7 Budget-Friendly Substitutes for Europe’s Top Cities Slideshow

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Splurge: London
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Splurge: London
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There are more than enough reasons to justify a grand splurge on a trip to London. One of the most dynamic and diverting (and most expensive) cities in Europe, it boasts much-lauded restaurants, fantastic hotels, great weekend markets to stroll through, and buzzed-about shopping. And even though travelers can enter museums and gorgeous parks for free, most of these activities come at a premium. It doesn't help that the British pound is no friend of the American dollar.

Flight from JFK: $800/person
5-star hotel: $375/night
High-end restaurant: $40/entrée;
Single fare subway ride: $3-$6
Exchange rate: $1.50 to 1BPS

Credit

Veer/Achim Baqué

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Save: Brussels
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Save: Brussels
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A true melting pot of the cultures that surround it, Brussels is a small, very unique city. English, French, and Dutch are spoken throughout the city, which has a vibrant street scene with flea markets, delectable food carts, plenty of locally-made chocolates and waffles, and historic architecture. It even comes with damp weather like London! Restaurants and shopping, too, prove fantastically affordable in Brussels, with plenty of opportunities to splurge should you want to.

Flight from JFK: $670/person
5-star hotel: $225/night
High-end restaurant: $35/entre
Single fare subway ride: $2.50-$3
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Veer/Achim Baqué

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Splurge: Paris
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Splurge: Paris
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The City of Light has it all — iconic bistros, haute couture houses, a thrilling nightlife, bakeries that smell of freshly baked baguettes and pastries, and unforgettable strolls through the Jardins des Tuilleries, the Champs du Mars, and along the Seine. And while each arrondissement has cafés that may fall within savvy travelers' budgets, the costs of getting there, staying there, and enjoying it all can be high.

Flight from JFK: $900/person 5-star hotel: $400/night
High-end restaurant: $43/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $2.35
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

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Veer/Denis Pepin

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Save: Montreal
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Save: Montreal
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You may not be skipping over the Atlantic Ocean, but the charming cobblestone streets, cosmopolitan social and cultural scenes, and fantastic multinational fare of Montreal will make you feel a world away. And with historic sites like the Basilique de Notre-Dame and Old Montreal, French-speaking denizens, and a much more manageable metro system, it's not just the money you're saving that will ensure a good time. Did we mention that the exchange rate is nearly one to one?

Flight from JFK: $340/person
5-star hotel: $190/night
High-end restaurant: $30/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $3.03
Exchange rate: $1.01 to 1 Canadian Dollar

Credit

Veer/charlesknox

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Splurge: Athens
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Splurge: Athens
Description

Even with its rich history and gorgeous ruins, Athens is often a quick stop on trips more focused on island-hopping. Spending time in the city to explore the Acropolis and stop by the Parthenon is usually followed by ferries to outer islands where fresh-caught seafood, thriving nightlife, and extraordinary vistas are major draws. This obviously drives the cost of any trip up pretty quickly. The most affordable parts of a trip to Greece (beyond discounted museum entries) are some of the most delectable, like souvlaki on a street corner and an afternoon frappé.

Flight from JFK: $800/person
5-star hotel: $300/night
High-end restaurant: $34/entre
Single fare subway ride: $1.95
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Veer/kaetana

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Save: Tel Aviv
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Save: Tel Aviv
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Flights to Tel Aviv are pricier than those to Athens. But the city is much more budget-friendly once you arrive, especially because you won't need to island-hop! Dine on similar Mediterranean dishes like hummus, marinated olives, falafel, and shwarma while you gaze at the similarly vivid view of the ocean at a fraction of the cost. Tel Aviv is also quickly becoming one of the most enticing cities of the region with an array of cultural institutions, a thriving beach scene, and a serious nightlife.

Flight from JFK: $1,400/person
5-star hotel: $250/night
High-end restaurant: $24/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $1.50
Exchange rate: $1 to 3.6 Israeli Sheqel

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Veer/Vladimir Blinov

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Splurge: Madrid
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Splurge: Madrid
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Spainés largest city is one of its most vibrant. Modern and fast-paced, Madrid has all the tastes, sights, and smells that travelers yearn for when springing for a trip across the pond. Late nights out, eclectic architecture, a thrilling cultural scene, and fantastic, varied, and oft-imitated cuisine makes for a fantastic holiday. But delicious tapas and tickets to flamenco performances can add up quickly in Madrid.

