Cheap city breaks from Gatwick Airport

Summer’s just a distant memory and the expense of Christmas is looming… no chance of a cheeky weekend away, then? Wrong! Here’s the information – and the excuse you need – to book cheap city breaks from Gatwick Airport.

Five budget city breaks in Europe

Check out our guide to the top five budget destinations for your autumn 2014 mini–break that won’t break the pre-Christmas bank. We look at living costs, accommodation, flights and what you can do for free when you get there.

BUDAPEST: Total £446.17

The Chain Bridge, Budapest: image credit

The Chain Bridge makes a great, free evening out in Budapest: image credit


Click here to reveal the full price list for a weekend in Budapest

Cup of coffee: £1.20
Bottle of beer:£1.63
Can of cola: £1.08
Glass of wine: £0.99
Three course evening meal for two – including a bottle of wine: £25.33
48-hour travel card: £9.92
Sightseeing bus tour: £15.03
Accommodation for two adults for two nights in 3-star city centre hotel: £45.00
Return flights for two adults from Gatwick: £346
TOTAL: £446.17


All about Budapest: The Hungarian capital will suit anyone looking for a lively weekend break that demands a pulsating night life. However, those with a more mature taste in entertainment will be able to indulge themselves in the city’s world-class classical music scene. A beautiful something-for-everyone city, its scenic setting and architecture has earned it the nickname of ‘Paris of the East’. It’s also on the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.

Things to do for free in Budapest: Cut your expenditure even further with our list of what to do for free in Budapest…

Walk across the Chain Bridge: Enjoy stunning views of the city from the country’s most iconic bridge. It also featured in the 2002 movie I Spy and in Katy Perry’s music video for hit song Firework.

Take a free walking tour: There’s no better way to see the best bits of a city than by taking a walking tour – and they’re even better when free. Choose from various themes at this free walking tours website. Free guided walking tours of Budapest.

Walk to the summit of Gellert Hill: Take a couple of hours to climb this historic hill that rises above Budapest from the banks of the Danube. Apart from the cultural value of the hill, it’s the number one location to grab the best panoramas of this stunning city.

Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica: This is the largest church in Budapest and it’s also free to enter, with a nominal fee of HUF 500 (around £1.30) to enter the dome’s observation deck for more awe-inspiring views over the Budapest cityscape.

Go for a jog on Margaret Island: If you’re a runner, then head to the beautiful Margaret Island where you’ll find a rubber-coated jogging track that runs 3.3miles around the island. You might also get lucky and see one of the outdoor concerts at the island’s open-air theatre.

Where to stay…

EasyHotel Budapest Oktogon
Budapest, Eötvös utca 25/a, 1067 Hungary
How much: £24.00per night  (based on our sample weekend at the end of October)

See more budget hotels in Budapest here

Prices from the Post Office Travel Money Report 2014 . Prices include accommodation and prices for single servings of food and drink. Flights based on return services leaving from Gatwick Airport on Friday, October 31 returning Saturday, November 2.

LISBON: Total £509.59

Hire a bike for free and cycle along the stunning coastal path from nearby Cascais: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Praia_do_Guincho.JPG" target="_new">image credit</a>

Hire a bike for free and cycle along the stunning coastal path from nearby Cascais: image credit


Click here to reveal the full price list for a weekend in Lisbon

Cup of coffee: £0.60
Bottle of beer:£1.12
Can of cola: £1.20
Glass of wine: £2.58
Three course evening meal for two – including a bottle of wine: £34.42
48-hour travel card: £10.76
Sightseeing bus tour: £12.91
Accommodation for two adults for two nights in 3-star city centre hotel: £66.00
Return flights for two adults from Gatwick: £380.00
TOTAL: £509.59


All about Lisbon: It’s one of Europe’s forgotten cities and with so much to see and do, your city break won’t suffer any awkward pauses while you’re left scratching around for ideas. It’s located on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, with its rich maritime history evident as a high-profile theme in many of the city’s museums. Enjoy the mild winter climate as you explore the intimate alleyways and immerse yourself in the city’s easy-going charm. Whatever the time of year, Lisbon makes a great choice for budget-savvy city-breakers. Flying time is around 2hr 40mins, with October one of the cheapest month for flights.

