Best affordable destinations in Europe to visit in 2021

Wondering where to travel this year? Europe is home to the cities you’ve been dreaming of

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  • 01 February 2021
  • • 12 min read

I think it’s safe to say we all deserve a holiday this year, right? Choosing where to travel in 2021 after the year we’ve just had will probably take a fair bit of thought. After a whirlwind 12 months, we’ve finally put together our top 2021 destinations in Europe for those of you looking for a safe yet unforgettable trip on a budget. 

Reignite your love for travel this year from these incredible city break destinations across Europe, where you can soak up the culture you’ve been craving or spark up conversation with a stranger for the first time in months. From to snapping every , here are the best affordable cities in Europe for 2021. Bear in mind that the great majority of countries in Europe are totally discouraging international travel for now. This is a guide for your plans later in the year, so remember to keep up-to-date with the local news on travel restrictions before booking.

Now let’s get this show on the road. 

*As you’re probably aware, the situation across Europe is ever changing, so we must make it clear that this article is correct at the time of publication and has been put together based on the latest government advice and information we have from each city’s local authorities. We are doing our best to provide the most up-to-date information and clearest recommendations for you that may not always match updated guidelines, however we will be monitoring and adjusting our messages when necessary.

1. Berlin

There’s no doubt about it, Berlin is one of the most exhilarating cities in Europe. The museums, the street art, the world famous sights and the food - it may not be about the parties this year but Berlin has so much more to offer than just its epic nightclubs. At the moment there are travel restrictions from a large number of countries into Berlin, so you could be expected to produce a digital entry registration form and show evidence of negative Covid-19 test results before your holiday can begin. Head to the government website for latest updates.

By spring, Berlin will be starting to warm up for its usual scorching summers when local young people fill the beer gardens and venture a little out of the city for a lake swim, one of the . Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Berlin has been able to open a brand new attraction, the Forum for Art, Culture and Science, just opposite the world class Museum Island in the heart of one of our favourite Berlin districts, Mitte. Public transport might be a concern for you this year, but with so many people out on their bikes you have comfort in numbers if you’d rather explore on two wheels in the fresh open air. Cycle from the mighty impressive Brandenburg Gate to the fascinating art on the East Side Gallery, or along the River Spree from Berlin’s Tiergarten stopping for a caffeine fix at the countless cool cafes along the way. 

Take advantage of the fact Berlin will likely have less tourists than usual this year and consider exploring the German capital on your first trip away.

2. Edinburgh

The city may be small, but with attractions like the royal Palace of Holyrood House, a spooky underground town at The Real Mary King’s Close and a medieval castle smack bang in the midst of it all, you’ll never be stuck for things to do in Edinburgh. Right now, Scotland requires proof of a negative Coronavirus test result before you can board your transport to the country. Make sure you keep checking the Scottish government website in the lead up to your trip.

Once you’ve ticked off the main events like Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, a dram of whisky in a wee local pub, and a stroll through the cobblestone streets of the city centre, there’s so much more to come. Don your walking shoes for a climb up Arthur’s Seat and get sweeping views of Holyrood Park, or wander just five minutes from Edinburgh’s busy Old Town to explore the charming World Heritage Dean Village. Then, you cannot leave Scotland without a stack of haggis, neeps and tatties from one of the

This city is something special, so whether you’re from the UK looking for a trip that’s closer to home, or coming from overseas for the Scottish experience, this city will not disappoint.

3. Barcelona

Craving that feeling of being by the sea? Soak up that much needed vitamin-D and travel to Barcelona in 2021. There’s nothing better than the city’s mix of culture and R&R, it’s got absolutely everything you could want from a city break: landmarks, beaches and food to name just a few. Although Catalonia is not allowing people to enter or leave the municipality without any justifiable reason, keep your eyes peeled on the Ajuntament de Barcelona website for further updates every other week.

Wake up at the crack of dawn to tour Antoni Gaudi’s world famous architectural masterpieces, not skipping the Sagrada Familia or Parc Guell, both of which you’ll need to book ahead if you want to explore every inch. Spend the afternoon lazing on the beach with a cocktail, then head into the Gothic Quarter to fill up on the and cava in Barcelona in one of the many authentic local restaurants. Just before sunset, head up to the Carmel Bunkers with a beer or two for a stunning Catalonian sunset from the best spot in Barcelona.

4. Newquay

A Cornish road trip isn’t complete without a day of surfing in Newquay, our top spot in the southwest of England for a few days break. Not only does Cornwall have arguably the best summers in the UK, but the towns each have their own unique personality with Newquay’s being a laid back, post-surf-pasty-on-the-beach kind of vibe. Once the UK is out of national lockdown, there’s hope for areas to start opening up to domestic tourism soon after. Check government websites for updates before booking your

Book onto a surf lesson and spend a couple of hours in the sea, learning the ropes from the pros at Escape Surf School, based right in the town centre. If a surf lesson doesn’t sound like your thing then don’t be put off as Newquay’s beaches are perfect for lying back and relaxing on the sand (watching others fall off their surfboard is a plus). Belushi’s nearby is without doubt the best spot to eat and drink cocktails with a great vibe and an awesome view overlooking Towan Bay, a beach right in the heart of town surrounded by popular cafes and a chilled out atmosphere. Fistral Beach is just a 10 minute walk away from the town centre, with Rick Stein’s fish and chips and the best pizza in Newquay right on the beach. 

