There are so many top destinations in Europe which makes it one of my most favourite continents to visit, but some cities can be pricey. However, there are many cities (and countries) in Europe that don’t have excessive price tags. Here are eight of my favourites that are not only cheap and beautiful, but also within a short bus, train, or car away from some amazing attractions, and easily accessible to other European cities.
1) Kraków, Poland
Kraków is one of my favourites. With the help of the legend of the Kraków Dragon, it’s straight from a fairytale. Kraków has plenty of budget hostels, “free” walking tours, and cheap places to eat. It’s full of interesting history and is a great jumping point for day trips to Auschwitz and the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Pro tip: Oskar Schindler’s Factory is a must visit, and it’s free on Mondays!
2) Ljubljana, Slovenia
The capital of Slovenia is another great budget spot. Along with plenty of hostels, walkable city centre, and cheap eats, it’s the perfect place to base yourself to explore some of Slovenia’s highlights, including castles, caves, and Lake Bled. All are only a short (and cheap!) bus ride away. For more on what to do in Slovenia, check this post.
3) Zadar, Croatia
As Croatia’s Dalmatian coast becomes more and more popular, (Thanks, “Game of Thrones!”) prices in cities like Split and Dubrovnik are on the rise. But travellers willing to stay a bit more north, in Zadar, will be pleasantly surprised by lower costs. There’s still plenty to do and see in the surrounding area, (including Plitvice Lakes National Park) and the city is right on the sea.
4) Bucharest, Romania
For a European capital city, Bucharest is one of the cheapest I’ve visited. Hostel dorms can be booked for under $10 a night, and there are dozens of cheap places to eat. The city is very pedestrian friendly, there are “free”‘ walking tours for visitors, and the buses, trains, and even day tours to the nearby castles (including the Dracula Castle) and medieval villages are easy on your wallet.
5) Mostar, Bosnia
Mostar is one of the most interesting European cities I’ve visited. With so much history and multiple cultures it’s a fun place to explore by foot. Cheap accommodations, food, and shopping at the market are part of what makes it so attractive. It also helps that the main highlight (the Mostar bridge) is free, along with watching the divers. Unless you want them to jump faster — they collect money as encouragement.
6) Prague, Czech Republic
Another fairytale city, Prague is perfect to explore on foot. Most of the city’s attractions are free (Charles Bridge, the Astronomical Clock, the changing of the guard at Prague Castle), along with some incredible views; meaning travellers can get an amazing experience without having to open their wallet for it.
7) Tallinn, Estonia
While Tallinn is the most expensive of the Baltic countries, it’s still pretty cheap compared to most of Europe. Hostels and food are both available for cheap prices, but one of the biggest draws is how close it is to Finland. Since it’s only two hours away from Helsinki, Tallinn makes a good base for a day trip to avoid the high costs of the popular (and notoriously expensive) Nordic city.
8) Riga, Latvia
Riga is still fairly unknown in the travel scene, but it’s a cool place to visit for a few days. It’s best known for its party scene, and is a popular destination for stag and doe parties thanks to low costs. Old Town is very picturesque, and the daily market in an old Zeppelin hanger is the perfect place to pick up fresh produce or homemade goods for only a couple of dollars (great for breakfast post-partying!).
European cities often have a reputation for being expensive, but there are some amazing and affordable options as well.