Things to do for free in Lisbon: Cut your expenditure even further with our top activities to do for free in Lisbon…

A-list art for free: If you’re an art fan, or want to see what the fuss is all about, you can check out works from greats such as Picasso, Dalí, Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon at the Colecção Berardo. It’s completely free. Find out more details here.

Walk the Rue Augusta: This is the main pedestrianised shopping street that connects the Rossio Square with the riverfront. It’s the perfect place to watch the world go by and enjoy the buskers, street performers and artists.

Free tickets to top attractions: Most of the city’s premier-league attractions can be pricey affairs, but many also have one morning a week when it’s free to enter. Give up your Sunday morning lie-in and take in some of the big-hitters for free ahead of your flight home. Get some gratis sightseeing at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo tile museum, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, the Torre de Belém and the art collection of the Museu Gulbenkian.

Hit the beach: Some of the country’s best beaches are just a short train ride from Lisbon, so invest a few pounds on train travel and enjoy a day of walking, paddling and picnicking on stunning beaches. Surfers might like to head to Caparica where the breakers never fail to disappoint.

Free walking tours: Come rain, shine or storm, these free guided walking tours will introduce you to a Lisbon that you won’t find in most guide books. Discover the real feel of the city from a local expert who knows. No need for reservations just show up, bring water, a snack and good walking shoes. Get more details here.

Free bike hire in Cascais: Take a one-hour train trip along the coast to the historic fishing port of Cascais (return will cost just £3.30approx for adults)  and head across the road from the station where you can hire a bike for free. There are plenty of other outlets where you can grab a free ride if all the machines are taken at the station. Once in the saddle, you can head off along the coastal cycle path that makes for a great afternoon or evening trip. Just remember to take your passport or similar form of ID for hiring the bike.

Where to stay…

Pensao Praca da Figueira
Travessa Nova de Sao Domingos, 9, 3 | Baixa, Lisbon 1100, Portugal
How much: £24.00per night  (based on our sample weekend at the end of October)

See more budget hotels in Lisbon here.

Prices from the Post Office Travel Money Report 2014 . Prices include accommodation and prices for single servings of food and drink. Flights based on return services leaving from Gatwick Airport on Friday, October 31 returning Saturday, November 2.

AMSTERDAM: Total £544.80

Take a free curise of gratis trip to the EYE film museum: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EYE_Filmmuseum.jpg" target="_new">image credit</a>

Take a free cruise or gratis trip to the EYE film museum: image credit


Click here to reveal the full price list for a weekend in Amsterdam

Cup of coffee: £2.58
Bottle of beer:£2.58
Can of cola: £2.32
Glass of wine: £3.44
Three course evening meal for two – including a bottle of wine: £51.64
48-hour travel card: £10.33
Sightseeing bus tour: £12.91
Accommodation for two adults for two nights in 3-star city centre hotel: £107.00
Return flights for two adults from Gatwick: £352.00
TOTAL: £544.80


All about Amsterdam: Forget preconceptions; Amsterdam is a city that’s built for weekends to remember. From walks along endless canals to trams and tulips, it has all the ingredients of a truly special weekend without the need to brutally assault your savings. Step away from the brash central strip of Damrak, and a five-minute walk will take you to the city’s myriad canals. The hustle and bustle of the city centre will melt away into a tranquil stroll exploring the maze of waterways and bridges. Alternatively, enjoy this beautiful city by traversing the waterways on a hired tandem. As evening arrives, adventurous couples can inhale the exhilarating atmosphere of the city’s iconic red light district, followed by a meal and drinks in one of the old centre’s restaurants or bars. Those who want a more relaxed evening should head for the canal area’s wide selection of eateries.

