Vilnius · Skopelos · Warsaw · Riga · Reykjavik · Dubrovnik · Sofia · Malta. Although the ever-popular Prague isn't the cheapest destination for a city break it once was, you'll still find that the Czech Republic is a good-value country for independent travel. The country that Pilsner invented is rightly famous for producing some of the best beers, at quite good prices. An hour from Tallinn, the 725-square-kilometre Lahemaa National Park is best explored by bike.
You can cycle along the coastal trails, discover rugged coves, windswept beaches and fishing villages, and even sleep on bales of hay on a farm. Venture further west, and the summer resort of Pärnu has fantastic beaches. Saaremaa Island offers a pine forest with soft carpets and affordable spas. The city that initiated the 1989 protests that led to the reunification of the country has long had a fierce and independent spirit.
In recent years, it has also gained a great reputation for its thriving artists' enclaves and unconventional nightlife. Its cultural scene is constantly changing, with old industrial buildings, such as the old Spinnerei cotton factory, converted into avant-garde spaces. The shipyard crane dates back to the 15th century, and the city was the birthplace of the anti-communist movement Solidarity. When summer arrives, the action moves to the trendy seaside town of Sopot, with its golden sandy beach, lively party scene and attractive pier (the longest in Europe).
The pride and joy of Slovakia, the Tatra Mountains is a magnificent series of peaks that culminate in the pyramid-shaped Gerlach at 2,655 m. Start at one of the village's resorts such as Nový Smokovec or Ždiar, then head to the mountains, where you can rest in cheap chalets for hikers. Lake Bliznaka (The Twin), Rila Mountain, Bulgaria Bulgaria often tops the list of economic countries to visit in Europe and rightly so. For starters, Bulgaria remains largely undiscovered by tourists, except for visitors who come in summer for a cheap holiday by the Black Sea.
Even then, accommodation, flights and entertainment will still cost you a fraction of what you would pay in Western Europe. In the off-season, prices drop considerably and you can ski, eat and travel around the country for a tenth of what it costs in the West. One of the best parts about visiting Bulgaria is the countryside, where castles, villages and hiking trails, the Central Balkans National Park tops the list of excellent hikes and the stunning views are free or very cheap to visit. While Sofia is the first stop for many visitors, smaller cities like Plovdiv, which are home to more than 200 archaeological sites, are even cheaper to explore.
Hotels in Bulgaria are particularly cheap outside of the summer months, and many include not only free breakfast but also free transportation. Romania is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, especially if you are heading to the Carpathian Mountains for hiking or you are mainly exploring the countryside. Even a visit to Brasov, home to Dracula's 14th-century Bran Castle, can be very affordable if you book a day trip or don't mind slow train connections from Bucharest. Trains are not always in the best condition in Romania, but they are safe and very cheap.
In most cases, it is not worth buying in supermarkets here, since eating out is cheap in Romania and meals are plentiful and plentiful. Local specialties such as sarmale (cabbage rolls), cozonac (sweet bread) or mamaliga (polenta, which is usually served with sour cream and strong cheese) are cheap, often sold at street food stalls and a great way to quickly get acquainted with Romanian food. Poland's major cities, Krakow and Warsaw, aren't always cheap, so if they're your main destinations, avoid visiting them in summer. The mid-season (especially the months of March and April) are ideal months to travel to urban Poland, the weather is warming, prices are still low and the castles and palaces that were closed during the winter are reopened, often at reduced prices.
Poland's most famous destinations, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps, the Wieliczka salt mine and the Schindler factory, are much less crowded out of season, so you won't waste time waiting in line. Many other attractions around the country are very cheap or free to access, such as climbing the tower of the old town hall for great views of Krakow, the 13th century castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork and the ancient Bialowieza forest. While trains aren't always very cheap in Poland, you can get almost anywhere by bus for very little money. Long-distance buses like Flixbus are comfortable, offer free Wi-Fi and will take you to even the smallest cities in Poland.
George Island in Montenegro During July and August, the coast of Montenegro is full of tourists, mainly from Russia, whose citizens do not need a visa to enter. If you're heading to the trendy coastal towns of Budva or Herceg Novi, avoid the summer months; otherwise head inland to visit UNESCO's rugged mountains, glacial lakes and walled cities. For example, Crno Jezero, a mountain lake surrounded by a deep teal forest, is a stunning destination for hiking and swimming and enjoying completely free. Kiev Cave Monastery, Kiev, Ukraine, Ukraine, has remained off the radar as a tourist destination for decades, and visitors are only now discovering all that this former Soviet country has to offer.
