Students are typically wary of spending their tight budgets, and during a global crisis such as the one we find ourselves in puts extra pressure upon our finances. So, this list consists mainly of Central/ Eastern European destinations (easy on the wallet) ideal for student trips , with an excitement that is incomparable to old European cities.
12. Minsk, Belarus
There is no greater party town than Minsk, and from the outset, this looks like a perfect City. There’s no Euro, a very interesting and diverse culture, and cheap, quality Vodka. But, the only problem, its’ past ideologies and fondness for the Soviet cultue have left nationals wary and unsure of foreigners in the country. In the street you may feel a hostility and coldness, but in the pubs and clubs you’ll be embraced by generosity.
For those who are partial to trying the local language, the Belarusian written word adds to the difficulty as they write in the Cyrillic Alphabet.
Regular direct flights from the UK to Minsk are only available by Belarusian Airline, Belavia. A choice of flying from only London or Manchester, flying to Belarus is NOT going to be cheap, compared to the majority of European destinations.
11. Tartu, Estonia
The student capital of the Baltic states. Not a city, but a large town, 20% of the population being students, creates a welcoming and electric atmosphere during the lively evenings.
A leafy subdued and generally pleasant town in the daytime, with colourful architecture and the title of Estonia’s spiritual capital, the town’s atmosphere is completely unique to any other on the list and would delight tourists of all interests.
To feed your intellectual desires, Tartu has an array of fascinating museums that reflect the nature of a widely misunderstood and misrepresented culture.
For flights (See Tallinn). From Tallinn trains and buses are available at regular intervals at a good price.
10. Belgrade, Serbia
During the Yugoslav war in the early 1990’s, the western world vilified Serbia and labelled it the agitator of the conflict. The city suffered widespread damage through NATO bombings that were supported partly by the British government.
An animosity remains toward western governments, and although it manifests itself mainly through humour, you may feel awkward initially.
Belgrade has developed and rebuilt in a quick and impressive fashion however and the setting on the banks of the river Danube offer a serene quality to what is otherwise a bustling city with bars, clubs and restaurants found at every corner of the Old Town.
With low cost direct flights only leaving from London, departing from anywhere else in the UK will be as expensive as visiting Minsk. Claiming the dubious honour of being more ‘pricey’ than any other destination to travel to on the list.
9. Maribor, Slovenia
With little participation and affect in the Yugoslav war in the early 1990’s Slovenia was able to continually develop much faster than its ex-Yugoslav neighbours, but unfortunately this and the Euro currency makes Maribor as costly a destination as areas of Italy or Germany.
Maribor is the 2012 European capital of culture though, and to mark the event world class events will be staged in the quaint little city all year round. Sitting on the bank of the river Drava, it makes for a pleasant destination to both relax and soak up the atmosphere of this year’s capital of culture.
Unfortunately, there are no Direct flights from the UK to Maribor. The most direct way will be to fly to Ljubljana (Easyjet is your low cost option from London), Maribor is around 100 Kilometers north east, train or coach services in the country can be taken at a reasonable price. All are scheduled at regular intervals.
8. Riga, Latvia
Cheap flights, no euro and a drinking culture in the city has made Riga a haven for British student groups and stag and hen weekends looking for a good time at a reasonable rate.
However, it is not quite the budget destination that many other Eastern European cities offer. Since the rise of the low cost flight phenomenon, Riga has emerged as the major city in the Baltic region.
A pleasant location on the Daugava river, with a mix of architecture and statues that can only be seen in the Baltics and glitzy bars and clubs. If you’re interested in the history of the region, an excellent museum (The Museum of Occupation in Latvia) is located in the centre of the city, demonstrating and educating a unique passage of history in the region which is both insightful and educating.
Ryanair, WizzAir and Air Baltic offer regular routes from UK airports to Riga for very affordable prices, all year round.
7. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is one of the most developed tourist destinations in the old Eastern Bloc. With its’ grand walled city and placement on the shores of the Adriatic, its’ mix of history and natural beauty can compete with any city in the world.
In the early 1990’s the city and its’ famed walls suffered heavy bombing from the south, that was targeted specifically for its’ recognition as a symbol of Southern Croat pride. Since 1995 the city has received alot of investment, and has gained UNESCO heritage site status.
