How to have a European city break with kids on a budget

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If you’re wondering how to have a European city break with the kids on a budget then you’ve definitely come to the right place! We’ve had some fantastic family adventures over the last few years exploring cities like Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, Interlaken and more! We love to visit cities across Europe with the kids, and it’s easier to do on a small budget than you might think!

So, here’s how to have a budget friendly city break in Europe with the kids – I’ve included money saving tips to help you to cut costs on travel, accommodation, excursions, transport and food. And, have a browse around my website for more money saving travel tips, and lots of travel reviews too – family travel on a budget is my thing! 😍


Save money on travel:

1. Pick your travel dates wisely

When you travel can have a real impact on the cost of your trip. It may not always be possible, but if you’re able to travel during the off-peak season then you’ll most certainly save money on both flights and accommodation. If you have to follow school holiday dates then you’ll likely find may-half term, Easter and the October break cheaper than the summer holidays.


2. Take a road trip

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll already know that we’re obsessed with road trips! 😂 But I honestly do believe that travelling by road is the best way to explore Europe on a budget with the kids. Driving can be a great way to avoid expensive flight costs and everything else that comes with flying – car hire, transfers, airport parking, luggage charges etc. Having your own set of wheels can definitely help you to travel cheaply with the kids. Check out my article: How to road trip on a budget around Europe – the ultimate family guide!

How to road trip on a budget around Europe, the ultimate family guide, frugal mum tips


3. Travel midweek

Hotels and other accommodation options are usually cheaper during the week, with more inflated prices at the weekends, and flights often follow this pattern too! So if you’re able to have a midweek family getaway, and avoid weekend dates, then that can be a great way to save money on your city break.


Save money on accommodation:

1. Stay outside of the city centre

The best way to keep costs down on your city break is to look for accommodation out of the city centre. Staying centrally can be really expensive, but picking somewhere slightly further out will be an instant money saver. We do this a lot, as we love exploring cities with the kids, and not only is it cheaper, it’s also nice to come away from the city when we’re finished and have other elements to the holiday too.

When we visited Rome, we stayed at Camping Village Fabulous and travelled into the city centre via train from Vitinia (a five minute drive from the campsite). Being so close to the station, it was a fantastic base and much more affordable than hotels in the city. Adult train tickets were just €7, and this covered all of our train travel for the day; the main train in and hopping on and off the Metro as needed. (Kids under 10 travelled free.) It was about a 30 minute train journey to get into Rome.

Rome in a day, frugal mum family photo, pantheon, eurocamp holiday review, photo, camping village fabulous, italy

When we’d had enough of exploring the city it was also nice to have peace and quiet, and to cool off in the swimming pool too – we had the best of both worlds! I would definitely recommend doing something similar if you’re trying to travel frugally. Eurocamp accommodation is also charged per party / holiday home rather than per person which is a great money saver for family travel too.

Camping Village Fabulous, Rome, Italy, swimming pool dome, Eurocamp holiday review, frugal mum photo

Eurocamp have tons of campsites located near cities – so take a look at what they have on offer on their Eurocamp city breaks page. (They have campsites near: Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Florence, Amsterdam, Split and more!)


2. Book in advance or last minute

Often booking well in advance, or very last minute, is the best way to save money on a family holiday. If you like to be organised, and need time to save up for spending money and other expenses, then plan your trip with lots of time to spare.

Equally, if you’re able to be flexible and book last minute instead then you might find some very cheap deals by booking within a couple of weeks of the trip. The only issue with this is that availability might be lower, especially for dates during the peak season, so it can be a bit of a gamble if you have your heart set on a particular destination.


3. Book an apartment

If you do want to stay in the middle of the action, and enjoy the hustle and bustle, then look at booking an Air Bnb rather than a hotel. Not only is it likely to be cheaper if you’re staying for a few days or more, but you’ll also have more space to spread out and hopefully some cooking facilities to avoid the high costs that come with eating out.

