Europe is culturally diverse, rich in history, and booming with beautiful cities. For all its positives though, it’s also extremely expensive. Or is it? In reality, London, Paris, Amsterdam and the like have created overblown financial preconceptions of the entire continent. Ad while there’s certainly an element of truth to the price tag, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.
Just because a city falls within the European lines doesn’t mean that you’ll need to take out a second student loan in order to visit. Save all of that cash you got from grandma last birthday, avoid the monolithic, tourist-trapping, overrated metropolises and head off the beaten track. Those with a sense of adventure and a budget-savvy mindset can thrive as long as they know where to look. Here are 10 European cities that are surprisingly affordable to visit.
With substantially less tourist traffic than the Londons and Barcelonas of the region, flying into the up-and-coming Romanian capital isn’t the cheapest option. However, your wallet will be in heaven as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac.
The atmosphere on the streets of this underrated locale is buzzing. The drinks are cheap, the bars are aplenty, the street food is top-notch, the old town is picturesque, and the nightlife is quietly impressive. Without an overbearing tourist population, the cost of visiting has been able to remain very low... for now, at least.
When we conjure up ideas of "cheap European cities," Prague is seldom forgotten. It isn’t the most budget-friendly of all the destinations in Eastern Europe and has fallen victim to a heavy tourist footprint over the last handful of years. However, it still well and truly fits within budget for any penny-pincher.
Magical atmosphere, dazzling architecture and traditional Czech food aside, Prague is a well-rounded city that can cater to any interest. After appreciating colorful baroque architecture and the historic, picturesque Old Town Square, endless options for cheap beer await, providing a gateway into a welcoming nightlife, if that’s what you fancy.
Considering that Budapest sits about a six-hour drive (or train ride) southwest of Prague, travelers with time to spare tend to tick off each in one trip, and it’s not hard to see why. Each boasts exceptional value, unique culture and booming nightlife (particularly Budapest). Best of all, access between the two will rarely set you back more than $50.
As long as you’re street smart and avoid the tourist traps along the main river, the dollar stretches incredibly far in the Hungarian capital. To support the affordable top-shelf food and eclectic party scene, you’ll be over the moon when you see the price of inner-city transport.
Go ahead, try to point out Tallinn on a map. Not so easy, right? The Estonian capital is geographically small, has a rather low population, and is off the beaten Europtrip track. When backpackers take the opportunity to visit, however, perceptions change entirely. Thanks to a lack of overwhelming tourist hordes, visitors are able to experience the walled city in a more authentic fashion and appreciate an untainted sense of local culture. The same can’t be said for a lot of other European cities.
Even though Tallinn is one of the more expensive cities in the Baltic area, compared to most of Western Europe, food and transport and exciting and affordable and at 12 euros a night, accommodation is too.
With charm, history and aesthetic beauty to boot, the southern Polish city is quickly climbing the popularity ranks. Thankfully, it remains exceptionally affordable, duly thanks to the reliance on the local currency (zloty) instead of the Euro.
As is the case with any city whose name starts to gain significant traction in tourist circles, it’s only a matter of time before Krakow’s affordability begins to dip. For now, however, it remains as one of the European cities that offers a perfect blend of entertainment, history, culture, and prices that won’t break the bank.
As the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has forever been a cultural melting pot, offering delectable food and a unique approach to coffee equally perfect for foodies and money-conscious travelers. Contrary to popular assumption, the Turkish capital is actually the most populated city in the continent (yes, more than Moscow, and almost double that of London). As with so many sprawling cities, cheaper options are aplenty as long as you simply know where to look.
Entry fees can be quite steep for main attractions like the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, however, generally, the street food is as cheap as it is delicious, the nightlife is affordable electric, and accommodation options are out there to suit any budget
From the eastern side of the continent, we’re jetting all the way over to the west where one of the most underrated, budget-friendly countries awaits - Portugal. As its largest and capital city, Lisbon is rapidly rising up the ranks and making a name for itself amongst the travel community. It’s not a mystery as to why that’s the case, either. The beauty, culture, food, and nightlife are revered, and weaving it all together into a perfect package is the wonderfully low cost of visiting.
The hostels, in particular, and both excellent and cheap, constantly trying to outdo one another in order to secure the business of visitors.
After spending a few days down in the nation’s capital, we’re making the short and sweet journey up the Atlantic coast to Porto, which has recently overtaken Lisbon in the standings for the cheapest European cities to stop into. Cheap doesn’t mean boring though, not for a second. The colorful, port-loving, shimmering coastal city of Porto boasts a vibrant culture, tantalizing menus, and generally warm and sunny weather, all of which can be appreciated in luxury for far less than neighboring major cities.
While the stunning waterside city offers notable value in accommodation, food, and drink, one activity that can’t be swept under the rug is a tour of one of the infamous port wine cellars.
Out of all the wallet-friendly cities we’ve seen thus far, Moscow is probably the one that comes with the greatest level of surprise. Prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the idea of traveling to Russia made a lot of people uncertain - but fast forward to today and we’ve seen the nation put under a new, positive spotlight.
Political situation and preconceptions aside, it’s hard to argue with the figures. A ride on the metro system, for example, comes down to around €0.40, while dining can be extremely affordable as well if you’re given a little push in the right direction.
We’ve hopped to all corners of the continent in an effort to save a few bucks and now our budget-savvy Eurotrip has reached its last stop - Vilnius, Lithuania. With overflowing charm, some of the best Baroque architecture in Europe, and restaurants that’ll have you coming back for more, Vilnius is the definition of a hidden gem.
The Lithuanian capital is undoubtedly one of the continent’s cheapest cities, constantly sitting atop a number of ‘most affordable' lists. It might be a touch out of the way for traditional itineraries, however, once you set foot in this city you’ll be able to live like a king.