Think Europe is an expensive continent to travel?

Then think again!

Of course, it’s true that parts of Europe can be more difficult to travel on a budget, especially in Western Europe and the Nordic countries.

But there are many countries and regions in Europe where your travel funds will go much, much further — and where it’s still easy to travel for under $70 (€60) or even under $50 (€40) a day per person, depending on your travel style.

Note: the pandemic may affect where you can travel. Check local advisories or the official Re-open EU website for info on any EU travel restrictions.

How to travel cheaply in Europe

With the rise of sharing economy, plenty of hostels and Airbnb apartments to rent, and many new budget airlines that offer cheap flight tickets, traveling Europe on a budget has never been easier.

Scoring cheap flight tickets

Europe’s highly liberalized airspace has led to extremely low airfares with some budget carriers, such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Vueling, Wizz Air, Level, and many others. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can often find dirt cheap flight fares

Cheap overland travel

You can also travel very cheaply overland in Europe by using bus services such as Flixbus, or by booking trains through RailEurope. Traveling in this way is not only more environmentally friendly, but it’s enjoyable as well. Or consider going on a European road trip.

Saving money on accommodation

From thousands of hostels that offer dorm beds and private rooms to apartments you can find through Airbnb, you don’t have to rely solely on hotels for your accommodation. Don’t miss these tricks for finding affordable accommodation.

 

Cheapest Countries in Europe

1. Romania

Home to many castles, colorful old towns, and gorgeous landscapes with primal forests, Romania is bound to surprise you. Discovering the mystery of the legendary Count Dracula and visiting the lush countryside of Transylvania is what most tourists do around here, but there is so much more to Romania that Bram Stoker stories.

Not many people know this, but Romania has nearly 20 seaside resorts at the Black Sea. The beaches are great and it’s really inexpensive to spend a week or two enjoying the Romanian sunshine. 

Dining out in Romania is not expensive either. Many restaurants have set lunch menus for $4 and the street food scene is quite popular. It’s all about pork dishes, different stews, sausages, and cabbage rolls in Romania — and everything is tasty. The cost of transport within the country is low, too. A ticket for a short train trip costs around $5 and a single ticket for a bus ride in the city costs $1-$2.

Looking for a place to stay? Count on paying around $10 a night for hostels, while charming Airbnbs and budget hotels can be found for around $25-30 a night.

More about traveling Romania:

 

2. Bulgaria

Rila Lakes

Bulgaria is a beautiful country in Eastern Europe well-known for its diverse history, gorgeous architecture, and delicious cuisine. The city of Plovdiv is a great place to kick off your travel adventure. From exploring the cobbled streets of the Old Town and discovering the city’s Roman heritage to going for a walk through the lovely Tsar Simeon’s garden, there are plenty of free activities that you can enjoy while visiting this fascinating city.

However, there is more to Bulgaria than the cities. Consider the Seven Rila Lakes and the cute mountain lodges where you can spend the night for less than $15 per night. There is also the mountain town of Bansko which is one of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe. If you are visiting in summer, head out to beach destinations like Sunny Beach, Varna, and Nessebar where you can enjoy the deep waters of the Black Sea. 

Train tickets in Bulgaria are extremely cheap: you can go on a 4-hour train journey for as little as $5. Expect to pay $2,5 for a bottle of beer in a bar and around $7 for a meal in a nice restaurant. When it comes to accommodation, a bed in a hostel costs on average $8, while a room in a 3-star hotel will set you back roughly $12-$15 a night.

 

3. Greece

You are probably wondering how in the hell Greece ended up on this list.

Sure — the most famous tourist islands like Santorini, Rhodes, and Mykonos are definitely pricey. When it’s peak season on Santorini, even a hostel dorm bed can cost upwards of $90 or €75!

But there are many amazing cities and islands in Greece that you can visit without breaking the bank. You can get a good idea from this travel costs breakdown for Greece.

