Want a getaway without breaking the bank? Conor Pope pinches some pennies while finding the best destinations, how to get there and what to do
What if you were to pick your holiday destination based purely on price? What if money was the sole object as opposed to no object? Where could you end up? There are rock- bottom deals to be found in places that have been blighted by terror attacks and natural disasters – and we have even come across one person in recent days who extolled the virtues of a cheap- as- chips trip to the shadow of Chernobyl where – he boasted – he was able to buy vodka for two cent a shot.
But travelling to places where prices have fallen because the risk to tourists is deemed too high seems foolhardy, while a trip to a region laid waste by the worst nuclear accident in history is just foolish.
So what places would you go i f you planned your holiday or city break around destinations you knew to be cheap for more benign reasons than terror or catastrophe? How would you get there? And would you have a good time? Is it really possible to spend less than 50 quid a day on your holliers and still live the life of Reilly?
These are the questions we asked and then tried to answer with the help of price comparison websites such as expatistan. com, priceoftravel. com, numbeo. com, the British Post Office – weirdly – and the Economist Intelligence Unit as well as hotel booking platforms, Airbnb and flight search engines.
But while money is important, it is not everything and life is short – who wants to spend two weeks staying in a sweat box overlooking the equivalent of the M50? With that in mind, we steered clear of places we’ve been told are cheap but excessively grim and while some people did raise an eyebrow at our inclusion of Kiev, we reckon what it lacks in beauty and charm, it makes up for in novelty and value for money.
Multiple surveys over recent years have ranked the Ukrainian capital as the cheapest major destination in Europe. The website priceoftravel. com totted up the cost of one night in a cheap Kiev hotel, two trips on public transport, a visit to a paid attraction, breakfast, lunch and dinner and three local beers and declared that a person could get by on just ¤ 20 a day. And the good news for the budget conscious is that Ryanair will make the city infinitely more accessible with the opening of 10 new routes to Kiev from October.
While there are no direct flights from Dublin, anyone anxious to experience the delights of the east will be able to fly via Stansted and with a return flight from London in November – excluding extras – costing just over ¤ 55, to which we would have to add the cost of getting to Stansted, meaning we could get a winter week there for less than ¤ 200.
Poland’s second city is widely recognised as its first when it comes to beauty, with ancient squares and rambling markets to keep the tourist busy. It is also close to Aus- chwitz which, for many, will be the most memorable part of any such trip. The area is not only beautiful and challenging in equal measure, it is also one of the cheapest cities in Europe, and a decent hotel can be found for about ¤ 45 a night. A meal for two will cost less than ¤ 40, while a glass of wine or beer will come in at under ¤ 2. The cost of a sightseeing tour bus – if that’s your thing – is about ¤ 14. Ryanair flies from Dublin to Kraków with return flights in May available for not much more than ¤ 200.
Poland’s second city is widely recognised as its first when it comes to beauty, with ancient squares and rambling markets to keep the tourist busy
Another city to the east where real bargains are to be found when it comes to food, drink, accommodation, bath houses, and
random devilment, as long as you veer ever so slightly away from the very well- worn tourist trail – and avoid all the tiresome stag parties. A combo meal in a well- known fast- food restaurant will cost ¤ 4, but why would you bother when you can get a much better meal for two in a decent restaurant for about ¤ 35, a price which includes a bottle of wine.
Decent- looking Airbnb accommodation for two in the old part of the city is less than ¤ 30 a night, while a return flight from Dublin with Ryanair in June was available for just under ¤ 190 when we priced it. That could see us having a Hungary week for two covering flights, accommodation food, drink and entertainment for about ¤ 800.
How do you fancy staying for five days in a suite in a fairly high- end beach resort for less than ¤ 100 and eating four- course meals in decent restaurants for ¤ 22 per person, a price which includes a substantial amount of beer? If that sounds good, than Sri Lanka is the place for you. While inflation has seen prices climb significantly in recent years, it still represents great value for money and expatistan. com puts the price of dinner for two in a local restaurant at ¤ 17, while a cocktail in a club will set you back less than ¤ 4. A local beer can be bought for less than ¤ 1.
On booking. com, seven nights i n four- star beachside hotels in September were coming in at less than ¤ 500, while dropping down a star or two saw prices fall to less than ¤ 200 in some instances. Return flights via Dubai with Emirates were available last week for ¤ 750 – so two people could travel somewhere wonderfully exotic and live like royalty for a week and still have change out of ¤ 2,000.
Kraków: Poland’s second city is widely recognised as its first when it comes to beauty, with ancient squares and rambling markets. PHOTOGRAPH: ISTOCK
Dondra Head, near Matara, Sri Lanka: five days in a suite in a fairly high- end beach resort costs less than ¤ 100. PHOTOGRAPH: ISTOCK