Are you looking to book a weekend break but worried about costs? There are thankfully lots of little ways of saving money on a city break.
Between flights, accommodation and spending money, the cost of city breaks can soon add up.
With a little travel know-how, saving money for your next city can be simple and effective. Check out my 11 tips for saving money on a city break and make your money go further.
Saving money on a city break
If you are thinking about a city break in Europe, you can save money break by getting off the beaten track and trying alternative city break destinations.
By going on alternative city break destinations you can save lots of money on hotels, eating out and attractions. Especially if you aim to travel off-season.
This is the most obvious one to save money on a city break. City break trips during the school holidays make everything so much more expensive.
You also need to consider the city or country you are planning to visit and how expensive it will be during the peak season?
Alternative city breaks
Whereas a city in a hot climate, such as Venice, might be cheaper to visit out of summer.
Also, consider any events your chosen city might have going on? For a more budget-friendly city break, avoid national holidays and big festivals in cities.
Book flights with Skyscanner
You can search for cheap flights to a huge number of cities with flight comparison sites.
If you have flexibility with your travel dates you can actually use Skyscanner to find the cheapest day to fly, or the cheapest month to get to your city break destination.
City break flights
You can also use Skyscanner’s ”Everywhere” option if you are looking for some city break inspiration.
Select this option and from the drop-down list and Skyscanner will display a list of possible destinations, showing the cheapest place first.
Remember, if you are going on a short city break, why not fly with just hand luggage? You’ll save money on baggage costs and be able to travel lightly.
Eat like a local
Eating out on a city break can be expensive. Unless you are travelling to try out new and different cuisine try and make your own food or pack takeout picnics and lunches.
If you don’t have the facilities to make food where you are staying, head to the local supermarket, or farmers market, and see if you can pick up some local produce.
You could also see if there are street food vendors selling authentic local eats or if there are budget cafes where the locals eat.
If you aren’t sure where to find budget eats on a city break, why not ask the hotel staff where you are staying?
Save the money you would otherwise spend on expensive meals and put it towards entry fees or souvenirs.
It also means you won’t feel as guilty about popping into a cafe for a drink and a slice of cake.
Free city walking tours
Free city tours or ‘pay-what-you-want tours’ have become massively popular in touristy cities in the last few years.
The premise is relatively straightforward, you check the tour’s website to find the daily meeting place and you take the city tour with whoever shows up at the meeting time. You are then expected to leave a tip at the end.
These city tours are perfect for travellers on a budget as you tip what you feel the tour was worth at the end.
I would really recommend Sandeman’s Walking Tours. These guys provide free walking tours in major European cities including Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona.
These informative tours are perfect for travellers on a budget, you can leave a tip for the guide at the end on the tour. How much you decide to give is up to you.
Buy a city pass
So many cities sell a pass for their popular attractions. If you are wondering if city passes are worth it, make sure to do some research into passes to see if they are right for you?
Redeem your London Explorer credits against 3, 4, 5, or 7 attraction visits from a selection of over 20 monuments, tours, cruises, dining experiences and more.
You can also save up to 35% on regular ‘on the door’ prices.
Paris also has a brilliant city pass that will save you money and get you priority access to attractions.
You can choose from 2, 3, or 5 day passes and get priority access to museums and monuments, a river cruise, a hop-on hop-off bus tour and unlimited travel on Paris’ public transport.
Do a bit of research around the city you are planning to visit and make a note of which attractions you are interested in seeing. How much do they cost? Do they offer discount entry days?
If so, see if there is a city pass available which includes the attractions you want to see. Even better if all the places you want to visit are free!
Look for free things to do on a city break
Do some research before you go on your city break to see what free activities or events you could attend.
When you arrive at your city break destination, seek out the tourist office to see what museums and attractions are free to visit?
This can be really useful to keep city break costs down if you are trying to do cheap weekend breaks under £100.
Most cities will also have parks, riversides and architecture you can explore on a self-guided walking tour. These kinds of free activities should save money on a city break.
You can also walk to the less touristy areas of the city to discover cafes and bars with much cheaper refreshments than in tourist trap areas.
