5 budget-friendly destinations where South Africans can enjoy a European summer

Swimmingly beautiful Taormina in Sicily. Picture: Unsplash

Swimmingly beautiful Taormina in Sicily. Picture: Unsplash

Published Mar 28, 2024


Winter is arriving soon and for those not looking forward to cold weather, why not enjoy summer on the other side of the world?

There are plenty of budget-friendly destinations that South Africans can visit in the Northern Hemisphere during summer.

The Northern Hemisphere enjoys summer during June, July and August.

With this being a great time to travel there, here are five hidden gems to explore for a European summer vacation.

Black Sea, Bulgaria

Top deck houses in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Picture: Unsplash

Bulgaria has some incredible coastal beaches bordered on the east by the Black Sea. From marine towns to quaint villages, the Bulgarian seaside is worth a visit.

This summer getaway is perfect for those looking to stay a couple of days so they can fully take in the atmosphere.

There are multiple of party spots on the Black Sea coast like Sunny Beach, however, you can also enjoy the luxury Bulgaria beach resorts that make for a pleasant family vacation.

If you are looking to connect with nature and enjoy the wilderness, you have plenty of options with campsites across the whole coast.

Consider a stay at Festa Pomorie Resort, starting from R778 a night for two.

Sicily, Italy

Tonnara di Scopello in Sicily. Picture: Unsplash

Sicily is one of Italy‘s most famous islands off the south coast of Italy’s mainland. It is an island abundant in history, with more Greek ruins than Greece itself, mouth-watering cuisine and a coastline that rivals the Caribbean.

Sicily is bordered by three seas, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Ionian Sea to the East and the Tyrrhenian Sea to its North & West and each of these regions offers different beach experiences.

The island is home to some of the best beaches in the world and popular beaches include Siracusa in the south and the beaches around Trapani in the north.

The pristine warm waters is one of the main reasons to travel to Sicily and you’ll find opportunities to swim almost anywhere on its coastline.

Consider a stay at Karma Resort starting from R761 a night for two.

Vormsi, Estonia

Travellers taking a bicycle tour of Vormsi in Estonia. Picture: Instagram

Vormsi aka Ormsö is the fourth-largest island of Estonia. The island is known for its beautiful nature and is a great escape as life on the island is peaceful and safe.

When exploring the island, you can still see the influence of Swedish seafarers who settled in Vormsi hundreds of years ago in the architecture and place names.

About 450 people live on the island and it is a great holiday destination for those seeking untouched nature as well as for those interested in coastal Swedish history. Vormsi juniper fields, seaside loops, boulders, and lighthouses are best explored on foot or by bicycle.

You can get there by ferry from Rohuküla or Sviby harbours. Consider a stay at Tiny Marienholm starting from R1 646 a night.

Belgrade, Serbia

Old church in Kalemegdan fortress in Belgrade, Serbia. Picture: Unsplash

Summer is the best time to visit Serbia if you want sunny days, warm weather, and don’t mind dealing with more crowds than usual.

With the good weather does come higher prices for tours and accommodation so it’s important to keep that in mind if you’re on a budget.

Average temperatures often soar above 30°C so while you might want to spend some time in the cities, this is the best time to enjoy the country's beautiful rivers and lakes.

Although Serbia is a landlocked country with no access to the coast, that doesn't mean you can't take a dip.

With the Danube River cutting through Belgrade and Novi Sad, you'll find beaches throughout the cities where you can cool off, splash in the water, play in the sand and pretend you're at the sea.

Consider a stay at Belgrade City Hotel starting from R1 131 a night for two.

Rhodes, Greece

Central medieval city of Rhodes, in Greece. Picture: Unsplash

Although Rhodes is a well-known Greek destination, the island is still one of the cheapest Greek Islands for holidays. The island has a large number of hotels, creating competition and driving down the prices.

Hotel rooms start from €25 (R515) per night for two people. Rhodes is one of the cheapest Greek Islands to fly into, with frequent flights from major European cities.

The island is located near the coast of Turkey and it boasts a rich history, stunning sandy beaches and a melting pot of cultures.

The highlight of the island has to be the medieval Old Town of Rhodes which is so spectacular it’s been made a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The stunning beaches come in as a close second. Rhodes has a large number of resorts and all-inclusive hotels that are relatively cheap.

Consider a stay at the all-inclusive Mitsis Grand Hotel starting from R2 428 a night for two.