Located in the Venetian Lagoon and about five miles from Venice is the archipelago of Burano. This vibrantly colored city is a working fishing village which means you will find seafood that was swimming only an hour or two prior to finding its way to your plate. Venice is a short and pleasant boat ride (about 30 minutes) away so you are not far removed from the beautiful canal city. What you’ll find, if you’re traveling in the summer, is that the tourist-filled walkways of Venice can be exhausting and you’ll be thankful to venture back to your beautiful and charming home away from home in Burano. Hotels can be hard to find because you’ll be among the few tourists aware of this hideaway, but there are some great deals in rooms and a few Airbnb listings to choose from averaging about $90/nt.
Amsterdam is a city with character oozing out of every coffeeshop, bakery, and cheese store you come by. But, the accessibility to the city paired with very liberal laws (legal marijuana and prostitution) has created a huge demand from tourists from all over the world. Wherever you walk you will be sharing the sidewalk with thousands of other tourists and although the architecture and canals offer a certain charm it’s difficult to ignore all of the rolling luggage and stoned tourists on your heels. Do yourself a favor and go to Haarlem which is only a 15-minute train ride from Amsterdam’s Centraal Station. St. Bavo’s cathedral marks town center with a plaza of 20+ restaurants lining it. Meals will run you about $50/couple including a bottle of wine; and the quality of food is outstanding with many ethnic cuisines to offer. If you happen to visit during tulip season Haarlem is the perfect starting point for a healthy bike ride by the vast tulip fields. Hotels are very affordable and run significantly cheaper than in Amsterdam with more space and better views. There are also a few stellar Airbnb rentals that you can snag if you book early enough for a unique and unforgettable experience.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit King’s Landing from Game of Thrones (without the incest, murder, and “Wildfire”) then Tallinn is the dream world you’ve never heard of. There are castle walls that are a blast to explore surrounded by small marketplaces which will make you feel like you’re living in Nottingham. Rent bikes or jump on the local transportation to get out of town and see their giant concert grounds (considering timing your trip right for a concert/event to attend), or book the two-hour ferry to Helsinki, Finland for a fun daytrip or side weekend. Estonia has a proud history as a young country that previously was occupied by Nazi Germany followed by the Soviet Union until 1991 when they finally found independence. Plan your trip in the summer when you’ll have 18 hours of daylight and avoid the cold of winter when sun in the day will get as short as 30 minutes!
One hour north of Brussels is the moat-surrounded city of Bruges. This stunning town centers around the Belfry Tower, which you can climb up for a panoramic of the city. Arrive at the tower early in the morning if you’d like to climb it because they allow only a small number of people in at a time so the wait can quickly move to 2 hours; if you get there at opening there will be less than a ten-minute wait. From the tope of the tower you’ll see a plaza with restaurants directly below which all feature outstanding French coffee and incomparable Belgian beers. If there is one thing you do repeatedly in Belgium let it be sipping the wine-like beer that they offer including the highest ranked beers in the world. While in Bruges, the most touristy thing you can do is the canal tour. It costs about $10/person, takes 30 minutes, and despite the corny feelings it may induce you absolutely should partake because it gives such an enjoyable vantage point of the city, and allows you to have an understanding for the lay of the land. While hotels are very affordable (4-star at about $90/nt) dinner can run quite steep so budget for $20 entrees but fear not as most hotels offer complimentary breakfast and lunches are very affordable.
Wine lovers know this as the namesake and home of the sweet red wine typically paired with dark chocolate at the end of a meal. While you’ll not be disappointed by booking a fantasy inspired stay at a guesthouse in or near a local winery, don’t sleep on (but sleep in) the city itself. Porto is situated at the mouth of the Douro River spilling into the Atlantic with its nearest neighbor to the west being New York City (3300 miles away). Gorgeous bridges reach across the river where lively buildings frame the waters stacking on one another like a game of Tetris. In recent years, new museums have opened in the city which has drawn an increase in tourism but has yet to spike the prices so you’ll be wise to visit soon for maximum value. One tip is to visit the museums on a Sunday when most of them offer free admittance either in the morning or afternoon depending on the museum, so strategize before leaving your accommodations. As for dining, be prepared to drink liters of wine and take advantage of the daily specials which will often include freshly caught fish and a glass of wine for around $5 during lunch. And, of course, sample plenty of port wine as you’ll never find it any more affordable than here.
Valencia has been ranked top ten in Best Affordable European Honeymoons, as well as Best Affordable Cities in Europe. The costly yachts that line the boardwalks of this city give the feel of an expensive Miami, or Fort Lauderdale location but the prices in town are very affordable to American travelers with local beers costing $1-2 and monthly apartment rates in the heart of the city at just $500 for a one bedroom; you know, in case you love it so much you want to stick around for a while. While there, you must check out the City of Arts and Sciences complex which houses museums, an IMAX, and architecturally looks like it was plucked from a Star Trek movie as a viewing platform for the inaugural flight of the Enterprise. Try to dine in the Mercado Central where many restaurants make their home and offer prix fixe menus at $10/person allowing you to save money and enjoy the local spirit of Valencia. Airbnbs are ridiculously affordable in the city at around $60/night for undeniably breathtaking sights, and similarly priced gems on the nearby beaches. Though, in both cases, book well in advance as each of these is one of a kind.
That dream European honeymoon really is in financial reach for you, so find a stellar flight deal (read our tips in the Exotic and Affordable Honeymoon in Europe article) and live it up! While these locations are spread across the continent you can find very affordable flights within Europe through airlines such as Ryanair, or book a train from one location to the next (Haarlem and Bruxes are quite close) so that you can enjoy more than one city on our list.