5. London

London is a bucket list city that’ll guarantee an electric atmosphere once bars and restaurants open back up and things feel more normal again. Keep checking the UK government website for information on when a good time is for you to book your 2021 London city break. There is so much to explore in the English capital, and each corner of the city feels like a completely different place. Whether you love the hustle and bustle of central London or prefer the slightly quieter, more local outskirts, London is the kind of city break you can tailor to make perfect for you. 

You could be spotting street art in Shoreditch on one day, playing mini golf with cocktails in central the next, followed by a day at Kew Gardens and a walk along the river. The diversity of this city is unlike any other in Europe and with the massive list of and incredible it’s unbelievably easy to plan a trip to London on a budget.

6. Bruges

Bruges is one of those European cities that make you feel as if you’re in another world. The cobbled streets, colourful rows of quaint narrow houses and the smell of fresh waffles around the corner would make you almost forget about the craziness of the past year. Again, Belgium currently has travel restrictions in place for non-essential travel in the country until March 1st, you can track updates here . While Bruges in the winter is magical, the city lends itself beautifully to every month of the year.

Spend your days snapping photos in Markt Square (while trying to work out if the Belfry Tower is actually leaning or not), take a boat tour through the maze of canals or simply sit back in a Belgian beer garden - the beer in Bruges is some of the best in the world. Hiring a bike to see beyond the city's stone walls is a great alternative to following the crowds of tourists for a day, but the absolute non-negotiable activities involve waffles from Chez Albert, fries from a cart vendor and truffles from the .

7. Bath

Whether you’re coming from overseas or heading there for a staycation, Bath makes the perfect weekend getaway. The quintessentially English World Heritage listed city is the perfect place to relax in amongst a bit of sightseeing and lots of delicious west country food. Bath is most famous for being home to the incredibly well preserved Roman Baths which are well over 2,000 years old and still flowing, but there are plenty more attractions for history and architectural design lovers to sink their teeth into: The Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey and the charming Pulteney Bridge to name a few. Plus, most of the best .

Then it’s not a trip to Bath without a Bath bun, and Sally Lunn’s tea house is the place for it. Tuck yourself into one of its cosy corners and order the original Bath bun with a pot of tea, or head to the Regency Tea Room for a Jane Austen afternoon tea experience in an old Georgian townhouse. Looking for more of a countryside break? Wake up and venture out on a long walk along the Bath Skyline for sweeping views down into the city of Bath before a hearty meal in a local pub. 

8. Copenhagen

Denmark’s capital city is bursting with reasons for you to visit. Not only is Copenhagen one of the most exciting cities in Europe for young travellers, but, like most places on the continent, it’s way easier to stick to a tight budget than most people give it credit for. At the moment, Denmark has banned all visitors from overseas who are unable to provide proof of a negative Covid test result from no more than 24 hours before departure. Keep an eye on Danish travel advice via this link .

Check out the to discover some of the absolute highlights of Copenhagen that won’t even cost you a penny. Explore the city on two wheels, cycling between the crazy contrast of Copenhagen’s different neighbourhoods. The brightly coloured buildings of Nyhavn are a must-see, as are the free views from Christiansborg Palace Tower, the quirky atmosphere in Norrebro and Freetown Christiania, an independent community in the heart of a big city. Copenhagen’s friendly people and unique attractions will have you wishing your trip never has to end. 

9. Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the most loved cities of Europe and for good reason. I’m sure we’re not the only ones missing the Dutch Colonial architecture and laid-back atmosphere from a previous trip, because just one visit is never enough. The Netherlands requires all international travellers to have evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result as well as taking a rapid test right before departure for the country.

Get on your hired bike and feel the wind in your hair as you explore every last bit of the Dutch capital from its world class museums and galleries to its man made beaches and canalside bars, snapping your camera at all the as you go. The parties may not be as loud as usual this year, but the open air pubs and bars in Amsterdam are some of Europe’s best, so you’re in luck. Spend your hungover days lazing with the locals in Vondelpark, or instead hang off the edge of a 100m high building at the A’Dam Lookout Over the Edge Swing across the river in Amsterdam Noord. Whether you’re there for the chilled vibes or the one-of-a-kind attractions, no one leaves Amsterdam in a hurry.

10. Paris

Known for its iconic landmarks, sweet pastries and dreamy café culture, Paris is the perfect city to land in for your first trip of 2021. Like almost every other country in Europe, France is currently not allowing tourism as a reason to enter the country. Make sure you keep checking the French government website for updates on the situation in France.

There’s no better feeling than sitting amongst local Parisians and drinking countless cups of café au lait by the River Seine. However while you’re not sitting down and enjoying the people watching, your itinerary will be packed with world-renowned landmarks to tick off. Marvelling at Le Louvre before getting a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, watching the sunset from the highest point in the city at the Sacre Coeur and drinking wine on the Champ de Mars in front of the spectacular Eiffel Tower at night - Paris is simply idyllic. Many people are under the false impression that a trip to the French capital will cost a small fortune, but sticking to a budget is way easier than most people believe, especially with this huge list of . To help save your euros, dine on market stall crepes and falafels in the Le Marais (one of our top areas in Paris for young travellers) and avoid tourist traps like the top of the Eiffel Tower when the views from the rooftop of the Arc de Triomphe are miles better and totally free. The feeling you get when exploring Paris is incomparable to anywhere else in the world.

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