Seven alternative beach destinations for a cheap summer holiday

Seven alternative beach destinations for a cheap summer holiday

Shake off the winter blues by making plans for golden beaches and summer sunshine – but forget about Corfu or the Amalfi Coast, because this year you could be trading high prices and crowds in Greece and Italy for Albania and Turkey’s budget-friendly beaches.

If you are bored of sharing the sand with fellow Brits on the Costa del Sol, then it’s time to look at the less obvious coastlines of Poland, Romania and even Georgia. From the Baltics to the Black Sea, we have rounded up the cheap beach destinations you hadn’t thought to try in 2024.

Pomerania Province, Poland

Poland is known for its budget city breaks, but trade Krakow for a Baltic beach this summer and you won’t look back. Your wallet won’t complain either, with flights to the Baltic port city of Gdansk costing as little as £20.

Explore the Hanseatic history of Gdansk’s Old Town, then take the train to Sopot, where a 511-metre wooden pier (the longest in Europe) extends across white sands and into the sea.

North of Sopot, Gdynia’s white sands and beach-front cityscape would be right at home in Australia. Around 50 miles north-west, Leba is a haven of yawning sands, seals, seabirds and national park cycling trails.

Base yourself in Gdansk’s Old Town, where doubles at the IBB Hotel start at £54. It’s easy to reach the beaches of the Tri-city area by public transport.

Batumi, Georgia

Georgia’s Black Sea coastline was once favoured by Russian czars and Soviet premiers, but these days, subtropical climes and low prices make Batumi an intriguing destination for Western Europeans.

With a long pebble beach stretching for 7km along Batumi Boulevard, Georgia’s second-largest city is framed by its curious collection of modern architecture – including the Alphabetic Tower and a space-age McDonald’s. But don’t make the easy hop via Istanbul for a burger – make it for the famous Adjarian khachapuri (a boat-shaped pizza filled with cheese, butter and eggs) and juicy khinkali (dumplings packed with meat, cheese or potato fillings).

ROOMS, the leading Georgian hotel group, has just opened its fourth property on Georgia?s Black Sea, ROOMS Batumi. Located in the historic quarter of the Black Sea coastal city, designated as one of UNESCO?s Creative Cities, Image supplied by Ross Belfer
ROOMS, the leading Georgian hotel group, has just opened its fourth property in Batumi (Photo: Ross Belfer)

Batumi’s Black Sea beaches are buzzing in summer, where a seafront beer can cost just 6 GEL (Georgian Lari)/£1.80 and beach club DJs play late into the night.

With the opening of ROOMS Batumi in late 2023 – a new boutique from Georgia’s quirky hotel chain – there has never been a better time to visit.

Twin rooms with “bunk cabins” at the hotel, which features a rooftop swimming pool, bar and kitchen, start from just £38 a night (

Turkey’s islands

Turkey’s currency has plummeted in value, which, for Britons, makes it one of the cheapest places for a Mediterranean escape. Trade the neighbouring Greek islands for Turkey’s lesser-known island getaways, where tavernas line sandy shores and at less than 100 lira (£2.60) a go, kebabs are very much affordable.

Bozcaada Island street view in Turkey
Bozcaada Island in Turkey (Photo: nejdetduzen/Getty)

Turkey is home to around 500 islands and islets, and the pick of the bunch is Gökçeada (which the ancient Greeks knew as Imbros). Catch the ferry from the Canakkale Peninsula to Turkey’s largest island, and you will find an isolated Aegean Sea paradise worthy of the Greek gods of old. It is largely undeveloped and adventure travellers will love camping out by deserted, pebble-strewn beaches.

To the south lies Bozcaada, where the island’s former Greek heritage is preserved in its tavernas and Hellenistic-style villages.

Gemile Island offers secluded beaches and Lycian ruins off the coast of Fethiye, a classic hot spot for holidaymakers, and Adalar (Princes’ Islands) is just a one-hour ferry ride from Istanbul.

