Top 10 European Locations on a Budget
Moving around: Rail Europe offers several passes, and if you want to run faster, try a no-frill airline. If you want to drive, consider Auto Europe or lease a little Renault.

By Dan Taylor | Jul 28, 2017

Want to hit up some European sites, but worry about the Euros you might spend? Here are some budget-friendly tips along with the top ten cities to see on your trip.

Moving around: Rail Europe offers several passes, and if you want to run faster, try a no-frill airline. If you want to drive, consider Auto Europe or lease a little Renault.

Sleeping and eating: Farms, private rooms, convents, castles and villa rentals offer more cost-effective lodging options. When you get hungry look to the street vendors, trattorias or bars, which will have great food less costly than a restaurant. Consider a big lunch and just snack for dinner.

Sightseeing and shopping: beautiful churches with frescoes, architecture and stained glass compliments of Matisse and Michelangelo are free! Museums are another good suggestion.

Europe on a budget is going to enhance your ability to immerse yourself in the local cultures as well as the local people.

10. Bavaria

Grab a room at the local 14th-century castle, Burg Colmberg, which lies above a small village. It will show you an eclectic collection of rooms tucked throughout jagged hallways, hidden staircases, and cozy sitting nooks. Be sure to visit the postcard-perfect ghostly Mad King Ludwig, II castle of Neuschwanstein, which sits on a mountain top.

9. Apulia

The architecture of Apulia in the heel of the iconic Italian boot, is the prehistoric Trullo, a round whitewashed house with a cone-shaped roof of stacked gray stones. The town of Alberobello has whole neighborhoods made of the quaint homes, and a bright, local entrepreneur has fixed up dozens of the abandoned ones to rent them to visitors. A cooler option during toasty summers and an attractive option, complete with cozy fireplaces for winter, a rental lets you live like a local for less than the cost of a tourist-class hotel in town. Apulia's forested Gargano Peninsula is great if you love the sunshine and it's off the tourist map grid.

8. Andalusia

Get away from the heat on the crowded beaches of Costa del Sol and take a driving tour along the Route of the Pueblos Blancos. It's a chain of cliff-top, whitewashed villages stretching from Arcos de la Frontera through the Sierra de Grazalema to Ronda, a puzzle of medieval streets sitting above a 500-foot gorge. Skip the hefty dinner bill and join the locals in a tapeo, a pub crawl of tapas bars and taste a bunch of bite-size snacks at each location.

7. Berlin

Complete with Cold War mystery, modern architecture, and growing gallery and restaurant locations, Berlin is where east-meets-west and the city has become the cultural capital of central Europe. A draw to creative types and "in-the-know" travelers. Berlin is convenient to major sites including the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz.

6. London

Many of London's greatest museums including the British Museum, Victoria & Albert, the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, don't charge admission. And there are free lunch concerts at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church and art plus ancient sculpture in the Victorian private house-museum of Sir John Soane. The Oyster Card, a public transportation debit card is recommended because it reduces the London bus rides in half.

5. Cotswolds

The villages and rolling farmland hills of the Cotswolds are just two hours from central London by car or train from Paddington Station. The area boasts of designer boutiques, quaint cottages, and exceptional restaurants, which attract lovers of easy-to-reach rural countrysides.

4. Istanbul

The big state-run museums may charge admissions, but the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, just behind the Blue Mosque adjacent to the Arasta Bazaar, is very inexpensive and most charming. View the individual puzzled pictures of hunts, myths, animal battles, and everyday life in the old world. The pictures once populated the floor of the courtyard of the Palatium Magnum, which was constructed between the time of Constantine the Great and Justinian I.

3. Ljubljana

Tour the modern architecture of prodigy, Joe PleCnik, who took the Secessionists Art Nouveau style, learned in Vienna back home through Prague to remake his native city his own creation. Like Gaud in Barcelona, PleCnik designed his buildings down to the smallest details including Pegasus door handles included on the entryway to the National and University Library. You will also be able to view the magnificent staircase inside. Evidence of PleCnik touches are all over the city, in his central market, the two flanking spans of Ljubljana's Triple Bridge, and the caf-lined embankments of the Ljubljanica River. The prodigy planted alternating rounded willows and pointed poplars to mimic the domes and spires of Prague.

2. The Dalmatian Coast

Pass, on the ever-popular island of Hvar and find the walled medieval village on the Adriatic island of Korcula, believed home of Marco Polo. Korcula is a day-trip destination, and by sundown the tourists have faded, leaving those who remain to relax in the cafs and sachet along the narrow alleys. History filled, Split has the only downtown carved from the remains of an ancient Roman palace. When Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire in 305 A.D., he constructed a luxurious palace on the Croatian coast to live his final days as head of the empire's eastern half. In the near 2,000 years since then, the ruins of his last resting place have been inhabited by the locals, who have turned the buildings into "medieval type" townhouses, and the emperor's tomb has been transformed into a beautiful cathedral.

1. Cte d'Azur

The French Riviera is a famous posh resort. It offers clear water and stretches of white sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and hidden coves. Start in the busy city of Nice, gateway to the Riviera, and drive to Cannes, on the waterfront and the once-sleepy village of St. Tropez. On your trip, don't forget to make a pit stop for socca or chickpea pancakes, very popular in the area.

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