The gorgeous view of Jungfrao in Interlaken
So first of, lets define what we mean by ‘ Budget’ because Europe is possibly one of the MOST expensive holidays you can have. Even if the flight tickets are cheaper, the hotels and food are exorbitant so lets define ‘ Budget’ okie? . When we decided we wanted to honeymoon in Europe we met two kinds of people. The first said ” Sure, you can definitely honeymoon there. It should cost you about 6-7 lakhs totally plus shopping “. The other said ” Sure, you should take one of those group packages and it will probably jut be around 3 .5 lakhs totally“. Now honestly, the former was too expensive and the latter is in budget – but well who wants a ‘group honeymoon’ ? Group tours are very restrctive and time bound and we wanted to do our own thing, so we just sat down and planned everything on our own.
So we did: London-Paris-Interlaken-Zurich . June-July is the most expensive time for these places, but since we were honeymooning we couldnt really postpone it , besides other times are probably too cold.
- Qatar Airways has some great deals to Europe from India. We booked tickets like 5 months in advance and it costed us totally Rs 71000/- round trip for both of us. Now, we had a strange sector- we flew Hyd- London and Zurich- Delhi return. So if you are doing a proper round trip it should be a bit cheaper.
- In London, book as early as possible. I mean even 9 months before is fine and even if you dont know your plan for sure (Cancellation is free!!!) Because in london you WANT to stay in Central London. Thats where everything happens and you dont want to take 2 am taxi rides or rail rides back to your hotel. Central London is EXTREMELY expensive. Just to give you a whiff…there is almost nothing available below 130 pounds a night at any hotel. thats roughly 12 grand per night.
- The best option is to look at service apartments in London. If you book early, you can get these service apartments around kensingtion area for about 100-110 pounds a night. We didnt find a free room in those apartments so we looked elsewhere so book as early as possible.
- Look at Tripadvisor and go into the “Apartments” Section. Now start googling all the top 10 ones. A lot of the hotels are not available on those bulk booking websites but have their own small websites where you can book on, so google them seperately.
- We stayed in a lively area called Earls Court in a little hotel called the Barkston Garden Hotel. It costed us about 100 pounds a night but we got lucky because the hotel was under renovation hence the low rates. Another Good option is Anthea Macedonia- its walking distance from a central tube station, is a lovely boutique hotel and fairly cheap.
- If you are not going on a honeymoon, but taking a trip with friends and you want to make it REALLLY cheap then London’s Youth Hostels are a great bet. http://www.st-christophers.co.uk/ has some youth hostels in and around good areas where you can stay.
- I booked all my hotels through www.booking.com . They sometimes get really great deals of the day and you can keep booking and cancellation -they never charge you until the day before the check in
- In Paris, language is a major problem so trust the hotel chains you have heard of more than the other ones. Try and stay in the 4th or 5th Arrondisement- the St Germain de Pres, or Latin Quartier area. This is where all the action happens.
- The thing about Paris is, hotel rooms are extremely tiny, they are like little cubby holes. So whether you spend a lot or spend a little doesnt matter. You will either get a fancy cubby hole or a regular cubby hole.
- We stayed at Best Western Hotel Quartier Latin- which was a little bit away from the buzz but walkable distance to a lot of things close by. This costed us about 7800/- a night but the room was like a tiny little cubby hole.
- In smaller cities of Switzerland like Interlaken and Lucerne DO NOT stay in a hotel. There is absolutely no point in lettng the beauty of Switzerland go waste by staying in a fancy hotel. The BEST thing to do for these smaller cities is to log on to tripadvisor and go into the “Bed and Breakfast and Inns’section. We lucked out by booking the Number 2 Bed and Breakfast in Interlaken- Rugenpark B & B. Now, sure it was more like a home and less like a hotel but the breakfast was amazing, the hosts were unbelievably helpful ( you MUST speak to Ursula the host about what to do- she knows everything from the best fondue in town, to the best peak to go skiing in ) , the view was gorgeous and the whole Swiss Cottage feel to it was really nice !
