More and more brides are opting to go abroad for their hen parties than ever before, celebrating their imminent nuptials in sun-soaked locations such as Marbella, Ibiza and as far afield as Dubai. However there are many other hen do destinations that not only offer a different experience for every bride-to-be, but are also more affordable too, meaning hens and their friends can get more for their money and enjoy the trip of a lifetime. The travel experts at Holiday Gems have rounded up six of the best budget hen do destinations that offer something for everyone...
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The Beach and Cocktails hen do – Bulgaria
While Bulgaria is gaining in popularity, it's still slightly on the periphery of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and we have no idea why. It is one of the cheapest countries on the continent, with some of the most stunning beaches and natural landscapes. A three course meal in a mid-range restaurant will cost about £9, so that gives you an idea on costs when you get there. For the best beach destination for large groups, we recommend Sunny Beach or Golden Sands on the Black Sea Coast.
Money-saving do: Popular advice is to take clean, unmarked British notes to the String or Crown currency booths for a better monetary rate than getting your Levs in the UK.
Money-saving don't: Don't be careless with belongings. Like any tourist area, there is always the risk of opportunists and pick pocketers.
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The Adventurous hen do – Marrakech
Did you know that you could be in Africa in less than three and a half hours? Morocco in the north is an incredible country, influenced by its African neighbours, but also the Middle East and Europe. Marrakech is a gem of a city, enshrouded in Berber traditions, beautifully, intricate Islamic design and flavours of French colonialism. This is a hen do with a difference – stay at one of the incredible and cheap riads or hotels in the centre and prepare yourself for an assault on the senses as you navigate through the souks and medina, bartering with sellers and experiencing this incredible and unique culture. We also recommend taking a few days out to hike through the Atlas Mountains, 4x4 off roading and ride camels through the Sahara.
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Money-saving do: Haggle for all your souvenirs to get the lowest price possible
Money-saving don't: Don't take photos of street entertainment or sellers unless you want to give them a few coins in exchange
The Luxurious hen do – Kefalonia, Greece
For the bride who loves to indulge, the island of Kefalonia is the jewel of Greece. This was the setting for Louis de Berniere's bestselling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and an inspired choice for a hen do which is easy to get to but feels much further afar. Despite its incredible beauty, it's quite unspoilt and has a good range of mid-priced luxury accommodation and boutique hotels scattered across the oleander and pine-covered island. For a taste of the high life, take a trip to Fiskardo and dine at one of the many excellent restaurants or enjoy the tranquility of the beaches at Myrtos. This is the perfect place for freshly caught lobster and incredible wine that won't break the bank.
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Money-saving do: Visit the smaller villages on the island. While trips to the big tourist attractions are well recommended, they are usually a lot more expensive than the quieter areas.
Money-saving don't: Don't use your card. Cash is king in Greece, and besides the surcharges by merchant service providers, cash is the expected form of payment in Kefalonia.
The far flung hen do - Ras Al-Khaimah
If you haven't heard of Ras Al-Khaimah, don't worry, but it's not going to stay a secret for much longer. This is Dubai's pretender to the throne, an Emirate just north of the glitz and glamour of its big brother. Prepare yourself for the best beaches in the whole area, dramatic mountainscape and utter luxury – at a fraction of the cost of Dubai. Lavish brands like the Waldorf Astoria and the Banyan Tree have opened up hotels here and spas and acclaimed restaurants are ten to the dozen. Expect sheer indulgence that can fit your budget.
Money-saving do: Look at Ras Al-Khaimah packages for your hens – usually a lot cheaper than booking separate flights and hotels.
Money-saving don’t: Don't order drinks from the hotel. If you're going for a day at the beach, buy your drinks from the local shops and order an ice bucket from the hotel to keep them cool.
The Sophisticated hen do – Madeira
Madeira is an island of exquisite beauty, incredible food, outstanding wines and anyone looking for a more sedate pace to the pre-wedding revelries. Plan out your stay before you get there to include at least one scenic walk around the levadas and mountain footpaths, one day at the beach at Machico and a cable car trip in Funchal. Expect a hen do full of days out, fantastic meals and beautiful sights – this is not the place to go for 2-4-1 cocktails and all-day English breakfasts along the promenade!
Money-saving do: Use local transport and do the tours yourself. The buses are of a high standard, and most tours advertised are perfectly fine to do yourself.
Money-saving don't: Don't be seduced by the tourist traps – there are some incredible, family-run restaurants off the beaten track which are better and a lot cheaper than their more popular counterparts.
The City hen do – Split, Croatia
Prepare to fall in love with Split, the ancient city on the coast of the azure Adriatic Sea. With gorgeous beaches, informal restaurants serving food at a high standard, beautiful streets and range of activities make this a hen do with a difference. This is a fraction of the cost of Croatia's equally beautiful capital, Dubrovnik, but gives you the chance to explore the city and relax on the beach. It also has a great mix of nightlife and culture. Visit palaces, the walled old town and the incredible markets. Then take a boat out to island hop around Brac, Hvar and Solta.
Money-saving do: Look out for Marenda or Gablec on restaurant menus – these are traditional Croatian meals that are meant to fill you up, are delicious and really cheap.
Money-saving don't: Try to avoid high season. Split, and the rest of Croatia, is beautiful in Spring and Autumn – and prices are a whole lot cheaper.
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