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Secrets for eating in Europe on the cheap

Don’t let the euro take a bite out of your food budget on a European vacation.

If you’re visiting when the weather is nice, get outside. Even in the biggest cities, parks abound and so do your options for enjoying affordable food al fresco. Find markets or grocery stores by consulting your guidebook, a local, or the Internet, and purchase picnic supplies for a fraction of the cost of a restaurant meal. If you plan to picnic, pack a Swiss Army knife and a small cutting board.

At restaurants, check for prix-fixe menus, which offer multicourse dining for less. Ethnic restaurants can be affordable as well, though it’s vital to research the best cuisines of the city. Indian in London or North African couscous in Paris won’t disappoint, but Mexican food in Berlin might just break your heart, and won’t do your wallet any favors either.

To further stretch dining-out dollars, beware the price of bottled water. In some restaurants, you’ll pay more for water than wine. Figure out where the locals go—they likely won’t frequent establishments with inflated prices and mediocre food. And finally, to make the most of your appetite, be sure to learn a bit about a region’s culinary specialties before you go. You don’t want to unknowingly pass up the chance to enjoy pesto focaccia in Genoa, horchata de chufa in Valencia, or moules et frites in Brussels.

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