The biggest expense when visiting Ukraine will be finding a place to stay, since there is not much international tourist season, hotel prices do not vary much during the year, especially in larger cities. The resort city of Odessa, on the northwestern coast of the Black Sea and Kiev, is slightly cheaper in the off-season (late autumn and winter), but the rest of the country is still very affordable throughout the year. Perhaps one of the most important ways to save money in Ukraine is food. If you eat local food, food is very cheap in Ukraine, order varenyky (stuffed dumplings) or holubtsi (stuffed cabbage), and all the food will cost you the same as a quick snack in any other country.
The most attractive destinations in Portugal have to do with nature, the sun and the outdoors, which means that they are mostly free. The district of Faro, in the south of the country, is a popular destination for its soft golden sands, cliffs and lighthouses, while visitors to Madeira head there along the rugged volcanic hiking trails, beautiful harbor and great diving. The biggest expenses on a trip to Portugal will be food and accommodation, although visiting it outside the high season (from June to August) will reduce costs considerably. From November to February, prices drop even further, but temperatures stay around 17 to 18 degrees Celsius, so it's the perfect time to visit and grab great bargains.
Some of Portugal's most interesting destinations are free to explore, apart from the cost of transportation to get there. These include the ancient city of Évora, a World Heritage Site, and the 12th-century Templar Castle and Convent of Christ in the city of Tomar. A small country surrounded by giants Italy, Austria and Hungary are against their borders Slovenia is a mountainous country covered with forests. Even so, most visitors come here along the coast facing the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia offers many affordable sandy beaches and plenty of sunshine.
Away from the coast, Lake Bled is perhaps the best known destination. Located just 35 kilometers from the capital, Ljubljana, the lake is an affordable destination and one of the most stunning places in the country. Other budget destinations include the medieval town of Piran; the fortified village of Štanjel; and the Triglav National Park, where you can walk to the top of Mount Triglav in two days with a night in a mountain hut. Hungary is one of the most expensive countries in Eastern Europe, but it is still a fraction of the cost of traveling to major destinations in the western half of the continent.
The best thing you can do to save money in Italy is to avoid visiting it in summer, when everything costs more, queues for attractions last hours, and the sticky weather makes everything a little more uncomfortable. Even winter is a great time to visit, as most of Italy is never very cold, the average temperature in Rome in January is 7 degrees Celsius, but on sunny days it can easily reach 12 degrees Celsius. From November to February, you'll get great deals on accommodation and often cheap flights. If you dream of flying to Europe, but are worried that your bank account is not ready, don't worry.
For every expensive city, there are dozens of charming and surprisingly affordable places that offer all the European charm for a fraction of the price. Ljubljana, Porto, Budapest and even Berlin, these cities have all the rich culture, stunning architecture and delicious food you'll find in expensive European capitals, but are perfect for travelers on a budget. For a storybook worthy holiday in Europe, head straight to Bavaria. Book a room at Burg Colmberg, a 14th-century castle that rises from a rocky rock above a small village.
It offers an eclectic collection of rooms tucked away in a maze of crooked corridors, hidden staircases and cozy seating corners. Be sure to visit Neuschwanstein Castle, perfect as a postcard, perched glowing on top of a mountain, and take the time to tour Hohenschwangau, the castle where the mad king Louis II actually lived. The latter is a more modest pile of battlements on a smaller protuberance of a hill in the valley below. What he lacks in the carefully crafted pomp and circumstance of Neuschwanstein, which Louis II never lived to see, he more than completed it in his home and history.
The iconic architecture of Apulia, the heel of Italy's boot, is the prehistoric trullo, a whitewashed cylindrical house with a cone-shaped roof of stacked gray stones. There is no greater concentration of trulli than in the UNESCO-protected city of Alberobello, where entire neighborhoods are made of structures, and the local businessman behind Trullidea has arranged dozens of the abandoned ones and rents them to visitors. Cool in hot summers and with cozy fireplaces for the winter, a rental teal lets you live like a local for less than the cost of an economy class hotel in the city. Do you want to taste what the Amalfi Coast was like before the big shots and high prices arrived? Apulia's wooded peninsula of Gargano is popular with sun-loving Italians, but is otherwise off the tourist map.
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, offers all the charm of the most popular European destinations for a fraction of the price. The Hungarian Parliament Building and the Fisherman's Bastion are just a few of the perfect attractions you'll see in the city, and you'll also find plenty of affordable accommodations, food and nightlife. Even the city's famous thermal baths, some of which date back more than 100 years and boast beautiful architecture, can be affordable to visit. Take a break from the sizzle on the busy beaches of the Costa del Sol for a self-guided car tour of the White Villages Route.
This chain of whitewashed clifftop villages stretches from the Moorish town of Arcos de la Frontera through the Sierra de Grazalema to Ronda, a labyrinth of medieval streets perched atop a 500-foot gorge. Opt for a stay in nearby Seville, the capital of Andalusia, to enjoy beautiful architecture, watch flamenco dancing and enjoy classic tapas. Berlin has Cold War mystique, contemporary architecture and booming scenes of galleries and restaurants. With its cosmopolitan touch of East and West, it's no wonder that the city has become the cultural capital of central Europe.
