Discover Europe Affordably: Fascinating Destinations for Budget Travelers

Europe often gets a bad rap for being an expensive travel destination. But savvy wanderlusters know that with some careful planning, visiting the Old Continent can fit even the tightest budget! From exploring castles in Germany to relaxing on beaches in Greece, there are plenty of fabulous European adventures that are light on the wallet. This post will highlight 15 affordable destinations perfect for budget travelers who want to experience the history, culture, cuisine, and natural wonders of Europe without breaking the bank. Let’s go!

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Poland
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Croatia
  • Romania
  • Turkey
  • Greece
  • Montenegro
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • The Netherlands
  • Conclusion
  • Frequently Asked Questions


We all dream of sipping cappuccinos outside cute cafes in Italy, cruising down rivers past fairytale castles in Germany, and dancing at beach clubs on the island of Mykonos. But the high prices in popular European destinations like these can be prohibitive, especially for budget travelers.

Luckily, Europe is filled with just as many under-the-radar locales that offer the same charm, culture, history, and mouthwatering cuisine you’d get in the touristy hot spots — all at a fraction of the cost! Whether you want to relax on sandy shores, marvel at well-preserved medieval architecture, hike picturesque mountain trails, or simply eat and drink your way through colorful local markets, Europe has you covered.

Keep reading to discover 15 affordable European destinationsperfect for budget travelers and food lovers wanting to experience Europe’s fascinating history, vibrant culture, and culinary delights on the cheap!

  1. Poland

Poland combines fairytale-esque castles, medieval market squares, moving WWII history, energetic nightlife, and hearty comfort food all at bargain prices. Base yourself in almost resort-like Zakopane under the peaks of the Tatras for well-priced outdoor adventures like hiking and skiing. Then work your way from edgy, up-and-coming cities like Wroclaw to the meticulously rebuilt historic core of Warsaw — and everywhere in between. With heaps of hostels, cheap public transportation, and a favorable exchange rate, Poland is arguablyEurope’s best bargain.

  1. Czech Republic

Prague draws the big crowds, but the Czech Republic is full of historic cities overflowing with Gothic steeples, cobblestone streets, and absurdly cheap beer. Český Krumlov’s river-hugging medieval old town looks plucked straight from a fairy tale book. Brno serves as a laid-back cultural hub with funky cafes and a thriving university scene. And under-the-radar Olomouc charms with its grand churches, quirky fountains, and youthful energy. Whether sipping local Pilsner, admiring Baroque architecture, or just wandering charmingly preserved town centers, you’ll find Czech prices pleasingly palatable.

  1. Hungary

Both cosmopolitan Budapest and elegant second city Eger offer old world Magyar charm on the cheap. Cross monumental bridges dividing Buda and Pest, taking in neo-Gothic Parliament and Buda Castle soaring above. Then head east for Eger’s higgledy-piggledy Baroque streets filled with quirky museums, thermal baths, and Hungary’s signature honey-rich, paprika-infused cuisine — all easy on a backpacker’s budget. With historic sites, stunning architecture, relaxing hot springs, and seriously good wines, Hungary satisfies every interest with Central/Eastern European bargain flair.

  1. Croatia

Miles of sun-soaked Adriatic coastline dotted with breathtaking national parks and charming seaside villages lure visitors to Croatia. Base yourself along the pebbly beaches or key limestone peninsulas near bohemian Rovinj before catching a ferry out to car-free gems like lush Mljet Island. Effortlessly combine seaside relaxation with sightseeing in historic gems like fortress-crowned Dubrovnik and diocletian’s Palace-housing Split for less than you think. Hostel dorms, inexpensive Airbnbs, mouthwatering seafood priced by weight, and riding the extensive bus network make Croatia surprisingly budget-friendly.

