It's the adventure of a lifetime. Oh boy, are we jealous you get to study abroad this semester. There's truly nothing like calling a European city home for five months, traveling the world, and experiencing cultures in ways you only could if you lived there. Your family and friends will joke about whether or not you're really "studying" while abroad. Truth is, a lot of your learning will come from the weekend trips you decide to book. The world is your oyster, but also your textbook -- and there's a lot to study up on. But, being abroad is a bit expensive. So, if you're looking to capture some culture without breaking the bank, there are some cheap weekend trips in Europe that are definitely worth taking when studying abroad.
Your wanderlust is really getting the best of you. You've probably already started packing, or at least made a solid list of things you shouldn't forget. Those guidebooks you bought are basically memorized by now, and your camera roll has been cleared to make room for the (inevitably) thousands of pictures you'll take in your new foreign home.
Maybe you had family that studied abroad, or are the first one to take the leap and travel around the world. Whatever your inspiration might have been, I promise it's just as good as they tell you it's going to be. When you get home it'll all feel something like a daydream, and you'll wish you could hop right back on a plane and have one more plate of that Italian pasta or Spanish paella.
So, I hope you make the most of your stay. There's so much to see in this world, and your semester abroad will give you the opportunity to make a solid dent in your bucket list. But, if you're balling on a budget, here are a few spots you should prioritize when planning those weekend trips abroad.
1. Cinque Terre, Italy
A little over two hours from Florence, Cinque Terre is the perfect alternative to an expensive trip down to the Amalfi Coast. Arguably, this catch along the coastline is actually better than the touristy areas around Positano, and makes for a much better weekend trip while you're studying abroad.
Cinque Terre actually means "five towns" in Italian, and it's the birthplace to pesto. That's right -- your favorite switch for classic tomato sauce had its start in this salty, yet sweet spot near the sea.
The pastel-saturated houses sit right into the mountains of the coastline, creating perfect formations for cliff jumping and coves for swimming alike. Take a long hike in the hills that connect each town, or take a local train from one beach to the next. Just be sure to pack a beach towel, sunscreen, and an extra pair of sneakers!
2. Split, Croatia
Sitting right in between Italy and Greece is one of my most memorable study abroad trips. Split, Croatia can be a bit of a hike. It was a long 12-hour bus ride from Florence, but so incredibly worth every minute of missed sleep.
This city is surrounded by so much greenery. There's fresh fish, friendly people, and white marble everywhere you look. It's home to scenic pebble beaches with teal waters and snowy mountains in the distance, and the locations for many Game of Thrones episodes (Yes, you can take a tour of those sites, too.)
If you're a history buff you'll love Diocletian's Palace, which has been turned into a local artisan's market that you can freely roam -- and if you're looking for some nightlife, you can check out a local pub crawl. Good vibes is an understatement.
3. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is the best spot if you're a foodie like, well, most of us. From French fry cones with creative dipping sauces to choose from, to street vendors with fluffy Belgian waffles that are loaded with fresh strawberries and Nutella -- let's just say, I hope you bring your appetite on this weekend trip.
It'll be worth spending a couple extra dimes on an exotic beer, or sticking out your hate for seafood and trying one of their mussel dishes. When you're finally full, explore the city a bit for sights like the Atomium and Grand Place, where you'll find a number of chocolate shops and gilded buildings.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Cue Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, or one of the many other musicians that found a melody in this Spanish city.
Barcelona is one of the most beautiful and lively weekend trips you'll take while abroad. Aside from absolutely incredible nightlife and endless amounts of tapas, this spot will brighten up your trip with its unlimited amount of sunshine and sandy beaches.
Take an afternoon to walk around Park Guell, marvel at Gaudi's mosaics, and then head over to an art museum to see the work of Pablo Picasso. Grab a fresh fruit smoothie at the market on Las Ramblas, and hit the hay for a siesta before you dance your way to dawn.
5. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is like a living and breathing Christmas village. Tucked into the culture of the Czech Republic, it is a fairly spread out city with castles that look like they came straight out of those stories with the princesses and dragons.
If you're finding that you're feeling a little homesick, this weekend trip will warm your heart a bit. The city is filled with comfort food like warm bowls of goulash and mulled wine.
Take a walk over the bridge to the other side of the city to see the John Lennon Wall. You'll want to snap a picture of it, because it's constantly changing and being added to. No two trips to Prague will ever be the same for that simple reason.
6. Berlin, Germany
When I studied abroad, I wasn't expecting to love Berlin as much as I now do. I pictured it to be cold and cloudy, and the people to be stand-offish. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't entirely wrong and bundled up in blanket scarves as soon as I could. But, I found a lot of history and modern beauty in this city.
From the East Side Gallery to the graffiti on the walls of the restaurants and pubs, Berlin is incredibly #artsy. The Brandenburg Gate is a site you won't want to miss. Be sure to grab a beer and a bratwurst while you walk around Berlin -- although if you want something truly authentic, the currywurst is their signature dish.
7. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is a quaint city nestled in the Netherlands. With bikes lining every street and bridge, and slightly-slanted houses that look like they came out of a storybook, there's a lot of culture in the city that's most definitely worth dropping just a little bit of cash.
During your stay, it would be in your best interest to try a Dutch pancake and pay a visit to the Anne Frank House. Spend your afternoon taking a canal cruise from the Heineken Museum to its gift shop just a mile or so away by boat.
Studying abroad is one big adventure. The best travelers will take some time and wander to places like this.