You could even book through Trusted Housesitters to get your city getaway accommodation for free. In exchange for looking after someone’s pet, you can stay in their home – making travelling to your favourite places so much more affordable. A bonus of using Trusted Housesitters is that lots of people will want school holiday dates, to fit around their own trips away, so it can be a good way to travel during peak dates. For the yearly membership fee of £99, you can book a stay through their website as many times as you like.

How to have a family European city break with kids on a budget, frugal mum tips, photo of dog, trusted housesitters


Save money on food:

1. Book self-catering accommodation

Choose accommodation with kitchen facilities and prepare some meals yourself to save money during your city break. This is where Eurocamp campsites, Air Bnb and Trusted Housesitters come in really handy – when you have a kitchen it makes it much easier to save money on food. Visit local city markets for fresh affordable ingredients, or head to a budget supermarket to stock up.


2. Pack picnics, drinks and snacks

To keep costs low when we visit cities, we always take drinks, snacks and a picnic for lunch with us when we head out for the day. Preparing your own baguettes is a great way to save money, and bakeries in Europe are never hard to find.

How to have a family European city break with kids on a budget, frugal mum tips, venice waterside picnic photo in italy

We use refillable water bottles to keep our drinks cool all day, and even pack a flask for our lunchtime coffee fix too. A cool bag is a must for keeping everything fresh, especially when you’re visiting somewhere hot – it’s a brilliant investment for both holidays and days out with the kids at home too.


3. Avoid expensive restaurants

Of course there are probably some wonderful places to eat out on your city break, but most city centre restaurants will come with a high price tag. (And, there are often table charges too before you even order any food!)

When we’re exploring a city we’ll bring a picnic for lunch, and if we’re still there into the evening then we’ll opt for something easy like McDonalds (or another budget fast food option), or eat like locals and enjoy some street food at dinnertime. As much as I’m not a fan of junk food, and it would be nice to enjoy restaurant food when we go away, it can be really unaffordable when you’re travelling as a family of four.


Save money on transportation:

1. Walk or cycle

When we travel we clock up an insane amount of steps when we’re exploring cities. We like to walk as much as possible as it’s the best way to really see a city, and it doesn’t cost a penny! Before we set out for the day, I’ll plan a route to make sure that we see everything we’d like to see without going back on ourselves or adding in unnecessary steps – and that (and ice-cream!) seems to be the best way to keep everyone happy.

In Amsterdam, we did as the Dutch do and hired bikes. It wasn’t the cheapest of options but the kids love cycling and since everyone in The Netherlands loves to cycle we thought it was the best way to explore. And, if you’ve got a bike rack, you could even bring your own wheels!

How to have a family European city break with kids on a budget, frugal mum tips, amsterdam bikes photo


2. Make the most of public transport

When you’re travelling with kids in the city make the most of public transport too – trains, trams, buses and subways are a much more affordable way to travel than taxis or rental cars. Many cities will offer discounted family travel passes, and in lots of places children will travel for free.

We’ve found that public transport is generally much cheaper in Europe than in the UK, with Italy being our favourite for cost and ease of use. The prices were slightly higher in Barcelona and Paris than Rome, but it’s definitely a cost effective way to get around the cities if you’ve got little ones with tired legs!


3. Look for tourist discounts

Some cities will have discounted travel and attraction entry for tourists, so it’s worth seeing what’s available in the place that you’re visiting. Sometimes the perk is offered through your accommodation too – so find out what your options are before you travel. In Switzerland, we had free local travel with our stay at Manor Farm campsite so we could explore Interlaken via ferry or bus without it costing us a penny. (A bit nicer than a double decker bus eh! 😂)

Interlaken boat, lake thun, switzerland, view, manor farm campsite Eurocamp


Save money on attractions:

1. Check out combo tickets

Lots of places will offer combined tickets for multiple attractions, which can be a great way to save money compared to buying individual tickets. For this, doing some prior research before you leave will be the best way to find the most cost effective deals – thank you google! (For instance, entrance to the Roman Forum and Palantine are included with Colosseum tickets in Rome.)


