During my European backpacking adventure, I found myself in Lille as a buffer destination before my trip to Madrid. I was in Antwerp visiting a friend and had to plan my next destination quickly, and that’s when I landed on Lille as it offered cheaper accommodation in comparison to Brussels. I had little time to do my research before booking, but the trip ended up being even cheaper than expected so I thought it might be useful for other budget travellers to break down my trip here.
The Wheels On The Bus
The great thing about travel in mainland Europe is you get an array of coach companies going between many countries and major cities. Because of this, I was able to get a comfortable BlaBlaCar Bus from Antwerp to Lille for just €12. It was a pleasant almost three-hour journey on a clean coach, and the only downside was the WiFi failing to connect, so instead, I read a book.
For €78, I managed to stay at a highly rated hostel (CALM Appart’ & Hostel) in a central location with good amenities. It was actually clean and filled with some nice people. The only issue with this hostel is that it is a bit noisy at night, but that’s what happens with central locations. Plus, there were no hand towels or a dryer in the bathrooms, which was slightly annoying, though I mentioned it in my review so hopefully it will be fixed by the time you visit. Hostel life is hit-and-miss, but this was a sure hit.
Eating on a budget can be daunting when you’re wanting to explore the local cuisine, but I decided my grocery shop should contain stuff like patisserie, soupes, and charcuterie so I could consume some French cuisine but at a cheaper price. The grocery covered my breakfast and dinners, but at lunch, I allowed myself to get simple on-the-go items and have treats like coffee and ice cream. In total, I spent €50.
Animals and Art
My trip to Lille Zoo was my only pre-planned activity, coming in at a whopping €4. Through one of the friendly hostel dwellers, I found out about the Lille Art Festival, which saved me tonnes of time and money. As an art lover, I was able to visit many fascinating places and exhibitions as well as participate in certain activities for free — allowing me to be active and entertained for €0. I also did some window shopping in Lille Westfield Mall, a surprisingly beautiful shopping centre.
I spent €144 for a 5-night stay in France, seems criminal right? Wrong, it’s possible to travel on a cheap budget and not live in squalor. I had authentic experiences and a lot of fun in Lille, even with a smaller budget. Many props for this under €150 trip go to Lille Tourism as they make a concerted effort to ensure touring the city is fun and inexpensive. They are currently holding another set of exhibitions, so if you’re looking for a cheap but cultural trip, check Lille out. It is a great city to travel to on a budget.
Lead photo credit : © Christine Gwaze
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