Vama Veche, Romania

Vama Veche’s isolated location by the Bulgarian border made this Black Sea village a curious hippie hangout during Romania’s communist era. It is still home to one of Romania’s most famous nude beaches (head to the north end of Vama Veche if you’re into it), but increasing popularity means you will be sharing the beaches and bars with backpackers and Romanian partygoers.

Vama Veche, Black Sea - Romania. Beautiful field of red poppies in the sunrise.
Vama Veche in Romania (Photo: emicristea/Getty)

The resort is an easy one-hour drive south of Constanta, Romania’s largest Black Sea city.

Temperatures on Romania’s Black Sea coast reach well into the 20°Cs by May, when the summer (and party) season kicks off. With cheap drinks (compared with the UK) and hotels just a short stroll from a white-sand beach, you can’t go wrong in Vama Veche if you are looking for nightlife.

Casa Luca has doubles from £38 and Club D’Or, with its outdoor pool, from £55,,

Marsa Matruh, Egypt

The history of this Mediterranean beach resort stretches back to antiquity. The ruins of Pharaoh Rameses II’s temple were unearthed 20km away, while Cleopatra Beach, with its rock pools and white sand, is named for the queen who is said to have loved bathing here.

The luxury resorts lining El Gharam Bay – the lagoon separating the city from its best beaches – would be alien to Cleopatra, but she would still recognise those fiery Mediterranean sunsets.

One Tourist Looking to the Rocky and Windy Coastline of Mediterranean Sea in the Mersa Matruh city, Egypt
The beach of Mersa Matruh city, Egypt (Photo: Dave Primov/Getty)

British package holiday companies largely ignore Marsa Matruh in favour of Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh, so you might find that you are the only one on the beach.

And with doubles in four-star hotels such as the Safir Marsa Matrouh Resort ( starting from £50 a night, and a week at Jaz Almaza Beach Resort less than £500 (, why not combine a few history lessons with a budget beach holiday in Marsa Matruh? Fly to Cairo, see the pyramids of Giza, then hop on the overnight sleeper train or a seasonal summer flight to Marsa Matruh.

Vlorë, Albania

With white-sand beaches lining the Ionian Sea, the Albanian Riviera is fast becoming southern Europe’s go-to beach destination. Albania’s third-largest city, Vlorë has a 5km promenade lined with palm trees, white sandy beaches and the concrete remains of communist bunkers.

Seafront Promenade And Himare City Beach - Vlore, Albania, Europe
The seafront promenade and Himare City Beach in Vlore (Photo: zm_photo/Getty)

Explore the hidden coves of the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Marine National Park on beach-hopping boat trips, or cycle to Narta Beach and Lagoon, where a Greek community cares for a 13th century island monastery. Take a break from the sun, sea, and sand with a walking tour through centuries of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Albanian history in Vlorë’s Old Town.

Vlorë is a two-hour drive from Tirana, which is increasingly well served by flights from the UK. Boat trips from the capital cost €25pp (£21.40) and boutiques such as the adults-only Hotel Liro provide luxury at budget prices, with doubles from £65,

Smiltyne, Lithuania

A Baltic beach getaway sounds paradoxical, but in Lithuania, you can embrace the (admittedly tepid) waters of the Baltic Sea on a budget trip to Smiltyne. Perched on the northern tip of the Curonian Spit – a 98km, Unesco World Heritage Listed sand dune separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon – you’re never short of white, sandy beaches here.

Beautiful deserted wide sandy beach on the Baltic sea, Curonian Spit, Lithuania
Wide sandy beach on the Baltic sea at Curonian Spit (Photo: Anita_Bonita/Getty)

Hire a bike and tackle the Curonian Spit’s glorious cycle path, visit the Lithuanian Sea Museum in the historic remains of Kopgalis Fort, or brave a swim in the Baltic Sea.

Fly from London Luton to Kaunas for as little as £14.99 each way with Ryanair, take the three-hour bus to Klaipeda, and hop on the ferry for the five-minute crossing of the Curonian Lagoon.

Rooms with lagoon views at Smiltnyes Jachtklubas start from £46 a night ( Doubles in the 18th century, timber-framed Old Mill Hotel on Klaipeda’s waterfront start from £38 (