Thank you for reaching out and still following the blog through all these years! At the moment, my travel goals dare not pointing to Europe because of the difficult visa application process but I am definitely looking into it next year.
While I lived in Europe in the past, I cannot say that I am still updated with the recent travel trends in the region. You know how things change abruptly through time (I haven’t been back to Europe in almost 6 years!) but I gathered a few of my travel blogger friends who are experts and more updated in European travel.
I am also planning to go somewhere for the Eid holiday but I don’t know where yet! If it works out, Krakow, Sofia and Tallinn are also on my list. Feel free to scroll down and explore your options! Make sure to follow my travel blogger friends, too!
#1 – Sofia, Bulgaria (cheapest)
Who: Bilyana from Owl Over The World is a mountain lover and full-time dream chaser. She follows her dreams and wants you to do the same. Her goal is to help you to travel more & worry less and inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and see this beautiful world we live in one adventure at a time.
Sofia is maybe the cheapest European destination! The city is wonderful and has a lot to offer. On top of that, we also have a mountain right next to the city if you get bored with it, but I doubt you will!
One of my favourite free things to do in Sofia (most of them are) is to grab a beer, which costs around $0.60-$1 and relax in one of the many city parks.
Sofia is also perfect for traditional food tasting and wine (oh, God, Bulgarian wine!!).
Another thing about Sofia is that it can be both relaxed and wild. If you’re looking for a party you will always find one, if you’re looking for a place to chill, you will always find one as well. Sofia has what you’re looking for, the only thing that it’s still missing is YOU.
#2 – Krakow, Poland
Jeremy and Kate recommend:
Who: Jeremy & Kate Storm of Our Escape Clause is an adventurous couple from the U.S. who are spending the next undetermined amount of time gallivanting around the globe. In early 2016, they sold their house, car, and their belongings, tallied up their savings and hit the road with the goal to travel as much as possible, for as long as possible.
Krakow is the perfect budget getaway within Europe. Not only is it incredibly affordable, Krakow is an amazing base to explore world class sights such as the Wieliczka Salt Mines and the extremely sad, though ever-important, Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Within the city itself, be sure to start at the main square and wander on foot in all directions: many things to do in Krakow are completely free, including seeing the crypt under the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, exploring the gorgeous Planty Park, checking out the views in the main square and Old Town, and the exterior portions of Wawel Castle.
Krakow is extremely walkable: we didn’t use any other form of
transportation while there except for our day trips out of town!
As for food, delicious and inexpensive meals are available around every
corner in Krakow: be sure to stop into a Polish milk bar for traditional
Polish budget cuisine.
#3 – Bucharest, Romania
Who: Three and a half years ago Nathan Aguilera of Foodie Flashpacker quit his job, sold everything he owned and left his home in Oklahoma City to set out on what he thought was going to be a six month trip around Southeast Asia. Since then, he’s eaten his way across more than fifty countries over four continents.
Bucharest, Romania is one of the most affordable cities to travel in all of Europe. A typical dorm bed will cost you less than $15 USD while a standard hotel room is only around $25 USD. I rented a large private Airbnb for $23 per night.
Romanian food is delicious and filling and a typical meal will cost around $5. Bucharest is a great place to splurge and try some of the more high end restaurants as they cost a fraction of what they would cost elsewhere.
I used Uber to get around the city and usually paid $3-4 per ride. There is also a public transportation system you could use for $1 per ride.
The Parliament building and museums are all affordable to visit but many of the best things to do in Bucharest are free. I was surprised to find out how many parks the city has. They’re great to stroll through and people watch.
#4 – Belgrade, Serbia
Who: Natasha Alden of The World Pursuit grew up Michigan. As a child, she went to many family vacations, but never truly left the country. The wanderlust started when she studied abroad in Australia. She didn’t know this experience would change her life. Upon return, she vowed that after college, she would take a backpacking trip around the world to celebrate. After a quick stint in NYC, she realized the wanderlust disease could not be cured. So as the story goes she quit her job, sold her belongings, and left for an indefinite life of travel.
The capital of Serbia is by far one of the cheapest cities I have ever spent time in. We actually spent one month there because it was so cheap! We initially realized how cheap the city was when we booked a month long Airbnb 2 bedroom apartment in the hippest neighborhood for $550. We then were flabbergasted when large lattes cost all of $2, tickets to the ballet and opera cost $3, and a meal out at one of the nicest restaurants in the city was $10 per person. It’s definitely possible to experience some of the many things to do in Belgrade on a budget. I would recommend going on the Belgrade Free Walking tour to get acquainted with the city and checking out Hostel Bongo for a cheap nights sleep, Airbnb is also a great alternative to a hotel!
#5 – Budapest, Hungary
Who: Allison Green of Eternal Arrival spent hours of her free time each day planning her next trip or trips to come in the future. It became clear to her that 12 weeks of vacation per year weren’t enough. So at the age of 26, after five years of teaching in NYC, she took all her savings, quit her job, sold almost all her belongings, and began her journey to travel the world. Her goal is to learn as many languages, meet as many locals, and get off the beaten path as much as possible so she can have fully culturally immersive experiences.
Budapest is one of my new favorite budget-friendly cities. For one, it’s just incredible and would be worth visiting at any price. The Budapest Parliament building is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, and that’s coming from a major architecture snob. The Danube River is stunning to walk along, especially at night when everything is all lit up and glittering over the river. The nightlife is fun, with funky ruin bars, live music, and hundreds of great international restaurants everywhere. Meals are incredibly cheap, with daily lunch specials often under $4 for a 3 course meal — try finding that in Western Europe! Beers are often less than $2, and I’ve found wine as cheap as 90 cents a glass!
#6 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Who: Gemma Armit, the other half of Two Scots Abroad likes to make a plan and think of all the possible things that could go wrong with that plan. Her biggest achievements are trekking 96 miles of the West Highland Way in Scotland, boarding down an active volcano in Nicaragua, and surviving three weeks in a tent, coast-to-coast America.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo, is one of the most economical European cities for travellers who love nature, (recent) history and food. The city is surrounded by mountains free to hike. At the top of Mount Trebevic, you will find the abandoned bobsled track from the 1984 Winter Olympics. The streets of Sarajevo show the wounds of the 90s conflict with bullet holes on wall buildings and red paint murals called the Sarajevo Rose to indicate where victims lost their lives. Food is cheap, the local sausage dish, Cevapi, can be bought for under $4. Check out this guide on things to do in Sarajevo for more details!