Instead of traveling to Mykonos, try spending a few nights on the lovely island of Tinos where you will find marble villages, terraces hillsides, beautiful beaches, and excellent deals on accommodation. The island of Lefkada is also home to affordable hotels, casual tavernas, and plenty of attractions. Other budget-friendly islands in Greece include Hydra, Poros, and Agistri.

Greece generally becomes much cheaper if you avoid the peak month of August. Airbnb’s that cost 60 to 90 Eur a night in August will easily drop to €30 – 40 in September. Oh, and Greece isn’t only about the islands. You can travel even more cheaply by, say, road tripping through the Peloponnese Peninsula, which offers not only beaches but also Mycenaean ruins and Byzantine cities, giving you a deeper appreciation for Greek history.

 

4. Portugal

Portugal has really captured the spotlight in recent years, known for its surfer beaches, cute old towns with tiled buildings, delicious pastries such as the pasteis de nata, and melancholic Fado music. While central Lisbon and Porto have seen a lot of new tourist development (and higher prices), on average Portugal remains very budget-friendly compared to the rest of Western Europe. 

Expect to pay about €15 a night for a hostel and €30 – 40 for a budget hotel in Lisbon or Porto. Meals in the capital may cost around €10-15, but head further into the country and you can find set meals (pratos do dia) for as little as €6.

The capital makes for an amazing city trip, as there are just so many things to do in Lisbon. But you’ll get lower prices if you explore the amazing countryside and Atlantic coastline, or head to Portugal’s third-biggest city of Coimbra, where J.K. Rowling once found inspiration for the Harry Potter novels.

Want to really avoid the crowds? Then check out these 9 incredible hikes in Portugal.

More about traveling Portugal:

 

5. Albania

Albania is one of Europe’s best-hidden gems — and quite possibly Europe’s cheapest.

Whether you wish to hike up the country’s dramatic mountains, discover picturesque cities like Tirana and Berat, or have an unforgettable beach vacation in Saranda and Ksamil, Albania has it all. Culture vultures will want to pay a visit to the medieval town of Gjirokaster where they can learn more about the history and culture of the country, while beach vacationers looking for an affordable summer getaway destination should not miss the Himare and Drymades beaches.

There are many budget-friendly accommodation options to choose from in Albania. A bunk bed in a modern hostel in Tirana costs around $6 per night, while a room in a hotel can be booked for $15-$20. Transportation is also relatively cheap and short journeys cost $2-$5. The food in Albania is delicious and you should really try the local delicacies like veal stew, roast beef in milk sauce, and cabbage rolls here. Overall, you can spend as little as $7 for a meal in a typical Albanian restaurant. Even if you have dinner in tourist restaurants, don’t expect to pay more than $12 for an appetizer, entrée, wine, and dessert.

 

6. Estonia

Think of the Baltic state of Estonia as a little bit like going to Scandinavia… but on a budget.

Its landscapes are reminiscent of Finland, with its many pine forests and peatlands, while its people are similarly obsessed with saunas and cross-country skiing. Of course, Estonia has a character all to its own, mixing Nordic influences with Baltic culture and some remains of former USSR architecture. Don’t miss the fascinating KGB Museum at the Viru Hotel in Tallinn, hiking the Soomaa National Park, or staying in the university city of Tartu.

The tourist center in the capital of Tallinn is relatively expensive, closer to Western European prices at times, though this is only true for a small 2 square kilometer area where the cruise ship tourists go. The rest of Estonia is delightfully budget-friendly, with $10 hostels, $20-30 hotels, and $5-10 dinners easy to find.

More about traveling Estonia:

 

7. Southern Italy

Wait… what’s Italy doing here?

I know, you may not necessarily think of Italy as a budget destination in Europe, especially if you’re thinking of the major cities like Rome and Milan, or hyper touristy locations like Venice.

But the situation is so different in the south of Italy that it may as well be a different country. While the south is nowhere as economically prosperous as the north (a problem that has haunted Italy for decades), it’s also much more affordable to travel.

Take for example the region of Puglia, colloquially known as the heel of Italy’s boot. Here you can easily find beautiful B&Bs starting about €25 ($30), even at the heart of the ancient city of Lecce. Prices do go up a lot during August when many Italians spend their summer holiday in the region, so it’s always best to avoid this peak season if you can.

