As an avid shoestring traveler with nuanced tastes, I am always pulled towards countries where I can live large on my small budget. Whether I am looking for a longer stay destination or a weekend break in Europe, I take special note of the prices of hostels or hotels in the main tourist towns and the average prices for drinks and food. Choosing a cheaper destination can save you anywhere between $20-$50 a day on accommodations, drinks, and food. When I begin to look for my next destination I look for beautiful landscapes and architecture to explore on my (rather small) budget. If these cheap countries in Europe aren’t on your list now, add them now – your bank account will thank you.
These destinations are often less popular tourist destinations and some of the hidden gems in Europe which mean more time for me to get to know locals and enjoy less crowded beaches. While I always like to spend a few days in the bigger cities, visiting the less known cities and outdoor-enthusiast destinations is sometimes more gratifying for me, and my wallet. Offering beautiful views of mountains, coastlines, and lakes these destinations are one of a kind and won’t break your budget.
Cheap Countries in Europe to Visit for Budget Travelers
Want to enjoy the very best that Eastern Europe has to offer? Visit Poland. This culturally rich country provides countless hikes for outdoors-lovers and a great nightlife for the night owls. If you want to escape the real world, go on a hike or a camping trip to the Tatra Mountains. Or if you are looking for a city getaway catch the next train to Warsaw or Krakow. Both cities let you absorb the rich history and culture of Poland.
Planning your cheap European vacation? Be sure to put Cluj, Romania on your list. Not only does this city host great nightlife, but there are a plethora of daytime excursions to nearby towns that are sure to excite you. Visit the Turda Salt Mine, this expansive mine was opened to visitors in the 1990s and provides you with a glimpse into the extensive mining industry in Romania.
When deciding where to travel in Europe, Budapest is an essential. But, there is so much more to Hungary than just Budapest. While Budapest is extremely cheap and should be visited, take a few days to explore Drebecen. In Drebecen you’ll find that food and accommodations are cheaper than Budapest but the views and opportunities to explore are just as stunning as Budapest.
Slovakia has a myriad of museums and stunning architecture to explore. But, if you’re looking to expand your beer and wine pallet on a budget – Slovakia is your dream come true. Head to the small town of Modra where just about every house has a vineyard. Be sure to check out local distilleries and microbreweries.
Branching out of Vilnius, go camping on the Curonian Spit. This long sand dune extends into the Baltic Sea and is the perfect place to escape the world. Or, stay in a cottage in Nida – the largest town on the split where you can enjoy the Lithuanian Summer with locals.
Greece can easily be done cheap; you just have to be careful not to fall into the traps! Santorini, arguably one of the top romantic destinations is Europe can be enjoyed on any budget. If you avoid sea-view restaurants and book your hotel or hostel in advance you can explore, swim and dive into this awe-inspiring destination.
If you’re looking for cheap countries to visit in Europe, Bulgaria has to be on your list. Beyond Sofia and Sunny Beach, head up to the Rila mountains. Visit the Seven Rila Lakes and stay at one of the numerous mountain lodges that host stunning overlooks of the lakes and mountains for a price that won’t break the bank. Head to the city of Plovdiv for beautiful examples of Roman architecture and visit one of the many cultural museums there.
In Ukraine, venture to Lviv – a lovely historic city in the West. From there, you can venture out to the smaller towns and villages next to the Carpathian Mountains. The atmosphere there is impossible to describe. There, you have the chance to be closer to the natural environment around you and enjoy the variety of views available to you. The locals there are extremely welcoming so don’t be afraid to ask for restaurant and accommodation advice.
NOTE: Tourists and travelers are asked to take extra precautions when visiting Ukraine as it is marked as an unsafe travel destionation from June 2016. Plan your route safely!
One of the most beautiful places to visit in the world, the Bay of Kotor is well preserved and accessible to travelers. Situated on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast, Kotor is a perfect place to soak in picturesque views of medieval architecture and the turquoise bay. In Montenegro, you’ll find accommodations and dine relatively cheap compared to many of its Mediterranean neighbors.
While accommodations in this country may be a bit pricier than those previously listed, Portugal is without a doubt one of the best cheap destinations in Europe. For adventure and music lovers alike, head to Algarve where you can soak up the coastline in the day and drinking refreshing wines at night.
11. Czech Republic
Why does the Czech Republic land a spot on so many of my lists? Because this country has boundless opportunities for solo travelers and families alike. If you’ve been to Prague, journey out into the other wonderful cities that the Czech Republic has to offer. The romantic town of Český Krumlov is a great destination for a weekend getaway and because it’s out of the hustle and bustle of Prague, your euro will go even farther.
Perfect for a city break – visit the pastel capital city of Tirana. In Albania, you can eat for about 10 euros a day (drinks included!) while taking in the breathtaking architecture. But, a trip to Albania is incomplete without a stop in Saranda to visit the immaculate Blue Eye Spring. You can stay at a hotel with its own private beach and pool, or meet backpackers at the cheaper hostels nearby.
For outdoor enthusiasts, travel to the island of Lastovo in Croatia. It’s the youngest nature park and furthermost inhabited island. Far away from the crowds, you can enjoy swimming in crystal clear blue seas during the day and star gazing at night. For city lovers, Zagreb is a perfect city break. Zagreb offers beautiful cathedrals and exceptional nightlife much like the other beautiful Balkan countries you must explore, too. You can also take a day tour to Plitvice Lakes National Park from big cities such as Dubrovnik and Split, as well.
In Istanbul, you can eat like a king for about 5 euros. This not to miss city is rich in culture, nightlife, and excellent foodie. Jump on a plane and make Istanbul your next city break. Wander through the grand bazaar in the morning and spend your afternoon exploring the extravagant blue mosque.
Estonia is located in the Baltics and its capital is Tallinn, a beautiful small city with a charming medieval fortress. A UNESCO World Heritage protected site, you’ll get a glimpse of what life used to be including vendors in old clothing, paved streets, and old buildings. A backpackers hub, you can make sure that your budget will do well in Estonia for what it is worth.
See the picturesque capital city, Skopje from above by visiting the Kale Fortress. Even better: you can get this amazing view of the city for free. Head down to the Old Bazaar if you are looking for to view beautiful mosques and markets. No matter where you end up in Skopje, this capital is sure to impress.
This island country is full of hidden gems. Starting your trip in the cultural hub of Valletta, you can explore aged marketplaces and beautiful homes. The city is nothing short of beautiful. Head to the “silent city” of Mdina to find the old capital of Malta. Malta boasts cultural hubs and beaches alike, let this be one of your next weekend breaks in Europe.
No, Italy is not the cheapest country in Europe but if you plan your trip well, this destination can be done on a small budget. Cinque Terre is a series of picture-perfect fishing towns. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a perfect place to explore by foot, as cars are banned from the towns, just like Venice – another beautiful place in Italy you must visit (but only in low season!).
A bit off the beaten track, Kosovo offers some of the grandest churches in Eastern Europe. It’s no wonder this country is a premier Eastern European destination for Balkan travelers. In Kosovo, you can enjoy macarons and coffee for about a euro – what is better than that? Be sure to spend time in the Ottoman city of Prizren!
Visit old Riga to get your fill in of oversized churches and cobble lined paths. If you’re an aquatic lover, be sure to spend time in the old harbor town of Andrejsala which has now turned into a top art destination in Europe.
For more information about the places to see and things to do, check out this guide to Latvia for more details!
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