- In Zurich we stayed at Novotel Zurich.
- The last thing you want to do when you are on a Honeymoon is go and ruin you lunch and dinner dates by eating at Mc Donalds to save cash. So we made it a point, to never enter Mc D in our whole trip , but still remain budget. How we did that?
- Cheap Eats in London: Pret a Manger, M & S Food . These are things you wont get in India, but are still affordable and really yummy! Also when you are shopping or on the go, you need quick bites from these.
- Nice Restaurants in London: Ping Pong, Chiquitos, Nandos, WagaMama, and Busaba. Ping Pong is on the expensive side, but hey come on, you can splurge once in a while right. But all of these according to me are MUST visits!
- Cheap Eats in Paris: In Paris, the street food is AMAZING !!! There are crepes, falafels, waffle standas everywhere . I highly recommend Aup’tit Grec in Latin Quarter. It had the yummiest Crepes!!!! There is also an extremely falafel guy called Lás Du Falafel. We arent too fond of falafels so we didnt go there but people say he is a must visit. Also must do- eat Berthillion Sorbet Ice Creams. Heaven that!!!!
- Nice Restaurants in paris: There are cafes everywhere in Paris, just enter any one of them !
- Must Eat Restaurant in Paris : We decided that since we are in Paris, we MUST visit atleast one Michelin Star Restaurant. It was an expensive meal which set us back some 9000 Rs for that meal alone but it was WELL worth it. Its a place called Le Galerie Kitchen and i would go there and spend that much again JUST to eat the White Chocolate and Wasabi Ice Cream. That is probably the single best dessert iv had till date!
- Cheap Eats in Switzerland: None. No Seriously, Switzerland is THE MOST expensive of all the places we visited. So this is what we did- some days we visited the big department stores they have COOP and MIGROS and did take aways of their pre-packaged food. It was surprisingly good. I remember eating a Yellow Thai Curry, and Shrimp and Noodle Salad and it was 1/10th of what you would spend in a restaurant. Other days we strolled on the streets, sat by the lakes in Switzerland which are gorgeous and just ordered from nearby cafes
- Food Tip: always stock your travel bag in the morning with packets of chips, sandwiches from the supermarket, you wont need to keep running into cafes everytime your tummy does a little growl between meals
- Water Tip: Europe Water is safe to drink from the tap- infact the locals drink it too.We realised this after having spent like tons of money on 3 pound bottles of mineral water. So dont do the same mistake- the tap water is totally fine!!!
- Drink Beer in london, Wine in Paris : Do as the locals do- beer is cheaper than water in london and Wine in Paris is totally affordable! So Drink uppp!!!
- In London, Covent Garden is a lively little square in the evening, where street performers do the whackiest of performances. Its amazing, like a little melting pot of culture and it costs nothing so do that. Also go laze around Hyde Park/ Primrose Hill for beautiful, lush green landscapes
- In Paris, there are TONS of free museums if you wish to see! Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde and the Louvre — free on the first Sunday of every month. Paris is so beautiful in itself that lovely little walks can make your day!
- In Switzerland, the best entertainment is free. The place is so stunning that all you need to do is go sit by the lakeside, or the mountain side and have a little pic nic
- In London , definitely watch a westend play. Tickets arent exactly cheap – but the plays are just well worth it. I am not even a play person, but if you get a chance to see Lion King or Wicked GO SEE IT !! Ticket for one person costs 40 pounds. They are available in Picaddily circus right off the tube station. Book a day or two in advance to get good seats for a better rate. I would also definitely recommend the Casino over there- we went to the Empire Casino and it was a ton of fun except we gambled away some 150 pounds :p . ALso do club in London, we went to a club called Tiger Tiger and it was a lot of fun. Over -rated thing you can skip : The London Eye, i dont get what the big deal is. Its a freaking giant wheel. Whoopie. No Thank you.
