The Budget Grand Tour – Art and Culture in Europe

What with passenger duty, rising fuel prices and your own strained purse strings, finding cheap holidays abroad that offer value for money and something new and exciting is getting harder and harder. However, you can still make the most of all that Europe has to offer, from events and celebrations to differences in climate without forking out mountains of cash, as long as you plan your trips in advance and make the most of flight sales, early booking offers and high availability.

In 2012 Thomas Cook is upping the ante in terms of cheap holidays abroad. It is going to give you £170 off your summer holiday in 2012 to celebrate its 170th anniversary. European destinations that will be on offer include Turkey, Spain, Greece and Portugal, so why not get planning now so you can time your cheap holidays abroad with some of these great arts events.


Istanbul is the original owner of the description: where east meets west. This enthralling, eclectic city is not to be missed. Its long intertwined past means its architecture is like a tangible history lesson. Every May, the city hosts the Open Door Architecture Festival providing access to normally closed off architectural or historical gems. Whether you’re interested in architecture or not, this festival is a great way of getting to know Turkey’s largest city a little better.


Barcelona is Spain’s most popular tourist city. Swirling around the winding streets of the Barri Gotic, the large piazzas and open boulevards are people from all over the world bringing their own culture into the mix. It is Spain’s most exciting city with a thriving arts scene not least because of its architecture from world-famous Antoni Gaudi. It also has a music scene that’s just busting to get out and be heard. Every year between April and May, Barcelona hosts its very own guitar festival, celebrating everything unique about the Spanish guitar. More information can be found on


Greece’s second city Thessaloniki is stunning and oozes charm and style. It’s a fitting place for an art exhibition. Every year in June and July it hosts Cheap Art where around 100 up and coming artists showcase they work and make it available for purchase. The collection is diverse and fresh, with many of the pieces deemed too risky for other exhibitions.


UNESCO has declared flamenco dancing and music one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It may have its roots firmly in Andalucían Spain, but in 2012 the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, is hosting its annual Flamenco Festival. Expect wild and forceful music and dance from some of the flamenco community’s best performers.