It’s December and New Year’s Eve is fast approaching. It’s a great time to travel, however with so many destinations to choose from and prices rising sky high it’s hard to make a choice. We look at some of the best places to go for New Year’s Eve without breaking your budget.
New Year’s Eve travel: fun but expensive
It’s a well established fact that flight prices and the cost of accommodation rise dramatically around New Year’s Eve.
As an example: Just last year the Ibis Hotel in Edinburgh, essentially a budget chain, was in the news defending its 344% price hikes for visitors staying on New Year’s Eve.
Of course it doesn’t stop at hotel prices, as you also need to pay for restaurants and other activities. With even budget hotel spaces starting at £400 per night, it’s time to look at other options instead!
It’s clearly time to think outside the box and look at some alternative options. It’s long been my conviction that you can have fun wherever you are. In no particular order, here are some of our favourite places to go for New Year’s Eve.
1 – New Year’s Eve in Dortmund, Germany
Germany is a popular destination for New Year’s Eve, with Berlin and Munich topping the bill. Not only that but Berlin in particular has been in the press as being “extreme” on New Year’s Eve.
To avoid sky high prices and huge crowds, I suggest you head to Dortmund instead.
Like many German cities Dortmund has banned fireworks from central areas of the city. This is largely due to concerns about air pollution. You should still be able to see lots of private fireworks going on in and around different parts of the city, so not all is lost.
Arrive a day early on the 30th December to catch the final day of the German Christmas market.
A good place to start your celebrations is in the Westfalen Park, Dortmund’s version of central park. Each winter it is transformed into a magical landscape with coloured lights called ‘Winterleuchten’ (link is in German but Google Translate will help!). Check opening hours but it should see you through to the early hours of the evening. After that stay in the park for ticketed events at the restaurant and club, or head to the city centre for plenty more restaurants, clubs, theatres and other shows.
As an aside: Dortmund has a long tradition of brewing beer, starting with one of the first breweries opening in 1266! So if you like your beer, this is going to be a great destination to visit!
Round off your trip with a visit to a thermal spa on New Year’s Day, a speciality for this region of Germany. €19 will give you 4 hours access to a huge array of saunas and steam rooms spread over 12’000 km2 at the Saunalandschaft Wishlingen – what a great way to recover from a wild New Year’s Eve!
2 – Brno, Czech Republic
Our second pick for places to visit on New Year’s Eve is Brno, in the Czech Republic. This is a special one because it is overshadowed by its two closest neighbours: Prague and Vienna. Those two are classics for sure but you also know that they will be overrun with tourists and everything will be super expensive. Brno is a great option for a quieter, funner place to celebrate.
Brno has been buzzing in recent years. It has a young, artsy feel with lots of interesting venues to choose from.
The Christmas Market will also still be up until Jan 5th, so you’ll be able to take in the wonderful atmosphere.
What’s more you’ll be right in the centre of the Moravian wine region.
Or if you prefer something a bit stronger, try the amazing (and often bizarre!!) cocktails at Super Panda Circus.
3 – Warsaw, Poland
Our next alternative destination for New Year’s Eve is Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Over the last decade or so, the countries of Eastern Europe have become much more popular as a tourist destination and Poland is no exception.
Warsaw will still have Christmas Markets in full swing until 6th January 2020, so you still get to experience the Christmas atmosphere while walking through town.
Free open-air New Year’s Eve celebrations take place on Plac Bankowy (Bank Square), with live music by national pop stars. This is essentially a free pop concert right in the middle of the city! The streets should be pretty packed anyway, and bars and restaurants operate in full swing.
As per usual, there will be lots of clubs to choose from if that’s what you’re after. To celebrate in style, head to The View’s Rooftop Winter Gardens. Rising 122m above Warsaw, you get a 360 degree view of the city. For a more eclectic experience, give Klub Spatif a try.
Interesting fact: In 2018 Warsaw’s mayor decided to replace the city’s New Year’s Eve fireworks with a laser display. The reason? Fireworks were causing too much stress to dogs and other pets!
4 – Porto, Portugal
A lot of our other options focussed around central and eastern Europe, so we thought we’d look a little further afield as well.
In the north of Portugal sits Porto. It’s the second largest city in Portugal but often overlooked in favour of Lisbon and the Algarve. What really appeals to us about Porto is that it’s smaller and will be less busy (and should be less expensive!) than the larger cities on the Iberian Peninsula, such as Barcelona, Madrid and of course Lisbon.
So what can you expect from Porto for New Year’s Eve?
There are street parties and fireworks. For these you can either go to Avenida dos Aliados, in the city centre, or to Ribeira on the banks of the river Douro. Incidentally the river bank should also be a good place to catch the fireworks.
If you like the idea of a riverside New Year’s eve, you can also opt for a river cruise along the Douro River. It’s a great option to see in the New Year in style, with food, music and great views of the city. They do book out early, so make sure you plan ahead!
Once you’re done celebrating, there is a lot more to see!
Harry Potter fans can explore a city that inspired many of JK Rowling’s books. She started writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone while living in Porto, and planned out the remaining books as well.
And if you’re tough enough, you can even blow your hang-over away with a cheeky surfing lesson on the Atlantic coast. One for the brave perhaps but what better way to welcome the New Year?
5 – Budapest, Hungary
Last but by no means least on our list of places to go for New Year’s Eve is Budapest, the capital of Hungary.
Sitting on the banks of the river Danube, Budapest is a city full of character, history and laid-back nightlife. It has the cool factor of East Berlin and the history of Prague without being massively overrun. Not to mention the delights of a warm bowl of goulash soup or garlicky Lángos after a long night out.
Fireworks are not typical in Budapest for New Year’s Eve, however you won’t be disappointed with parties on the street. There are numerous street parties to enjoy and Christmas markets will still be open as well. If you prefer to head indoors, a range of clubs and restaurants have you covered. You can also hop aboard a dance cruise on the river for the night.
Actually, if you’re a fan of dance music, come a day early and go to the mind-blowing Cinetrip party at the Szechenyi Baths. This takes place on 30th Dec, not New Year’s Eve, leaving you free to welcome in the New Year with the locals on a city square.
Just remember, average temperates are around freezing in December, so wrap up warm, especially if you’re planning to party outside.
And that’s our round-up of the best places to go for New Year’s Eve (without blowing your budget). When you look a little off the beaten track you can still find unique experiences.
Want more ideas? Head over to the Sonder Travel App to share your itineraries and connect with like-minded travellers. Stay safe and happy travels!