8 European Cities That Are Still Cheap For Travel

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Thanks to new airlines offering ridiculously cheap seat sales to Europe from North America, it’s now easier than ever to spend your vacation time abroad. What I love the most about travelling to Europe is the ability to make your vacation time really stretch – you can go far with just a week or two (if you don’t mind being a little rushed).

There’s a popular misconception that European cities are expensive. Some places really are – London, Paris, Dublin, and pretty much all of Italy immediately come to mind. And while those places are definitely worth the visit, there are plenty of other incredibly beautiful European cities that are a fraction of the cost.

I tend to measure the cost of a destination by the price of a pint of beer. It’s been a fail proof system so far. 

8. Prague

It’s no longer a secret that Prague is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe thanks to its remarkably preserved architecture and the striking Prague Castle standing on top of the hill. Prague was one of the few European cities that didn’t get bombed out during WWII. It can get crowded and expensive, it’s true, but if you keep away from the Old Town you’ll spend a lot less.

The average price for a bed in a hostel dorm is between 5 EUR to 15 EUR, and hotels are quite a bit pricier starting around 80 EUR. Pints? You can find a really good Pilsner for 2 EUR. Prague has a really great transit system, and it’s easy to get to the centre of town if you stay just beyond the Old Town. Plus you’ll find the best foodie options outside of the Old Town area.

7. Berlin

I’m clearly a little biased since I live in Berlin, but I think it’s one of the best cities in Europe. It’s certainly the cheapest city in Germany – although it’s not one of the best looking destinations that the country has to offer, I must admit. It’s hard to be as sexy as Prague when you’ve been bombed a gazillion times.

But if you like culture and world history, Berlin is the place to be. If you take a walking tour around Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, you’ll be pretty amazed by how much Berlin’s role in world history has shaped our present. Also, if you like partying, Berlin is a true test of endurance. I’ve seen some people go hard for days. Not sure how they survive, but somehow they do.

Most hostel dorm beds are under 20 EUR, while hotels start around 80 EUR. Pints of beer, on the other hand, tend to be around 2.50 EUR. You shouldn’t have to ever pay more than 3 EUR for a beer, unless it’s a special craft one! 

6. Sofia

Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital, and a fine capital it is! While many visitors head to the coast or the mountains, most people will have to travel through Sofia first, so it’s worth it to spend some time here. There’s a young population and a vibrant energy, and it’s the sort of place where elaborate Ottoman mosques are contrasted against Soviet monuments. There is an insanely large number of galleries and museums as well. You’ll find endless restaurants and bars to keep the students happy, and entertainment venues are a dime a dozen.

Beds in hostel dorms start at 7 EUR while you can find a decent hotel room starting at 40 EUR. And the beers? Under one euro for a pint. Hallelujah! 

5. Krakow

Come for the pierogies, stay for the culture. You might want to head to Krakow now because it’s been getting a lot of attention lately as a prime travel destination, which could mean some price jacking in the near future. Krakow is famous for its architectural beauty, as well as its “milk bars” – a form of cheap Polish cafeterias left over from the wars. Poland suffered heavy losses, especially during World War II.  From Krakow it’s easy to arrange day tours to Auschwitz.

 A good hotel room starts around 50 EUR while hostel dorm beds start at 4 EUR. The price of a pint is less than 2 EUR.

4. Budapest

Budapest was one of the greatest surprises of my travelling career so far. I hadn’t expected it to be so beautiful! With the winding Danube carving the city in half, and with Castle Hill leading up to the picturesque Old Town, Budapest is one of those places you’ll find you need tons of time to explore properly. And so you should. Sometimes Budapest is known as the “Paris of the East,” which just kinda makes sense. Pro tip: if you’re going to splurge on anything, make it a river cruise at night. The Hungarian National Parliament and the Chain Bridge will be all lit up, and it’s truly a sight to see. A pint of beer in Budapest is about 1.20 EUR, making it definitely one of the best nightlife options as well (you wouldn’t believe the clubs that pop up in abandoned buildings). Decent hotel rooms are available from as low as 40 EUR, and hostel beds are under 10 EUR.

