We all love a good city break – don’t deny it. Escaping the confines of routine for a few days and taking off to another country to explore the sights and sounds of a different language and culture, and to walk, dine, drink (and most importantly, cycle) in a completely different environment to your own.
However, it can be expensive. Airport transfers, taxis, beers, flights, trains and accommodation can all take their toll on a travellers’ budget. Here at Cycle Cities, we right a lot about the nexus where travel, cycling, and cities come together, and we love figuring out new ways to see the sights you want to see and go the places you want to go for less of a strain on the wallet.
Hence, today I’ve been doing a little research and have come up with a little list of some of the most budget-friendly city break destinations, where you can travel to for less. The bonus: when you’re there you can do a bike tour with one of our selection of over 50 of the best bike tour operators from around the world!
So, read on for the Top 10 most budget-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network, perfect for an autumnal or winter city break, and most importantly very easy on the wallet. Unfortunately, London is not included….
10) ISTANBUL, TURKEY
This Turkish powerhouse, nestled near where Europe meets Asia, is a city full of wonder, life, and history, particularly when considering its status as the former seat of power of the hugely influential Ottoman Empire. When there, you can visit incredible showcases of the city’s magnificent architecture, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, as well as the Topkapi Palace. Bike tours are available there from Istanbul on Bike.
9) VIENNA, AUSTRIA
The Austrian capital is a regular feature on these lists, having been a part of compilations featuring the Cleanest Cities as well as the most Bicycle-Friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network, and here it pops up again due to the value for which it’s main sites can be seen and for the inexpensiveness of public travel and accommodation. For a bike tour with our partner there, Pedal Power, call their office or send them an email for dates and times that tours are departing.
8) NICE, FRANCE
This sunny coastal city in the south of France is a mesmerising beach and city break destination, with a coastline that stretches for miles and a beautiful promenade that has undoubtedly captured the hearts and minds of many over the years. While there, make sure to have a drink at one of the many traditional street-side cafes and bars, and head uphill to the top of the city’s lofty viewpoint, from which you can enjoy panoramic vistas over the city, sea, and beyond. If you don’t feel like walking, Nice Cycle Tours will take you up there and delve with you into the history of this incredible French city.
7) BERLIN, GERMANY
Germany’s uber cool capital has gained a lot of hipster points in recent years for it’s great bar and club scene, as well as its street art and underground culture. This alone is reason enough to visit the city and immerse yourself in Berlin’s history-steeped urban topography, as well as its impressive horde of classic touristic sites – the Berlin Wall, Reichstag Building, and Brandenburg Gate are to name but a few. Berlin on Bike will get you on the seat of a bicycle to take it all in.
6) TALLINN, ESTONIA
Tallinn’s cultural mix of people from all over Eastern Europe and Russia makes for a very interesting and diverse pot of people, and the city’s urban landscape is just as wonderful; with a medieval Old Town, cobbled streets, and old-fashioned squares where you can enjoy a coffee during the day or a beer in the evening with live entertainment lighting up the streets and the tricolour Estonian flag adorning the buildings, Tallinn is a must for any and every traveller. For a tour of the city’s Old Town and beyond, CityBike Tallinn has you covered.
5) PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Prague, bisected by the Danube and home to the famous Charles Bridge, is a budget-friendly city conveniently nestled in Central Europe and therefore a great place to plan a journey around. The city is known for its Jewish Quarter (including the famous Jewish Cemetery, reverent and sufficiently creepy yet more than worthy of having a peek at), the Old Town Square, the Lennon Wall (a must-see, especially for the hearty Instagrammers among us), and for being the birthplace of the legendary surrealist writer Franz Kafka. For all this and more, get in touch with Ave Travel Bike Tours.
4) ATHENS, GREECE
Athens has something for everyone – a wealth of history for fans of the Roman Empire (don’t even try to pretend that you’re not), sunshine, a low cost of living, and an array of impressive monuments and architecture typical of Ancient Greece. The Parthenon and Acropolis are not to be missed; get in touch with Athens by Bike for a tour of this Greek cornerstone and to connect with one of the oldest cities in the modern world.
3) BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Home of Yellow Zebra Bikes and the capital of Hungary, Budapest is a city to be appreciated by people of all ages and interests. From the downtown ruin bars to the majesty of Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle, Budapest is a city that you can get lost in – and you’ll be so glad you did.
2) LISBON, PORTUGAL
Portugal’s seaside capital has a wonderfully classic, yet urban feel to it’s inner landscape. Trams will get you around (when you’re not cycling) and the hilly topography is a nice departure from the traditionally flat landscape of the conventional city. Visiting the Belem Tower and Sao Jorge Castle are imperatives to get a feel for the way in which the city’s colonial architecture intersect with it’s modern feel and character; doing a bike tour with Lisbon Bike Tour is also a great way to get your feet (and your wheels!) on the ground when there.
1) RIGA, LATVIA
Our Eastern European partners have shined here, as Latvia’s capital tops the list of our most budget-friendly cities in the Cycle Cities network. Like many of its counterparts in this list, Riga is a city steeped in history, in this case having achieved their independence in 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union. Since then, it has built up a unique and distinct national identity while still retaining a tantalising flavour of the fervour and spirit that saw it through decades of oppression. It’s also really cheap, and there’s loads to do! Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog about our partners and plans in Eastern Europe, and the exciting stuff we have planned there.
What do you think of the selections here? Will they factor into your next budget-conscious trip around Europe or beyond? Were there any glaring omissions, or have your personal travel experiences contradicted (or perhaps confirmed) what I’ve written about the cities listed here?
Send your thoughts and feedback to Kiwi at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what needs to be featured in my next blog!
Until then, on yer bike!
Blogger, traveller, writer, pacifist