Traveling around Europe is a dream for many. However, speaking from experience, Europe can be incredibly expensive. Cities like London, Paris, and Geneva are notoriously known to break the budget, being almost nearly impossible to stay within a reasonable daily budget. Luckily, there are heaps of other European cities where you can soak up the same European culture and vibe that people long for in big cities. To help you plan your next budget-friendly getaway, here are 10 of the cheapest European cities that you have to visit!
- 1 Krakow, Poland
- 2 Budapest, Hungary
- 3 Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
- 4 Zagreb, Croatia
- 5 Istanbul, Turkey
- 6 Paros/ Anti-Paros, Greece
- 7 Riga, Latvia
- 8 Top Budget Tips for Europe
Average Daily Budget: $25/ day
Cultural Attractions: Auschwitz Concentration Camp; The Rynek Glowny (Europe’s biggest market square)
Compared to other places in Europe, Krakow is still one of the cheapest places to travel to. With a stunning old city to explore and a great local culture, you can travel around here on a budget starting from $25 a day. Situated near the border of the Czech Republic, Krakow is known for having a well-preserved medieval core and incredibly rich yet painful history, Krakow is a must visit for culture and history buffs. Full of cheap street food that ranges from $3 kebabs and sandwiches to delicious Pierogi (European dumplings), Krakow is one of our top picks for cheapest cities to travel to!
Average Daily Budget: $27
Cultural Attractions: Buda Castle, Ruin Bars, Hungarian Parliament, Strolling around the Danube Bank.
Budapest was one of our favorite cities when we traveled all over Europe. Not only is it affordable but it is also full of fantastic tourist attractions. From the thermal baths to night markets and exploring both sides of Buda and Pest, it is a place that won’t necessarily break your bank. Finding things to do in Budapest is very easy as not only is it full of historical sights, it also has an incredibly fun nightlife scene full of upcycled ruin bars. When we were there, while we spent a little bit more for attractions, everything from food to accommodations was reasonable, making us love and enjoy it even more.
Editor’s Note: Traveling around Europe? Check out our complete Europe Packing List Guide
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Average Daily Budget: $30
Cultural Attractions: The Krumlov castle, the medieval town square
After Prague, Český Krumlov is the second largest and most popular place in the Czech Republic. This Unesco World Heritage site is overflowing in charming streets, castles, and old buildings. Although generally speaking, although Prague isn’t overly expensive, due to the increase in tourism, prices have gone up with Český Krumlov being a good alternative. Everything from buying things in the grocery, eating street food, to eating in smaller restaurants is affordable, allowing you to make the most out of your trip. On a side note, when flying into Český Krumlov, the nearest airport is Linz, Austria. Check out this 1-day Cesky Krumlov guide of the area for tips on what to do!
Alternatively, if you like bigger cities, check out our guide on where to stay in Prague.
Average Daily Budget: $34
Cultural Attractions: Nearby Plitvice National Park, St. Mark’s Church, Museum of Broken Relationships
Croatia is slowly becoming one of the tourist hotspots in Europe and while everything is still reasonably priced, a favorite city of ours is Zagreb. With a wealth of beautiful old buildings, charming museums, and art galleries, this place is a must visit for those looking for cheap European cities to visit. The best part, however, is Zagreb is within close driving distance to the stunningly beautiful Plitvice National Park which is reason enough for us to head there.
Average Daily Budget: $35
Cultural Attractions: Hagia Sofia, Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque
Istanbul is one of those cities that I am dying to go to. Not only am I completely obsessed over their beautiful architecture and culture, but I am also in love with Turkish food! Here, there is no shortage of winding streets to get lost in, amazing bargains, and stunning buildings full of art and culture. From $3 sandwiches to delicious street stalls serving pide (Flatbread baked with cheese or meat toppings), doner kebabs, and kofte (meatballs), a visit to Istanbul is sure to fit your budget.
Paros/ Anti-Paros, Greece
Average Daily Budget: $40
Cultural Attractions: Go beach hopping, Anti Paros caves, church with 100 gates
For those looking to get some sun and enjoy the beautiful white washed buildings that Greece is known for, skip places like Santorini (although Santorini can also be done on a budget!) and instead, head to the cheap island of Paros. With accommodations starting at $7 for dorm beds to $20 private rooms, you can enjoy a slice of paradise without going broke! Meals here can range from $3 gyros to $6 set meals in small Greek tavernas. During my first ever trip to Europe, I had planned on staying here for 2 nights but ended up staying for another week or so!
Average Daily Budget: $33
Cultural Attractions: St. Peter’s Church, Art Nouveau district, various museums
If you’re looking to soak in some culture, Riga in Latvia is considered a cultural center full of museums, galleries, and concert halls. Apart from this, Riga is also surprisingly cheap with dorm beds going for as low as $5-6 a night while private rooms start at $15-20. Apart from being culturally rich, Riga also has a vibrant and exciting nightlife which you can enjoy without going broke! Apart from Riga, other countries in the Balkan region such as Vilnius, Lithuania, and Estonia are also worth visiting.
Top Budget Tips for Europe
While it helps that basic prices for food and accommodations are already affordable in these countries, here are other tips to help you stretch out your budget for longer.
1. Use Public Transportation to Reach Tourist Attractions
While this seems like a no-brainer, rather than joining a guided tour to reach popular tourist destinations, opt to take public transportation and do a self-guided tour instead. For example, in Krakow, you can opt to join a guided tour for $35 while a roundtrip bus ticket will cost you around $7-8. The entire place is full or signs which you can follow, or alternatively, you can also find online guided tours to take you through the area.
2. Eat Street Food & Hit the Grocery Stores
One of my best budget tips that has saved me tons of money in the past is to learn how to minimize food costs. When in Europe, I usually don’t eat in restaurants. Instead, I go to groceries and make my own sandwiches, I find small street stalls and family run joints. I always ask locals (either by connecting with local facebook groups ahead of time or just asking random people in the streets) where the best local fares are. Locals often have their own favorite food places that are not only reasonable but also surprisingly affordable.
3. Choose Your Attractions
When traveling Europe on a budget, a good tip is to do your research on tourist attractions that you want to visit, finding out if they have any discounts on special days. For example, the Louvre museum in Paris is free from 6pm onwards on a Friday night. Finding these small loopholes can help you save on attractions, while still allowing you to see and do more.
4. Look Into Alternative Travel
Last but not the least, look into alternative forms of travel. Try out Couchsurfing instead of hotels. Try out websites like Blah Blah car to find a cheap ride. With the rise of sharing economy and budget airlines, travel no longer has to be expensive. When traveling around Europe, I also downloaded the Skyscanner App which I constantly use to help me find cheap deals. Sometimes, with the help of budget airlines, I’ve found that flying from one destination to the next is even cheaper than long busses and trains.
Hopefully, this article has not only given you great ideas on the cheapest European cities to visit, but also given you a few useful tips here and there to help stretch your budget. A couple of years ago, I traveled Europe on a ridiculously cheap budget ($35) a day and while it was difficult, I was still able to see and do everything that I wanted by choosing relatively cheap destinations combined with a little bit of ingenuity.
Looking for more articles on Europe? Here are a few of our best ones
- 15 of the Most Beautiful Cities in Europe to Visit
- The Ultimate European Bucket List
- Are the Euro Rail Passes Worth It?