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Europe on a Shoestring: Budget-Friendly City Breaks

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A comprehensive analysis by Omio reveals the top 38 European destinations for budget travelers

  • London, United Kingdom, is the best European city for a budget holiday. The UK capital has 980 free events.
  • Paris, France, ranks second overall, and first for free accommodation, with over 200,000 options.
  • Florence, Italy, ranks 24th, with 88 free attractions, tours, and events.

Berlin, Germany: 27th August 2019 – Omio, Europe’s leading booking platform for travel by train, bus and flight, has released a ranking of Europe’s most budget-friendly cities to visit. The findings highlight the destinations with the most free activities and amenities on offer, helping savvy travellers budget their itineraries ahead of schedule.

The 38 European cities selected for the study have the highest numbers arrivals every year[1]. The cities were ranked according to the number of free attractions, tours, events, Wi-Fi hotspots, accommodation, and drinkable tap water. The findings reveal that even some of the world’s most expensive cities to live in have a surprising number of things to do that don’t cost a dollar.

Accommodation tends to be the biggest expense when booking a holiday. While hostels offer an affordable alternative, couch surfing provides holiday-makers with free accommodation and the chance to learn about city life from a local. Across the 38 cities included in the ranking, almost two million hosts are offering their hospitality for free on the CouchSurfing platform.

Naturally, Europe’s major capitals and cultural hubs have the most to do. Amsterdam boasts over 1,000 free attractions, tours and events, and Berlin has over 540 free attractions alone. For those committed to exploring Europe on a shoestring, this list of budget-friendly destinations gives savvy travelers an idea of where best to start.

 

The Top 10 Budget-Friendly City Break Destinations

Rank
Destination
Free Attractions
Free Tours
Free Events
Free Accommodation
Total Score
1
London
United Kingdom
275
14
980
175,990
100,00
2
Paris
France
283
27
686
205,926
92,11
3
Berlin
Germany
543
22
277
112,094
72,47
4
Madrid
Spain
85
55
272
86,413
66,75
5
Amsterdam
Netherlands
407
12
649
39,727
64,97
6
Milan
Italy
324
10
646
46,070
63,93
7
Barcelona
Spain
117
16
771
74,234
62,71
8
Lisbon
Portugal
188
52
95
21,014
55,43
9
Rome
Italy
224
9
267
58,306
53,17
10
Krakow
Poland
409
22
2
37,786
51,32

Complete results for the ranking are available here, along with a list of free events for September.

 

Further findings

  • The major European capitals: London, UK; Paris, France; Berlin, Germany; and Madrid, Spain, unsurprisingly rank first to fourth place respectively.
  • Free Wifi –  London, United Kingdom, ranks first for this factor, with twice as many hotspots as Paris, France.
  • Free events – Venice, Italy, third in the ranking of Italian cities and 17th in Europe, has 431: more than Rome, Italy, and Florence, Italy.
  • Free events – London, United Kingdom, ranks first with 980, and Barcelona, Spain, ranks second with 771.
  • Free attractions – Berlin, Germany, has 543, the most in the ranking, and almost twice as many as Paris, France.
  • Free drinking water – the cities that don’t have drinkable tap water are: Istanbul, Antalya, Edirne, Artvin, Rhodes, Athens, Heraklion, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Methodology

The cities with the highest number of arrivals according to an average of arrival numbers from the 2017 Euromonitor report and 2016 MasterCard report. Sources: Euromonitor 2017 and MasterCard 2016

 Ranking Criteria

  • Free attractions

The number of free attractions available in each city all year round, including museums, galleries, street art events, religious buildings, and castles. Source: TripAdvisor

  • Free events

We researched the number of free events available in each city using Eventbrite and selecting ‘Free’ on the ‘Price’ filter for our search and calculating the sum of the results. The free events included all types of events. Source: Eventbrite

  • Free water

The cities with drinkable tap water, represented in the data with 0 indicating ‘no’ and 1 indicating ‘yes’.

  • Free tours

The number of free tours available in each city. Source: Freetour.com

  • Free Wi-Fi

The number of free Wi-Fi hotspots available in each city. Source: Wiman

  • Free accommodation

The number of people advertising their hospitality for free in each city. Source: Couchsurfing

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