#7 – Kiev, Ukraine
Who: Lena Tarasyuk of Travel Monkey was born and raised in post-soviet Ukraine, spending most of her childhood running out on a street, be it playing ball during summer’s +30C or riding a sleigh during winter’s -20C. Outdoors was the major activity for her. Being obsessed with geography from high school she could only dream about seeing those rivers and mountains and cities for real and cruising through life I found out that dreams can actually come true! Now she considers herself to be a citizen of the world, calling more than two places her home.
Kiev city very well might be one of the last underrated frontiers of Eastern Europe but the one that will meet you with a pleasant mix of cheap prices, delicious food, and vibrant culture. The cradle of Slavic civilization, Kiev has a lot to offer in terms of cultural gems intertwining the ancient golden dome scene with the newest trends of graffiti murals on post-Soviet apartment blocks. The great place to see this dramatic combination is a walk of Andriyivskiy descent.
Yes, Kiev is chaotic, loud and sometimes overpacked with tasteless ads, but it will blow you away with its ambition to be a European revolutionary capital, fashion center, and a culinary delight.
Do not miss the chance to indulge yourself in some of the cosmetic luxury, such as massage, manicure, facial, or the like, as Kiev is the place to get the best professional treatment for a very good price.
#8 – Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Parampara and Parichay recommend:
Who: Parampara and Parichay of Awara Diaries are travel writers, planners and filmmakers from India. Instead of getting into the corporate ways of life, both Parampara and Parichay decided to put their ideas to good use and took up creative entrepreneurship. Parampara writes and consults for marketing movies in India, Parichay make the travel dreams possible by planning customised trips for all budgets. Currently, the duo has come up with World Culture Network, a travel and culture based web channel that aims at creating and sharing content from across the globe, making people aware and culturally sensitive.
On our trip to the Czech Republic last summer, we decided to spend our weekend in Česky Krumlov. We already had a 15 days České Drahy train pass so our commute was already covered. Despite booking our hostel on the day of arrival, we paid only $10 per person. Česky Krumlov is the second most visited city in Czech Republic. With the tourists pouring in, we were all prepped for tourist traps thanks to our last-minute planning.
But Česky had us by surprise! The town looked picturesque, like it belonged to a fantasy movie with castles, dragons and rivers flowing by. The entry tickets to the castle cost us $3 per person.
Since Česky Krumlov is smaller in area, we walked around throughout our stay. We dined at one of the finest restaurants in Česky only to spend $6 on a sumptuous meal for one. We had barely spent $30 in a day, but the experience of Česky Krumlov felt far greater than that making it the perfect destination for our budget travel list.
#9 – Warsaw, Poland
Who: Raphael Alexander of Journey Wonders is a Nomadic Digital Marketer and Travel Influencer from Mexico who overcame the chains of the local economy and found a way to achieve his dream of having a professional life while traveling the world non-stop. His goal in life is to inspire the people of the world to unleash their full inner potential. A perfect day for him includes exotic animals, ancient pyramids, breath-taking waterfalls and tasty tacos. Lots of tacos.
Even though Warsaw is the capital of Poland, you would be surprised to learn that it is surprisingly cheap (I even spent more in some South East Asian cities than in Warsaw!!!) and very beautiful.
Food, as it is common all around Poland, is both delicious and affordable and normally you would not spend more than 3 Euros per healthy meal. Forget about that greasy kebab and try out some amazing pierogi instead my friends! Public transportation will set you back 1 Euro although you probably won’t need it because Warsaw is extremely walkable unless you plan a side trip to the Baroque Style Wilanow Palace located 20 minutes away from Warsaw by public bus.
My best recommendation for what to do and see in Warsaw? Just take a walk along the historical city center and take in the charm of its colorful buildings. And yes, I really advise you to also take a trip to the communist masterpiece known as the Palace of Culture and Science and talk to a local about it. 9 out of 10 times the local will tell you how much they hate said building. Fun times huh?
#10 – Zagreb, Croatia
Who: Chris Backe is the main blogger here at One Weird Globe. He’s also the author about 20 books and itineraries, which can be found by looking at the menu. He’s originally from the US (the Chicago, Illinois area) and last lived in Lexington, Kentucky before coming to Asia. Chris moved to Seoul, South Korea in March 2008 to teach English. When not teaching, he made it a point to travel to a new place, event, or festival each week. In 2010, he shifted focus to the more offbeat destinations around the country. In 2013, he published the book “Offbeat Korea“, which contains over 100 of Korea’s most unusual places.
Zagreb’s a great place to chill and get around cheap — not Cambodia-cheap, but definitely-cheap-for-Europe cheap. Bear in mind the Croatian kuna is about 6 to the US dollar, and also bear in mind both Dubrovnik and Split are more expensive than the capital city.
Expect local, excellent beer at an Old Town bar for 10-15 kuna and bottles of wine at the supermarket for 20-30 kuna (pass on the larger plastic bottles, though!). Basic coffees and espressos are around 8-10 kuna, while paper tickets for downtown trams or bus rides are typically 4 kuna. Buy them at any tobacco shop or on the tram / bus itself from the driver. Hostels in the Old Town area start at about 300 kuna, and surprisingly the prices are pretty competitive across the city.
What to see in Zagreb? My two favorite places: the Typhlological Museum (20 kuna, not a typo), which is a government-funded museum showing ‘life and art’ of blind people, and the Museum of Mushrooms (20 kuna), which shows how much variety there is in the world. Honorable mention: the better-known ‘Museum of Broken Relationships (30 kuna), where the stories behind the relationships are more interesting than the items themselves… The Museum of Illusions is 40 kuna but a lot of fun as well.
#11 – Riga, Latvia
Who: Marco Buch of Life Is A Trip is a man of many things. He’s involved himself in publishing, cinematography, book writing, blogging, guiding tours and DJing. He is persistently curious and is always on the road. Marco had 130 jobs in 65 countries from exploring different places and getting to know unusual means of transport.
Riga is a very charming city with beautiful cobblestone streets, plenty of old buildings and an abundance of picturesque churches. Especially the Old Town makes you feel like you landed inside a fairytale. Latvia’s capital is a very affordable destination for backpackers. Accommodation and public transport are cheap and you can find great deals on food and partying, too. It is for a reason, that people come from all over Europe to celebrate their stag nights here.