3. Sarajevo

Sarajevo is one of the great loves of my life. Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the most life changing countries I’ve ever visited, and Sarajevo was no exception. Learning about the siege of the city during the Yugoslavian War was an eye-opening history lesson in the horrors that happened during that time. Today you can still wander the streets and observe the scars of war on all the buildings.

Don’t worry though – Sarajevo is now a peaceful city. The “Meeting of Cultures” memorial is a good testament to that, and so are the friendly locals. The Tunnel of Hope Museum is well worth a visit. 

The average cost of a pint is 1.37 EUR. Good quality hotel rooms start as little as 40 EUR a night, and hostel beds tend to be under 10 EUR. If you stay close to the main area, you won’t need to rely much on public transit as everything is in walking distance. 

2. Belgrade

Much like Sarajevo, Serbia’s capital of Belgrade also suffered greatly during the Yugoslavian War. Most of the city was destroyed over and over again. It’s not exactly a pretty city, but Belgrade is all about attitude…and it’s got plenty of it. The Serbs living here are spunky, outgoing, and not afraid to tell you like it is (in the kindest way possible, of course).

Do some people watching in coffee houses, or stay up all night partying in Belgrade’s insane nightlife scene with the locals. The city’s ancient Kalemegdan Citadel is worth exploring, as well as the pedestrian street of Knez Mihailova.

Most hotel rooms start around 60 EUR, but hostel beds are between 10-15 EUR. Beer is usually just one Euro per pint! 

1. St. Petersburg

It always strikes me as weird to think of Russia as being a part of Europe, but there we have it. Many people consider St. Petersburg a much better option over Moscow – it’s prettier, cheaper, and much more tourist-friendly.

The historic centre of town is absolutely covered in stunning architecture, and much of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are baroque bridges and endless canals, and the Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace of the Romanov Dynasty hold’s one of the best art collections in the world. The palace itself is absolutely massive and dominates the city centre. Then of course there’s the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, the elaborate and iconic Russian church built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated.

 In St. Petersburg, a pint of beer will cost you just under 2 EUR (but if you’re here, you might as well be drinking vodka anyway). Most hotel rooms start at 37 EUR per night, and hostel beds under 10 EUR.

Those suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg. Do you have any favourites? For more inspiration, try these eight ultimate rail journeys!

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Comments

  • Arsimm
    Reply

    Pristina Kosovo vibrant, full of life very cheap, excellent food variety and a place where you can drink one of best coffes in the world, and stay at comfy hotel for less than 40Eu

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    I was really glad when somebody mentioned Lviv. Lviv isn’t the cheapest city in ukraine by any stretch of the imagination but is far cheaper than any city mentioned on that list.

    • Anonymous
      Reply

      Ljubljana, Sovenia. Beautiful city and easy to navigate.

  • Our Bumble
    Reply

    Seems like a pretty good list to us and love the photographs. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sheila Flaumitsch
      Reply

      Thanks!

      • Michael
        Reply

        Ghent, close to flanders fields, between Bruges and Antwerp. 30 min from the flemish coast. Rich historious old city, and lots of musea. lots of waterparts in THE accident city at the junction of 2 famous rivers. Hotelroom 55 euro.

  • Agnes Tappe
    Reply

    I´m a fan of Italy. A very nice little city with flair is Diamante in Calabria. The houses are all decorated with very nice paintings, it is like an open air Museum, the living there is cheap, gentle people.
    In the North of Italy I prefer the nice little town Rovereto, not far away from the big Garda lake, bat cheaper. There is a big Museum of modern art, in the surrounding mountains footprints of Dinosaurs, the famous bell of freedom made of canons of all the peoples what fighted in the
    WWII- and and and. Not far away is Verona with the famous ancient roman theatre with the
    giant music events.

