has worked in a Costa Rican jungle, on yachts in the Caribbean and in the African bushveld. In her spare time you’ll find her hiking, running or cycling somewhere in the wild, reading or playing the guitar in a band. Read more about Franki’s active adventures on www.women4adventure.com and follow her on @women4adventure.