Many of the exciting things to do in Riga are actually free: A stroll around the Old Town, a picnic next to the river or a visit to the square at the Rīgas Doms which is busy day and night with people, vendors and buskers. If you are into architecture, Alberta Street is well worth a visit, too. With 800 houses, this street actually holds the world record in art nouveau buildings.
A big advantage of Riga is the proximity to the two other Baltic countries Lithuania and Estonia. It is easy and cheap to visit all three countries in just a few days and you will be surprised how different from each other they actually are. Additionally, traveling the Baltic states is really easy for beginners!
The best time to visit Riga is the summer months. If you can, be there for the beautiful midsummer festival called Ligo. Be prepared though: It does never really get dark at this time of the year. Bring an eye mask to make sure you can actually sleep.
#12 – Bratislava, Slovakia
Chris and Heather recommend:
wWho: Chris is originally from a small town called Ramsbottom near Manchester, England. He moved to the States in 2006 to pursue a golf scholarship. Heather is from a similarly small town in Arkansas called Cash. Traveling has long been a passion for both of them and being able to share their experiences on their travel blog A Brit And A Southerner really enhances our overall experience.
If you looking for the ultimate European destination to experience history, culture, gorgeous architecture and delicious cuisine, all at an affordable price, why not check out the Slovakian capital city of Bratislava. A nation that has suffered from alleged corruption for years has left a negative stereotype on the capital city, but having spent some time here, we want to dissuade you from believing all the negative media hype.
The best way to explore everything Bratislava has to offer is by walking around the city. What better way to do this than by participating in a daily, FREE walking tour in Bratislava is a great way to learn about the city from a true local perspective. The towering statue of Pavol Hviezdoslav is the focal point of the main square but your eyes cannot help but wander to the gorgeous architecture surrounding you.
Take a stroll to St. Martin’s Cathedral before heading into the “old town” to admire the idyllic cobblestoned streets that typify an Eastern European city. The Church of St. Elizabeth commonly known as the “Blue Church” is a landmark you cannot afford to miss but after exploring everything Bratislava has to offer you will surely be ready to sample the delicious local Slovakian cuisine including “bryndzové halušky” (potato dumplings).
#13 – Vilnius, Lithuania
Margherita and Nick recommend:
Who: Margherita and Nick of The Crowded Planet are writers and photographers from Italy and Australia. They are long-term travellers and lovers of nature, wildlife and the outdoors. They met in the dusty corners of a London food market, one November day in 2004. Nick was in the UK on a working holiday visa, and Margherita was fulfilling her dream of living in London, the city she fell in love with as a child. Nick had moved to Europe from Australia to see the world, and Margherita was still coming to grips with her own bad case of wanderlust, which hit her at the age of 5 when she was given a flag book as a birthday present. Their first trip together was in Cuba in 2005.
A few years ago in winter, we wanted to go on a cheap weekend city break, so we found a cheap flight and jetted off to Vilnius! The Lithuanian capital is ideal for budget travellers – accommodation, food and sightseeing are all moderately priced, there’s a cool bar scene and beer is really cheap! Our base (and my favourite place in town) was Uzupis, a Vilnius neighbourhood that is also a self-proclaimed ‘independent republic’ dedicated to self-determination and all things fun. We spent a few days touring the city, which is small enough to travel around on foot (hence saving on transport costs!) and took a day trip out to the countryside to go dog sledding, something we always wanted to do and were never able to afford – in Lithuania a dog sledding trip cost only about 30 euro for half a day, a bargain!
Sleeping in Vilnius cost us about 25 euro in a hostel double room, and our meals were about 10 euro per person for a main course and drink. We visited in December and the city was COLD, and there were next to no tourists about, so prices may rise a bit in summer, but we think Vilnius would still be budget friendly. We loved our trip and would love to return in summer!
#14 – Istanbul, Turkey
Who: Olga Maria is a New York City and Europe based Travel and Lifestyle Writer, Digital Nomad and a proud Latina. Through her blogazine, DreamsinHeels.com and her Bilingual Travel Community and Movement Latinaswhotravel.com, her aim is to inspire everyone, especially women to consider living a more adventurous lifestyle by embarking on journeys of self-discovery and curiosity. Leading by example, she intends to empower her readers to follow their dreams and to discover their inner self—in style! Her excursions of culture have led her to Asia, Europe, The Middle East, Latin America, Caribbean Islands, across the United States and to Canada. Olga Maria invites you on her journey to different destinations while together we explore the cuisine, the lifestyle, the culture and we interact with locals.
Istanbul is not as budget-friendly as it used to be, but it can be very cost effective if you know where to eat and watch what you spend overall.
In Turkey, you can find very cheap food, as well as expensive. The advantage of Istanbul is the amazing food culture. From street food to traditional local family-owned restaurants, Istanbul has it all. Must try: Bivalves, which are mussels, considered popular street food, as well as Iskander kebab. Just try it all! Even better, if you love sweets, are baklava and Turkish delights. Can’t be beaten! In addition, people in Turkey are very friendly; they will offer you Turkish coffee or tea. Both unique and delicious!
Few people know that Istanbul has two sides: The European and the Asian one. I totally suggest for you to take the ferry into the Asian-side to enjoy amazing views of the Bosphorus. Taking the ferry is budget friendly since it is very inexpensive. But if you prefer the full Bosphorus Tour, be aware that, since is more touristic, people will try to sell you tickets at a higher rate; if you buy them at the window, they cost less. Also, on the Asian-side are tons of amazing local restaurants. The European-side is way more touristic and thus, more expensive.
In terms of activities that are a must do, it really all depends on your taste. I personally would not leave Istanbul without seeing some highlights such as Galata Tower, Sultan Ahmed Square, Hagia Sophia. Also, visit the Basilica Cistern (Note: Turkish liras required to enter). Since you’re in the area, stop by The Blue Mosque (free entrance). Note: Female travelers must cover up; items are there for your convenience. If you are into architecture and palaces, do not miss Topkapi Palace and the Dolmabahce Palace. To save money you can get a museum card and also an Istanbul Kart to ride on the public transportation.