2. Look for free attractions

Cities can actually be surprisingly affordable places to visit if you take advantage of free museums, parks, buildings and public events. If you’re looking for the best destination for a budget city break with the kids, we thought the cities in Italy were the most affordable of all of the places we’ve visited. If you fancy a city break in Rome check out my article: Cheap family travel: How to explore Rome on a budget – in just one day – with kids!

Religious buildings in Italy are usually free to visit (places like St Peter’s Square and Basilica) so we didn’t spend much at all, plus there are loads of sights to see for free too – like the Trevvi Fountain in Rome, or Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence. Lots of cities offer free walking tours too.

st peters square basilica, rome, italy, vatican city, frugal mum family photo, review, rome in a day, budget


3. Look for children’s discounts

Lots of places offer heavily discounted entrance tickets for the kids, and some places will even be free to children under a certain age. When we visited Verona Arena, tickets were €10 for adults, €1 for children and under 8s were free – so we didn’t pay for Lola, and Finn was just €1. Often children’s tickets won’t cost much at all, so it makes exploring cities as a family an affordable option.

When we’re planning some paid excursions, we’ll then try and balance this out with free sight-seeing too. Before you leave, create a rough daily itinerary to avoid unnecessary expenses and make the best use of your time – being organised is definitely a good way to keep on budget and save money.


If you’re looking for inspiration and ideas for a budget city break with the kids, check out:

How to have a city break in Paris on a budget with kids!

How to have a city break in Paris on a budget with kids, family budget travel tips, europe, france, frugal mum


Our Italian Eurocamp Family Road Trip: What we spent, tips & how to explore Italy with kids on a budget!

how to explore italy on a budget, our eurocamp road trip, family holiday, europe, frugal mum guide, what we spent, tips


Cheap family travel: How to explore Rome on a budget – in just one day – with kids!

how to explore rome on a budget, italy guide, frugal mum review, tips, holiday with kids, eurocamp, on budget in a day


Our Eurocamp Interlaken Family Holiday: What we spent, tips & how to visit Switzerland on a budget from the UK

how to explore switzerland on a budget, interlaken guide, frugal mum review, tips, holiday with kids, eurocamp, manor farm campsite


Why do we use always Eurocamp to travel in Europe with the kids?

Eurocamp article, why use Eurocamp to travel with kids in Europe


Eurocamp Holiday Review: Camping Cisano San Vito, Lake Garda, Italy

Camping Cisano San Vito, Eurocamp holiday, swimming pool, flume, slides, Italy, Lake Garda, frugal mum review photo


Eurocamp Holiday Review: Camping Village Fabulous, Lazio, Rome, Italy

Camping Village Fabulous, Eurocamp holiday, swimming pool, flume, slides, Italy, Rome, frugal mum children, review photo


Eurocamp Holiday Review: Camping Village Valle Gaia, Tuscany, Italy

Camping Valle Gaia, Eurocamp Holiday, Tuscany, Italy, swimming pool, flume, slide, frugal mum review photo


Spain with Kids: Ohtels Villa Romana Hotel Review, Salou, Costa Dorada

frugal mum review, title image, villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, photos


Eurocamp Holiday Review: Manor Farm Campsite, Interlaken, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Manor Farm Campsite, Interlaken, Switzerland, lake, Eurocamp holiday, sunset, frugal mum review photo


Eurocamp Holiday Review: Beekse Bergen Lake Resort, Hilvarenbeek, North Brabant, The Netherlands

Lake Resort Beekse Bergen, Eurocamp holiday, the Netherlands, lake beach, frugal mum with children, photo, frugal mum review, lake resort, hilvarenbeek, north brabant


For more budget travel ideas, take a look at:

Budget Family Holiday Tips: How to travel abroad cheaply with kids

How to travel abroad on a budget, frugal mum title page, save money on family holiday tips


The Ultimate Eurocamp Holiday Guide – and money saving tips!

eurocamp review, complete holiday guide, FAQs, frugal mum

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