Don’t Break the Bank: How to Visit Expensive Cities on a Budget this Winter

28th October 2016

Travel Money

Everyone loves a city break abroad, from a fast-paced sightseeing weekend, to a relaxing few days away taking in a city’s culture. However, it’s no secret that some of the most popular tourist attractions, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, or the Palace of Nations, are in cities which can be quite pricey to visit.

For those of you planning a city break abroad this winter, we’ve looked at some of the best ways to visit these notoriously expensive destinations on a budget.

Paris

Arc de Triomphe

Paris is renowned for its culture, and if you have the time you’re going to want to experience as much of it as possible. The Paris Museum Pass gives you the chance to visit more than 50 museums and monuments in Paris and the surrounding areas, including The Louvre, Notre-Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. You can visit any of these attractions as many times as you like, and all for just €48.00 (£42.35) for two days, €62.00 (£54.70) for four days or €74.00 (£65.28) for six days. As an additional bonus, by using the pass you can even queue jump, meaning you’ll never be wasting time standing too long in the cold.

When it comes to accommodation, there are a few cheaper options than the typical hotels. Firstly, you could stay at one of the many hostels in and around the city. Not only will it save you a fortune, but you’ll also get the chance to engage with other people, who could provide you with other handy tips on where to visit in Paris.

Another option which costs barely anything is house swapping. This basically means exchanging homes with another person or family for an agreed period of time. House swapping in Paris will give you the chance to experience French culture, through living, eating, and sleeping in a French person’s home.

Airfares often prove the priciest aspect of city breaks, though prices to Paris drop from November to February (minus the Christmas period), with return flights in these months starting at just £60.00 from London Airports. These low prices may be accompanied by cold weather, but don’t let that put you off. Wrap up warm and walk around the beautiful city, which is, of course, another great way to save money!

Walking is one of the best way to see the city at your own pace, and there are plenty of free walking tours available. One of our favourites is the ‘Hidden Gems and Secret Paris Tour’. On this tour you will get to see many hidden Parisian treasures which rarely register on tourist maps. If you don’t fancy walking, another cheap way to get around the city is the metro, costing just €1.80 (£1.63) a ticket or €14.10 (£12.75) for a block of 10 tickets.

Paris is popular for its crepes, baguettes, and pastries, but you don’t have to go to an expensive restaurant to try these French specialities. There are many other options, such as food stands and stalls around the city. Many of these are located in the Latin Quarter, which is one of the most popular districts amongst budget travellers and students.

New York

If you’re looking to take a trip to the Big Apple on a budget, March is your best bet for lower flying costs. Prices for this 16-hour round trip can be as low as £300 from London Airports in March, leaving you with plenty of spending money for the famous attractions. 

If you don’t want to spend too much money whilst away, there’s plenty of free things to do in the city that never sleeps! In the morning you can take New York’s famous Staten Island Ferry, a free trip which runs 365 days of the year. From the deck, you’ll see sights such as the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan’s iconic skyline. Then, before lunch, you could take a stroll through the 843-acre green space that is Central Park. 

The average dinner in NYC will set you back approximately $48 (£39), which is a little expensive if travelling on a budget. New York has always been known for its amazingly diverse street food scene, with hundreds of mobile eateries occupying the city’s streets, from traditional American hot dog stands to Mexican cuisine and beyond.

New York is massive, meaning there’s plenty of places to stay. If money was no object, you could opt for the four or five star hotels in the centre, which could set you back approximately $400 (£327) a night, even in the cheaper month of March. Or you could go for the much cheaper option of a hostel. Take Central Park West Hostel in the Upper West Side of the city as an example. It’s only two blocks away from Central Park, with prices starting from only $47.62 (£39.00) a night in March. Airbnb, an online marketplace that enables people to list, find, and then rent places, is also a great way to find cheap accommodation. For instance, you could rent a designer loft-style studio, about 20 minutes away from Times Square, from just £55 a night.

A top tip for getting around New York is to either walk or to take the subway. Like London’s equivalent to an Oyster Card, you can get a MetroCard for just $31.00 (£25.10) for unlimited travel on the subway and local buses for 7 days.

Geneva

Right in the heart of Europe lies Geneva; a charming, French-speaking city in the western corner of Switzerland. It’s home to the world’s tallest water tower and the European Headquarters of the United Nations.

Though rated the 4th most expensive city in the world, thanks to a novel tourism scheme, transport won’t be something you have to worry about. By staying in a hotel, a hostel or even at a campsite, you are entitled to a Geneva Transport Card for free. This allows you to use any public transport, including buses, trams, trains, and yellow taxi-boats.

The end of November and the start of December are the cheapest times to fly to Geneva, from approximately £60.00 return from London Airports. If it’s just a short break you’re looking for, then there are plenty of stylish hotels around the city, with an average price of £100.00 to £200.00 (121.26 SFr to 242.52 SFr) per night in November. However, if you’re looking to stay in the city for as cheap as possible, then a great place to stay would be Geneva Hostel, which is a 2-minute walk away from the beach and only 250 yards from Lake Geneva, costing only 34.00SFr (£28.00) a night. And, you’ll even get your breakfast thrown in with that!

Whichever destination you choose to visit this winter, don’t forget to collect your currency beforehand. Here at Asda Money we offer great rates on travel money and 0% commission, with over 50 currencies available. We also offer a currency ordering service for those we don’t stock as standard. 

*The above figures are provided for indicative purposes only and are based on the exchange rate, correct as of 15:00 on 07/10/2016.

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