A perfect summer holiday in France when travelling on a budget

According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, France is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82.6 million tourists in 2016! Although it can get crowded in summer in the tourist hotspots, there is still plenty to enjoy.

Where to visit 
When it comes to variety, France is hard to compete with. The north is completely different from the south, and the various cities have their own unique identities. Also, the beaches are too great for you to miss out on!

Your holiday in France doesn’t have to cost too much: even the most expensive cities in France like Paris have lots of ways to save money and make your budget go a long way.

We have chosen three of the best places you can visit to have a good time without having to dig too deep into your wallet.

Lille 
Lille is undeniably a cool place, and it is one of the best cities in France for you to relax and have fun. It’s in the very north of France, so not far to travel from the UK. There are no direct flights to Lille, so it’s best to get the Eurostar train.

The city has a beautiful Natural History Museum which has one of the world’s best insectariums. There is also the spectacular 17th-century Citadel of Lille. You’ll also get to see the biggest flea market in Europe at the annual Braderie de Lille, and enjoy delicious meals at an affordable price.

Paris
Paris is one of those cities that everyone has to visit once in their lifetime.

It’s possible to spend quality time in Paris without having to pay too much. You can roam around the Montmartre’s Secret Vineyards, have a little picnic under the Eiffel Tower with your loved ones, and dig out cheaper food options in a restaurant such as Chez Le Libanais, for delicious Lebanese shawarma.

Dune of Pilat
This is one of the most remarkable places in Europe. Located in the south-west of France, near Bordeaux, the Dune of Pilat is a large white sandy dune that stretches for miles, with the sea on one side and the lush forest on the other side. It is the tallest sand dune in Europe, and it is a famous tourist destination with more than a million visitors per year. It serves as a perfect place for relaxation and a perfect spot for a day trip.

Packing for a summer holiday in France
Summer in France can sometimes be scorchingly hot, mostly in the afternoons, but it can quickly turn cold later! It’s best to bring items that are light, but also to pack a jacket or a sweater to avoid the sudden drops in temperature. You’ll also find sunglasses handy for those long sunny afternoons.

For women, it’s best not to bring skimpy shorts, because French women don’t really wear them in public. It might work if you plan on going to a resort, but if you don’t, choose something else.

For men, light shirts and jeans are all you really need.

A city break in Munich without breaking the bank

We asked writer Lana Nikolajeva, who has recently visited Munich, to give us her tips for visiting this great German city.

Having just come back from Munich, I can promise you that it’s a city worth seeing: the architecture, the food and the general atmosphere are all amazing. It’s not the cheapest European city, so I will give you some tips to make sure you don’t break the bank!

When to visit
Try to go off-season, or at least avoid Oktoberfest (22nd September to 7th October 2018); prices tend to rise significantly during this time, and you can get much of the same experience outside of Oktoberfest without paying the high prices.

For example, airline ticket prices around Oktoberfest are often roughly double what they would be at other times of the year.

Where to stay
When I’m going on a city break, what I look for in a hotel is a central location with good transport links, cleanliness, a private bathroom, and free WiFi. I am out for most of the day, and all I really need the room for is sleeping.

Using the price comparison sites you can narrow down your selection and also apply a price limitation. You can get a good basic room with a private bathroom in the centre of Munich from about 40-50 euros (35-45 pounds) per single room per night. It is also wise to book in advance and this usually brings down the price quite a bit.

Food
A lot of local beer gardens and halls will allow you to bring your own food as long as you buy the beer. Munich has a large population of students (the current estimate is 100,000) so bars and cafes close to the universities tend to be cheaper than the more touristy areas.

You can also enjoy delicious German bagels: they come with every filling imaginable, sold on almost every corner, and prices start from as little as 75 cents.

Neuschwanstein Castle
One of the main reasons people come to Munich is to cross Neuschwanstein Castle off their bucket list. This fairytale castle is around 100km southwest of the city by road, and takes just under two hours to reach.

