Among frequent budget travelers, Europe has developed a bit of a reputation for being amazing, but expensive. That being said, there are still some truly incredible cheap European destinations to enjoy!
True, you’re not going to find prices comparable to Laos or Guatemala here, but with roughly 50 countries, Europe is absolutely home to hidden (and not-so-hidden) gems that you can enjoy for prices far less than the famously high costs of London or Stockholm.
To help inspire everyone (including ourselves!) to think outside the box for their next budget Europe getaway, we got together with several other travel bloggers and asked them where they would go in Europe with a maximum budget of $40/person/day.
The answers include everything from some of the cheapest cities in Europe to budget-friendly beach towns, hailing from all corners of the continent.
Unsurprisingly, destinations in Eastern Europe and the Balkans were the favorite picks, but several surprisingly cheap places in Europe lurking in Western and Central Europe did sneak in as well.
Here are some of the cheapest places in Europe to consider for your next budget getaway!
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Cheap European Destinations in the Balkans + East
From Danielle of Like Riding a Bicycle
Tallinn is a beautiful and cheap city to visit, and I absolutely adored it–this coming from someone who detests cities!
The old town takes you back in time and is an amazing experience.
Climb to the top of the hill and see the old rooftops of the old town with a backdrop of modern sky rises–it’s a trip for sure!
Hostels were cheap at around 10 euros per night, and the food was ridiculously inexpensive.
You can check out Patarei Prison, an abandoned Soviet-era prison, for just a couple of euros too!
In the town square of the old town, they often have things like free open-air concerts, which you can watch from one of the many bars located in the area.
From Nicole of Family with Latitude
Cluj-Napoca is a beautiful city perfect for a laid-back visit. It is the second-largest city in Romania but still has a small-town feel and it is very easy to walk around.
The older Hungarian architecture is contrasted by the Soviet-era buildings. It is also a very affordable city to visit. My family of 4 visited for less than $30 per person per day over the course of a month.
A top-rated Airbnb apartment for 2 people only costs about $25-40 a night.
Eating and drinking in Cluj-Napoca are very affordable as well. Breakfast from a little bakery might be only $1-2. A sit-down lunch or dinner is usually $5 or less for an entrée and a beer or cider might cost you $1 more. A large pizza is about $4.
Many attractions are free, and the ones that aren’t are very reasonable. The botanical gardens are less than $2 to visit.
From Hannah of Adventure Travel Family
Ideal for summer or winter breaks, the small town of Borovets in Bulgaria is perfect for outdoor adventurers.
I loved taking our children skiing down the mountains, snow-shoeing through pine forests, and watching little ones play in the snow park. In summer, naturalists can enjoy bear-watching excursions and visits to mountain lakes.
You can also easily take a day trip to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia for those who fancy a day in the city.
The town has a great variety of accommodation from budget to luxury, but generally, food and entertainment are extremely cheap.
A traditional lunch sets you back around £5, while dinner at a tavern comes to £10. International restaurants change slightly more but personally, I would pick the hearty Bulgarian food any day!
There are also small supermarkets if you prefer to self-cater and these are exceptionally budget-friendly.
Hotel rooms start from around £20 although flatshares can be cheaper. Bulgaria is a perfect offbeat European destination to visit if you are looking for a good time without blowing the bank!
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
From Jub of Tiki Touring Kiwi
I sit here in Kotor and can’t help but think back to Sarajevo where I spent 10 glorious days. I spent about 18 euros a day without thinking about it.
I stayed in dorms paying 7 – 9 euro/night, but you can find private rooms for 10 euro in the city center.
I love Sarajevo as it’s very walkable, with all the amenities you need, yet there are mountains surrounding the city where you can go on an adventure within minutes.
The people smile as you walk down the street and are happy to have a chat. This can’t be said everywhere.
In terms of food, you can eat in Bosnia for as little as 1.50 euro and have a meal that will fill you up for half the day.
