Where to find a last-minute bargain on the most expensive bank holiday ever

·6-min read
copenhagen holiday summer spring bank holiday jubilee weekend - Getty
copenhagen holiday summer spring bank holiday jubilee weekend - Getty

With flight prices skyrocketing in recent weeks, it seems like you might have to be royalty to afford a holiday abroad over the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday. A Greek island getaway to Zakynthos will cost at least £541 while a cultural break to Dubrovnik comes in at an eye-watering £740 – and this is before accommodation is factored in. Meanwhile, flights to classic destinations in Spain and France are similarly extortionate.

However, there are still some bargains to be had if you look carefully. Sticking to Scandinavian countries or the likes of Germany and the Netherlands is inevitably cheaper than the Med, but if you are keen to head for sunnier climes then it is best to explore more under-the-radar locations. And if you are determined to hit popular beach spots why not look into local train networks, which could allow you to reach sandy stretches in under a couple of hours.

Here we round up the European destinations where it's still possible to book an affordable bank holiday break.

All flight prices are dated from June 2 to 6 and were correct at the time of publication. Hotel prices were checked via Booking.com and property websites. 

Hamburg, Germany

Return flights: £77

If you veer away from the Med and turn your attention to northern Europe, there are still plenty of bargains to be had this bank holiday. Return flights to German destinations such as Stuttgart, Cologne and Baden Baden (famous for its springs and for being the birthplace of the term Wag back in 2006) can all be found for under £130. However, it’s hard to beat Hamburg for a city break with a twist. The port city has two lakes, plenty of canals to meander beside and waterside bars to stop at. Of course, the Beatles once called the city home and many of the venues the Fab Four played can still be visited.

If you’re still in need of a beach fix, impressive stretches of sand are within easy reach. The four golden miles of beach at Timmendorfer Strand, set in the Bay of Lübeck, can be accessed by train in one hour and 20 minutes. Telegraph Travel’s Germany expert Paul Sullivan says: “The beach offers a slew of attractions including a chic marina, volleyball area and sports club, outdoor concerts at the Strand Arena, a Sea Life aquarium, plus an attractively long pier with panoramic views.”

hamburg holiday jubilee weekend - Getty
hamburg holiday jubilee weekend - Getty

Where to stay

In central Hamburg, INNSiDE by Meliá Hamburg Hafen (melia.com) has rooms from £166 per night over the first weekend in June. Its modern rooms and canalside location make for a good base to explore the city. Alternatively, put your saved flight money towards an elegant apartment-style room at Fraser Suites (from £250 per night).

Lourdes, France

Return flights: £90

While the south of France might seem out of reach on the Jubilee weekend – flights to Nice currently stand at £406 and are still rising – it is still affordable to make a pilgrimage to the holy town of Lourdes in the foothills of the Pyrenees. As well as visiting the various places of worship, the compact town makes a good base for hiking and cycling holidays.

Flying into Lourdes also puts you just a two-hour train journey from the Basque beach resort of Biarritz, where direct flights are currently north of £300. The town blends Belle Époque glamour with laid-back surfer vibes to charming effect.

Lourdes France jubilee weekend - Getty
Lourdes France jubilee weekend - Getty

Where to stay

In Lourdes, stay at the Villa L'Orante, a 19th-century mansion which offers views over the sanctuary, river and several Pyrenean peaks (from £113 per night).

In Biarritz, opt for the Mercure Biarritz Centre Plaza (from £170 per night). According to the Telegraph Travel review, the four-star hotel has Atlantic views, plenty of Art Deco flair and avoids feeling like part of a chain.

Alicante, Spain

Return flights: £120

Flights to much of Spain over the double bank holiday are now extortionate, with Barcelona starting at £325 and Menorca £358. However, sunny Alicante can still be reached for a reasonable £120 return. The coastal city has shaken off its Benidorm associations and is now an emerging foodie destination. Make a beeline for its central market, which has hundreds of stalls selling cheeses and cured ham before hitting the tapas bars – seafood rice dishes are particularly popular in this part of Spain.

Top attractions to explore include the domed San Nicolás Cathedral, both the MUBAG fine arts museum and MACA contemporary art museum, plus the Postiguet beach and swish marina area.

alicante travel jubilee weekend - Getty
alicante travel jubilee weekend - Getty

Where to stay

The breezy four-star Melia Alicante has rooms from £135 per night in the first week in June. Set in the smartest part of town, its rooftop pool offers views over the Playa del Postiguet. Alicante's marina is close by as is its old quarter, where most of the best shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries are found.

Geneva, Switzerland

Return flights: £120

Genteel Geneva is much more than just a gateway to the Alps and is an underrated option for a city break. The city’s old town is a warren of cobbled streets lined with bars, cafés and antique shops, while a number of slick rooftop bars have sprouted up keeping it feeling fresh. If the weather is fine, why not take a dip in Lake Geneva. One of Europe’s largest freshwater lakes, it has a special cordoned-off section for swimming and also offers sailing, stand-up paddling and rowing.

Where to stay

Geneva has a myriad of premium hotels flanking the lake, with big-hitters such as the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton and newcomer the Woodward all set on its shores. For something more affordable try the CitizenM outpost (citizenm.com), which is only 250 yards from Lake Geneva and offers a practical yet funky base. Rooms from £175 per night between June 2-6.

lake geneva jubilee travel - Getty
lake geneva jubilee travel - Getty

Copenhagen, Denmark

Return flights: £136

Flying to Copenhagen at the start of June is much more affordable than most European capitals. Admittedly, once you get there the Scandinavian city is famously expensive but there are ways to reduce the cost. Picking up treats such as sticky cinnamon buns from the market halls at Torvehallerne for a picnic in the Botanic Gardens or exploring the city by bicycle will keep the cost down and it's free to swim in the appealing Harbour Baths. If you want a beach day, try Amager Strandpark, a 10-minute metro ride from the centre. Telegraph Travel’s Copenhagen expert Suzanne King describes the spot as having “a sheltered lagoon and several miles’ worth of clean sandy beach, with sea baths at either end.”

Where to stay

Finding good-value accommodation in Copenhagen is a challenge, and may prove particularly tough over bank holiday. The contemporary Motel One Copenhagen (motel-one.com) has rooms from around £200 per night and offers an organic breakfast plus 50 different gins in its bar. Airbnb might be a more cost-effective option – prices vary wildly but one-bedroom apartments start from around £130.

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