Southern Italy is chock-full of cute towns with chalk-white houses, gentle olive grove landscapes, windy streets strewn with Vespas and Fiat 500’s, and tons of toe-tinglingly good beaches that are delightfully uncrowded. 

More about traveling southern Italy:

 

8. Montenegro

While small in size, Montenegro has enough to keep travelers entertained for at least a couple of days. There are also many ways to save money here, from free entrances to most of the attractions to cheap apartments and hotels on the lovely Adriatic coast.

Start with a visit to the Bay of Kotor. With its deep blue waters surrounded by towering mountains, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most stunning places in the Balkan Peninsula. If you like to party, make your way to the coastal city of Budva, a city that never sleeps. If you are just looking for a relaxing and affordable vacation, you should consider a few nights in the lovely town of Herceg Novi.

As for the accommodation, you can find great places to stay for around $30 a night even in peak season. As for eating out, expect to pay $6-$12 for a meal in a restaurant, while a bottle of beer in a bar will set you back $3.

Make sure to try the local food delicacies such as pljeskavica (the Balkan version of a burger), cured meats like prsuto, seafood pasta with shellfish, prawns, and shrimps cooked in a delicious red sauce, and black risotto which is made from cuttlefish ink.

 

9. North Macedonia

Kaneo, Ohrid

With its delicious foods, lively culture, and super cute small towns, North Macedonia makes an ideal destination for a budget-friendly getaway. The capital city is called Skopje and has countless statues, museums, and other cultural attractions. However, a favorite destination is the picturesque Ohrid Lake, one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes. In the town of Ohrid, there are countless churches worth visiting and the local food is delicious and extremely cheap ($4-$6 for a meal in a restaurant). Other notable places of interest include Marko’s Towers in Prilep and the lovely town of Bitola.

Buses between cities are plentiful and cheap. For example, a return bus ticket from Skopje to Ohrid is priced $13 and the trip lasts for about 3 hours. As for the accommodation, expect to pay $25 per night for an apartment in the center of Skopje. In Ohrid, the price for rooms and apartments ranges from $15 to $30 a night. No visit to Macedonia is complete without trying the local foods such as pita (stuffed pie), sarma (cabbage rolls), tavce na gravce (beans cooked in a skillet), and Pastrmajlija (fried dough pie).

 

10. Poland

Gdansk

Poland is a fantastic budget-friendly destination in central Europe. Cities like Kraków and Gdańsk boast a rich history, have dozens of lovely parks, and offer tasty local foods to try. Poland is also well-known for its national parks, such as Ojcowski National Park (near Krakow) which is home to picturesque castles and stunning caves. Visit the old town and local markets in Gdansk, go hiking in the Tatra Mountains, or head out to the capital of Warsaw where you will find countless hostels and budget-friendly hostels that offer rooms for $15 per night.

If you wish to explore Polish cities with an experienced guide, but don’t wish to overpay for the tours, I recommend using Walkative. They offer free tours in all major cities including Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, Lublin. Just be sure to tip your local guide at the end of the tour.

When it comes to dining out, the cheapest option is eating at a Bary mleczne (milk bar). These places are usually much cheaper than normal restaurants and attract plenty of students and locals. If you are craving homemade local dishes, a Bary mleczne is the place to go. Wondering what to order? Go for a bowl of pierogi, try the amazing Polish soups, or have a slice of Szarlotka (Polish apple pie) for dessert.

 

11. Czechia

Although it’s probably the most popular tourist destination on this list, the Czech Republic is not expensive if you know where to go and what to do. The capital city, Prague is a great place to visit if you are on a budget, as most of the attractions are free to explore. Consider for instance about the incredible Jewish quarter, the Old Town center with its perfectly-preserved architecture, and medieval castles.