There are a lot of cafes and restaurants offering good-sized (and quality) meals from 2 – 3 euro. Beer will cost you 1.50 – 2.50 euro in most places and a tram or bus ride is less than a euro regardless of the distance.
Now, if they only banned smoking inside the bars–but that’s a small price to pay to get to enjoy visiting a city that is simultaneously one of the most interesting and one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
While you’re in Bosnia and Herzegovina, don’t miss the beautiful city of Mostar, either.
From Iris of Mind of a Hitchhiker
As Albania’s third-largest city, Vlorë is relatively unknown to foreigners–and yet, its undiscovered status makes it one of the best cheap European destinations to visit.
With stunning views along the Albanian Riviera, travelers looking for an offbeat Europe beach trip are bound to fall in love with Vlorë.
While on the whole Albania is very doable on a tight budget, Vlorë has an amazing range of whole-apartment Airbnbs with a sea view for under $20.
Make it your base of operations for exploration of the Zvërnec peninsula, the ruins of Oricum and Kaninë castle, and the recently opened Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park.
Head south along the coastal road and you’ll find the fantastic beaches of Dhërmi and Himarë if you wish to venture further out.
Inside the city are various monuments to Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire, which was signed here.
Sights and activities inside town include visiting the 500-year-old Muradie mosque, strolls along the boulevard, and fetching groceries at little markets.
Eating out isn’t too expensive either, whether it’s restaurant or street food. Tipping is not expected in Albania.
Albanian cuisine mixes the best of the Mediterranean and Balkan; think dolma, burek, and prosciutto. You’ll have access to quality coffee, both Turkish and Italian style.
From Kamila of Kami & The Rest of the World
The entire country of Ukraine is a great value for money and is definitely among the cheapest countries in Europe to visit.
Its capital city, Kyiv, is a perfect European city break destination where you can enjoy high standards for little money. The city really has a lot to offer, the variety of activities is enormous there and everything is more than affordable.
Top things to do in Kyiv include visiting the golden dome churches (part of UNESCO World Heritage List), admiring the impressive Soviet architecture, and enjoying one of the best street art scenes that I’ve ever seen!
When it comes to the prices you can find decent accommodation for less than $20 and get a solid lunch for $5, the metro ride is just $0,20.
I’ve been to Kyiv some 5 times and already have more trips planned.
I just love the vibe of the city, all the opportunities it has (whether it’s stunning architecture or cheap but delicious international cuisine), and well, the prices!
Novi Sad, Serbia
From Taiss of Together to Wherever
After our visit, we find ourselves always talking about how underrated Novi Sad is as a cheap European city break option.
Prior to meeting our Serbian friends, we had never even known of this cool Eastern European town, let alone consider visiting.
We didn’t really have any expectations other than spending some time with our friends but once we arrived, the town really impressed us and the costs made us wish we were staying longer than two days.
The chill vibe in this laid-back town was what really made an impact on us.
We loved hanging out at Liberty Square. You’ll find that locals gather here with friends, their families, and loved ones so it makes you feel like you’re experiencing the “real” Novi Sad rather than one catered toward tourists.
During the time we were there we ate at upscale restaurants where a meal (including a bottle of wine!) for four adults only cost $68 USD. You can imagine that it would only be cheaper than that if one wanted to be more conservative.
Our accommodations were also luxurious without breaking the bank. Our 3 bedroom Airbnb apartment in the heart of the historic center and walking distance from Liberty Square was under $40 USD /night.
Using that as a reference on the high end just shows how much cheaper you could find for something smaller.
From Karen of Wanderlusting K
Prizren, Kosovo is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe to travel comfortably on a budget in.
This historic city is perfect for those doing a Balkan trip who are interested in history, hiking, and culture.
Prizren was an Ottoman city and you can still see some of the influences in its architecture. You can visit beautiful mosques, climb up to the fortress for an epic view of the city, and go hiking in the nearby Sar mountains.
Buses in Kosovo cost around 5 euros from Pristina. A hotel room is in the 20-35 euro range for a central hotel while you can have a hearty meal at a local restaurant for 5 euros.