Things to do for free in Amsterdam: Cut your expenditure even further with our top activities to do for free in Amsterdam…

The EYE film museum: While some events at the EYE film museum will require the exchange of cash for tickets, the basement offers a permanent exhibition that’s free to all. Immerse yourself in 100 movie clips and scenes in the Panorama room, while you can also use grab one of the popular viewing pods – futuristically devised spaces that contain a sofa – and watch a film. The stunning building’s bar and restaurant also offer impressive views over the IJ (pronounced ‘eye’) waterfront towards the city’s Central station.

Take a free boat trip: While traditional river tours of Amsterdam are anything but free, free-style city-breakers can jump on the gratis ferry service that works the IJ, Amsterdam waterfront and enjoy the best views of the city for nowt. There are three routes, but for the best and longest free ‘river tour’ take the ‘NDSM Werf’. Once landed, why not explore Amsterdam-Noord – the borough situated north of the IJ lake – where you can hire a bike (usually around £8.00 for the day) to explore the area’s historic villages or head to the NDSM Wharf, where the regenerated shipyard has become a centre for culture and creativity.

Free Classical Lunch Concert at Concertgebouw on Wednesdays: On Wednesdays from mid-September through to June you can take in a free concert in the Concertgebouw on Museum Square. The free Lunch Concerts take place at 12.30 with 30-minute public performances as musicians rehearse for ‘official’ shows in the evening. Lunch concerts vary from public rehearsals of the Royal Concert Building Orchestra, considered one of the best orchestras in the world, to performances of ensembles of the Dutch Conservatory and chamber music by young talents.

Cat Boat (Poezenboot): If you’re a cat lover then you really should make a visit to the ‘poezenboot’, a sanctuary for cats on an Amsterdam houseboat. Entrance is free although donations are welcome. Open Mon-Tue, Thu-Sat – 1pm-3pm.

Free Amsterdam walking tour: Hosted by guides who work on a tip-only basis. Walks leave at 11:15am and 1:15 pm from the National Monument at Dam Square. A great, free way to discover Amsterdam and learn about its rich history. Find out more here.

Where to stay…

Qbic Hotel Amsterdam WTC
Mathijs Vermeulenpad 1, 1077 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
How much: £87.00per night  (based on our sample weekend at the end of October)

See more budget hotels in Amsterdam here.

Prices from the Post Office Travel Money Report 2014 . Prices include accommodation and prices for single servings of food and drink. Flights based on return services leaving from Gatwick Airport on Friday, October 31 returning Saturday, November 2.

VIENNA: Total £611.45

Visit Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace gardens for free: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Schloss_Sch%C3%B6nbrunn_Wien_2014_(Zuschnitt_2).jpg" target="_new">image credit</a>

Visit Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace gardens for free: image credit


Click here to reveal the full price list for a weekend in Vienna

Cup of coffee: £2.50
Bottle of beer:£2.50
Can of cola: £2.50
Glass of wine: £2.41
Three course evening meal for two – including a bottle of wine: £45.96
48-hour travel card: £10.07
Sightseeing bus tour: £21.51
Accommodation for two adults for two nights in 3-star city centre hotel: £118.00
Return flights for two adults from Gatwick: £406.00
TOTAL: £611.45


All about Vienna: It’s an oft-ignored destination for budget-focussed city-breakers, but cast it aside at your peril. Vienna is a city that exudes an intoxicating charm that will entrance travellers from the moment they set foot on its streets. Immerse yourself in the musical and cultural cool, or simply join the city’s popular café culture and watch a day in this fascinating city evolve before your eyes. There are also plenty of bars, galleries, shops and atmospheric street markets for those who want to step into the performance that’s playing before them.

Things to do for free in Vienna: Cut your expenditure even further with our top activities to do for free in Vienna…

Royalty free: Not a phrase that’s common with anyone who’s ever attempted to book a tour of Buck House, but unlike our own cash-hungry Royal estates, it seems having a nose around Vienna’s most famous palaces can be achieved for free. While the palace buildings command an entrance fee, the gardens are open to the public. Schönbrunn Palace’s grounds should top your list, with jaw-dropping views across the city and ornate fountains, it makes a great, gratis way to spend the day. Belvedere Palace is not as large or grand as Schönbrunn, but still worth a visit for its art installations and the beauty of the gardens.

