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Six 'second cities' to visit in Europe instead of the capital which are cheaper and quieter

Rhianna Benson

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Six 'second cities' to visit in Europe instead of the capital which are cheaper and quieter

Featured Image Credit: George Pachantouris/Sergio Formoso/Getty Images

If the bleak and blustery winter blues are getting you down, you might be prematurely setting your sights on summer 2024.

Don't worry, we don't blame you. The only thing getting me through the freezing cold temperatures and dark nights are blissful thoughts of sitting on a sandy white beach, sipping piña coladas in the sun and topping up my tan.

Where are you jetting off to this summer? Credit: Getty/Marco Bottigelli
Where are you jetting off to this summer? Credit: Getty/Marco Bottigelli

But if the ongoing cost of living crisis or subsequent inflation have got you worried you mightn't be able to afford flights to the Paris, or accommodation in the hills of Lisbon is looking a tad too pricey, we've got some nifty, money-saving tips that won't compromise on your fun-fuelled, well-deserved vacation.

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Instead, travel experts say to go for each country's 'second city'. These destinations usually boast just as many exciting things to do as the main city, and after often cheaper, less busy and notably more authentic.

So, if you're keen to be thrown head-first into the culture of another country without having to take out a loan, you might want to take note of these top-pick destinations.

Visit Paris Lille

If you've got your heart set on the 'City of Love' this summer, but can't be dealing with the colossal queues at the Eiffel Tower or the expense of a visit to the Louvre, then we have a cost-efficient yet equally-beautiful alternative for you.

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Lille is the dream destination for those unwilling to pay Paris prices. Credit: Getty/Pierre Longnus
Lille is the dream destination for those unwilling to pay Paris prices. Credit: Getty/Pierre Longnus

Lille - located in northern France, near the border with Belgium - is renowned for boasting just as much history as Paris.

This quaint city boasts incredible, gothic architecture, rustic cobbled streets, art museums and even a zoo, so you'll never run out of things to do.

And you HAVE to try Lille's world-famous vanilla and chestnut cream waffle, which you can usually grab for as little as £3.

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It's not too expensive to get to either - with the Eurostar from London St Pancras (which takes just over one hour 20 minutes) only setting you back £51 each way.

Visit Bucharest Timisoara

If the Romanian capital of Bucharest was on your bucket list this year, holiday experts are encouraging travellers to branch slightly further afield, being that the southeastern hotspot is becoming increasing flooded by tourists, hoping for a 'city break' weekend away.

Timisoara is famed for its incredible architecture. Credit: Getty/Posnov
Timisoara is famed for its incredible architecture. Credit: Getty/Posnov
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Instead, they recommend checking out Timisoara in the west, famed for its Secessionist architecture, lavish Orthodox cathedral, historical centre and breathtaking opera house.

You can fly direct into Timisoara's tiny airport with Wizz Air for as little as £20 in April, and with beers only setting you back £1.56, it would be rude not to...

Visit Stockholm Gothenburg

While Stockholm might be able to boast the world-famous ABBA Museum and archipelago cruises, as a capital city, it is notoriously expensive to get to and to stay in.

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You can get to Gothenburg, however, for a bargain price of £16.99 and it's famed for a much more relaxed vibe.

Gothenburg is famous for its uber-relaxed vibe. Credit: Getty/@canada_by_alexis
Gothenburg is famous for its uber-relaxed vibe. Credit: Getty/@canada_by_alexis

That isn't too say that Sweden's second largest city is boring - no, no. There are a multitude of gloriously gorgeous streets, stylish cosmopolitan bars and hundreds of charming cafes, perfect to pick up a cinnamon bun from.

Visit Madrid Valencia

Despite Barcelona being widely considered Spain's 'second city' - and instead of visiting the capital of Madrid - why not pay a visit south along the coast to Valencia?

The tapas are just as banging, considerably cheaper, and the beaches are just as beautiful - not to mention the incredible night life.

So, if you're looking for your next girly party hol or classy stag-do, look no further than this modern yet gorgeously authentic municipality, with flights costing as little as £20 for one way.

Visit Lisbon Porto

When it comes to Portugal, the Algarve is perfect for relaxing on the cave-enclosed beach and embarking on water sport adventures.

Porto is known for its colourful streets. Credit: Getty/Armando Oliveira
Porto is known for its colourful streets. Credit: Getty/Armando Oliveira

But if 'city breaks' are more your cup of tea - and you don't fancy busying the bustling and EXTREMELY hilly capital of Lisbon - then you'll fall head of heels for Porto.

This colourful kingdom is famous for its delicious port wine, delightful harbour, ornately decorated buildings, succulent seafood.

And if you do fancy dipping your toe into the sea, there a plenty of sandy beaches just a stone's throw away.

On top of this, flights are an absolute bargain, with one way starting from just £16.99 with Ryanair.

Visit Berlin Munich

While Berlin might be seen as Germany's party hot spot, Munich is famously the home of Oktoberfest - the annual beer celebrated mimicked all over the world.

Millions of visitors flock to Munich for Oktoberfest each year. Credit: Getty/Michelangelo Gratton
Millions of visitors flock to Munich for Oktoberfest each year. Credit: Getty/Michelangelo Gratton

Despite the name, this colossal booze-fuelled annual soirée kicks off in September every year with enormous, gothic beer halls hosting tens of thousands of guests every year.

And you can even bag a one way ticket for under 30 quid.

Honestly, you're spoiled for choice here!

Topics: Money, Travel, Shopping

Rhianna Benson

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