Cafe culture is strong in Kosovo, so you’ll find affordable and tasty coffee shops to hang out in at night for a few euros.
If you’ll be in the Balkans, be sure to add Kosovo to your itinerary!
Cheaper Places in Southern Europe to Visit
Cabo de Gata, Spain
from Miguel at Travelsauro
There are plenty of hidden gems in Spain, and Cabo de Gata Natural Park is definitely one of them.
Cabo de Gata Natural Park is located in Almeria, in the southeastern part of Spain. It’s Andalucia’s largest coastal protected area, boasting wild and isolated landscapes with original geological features.
The park was formed due to volcanic activity. Thus, it features black sand beaches, huge cliffs, and sharp peaks.
In addition to the stunning landscapes, many traditional villages are scattered throughout the region, giving it a unique atmosphere.
Because it’s a protected area, those villages have managed to maintain their local style. Most of them have narrow alleys and small houses, all painted white.
I love Cabo de Gata because it’s a quiet place, a great destination for nature lovers who want to walk along the hills and enjoy the beach before returning to town and eating some delicious “tapas”.
If you compare it to other regions in Spain, you’ll find that it’s still very affordable. You can find a basic two-person room for $25, and get a meal for less than $8. Moreover, every time you ask for a beer or another drink, you’ll get a “tapa” for free!
From Maegan of The Wanderlust Dietitian
Cortona, Italy is pure magic placed between Rome and Florence.
This small town is situated on a hillside overlooking the Tuscan Valley, and while it’s well-known among travelers, the fact that it takes slightly more effort to get to leaves it as a more offbeat European destination in the region as compared to say, Florence or San Gimignano.
If that is not enough to entice you, the people are the friendliest of anywhere in Italy, which is uber hard to beat.
The Piazza Signorelli in the city center holds a weekend market that rivals major European cities! Everything is within a steep walking distance of each other and the food is otherworldly.
We stayed at an Airbnb where we rented a spare room from a young family. This cost us $60 per night.
An Italian breakfast consists of a croissant and an espresso, which costs about 3 euros. The average lunch consists of a sandwich or small pizza for about 5-15 euros. Dinner will run you about 20-35 euros and the house wine is usually cheaper than bottled water.
Do factor in taxi services to take you down the mountain through the town of Camucia, this is where the train station is. A taxi will cost you about 10 euros depending on the weather and time of year.
There is a bus that runs every hour if you have the time and patience to wait on it, we did and only paid 1 euro.
Rural Algarve Coast, Portugal
From James of Portugalist
When most people think of the Algarve, they tend to think of beaches, high rises, and intoxicated holidaymakers. And yes, the coastal parts of the Algarve can be like this, especially during summer.
The rural Algarve is different, however. Where there are tourists, they are generally walkers, surfers, and nature lovers.
Outside of the hottest months, the Algarve is a fantastic walking region, with numerous short walks and several multi-day hikes like The Algarve Way and the Fisherman’s Trail.
Cost-wise, the rural Algarve can be among the cheapest places in Europe to visit.
A room on Airbnb averages between $10 and $20 and a lunch menu can run as cheap as $7-10 for three courses (including wine). For dinner, it’s possible for two people to eat out for $15.
The only downside to the rural Algarve is getting around. Public transport is possible, but prior preparation is needed, and renting a car is definitely easier.
From Rohan of Travels of a Bookpacker
Nicosia is one of the cheapest European destinations, especially on a beach, and boasts lots of great things to see and do.
The city is divided into two parts by the United Nations and each side has a very different culture.
In the north, you will find Turkish food, mosques, and the Turkish lira as the official currency.
However, the south serves wonderful Greek food and has a much more European feel. You will be asked for your passport when crossing the border, but you can do this as often as you like.
There are double rooms available in Nicosia from around €35 in the city center or good value Airbnb properties for less. Food is very affordable and there are lots of really cool cafes in the old town.
We found the north cheaper than the south side of the city. Lahmacun and burek (€2-4) are cheap lunch options on the go and a meal in a restaurant costs around €8.