    • Sheila Flaumitsch
      Reply

      Agnes, thanks for sharing these gems for anyone heading to Italy this summer. I am especially intrigued with Rovereto, it is now on my ever growing bucket list.

  • Rogier
    Reply

    Outside of Paris, there are many beautiful low cost cities that can be visited in France.
    Places like Bordeaux, Nice, Saint Malo, Orleans, Nancy, Amiens etc etc.
    If you use the beer index, they won’t come out on top.
    If you use the wine index, they will.
    They are all charming all year round.
    Four season destinations.

    • Sheila Flaumitsch
      Reply

      Thanks Rogier! It is always fantastic when travelers and locals share their knowledge, we appreciate it.

  • N.V.
    Reply

    Dear Pamela nice and sad story about Sarajevo. It reminds me when I was in states California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, states that has been taken by force from Mexico real eye-opening history lesson in the horrors that happened during 19th century.

  • victor
    Reply

    What about Bucharest?Very nice city,meny good-looking old buildings,parks and restaurants.Decent hotel,40-50 eu. and pint of beer,2-2,5eu.Amazing “Old Town”.

    • Sheila Flaumitsch
      Reply

      Thank you Victor, we always appreciate local knowledge being shared.

  • JOHN PRESLAND
    Reply

    Belgrade did not suffer “much like Sarajevo”. It took some hits during the NATO air campaign to force the Serbs out of Kosovo. But that was very different from the seige of the Bosnian capital, when, for almost four years, the Serbs encircled Sarajevo and fired into it from the surrounding hills.

    • Johnny Handsome
      Reply

      I think that you watched so much american movies about that topic buddy like author of this article. Investigate more true facts about war in Bosnia, not only stories based on improvised facts of Angelina Jolie.

      • Maggie
        Reply

        John Presland is completely correct. Sarajevo and its civilians were shelled thousands of times throughout 4 years. Only a few dozen specific strategic targets in Belgrade were shelled during a period of about 2 1/2 months. The statement in this article “Most of the city (Belgrade) was destroyed over and over again” is false. Most of Sarajevo was destroyed during the war. Only a small part of Belgrade was.

        • Sheila Flaumitsch
          Reply

          According to Nato they flew 38,000 combat missions during the 10 week period of the bombing of Belgrade(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_bombing_of_Yugoslavia).

      • Krsto Vukoje
        Reply

        Thanks Johnny for your comments. So many don’t know half the of the horrible war. All sides suffered. Western media demonized the Serbs. Not fair journalism.

  • Maria Nenova
    Reply

    Dear Pamela, really a nice list. Thank you for praising the ambience of the Bulgarian capital. I would like to clarify that we have only one Ottoman Mosque in Sofia. This is a museum an a prayer serving place as well . It is situated in the so called Little Jerusalem- we have in the center of Sofia on 500m2 a Bulgarian Orthodox Church from the 6th century, a Catholic Cathedral, a Jewish Synagogue and the Ottoman Mosque.

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Thank you for the extra information Maria! I’ve modified the mosque(s) reference.

  • Joe
    Reply

    What about Lisbon and Porto, all in Portugal?

    • Jack
      Reply

      Good shout on Lisbon and Porto, went to both last year and they are beautiful cities, rich in history, culture and with great nightlife. Also very affordable, especially for someone from the UK!

  • Rose
    Reply

    Dear Pamela, Berlin might be cheap compared to other expensive European destinations, but it is certainly NOT Germany’s cheapest city. In fact, together with München, it’s one of the most expensive ones! Cheaper cities in Germany are Leipzig (pretty awesome) and Dresden, amongst others.

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      and the list for Part II keeps growing! Thanks for the additions Rose.

  • John bolduc
    Reply

    What about cluj Romania 8 hours fron brucerest by bus or fly into the city.it great an hostel lest then 10 euro.Good beer ,friendly people ,an great food.

  • Diana
    Reply

    What about Tirana, Albania?
    A very isolated country until 1990 with very delicious food and also at cheap price.