Zentralfriedhof cemetery: The city’s central cemetery is not only one of the largest and most impressive in the world, but it also houses some of Vienna’s finest residents. Take in the stunning architecture of its memorials and pay your respects to the likes of Beethoven Brahms, Schubert, and Strauss. A must-visit destination for thrifty atmosphere-junkies and classical music groupies, alike.

Visit museums: Many of these institutions charge admission fees that put them out reach for budget-conscious travellers, but Vienna offers a good selection of permanently free museums. Here’s where to head:

Geldmuseum – operated by the Austrian National Bank, it covers evolution of the monetary system.
Kunsthalle am Karlsplatz – temporary exhibitions of contemporary international art.
Bezirksmuseen – a local history museum
MUSA – City of Vienna’s art exhibition space.

Opera for a pittance: Savvy travellers who want a large slice of Viennese culture can grab a ticket to the city’s 19th-Century concert halls for a fraction of the usual price – which can approach £200. Simply turn up at the chosen venue 90 minutes before the gig starts and secure one of the plentiful standing-only tickets for €3.00-€4.00 – that’s around £2.30, which pretty much counts as free in our book.

Download a free walking tour: Print a copy and take a tour of Vienna’s historic city centre. The tour will take you from the State Opera House to the Museum Quarter with plenty of culture along the way. It’s a 1.6-mile walk and should take around 60mins – or 4-5 hours if you take in the attractions – which won’t be for free. Download  here.

Where to stay…

Motel One Wien Westbahnhof
Europaplatz 3, Vienna 1150,
Austria

How much: £70.00per night  (based on our sample weekend at the end of October)

See more budget hotels in Vienna here.

Prices from the Post Office Travel Money Report 2014 . Prices include accommodation and prices for single servings of food and drink. Flights based on return services leaving from Gatwick Airport on Friday, October 31 returning Saturday, November 2.

BERLIN: Total: £655.20

Enjoy free art, theatre and dance at the Kunstquartier Bethanien Arts Centre: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlin-kreuzberg_bethanien_20050420_p1020601.jpg" target="_new">image credit</a>

Enjoy free art, theatre and dance at the Kunstquartier Bethanien Arts Centre: image credit


Click here to reveal the full price list for a weekend in Berlin

Cup of coffee: £1.81
Bottle of beer:£2.58
Can of cola: £2.41
Glass of wine: £4.31
Three course evening meal for two – including a bottle of wine: £57.66
48-hour travel card: £11.53
Sightseeing bus tour: £12.91
Accommodation for two adults for two nights in 3-star city centre hotel: £118.00
Return flights for two adults from Gatwick: £444.00
TOTAL: £655.20


All about Berlin: Forget its divided history, city-breakers with a passion for culture will be drawn to the unique atmosphere of this iconic German city. Head to the Kreuzberg neighbourhood to see just how the city has been transformed since the wall came tumbling down. The district has a sophisticated, yet avant-garde feel and is a centre of many modern creative industries. Rent bikes to take in the sights, or simply enjoy the many bars and cafes that open late into the night. For that stand-out event of your trip, head to the Solar Sky Bar – a 16th floor restaurant and bar – which offers stunning vistas of this fascinating city. Finally, why not enjoy an atmospheric stroll around the beautiful Schlachtensee Lake in nearby Charlottenburg – where locals often skate on the glistening winter ice.

Things to do for free in Berlin: Cut your expenditure even further with our top activities to do for free in Berlin…

Be a rock star: Well almost. Head to the outdoor Mauerpark Karaoke where you can take to the stage and sing in front of up to 1000 people. If stage fright gets the better of you, then simply join the crowd and watch your very own free version of the X Factor – where you’re the judge. It takes place every Sunday between 3.00pm and 8.00pm. Find it at Bernauer Strasse 63-64.

Climb Kreuzberg Hill for a Berlin photo op: Berlin is pretty much flat, so climbing the Kreuzberg Hill gives you the perfect panorama across of city. Don’t forget to check out the man-made waterfall, too.