Remember that although the grand bazaar is great to visit, the shopping is very expensive. It is a tourist trap and prices reflect that. Find smaller, local places and don’t forget to haggle. Solo female travel in Turkey is safe, too!
Bring extra money for the visa, which you can buy when you enter Turkey, but it is slightly cheaper to pre-purchase it online.
#15 – Prague, Czech Republic
Rishabh & Nirali recommend:
Who: Rishabh & Nirali from Gypsycouple are two fated lovebirds who got together through an arranged marriage setting and have been intermittently travelling the world since. They’re opposites and hence they attract or so they try to convince themselves. They’ve chosen to be a full-time couple and part-time travellers open to extreme adventures and being pampered in luxury in equal measure. Their goal is to have a never-ending bucket list which has at least some entries ticked off every year and eventually settle down in a house on the top of a hill someday.
Prague is an ideal European city with a lot of history, an interesting culture and warm welcoming citizen. It has the cobblestone streets, great street food, lots of beer, a beautiful castle and a majestic bridge leading up to it. The best part perhaps is that tourists can enjoy all the above at a fraction of the budget needed to explore its western counterparts. It is quite an affordable destination for backpackers and budget travellers be it someone looking to party or go culture hunting.
Prague isn’t all that big so it’s possible to explore quite a few places on foot. A free walking tour (with tips at the end) is a great way to get a first glimpse of the old town while entry to the castle or a stroll down the Charles bridge at sundown is perhaps the best free touristy thing you could do anywhere. In case you want to take it easy, public transportation is both cheap and convenient and city cards which also offer access to some tourist places and all public transportation is a great way to explore the city. The astronomical clock, John Lennon wall and the dancing house are all free attractions offering insight into the history, culture and the architecture of the city. Its gothic style buildings are instant worm holes to the middle ages with gargoyles peeping out from the edges of almost every lane. A secret tip from our Prague guide is to take benefit of its various free concerts and other live entertainment at Wallenstein gardens or go bargain hunting at the various open air markets like Holesovice.
The city with its charms isn’t unlike its glitzy western counterparts however it’s is much easier to make it here on a budget and still not miss out on much if anything.
#16 – Girona, Spain
Who: Joan Torres of Against the Compass was born and raised in Barcelona. Wherever he travels, he always tries to get off the path. In fact, tourist crowds piss him off. He is a heavy beer drinker and all different cultures fascinate him. He has a curiosity for countries which nobody knows about.
Located 110km from Barcelona, Girona is the gate to the internally famous Costa Brava and one of the prettiest cities in Catalonia. With an awesome local life, tasty restaurants, a stunning Gothic cathedral and an old city where the 6th season of Game of Thrones was filmed, in Girona, you will not find the tourist traps that you may find in Barcelona.
Girona is cheap and a dream for those budget backpackers who want get a taste of the local life in a European city. In Girona, there are plenty of restaurants where you can get an awesome lunch (with wine included) for only 10€. At the city center, there are many bars filled with young crowds where you can have a beer for just 1.50€. Furthermore, you may not find as much hostels as in Barcelona but, the average quality is higher and you can find a dorm for as little as 18€ a night.
In Girona, I am pretty sure that you can have a lot of fun for as cheap as 35€ ($41) a day!
#17 – Split, Croatia
Sarah and Nathan recommend:
Who: Sarah and her partner, Nathan, travel full time while running 5 websites including the travel and lifestyle blog Live Dream Discover. They choose to slow travel, preferring to rent apartments or take on house sits for at least half the year which allows them to better get to know a destination while also maintaining a healthy life/work/play balance. So far their travels have taken them through North and Central America, Europe and Southeast Asia and they intend to explore every continent before they even consider settling down.
Croatia is no longer the undiscovered budget destination it once was but I would still choose Split as a great value, especially in comparison to many other European cities. Split sits in an enviable central location on the Dalmatian Coast. This makes it not only a prime choice as a base for day trips to surrounding sights, like Krka National Park and Hvar, but also a perfect place to stay and enjoy sightseeing, cultural events, and beautiful beaches. Also, the historic center of Split is quite compact meaning that you don’t have to spend money on transportation to enjoy sights like Diocletian’s Palace and the Riva on the waterfront (both of which are free to explore.) There is a wide variety of food and drink establishments in Split meaning that you can eat very reasonably. A decent pasta or meat main dish, for example, will cost about $8, a pint of local beer will be less than $3 and a half liter of house wine will run around $6. You can eat even cheaper if you seek out local food stands and cafes. Accommodations come in a range of prices and cover everything from hostel to luxury resorts. Budget options can be found starting at $15 per night in low season but will be double that or more in high season.
#18 – Saint Petersburg, Russia
Who: Pedro has travelled to over 100 countries, but made his nest in London. The blogger behind Travel with Pedro is a hotel management professional, loves everything related to travel and speaks six languages. He’s now learning Russian and is obsessed about Georgia (the country), Turkey and Russia (of course!). He will soon be launching his travel guide for Moscow and St Petersburg in his native Portuguese language.
Gone are the days when St Petersburg was an expensive place to visit. Russia’s second largest city is today incredibly affordable and has been that way since early 2014, due to a number of reasons. One of the good things about St Petersburg is that you can visit the city without a visa for 72 hours if you arrive by ferry from Tallin or Helsinki, since the Russian visa can be very expensive and painful to get.
Among the many places to visit in St Petersburg, the Hermitage Museum tops the list, with its world-class masterpieces and pompous classic European architecture, but the city also has a cool atmosphere and a foodie scene that few tourists know about.
Most of the city’s attractions are along or near Nevsky Avenue, so walking is a great way to explore it. To get to other areas, I recommend sticking to public transport. The metro system is reliable, efficient and some stations are masterpieces in their own right – they were built to be the “palace of the people”. Tickets cost around 0.90USD. Food can also be very cheap, with meals at around 4USD at Teremok, the Russia’s fast-food chain that serves healthy traditional meals, instead of greasy burgers. But my favourite budget option is a cool restaurant called Market Place (on Nevsky Avenue), where I usually pay 12USD for a decent meal and a glass of wine surrounded by hipsters.
#19 – Santorini, Greece
Who: Using the latest travel apps, technology, and gear, Christopher Rudder of Rudderless CA take a city; see the sights, taste the food, smell the roses, hear the stories and feel the love. All in 48 hours. Then, using videography & editing, photography and writing I retell and share those stories with my readers and viewers.
