The exams are over, the revision complete, and you deserve a holiday. Whether you’re looking to grab a bikini and hit the beach or don your leaver’s hoodie and get outside for an adrenaline packed escape, Europe has it all. The problem? Well, Europe’s bonafide reputation for good times holidays is no secret and avoiding the hoards of sun seekers on the beaches of the Costa del Sol or party addicts in Malia can be an exhausting task. And then there’s the question of cost because unlike South East Asia and other far-flung budget destinations, Europe can be expensive.
Here’s our list of the top five alternative European destinations for post-exam celebrations. Out destinations are kind on your purse strings, boast incredible scenery, host banging nightlife, and possess some of the most incredible beaches you’ve ever seen — all well away from the tourist traps.
For the Hedonistic City Lover: Belgrade, Serbia
Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, is fast becoming Europe’s most energetic and seductive city for those looking for a good time. With cheap flights, cheap accommodation, and cheap booze and food, it’s the perfect destination for city lovers with a tight budget. But Belgrade has a lot more to offer for tourists than economical prices.
There’re the incredible people-watching opportunities in the city’s famous cafe culture, the iconic, Instagram-worthy architecture (shout out to the Belgrade fortress) — and the legendary nightlife that can leave you partying on a boat on the Danube at four in the morning. Belgrade truly has it all. Mix that all in with insanely friendly locals, a rich history and a general atmosphere of experimentation and excitement, and you can see why this rollicking city is fast becoming a must-visit destination.
For the Beach Bum: Hvar, Croatia
After hours working in dark libraries, it’s time to step out into the glorious sunshine and indulge in some well-earned beach time. And if you’re looking for beautiful beaches on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Hvar in Croatia. Located on Croatia’s spectacular Adriatic coast, Hvar has rocky beaches, dazzling blue waters and unexplored stretches of coastline temptingly secluded from the usual holiday beachgoers.
You could spend the day frolicking in the waves or catching up on some beach reads on the beautiful beaches. Or, if you can muster the energy, hop over to the islands dotted close by for some adventuring.
And don’t worry, Hvar also boasts some pretty iconic nightlife, so you can let your wave-tousled hair down in the evenings.
For the Escapee: Corsica
If you’re looking to well and truly escape it all and find your perfect little island paradise, you can’t go wrong with Corsica. Abounding in natural beauty, clean air and the kind of slow pace only found in island life, Corsica is a much overlooked Mediterranean island — but everything you’ve been looking for.
With over 1,000 km of coastline and nearly 200 secret beaches, Corsica’s coast is a beguiling getaway that offers everything you need for an incredible holiday — hiking routes, snorkel-worthy waters, and the scent of lavender and honey perfuming the salty sea breeze.
And for the history buffs out there, the Roman ruins of Aléria are well worth a visit.
For the Adventurous Soul: Azores Islands
You may not have heard of these nine incredible volcanic Atlantic islands, but for the adventurous, they offer a treasure trove of incredible natural wonder and unrivalled experiences. Verdant green mountains, rugged coastlines, and a 97% chance of spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises, the Azorean Archipelago is a subtropical paradise for those looking to get away from the crowds and explore untouched nature.
Strap on your hiking boots and make your way through the subtropical vegetation, over the black cliffs, around insane bursting geysers, and underneath awe-inspiring waterfalls.
When you’re tired of all the walking, take a dip in the crystalline waters of one of the many lakes, or immerse yourself in the healing hot springs and thermal pools surrounded by palms and ferns.
For the Sun Worshiper: Albania Riviera
The Albanian Riviera is arguably Europe’s best-kept secret. With pristine beaches, ancient hamlets, and simply stunning scenery, this stop along the Balkan trail rivals its more famous cousin, the French Riviera — and for a fraction of the price.
Spend the day beach hopping, walking along olive groves and seeking out one of the hundreds of hidden bays and secluded spots to soak up the sun in solitude. For a taste of Albania, head into one of the picturesque ancient hamlets for a seafood supper unlike anything you’ve ever had, or sample a range of traditional vegan and meaty feasts.
Author bio: Robert Joyce is the managing director of personalised clothing company Yazzoo, which delivers high-quality screen printing and embroidery services at economy prices.