Beyond Prague, consider exploring the cobbled streets of Karlovy Vary which is home for hot mineral springs spa centers, parks, and cafes. The fairytale city of Cesky Krumlov is not to be missed, with its narrow cobblestoned streets dotted with picturesque houses with red roof tiles.

Prices for hostels and hotels in the Czech Republic vary depending on the city you are planning to stay in. In Prague, you can rent an apartment for $30 per night for two people, while in smaller cities expect to pay $15 for a dorm in a hostel. Czech cuisine is delicious; order a plate of homemade goulash with bread dumplings for $5 at a restaurant or visit one of the many kebab shops where you can eat for $3. In case you are craving something sweet, find a street vendor that sells trdelnik. You won’t be disappointed.

 

12. Ukraine

One of Europe’s most unexplored countries but also possibly the cheapest destination in all of Europe, Ukraine is perfect for intrepid adventurers. The capital, Kyiv, has seen a lot of tourism development over the past few years. You will also find a variety of international restaurants in the city ranging from Vietnamese eateries and Japanese sushi restaurants to dining establishments that serve Middle Eastern foods. There are many free things that you can do in Kyiv: visit the city’s open-air museums, discover the Main Astronomical Observatory, admire more than 150 street murals, or visit St. Vladimir Hill for panoramic views of Kyiv.

Then make your way to Lviv, one of the most picturesque cities in the region that is well known for its abundance of green spaces and Soviet architecture. Another favorite is the coastal town of Odesa where many locals come to spend their vacation days in the summer season.

Want to know how much does it cost to visit Ukraine? Hostels offer dorm beds from $4, while a night in a hotel for 2 people is priced at $30. If you want to eat out, expect to pay $3-$7 for a meal in a local restaurant. Beer and wine cost $1-$2 in a bar.

 

13. Hungary

Hungary’s capital of Budapest is one of the most beautiful in Europe. Order a piece of cake and listen to live classical music performance at the New York Palace, eat local food delicacies at the Great Market Hall, and go bar hopping in the Jewish Quarter which is home to the famous Hungarian ruin pubs. In the evening, go on a Danube River Cruise and enjoy a romantic 2-hour boat trip (about $30).

Once you leave Budapest, head out to Lake Balaton. It’s a fairly popular tourist destination famed for its beaches. Hungary is also home to many thermal spa resorts such as the one in Morohalom and Héviz Lake. When it comes to food, Hungarian cuisine is hearty and tasty. From a soup dish with beef and veggies called goulash to delicious fried dough topped with savory condiments also known as langos, there are many tasty foods to sample while visiting Hungary.

Hungary is exceptionally affordable and you won’t be spending too much cash here. A meal at a mid-range eatery costs $15 per person, while a set meal in a local dining establishment will set you back around $7. There’s great-value accommodation available in the country ranging from hostels to Airbnb apartments available for rent.

 

14. Serbia

Belgrade

Serbia is a great place to visit when traveling on a budget. The people are friendly, the food is amazing, and there are tons of cool attractions just waiting to be explored. From the capital city of Belgrade and its vibrant nightlife and the northern region of Vojvodina where life is unhurried to the south where cities like Nis and Leskovac offer a unique gastronomic experience, there is definitely no shortage of amazing things to do in Serbia.

Let’s start with the northern part of the country. Visit the lake of Palic where you can enjoy stunning views of the lake and try food specialties like fish stew and goulash. Your next stop should be the lovely city of Novi Sad which is famed for its medieval fortress, the beautiful river promenade, and many lively clubs and bars. In Belgrade, explore the main Knez Mihajlova street, go for a stroll in Kalemegdan Park, and try grilled meat specialties at one Skadarlija’s restaurants. No visit to Serbia would be complete without having a shot of rakija (local moonshine). If you like hiking, make sure to visit Tara Mountain. Travelers who wish to go skiing will be happy to hear that Kopaonik is one of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe.

You won’t have to spend a lot when visiting Serbia. An Airbnb apartment in Novi Sad costs around $20-$30 per night, while a dorm bed in a hostel costs $10. Eating out is also affordable and a basic meal will cost you not more than $10 per person in a nice restaurant.


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