How to plan a romantic city break on a budget

Spend more time romancing and less time organising with our top tips


A city break is a great way to spend time with your loved one, but even a short stay can burn a hole in your pocket. Stay tuned for our top tips on how to organise the perfect romantic city break without breaking the bank.

Save money on your flights

If you want to travel to a city abroad, the best way to bag cheap flights is to prepare well in advance. The most popular application for this is Skyscanner, a comprehensive tool which compares the prices of over 1200 airline and travel agents in order to find you the best deal. However, Business Insider recommend clearing your cookies before searching, due to dynamic pricing which is said to hike up the prices of your chosen flights the more that you search for them.

If you choose to book straight from the airline, the likes of EasyJet usually release their journeys approximately nine months in advance, so it is best to be on the ball and know in advance the dates that you wish to travel on. However, the price of EasyJet flights can also be affected if they are in high demand, so keep that in mind while you’re searching.

It is also important not to take the price of a flight at face value, as there will almost always be hidden charges along the way. Travel blogger Vicky Philpott advises when booking a flight: “Explore a few options to see whether baggage is built in, if food on board is included, whether they have free Wi-Fi and if the timings match with your local transport links. They can end up being a false economy if you don’t do your research.”

Location, location, location

When it comes to a city break, the vast amount of options you have to choose from can be overwhelming. Therefore, it can help to narrow it down and consider what you’re really looking for in a holiday. Do you want to stay somewhere small and intimate which can be explored on foot with your loved one, or would you prefer to visit a booming metropolis jam-packed with things to do and see? Once you have decided this, it can be a lot easier to narrow down your options. If you’re still stuck, take a look at our guide to alternative holiday destinations.

Consider the type of accommodation you want to stay at. If you’re on a tight budget, self-serviced apartments can be a great way to save money on breakfast and lunch, allowing you more cash to spend on date nights and daytime activities. Or, why not go to the whole hog and cook up a romantic meal for two? When you’re looking, remember that housing in the city centre is usually more expensive upon first glance, but this can mean reducing transport costs in the long run.  

Grab a travel card before you leave

Resist the urge to treat foreign currency like Monopoly money. Instead of converting a heap of cash before you travel, look into getting a pre-paid travel card to load your money onto. This will usually help to get a better grasp of your finances. The Post Office Travel Card allows you to convert your money into 13 currencies across 200 countries, and is an easy and convenient way to pay for your meal or shopping trip without having to worry about carrying excess notes.

Hassle-free transport

If it’s too far to travel on foot, avoid spending money on expensive taxis (which may take advantage of tourists), and use public transport instead. The Citymapper app is an effective way to manoeuvre your way around a new city. It finds you the easiest routes, whether that be on public transport or by foot, and also includes real-time road disruptions. 

Airport shuttle services are another great way to save the cash by avoiding private taxi charges. These are usually based at the airport and run efficiently by factoring in any delays or cancellations to your flight. This is a useful way to avoid any mishaps at the beginning or end of your trip which could ruin your romantic getaway! Check out your airport’s website for more information.

It’s all in the planning

City breaks are a fantastic way to spend time with your loved one, with ample amounts to do and lots of places to eat and drink. Therefore, in order to make your time run as smoothly as possible, do some research before you leave. Use Tripadvisor to uncover the top restaurants and activities in your price range, and find out if they require a reservation.

The internet can be a great way to discover free activities, such as walking tours. Many cultural venues will have free or discounted entry for EU citizens or students, so if this applies to you, planning in advance can help cut the costs. Search for the country’s dedicated tourist website for information about discounts, or even get local tips from your hotel or AirBnb host.

Remember your travel insurance

As soon as you book your city break, make sure you consider the right travel insurance policy for your jaunt. Even if you're travelling in Europe with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), you'll still need cover for medical non-emergencies and your possessions.