Blog > Affordable retirement holiday ideas

Affordable retirement holiday ideas

By Clare Yates • 29th May 2023 • 5 min read

Top picks for retirement holiday destinations on a budget

Written in line with our editorial policy.

As we inch closer to summer and the days start to get warmer, you might find yourself dreaming of your next getaway. For those of us in retirement, the freedom of being able to travel at short notice – and outside of school holidays – can mean some serious savings on last minute deals.

Getting the most for our money is essential when you’re living on a pension income, so here’s our pick of the best holiday destinations for elderly travellers with smaller budgets. We’ve broken them down into four handy categories, so whether you’re a beach-hopper, history buff or prefer to holiday closer to home, we’ve got something for everyone.

Looking for a little more luxury? If you’re after a big holiday, perhaps to celebrate a milestone birthday or anniversary, read our blog: Top luxury holiday destinations for retirement.

European city breaks

There’s something for everyone in Europe’s cities, whether you just like to relax, experience the local cuisine, or want to explore history, arts and culture. We’ve picked out two of the most popular cities that you might like to try.  


Approximately one hour flight from the UK is the cultural haven of Amsterdam, packed with its world-class museums and galleries, famous canals, coffee shops and incredible architecture.

Amsterdam is an ideal place for a retirement holiday in the city, with more than enough sightseeing activities and attractions to satisfy a range of interests all year round. Must-see experiences include the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, the stunning Vondelpark public park and the Rijksmuseum.

As a flat and compact city, it is particularly easy to get around as you soak up the culture around you. For those who can’t or prefer not to tour by foot, public transport passes are easily available in Amsterdam. A single pass can provide unlimited travel for up to 7 days on all trams, buses, ferries and the metro. The famous boat tours through the canals offer a particularly relaxing way to take in the city’s sights, too.

Book now: Two people can stay for 3 nights in the Hotel Arena in the Dutch capital from just £433pp, including flights from a London airport in June through


If you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Barcelona yet then get ready for a city break you’ll not want to come home from. A rich Catalonian culture awaits you with its delicious traditional Spanish cuisine. There’s also superb shopping, galleries and museums, stretches of stunning sandy beaches and world-famous historic architecture.

No retirement holiday to Barcelona would be complete without a gentle stroll down the bustling, colourful Las Ramblas, an exploration of the medieval Gothic Quarter or a visit to Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral. Numerous bus tours are available for sites away from the city centre. 

Book now: Prices for a room for two staying 5 nights midweek in the Condada hotel in Barcelona, just 0.2km from the city centre, start from just £433pp. Price includes flights from London in September 2023 with Jet2.

Beach trips on a budget

Being on a retirement budget doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy superb European beaches. We’re suggesting two countries that offer relaxing beach holidays at affordable prices.


If you’re looking for retirement holiday ideas steeped in culture and history, less than three hours from the UK is beautiful Croatia, a super holiday destination for elderly travellers. This beautiful country offers thousands of beaches along its 1,778 kilometres of coastline, with 1,185 islands floating off its shores. 

For a blissful mix of beach and culture, book a stay in Split, a perfect destination for beach hopping and historical tours. Split’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features the incredible Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman marvel you simply have to explore.

Or take in the sights of Dubrovnik, also known as ‘the Peal of the Adriatic’ – a cultural gem right on the coast. Here you can take a relaxing stroll around the charming Old Town, a UNESCO-stamped landmark, where history lovers, foodies and shopping enthusiasts will relish the ancient walled city’s many offerings. 

At almost 2km long, Dubrovnik’s ancient city walls encircle most of the Old City and date as far back as the 12th century. If you’re good on your feet, walking the wall is an incredible experience which offers some beautiful vistas and photo opportunities of the sea of red roofs below. But for the island’s best views – with no walking required – take a cable car to the top of the island where you can relax in the summit’s very own restaurant. 

Book now: Two adults can enjoy seven days in Split staying All Inclusive in the Bluesun Hotel Neptun for just £870pp. Flying from Manchester on 26th Sept 2023 with Jet2.


As one of western Europe’s most affordable and best holiday destinations for older couples, single travellers and families, Portugal had to make our list. But that isn’t to say you’ll have to make any compromises on standards when you’re here. Rest assured, this destination really does have everything you could want from a beach holiday without breaking the bank.

The resort we’d suggest is Albufeira. It’s one of the Algarve’s most popular resorts and it has something for everyone. From golden beaches to the historic Old Town and bustling Strip, it’s perfect for a spot of shopping, local cuisine sampling or people-watching with a cocktail in hand. 

Sandy beaches? Naturally. Impressive golf courses? You bet. Waterparks for the grandkids? Oh yes. And to top everything off, you’ll find some fantastic restaurants here overlooking the sea, offering everything from fresh fish straight off the boat to international dishes. 

Book now: Two people can stay All Inclusive for seven days at the Grand Muthu Forte Da Oura in Albufeira for just £608pp. Flying from London Stansted on 21st Sept 2023.