From Margherita of The Crowded Planet
Everyone seems to have the beautiful Cinque Terre on their European bucket list, and for good reason: the 5 coastal villages are among Italy’s prettiest sights, and when summertime comes, they become crazy busy!
A great alternative to staying in Cinque Terre is Levanto, another amazing seaside town right next to Monterosso, the westernmost Cinque Terre village.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that Levanto is one of the cheapest European destinations on the continent overall, however, as compared to its famous next-door neighbor, it’s an absolute bargain!
Staying in Levanto is far cheaper than in the Cinque Terre villages, and you can always head to Cinque Terre by train.
There is also lots to see and do in Levanto itself, with many adventure activities available.
You can go hiking, cycling, biking, diving, paddle boarding, and even surfing–Levanto is one of the best places in Italy for finding reliable surf.
Outside of the busiest month of July and August, you should be able to get a double room or Airbnb for under $50, and food won’t break the bank – a tasty slice of focaccia can be enjoyed for only a couple of euros!
Offbeat Places in West, Central + Northern Europe
From Kaylie of Happiness Travels Here
Gutach is a small town positioned in the center of the Black Forest region of Germany.
With its central location, it is the perfect spot from which to explore the Black Forest on a budget.
The Black Forest is home to some of the best scenery in Germany, tree-covered hills and green valleys give way to small villages, inviting beer gardens in the summer, and traditional Christmas markets in the winter.
Most accommodations provide guests with the Konus Guest Card. This card allows free transportation on local trains and buses, as well as free or discounted admission to many local attractions, the most notable of which is the Black Forest Open-Air Museum.
When visiting the Black Forest stay at a farm stay, known in German as an ‘Urlaub am Bauernhof’. Essentially a bed and breakfast on a working or hobby farm they are very good value for money.
We stayed at Joklisbauernhof farm stay. For 15€ a night, per person, we were given a comfortable ensuite room and a hearty breakfast. Our hosts were even happy for us to take any leftover rolls and cold-cuts to be eaten later for lunch.
With a low-cost supermarket nearby and a communal kitchen, a wholesome dinner was prepared for only a few Euro. We enjoyed ourselves with a 2€ bottle of German Riesling and a view to the cloud-capped mountains across the valley, there were no sacrifices to be made here.
From Danielle of Ultimate Country Guides
While Austria is certainly not the cheapest place in the world, Heiligenblut is an absolutely idyllic town that can you visit on the cheap.
There’s so much nature around that the best thing to do is grab your tent and find a nice secluded place to camp.
The town is surrounded by hikes, and is even home to the tallest mountain in the Eastern Alps!
If you get your food from the grocery store and camp, and you can stay well below $40 a day while enjoying the majestic scenery that only the Austrian Alps can offer!
From Jenny of TraveLynn Family
The compact medieval city of Ghent, with its cobbled streets and fairytale charm, is often overlooked by travelers who make a beeline for Bruges.
But less than a 25-minute train journey away from its dominating neighbor, travelers are can discover the quaint canal-side architecture, edgy art scene, and quirky bars of Ghent, with fewer visitors and cheaper accommodation.
To keep costs down on your budget European getaway, but still experience the city in a festival season, January is the time to visit.
The Winter Festival is on embracing all things Christmas with sparkling light displays, traditional festive markets, an ice-rink, grotto, and Ferris wheel.
You can also visit Gravesteen (the medieval castle overlooking the city, showcasing weaponry and torture devices), take a boat trip around the central district, climb the Belfry on a clear day for panoramic views, or visit one of the superbly designed museums.
An absolute must-do is to hire a bike and tour the city’s vibrant street art.
Pick up a free Concrete Canvas Tour map from the Information Centre and follow the 14.5km self-guided tour. The artwork is forever changing as this is a city where street artists are free to decorate as they please.