- In Paris, definitely do the cruise on the Siene. Its well worth it- you get to see all the gorgeous Paris attractions as you cruise along the river. Also definitely do Disneyland, i mean how can you go to Paris and not do Disney Land? I had the most fun there !!!
- In Interlaken you must go to the snow peaked mountains of either Schilthorn or Jungfrao. We actually did Schilthron which is not as famous as Jungfrao but is much cheaper and honestly has MUCH better views. This is a little tip Ursula gave us and it paid off big time. Both are VERY expensive..i think 200 francs for both of us! Also you MUSt go to the Glacier Falls
- In Zurich i didnt find too many must do things. Honestly i didnt love zurich that much anyway. However, if you are vegetarian then you MUST MUST go to this restaurant called Hiltl.
- London is THE place to shop. People who say London shopping is expensive dont know what they are talking about. You MUST, compulsary enter Primark- its a HUGE store with clothing that is cheaper than anything you find in India Honestly. Also Mango is much cheaper in london specially on sale so do go there. Also go to New Look , Top Shop and H & M.
- London is best to visit during June-July for shopping.You Get INSANE discounts. Micheal Kors was on a flat 60% off !! and i got myself a little Micheal Kors Bag which was originally for some 29,000 Rs at 11000/- Rs !!
- London- everyone shops at Oxford Street. You can spend 4 days there and there will still be shops left to cover, but High Street Kensington is nice too.
- Paris shopping is nice too, but its a tad more expensive. The 3rd arrondisement area is lined with quirky little boutiques and vintage shops that even if you dont buy anything from are absolutely darling. There is also a cheap flea market in Paris : the Clignacourt flea market which is at the end of the metro line so its a bit far. But apparently you get great bargains there!!! If you want regular high street shopping then Boulevard St germain or Chatelet is a nice area.
- There is no point of shopping in Switzerland. Except if you want to get yourself a ddlj bell. Ya, apart from that its all over prices nonsense.
- From London to Paris you can either go by cheap flights like Ryanair, or you can take the “Eurostar train ” which is actually much more expensive but makes you reach in 2 hours. We chose the more expensive option because people told us the views were fabulous but i will be honest there was nothing different about the view than what you see in the fields of Punjab. Just lush green grass. So if you really want to make it a tight budget you can fly.
- Between European countries and cities Eurail is the way to go but dont blindly book a pass. Those passes only make sense if you are going to atleast 5-10 different cities. Point to Point tickets will work out cheaper otherwise.
- WIthin London we got ourselves a card called the “Oyster Card”. This lets you travel on buses/ rail / tube at a discounted price and its really convenient. For late night excursions we used a cab .
- Another cool thing about London- there are these Barclays Bicycles that you can rent for a pound and circle around oxford street, hyde park corner with them and explore the city.Its fun!!!
- In Paris again we travelled by rail or in some cases Cabs but the day pass system just didnt make any sense so we always got point to point.
- In Interlaken- just rent a bicycle its a tiny tiny town
- In Zurich we used the trams.
What is the MINIMUM amount you will spend per person: Well the minimum is around 1.5 Lac you will spend per person uf you do the same countries as ours and you still want to enjoy yourself and do all the fun things. Other countries like Italy and Spain are much cheaper than London and Switzerland so you can go cheaper there. Honestly me and boy did not scrimp, we ate at Good places, shopped to our hearts content, gambled and lost tons of money in the Casino’s , splurged in Disneyland , splurged on Michelin star meals and went to all major attractions that we wanted to. We were just smart about it- balancing out lavish meals with quick street food, and ensuring we did all the free entertainment things as well as the expensive…and total including shopping we spent a little less than 4L. Believe me, thats NOTHING in Europe.
PS: Im not an expert, im only talking from my own experience of holidaying there.