  • Antwerpfan
    Reply

    Of you like art fashion chocolates and or beer Antwerp is a very nice destination.
    A beautiful old town and a great hub to almost anywhere..

  • Carl
    Reply

    I have travelled to Kiev and Kharkiv twice in the last 4 years and founf them fascinating and in many cases, VERY cheap to travel around in. If you can avoid the price-gouging taxis, hotels and others who see foreigners as ATM machines, you can travel around many parts of Ukraine on the cheap…you just bave to look carefully and prep a bit before you get there.

    • W8post
      Reply

      Stay away from Kharkiv these days [war zone], but add LVIV to your list! Taxis has nothing to do with Ukraine, they are a rip-off in ANY country with the smell of tourists.

      • Pamela Denis
        Reply

        Another list addition! Thank you!

      • Anonymous
        Reply

        Kharkiv is fine – great museums – it is many hundreds of kilometers from the war

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Russia number 1?! This article definitely doesn’t take race into account. Russians are racist and inside Moscow/St. Petersburg is it somewhat bearable

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    In St. Petersburg, a pint of beer will cost you just under 2 EUR (but if you’re here, you might as well be drinking vodka anyway)

    The author apparently didn’t bother to learn a bit about the Russians and tries to sell the same old-time ‘legend’ of the type ‘Vodka for breakfast’.

    Author, these times long gone, people drink vine and beer (the same as in Europe).
    Or, you are paid by the Americans to sell the same old story?

  • Natalia
    Reply

    Hi there
    Nice article but lacks some travelling further…Lisbon obviously should be on the list..And so Porto, Madrid, Seville, Malaga..and Italy has very afforda ble cities, Padua, Bologna, Naples, anywhere in Sicily, …Lijubljiana, Bratislava are very pretty and cheaper than Prague or Budapeste…Well, Europe is not so expensive after all, if we look carefully…
    Best Regards,

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions Natalia! Nice to see another fan of Bratislava.

      • Andrew
        Reply

        Except Bratislava is the most graffiti covered city in Europe. The city leaders have surrendered to spray paint.

  • Anonymous
    Reply

    Vienna can be pricy but not bad for a day trip from Bratislava. St. Pete is not cheap and definitely stay away from Brussels. Istanbul was amazing and so are the second tier cities in Italy… Padua and Verona. Stay out of Venice… even Rome can be done cheap…

  • konstantinos
    Reply

    Where’s Athens, Greece?

  • Daniela
    Reply

    Great Article!! But please….include BRATISLAVA on that list :)
    30 min away from Vienna (actually the closest capitals in the world). Gorgeous Old Town, nice people and very convinient prices!

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Daniela! I’ve just done some reading up on Bratislava and must say it sounds like great, affordable fun too. Cheers!

  • Paul
    Reply

    There are many places that are overlooked because the tour groups operate out of major cities. My favorite place in Europe is Patra Greece
    A lot of students and very cheap to eat and drink. Carnivalli in Patras is the best!

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Thanks for the suggestion Paul! I’m a big fan of destinations with cheap food & drinks (and good student energy) and I know Candice is too!

  • Anna
    Reply

    What about Vienna?

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Hi Anna – thanks for suggesting Vienna. I haven’t been – but this article makes it look like it could fit the bill quite nicely (no pun intended :). http://www.visitingvienna.com/visitorinfo/prices/

    • Anonymous
      Reply

      Vienna is not anymore cheap..I live there.

      • Don
        Reply

        Anonymous-I don’t know where you hang out in Vienna. I live here too and believe me, compared to most of Western Europe it is cheap. A beer will set you back around 3.80 euros, a glass of wine 2.80, and a decent hotel room can be had starting at 60 euros (outside the first district but walking distance to the sights)…..

  • Stephen Arnish
    Reply

    Good list. What about Istanbul, Turkey and Split Croatia? These are two of my favorites.

    • Pamela Denis
      Reply

      Agreed, those are both good recommendations Stephen!

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