Free art at Kunstquartier Bethanien: The gallery is housed in an impressive regal building that was once a hospital – and serves as the epicentre of Berlin’s alternative art scene. Check out the free exhibitions, theatre and dance that’s on offer. It’s surrounded by a picturesque park for a post-art picnic, too.

Discover an abandoned amusement park at Spreepark Berlin: Check the crumbling remains of this socialist-era amusement park in the grounds of Spreepark. Operational from 1969-2001, lack of parking saw visitor number dwindle and send it in to insolvency. The area was abandoned and left to decay. You’re banned from entering it on safety grounds, but wandering around the fences gives great views of dinosaurs, weird creatures, pieces of fairground rides and a Ferris wheel. Fire damaged much of the park in August 2014. Perfect for the photographer who has a penchant for atmospheric black and white works, we’d say.

Nazi regime at Topography of Terror: Find out what is was like to live with the police and state abuse that took place under the Nazi regime in Germany. Those with an interest in social history will gain plenty from a visit to the Topography of Terror. The museum itself is housed in a new structure built on the site of original buildings used as headquarters for the Gestapo and SS – these were destroyed by allied bombing in the war. You can also see parts of the original Berlin wall that still stand in the area, along with excavated Gestapo cells. Opening hours are from 10.00am – 8.00pm and you can find it at Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin, Germany.

Alternative free walking tour: Get off the beaten track and see Berlin through the eyes of a local – for free. The daily walk takes place from 11.00am to 1.00pm and meets at the Alexanderplatz next to the TV Tower. Tipping is optional.

Where to stay…

Berlin Plaza Hotel
Knesebeckstrasse 63 | Kurfuerstendamm, 10719 Berlin, Germany
How much: £54.00per night  (based on our sample weekend at the end of October)

See more budget hotels in Berlin here.

Prices from the Post Office Travel Money Report 2014 . Prices include accommodation and prices for single servings of food and drink. Flights based on return services leaving from Gatwick Airport on Friday, October 31 returning Saturday, November 2.

Don’t throw away your savings…

Save cash on hire cars and a whole lot more

Save cash on hire cars and a whole lot more

You’ve researched your trip to get the best deal on flights, accommodation and activities to do for free, so don’t throw the savings away by making schoolboy errors on those holiday essentials that can seriously devour your budget.

Airport parking: Neglecting to book your parking before you travel can result in paying £75.00 for your three-day trip if you have to use Gatwick’s short-stay car park. However, planning ahead and booking the same duration with APH will cost just £20.60. Book your parking here to keep the savings coming.

Hire car: If you need to hire a car, you might want to follow our guide to avoiding hidden extras that can sting you for £100s. Find our guide here.

Food: Don’t pay for expensive meals on the plane, simply take some snacks with you. Check out our emergency shopping guide at Gatwick Airport for food and much more.

Free Wi-Fi: Don’t throw away savings by incurring huge data bills as you upload your snaps to Facebook and the like, make sure you download a free Wi-Fi hunting app to your smartphone before travelling.
Free Wi-Fi Finder for Apple devices
Free Wi-Fi Finder for Android devices

Save cash with the kids: Looking for a cheap short break for the kids? Head to a European theme park. Swerve Disney and get some great deals for autumn and early winter when parks are less busy – and slash prices. See our guide to Disneyland alternatives for inspiration.

Holiday money: Don’t forget to sort your currency well in advance of travelling. Ordering it online through operators such as Travelex can save you up to 6% on walk-up rates.

Packing: Don’t pay hefty charges for suitcases on budget airlines. Remember, you’re just going away for a few days. Pack realistically and you should be able to fit all you need in your hand luggage. More savings.

Consider an airport lounge: Are we crazy? No, arriving early for a flight can cost you untold amounts of cash spent on snacks, drinks. meals and entertainment – whereas booking into a lounge – which can cost from as little as £16.00 – gives you all this stuff for free. You also get a stress-free start to your trip. Read our guide to the art of lounging at Gatwick Airport.

Enjoy your trip – your bank balance will!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestTumblrLinkedInMySpaceEmail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *