Holidays can be expensive and with so much choice out there, it can be hard to know what destination will give you value for money, amazing pictures and a relaxing break.
Estonia, Turkey and Bulgaria topped StudentBeans’ list of the Top Value Travel Destinations 2011, followed by Ireland, Spain and Greece. If you’re looking to venture outside of Europe, they recommend Morocco, Djerba (a Tunisian island), the Middle East and surprisingly Egypt.
The Linc spoke to three students who visited these destinations to find out what they recommend and whether they are good value for money.
Capital city Tallinn is the Capital of Culture for 2011 and with a range of fantastic events to celebrate this, there’s never been a better time to get out of your comfort zone.
“I don’t think anyone should go to Estonia and not visit Tallinn,” says Daniel Hiley who spent seven days in Estonia, but he found that the best city for students is Tartu.
“I thought that Tartu was a fantastic city, much less tourist orientated than Tallinn, but still with lots to see and do. It was quite a student-orientated city,” he says.
As Hiley was backpacking, he stayed in hostels and guesthouses, and although he says that Estonia is “certainly” cheaper than the UK, he found other European countries to be even less expensive.
He advises other students on the best places to visit: “For nightlife/tourist attractions go to Tallinn, for something completely different try Narva, but to see the real Estonia I guess any visitors should see as many different places as possible, but certainly include Tartu.”
StudentBeans.com lists Bulgaria as one of the best value for money countries in Europe for travellers, and third year student Martin Skerrett agrees. He visited Bulgaria last summer and found it to be much cheaper than other European countries he travelled around: “I think the common way of comparing how cheap a place is the price of a pint and in Bulgaria it was generally 80p. Both food and accommodation are reasonably priced and still pretty cheap even in the main cities like Sofia and Ruse.”
Prices are even cheaper in the villages at 40p a pint, say Skerrett, but he advises that these places are unlikely to have tourist accommodation.
Capital city Sofia is full of places to visit. Skerrett recommends the Aleksandr Nevsky cathedral, and sampling the local cuisine: “We went to a traditional Bulgarian cuisine place and that was really good and even involved a traditional Bulgarian band.”
Despite visiting the capital and lively, cosmopolitan city of Ruse, Skerrett says that his favourite part of the trip was experiencing the village of Gorsko-Iblonavo, in between both cities.
“It’s completely off the beaten track and like going back in time (the road signs had horse and carts on them not cars) but it was one of the best bits of our trip to see a bit of real life in Bulgaria,” he says.
If your typical holiday is a week in Spain, try Turkey for something different. Choose from a historic break, beach holiday or city experience or travel round and take in a bit of everything that Turkey has to offer.
The Linc’s Sophie Card explored the small town of Turgutrei on Turkey’s Aegean coast: “It is quite a small place so we found ourselves looking down little backstreets, finding cute cafe’s to unwind in and just generally cool down.”
Turgutries also has a large weekly market, but Card warns that shouts from market-traders can be “overwhelming”.
She also recommends the larger towns and tourist sites such as Bodrum: “It’s a port town about an hour’s drive from Turgutreis. It has the historical side but also a commercial tourist-y part of town.
“Also if you get chance, go down the Dalaman River, they have tombs built high into the side of cliffs which look amazing.”
Turkey aren’t in the Euro either, which means that it is a cheaper alternative to other European destinations. Card says that Turkey was definitely cheaper to eat out in than England.
Her one piece of advice to girls is to be aware of Turkish men: “If you’re a girl try to stay in a group. Although they mean nothing by it, Turkish men do tend to focus a lot on foreign girls so it can be a little intimidating,” she says.
Top holiday tips
Follow these top tips to ensure your holiday is unforgettable for all the right reasons.
Stay in hostels
The days when hostels were dirty, crowded and only for backpackers are long gone. Hostels are a great way to save money on accommodation and you can get smaller rooms so you don’t have to share with strangers.
Head off the beaten track
Find smaller bars, restaurants and cafes just outside the centre of where you’re staying. These tend to be cheaper, quieter and give you a real feel for the country.
Plan your trip in advance
Try to plan your trip before you go or you will end up spending a lot of money doing it when you get there.
Sun, sea and safety
Be safe on nights out: carry condoms, stay in groups, and get to know your surroundings before you go out at night.
Use your student card!
Skerrett says that from his experience, student cards work in every country, even if they aren’t meant to!