Santorini, one of the beautiful Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast of Athens. Often regarded as best destination in the world or the most romantic island or best place for a honeymoon.
It’s a place with great food, fantastic wine, and luxury hotels. That being said, let’s start with the bad news: Santorini is not one of the cheapest destinations.
Now that, that’s out of the way. The good news: The towns of Fira, Oia, Firostefani, and Imerovigli are like mountain snow caps on 300m high cliffs with breathtaking views of the caldera and volcano. I get into far more detail in my post 3 Days In Santorini but some of my favorite things I did in Santorini was; hiking the caldera foot path, touring wineries, boat tours of the caldera/swimming in the hot springs, visiting ancient villages, riding donkey’s and watching the sunset in Oia.
For my backpacker and budget friendly, friends; The key to saving money in to avoid restaurants with views of the caldera/volcano. Likewise, the best way to save money on your accommodation, especially hotels is to find one without a caldera view. Seriously, adding a caldera view will literally raise the price by 50% to 100%. Also, book early to find the best deals.
#20 – Ljubljana, Slovenia
Who: Born in London, raised in New Zealand and having lived in five countries, change and travel have always been a part of Rohan’s life. For the last two years she has been living in Germany and teaching a gorgeous (and somewhat crazy) class of seven-year-olds from all over the world. Most of her amazing work (and exciting journey) can be found in her travel blog, Travels of a Bookpacker.
This up and coming city is a great place to hang out for a few days and use as a base for exploring other areas of Slovenia. The pedestrian streets of the old town are lined with gorgeous little restaurants and cafes. Food and drinks are affordable and there are plenty of budget options. Accommodation can be found for as little as €10 a night and there is also an active Couchsurfing community.
Almost everywhere is walkable but if you want to get a little further the public bike hire system is available for just €1 per week. Ljubljana is a student city and there are always a variety of cultural events taking place. From art exhibitions to movies under the stars in the castle grounds. This funky little capital can easily be enjoyed on a budget and will wow you with its mix of architectural beauty and edgy art scene.
#21 – Tallinn, Estonia
Who: Dave Brett of Travel Dave UK is a 26-year-old Londoner who travelled to over 86 countries, studied and lived in Finland, Wales and The Netherlands, worked and lived in Singapore, Switzerland and the USA. This has all been made possible by being frugal and sticking to a backpacker’s budget.
Tallinn, Estonia is my top most recommended budget destination in Europe as it offers loads for little money. Especially when you compare the costs to its expensive neighbour city Helsinki, Finland which is only a short ferry ride away. You can simply get lost exploring the old town of Tallinn which is a UNESCO world heritage protected site which is free to wander. With stunning views and historical architecture, this city offers a lot for its affordable value. Also, be sure to explore the art district of Telliskivi for affordable bar and dining options in a fun renovated factory district. Have fun without breaking the bank in Tallinn. Lastly, if you don’t have the luxury of time, Tallinn in 48 hours is also possible!
#22 – Athens, Greece
Who: Hadas Aharon of The Fashion Matters was born and raised in Israel. At the age of twenty, Hadas packed a suitcase and embarked to the city of her dreams, New York, where she took fashion courses at FIT, worked backstage at New York Fashion Week, and modeled. The experiences in New York have sparked her wanderlust and creativity and she didn’t stop since.
Athens is a city with a unique mix of history, culture, great food and vibrant social life. From the taverns and the beautiful neighborhood of Plaka to the Acropolis- Athens is a perfect city for those looking for an enriched holiday in Greece.
When the recession hit Greece, Athens became a great city for budget travelers. I stayed in a one-bedroom Airbnb apartment that was only 30$ a night and had the most amazing view from the balcony. There was also wide variety of restaurants and food choices in town, which makes it easy to accommodate every budget and preference. As to transportation, it is pretty affordable to use the metro, otherwise using Uber won’t cost you a fortune either. Your visit to Acropolis will without a doubt be the highlight of your trip. Although you normally have to pay to get into the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum, Athens has free-museum-days throughout the year which is worth taking advantage of.
#23 – Lisbon, Portugal
Who: Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki is a curious world-traveling, mom of two busy boys, foodie, and lover of all things Moroccan. In 2004 she met and fell in love with her husband in fairytale fashion on the streets of Marrakech, Morocco and their journey haven’t slowed down. After living in the United States for many years, she decided to call Marrakech home. Her travel blog, Maroc Mama is a fearless guide to food and travel. It’s where you’ll get to experience how she lives her life through food.
Lisbon is fast becoming a must-see city in Europe and it’s for good reason. The people are lovely, the city is charming, and it’s also very affordable especially in comparison to other European capitals. The majority of attractions are very inexpensive and you’ll also discover how affordable dining can be. Spend the day wandering around the city and be sure to pop into Pasteis de Belem for what may be the cities signature sweet for just €1.25. Public transportation is also affordable (I highly recommend picking up a Lisbon City Card for your explorations). Hop on the iconic tram 28 and see the entire city without having to climb the hills on foot! When the sun sets grab something to drink and head to one of the many parks and hang with the locals!
In general, this city’s daily expenditure costs €42 but I did Lisbon for €35 a day!
#24 – Moscow, Russia
Who: Ruben Arribas of Gamin Traveler is a hardcore traveler, with 7 years of on-the-road experience. He has backpacked, hitchhiked and biked, and has traveled to 70+ countries around the world. He is always hungry for deeper life experience he gets through travel.
Moscow may sound expensive but once you know how to move around the capital of Russia, it can easily become affordable. When you travel Russia, the most important tip we can give you is to meet locals. Local friends are the best sources of information for the best places to visit, best places to eat and how to move around the cities. Prices in the metro are less than $1 and the metro in Russia is like a museum – definitely a sight to see! There are stations where you can see paintings that depict stories about their country’s history. Food is quite cheap and you can get a meal starting from $3-4 in a local place. If you go clubbing, it will depend on the area you are in, as some places are more expensive than others. My favourite past time was to visit parks around the city, where you don’t get charged for anything.
#25 – Naples, Italy
Daryl and Mindi recommend:
Who: Daryl and Mindi Hirsch, a married couple currently traveling the world one meal at a time are 2foodtrippers. They met in 2006 at an Oscars party hosted by mutual friends in Philadelphia. They exchanged the 9 to 5 world to explore other countries and cultures while eating lots of great food.