It's a destination that continues to attract creative types and knowledgeable travelers. Start your trip to Berlin in the trendy Mitte (or center) district, as it is convenient to reach major sites such as the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz. One of my favorite countries in Europe, somewhere I've been to several times and you can guarantee that I'll be back as soon as I can. There is something about the crystal clear waters, the stunning architecture, the fragrant lavender and the fresh seafood that takes me back to Croatia every time.
For a cheap stay in Croatia, avoid Dubrovnik. Try visiting the Zadar, Zagreb or Split backpacking hotspots. Check out my guide to Split here. Check out my 10 dream spring weekends in Europe here.
I think Albania is the country that has surprised me the most in history. I didn't know anything about Albania before I left, but my 6-day road trip along the coast is one of my favorite adventures to date. The Albanian Riviera is also famous for its growing music scene, so you can schedule your trip with an international music festival. Next time I go to Albania, in addition to visiting the coast again, I would love to see more of Tirana and visit Theth National Park, Ksamil Islands, Shkodra and Lake Koman.
The whole country of Ukraine is excellent value for money and is definitely among the cheapest countries in Europe to visit. Home to many castles, colorful ancient villages and beautiful landscapes with primitive forests, Romania is sure to surprise you. It is also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Its region of Transylvania, associated with the legendary Count Dracula, is dotted with charming medieval towns.
Not many people know this, but Romania also has about 20 spas on the Black Sea. The beaches are great and it is very economical to spend a week or two enjoying the Romanian sun. Are you looking for a wild and unspoiled Mediterranean beach? For now, Albania still has them in abundance. Meanwhile, Albania's main mountain range, dramatically known as the Cursed Mountains, is an increasingly recognized region for hiking and climbing.
Cultural attractions include the picturesque cities of Gjirokastër and Berat, due to their Ottoman influences and UNESCO World Heritage status. You're probably wondering how the hell did Greece end up on this list. But there are many amazing cities and islands in Greece that you can visit without breaking the bank. Instead of traveling to Mykonos, try spending a few nights on the charming island of Tinos, where you'll find marble villages, terraces, hillsides, beautiful beaches and great accommodation deals.
The island of Lefkada is also home to affordable hotels, casual taverns, and many attractions. And there are many more examples. Known for its surfer beaches, beautiful old villages with tiled buildings, delicious cakes such as pasteis de nata and melancholy fado music, Portugal has really caught the spotlight in recent years While prices in downtown Lisbon and Porto have increased somewhat in recent years, overall Portugal is still very economical. Many people may not know much about this country, or even associate it only with the conflict that raged there in the 1990s.
Southern Italy is full of beautiful cities with chalk white houses, peaceful landscapes of olive groves, windy streets covered with Vespas and Fiat 500, and tons of incredibly good beaches that don't have many people. Its landscapes are reminiscent of Finland, with its many pine and peat bog forests, while its people are equally obsessed with saunas and cross-country skiing. Of course, Estonia has its own character, mixing Nordic influences with Baltic culture and some vestiges of the architecture of the former USSR. Don't miss the fascinating KGB Museum at Hotel Viru in Tallinn, go hiking through Soomaa National Park or stay in the university town of Tartu.
Vinologia is a great bar for an introduction to fortified wine varieties, and you can visit the harbour lodges across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, where for a few euros you can try their products. To keep costs low on your budget getaway to Europe, but still experience the city in a festival season, January is the time to visit. Unsurprisingly, the destinations of Eastern Europe and the Balkans were favourites, but several surprisingly cheap places in Europe lurking in Western and Central Europe also snuck in. Since eating out is much cheaper than in Western European cities, and the cost of transportation and accommodation is much lower, it is a great place to explore.
Visitors to the spa town of Tihany and those heading to the Bükk Mountains for an outdoor adventure will find that prices are even lower throughout the year. Spend the day lounging by the spa pools, taking an occasional dip, cooling off under the fountains and watching the elderly play chess at tables by the water. Split has the oldest fish market in Europe, where you can sample local delicacies such as Adriatic rays, squid and mussels. Honestly, the city is not only one of the greatest cities, but it is also one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit.
Travellers who want to ski will be happy to know that Kopaonik is one of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe. If you're like me and you can't get enough of Europe's ancient cities, you'll love visiting Krakow. Despite being one of the most beautiful and livable cities in Europe, it has somehow managed to stay off the radar. You can even travel to some of the best (and famous) destinations in Europe without having to spend a lot of money, you just have to know how to save money without sacrificing experiences.
Hungary is also home to the largest lake in Europe, Lake Balaton, if you are looking for a holiday in nature. There are plenty of amazing places and some of the cheapest to visit in Europe across the continent. . .