You can get various tours to take you there, which cost around 55 euros for the transport. Entrance fee to the castle then costs 13 euros, or for roughly double this you can get a combination ticket that lets you also visit other places.

Some tours also include stops at the Linderhof Palace and the traditional German area of Oberammergau, but you can get a day Bavaria ticket from as little as 23 euros, and this will allow you use all public transport for the whole day.

Don’t be late getting to the castle: a group of 65 people goes into this mighty building every 5 minutes, and if you are more than 4 minutes late you may be refused entry.

Other places to visit 
There is an abundance of places you can visit for free in Munich; take a stroll from the royal Nymphenburg Park, enjoy the beauty of the English Gardens (watch out for topless sun lovers as it’s legal in the park), and visit amazing churches like Frauenkirche and Asamkirche in the old town.

For football enthusiasts, Bayern Munich football club has matches, tours, and experiences. In addition, many museums in Munich only charge an entrance fee of one euro on Sundays, which can also help to stretch your budget.

Kos: A lesser-known Greek island that’s well worth exploring

The charming Greek island of Kos will seduce you with its stunning seaside and mountain towns and villages, and its fascinating history stretching back to 366 BC.

It’s ideal if you fancy a sun-kissed beach getaway, with its golden sands and crystal clear waters, but there’s so much more to this gorgeous Dodecanese island that you won’t be able to resist exploring while on holiday here.

There are plenty of accommodation options spread across Kos, whether you want to stay in a budget or luxury hotel, apartment or villa, and many of them are located right by the sea. With 70 miles of coastline, it feels like Kos is a never-ending beach paradise.

Simply sunbathing on one of the clean, award-winning beaches and taking a dip in the clear Aegean Sea makes for a perfect day.

The summer months of July and August are the hottest here, with temperatures reaching 31C (88F), so you may want to bear that in mind if you prefer to visit at a cooler time.

Exploring the island
Kos is predominantly flat and low-lying, so cycling is popular among both locals and tourists, and there are plenty of bicycle rental outlets.

Hiring a car on Kos is easy, and it will give you the freedom to explore to your heart’s content. Kos is a fairly small island, so you can drive from the east side of the island to the west side in less than an hour, and it’s only 20 minutes from north to south, so you can get to see many of the sights quite quickly.

Kos Town is rich with sightseeing opportunities, from the medieval Neratzia Castle to the Ancient Agora ruins and the Tree of Hippocrates. The island is famed for its connections with Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, as he was born here and legend has it that he taught his students underneath the tree.

Further out, you can see the Roman Odeon and mosaics, tour the Venetian Antimachia Castle, take in the panoramic views from the ancient Asklepion, and finish off the day with a fantastic sunset from the beautiful village of Zia.

Many holidaymakers take advantage of the location of Kos to enjoy day trips to nearby islands, such as volcanic Nisyros, and you can even take a boat trip to Bodrum in Turkey, as it’s less than 15 miles away.

Festivals and Feasts
Modern Greek culture in Kos means festivals, religious feasts, and plenty of cultural events, and August is the best month for this. At the beginning of the month, the traditional village of Mastichari hosts its Wine Festival, while the historic fishing town of Kefalos has an Ouzo and Sardine Festival. Mid-August sees the Honey Festival inland in Antimachia.

Towards the end of August, you can join in with the celebrations in Mastichari for the Feast Day of Agios Ioannis (Saint John), which is when pilgrims pay their respect to the saint. Later in the day, locals and visitors alike gather on the beach to party until sundown.

If you’re visiting in July or August, the Hippocrates Festival is a must-do for visitors to Kos. Each year, for two whole months, the festival celebrates Hippocrates with all kinds of entertainment, from theatre and music performances to street dancing and art exhibitions.

Wonderful food
All kinds of palates are catered for in Kos, but for traditional cuisine, you’ll find a multitude of tavernas serving meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Being an island, there’s a fantastic selection of fresh seafood, of course, and what better way to finish off a beach or sightseeing day than with delicious food?