Naples (or Napoli in Italian) is a wonderfully chaotic city in Southern Italy with ancient buildings, colourful people and some of the best pizza in the world. We were drawn to the city by the Naples pizza, but we decided to stay for a full month thanks to the reasonable prices and fast internet. Prices are much lower in Naples compared to other big cities in Italy – especially the food. While in Naples, we ate pizza almost every day, often for under five euros each. Beyond pizza, coffee costs just one Euro at most cafes and treats like sfogliatella are equally cheap. Public transportation in the city is easy, though we chose to walk a lot to burn off the pizza calories. With Naples, the key is to stay away from the train station and immerse yourself into the local culture. If you let it, Naples will pull you in and reward you with every bite.
#26 – Madrid, Spain
Who: Danielle Lawson of Live In 10 Countries is a small town girl on a mission to live in 10 different countries before she pops her clogs! In her blog, you will find a lot of travel hints and tips and even learn how you can get paid to see the world and who knows you might find yourself living in 10 wonderful places too!
Madrid can seem like a backpacker’s nightmare, with expensive entry fees to some major buildings and pricey day trips in mind. But with a little know-how, it’s totally possible to stick to your budget and get an amazing flavour of Spain’s capital. Start your money saving trip with a stroll through the lavish Botanical Gardens, with a ticket price equal to what you might spend on a cup of coffee, and then dig for bargains at the amazing Madrid markets- from farmers markets to flea market havens. From there, take your new delicacies as a picnic to the Parque Retiro and watch the Spanish enjoy the sunshine, at no cost. The EU Erasmus Plus Programme also sometimes provides opportunities for Europeans under 30 to visit Madrid with accommodation and food paid in exchange for attending youth seminars and events, for 5 days, or a week.
For culture lovers, challenge yourself to never pay for a museum entry ticket. So many great museums in Madrid have free entry times, it’s only a question of arriving at the right time, which is usually early weekday evenings. You’ll also love the Museo del Traje (fashion museum) which shows its beauties for free on weekends. With a little planning, Madrid can be an amazing stop for any budget traveller.
#27 – Valletta, Malta
Who: Barbara Wagner of Jet-Settera is a London-based luxury travel and lifestyle blogger. She left her country when she was 17 to conquer the World as a model. Since then, she has lived in seven countries and visited 68 countries.
Valletta is the tiny capital city of Malta. It is a walled city that was established in the 1500s. It is famous for its baroque architecture, beautiful churches, palaces and museums. Valletta was one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. The capital city is a peninsula with the sea surrounding most of it. Take a stroll along the sea outside of the city wall and admire the views of the surrounding turquoise water. Just south of the city, the Grand Harbour is one of the most beautiful harbours in the World with forts and marinas. On St George’s Square, there is a fountain with coloured spots of water which pops up and down. There are many places to visit in Malta – I promise you’ll never run out!
#28 – Bruges, Belgium
Who: Gábor Kovács of Surfing The Planet is from a Hungary, a small country in Central Europe. Since he was young, he’s always been attracted by things far from his country, distant from his own world. He started to dream about living in foreign countries and travelling to many places. As a researcher by profession, he chose his vocation according to his job’s objectives, as this is a profession which permits quite a lot of traveling.
Bruges is one of the most romantic cities in Europe with its picture perfect medieval buildings and cosy canals. When you walk around in Bruges, you can feel yourself in a fairy tale, especially at night when the main buildings are beautifully illuminated. Bruges might not seem a cheap destination at first sight, but the most amazing things to do in Bruges are almost all free. You can enjoy the ambience in the Market Square, explore the canals and visit the old Begijnhof without spending a dime. The most beautiful sights in town also include the Rosary Quay with beautiful views on the canals and the old Belfry Tower with a fascinating panorama of the city. It’s also recommended to take a boat tour to see the city from a different angle. You are in Belgium, so you can’t leave Bruges without trying some local beer. In the tavern of the De Halve Maan Brewery in the old town, you can taste Brugse Zot, the best beer in Bruges.
#29 – Berlin, Germany
Who: Inma Gregorio of A World To Travel is a Spanish girl who is in love with outdoorsy adventures and adrenaline filled experiences. Unless something really exciting is going on, she can’t live without a (daily) movie and she goes crazy about music festivals every once in a while. She is a bit of a perfectionist and sometimes she can be impatient. Inma travelled through 40+ countries, lived and worked in 9, studied in 5 and volunteered in 3.
Although gentrification is been slowly but surely taking its toll for a few years now, it is still possible to enjoy Berlin on a budget these days. From its many free museums to street cheap eats, nonexpensive beds, affordable transportation system and – really important – cheap and great beer sold everywhere; experiencing the city for a few days should not break anyone’s bank.
I have visited Berlin four times in different seasons and spending some time in this city is always a great idea (even visiting Berlin in winter rocks!). So if you are on a budget, I would definitely recommend you check out Berlin. Especially if you love meeting interesting people (no shortage of them there), exploring urban decay and places where recent history was made and great nightlife! Because, in the end, I don’t know about you, but I always end up spending my Berlin nights out.
#30 – Hamburg, Germany
Sonal and Sandro recommend:
Who: Sonal (India) and Sandro (Germany) or Drifter Planet are travel addicts, adventure lovers and music festival junkies. They met a few years back in Thailand while attending the Experience music festival in Koh Tao. They fell in love and eventually got married in New Delhi.
Hamburg is one of the coolest cities in Germany, a place where the Beatlesmania started before it hit the rest of the world. This city has a bit of everything – canals, cute houses, historical architecture, interesting street art and an amazing party scene. The hotels and hostels in Hamburg are not as cheap many other European cities, but you can tremendously cut down your costs if you buy your food at Supermarkets and bakeries. The cost per night in a hostel is $25 and can go up to $100, depending on your time of visit. Eating costs can be as low as $3 if you pick bakeries and supermarkets over restaurants. You can also cut down your costs by exploring the city on foot or booking a FREE walking tour. Even if you don’t usually add this German city to your itinerary, I assure you there are many amazing things to do in Hamburg!