Since the end of the war, as before, Dubrovnik is the jewel of the Adriatic. Tourists pack into the quaint cobbled streets daily. Gaze in solitary awe at the beauty of it’s walled city before it becomes an overcrowded nightmare as you may have witnessed in cities as Rome.
Jet2 and Easyjet have regularly scheduled flights from across the UK to Dubrovnik.
6. Kyiv, Ukraine
Euro 2012 football championships come to the city in the summer. There are also some very interesting excursions if you’re there more than a couple of days.
With an array of pubs and some of the best clubs in Eastern Europe, it certainly is a destination to let your hair down. If you visit during the European Championships, the atmosphere around the place will be unique, and an opportunity not to miss. Although, make sure to book accommodation early because the country’s tourism facilities to host such a competition are not as diverse and widespread as you may find in a Western European nation.
Kyiv is however, a rather expensive destination to reach, and, as a tip, if you’re looking to reach the football championships then frankly, Krakow is the best option when taking into account travel costs.
5. Budapest, Hungary
With its’ dramatic riverside scenery of the Danube, Budapest has recently been a major location for major box office films including ‘Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol’ and the Oscar nominated ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’.
Affectionately known as the Paris of Eastern Europe, for the last 10 years Budapest has grown in popularity at an immense rate, second only to Prague and still one of the cheapest city destinations in Europe. With some of the most majestic architecture in the world, a great night life scene and a a general ambience of grandeur, it is the author opinion that you MUST visit Budapest at least once in your lifetime.
Hungarian low-cost airline Wizzair, Jet 2 and Easyjet all offer daily return flights from airports across the UK to Budapest.
4. Salamanca, Spain
West of Madrid, Salamanca offers the excitement, beauty, architecture and culture of Barcelona or Madrid, although, without the crowds. The city gives a new vitality to a country where Brits have long visited, but a relative few have experienced the old world charm and the gem that is Salamanca.
Essentials are rather more costly in Spain than in other nations on the list, but prices in Salamanca are cheaper than in more popular city destinations as Madrid or Barcelona.
There are unfortunately NO direct flights to Salamanca. The cheapest method is to fly (Via Ryanair, Easyjet) to Madrid, and take public transport from there to Salamanca, it’s not far, and cheaper than UK public transport.
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Although Estonia inherited the Euro currency this year, cost of living and essentials are still at favourable rates over their Finnish neighbours or Western European Cities.
An enchanting city that displays a fascinating mix of Baltic, Scandinavian and Soviet architecture. Tallinn has everything, and tourists are beginning to realise it, with low cost airlines beginning to see the advantages of routes from the UK to Tallinn, the old world, eastern bloc charm will not be evident for much longer.
As in most European cities, the Old Town is the most popular area of the city, with an array of museums, bars, restaurants, clubs and shopping which is comparable with the best cities in the world.
With low cost airlines recently opening up flights from all over the UK, Tallinn is a treat to be enjoyed before the crowds begin to flood the city, as seems to have happened in Riga.
2. Krakow, Poland
Possibly the perfect student city. With a comprehensive range of bars and clubs and cultural sites adorning the city and outer suburbs. People are friendly and willing to speak English. Currency being the Zloty has helped the country develop at its’ own rate, whereas neighbours who have signed up to the Euro have felt the effects of a stark transition.
Polish youth culture is in many ways like English youth culture. Driven by the love of a good alcoholic beverage.
The Polish are also ardent football fans and with the up and coming European Championships in the city, and the England team being based there, i’m sure the Summer festivities will create one helluva party atmosphere, so make sure to get to the party!
Ryanair, Easyjet and WizzAir ALL offer direct return flights from all corners of the UK to Krakow for very affordable prices year round.
1. London, UK
No need to leave the UK because this summer ‘The greatest show on earth’ is bringing the world to our shores, The Olympic Games.
You don’t even need to watch any of the sporting greats to enjoy the Olympic experience, the atmosphere around the city will be unique, electric and a once in a life-time opportunity to feel the essence of this truly incredible event.
Public transport will be the only way of travelling during the Olympics. So book your tickets early for unbeatable prices to travel by train, direct to London with National Rail.
Whichever destination you are looking at visiting, cheap accommodation of all types can be found on the following websites:
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