Whether you’re studying in Europe, or taking a short semester abroad, there are plenty of destinations across the continent that are perfect for short weekend breaks, or student holidays.
With plenty of budget accommodation, cheap travel, and a thriving young backpacker scene, Europe is the perfect place to explore as a student – even if you’re quite broke and have limited money!
You’re quite blessed as a student in Europe, because you’ll never be short of cities to visit, and exciting travel opportunities. And, a lot of the time, your trips can actually tie into your studies (Europe is a hub of everything from history to architecture, to world politics!).
Looking for inspiration on cities you should visit during a semester break or school holiday? You can’t go wrong with the following.
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Must Visit Cities in Europe for Student Holidays
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of Europe’s most visited cities due to its rich history, countless museums and galleries, and notable schools. It’s the perfect place for learning history, and has a very young, bohemian atmosphere.
If you’re interested in history and architecture, castles abound in the Czech Republic and you will find one of the finest right in Prague. Here the 9th century Prague Castle sits and is where the President of the Czech Republic holds his/her office.
Best of all for students, Prague has some of the best and cheapest beer in Europe. Try some Pilsner Urquell and enjoy a pint for around 2€. Nightlife gets started a bit later than other European cities so prepare for a late night out.
While you’re bored in your study hall, listening to the drone of a long lecture, do you ever dream of sipping espresso while twirling pasta between your fork?
Rome is a city that bursts with culture, history, religion, and amazing food experiences. The only problem will be experiencing everything in just one trip (we recommend an actual semester break as opposed to a short weekend trip).
Rome wasn’t built in a day so you can hardly expect to see it all in one. There’s the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and more. Put on your most comfortable pair of walking shoes and simply take to the streets.
You don’t have to be studying religion to be blown away by the sheer beauty of buildings like St Peter’s Basilica. Nor do you have to be Catholic to get inside it and take a look around, and so we wholeheartedly recommend that you do.
Plan at least a half to full day in the Vatican City, taking in the museums, St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, and of course the Sistine Chapel.
While you’re there to relax and enjoy yourself, many students find they are inspired by Rome, so don’t be surprised if the ideas start flowing and find yourself thinking ‘I’m going to write my personal statement‘ while traveling.
London is all the buzz at the moment for student travel. But honestly, it always has been! The cultural heartland of the UK, this gargantuan, bustling city is jam-packed with a seemingly endless array of hotspots, and a thousand things to do.
London is a modern historical and stylish destination, home to some of the popular buildings and destinations in the world such as Buckingham Palace, Oxford Street, and Piccadilly Circus to name a few.
Hostels here are a lifesaver, and if even if you’re not studying in the UK, you can still visit world famous universities like Oxford, and walk around exploring the different colleges during special visit days.
Walking around the school grounds is also a great opportunity to chat to the students and staff – they might even be able to give you insight into what goes into a successful personal statement or admissions essay!
The other great thing that draws many students to London is that there are great student discounts on everything from clothes to transport, and West End Musicals (so we highly recommend traveling with an international student card), and a tonne of great things to do for free.
For instance, the city boasts spectacular parks and gardens, people watching opportunities which will make you stare, and all of London’s major museums are free. Historic markets like Covent Garden don’t charge admission, and it is here where the city comes alive with street performers and musicians.
We’ll be honest – Berlin might have a rich history, and a vibrant, hip cafe culture, though the biggest draw for students is its cracking nightlife scene.
As far as nightlife in Europe goes, Berlin’s got the title of best clubbing city firmly in the bag. Since the 90’s, Berlin’s dance floor action has reached near-mythical status; the clubber culture having become both a lifestyle and a religion.
This is a city where the nightlife is intense. Techno still rules the house, though there are plenty of other beats like hip hop, dancehall and dubstep. There are even edgy clubs in recycled venues like abandoned power stations and old swimming pools!
But a word of warning before you make a 7pm start on the Jägermeister: pace yourself. With no official closing time for clubs and bars, the party often doesn’t peak until the wee hours and continues through mid-morning or beyond.
Clubs tend to fill up around 2am and parties here last all night, with few places turfing people out before 9am.
Barcelona is a must-visit for students traveling across Europe, and the great thing is that it’s a very easy city to take in on a short 48 hour weekend break.
Most people know Barcelona for its prowess in football and the amazing buildings created by the famous Antoni (don’t miss the Sagrada Familia). But Barcelona is also one of the world’s best food cities.
The good news for broke students is that you don’t have to seek out fine dining to eat world class food in Barcelona. You can find Catalan cuisine in casual settings all over the city, and tapas bars from Michelin-starred chefs are popping up left, right and center.
Beach-side shacks and street food stands are massively popular, serving some of the best bites in town, and if you’re after good food and a relaxing weekend on the beach, this is a great way to forget your studies!
Barcelona’s beaches stretch for a massive 4.5km and offer an array of free activities. From basking in the Spanish sunshine to mixing with the locals over a game of beach volleyball, you’ll never be short of things to do at the beach.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam might be known as a student hub for its seedy nightlife, and permissable coffee shops, but it’s actually a great city for culture, history, and your health!
Amsterdam is a compact city which means you can walk or cycle everywhere, and enjoy lazy days among tilting buildings and bridges, and popular museums that feature artists like Van Gogh.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city filled with unparalleled arts, culture, and night life, and whether you’re studying art, photography, history, or politics, there are attractions you can tie into your studies for some real world context.
Amsterdam also takes the prize for the greenest city in the world thanks to its huge number of pedestrian zones and cycle paths, making these the most popular transport modes with 38% of the population choosing to walk or cycle.
Conclusion: Why Travel on Student Breaks?
As a student, you need to break from studying from time to time, and travel gives you the space between your studies to refresh your mind and enhance your creativity when it comes time to get back to work again.
Students who take breaks regularly usually excel in their studies more so than those who chain themselves to the desk 24 hours a day. Plus, building social time into your academic life is important for a balanced lifestyle.
Travel opens your eyes to new experiences, and Europe is a fantastic destination, spilling over with cities that can apply real world lessons and practical application to your studies.
So, during your next school break, don’t lie on the couch all day watching Netflix series. Get out and discover a new destination – remembering to include your travel experiences on your personal statement, and on your resume!