#31 – Nice, France
Who: Skye Gilkeson is the founder and editor-in-chief of online wellness, adventure and luxury travel destination, The Fit Traveller. Skye is an award-winning journalist and a former personal trainer with an incurable case of wanderlust. Skye threw in her 9-5 job in 2015 to begin travelling full-time for The Fit Traveller. Skye and her team craft their content from first-hand experience, beautiful storytelling and inspiring imagery.
The first time I travelled to Nice I was a vagabonding backpacker of 18 on an extremely limited budget. Still, I explored my options of having a luxury holiday for less. I stayed at the YHA just out of town and caught the bus in and out, ate from supermarkets and still fell in love with the city. So much so, I’ve been back again, twice. Nice can be as expensive or cheap as you would like it to be. Instead of spending a fortune paying entry and fees for the fancy beach clubs, throw down a mat on the north end of the sand with the locals. The food markets in Nice are some of the best I have been to and sell the perfect, local ingredients to whip up your meals at the hostel or take on a picnic. The city itself is so easy and beautiful to walk on foot and the bike and running paths along the esplanade act as the ultimate gym. We splurged on bike hire and the most amazing and informative organic wine tasting tour and a couple of delicious meals of mussels which you have to wash down with a glass of French wine. There is a lovey relaxed and welcoming vibe to Nice. The only problem you will have is that you won’t want to leave.
#32 – Dublin, Ireland
Who: Janine is an active traveller, professional editor, and writer. She has traveled to 40 countries, enjoys uncovering untold stories, and has yet to find a cupcake she doesn’t like. She runs the site Fill My Passport, a one-stop-shop for romantic getaways, alternative honeymoon destinations, and Disney Planning tips. She hope to inspire you to stretch your palate, book a ticket, sport the Mickey ears, and fill your passport with as many stamps as possible.
So you are travelling to Ireland, AKA the Emerald Isle. Great choice! Upon arrival, you will be completely enamored by its beautiful and diverse scenery, culture, flavors, and of course history. Your traveler’s appetite will be hungry to explore and experience everything and where better than the capital – Dublin.
First and foremost, the Irish people are so welcoming in the city openly, while at the same time indirectly expressing their joy of independence. You will have no doubt of this pride with streets decorated with Irish flags aplenty flying proudly as the sound of jigs fills the storefronts. There is something for everyone in Dublin. No matter what your travel style or budget, there are resources to ensure your stay is as comfortable and safe as possible. Budget travellers in particular from time to time seek resources for safe accommodations and amenities for a comfortable stay.
Dublin has got you covered. From hostels and cheaper hotel options, to meal plans and food trucks, you will have everything you need to keep within budget in a country using one of the more expensive global currencies.
#33 – Barcelona, Spain
Who: Natasha is a family travel blogger, better known as Meldrums On The Move, who travels the world with her son and partner. They enjoy seeing the most of every place they visit and try to walk around for at least a couple of hours without a guide in each city, and enjoy as many different tastes as possible while they do.
Barcelona is a fun city for everyone, but it is certainly not known as a budget destination. If you plan it well enough you can see Barcelona on a budget. There is so much to see even for free you would struggle to get bored. There are endless tours starting from $15 and we recommend checking out Local Guddy for an authentic tour from a local. You can get a hostel from as little as $23 a night and eat for as little as $12 for a big and filling meal. Extra treats will cost a little more, such as a $3 ice cream or $3 refreshing milk drink.
If you ever get tired of the city, there are also many day trips from Barcelona like Montserrat, Costa Brava, and Sitges. These places are super close to Barcelona and are worth the trip!
#34 – Florence, Italy
Who: Ryazan Duray-Tristram is named after a Russian city near Moscow. The Miss Zan-shine of Everything Zany. She likes to travel, history, meet people and try exotic foods! Planning to explore more countries with her D.I.Y trips as a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina).
Situated at the heart of the Tuscan region of Italy. Blessed with beautiful natural landscape, top notch wines and delightful Italian food. Among the Italian cities that I have been to, Florence is a budget friendly city. Walking around the centre of Florence is something I would highly recommend to experience the Florentine vibes of the city. The cobble streets, beautiful façade of the buildings and buzzing sound of the city will give you an authentic feel of the town’s character.
Of course, visiting the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Florence) is definitely one of the highlights of the city. It is free to go inside the Duomo, but please observe the proper dress code.
Museums in the city are affordable and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Just over the Arno river that runs across Florence, you can’t miss the charming yet hectic Ponte Vecchio. The medieval bridge is one of the iconic landmarks in Florence. Never miss the outstanding 180-degree landscape view of Florence from Piazzale Michaelangelo. It is open to the public however, you need to climb more than few hundred steps to get to the summit of the hill.
Visiting Florence is totally worth it and it shouldn’t break your bank.
#35 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Who: Mia Herman, of Travel with Mia, is a flight attendant and blogger who travels the world looking for the best deals. Mia resides in Southern California with her husband and dog, Skyy. Some of her favorite destinations include Croatia, Czech Republic, Thailand, and Greece. On Mia’s blog, you’ll find money-saving tips, travel advice, city guides, and trustworthy reviews created to help you see more and spend less.
Dubrovnik, Croatia has been named a hot spot by countless travel websites and magazines over the past few years. It’s no wonder because it has lush landscapes, sparkling beaches, and an ancient walled city all rolled into one chic destination. You may be thinking it’s too expensive for anyone traveling on a budget but that’s just not true. This is, surprisingly, one of the more affordable cities in Europe.
I suggest purchasing the 1 day Dubrovnik Card for 171 kn ($27 or 23€). This will give you free bus transportation for 24 hours, free entry to the City Walls, several museums, and art galleries.
The best time to visit Dubrovnik, to avoid the crowds, is the shoulder seasons which are early Spring or early Autumn. As you explore the city, start by walking the City Walls, then hop on the cable cars to get an overhead view of Old Town. Next, have a moment of reflection at the War Photo Limited exhibit where you can get a quick history lesson. After that, relax at one of the many vibrant beaches and wrap up the day by dancing the night away at Club Revelin – an international nightclub housed in a 16th-century fortress. Even if you’re just passing through, you can see some of the best parts of Dubrovnik in a day.
