Out of the seven continents scattered across this big, blue planet of ours, there’s none more iconic, diverse, and revered as a tourist destination than Europe. No matter which city you find yourself in; there will be art, culture, and history to boot, plus plenty of stunning old architecture, usually interwoven with a modern flair.
It’s not only diverse in language and culture, but also in price, and to a significant extent in some regions. While the major tourist cities, particularly those on the Western side, tend to have inflated price tags, there are plenty of underrated gems perfect for any budget-savvy traveler looking to hoard a few pennies.
10 Broke: Dublin
Sure, it doesn’t weigh up to the likes of London and Paris in terms of stature and tourist traffic, but the Irish capital comes mighty close in the burning-a-hole-in-your-pocket department. Dublin beckons visitors with its talked-about bustling nightlife, Guinness Storehouse, and easy access to the countryside’s stunning natural landscapes.
Not everything in Dublin is astronomically expensive, although the hotel prices will certainly make you rethink your accommodation and consider settling in an alleyway dumpster to save a few bucks. According to TripSavvy, a meal and beer combo at a lower-range eatery will set you back around €20, as will a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.
9 Bang for your buck: Prague
While it’s not the cheapest of cities across the diverse continent that is Europe, what the Czech capital does boast is the perfect combination of affordability with activity. For a little cherry on top, it’s also exceptionally picturesque, with colorful baroque architecture and a historic, Insta-worthy Old Town Square.
Compared to the goliath cities like Paris and London, Prague presents an enormous amount of value. It’s also well located in the Eastern European region, close to even cheaper destinations like Hungary, Poland, and Croatia. Whether you’re budget-conscious or not, Prague deserves to be on every traveler’s bucket list.
8 Broke: Zurich
With its pristine snow-capped Alps, exquisite gastronomy and high quality of life (not to mention the renowned Swiss bank system), Switzerland has plenty to brag about. Its affordability, however, does not fall into that basket. In comparison to the rest of Europe, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries by a long stretch, and the nation's capital city is no different.
It might be expensive, but that doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked as a travel destination. Zurich is conveniently located smack bang in between Germany, Austria, Italy, France, and Liechtenstein, so it's easily slotted into any European itinerary, albeit only for a day or two if you want to keep your wallet happy.
7 Bang for your buck: Budapest
Backpackers usually tackle Prague and Budapest in the same trip, and that makes a whole lot of sense because, compared to the cities further west, they both present enormous amounts of value, as well as beauty and culture. Budapest offers exceptional food and nightlife, and the price of transport is excitingly affordable.
A recent spike in awareness has seen Hungary’s capital grow in tourism numbers and, unfortunately, prices for accommodation and a handful of other essentials. However, it’s still well and truly a bang-for-your-buck city. Just make sure to avoid the tourist traps along the main river and you’ll be laughing.
6 Broke: Reykjavik
You’d be forgiven for assuming that due to its low population, small geographical size, and relatively cheap flights in and out, that Iceland’s capital city would be accommodating for budget-conscious travelers. Unfortunately, you’d be oh so wrong. As stunning as the nation is, it’s by no means friendly to your bank balance.
A simple sandwich costs about $15 USD, and the price of accommodation is sky-high. Plus, a quick visit to the iconic Blue Lagoon will set you back 4800 ISK or 35 Euros. Plenty of travelers renter camper-style vans to save on the price of lodging, which is also a great way to travel around the island.
5 Bang for your buck: Tallinn
As far as Baltic cities go, Tallinn comes with a hefty price tag. However, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, it presents some serious value as a European destination. The walled city doesn’t receive as many tourists as the big guns further west, which allows visitors and backpackers to undergo a more authentic experience without an excess of tourist traps and money-grabbers.
Since Estonia’s tourism hasn’t seen a dramatic spike as of yet, it has allowed Tallinn’s prices to remain relatively low. 12 euros a night can set you up in a budget hostel, while food and transport are also rather wallet-friendly.
4 Broke: London
As one of the world’s most visited cities, the British capital headlines many travelers’ bucket lists. Unfortunately, despite there being plenty of worthy attractions visitable on foot for free, there are equally as many tourist hot spots that will burn a hole in your wallet faster than you can say 'Ello gov'na. A lower-tier restaurant will chalk up a bill of around €18, while an accompanying beer will add almost €5 to the total (according to TripSavvy).
Despite its high cost of living and short-term accommodation, London still can’t be overlooked. It might make you broke, but it’ll leave you wanting to come back again as soon as possible.
3 Bang for your buck: Moscow
The capital city of Russia and, in fact, the country as a whole have struggled over the years with their image, which has kept tourist numbers relatively low. Thankfully, the successful 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign gave the goliath nation the visitor seal of approval and helped put Moscow back on the map.
Compared to the long list of cities scattered across the rest of Europe, Moscow’s taxi fare is the equal cheapest across the entire continent. The city's public transit and beer costs hover around the tenth spot, and it’s within the top 25 cities for the price of a meal (according to Waderu).
2 Broke: Paris
The French capital is as iconic as it is expensive. When it comes to romance, sightseeing, and ticking things off the bucket list, the French capital doesn’t disappoint, however, it can certainly set you back a fair margin financially.
On 2019 list of the world's most expensive cities to live in, the City of Lights slotted in at number two behind the city-state Singapore, and that should tell you all you need to know about its la ville de l'amour’s price tag.
It doesn’t get any better for tourists either, with its popular attractions - the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Musee d’Orsay - all requiring a pretty penny to enter.
1 Bang for your buck: Berlin
It might come as a surprise to many to see Berlin sitting on the ‘cheaper’ side of things, however, as far as major cities with booming tourism numbers go, there’s plenty of value to be found in hipster Berlin. Most people assume that Germany comes with a high price tag (and it certainly can if you’re not budget-conscious, especially during peak times and festival seasons, like Oktoberfest), but for those in the know, it can be relatively easy to stretch the euro a little further.
On a budget for a few days in Paris or London, you’ll be able to spend a week in Germany’s capital. The city is well located in central Europe as well; if you’re open to being destination-flexible, transport in and out can be jaw-droppingly affordable.