Big day all planned? Dress bought? Tux rented? Now it’s time to think about where you’ll be jetting off to after the celebrations. If you’re tight on cash, then this guide to the top cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe is gold dust. It will help you pick out the places that won’t break the bank but can still offer oodles of romance to bless the new union with a bout of wanderlust.
We’ve scoured the whole continent for some of the most enticing honeymoon spots of all. We’ve whittled it down to a neat selection of seven destinations, with options in the foothills of the Italian Alps, on the side of the shimmering Adriatic Sea, and others amid the winelands of northern Portugal.
All these places can be done for cheap, but they also offer a touch of class and luxury if you do have a little bit of extra spending cash – think deluxe hotels and boutique spa lodges. To get costs even lower, it’s always a good idea to book in advance, and try to travel during European shoulder seasons (early September is good for sun, while March is better for skiing and snow).
There’s something unquestionably romantic about the UNESCO-tagged heart of Krakow. This is Poland’s cultural capital, where the soaring spires of Gothic churches loom over the cityscape, castles crown the banks of the Vistula River, and cozy Slavic dumpling houses now occupy the palaces of the erstwhile royal family.
Okay, so Poland isn’t going to offer a hit of sun and sea – the nearest saltwater is 13 hours’ drive to the north on the Baltic. But this city more than makes up for that with its enchanting Old Town. Fully pedestrianized, it’s laden with jazz bars and underground beer halls where you can clink glasses to celebrate the big day. It shouldn’t break the bank either. Last time we were in town, a beer (or piwo, as the locals call it) cost under $2 a pop!
Krakow is also one of the top cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe for those planning a winter wedding. The reason? The town is just 1.5 hours’ transfer away from the craggy Tatra Mountains, which are widely considered to be one of the cheapest places to ski in Europe. Yep, you could mark your union by whizzing down the slopes together, and it won’t cost you more than $29 each for the ski pass!
Prices have certainly started creeping up in Dubrovnik, and Croatia as a whole, since the city featured in the HBO hit Game of Thrones, and since the country joined the EU in 2011. However, they haven’t gone up that much. This is still a great choice of destination if you’re looking to get loved-up together after the big day but have dropped a few too many dollars on table decorations and flowers.
Mhmm…the prices in Croatia are very reasonable. Meals out cost around just $16 per head in a midrange spot in the Dubrovnik Old Town. You can score a beer for just a smidgen over $3 in lots of joints, not even counting happy hour deals. Oh, and you can bag an uber-chic five-star hotel for in the region of $150-160 per night (that’s way less than Paris!). Tempted? Check out the Dubrovnik President Valamar Collection Hotel or the exquisite Royal Blue Hotel.
More than that, you should also find that a lot of the most enticing parts of southern Croatia come totally free. You can hit the trails of the Dinaric Alps to get to lookout points over the Adriatic Sea for nada. You can laze on the beaches and coves of the Lapad Peninsula without paying a cent.
While the regions of Tuscany and Umbria hit the headlines, little Marche is content to keep on rolling to its rustic beat up in the central-eastern corner of Italy. A land of undulating hills and cloud-swirled villages that – in some cases at least – date back thousands of years, it occupies the part of The Boot between the tops of the Apennine Mountains and the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
This untrodden region is a diamond in the rough for honeymooners looking to do things nice and cheap. It still offers that hit of Italian romance, with more pizzerias on the piazzas than you can shake a bottle of the local Trebbiano wine at. Only, it tends to cost a fraction of what things would if you chose to go closer to Rome or Florence.
There’s all sorts to fill your time, too. Take the abundance of agriturismo that clutch the slopes of the Sibillini Mountains, where you can dine on hand-plucked truffle pastas. Or, there’s the honey-tinged walls of breathtaking Macerata, a city raised by the Romans and now home to arguably Italy’s premier opera festival. Closer to the coast is the town of Rimini, offering easy access from the air (even on low-cost airlines) and plenty in the way of culture, especially if you’re Federico Fellini film buffs!