We used Airbnb to keep accommodation costs down and still stay within a 20-minute walk to the city center. For food, enjoy a Bratwurst ($5 USD) or waffle ($3 USD) from a market stall. Bike hire costs $3.50 USD for 8 hours, with a registration cost of $14 USD.
From Michael of The World Was Here First
Most travelers that come to Poland tend to only visit the city of Krakow, and while it is certainly beautiful, is also an extremely popular destination in Europe and it can get crowded.
A great off-the-beaten-track, and cheap European destination, that is an alternative in Poland is Wroclaw, conveniently located between Berlin and Krakow.
Wroclaw has a large population of young people, and there are many great things to do in this beautiful city.
I spent my days wandering around the beautiful Old Town (keeping an eye out for the many dwarf statues!), eating delicious and cheap food, gazing at street art, and simply getting swept up in the fantastic atmosphere that Wroclaw has!
A basic private room in Wroclaw through Airbnb will cost around €15-20 and there are many great cheap restaurants where you can get a good meal for €4-5, making it one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit.
Most of the sites in Wroclaw are free to explore and there is even a number of free walking tours that you can take to delve deeper into the history of the city.
From Viktor of Traveling Lifestyle
Kosice is the second biggest town in the Eastern part of Slovakia, and one of the best cheap European destinations to visit.
The center of the city is pretty small and walkable in one day, but you will fall in love instantly and want to walk by all of the places again.
In the middle of the old town, you can find St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral which is a must-see while in Kosice!
I really enjoyed the views from Cathedral’s tower as well, and it cost only 3 euros. Right next to the Cathedral you can find a singing fountain and a beautiful theatre.
If you are a fan of sports, make sure you stop at Peace Marathon Square which is the oldest in Europe, and the second oldest in the world. Once you walk the main street, head to small side streets like Kovacska, Hrnciarska, and at the end of Mlynska visit majestic Jakab’s Palace.
The city offers various places to eat with cuisines from all around the world.
Lunch menus cost only 3-5 euros and dinner will cost you around 5-7 euros. For the most traditional kitchen, head to the restaurant called “Mlyn” which is highly recommended by locals and me as well.
Prices of the hostels start at 10 euros and private rooms are around 20 euros, depending on the season.
From Tom of Traveltomtom
For hiking lovers who really want to escape the crowd in Europe, Vent is the ultimate place to go.
This tiny village with only a handful of farms, a couple of hotels, some guesthouses, and a church is situated at the end of a road up into the mountains close to the Italian border.
This Austria town is a world-class hiking destination and the perfect base if you want to hike up to the highest mountain in Tyrol: the Wildspitze.
Most hikers start early in the morning for an 8-10 hour hike with almost 2,000 altitude meters and a length of 17 kilometers.
The views up on top are to die for and the best of all this is a free activity. Make sure you are well equipped this is not an easy hike!
Vent is a popular and reasonably cheap place in Europe in either summer or winter, but price levels are a little lower during winter.
To stay overnight in Vent we paid just under $20 per person/per night, and meals including drinks won’t cost more than $10.
After our second visit to Hungary when we spent two weeks enjoying all that Budapest has to offer, we are still as crazy about it (and its prices!) as ever–among summer European getaways (or any time of year, really), Budapest will always rank as one of our favorites.
Whether you’re looking for delicious food, captivating history, stunning architecture, Budapest’s photogenic sights, or offbeat exploration, Budapest has it all.
Best of all, the city has enough to do that it is the perfect place for a longer stay–and slower European travel is almost always cheaper European travel.
Our Airbnb was one of our favorite bargains in Budapest–for a total cost of $43/night (including taxes and fees!), we stayed in a gorgeous renovated apartment just a couple of blocks away from St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Transportation is also very affordable, with one week passes to Budapest’s transportation system (buses, trams, and subways) running less than $20/person.
Some items are a little more of a splurge–a visit to one of the better-known thermal baths will set you back almost $20/person–but affordable travel is very accessible in Budapest, and the city is absolutely worth a visit!
For something even more off the beaten path, try out some of the hiking trails near Budapest–they won’t disappoint!