Why just stay at home for the bank holiday, when it’s so cheap to take a break and travel abroad? I have taken advantage many times of the three days time off from work, so I’ve compiled in this post my own recommendations for affordable bank holiday weekend ideas.
Hike in the Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are the perfect destination for a long bank holiday weekend because of their proximity to the UK and the number of daily flights from all major airports in the country. The main airport is in Jersey, where plenty of FlyBe flights land every day, connecting London, Southampton, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, even Edinburgh to the Channel Islands. You can search for the cheapest flight options on Skyscanner.
The Channel Islands are beautiful because of their unspoiled nature. On both Jersey and Guernsey, you can hike around the island, on the circular path surrounding them. My personal experience was to hike in Jersey, and I loved it so much that I plan to return and do the entire circular path, in 3 days.
The Channel Islands are expensive but if you do choose to hike, you can stop at camping sites along the route and save a lot on accommodation. Also, eating at the local village pubs on the coast is much cheaper than at the restaurants in St Helier in Jersey or Saint Peter Port in Guernsey.
Hiking in Jersey is relatively easy if you are in good shape. I didn’t encounter many difficult parts, except for an uphill 100 meters that were pretty steep and made me a bit dizzy because of my fear of heights. Other than that though, it was a very pleasant experience. I did hike the North of the Island, from La Greve de Lecq to Bonne Nuit Beach. I based myself in St Helier and spent 3 days at the comfortable and reasonably priced Mayfair Hotel. I shared the room with a friend and paid only £75 each, for a three nights stay with breakfast and spa access included. I have to admit that it was nice to relax in the Jacuzzi after a full day of hiking on the coast.
Sail to Belgium
If you are looking for a relaxing bank holiday weekend, why not go on a cruise to Belgium? The adults only Aurora ship leaves Southampton and sails towards Zeebrugge, in Belgium, where it arrives one day later. You have the entire day to explore Zeebrugge or even pop into romantic Bruges, which is only 18km away, as the boat arrives at 9AM and sails back to England at 6PM.
Aurora is a mid-sized cruise ship which is going to be converted into an adult only vessel starting April 2019. It is a state-of-the-art cruise ship featuring a 9 decks, an outdoor pool, a pool bar, a spa and a whirlpool. It is the perfect relaxation vessel for both women and men, as among the recreational facilities it has a golf simulator, golf nets, a library and an art gallery.
For only £324pp on selected departure dates, you can enjoy a wonderful outside cabin with a balcony from where you can admire the beautiful sea sunsets and sunrises, a king-sized bed, a chair and a table, a tv and a bathroom with a tub, a shower, a sink and a toilet. Each of these cabins has floor to ceiling sliding doors which will provide you with a wonderful view of the sea when you are lying in your bed. Also, a pampering pack will be gifted to you on arrival, for your weekend of relaxation. You can book this offer for your getaway cruise weekend on the Bolsover Cruise Club website.
Zeebrugge is Belgium’s most important fishing port and this is why it is often referred to the countries’ “fish capital”. You can either enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches of Zeebrugge, and have lunch at one of the numerous fish specialised restaurants in the village, or pop into nearby Bruges, for a more romantic experience. A return trip from Zeebrugge cruise terminal to Bruges costs 20 euros.
A few things you can do in Bruges in a short time are:
Gourmand trip to France
Cherbourg is not only a foodie’s paradise, but also a cute little town with plenty of attractions to see, such as the Cite de la Mer – a maritime museum which hosts the largest submarine in the world open to the public and a cylindrical 8 meters long aquarium -, the Liberation Museum which is inside a fortress on top of the mountain behind the city, and the Italian theatre, which is still functioning today.
There are many great restaurants in Cherbourg where you can try the local cuisine but also the numerous fish dishes prepared with the catch of the day from the nearby coast. Just 20 km outside of Cherbourg you will find the charming small village of Barfleur, home of the Blonde de Barfleur, a golden shell type of mussel only found in this area. It’s worth going on a day trip to Barfleur, as there are 3 or 4 buses a day that take you there and back (none on Sundays though), to have mussels for lunch and walk alongside the harbour, all the way to the Gatteville lighthouse.
For foodies, Normandy is a great place to try local specialities. As there are a lot of apple trees growing in Normandy, expect to drink a lot of cider and calvados, an apple brandy local to here. You will find apples in a many dishes as well. Another local speciality is the Camembert, a DOC creamy cheese made with raw cow’s milk.
Some restaurants to consider having dinner at when visiting Cherbourg are: Cafe de l’Etoile, Maître Corbeau (where all dishes have cheese in them), Au Saint Michael and Cafe du Port (open on Sundays as well).
My hotel of choice was Appart’City Cherbourg, a clean, central apartment for which I paid only £50 a night.
Party in Romania
Bucharest has slowly become the party capital of Europe, with its Old Centre full of bars, restaurants and clubs, and its cheap prices. In the recent years, many people have chosen Bucharest for their stag do’s or hen parties, and no wonder, as the city never seems to turn the music down.
In Bucharest, the parties start late at night and end at the early hours of the morning. Whilst people get off their buses to go to work, party goers get on to go to their hotels.
But no worries, Bucharest is not only about parties. If you are a fan of the recent history, you can visit the Palace of Parliament (or the People’s House, as the locals call it), a gigantic building that has been erected in the 80s. To imagine how big it is, let me tell you that it is the largest administrative building in Europe and the second on in the world, after the Pentagon. It is so big that even the Top Gear presenters raced in its basement.
You can take a communist Bucharest tour to discover more about the recent history of Bucharest and Romania, and hear the stories of the people who lived the Revolution that took place almost 30 years ago, in 1989.
The Old Centre of Bucharest has been renovated in the past few years and whilst in the evening there is no space to throw a needle, especially in summer, in the mornings in a pleasure to walk through and admire the architecture, trying to found out why the city used to be called “The Little Paris” at the beginning of the last century. If you love books or want to have coffee in a special location, don’t miss a visit to Carusel, probably one of the most Instagrammable bookstores in the world.
Sunbathe in Mallorca
Another great option for a three days weekend is Mallorca. There are always cheap flights to Mallorca and with plenty of hotels to choose from, you will surely find a good deal for your budget. When I visited the island with my friends, we opted for the beautiful aparthotel Flora, where we shared an apartment for 5 nights for only £80/person. We chose to stay in Port Pollenca, which is in the North of the island because we were looking for relaxation and not party. If you want to party, then the south of the island would be the perfect choice for you.
Mallorca has the most beautiful coloured water from all the destinations I have visited in Europe. If you wouldn’t know where the above picture was taken, you could easily guess that it’s somewhere in the Caribbean, right? I was amazed on how many shades the water has and how they change, section to section, as if I was looking at a rainbow of blues.
Even if Mallorca is known as a party island, there are plenty of things to do if you want a quiet time or if you are there with your family. From dolphin watching to hiking in the Tramontana mountains, from learning how to dive to discovering hidden coves and beaches accessible only by foot, from eating delicious Spanish tapas to visiting the local markets and buy homemade jamon and cheese, there is something for everyone here. And if you want to be independent, why not hire a car as cheap as £5/day?
Disclaimer:I have written this post in collaboration with Bolsover.
Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.