  1. Romania

From mist-cloaked mountains and thundering waterfalls to medieval fortress towns and buzzy bohemian cities, Romania rolls out startling natural beauty and gobs of gothic charm. Countryside guesthouses whisk you back to old world rural life between day hikes. While vibrant Cluj-Napoca entices with youthful pubs and sidewalk cafes among baroque buildings. From doing Dracula tours and black pottery workshops in haunting Bran Castle to taking trains through stunning mountain scenery, Romania offers too-good-to-be-true prices for budget Europhiles.

  1. Turkey

Straddling Europe and Asia with a foot in both oriental worlds, Turkey packs epic history, stunning scenery, and delicious cuisine into an incredibly affordable package. Base yourself seaside in laidback beach towns like quiet Kas or party-loving Bodrum to soak up some sun. Then head inland to explore the famed hot air balloon rides and fairytale rock formations of Cappadocia or the Roman relics scattered around Ephesus. Whether unwinding seaside or getting lost among the grand sights of Istanbul, Turkey lets you do it on the cheap!

  1. Greece

Sun-bleached ancient ruins cling to breathtaking cliffs above sparkling azure waters — Greece’s raw natural beauty alone makes it worth a trip. Beyond beauty, backpacking here can also be surprisingly budget-friendly. Base yourself on surprisingly affordable Santorini, before hopping ferries to explore more islands like action-packed Mykonos or lush Naxos. On the mainland, use Greece’s extensive KTELbus network to hit historic sites and university cities where students keep things energetic and cheap. There are plenty of hostels to crash and tavernas serving heaping helpings of moussaka or souvlaki for affordable feasts.

  1. Montenegro

Often overshadowed by more famous neighbors Croatia and Greece, the tiny Balkan country of Montenegro equally impresses with ancient walled towns hugging bright blue bays backed by mountainous national parks ideal for scenic day hikes. Quaint beach resorts like Herceg Novi and Budva draw the summer crowds, but places like Kotor feel charmingly stuck in time. And nowhere else packs so much jaw-dropping beauty per square mile for such bargain basement prices. With great hostels, guesthouses, affordable food, and inexpensive transport, it doesn’t cost much to fall in love with Montenegro.

  1. Italy

While the phrase “budget travel and Italy” may seem contradictory, sticking to the south provides all the dizzyingly beautiful piazzas, frescoed churches, puppet-filled street festivals and hearty pasta feasts you could want without the eye-popping price tags of the north. Recharge along the crescent beaches of secret seaside gem Puglia, then use Italy’s affordable high-speed rail to hit baroque Lecce and maze-like Matera. Or base yourself rustic-chic Sicily to enjoy sweeping Mediterranean views from volcano-molded slopes before getting lost among Palermo’s crumbling yet golden-hued alleyways and baller markets.

  1. Spain

Sultry Spain dazzles the senses with larger-than-life festivals, sizzling flamenco, some of Europe’s most breathtaking architecture, and outrageously fresh tapas. Stroll Barcelona’s twisting Gothic Quarteradrilled with design by Antoni Gaudí before eating your fill of hearty seafood paella and juicy shrimp pinchos in beachy Valencia, the undisputed tapas capital. Wander Granada’s Arab-infused palaces and courtyards in the shadow of the grand Alhambra. Then toast your epic Euro trip with cheap Rioja reds and cavas while people-watching along Madrid’s electric all-night plazas. Buen viaje!

  1. Portugal

Portugal combines approachable size, budget-friendly prices and lively culture all threaded together by endless kilometers of stunning coastline speckled with historic port cities like regal Lisbon and Sintra with its fog-swathed fairy tale castles. Cozy guesthouses sprinkle captivating second city Porto, crowned by its namesake port wine across the douro valley, with hillside vineyards and sleepy villages that look torn from medieval times. And everywhere you’ll find heaps of history, mouthwatering seafood, rich wines, and the melancholic national music of fado, making Portugal a best-kept budget secret.

