Are you looking to book a dream city break but worried about costs? Between flights, accommodation and spending money, the cost of city breaks can soon add up. There are thankfully lots of easy ways of saving money on a city break.
With a little travel know-how, saving money for your next city can be simple and effective. Check out my top tips, tricks and hacks for saving money on a city break and make your money go further.
Saving money on a city break
If you’re thinking about a city break in Europe, you can save money by trying alternative city break destinations, rather than visiting super popular and overcrowded cities.
By seeking out alternative city break destinations you can save lots of money on hotels, eating out and attractions. Especially if you aim to travel off-season when prices are typically cheaper.
City break planning
We talk more about city break planning and saving money on a city break on my travel podcast – Travel Goals. Check out episode 12 of the Travel Goals Podcast to discover money-saving tips for city breaks around the world.
If you love listening to travel podcasts, then make sure to subscribe to the Travel Goals podcast. You’ll learn what’s new in the travel industry, as well as a range of actionable travel hacks, destination inspiration and stories of travel adventures from around the world.
Travel off-season to save on city break
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
Do they have a specific season that is more popular? For example, a city surrounded by ski-slopes, such as Bansko, is likely to be more expensive during the winter months.
Whereas a city in a hot climate, such as Venice, might be cheaper to visit out of the summer season? 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.
Use Skyscanner’s Everywhere option to book your city break
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.
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.
Download the Skyscanner app to search for flight deals on the go and save money on your city break today.
Eat like a local in the city
Eating out on a city break can be expensive. Unless you are specifically travelling to try out new cuisines, try and make your own food, or pack takeout picnics and lunches.
If you don’t have the facilities to make food where you’re 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 and activities. It also means you won’t feel as guilty about popping into a cafe for a drink and a slice of cake.
Use Roomsteals to get cheaper hotel rooms
RoomSteals is a money-saving chrome extension that shows you if a cheaper price for the hotel you’re already looking at exists, saving you lots of money on your hotel stays.
Browse your favourite hotel sites including Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com and Google Hotels and the Chrome extension will tell you when there’s a wholesale (cheaper) rate available. If there’s a better price for the hotel you’re looking at, Roomsteals will show you.
All other major hotel websites make money by marking up the hotel price (taking margin) or getting a commission. Roomsteals don’t add a margin or take a commission.
You can Register for FREE and see wholesale hotel prices today. After you find a great rate you can subscribe to Roomsteals to make your reservation. If you use the special coupon code travelgoals you can save 20% on your Roomsteals subscription
Check out 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’re 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?
Save time and money with a London Explorer Pass and create your own itinerary in the city. 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. The ‘Paris Passlib’ is a city pass that saves you time and gives you the flexibility to see all the best attractions and sights in Paris.
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 lots of 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 cities 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.
I would also recommend hiring a bike through a global bike rental service such as Donkey Republic. 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. Compare all the top travel sites in just one search to find the best hotel deals at HotelsCombined.
They gather all of the prices, availabilities and rooms for you, and also give you the tools to filter and compare the best options for the same hotel or home so that you can easily choose and book the best deals. Best of all there are no extra fees. This means you can bag a great city hotel deal and save money on your next city break.
Seek out free Wifi on your city break
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.
If you are travelling outside of your home country, remember to turn data roaming off and use free Wi-Fi instead. You don’t want to end up with a hefty mobile phone bill when you get home.
Use a global WiFi hotspot
A top tip for Wi-fi on the go is to use a portable, global wi-fi hotspot. By using a hotspot, you can have reliable Wi-fi on the go and connect multiple devices at the same time.
Some of the best mobile Wi-Fi routers include:
- Huawei Portable 4G Travel Wi-Fi
- NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile 4G Router
- TP-Link Portable Travel Wi-Fi
- GlocalMe G3 Travel Mobile WiFi Hotspot
- Solis Wi-Fi hotspot
Use a prepaid travel card
A way to monitor your spending on a city break is to use a pre-paid, reloadable multi-currency travel card. You can load it in advance with your city break budget to spend on your travels. It’s definitely a must-have item on your city break packing list!
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
Most cities should be pretty easy to navigate by public transport, however, if you want to hire a car for a city break, make sure to book it 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 or on your next road trip.
Use free 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.
Search for 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.
Book your Airport Parking and lounges in advance
Save money on your city break trip by booking your airport parking in advance. You can find great airport parking deals online with Holiday Extras.
Get up to 70% off airport parking when you book in advance online. Keep your car secure and safe whilst you are on your holidays in an official airport car park.
You could also park your car at the airport with Car & Away. It’s the first person to person car-sharing service that matches car renters to car owners in a very simple and transparent way.
The service gives airport parking customers the opportunity to ‘rent and earn’ whilst on holiday. It’s a unique way to save money for travel, that’s for sure.
Why not spoil yourself with airport lounge access before your flight to your city break destination? Lounges don’t have to be super expensive, book online with Holiday Extras to save money on your lounge splurge.
City break saving tips
If you are looking for ways to save up for a city break, make sure to check out my 21 easy ways to save money for travel article.
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 top tips for saving money on a city break? Are there any that should be added? Let me know in the comments below.
Recommended travel resources
Flights: To search for flight deals check out sites such as Skyscanner, Kayak and Travel Supermarket to compare the costs of flights. My top tip to save money is to fly mid-week and take just hand luggage if possible.
Accommodation: I love a nice boutique hotel on my travel and I regularly use Booking.com as they have fantastic flexibility and cancellation. I also recommend Trip Advisor and hotels combined for hotel browsing. Additionally, I use Airbnb and TrustedHousesitters for homestays.
Travel Insurance: I highly recommend you always get travel insurance for your trips. Check out my Travel Insurance Page to see out why. I recommend World Nomads or Post Office travel Insurance.
Group Tours: I love booking group tours as a cost-effective and convenient way of discovering destinations. I recommend booking a small group tour with G Adventures.
Travel Guides: My favourite travel guide books are Bradt Guides, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.
For more travel tools, head to my bumper travel resources page now!