You can ask the tourist office for any free maps or recommendations for the best places to walk in the city.
Explore by bike
Exploring a new city by bike is often the best way to discover the best spots in the city. You can cover a lot of ground on two wheels and save on transportation costs.
Many cities will have bike rental and bike hire options. I have found that many city tourist offices offer reasonable bike hire directly from them.
You can normally choose from 2 hours, 4 hours or all day bike hire in most cities.
You can download their app and use it to pay for bike hire and to unlock a bike in their many city locations.
Don’t stay right in the city centre
Staying right in the city centre can mean expensive hotel prices. You could save money by booking just outside of the city centre.
When researching where to stay for your city break, why not check out if there are any cool neighbourhoods that are just outside of the city?
You could save money on a city break by booking a hotel in a cheaper area. You will then have more to spend on food and activities.
Hotel price comparison
Use HotelsCombined to find the best city hotel deals. This huge hotel metasearch engine searches a huge number of hotels websites and then instantly returns the lowest prices.
This means you can bag a great city hotel deal and save money on your city break.
Seek out free Wifi
Data-roaming is something that catches many people out. We get so caught up in taking photos and posting them online, that we forget that the internet is something we actually pay for the privilege to use.
Many hotels and cafes now offer WIFI to their customers free of charge. Just check when you go into a city cafe as sometimes there will minimal charge for WIFI, or you will have to make a purchase to get a WIFI code.
Roaming charges in Europe
Roaming charges ended in the European Union on 15 June 2017. This means that Europeans travelling within EU countries can ‘Roam Like at Home’ and pay domestic prices for roaming calls, SMS and internet data.
This means that if you are an EU citizen, you don’t have to worry about paying extra for data when travelling in an EU country.
If you are travelling outside of the EU, remember to turn data roaming off and use free wifi instead. You don’t want to end up with a hefty mobile phone bill when you get home.
Prepaid travel card
A way to monitor your spending on a city break is to use a pre-paid pre-paid, reloadable multi-currency travel card. You can load it in advance with your city break budget to spend on your travels.
A travel card that I would recommend is the Post Office Travel Card allows you to convert your money into 13 currencies across 200 countries.
You can also manage your account and freeze your card with the accompanying app.
it’s a super easy and convenient way to pay for your meals out, coffee shop trips and activities trip without having to worry about carrying lots of currency on you.
Book your car hire in advance
Car hire can be expensive if you leave it to the last minute. Being super organised and booking a car in advance could result in huge savings on your city break.
Sat nav apps
Before you pay extra for a car with a sat nav, see if you can download any apps or sat nav maps
Make sure to check whether they use data to work and if so, download the maps you need on WiFi to use offline.
Free events in the city
Another city break tip is to see what free events there are in the city you are visiting? Check local listings and websites to see what’s on and what is free?
I’ve found lots of free food festivals, screenings, exhibitions and even poetry slams on my city break travels.
Free events are often a great way to get a flavour of a new city and an insight into the arts and culture scene.
It’s also a great way of meeting new people and experiencing a different perspective on a destination.
You could end up at a cool art exhibition in a hipster part of town, watching an old B movie in the park or watch live music in a tram shed. The possibilities are endless.
Many cultural venues and museums will have free entry or discounted student tickets. Some even have one free day a month entry. Make sure to do your research to save money.
Search for the country’s dedicated tourism website for information about discounts, or even get local tips from your hotel or Airbnb host.
City break saving
This article is full of practical tips to help you save money towards your next city break adventure. Prefer audio content? Listen to Episode 1 of the Travel Goals Podcast – how to save for travel.
What do you think of my 11 tips for saving money on a city break? Are there any that should be added? Let me know in the comments below.
Planning your city break
Ready to book your city break? Use these awesome travel resources to get you started:
- Search for the best flight deals with Skyscanner
- Search for the best hotel deals on HotelsCombined
- Get the best travel tips with a travel guidebook
- Book an Airbnb and have £25 towards your first booking
- Get the best destination recommendations from TripAdvisor
Check out all the best travel resources on my bumper travel resources page!