  1. Germany

Fairy tale castles perched dramatically atop mountain cliffs, beer culture pouring over with hops-fueled revelry in Munich’s stein-strewn beer halls, and edgy arts scenes cloaked in Berlin’s gritty-chic cool make Germany a diverse dream trip packed with history. Get delightful rail deals to gorge on sweet rieslings in the storybook Rhine gorge before getting enlightened among renaissance museums or following haunting WWII sites in free-spirited Berlin. With so much breathtaking natural beauty, rich history and world-class culture, Germany gives you a lot of Europe bang for your buck.

  1. Belgium

This pocket-sized country punches way above its weight class when it comes to history, culture, and deliciousness — all seasoned with hearty splashes of good humor. Follow winding canals past the step-gabled guild houses of medieval Bruges before getting educated among fine arts museums Fronted by fanciful fountains in cultured capital Brussels. Then wash down crispy-crunchy twice-fried Belgian frites with an array of frothy Trappist ales brewed inside silent monasteries ringing Antwerp. Quirky, creative and never dull, Belgium brings big fun on a small budget.

  1. The Netherlands

The flatlands of Holland burst with tulips in spring, energetically modular modern architecture, Golden Age artistic masterpieces, and a dairy-fueled cuisine churning out heaping helpings of pancakes, cheese and chocolate. Pedal along sleepy canals under elegantly gabled facades in stunningly preserved canal ringed Amsterdam before peeking at the experimental design shops of its funky Jordaan quarter. Then hit vibrant student hub Utrecht or the cube houses of Rotterdam on the cheap with the Netherland’s extensive train network and relatively bargain basement prices.

  1. Eastern Europe

Beyond this list, much of the eastern swath of Europe flies under the radar of mainstream tourism, meaning you can tap into rich histories and culture spanning Hungarian thermal bath towns to Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast dotted with budget beach huts for unbelievable prices. Dig deeper to discover more about Romania’s haunting castles, Croatia’s “Game of Thrones”-esque beauty, cool Baltic capitals like Riga and Tallinn with their trendy bars, cafes and street art crammed in medieval Old Towns, Belarus’ totalitarian time-warped Minsk, and even recently war-torn spots of the former Yugoslavia like gritty yet compelling Sarajevo and Mostar with its poetic stone bridge soaring above the emerald Neretva River.


This roundup shows that with some strategic planning, budget travelerscan still afford to experience Europe’s incredible diversity of culture, cuisine, and jaw-dropping landscapes without breaking the bank. Take inspiration from these destinations and stretch your dollar even furtherby traveling shoulder season, staying in hostels/renting apartments, and taking advantage of low-cost airlines and transportation like Flixbusand Europe’s extensive train network. You’ll see that Western Europe can fit even tightest budgets and Eastern Europe is even more absurdly affordable. So get planning and happy budget Eurotripping!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most budget-friendly regions in Europe to visit?

Eastern Europe and the Balkans including countries like Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Romania, and Montenegro offer the most Europe bang for your buck along with parts of Spain, Portugal and Southern Italy.

What’s the best way to get around Europe affordably?

Europe’s extensive train and budget bus network like Flixbus make getting around surprisingly inexpensive. New budget airlines also offer crazy cheap deals, so keep an eye out for sales from carriers like EasyJet, Volotea, RyanAir and more.

How expensive is accommodation really in Europe?

From private rooms in hostels starting around €15-30/night to vacation rentals around €50-100/night for entire apartments in many cities, accommodation can cost way less than you might expect, especially traveling shoulder season or splitting bigger Airbnbs.

Can I really eat well in Europe on a budget?

Yes! Focus on markets and small local joints instead of Michelin star restaurants, and the cuisine won’t disappoint. Mediterranean destinations offer fresh veggies, cheese, seafood, wine, olives and bread for low prices that let you feast on a budget.

What’s a realistic daily budget to see Europe on the cheap?

Aiming to spend around €50 per person per day is very doable. That breaks down to €15 for dorm beds, €10 for food from markets/grocery stores/inexpensive restaurants, €5 for public transportation, €10 activities, and €10 extras. Double for more private rooms in hostels or Airbnbs.

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