Oh January – it’s a long month of grey days and dark nights. But fear not, having a trip booked will make this month that little bit more bearable. We’ve found seven flights under £70 so that you can grab a short-haul trip on a shoestring. Plus, you may not have thought of these more unusual European cities…
1. Bologna, Italy
Forget Rome and Milan, Bologna should be your next Italian escape. Medieval architecture is everywhere, which is why climbing one of the Two Towers is a must. The slightly leaning Torre degli Asinelli won’t quite give Pisa a run for its money, but you can climb its 498 steps for just €5 and receive stunning views across Bologna as your reward.
Also overlooking Bologna is the 18th-century Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca situated in the Bologna Hills. The church itself is beautiful, but it’s the view and walk through the 666 arches that make this spot stand out. If you don’t want to walk the 5km, a bus leaves from Piazza Maggiore throughout the peak summer season.
Stay: The UNAHOTELS
Located outside of Bologna, but with an easy bus route in to the city, the UNAHOTELS is a modern yet affordable option. Although you’ll be staying in the business district, the £45 price tag will leave some spending money for all the pizza and pasta you have to eat.Search flights to Bologna Search hotels in Bologna
2. Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia’s capital has had quite the revival in the last 50 years since the devastating 1963 earthquake. Now that most of the centre has been rebuilt, a £35 return flight will take you to this intriguing city. One of the city’s more recent monuments, Millennium Cross, was built to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia. But it’s the view at the top that you’re really after. Either hike the marked trail or jump in the cable car for a €2 return journey.
While you’re visiting, make the most of Macedonia’s deep valleys and mountainous landscape. Matka Canyon, a dramatic gorge with dozens of caves is located within the artificial Matka Lake. Get the number 60 bus from Skopje’s main bus station, then join a boat tour to visit the caves or hire a kayak and explore on your own. But be warned, the caves are home to bats and Europe’s most venomous snake, the viper.
Stay: Hotel Tomce Sofka
The rooms may be simple, but the staff are friendly and the service is highly rated. Located across from the Vardar River and close to Parc de la Francophonie, you’re near all of Skopje’s main attractions and the museum district. Rooms start at £26 a night.Search flights to Skopje Search hotels in Skopje
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Cobbled streets, dramatic architecture and a multicultural vibe, Tallinn is a city worth adding to the bucket list, which is easy to tick off when flights start at £35 return. The Old Town is surrounded by 2km of 13th-century fortress walls, which are calling out to be explored. Enter the walls in the northwest corner of the Old Town and wander above the city. Don’t forget to climb up one of the 20 defence towers for views of the red-tiled roofs.
If you’re wondering (and I bet you are) how Estonians traditionally lived, you can visit the Estonian Open Air Museum, which shows you 150 years of the country’s farming history. There are over 70 buildings to explore, with windmills, sheep and pigs all making an appearance. Once you’ve found your inner farmer, head back into town for a craft beer with the locals at Pudel Baar in the hipster Kalamaja district.
Stay: St Olav Hotel
This quirky 4-star hotel features traditional exposed beams and grand Estonian furniture. Located in the Old Town rooms start from £42 a night including breakfast.Search flights to Tallinn Search hotels in Tallinn
4. Faro, Portugal
From April, Faro starts to warm up to a comfortable 20 degrees and with flights starting from £38 return that spring sunshine is calling. Of course, it’s the beach that you’re after so take the €10 ferry across to the quieter Ilha da Barreta where a 10km stretch of sand will meet you. Follow the boardwalk over the sand dunes and you’ll easily find a more secluded spot to retreat to.
Once back in Faro, visit the Archaeological Museum for some local culture. The museum tells the story of Faro up to the present day, with roman and medieval artefacts alongside a gallery dedicated to the painter Carlos Filipe Porfirio. Entry is cheap at €2 for an adult ticket, or if you arrive after 3pm on a Sunday, it’s free.
Even with your already bargain flights, the Hotel Dom Bernardo will keep this escape budget friendly with rooms starting at £31 a night. You’ll be close to the Carmo Church and Faro’s Old Town, with restaurants and bars just around the corner.Search flights to Faro Search hotels in Faro
5. Riga, Latvia
One of the most iconic Latvian landmarks is the interestingly named House of Blackheads, which was built to host the Blackheads brotherhood, an association of unmarried merchants and traders in the 14th century. Entry to the House is €6, or €15 for a guided tour through the original cellars and grand rooms. Open everyday except Monday. After an afternoon exploring, a cocktail in the Skyline Bar while the sun sets will give everyone back home Insta-envy.
For the local experience, Riga Central Market is an authentic bazaar where you can haggle over the price of fresh fruit, homegrown vegetables and local pastries. As the largest market in Europe, there are nine unique trading places including a daily farmers market, giving you plenty of people-watching opportunities.
Stay: Europa Royale Riga
Situated in the heart of Riga, this impressive hotel is a mere £30 a night. The hotel staff will even pick you up from the airport (for a small charge) making your trip as easy as can be.Search flights to Riga Search hotels in RIga
6. Debrecen, Hungary
Hungary’s second largest city should be on your weekend-away radar. Less touristy than the capital Budapest (hello stag dos), the locals are friendly and the flights are cheap. Once you’ve bagged yourself a bargain with flights from £18 return, hotels in the city start at just £30 a night and any activities you choose won’t break the bank.
The Reformed Great Church of Debrecen is as much a historic site as a religious one. It was here in 1849 that the government proclaimed the declaration of Hungarian Independence. Tickets are divided into Tour A and Tour B – there’s only 30p between the two price points, so you might as well pay for Tour B (£2.20 per adult) for extra access to the bell tower and exhibition space. If you’re lucky you may be able to see a concert or recital in the church, simply ask for details on the next available performance.
Stay: Némethy Panzió
Situated 400 metres from the famous Great Church and in walking distance of the city centre, the rooms start at £33 and are small and simple with a unique continental style.Search flights to Debrecen Search hotels in Debrecen
7. Brno, Czech Republic
Brno has warm temperatures from May to September and, most importantly, flights starting at only £25 return. Freedom Square (an unusually triangular shaped ‘square’) is the cultural hub of Brno, filled with shops, cafés and restaurants, but if you’re after a bargain, you’ll find the cheaper eateries in the streets behind.
Above Lake Brno and outside of the city lies Veverí Castle. Enter through the Southern Gate and cross the castle bridge for Disney-like views. A 40-minute tour of the castle’s historic rooms will cost you less than £4. The commentary may only be available in Czech, but you can certainly appreciate the impressive rooms even if you don’t know what’s being said.
Stay: Grandhotel Brno
Spacious rooms and indoor greenery make this 4-star hotel an ideal place to rest your weary feet. Located in Brno’s Old Town and a five-minute walk to Freedom Square, prices start from £50 a night.Search flights to Brno Search hotels in Brno
Find your own ridiculously cheap flights by searching ‘everywhere’ below:
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 22 January 2019.