Staycations in the UK

The UK offers so much natural beauty to explore, from the stunning coastline and a countryside rich with wildlife, to the ancient forests and breath-taking lakes and mountains. Coupled with the rich culture of our many historical towns and cities – there really is something for everyone.

With popular staycation destinations in the UK providing such a superb mix of activities, attractions and points of interest, you’re closer than you might think to your next beach holiday, city break or countryside retreat.

Here are two of our favourite picks of the UK’s best retirement holiday ideas.


A 2023 survey by Which? ranked York and its cobbled streets, magnificent Minster, historic Shambles and world-class museums and galleries as the number one city for a staycation. Immerse yourself in this northern city’s 400-year rich history to discover its Roman roots and a Viking past. 

Conveniently placed half-way between London and Edinburgh, York’s bustling city sits against the stunning backdrop of the vast Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, offering incredible scenic walks. If affordable, tranquil mini-breaks with countryside views are your thing, York could be your best retirement holiday idea.

To plan your visit to York you’ll need to choose from one of the many beautiful hotels, luxury spa retreats, B&Bs, city apartments and countryside cottages. Try to peruse recommended accommodations. 

Book now: Book a stay at the highly rated Vikings Accommodation guest house, just a short walk from York minster. We found a three night midweek break in June here for two people for just £225!


Retirement holidays to Cornwall mean golden sands beaches, rugged moors, ancient castles, botanical gardens, historic towns and immersing yourself in local folklore. It really is one of the UK’s best holiday destinations for older couples, single travellers and for dog lovers travelling with their furry companions.

From fresh fish straight off the boats to Michelin-starred cuisine, Cornwall has it all for foodies looking for the best of the UK. Wildlife enthusiasts can go seal-spotting by harbours, and if you’re lucky, you might even see the incredible basking sharks and dolphins that frequent the warmer waters here. If you love gardening then don’t miss your chance to visit the famous Eden Project, where you can enjoy a tropical climate all year round.

Cornwall has so many beautiful places to stay, each with their own unique charms and offerings to suit your holiday wants and needs. From the historical town of Marazion to the county’s one and only city of Truro with its iconic cathedral, bustling Lemon Street Market and trendy restaurants. If you’re planning a getaway with your four-legged friend, try Newquay for its dog-friendly golden sand beaches. 

Book now: Try staying in one of Cornwall’s many traditional inns and pubs for an authentic Cornish experience. The Oystercatcher in Polzeath offers incredible views of the beaches and countryside and it’s dog friendly, too. A ground-floor apartment starts from £285 per night, which could be an affordable option if you’re travelling with friends.

Affordable cruises

Not a fan of flying? Cruising is a super way to explore the world without having to set foot on a plane, with many fantastic cruises sailing from Southampton. The convenience and luxury of cruising makes it one of the best retirement holidays. There’s also some incredible last minute getaway deals to be had, especially if an inside cabin doesn’t bother you. 

Norwegian Fjords

For a super deal somewhere a bit different, take a look at the many Norwegian Fjord cruises available. We love this destination as it’s awe inspiring all year round, from the beautiful springtime flora and fauna to the incredible Northern Lights through the winter. 

Book a Norwegian Fjord cruise to enjoy stunning landscapes, whales leaping from the water, dramatic waterfalls and picturesque villages clinging to the hillsides. As you’ll not have to leave the ship to enjoy the sights of Norway, this is our pick as one of the best holiday destinations for elderly travellers.

Looking for a spot of adventure on your retirement holiday? The young at heart can hop off the ship for a dogsledding adventure in Tromso. Or, for a more relaxed way to see the sights, try the Flåm Railway, one of the world’s most scenic train journeys.

Book now: Enjoy a week’s cruise through the Fjords with P&O. We found a super deal for a cruise leaving Southampton on 23rd June 2023, with inside cabins from just £479pp.

How Equity Release Wise can help

If visiting one of these holiday destinations for older couples, groups and single retirees is on your to-do but currently out of your budget, equity release could help. Thousands of homeowners are unlocking the money they need from their homes to get the most out of their golden years, including travel and holidays.

Before you make a decision, you’ll need to speak to a specialist adviser. By its very nature, equity release will reduce the value of your estate and the amount of inheritance you leave, so you don’t want to rush into anything. 

Our friendly selected advisers can explain all the pros and cons of equity release and answer all your questions before searching for a plan that may best suit your wants and needs.

Bring your retirement holiday ideas and dreams to life! Call our friendly team today to start the process of finding out how much you could unlock. Call us now on 0808 178 3055 or click here to request a free call back. Alternatively, check your eligibility and get an initial indication of how much tax-free cash you could unlock. 

About Clare Yates. With over a decade’s experience writing about later life financial planning, Clare offers a wealth of knowledge about equity release, pension annuities, wills, LPAs and more. When she isn’t writing, Clare likes to spend her time baking and going on walks with her husband, two children and their rescue dog. Follow Clare on LinkedIn

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