Affordable cities with rich rewards, from Athens, the cradle of Western civilisation, to Fez, with its alluring souqs and cuisine
1. LEIPZIG, GERMANY
Even 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, eastern Germany is a relatively cheap place to travel. Leipzig retains reminders of that era, from the Stasi Museum, with its exhibits on the communist state’s secret police, to the beautiful Nikolaikirche, the church at the centre of the revolt in 1989. The once-shabby city is now better known for bar-lined streets such as Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, and art venues that include Galerie fur Zeitgenössische Kunst, showcasing contemporary post- World-War-II artworks.
ARRIVE: Ryanair flies to Leipzig from Stansted.
STAY: Pension SchlafGut has bright and modern room sand apartment rentals.
2. FEZ, MOROCCO
Although a walk in the medina brings constant entreaties to part you from your dirhams, Fez is a great budget city. Its riads are good value and Moroccan design can transform even modest digs into escapist spaces. The city’s Ville Nouvelle has rationally laid-out streets and the best hotel deals, but it’s the medina, or Fes el-Bali, that captures the imagination. Here, you’ll find lanes crowded with donkeys ferrying cargo, leather-dying pits, ornate fountains, shops selling slippers in every colour and glorious examples of Islamic architecture.
ARRIVE: Ryanair flies to Fez from Stansted.
STAY: DarEl Hanaisa cosy riad in the medina.
3. BELGRADE, SERBIA
There are few European capitals more affordable than this proud city on the Danube. Restaurants are reasonable and, in a city where it’s usual to hit the town every night, there are clubs and bars to suit all budgets. The techy Dorćol neighbourhood is good for kafanas (cafes) serving Balkan dishes such as ćevapcići (mincemeat kebabs), while cobblestoned Skadarska has a bohemian charm. The signature drink in Serbia is rakija – a brandy calculated to knock the stuffing out of first-time drinkers.
ARRIVE: Air Serbia flies to Belgrade from Heathrow, and Wizz Air from Luton.
STAY: Travelling Actor is a boutique pension.