Utrecht will fulfil all your canal-wandering needs / Shutterstock

Break the mould, but not the bank, with our wallet-friendly ideas for a weekend away

The majority of Europe’s most popular city break destinations are also the most expensive. Yet, there are ways to get a similar weekend away at a lower cost. Here are some of our top picks...

Swap Amsterdam for Utrecht

Utrecht is the ideal alternative to the Netherlands’ pricey capital, with its picturesque canals and wide selection of museums displaying everything from Dutch masters to Aboriginal Australian art. It’s also convenient to get to from almost anywhere, just half an hour by train from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. Expedia has a two-night break here from £146pp, including room-only accommodation at the super-central Park Plaza Utrecht and flights from Luton to Amsterdam.

Swap Copenhagen for Turin

Many people visit the Danish capital for its great design and food, but the Italian city of Turin also offers a feast for the eyes and stomach. This former World Design Capital has a big creative community, and is home to museums such as the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, as well as cool design shops, hip bars and cafés. And don’t miss out on Piedmontese gastronomy; wine and white truffles are both specialities. easyJet Holidays has two nights in Turin from £98pp including flights from Gatwick and B&B at the Hotel Diplomatic.

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Turin hosts an annual public exhibition of light installations, Luci d’Artista (Stefano Menegatti/Flickr)

Swap London for Manchester

Manchester is going from strength to strength. Its cultural offering includes the recently revamped Whitworth Art Gallery and the Home arts centre, while in the Northern Quarter you’ll find a cool bar and restaurant scene to rival east London’s. There’s also a growing number of luxury hotels to choose from, among them the King Street Townhouse, which sits in the city centre and has Manchester’s only rooftop infinity pool. Doubles start at £120 a night through LateRooms.com.

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Manchester’s Northern Quarter (Jose Francisco Del Valle Mojica/Flickr)

Swap Vienna for Budapest

With its grand boulevards and imposing architecture, Budapest offers similar visuals to Vienna. However, the Hungarian capital is a little rougher around the edges, but in a good way (don’t miss a drink at a ruin pub). Lastminute.com offers two nights in Budapest from £83pp, including flights from Stansted and self-catering accommodation at the Hi5 apartments, close to the Szechenyi Chain Bridge.

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Budapest’s Parliament Building (Getty Images)

Swap Paris for Lille

For those who want a flavour of the French capital – even down to taking the Eurostar to get there – Lille is a fantastic alternative. The Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille is one of France’s best museums (second only to the Louvre), and among the architectural beauties is the original Gare du Nord, which was moved here stone by stone from Paris in the late 19th century (it now serves as the Gare de Lille Flandres). SuperBreak has two-night packages from £164pp, including Eurostar tickets and room only at the Crowne Plaza Lille.

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Paris’s old train station was moved to central Lille (forever_carrie_on/Flickr)

Click here to view European tours and holidays, with Independent Holidays.

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