The major capital cities of Europe are amazing. The hype is obviously not miss placed but mass tourism and a globalised market means you often spend way too much of your quick city jaunt queuing with other Irish people! What’s great about Europe however is that there are more than a few alternatives to see out there.
Go here instead of: Copenhagen
Copenhagen is great and the little Mermaid may be worth queuing to see but it’s not Denmark’s only attractive city. Aarhus is a location that deserves to be seen. With cobbled lanes that are much prettier than Temple Bar and bicycle-only streets in the Old Town, this city is super easy to navigate and what’s more is they even have free bikes.
The open-air interactive history museum, Den Gamle, is super instagramable and not over hashtagged either. And if you’re focused on experiencing the museum life be sure to hit the Moesgaard Museum. The building itself appears as if from nowhere with a roof carpeted in grass.
With flights starting at €50 each way this place might seem expensive on a student budget but the selection of Air BnB’s is phenomenal.
Go here instead of: Barcelona
If you’ve ever been to Barcelona you’ll know that no matter how early you get up you’ll never beat the crowds because, you are the crowds. With more tourists than habitants there’s a huge push back from the city of Gaudi and maybe they need a break from us wild ravaging students. So why not go galavant in Girona instead?
It’s got all the charm and culture of Barcelona but it’s smaller. With gorgeous gothic architecture you won’t be short of excellent photo backgrounds.
Skip the never-ending queues of squawking tourists at the Sagrada Familia and hit up Girona Cathedral in Força Vella instead. A genuinely gorgeous 11th century building complete with a large Gothic nave 23 metres wide, the widest in the world.
A trip to Spain is never complete without sampling some of the local wine. With glamorous wine country only hours away from Girona you can pick up some supple Rioja for €3- what a steal!
Flights can be a little tricky for this one in the colder months but you can find tickets in April for only €30 each way. Accommodation ranges from cheap and cheerful to gloriously lavish so there’s something for everyone.
Go here instead of: Sofia
Plovdiv is en route to blowing up as an international tourist spot. As the European Capital of Culture for 2019, Plovdiv has some major events all year and most of the programmes are free. Perfect for us lowly students and part time waitressing salaries!
If you can afford the slightly high flight prices in the summer months be sure to swing by the Plovdiv Roman Theatre. This open air arena was home to many Roman gladiator games during the 1st century but has revamped itself for the modern era. Now instead of watching men and women battle to the death you can sit and enjoy crowd-pleasing plays and musicals.
The only catch about Plovdiv is there’s no direct flights from Ireland … yet. You can fly via London for €120 return, or via Barcelona for €150 but by far the quickest way is to fly with Ryanair to Sofia for pittance and drive. You can get a taxi for only €60 from the airport to any part of Plovdiv, which sounds expensive but between a few friends it works out the same as getting a bus.
However where you’ll really get great bang for your buck is accommodation. Hostels are cheap as chips and actual hotels start from just €25 per night per person sharing. Some of them even include a good old fashioned continental breakfast.
All in all, Skyscanning your way to adventure and enjoy having Europe right on our door stop is a perfect way to experience summer. It’s actually a pretty kick ass continent after all.