#36 – Edinburgh, Scotland
Amy and Nathan recommend:
Who: Amy & Nathan met in 2011, as then-backpackers exploring the beautiful city of Edinburgh, Scotland. It was “like” at first sight, and they’ve been inseparable since. Now married, Amy & Nathan explore the world hand in hand, as digital nomads and bloggers. Their blog, Two Drifters, is a couple’s travel and lifestyle blog that highlights romance and adventure and encourages others to “journey further, together.”
The city of Edinburgh may not be initially considered a “cheap” destination, but the smart backpacker can definitely travel here on a budget! There’s a wealth of affordable hostels to choose from, and there are many free things to do in Edinburgh. Instead of visiting the castle (a bit pricey), save your pounds and wander around the fascinating and historic Old Town. There’s so much to see and experience here that you can fill an entire day, from museums to hikes to free walking tours. When it comes time to dine, you can splurge on some great spots, but there’s budget options galore, including tasty Indian takeaways or meat-filled pies from The Piemaker.
No matter your budget, Edinburgh is an amazing destination in the United Kingdom that we can’t recommend highly enough!
#37 – Munich, Germany
Who: Menorca is an Indian girl living in and exploring Europe for the last six years, blogging all about it at Europe Diaries. She is curious about all things culture, food, history, mythology and
loves meeting new people. Give her a shout if you need info about Germany, Switzerland or Europe travel in general.
With a lot of history and old architecture, modern museums and buildings and the annual Oktoberfest, this – one of the top 5 biggest cities in Germany, is a great choice for planning your weekend getaway in Munich. I have been to Munich at least thrice now, and can say that it is as good for budget travelers as it is for comfort or luxury seekers. For starters, you can buy a 3-day transport ticket for 16 Euros, which will be very convenient if you plan to explore the city fully. Of course, if you are traveling with a Deutche Bahn train to or from Munich, you would already have day tickets included for the days of your journey. There are several cheap options to eat in the city, and you can buy lunch for as low as 4 euros.
As Bavaria and beer go way back in history, your trip wouldn’t be complete without trying out some local beer with bretzel. A bretzel will set you back Eur 0.50 to Eur 3, depending on the size and where you buy it from. While you are there, go visit the ViktualienMarkt for lots of food and drink options. Do keep in mind that if you attend Oktoberfest and sit in one of the tents, the beer, served in 1-liter mugs, will cost about 10 euros.
#38 – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Laura and Nick recommend:
Who: Laura and Nick Lynch, the foodies behind Savored Journeys and Savored Sips, have been discovering and tasting their way through the small, affordable towns of Europe, since moving from the United States to London in December 2016.
Although not the first place to pop into mind when choosing a European city to travel to, Luxembourg City shouldn’t be overlooked, especially as an affordable destination. It’s full of castles, vineyards and rolling hills just begging to be explored. The old town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can easily travel in Luxembourg City on a budget. The main things to do involve walking around the Old Town, the ramparts, and the Grund, to see the sights and admire the natural beauty. Luxembourg also has many walking trails that take you outside the city center and meander through the countryside.
Although you probably won’t need public transportation, as the city is very walkable and easy to get around, is also very affordable, costing just €4 for unlimited one-day travel around the capital. The many cafes that surround the main squares offer low-cost dining options with great people watching.
#39 – Brussels, Belgium
Who: Ivana Greslikova is a travel writer and digital nomad. She encourages others to travel independently and mindfully. When she is not working for the travel blog Nomad is Beautiful, she is tasting pu-erh tea around the world and learning Italian so she can read Tiziano Terzani’s books in the original language.
Brussels isn’t usually on a wish list of backpackers roaming around Europe. Yet, you can still visit the city with little money.
If your idea of Brusells trip is to have a stroll among the Parliament, check out some flea markets in the Marolles district, city view from the Poelaertplein, oodles of green parks, and take a snap under the Atomium, you can do it all for free.
But if you want to leave the capital of EU with more cultural experiences, we recommend buying a city card for 24, 48 or 72 hours (24-59 €). It’ll allow you to enter 39 museums, get various discounts, and if you pay extra, you’ll get free transport in Brussels, too.
To fill your stomach, grab some Belgian fries at food trucks, have a healthy lunch at Exki (3.5-9 €), Japanese chain Knees to Chin (3-11 €), or grab some Lebanese or Turkish food for 3-5 €. For the best local pub, head to the À la Mort Subite (a pint costs 2 € and up).
If you plan in advance where to stay in Brussels & the attractions you want to see, you’ll experience Brussels at its best.
#40 – Rome, Italy
Who: Marta Correale of Learning Escapes was born in Rome and called the eternal city her home for over twenty years. A passionate traveller, she currently lives in Ireland with her husband and two young kids. From here, they travel often in Europe and beyond exploring cities and cultural sites.
Rome is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Over 7 million tourists fill her cobbled streets every year and this popularity comes, literally, at a price: accommodation tends to be expensive and many tour operators charge exorbitant rates. However, many of Rome’s most beautiful views are free and, with the right tips, it is possible to enjoy it without breaking the bank.
I always recommend starting your tour with a walk along (not inside) the forum and the Colosseum, for stunning views over ancient Rome. Then you can stretch your legs to the famous Pantheon and the Spanish steps, both free, and with a cheap bus ride get to St Peter’s Basilica: the square and ground floor are both breathtaking and free. If you love art, some of Rome’s major masterpieces are not in museums but in churches: wear appropriate clothing, step into their shaded doors and you will marvel at the many Caravaggio and Ghirlandaio gracing their walls!
For lunch, you can find cheap meals in local cafes and in the evening is still possible to have an excellent meal for less than ten euro in Trastevere!
Despite its popularity, Rome truly can be enjoyed on a budget. Finally, here’s a few things to do in Rome for free.
#41 – Vienna, Austria
Who: Sanket Dhume of Nomadic Lives finds immense joy in exploring – be it places, things, human beings, thoughts, projects, space, everything. He’s extremely moody and sometimes destructively bi-polar, a ‘wannabe’ musician, an obsessive reader, and frantically obsessed with chasing a free-willed life.
When I stepped off my bus from Budapest to Vienna, I was dreading just how big a dent this impulse decision would leave in my budget-sized pocket! I’d heard fabled stories of how expensive some of the major cities in the DACH corridor were, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover my experience with the Austrian capital to be otherwise. First hint of its value for money was the cab ride from the bus stop in Schwedenplatz to the hostel – a 6km journey that cost about €10. Everything in Vienna can be as expensive as you want it to be.