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Christmas Outside the Capital: Your Guide to Budget-Friendly European Destinations

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Christmas Outside the Capital: Your Guide to Budget-Friendly European Destinations
written by
Sherif Khairy

Have you ever wanted to visit Europe? Perhaps you have a week or so off for Christmas, or perhaps you’re looking for a cool place to spend a memorable winter honeymoon. In all cases, whatever your purpose of travelling is, we’ve compiled a list of eight of the most captivating European cities that will not break the bank.

Palermo, Italy

When you think of Italy, you instantly imagine Milan and Rome, but that’s a gross misunderstanding of the beauty of Italy. Palermo is a city in Sicily, an area of Italy that is filled to the brim with beautiful islands and ancient buildings. History is magnified at every corner in Palermo, given with the mix of Byzantine, North African, and European architecture clashing with the randomness of street markets around Baroque churches.

Paphos, Cyprus

Cyprus is one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, and Paphos is one of its most stunning cities. This modern city is built around the ancient ruins of tombs. History buffs can enjoy tours of tombs, fortresses, and old theatres. You can also hike up the Troodos Mountains. Not to mention the beautiful churches, with 10 being granted World Heritage status. For a relaxing time, head back to the city for some of the best seafood in the world.

Maribor, Slovenia

While Slovenia may not pop up in your head when thinking of a European destination, it’s actually quite a lovely country. The architecture of Maribor blends beautifully with the Drava River, instantly sending chilling vibes through your spine and giving you a new sense of peace of mind. Maribor is a relatively quiet city, and it’s perfect for a romantic getaway or a break from the stress of urban life.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This is the perfect place for history buffs with an interest in war. Sarajevo has seen too much of war in its earlier years, but the reconstructed city is now home to a lot of historical sites. The mix of Ottoman, Slavic, and Austro-Hungarian styles of architecture blends in perfectly with the war-ridden areas. You can visit the Tunnel Museum to learn about what the Serbian forces did in the city between 1992 and 1996. There are many other museums in town, all with a similar style.

Wroclaw, Poland

Poland has become somewhat of a destination in recent years, which may make its prime city, Krakow, a bit more expensive. However, you can head over to Wroclaw for a more reasonably-priced Polish experience. The Market Square is a must-visit when going to Wroclaw, thanks to the delightful buildings and the Gothic Old Town Hall, and you can also enjoy shows at the Wroclaw Opera or National Puppet Theatre amongst other venues. It’s quite a modern and lively city, included in the Mercer Top 100 Most Liveable Cities list, while maintaining a base of historical buildings such as the oldest restaurant, Piwnica Świdnicka, established in 1275.

Girona, Spain

Barcelona and Madrid are not the only destinations in Spain, Girona offers a more affordable, yet equally satisfying experience. It’s just one hour by bus from Barcelona, so you could do well saving on accommodation by staying there. But you should definitely spend time in Girona itself. Built around four rivers, this city also has a lot of buildings on the sides of the Hill of the Capuchins. Enjoy the natural views of the area, and don’t forget to visit El Call, an old Jewish ghetto (established in 1100) housing one of the most significant Kabbalistic schools in Europe. But of course, the Rambla de la Llibertat is a must-see, taking a long stroll beside the banks of River Onyar cannot be missed.

Leipzig, Germany

While Germany may not be considered one of the top countries in Europe when it comes to tourism, Leipzig is actually booming in recent times, and is being labelled as the New Berlin. Classical music enthusiasts will love its connection to Bach and Wagner among other musicians, while the Zeitgeschichtliches Forum is a museum that you simply cannot miss. There’s not much to see in Leipzig beyond two or three days, but the stay itself is still quite entertaining.

Vilnius, Lithuania

Formerly a part of the Soviet Union, Vilnius holds a number of historical places such as the former KGB Headquarters, currently a museum. There are a whole lot of places to see in Vilnius, such as the Cathedral Square, and the Old Town which is considered as a World Heritage site. Not to mention, the stunning Gediminas’ Castle with views of the Old Town.