- London is the best European destination for a budget holiday. The English capital has more free attractions, tours and events than either Paris or Berlin.
- Edinburgh ranks 19th, while Dublin ranks 12th and Cardiff did not feature.
- Paris ranks second overall, and first for free accommodation, with more than 200,000 options.
A leading booking platform for travel by train, bus and plane, has released a ranking of Europe’s most budget-friendly cities to visit. The findings highlight the destinations with the most free activities and amenities on offer, helping savvy travellers budget their itineraries ahead of schedule.
The 38 European cities selected for the study by Omio* have the highest number of arrivals every year. The cities were ranked according to the number of free attractions, tours, events, Wi-Fi hotspots, accommodation, and drinkable tap water.
The findings reveal that even some of the world’s most expensive cities to live in have a surprising number of things to do that don’t cost a penny.
Accommodation tends to be the biggest expense when booking a holiday.
While hostels offer an affordable alternative, couch surfing provides holidaymakers with free accommodation and the chance to learn about city life from a local. Across the 38 cities included in the ranking, almost two million hosts are offering their hospitality for free on the CouchSurfing platform.
Naturally, Europe’s major capitals and cultural hubs have the most to do. Amsterdam has more than 1,000 free attractions, tours and events, and Berlin has in excess of 540 free attractions alone.
For those committed to exploring Europe on a shoestring, this list of budget-friendly destinations gives savvy travellers an idea of where best to start.
The Top 10 Budget-Friendly City Break Destinations
|Rank||Destination||Free Attractions||Free Tours||Free Events||Free Accommodation||Total Score|
Complete results for the ranking are available here.
- Free Wifi – London ranks first,with twice as many hotspots as Paris.
- Free events – London ranks first with 980, while Berlin has just 277.
- Free tours – Madrid ranks first with 55 and Lisbon second with 52.
- Free attractions – Edinburgh has 49, almost twice as many as Hamburg.
- Free accommodation – Rome ranks 10th for this factor, with more than 58,000 options; Barcelona ranks ninth, with more than 74,000.
- For free drinking water – among the cities that don’t have drinkable tap water are: Istanbul, Rhodes, Athens, Moscow and St Petersburg.
The number of free attractions available in each city all year round, including museums, galleries, street art events, religious buildings, and castles. Source: TripAdvisor
Free events:Omio researched the number of free events available in each city using Eventbrite and selecting ‘free’ on the ‘price’ filter for its search and calculating the sum of the results. The free events included all types. Source: Eventbrite
Free water: The cities with drinkable tap water, represented in the data with 0 indicating ‘no’ and 1 indicating ‘yes’.
Free tours:The number of free tours available in each city. Source: Freetour.com
Free Wi-Fi: The number of free Wi-Fi hotspots available in each city. Source: Wiman
Free accommodation: The number of people advertising their hospitality for free in each city. Source: Couchsurfing
All the factors in the ranking were weighted equally. Each factor was standardised using a scale of 0-1 and an average applied. The final result was standardised from 0- 100, with 0 the lowest score, and 100 the highest. The research was conducted in June 2019.
*Omio partners with more than 800 European transport operators, providing customers with more choice, transparent pricing and easier booking, it claims. Omio allows travellers to search for any location, including cities, towns and villages, showing the best possible transport combinations while eliminating the need to visit multiple websites to plan an entire trip. The travel startup, founded in 2013, changed its name from GoEuro to Omio early this year (2019).