Flight from JFK: $825/person
5-star hotel: $290/night
High-end restaurant: $35/entre
Single fare subway ride: $1.40
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/calafellvalo

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Save: Budapest
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Save: Budapest
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The charm of Budapest is certainly not lost on any traveler that ventures to the "pearl of the Danube". Flush with museums, a booming nightlife, Hungarian baths, and culinary delicacies, you won't tire of things to see, try, eat, or drink in Budapest. The exchange rate heavily favors the dollar, making all kinds of shopping and dining possible. The Old World luxe of the city comes much cheaper here than elsewhere in Europe.

Flight from JFK: $715/person
5-star hotel: $189/night
High-end restaurant: $19/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $1.50
Exchange rate: $1 to 205.6 Hungarian Forints

Credit

Wikimedia/Brianpatrickross

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Splurge: Florence
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Splurge: Florence
Description

Florence is, at once, crowded, beautiful, fun, and delicious. No matter which side of the Arno you're on, there are architectural marvels to stare at, though some will be more surrounded by tourists than others. Great hole-in-the-wall restaurants rule a sort of locals-only food scene, cafés during the day transform into bumping bars at night, innumerable cultural attractions (both free and costly) command constant visitors, and concerts are held in crumbling castles and palatial gardens. It will never be so crowded that it will lose its cinematic qualities. All that, however, can cost a pretty penny.

Flight from JFK: $960/person
5-star hotel: $420/night
High-end restaurant: $30/entrée
Single fare subway ride: n/a (One-day bus fare: $7)
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/dennyschmickle

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Save: Lisbon
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Save: Lisbon
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Finally getting its turn in the spotlight, Lisbon has been somewhat overlooked as a worthy European destination, for Americans, anyway. But the cool vibe, winding streets, and charming, crumbling architecture have begun to win in-the-know travelers over. That's perhaps because (at most within a short drive's distance), you can reach, and enjoy, beaches like Caparica, hillside towns like Sintra, seriously good food throughout, and a laidback, but vibrant nightlife. Local delicacies, from pastries to cheese to chocolate, abound in each neighborhood, which means there's always something special to try.

Flight from JFK: $860/person
5-star hotel: $250/night
High-end restaurant: $30/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $1.45
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/PSantaRosa

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Splurge: Berlin
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Splurge: Berlin
Description

Berlin's brilliant arts and culture scene mixes well with its cutting-edge culinary style. From Brandenburg Gate to the nightclubs of Berlin-Mitte and from flea market finds to food carts selling currywurst, much of Berlin's cultural vibrancy happens on the street. But the restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs make up for all the money you saved hitting the streets. Some of the city's best in all categories are completely worth it, but pretty pricey.

Flight from JFK: $900/person
5-star hotel: $300/night
High-end restaurant: $35/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $3.20
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/Ibontxo

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Save: Prague
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Save: Prague
Description

Bohemian like Berlin, but with a more Gothic, Old World style, Prague is a gilded city that almost looks like it was pulled from a fantasy book. Prague Castle, the astronomical clock, and modern art museums and installations all serve to perpetuate that feeling. But it's the city's unique culinary scene and down-to-earth nightlife that make it so appealing. Street vendors hawking Czech hot dogs, off-the-beaten-path restaurants, and pubs filled to the brim with locals make up the social vibe of Prague, with plenty of festivals, sporting events, and cultural events rounding it out.

Flight from JFK: $800/person
5-star hotel: $259/night High-end restaurant: $18/entrée
Single fare subway ride: $1.35
Exchange rate: $1 to 17 Czech Republic Koruna

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Flickr/jayirwin

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Splurge: Ibiza
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Splurge: Ibiza
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Known around the world for its unparalleled party scene, Ibiza is a night owlés heaven. Ibiza is a beautiful island with plenty to see and do like sailing, parasailing, strolling through a local market, though most visitors follow a similar schedule. Days are spent lounging on sandy beaches (sleeping off the night before), afternoons are perfect for dining on specialties like mixto pita sandwiches and sweets, and then nights are made for hitting Ibiza's swanky restaurants and famous clubs like Amnesia and Jockey Club.

Flight from JFK: $915/person
5-star hotel: $290/night
High-end restaurant: $37/entrée
Single fare subway ride: n/a
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/Goianobe

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Save: Mallorca
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Save: Mallorca
Description

Beaches are the name of the game in Mallorca — there are more than you'd even care to count. One of the Balearic Islands (Ibiza is its neighbor), Mallorca has a more laidback island vibe with affordable food and drink, and stunning panoramas. Palma de Mallorca alone has enough charm and history to delight any traveler, but locally made paella, spicy sausages, and white sandy beaches (from tourist traps to more remote spots) make the trip even more worthwhile.

Flight from JFK: $950/person
5-star hotel: $270/night
High-end restaurant: $27/entrée
Single fare subway ride: n/a
Exchange rate: $1.40 to 1 Euro

Credit

Flickr/clickraa