The world consists of seven different continents and none of them are more culturally diverse and widely appealing than Europe. Even though it's the second smallest of the world's continents, it is a melting pot of language, culture, history, tradition, and people truly unlike anywhere else.
While we'd love to trot across every unique city and explore each country in depth, unfortunately, we're faced with one major hurdle: money. Unless we were blessed with winning lotto numbers, we need to budget smartly if we want to be able to travel and enjoy ourselves.
Paris, London, and Amsterdam might break the bank, but there are plenty of well-known as well as uncovered gem cities that are easily affordable and waiting to welcome us. Here are 10 European cities that are best for budget-savvy travelers.
10 Tallinn, Estonia
The walled Estonian capital city might be the most expensive in the Baltic area, but it is still incredibly cheap by European standards. Sitting on the cusp of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn is touted as one of the most underrated destinations across the entire continent. With such a small level of tourism compared to Europe’s run-of-the-mill cities, prices have been able to remain relatively low.
At roughly 12 euros a night, the Old Town Alur Hostel is recommended as one of the better cheap accommodation options in the city, welcoming backpackers and penny-pinching travelers from all corners of the world.
9 Valletta, Malta
Often forgotten about entirely, Malta is a small group of islands in the central Mediterranean Sea just below Sicily. Even though the majority of travelers would struggle to point it out on a map, it presents itself as both an affordable and severely underrated European destination.
Valletta is the archipelago’s capital city and is known for its inviting museums, palaces, and grand churches. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it formally received the accolade of one of two European Cultural Capitals of 2018.
As far as accommodation goes, Granny’s Inn Hostel comes recommended as one of the better, cheaper options perfect for those of a budget.
8 Istanbul, Turkey
Acting as the dividing line between Asia and Europe, the Turkish capital of Istanbul is a melting pot of culture unlike any other city on the planet. Due to the country’s recent economic struggles, which has caused the local currency (lira) to dip over the past few years, Istanbul has molded itself into a budget traveler’s paradise.
Visitors can count their pennies as they stroll through the countless diverse markets and admire the historic mosques, before dining at one of the city’s many great restaurants. Those looking for a cheap yet reliable accommodation can’t go past the Agora Hostel & Guesthouse.
7 Krakow, Poland
Located in the southern part of Poland, the city of Krakow is a destination overflowing with charm, history, and dollar-stretching potential. While Poland uses the euro, they rely mostly on their local currency: zloty.
Krakow’s popularity is growing exponentially, which is the case of a double-edged sword - rising popularity means more tourist-targeted activities means rising prices. It could soon follow in the footsteps of Prague and Budapest as inflated Eastern European price zones, so check it out while it’s still very affordable. As for one of the more recommended budget hostels, travelers usually opt for one by the name of Submarine.
6 Prague, Czech Republic
As far as cheaper cities on the Eastern European side go, Prague is actually one of the more popular. Never fear though, because despite its touristic allure, compared to the megacities of London, Paris, and Berlin, Prague still presents a hefty amount of value. There’s plenty to see and do in the Czech capital with highlights including the historic Old Town Square and the colorful baroque architecture.
Backpackers and budget-conscious travelers usually choose to stay at affordable hostels like The Roadhouse Prague or Hostel One Prague.
5 Lisbon, Portugal
The capital city of Portugal is finally starting to be recognized for the impressive amount of beauty, culture, and enjoyment it provides for visitors. According to priceoftravel.com, “the city is particularly known for excellent and cheap hostels that are always in a race to outdo each other." Of course, whenever businesses battle against each other for customers, it’s the customers (and their wallets) who walk always with the most benefit.
Besides the ancient buildings, coastal views and weaving hills of the city, visitors who have the opportunity to venture outside of Lisbon can also discover a string of stunning Atlantic beaches, from Cascais to Estoril.
4 Porto, Portugal
If you thought Lisbon was all that Portugal had to offer for budget-savvy travels, you couldn’t have been more wrong. After exploring the nation’s capital, travelers can make the short trek up north where they will find the beautiful, colorful, wine-centric, coastal city of Porto, which is supposed to be even cheaper than Lisbon.
Porto (and Portugal in general) is one of Europe’s most underrated travel destinations, with vibes that feel much more authentic than its neighboring touristic metropolises. For those looking to spend the night at budget-conscious hostels, the Rivoli Cinema Hostel and the Gaia Porto Hostel are touted as warm, welcoming, and worth checking out.
3 Zagreb, Croatia
Only in the last decade has Croatia began to pop up as a must-see destination in tourist circles. This is partly a result of Dubrovnik starring as the set for King’s Landing in HBO’s Game of Thrones, but also partly (and justifiable) due to the country’s vast natural beauty and unmatched beaches.
Zagreb is rather inland, so travelers usually only stop briefly in the nation’s capital. It’s a worthwhile stopover nonetheless, with bargains galore. A stroll down the pedestrian-friendly Tkalčićeva Street is a notable to-do, and for something a little more out of the ordinary, Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships is truly one of a kind.
2 Budapest, Hungary
In a similar vein to the Czech capital of Prague, Hungary’s capital city has also gone through a recent spike in awareness, popularity, tourism, and, as a direct result, price. Despite this, compared to Paris and London, Budapest still holds its own as a cheap city where budgeting travelers can stretch their money that much further.
As long as visitors stay away from the most touristy places along the city’s main river, Budapest presents plenty of value in the form of food and drink, entertainment and nightlife, transport, and accommodation. It’s a spot that shouldn’t be left off any Euro trip itinerary.
1 Sofia, Bulgaria
As far as European capital cities go, Sofia presents itself as one of the most reasonably priced (read: extraordinarily cheap). It isn’t child’s play to work Sofia into a time-restricted or basic Eurotrip schedule since it’s rather out of way compared to many of the more popular destinations. However, anyone who goes to the effort to explore this hidden gem will be blessed with plenty of warm, authentic, urban culture
One of the highlights of this 1.2-million person city is the array of landmarks which reflect more than 2,000 years of intriguing history.