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Where to live in Europe for a month

My family and I want to travel to Europe for the month of July. We would want to rent an apartment and stay in one city for the majority of the month. We have two children aged 4 and 2. Looking for somewhere where we can enjoy some nice weather, beaches, food, and immerse ourselves in the local culture for a month. It is important for us to be in a relatively safe city or part of a city. We are also hoping to visit one of the cheeper countries in Europe. We are looking for a less touristy experience and more of an authentic experience of living
in Europe. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
18919 posts

Reverse the question -- how would you respond if an European asked you the same question about the US? Europe is a big country with lots of options. If you want beaches it has to be along a coastal area. Since July is peak summer I would look further north -- France, Belgium as opposed to Italy or around the Med. It will be damn hot in those areas and Am style AC is very limited. The library, travel books and DVDs should be your starting point. Do you have any language skills. The further away you are from tourists area the less English encountered. Would you consider something in Great Britain? A little less culture shock.

Posted by
2229 posts

I have found Spain to be very inexpensive (with the exception of Barcelona) and surprisingly to us, France has been a decent value.

Posted by
12382 posts

Do you plan to have a rental car during your trip? I think that will make it easier to find an affordable month-long rental from which you can make side trips.

You may need to recalibrate your expectations. Europe has a huge population, much of which suffers through a lot of dreary winter weather. Beaches are very popular destinations in the summer, so a "less touristy experience" may not be so easy to find. The accessible beaches with relatively reliable weather are likely to be mobbed, and the most affordable lodgings may have been booked up months ago.

One of the more difficult-to-reach Greek islands might be a possibility, but that would mean extra travel time. And spending a month on a single, probably small, obscure, Greek island might feel rather constraining.

The northern coast of Spain is extremely unlikely to be miserably hot (there might be a very short temperature spike, but not a lengthy heat wave), so I'd consider that area. San Sebastian is fairly costly, but there should be some affordable options elsewhere along the stretch from the Basque Country to Galicia. Those two areas in particular have some of Spain's prettiest scenery. The very northern part of Portugal might be worth researching as well.

Normandy or Brittany have similar moderate weather (sun not guaranteed), and I agree that France can be a very good value.

There might be good possibilities in northern Germany or Poland, but sun cannot be relied upon, despite the heat waves those folks have dealt with on some occasions in recent years.

Posted by
2229 posts

If you might be interested in Spain, there is currently a movie, Aerial Spain on Amazon and I'm told the Smithsonian Channel. It really is a treat to watch the exceptional photography. It might give you some ideas, in my case, way too many. . . Just keep in mind as acraven pointed out, southern Spain can be hot, really hot in the summer. If you went to the Basque/Rioja area of Spain, you could also venture in to France a bit. If you have watched to movie, "The Way", directed by Emilio Estevez with Martin Sheen, you can get an idea of what that area is like. It's a good movie, too.

Posted by
2888 posts

You mention cities several times, but want to be near the coast, which will limit your options. Many coastal places are smaller.

Nowhere in Europe is going to be cheap in July, as it’s prime school holiday time. June will be cheaper. The cheaper counties are generally central or eastern Europe, parts of Spain, Portugal, Greece or Turkey.

You want an authentic living experience - what languages do you speak?

Posted by
8650 posts

Easy, hands down Budva. Meets all your requirements, cost, cost, cost, beaches, extraordinarily safe, very "less touristy" and what there is are more than not, not English speaking so there are greater cultural opportunities and experiences,

Posted by
10831 posts

Living in Europe for a month, I equate that with traveling in solely one country for the entire single month, ie not staying put.

Where? Easy to answer...France, north , west, southwest, eastern, central, along the coast. etc etc, or Germany...southwest, south, central, eastern and North Germany.

In both countries this applies to cities, eg in France... Paris, Strasbourg, Marseilles, Cherbourg, Rouen, Soissons, Lyon, Lille, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Toulon, and so on, along with numerous towns ans small places.

In Germany cities and towns like Leipzig, Bremen, Greifswald, Celle, Rostock, Berlin, Freiburg iB, Detmold, Erfurt, Kiel, Cuxhaven, Flensburg, Ulm, Frankfurt an der Oder, Goslar, Braunschweig, Augsburg, Jena, Minden, Husum, Weimar, Sauerland,

Posted by
2346 posts

The cheapest countries to visit in Europe are in Eastern Europe (former Soviet satellites).
Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
However, you may want to visit a place with more concentrated touring sites. Italy is my favorite European country, mainly because of the weather (yes it is hot in the Summer, but I am from the US South). There is so much to see in Italy and they have a wonderful rail system.

