With the dollar still performing relatively well against major European currencies, it’s a good time to take a trip across the pond. While the destinations in Western Europe rely on the current relative strength of the dollar, those in the east have historically been, and still remain, a great value for travelers from the U.S. So, if you’re looking to visit Europe this summer without breaking the bank, here are five cities where your dollar will stretch the furthest.
1. Palermo, Italy
Unlike northern Italy, the south -- and particularly Sicily -- offers a far more affordable version of that dream Italian vacation. Did you know that Palermo is currently Italy’s 2018 Capital of Culture? In addition to historic churches, cathedrals, chapels and old squares, Palermo is also something of a street food mecca. Touring the city’s outdoor trattorias (where you can sample local favorites like friggitorie and arancini), wine bars, and hole-in-the-wall spritz bars are a neat way to experience the city like a true Sicilian. Plus, you’ll make your money stretch further without paying restaurant prices. Home to some of the best wine in Italy, Palermo is a great place to eat and drink well in Italy while on a budget.
2. Budapest, Hungary
No secret among Europeans, Budapest is a destination whose popularity has grown exponentially over the last few years. That said, it remains a place where your money will go far. The Hungarian capital has some appealing numbers for U.S. visitors who are swapping dollars for forint. For instance, a beer will cost under $2, a four-pearl hotel like the Hotel President will set you back around $120 a night, and a three-course meal will likely to run around $35 per person, even in a modestly swanky joint. Aside from hanging out in the city’s ruin pubs (the derelict -- often extravagantly decorated -- buildings that double bars), Budapest’s other popular pastime is basking in the spas and outdoor thermal pools, making it a great spot for an affordable wellness break, too.
3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
While destinations on Italy’s Amalfi Coast rapidly swallow up your spending money, Dubrovnik presents a beautiful alternative with its similarly shimmering blue sea, shingle beach, rustic architecture, and most importantly, better bang-for-your-buck options (if you stay away from super-touristy bars and restaurants). Though it’s not the cheapest city in Croatia, it’s certainly one of the most attractive, thanks to its terra-cotta rooftops, ancient fortresses, and amazing UNESCO-protected Old Town, in addition to the wild landscapes found on the nearby mountains and islands. Prices aren’t as cheap as less popular areas on the Dalmatian Coast, but you’ll still find good value in the Croatian kuna compared to cities in the eurozone.
4. London, England
While London is by no means cheap, the relative weakness of the pound against the dollar makes it a good time to visit. (It had dipped, but the past few months have seen a rise in the dollar’s favor once again.) The pound hasn’t recovered from the Brexit vote, which caused it to plunge, and U.S. visitors can still take advantage of a favorable exchange rate (though it’s not as good as it was in 2016). That means everything from meals to hotels feel like a bargain. Rated one of the world’s most expensive cities to visit in 2016, London slipped down into the mid-20s in 2018. Currency aside, London’s free museums, plentiful parks, and varied food markets also make it more affordable. For example, a day in London could include a trip to the V&A Museum, followed by a visit to the Natural History Museum, a walk around Hyde Park, and a stop in the Serpentine Galleries -- all free. (You would only need to cover the cost of lunch and dinner.)
5. Prague, Czech Republic
From the Charles Bridge to St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle to the grand Old Town, Prague is home to some of the most dramatic architecture in all of Europe. It’s also a city where prices in Czech koruna are low enough to have you questioning the bill at every turn. A draught beer will set you back a little over a dollar and a meal for two with wine should leave you change from $30. The majority of savings will come when eating and drinking out at restaurants, as attractions like Prague Castle will still cost you a fairly middling $15.
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