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Good European Getaways


For travelers on a budget, there’s never been a better time for a trip across the pond.

“It’s easy to spend a fortune in the Turkish capital of cool.”

Istanbul, Turkey

sultan-ahmet-mosque


What to know

  • Istanbul is a treat of street eats and affordable lokantas (local restaurants)
  • Free tourist attractions and little-explored walkable neighborhoods.
  • The views of the sun setting behind the Blue Mosque

Istanbul, Turkey

It’s easy to spend a fortune in the Turkish capital of cool, where Ottoman palaces have been turned into ritzy hotels and eye-catching designer stores line the chic streets of Nisantasi. But for travelers looking to save, Istanbul is a treat of street eats and affordable lokantas (local restaurants), free tourist attractions and little-explored walkable neighborhoods. On your first morning, grab a bagel-like simit for 1TL (around 35 cents) at any street cart, then stop at a metro station for an Istanbul Kart, your key to getting around the city’s trams, buses and funiculars. Skip the expensive tourist cruises on the Bosphorus and hop a ferry from Karakoy to Kadikay on the Asian side. The views of the sun setting behind the Blue Mosque are just as magical and you can sip sweet Turkish tea and listen to the busking music troupes. Once on the Asian side, don’t miss dinner at Ciya Sofrasi, a local favorite known for its simple village fare.

“Eating out is a bargain, whether you dine at popular spots like Shemoikhede Genatsvale or try the busy Desertirebis Bazari market for classic eats.”

Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia


What to know

  • Flights to Georgia’s capital from the US are comparable to legs to other European cities
  • Feast on classic acharuli khachapuri (cheesy bread with a raw egg on top)
  • Knock back lethal chacha (homemade schnapps) with friendly locals

Tbilisi, Georgia

Although you’re technically traveling to the Asian continent, flights to Georgia’s capital from the US are comparable to legs to other European cities. Exploring leafy Tbilisi can feel like traveling back in time to 19th-century Europe, as you navigate the Parisian-style wide boulevards, feast on classic acharuli khachapuri (cheesy bread with a raw egg on top), and knock back lethal chacha (homemade schnapps) with friendly locals. International chain hotels like Radisson Blu and Marriott are well located but pricier than Tbilisi’s standout stay, Rooms Hotel, in the upscale Vera neighborhood. Make sure to hit the hotel restaurant The Kitchen for brunch; it’s worth the splurge for the seasonal New American fare and lively scene. Otherwise, eating out is a bargain, whether you dine at popular spots like Shemoikhede Genatsvale or try the busy Desertirebis Bazari market for classic eats.

“Dine at outdoor cafes where an antipasto platter and heavy pour of primitivo will fill you up for almost nothing.”

Puglia, Italy

Puglia, Italy


What to know

  • craggy Strada Provinciale 358 from Otranto to Leuca
  • go on a gelato and culture crawl from Lecca and Otranto to Martina Franca and Ostuni
  • In the summer months, join the locals on free beaches like Porto Giardino

Puglia, Italy

Your Euros will go further in Puglia than in any other tourist hotspot in Italy. Pick up a rental car (essential) at Bari or Brindisi airport and plan on a roadtrip down beautiful, craggy Strada Provinciale 358 from Otranto to Leuca. Drive through the knotted olive groves around Fasano and stop for an olive oil tasting; go on a gelato and culture crawl from Lecca and Otranto to Martina Franca and Ostuni; and snap shots of the round trulli houses in Alberobello. In the summer months, join the locals on free beaches like Porto Giardino (others are privately owned and command a small fee) and dine at outdoor cafes where an antipasto platter and heavy pour of primitivo will fill you up for almost nothing.

“Berlin has plenty of chic affordable digs.”

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany


What to know

  • pick up the Berlin City Pass, which gives you entry to more than 50 museums for three days.
  • Markthalle Neun offers a food truck eatathon

Berlin, Germany

Thank Wow Air and Norwegian Airlines for your next European jaunt: flights to Berlin from Boston and JFK are under $400 next spring, and just over $500 from LA and Florida over the same period. Once there, go gallery-hopping on Auguststrasse and pick up the Berlin City Pass, which gives you entry to more than 50 museums for three days. On Thursdays from 5 to 10 p.m., Markthalle Neun offers a food truck eatathon, where you can sample traditional German dishes, along with Thai tapioca dumplings, Mexican tacos and even Nigerian fufu. Berlin has plenty of chic affordable digs, including the Generator Hostels, and the slightly more expensive H10, Axel and art’otel.

“From the east coast just got easier, with new routes from Boston and Washington D.C. on Iceland-based airline Wow Air.”

London, UK

London, UK


What to know

  • free entry to most museums, culture centers and historic homes
  • good, cheap eats at Exmouth, Borough and Broadway markets.

London, UK

Hear us out. No, the British capital isn’t a budget destination, but if your wallet’s still recovering from the early-2000s $2 to £1 exchange rates, you should know that we’re back in the $1.50 to £1 range. Plus, getting there from the east coast just got easier, with new routes from Boston and Washington D.C. on Iceland-based airline Wow Air, and occasional bargains on direct flights from Norwegian Airlines. London has also embraced hip hostels, with a Generator Hostel opening near King’s Cross in 2014, joining popular CitizenM Bankside and Clink Hostels. Once you’re there, it’s easy to be thrifty thanks to free entry to most museums, culture centers and historic homes; gratis music events (many listed on London Ears); and good, cheap eats at Exmouth, Borough and Broadway markets.

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