Sun-soaked and bathed in the bath-warm waters of the Libyan Sea right at the southern end of Europe, Crete is a wonderland for honeymooners wanting to get a hit of Vitamin D after the big day. For one thing, it’s huge; the largest island in the country. That means there’s oodles of opportunities to escape the crowds and be alone. For another, it’s pretty darn affordable, especially when ranked alongside the likes of Mykonos or Santorini.
Western Crete is probably the region you’ll want to focus on. The reason we say that is because the east of the island hosts bigger resorts with major party scenes, like Malia. Fly into Chania and you’ll be greeted by a charming Venetian city where the harbor is huddled by romantic tavernas selling Cretan food (we totally recommend Tamam, though you will have to book!).
Venture past that and there are soaring mountains that hit over 2,400 meters. They hide time-stood-still hamlets where you can settle in old boltholes with wood fires on the cusp of dramatic gorges like Samaria. Go even further and you’ll hit the south coast, where the pink-tinged beaches of Elafonisi will have you feeling like you’ve traded Europe for the Caribbean.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia is a stunning place. Just look at the way the Julian Alps swirl through the north end of the country in a symphony of dagger-like summits all clad in pine woods and cut through by turquoise rivers. Now if that sounds like it might be a great place for honeymooners, then that’s because it is. And, right at the heart of it all sits Lake Bled.
The spot looks like it’s been lifted straight out of the pages of a fantasy novel. A medieval church looms on an island in the middle of the water, silhouetted against snow-capped peaks and encircled by see-through alpine H2O. There are woods of fir and chestnut and oak all around that, along with the lovely little village of Bled itself, where you’ll find Slavic taverns touting lemon tea and dumplings.
Sadly, Slovenia isn’t as cheap as it once was. However, Lake Bled still deserves a spot on this list of the best cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe, if only because it offers that hit of real Alpine charm for way less than other places in the mountain chain, like Austria or France.
Lake Iseo, Italy
The second spot in Italy to make this list of the top cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe for 2023 comes from the craggy Prealps of the north. Cue Lago d’Iseo (or Lake Iseo to give it the less-romantic English moniker). Let the crowds go to Garda and the billionaires hit Como, this is the stunning alpine lake you’ve not yet heard of yep. It sits on the babbling Oglio River under the jagged peaks of the Val Camonica.
Nowhere near as bustling as other lakes in the area, Iseo has a distinctly Italian vibe. That helps to keep prices on the downlow, even in the busier summer months when local folk like to visit from nearby Bergamo and Milan. We’ve stayed a whole month before and paid under $1,000 for a flat in the middle of an old town, only five minutes’ walk from the lakeside.
We’d recommend pushing on through to the northern end of Lake Iseo. There, the mountains start to creep ever higher, and you encounter pretty towns like Pisogne and Lovere (clue’s in the name, eh, honeymooners?). The latter of those is a member of I Borghi più belli d’Italia, a league of the most beautiful towns and villages in the country – that’s saying something, too, because this is Italy, remember?
Portugal bucks the trend in Europe in that it sits right at the far tip of the western side of the continent but is actually a whole load cheaper than a lot of the places around it. Within the country itself, Porto comes up trumps as the cheaper of the two major cities. A typical mid-to-luxury holiday in these parts should cost you around $100 per day, with things like food and booze coming in nice and affordable.
Porto is located up in the north close to the Spanish border. That puts it between two coastlines, the Green Coast (or Costa Verde) to the north and the Silver Coast to the south. It’s easy to get away to either of those for your sessions on the sand (or the surf), but you might prefer to head inland, where the iconic vineyards of the Douro River valley mean tasting rich red wines to your heart’s content.
Porto is also perfect city break material if you were after a shorter honeymoon of just a couple of days. The center of the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with romantic lookout points over the river mouth. The south side of the river itself is home to age-old port cellars where you can sample fortified wine. Then there’s the area of Vitória, filled with moody cafés and jazz bars and multicultural eateries.
Cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe – a conclusion
When looking for cheap honeymoon destinations in Europe, it really helps to look to the eastern side of the continent. That’s where the more budget-friendly countries await, in the form of Poland, Slovenia, and Croatia. You could also go west to see the sandy beaches and cultural cities of Portugal. We also think there are some hidden parts of Italy that have some of the most enticing options of all.