The most expensive places in Europe are Switzerland and Scandinavia, as well as major cities like Paris and London.

Spain is great and has a lot to see. It is cheaper than France, Germany and the UK. However, Portugal is just as nice as Spain and cheaper than Spain and its people are even friendlier. You could find a lot to see in Portugal and visit nearby Spanish cities as well.

Greece will be very hot in July and crowded.

I will add that the British Isles are my second favorite place to visit in Europe. Also, in July the weather is great. Don't go to London to stay, but you could stay in a smaller city or village and even travel around some.

We spend 28 days in South Wales and England driving around. Here is my review with details of our trip:
28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
1898 posts

Stockholm, Sweden. Wonderful place for kids, and with the archipelago, fun islands for getting wet on the coast. And there is Vimmerby and Pippi Longstocking...your kids would be a great age for this.

Posted by
8650 posts

JC, excellent! My second choice after Montenegro. For the cost of staying home in a one bedroom apt in Sweden; in either Montenegro or Bulgaria you could have twice the apartment and have a driver pick you up and drive you around the country every other day. I know, as I have sort of done it.

I especially like Montenegro cause you have sea to mountains to visit and two distinct cultures and Kotor, Dubrovnik, Albania all right there.

And for $200 to $250 round trip from Montenegro you can reach Paris, Rome, Budapest, Vienna and a number of other wonderful places. Better yet, fly into Rome spend a few days, then on to Montenegro for three weeks, then to Paris for a few days before going home.

Posted by
3017 posts

The Czech Republic is a beautiful country and costs for being there are quite low. Even Prague, gorgeous and touristy city that it is, is a very good value for money. You can spend a week seeing the sights in the city and then there are many other towns, castles, and countryside to be visited and toured. It's an absolutely beautiful place - we spent 5 weeks in a village just near Prague one summer and it was a great experience!

Posted by
2229 posts

I agree with Susan. I've been able to stay in Paris for less money than many places in the U.S. including small towns in Iowa! We've found the restaurants in France to be quite reasonable. We like the brassieres. There is also a lot to do in Paris and the rest of France that doesn't cost a thing. In general, churches are free to visit and museum prices quite reasonable. I like to do picnics for lunch to avoid restaurants and actually quite enjoy that and sometimes with little ones, picnics are just easier. It might have been odd timing, but I found accommodations in Amsterdam to be a fair amount pricier than Paris.

Posted by
8650 posts

Sorry, thought you were looking for a place with a beach. If not, then Budapest, of course!

Posted by
52 posts

How far do you plan on traveling and exploring each day away from your rental, with a two and four y/o?

I liked the question “Where would you choose to do this in the US?”. Proving that city will help provide EU sister options.

If you really want to get around, rent a sleeper van.

I haven’t seen Italy mentioned. Likely checks all the boxes.

Posted by
10835 posts

For me, the month would be something central as a base to branch out from. I'd rule out Scandinavia, Spain or any island because those are going to be hard (time consuming/expensive) to travel from.

Ideally I'd want something that's a good transportation hub without being an expensive destination city. Lyon and Frankfurt come to mind but there are lots of smaller cities with good transportation options and relatively low cost lodging.

If I was looking for a place to locate and stay put, I'd pick something a little more out of the way. If you want a beach experience, you can get a European crowd but I doubt you can find something without a crowd. My favorite beaches so far are the Costa de la Luz in Spain. There are miles of beaches that won't be too crowded because they are fairly remote from Europe. Costa del Sol wouldn't be a good choice because it's a condo and golf resort area. The north coast of Spain, around Santandar, would also be nice (but crowded with European families on beach vacations). I liked the Atlantic coast of France south of Arcachon. It also has miles of sand beaches. It will be mostly European families camping. The camps have lots of facilities (pools, restaurant, bar, volleyball, WiFi, etc.) and would be a great choice.

If I wanted a great place to enjoy culture but not specifically a beach vacation. I'd look at the Languedoc area (Narbonne) or Gulf of Morbihan (Auray or Vannes) areas of France. Two distinct cultural backgrounds but both great destinations.

Posted by
2167 posts

This looks like one of those 'one hit wonder' questions in which a brand new OP asks an open-ended question and then doesn't respond.

Posted by
18919 posts

No, the problem is too many answers. It is such an opened end question, everyone has an opinion, and all responses are equally good given the assumptions being made. This, obviously, has not resolved Steve's dilemma -- where to go???