How to multi-destination holiday like a MoneySaver

Bratislava to Vienna under £5, Venice to Ljubljana £21, and more

Why settle for one destination when you could see several and save money in the process. I've a reputation (one I'm proud of) at MSE Towers for having lots of holidays. With limited annual leave but an unlimited desire to discover as many countries as possible, I've taken to ticking off multiple destinations in one trip. It's easier, and cheaper, than you may initially think – and I'm hoping this blog will inspire you, if you want to give it a try yourself.

Multi-destination trips, the premise of visiting more than one country in one prolonged period of annual leave, may not be a new concept but it can certainly be a cost-effective one. Europe is a gem for this, given it's on the doorstep of Blighty, only ever a cheap flight or ferry away. It has so many neighbouring countries you won't need to cross seas to visit, meaning travel costs tend to work out cheaper as you can catch a bus or train when crossing borders, instead of a plane which is often dearer.

Below, I've set out some routes and recommendations for multi-trips based on my experiences. I've focussed on the cost of travel between destinations, but of course you'll need to factor in other costs such as accommodation to make sure it fits within your budget – for help, see our 60+ overseas travel tips. Let's get going...

Bratislava in Slovakia to Vienna in Austria, from £4.49

Combine two capital cities for as little as £4.49, which I can testify, is cheaper than a cocktail in Vienna. These two locations pair well together as you've the cobbled streets and old town of Bratislava that's compact and easily walkable, meaning you could probably fit in all the main tourist sights within a day, then spend longer soaking up the architectural dream that is Vienna. I'd suggest two nights tops in Bratislava and at least three in Vienna.

There are two ways to get between both cities:

1. Via FlixBus, which I'll be referring to multiple times in this blog as I've found it great for cheap European travel – think Megabus, but on a global level. No sooner than I had touched down in Vienna airport, I was swiftly leaving the country via the comfort of FlixBus. I paid £18 for a ticket on the day from Vienna airport to Bratislava SNP bus station, though this would be cheaper if booked in advance – the cheapest I've seen it is £4.49. The journey takes 40 to 55 minutes.

You can reserve a seat (these cost from 99p – the seats near the front usually have sockets to charge your devices and some even have extra leg room). There's also a standard luggage allowance included with your ticket price of one carry on bag and one case up to 29kg to go in the stowed department below. You can see already how travelling via coach could be more favourable than popular 'budget' airlines that charge these as add-ons.

The bus runs regularly on the hour and makes a few stops along the way. It's worth noting the bus was briefly stopped as it entered Austria from Slovakia to check passports, so keep a form of ID with you in case this happens.

2. By train. The cheapest fare I found was £13 from Bratislava to Petržalka to Vienna Hbf (I paid £17 by rocking up on the day and paying at the ticket office). The journey takes 45 minutes so it's a quick and easy way to get between the two locations. While I didn't encounter any ID or passport checks when travelling on the train, there are conductors who come around and check your ticket much like in the UK. You can either buy your ticket online, or pay at the station on the day. 

It's also worth adding you could do a triple trip here if you start your journey in Budapest as the Railjet high-speed train runs from Budapest Keleti station to Vienna (Wien) Meidling in under three hours.

Venice in Italy to Ljubljana in Slovenia, from £20.99

The sinking city of Venice, famed for its charm, romance and of course, canals, can easily be coupled with a trip to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Perhaps not as well known as the former, Ljubljana is certainly worth visiting for its medieval castle and cheap wine (I paid less than €3 for a glass), and also makes a good base should you want to visit Lake Bled (roughly an hour's drive away).

Here, we come to the second mention of my beloved FlixBus (we are in no way affiliated with FlixBus, I just really rate it as a way to travel cheaply). It's not a short journey – the driving time varies between four to five hours – but it can cost as little as £20.99. For context and comparison, you can't fly from Italy to Slovenia direct. The best flight option I found, taking into consideration time and price, was £76 (basic fare, not including luggage) from Rome Fiumicino to Belgrade Nikola Tesla then onto Ljubljana, totalling five hours of travelling time. So, you may as well stay put on a bus seat, avoid the general faff of changing flights and save yourself at least £55.

As this is a longer journey, I chose my seat (one with extra leg room and plug sockets) and would recommend you do the same. There are toilets on board but I didn't use them so cannot vouch for how clean they are.

The drive is a scenic one, with the bus stopping at Trieste (north east Italy). If you're not keen to sit on a bus for the entire duration, you could always spend a night or two here (any opportunity to see another part of the world), before continuing onto Ljubljana later.

Ljubljana in Slovenia to Zagreb in Croatia to London, from £28.99

This was never an intended part of my trip, but after initially finding a flight home from Ljubljana back to London but failing to immediately book it, it had then tripled in price when I came to book (curse you increased demand and/or browser cookies!).

Frankly, there was no way I was paying £250 for a return flight home. So, rather than fork out for a plane seat, my stubbornness found me (yet again) back on Flixbus – told you I'm it's biggest fan! – paying £13.99 to get to Zagreb, Croatia in around two hours. And so another country is ticked off!

My hotel was £50 for one night and my flight from Zagreb to London Stansted was as little as £15 (for the basic fare, without baggage), bringing my costs much lower than the expensive £250 flight I wasn't willing to pay for.

I'm not saying this is fool-proof and will always work out to be a cheaper option but if you can be flexible with dates, it's worth taking advantage of Europe's neighbouring borders like this. If the flight home in one country is out of budget, check to see if there's a bus or train to take you to a different country to fly home from!

If I'd had more time I'd definitely have explored other parts of Croatia via Flixbus or train – there's a £19.99 bus fare for a five hour journey to Split from Zagreb via Flixbus – I mean, just take my money already! The sentiment I'm trying to pass on is that there's no harm in researching, weighing up your options, budget and leave allowance. And never, ever ever presume flights are your only way of travelling. 

Sicily to Malta, from £41

Admittedly I didn't visit both these destinations in one trip, but was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get between them when I holidayed in them separately last year. Just 100 miles separates you from the walled ancient city of Valletta, Malta to the Mediterranean dream that is Sicily. If you're not yet convinced, for comparison it's also roughly 100 miles from London to Birmingham. In other words, a commute or business trip for some. So, in my words, too close to refuse!

You can get from the capital of Malta, Valletta, to Pozzallo, Sicily in just under two hours from €70 via a ferryThough for total comparison, I also checked flights between the two islands and the cheapest I found was from £41 (basic fare, without luggage) which takes as little as 45 minutes. So this is your call on how much you want to spend, how long you want to travel for and how much luggage you have. 

Other destinations you could double up

I'm currently eyeing up a summer trip that'll see me fly to Corfu but also combine with Albania by hopping on the ferry. And if this blog has inspired you to cram in a few extra countries on your next holiday, here are some other suggestions:

  • San Sebastian, Spain to Biarritz, France. Time by Flixbus: 1hr 10mins. Cheapest fare I found: £8.10
  • Brussels, Belgium to Cologne, Germany. Time by rail: 1hr 50mins. Cheapest fare I found: £15
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands to Paris, France. Time by Eurostar: 3hours 30 mins. Cheapest fare I found: £41.50

To summarise, always look to the neighbouring countries of your chosen holiday destination if you want to maximise your annual leave. Check Flixbus, check local trains, and plan a route – chances are there'll be a cheap way to travel between the two locations.

Have you tried a multi-destination holiday? If so, how much money did you save? Let us know via X (Twitter).