27 Best Cheap Cities In Europe To Visit (2023)


Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Nicole

Europe offers many destinations for people who are looking for an inexpensive holiday. For those hoping for a city escape, there is also lots from which to choose. Some are budget friendly only in certain seasons – others are affordable all year round – while many are low priced if you know where to stay and eat, and how to find free or reasonably priced activities and attractions. Whether you are looking for a low cost European vacation in a city with amazing food, exciting nightlife, gorgeous beaches, great shopping, or spectacular historical and cultural sites, you will be stunned by the choices that await. Here are 27 of the best cheap cities in Europe for a fantastic inexpensive getaway.

Table of Contents

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Other Options

As you will see from this article, there are many cheap European cities to visit. Sometimes, the whole country, not just one city, is also a very affordable option, allowing you to explore more on a budget. For more information about those countries, please see 22 Best Cheap Countries To Visit In Europe.

If you are specifically looking for inexpensive spring or summer destinations in Europe, please see:

Best Inexpensive Cities In Europe For A Holiday

Here are 27 of the best affordable European cities to visit for a vacation.

For each city, some of the best inexpensive or free things to do are highlighted. In addition, budget-friendly restaurants, markets, and areas offering delicious food are included.

How best to reach the destination by public transportation is described and reasonably priced accommodation may be offered. Finally, the best time to go or avoid is set out to help you plan the best European trip ever.

best cheap European city for a beach holiday
Malaga, Spain (Photo courtesy of Joanna from the World In My Pocket)

Malaga, Spain

Malaga is the gateway to Costa del Sol, and a wonderful medium sized city in the South of Spain. It has a population of around 500,000 people, and a compact historical centre with lots of pedestrian friendly walking zones. Malaga also has beautiful, sandy beaches, with shallow waters and great facilities, making them a safe option for families.

Malaga is a fantastic European city to visit for museum lovers who are on a budget. A 5 day Malaga itinerary would allow you to see them all. Many of the best museums in Malaga, such as the Picasso Museum or Centre Pompidou, offer free entry on a Sunday afternoon. Other museums, such as the Centre for Contemporary Arts or the Aeronautical Museum are completely free to visit.

The most important landmarks in Malaga, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle, cost only a few dollars to visit. These ancient moorish fortresses are perched overlooking the city and offer stunning views. They, as well, are free on Sundays, after 4PM.

Another great and free thing to do in Malaga is explore the sandy beaches. The most famous beach in Malaga is Malagueta, which is walking distance from the historical centre. If you are looking for a low priced European city for a beach vacation, Malaga would be a great option.

Cheap Food

While you enjoy the beaches, lunch at one of the chiringuitos directly on the sand. These rustic beach bars make inexpensive espetos, a typical dish in Malaga consisting of large anchovies grilled over an open fire made form olive wood. The grill is usually inside an old boat.

If you want to try cheap delicious tapas, go to 100 Montaditos, on the beautiful Paseo Maritimo. You can dine on the outdoors terrace and have a pretty view over the entire harbour.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Malaga is a great city to visit year-round. If you want to avoid the crowds, come in winter. Malaga receives over 300 days of sunshine a year, so it’s a great winter destination for those looking for sun and warmth. In summer there are big crowds in Malaga, but the temperatures remain pleasant, due to the constant breeze.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Malaga has its own airport, connected to all major hubs in Europe. Flights are usually very affordable. There is a train connecting the airport with the city centre which only costs a couple of dollars each way.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Joanna from the World In My Pocket says, “A great hostel to stay at in the centre of Malaga is Chinitas Urban Hostel, with prices starting at less than $20 a night per person in a dorm.”

best inexpensive city in Europe for a getaway
Berlin, Germany (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is Germany’s capital and largest city, with a population of around 3.7 million. When you think of inexpensive cities to visit in Europe, large capital cities probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, Berlin has become a popular destination for backpackers and led to it being one of the best capital cities to visit in Europe for history, culture and night life for a cheap city break.

Berlin is rich in cultural institutions and historic sites, many of which are free or cheap to visit, making Berlin one of the best cities for a European vacation for those who love to learn about art and history.

Museum Island, a UNESCO Historic Site, is home to five world-famous art museums as well as the Berlin Cathedral. Visiting the museums isn’t free, but you can buy a reasonably priced day pass that includes admission to all five. This is a great way to plan one of the days in your Berlin itinerary, especially if you’re visiting on a rainy day.

Berlin is perhaps best known for its tumultuous history during World War II and the Cold War. The Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly 30 years, is still standing in some areas. The longest surviving section of the wall has been turned into an open-air art gallery called the East Side Gallery. The gallery gives new life to what was once a dark part of the city’s history. Best of all, visiting the East Side Gallery is completely free.

The city is also home to various monuments and memorials dedicated to various parts of the city’s history, all of which are free to explore. Brandenburg Gate, one of the city’s most famous landmarks, is now a symbol of German Unity.

Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous border crossing the Berlin Wall, serves as a memorial to those who attempted to escape from the East.

And the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe honors the millions who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Cheap Food

Berlin is known for its delicious and inexpensive street food, an ideal destination for foodies for budget travelers. Bratwurst, döner kebabs, currywurst, and more are all Berlin street food staples.

For cheap eats, head to Mehringdamm in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, where you can find two of the city’s best cheap street food spots: Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap and Curry 36.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Berlin is a city that’s great to visit year-round. The shoulder season is March-April and September-October, when crowds are smaller and the temperatures are mild. Summer brings more crowds but great weather, and winter (particularly December and January) brings cold temperatures but the excitement of Christmas Markets and Silvester (New Year’s Eve) celebrations.

Best Way To Reach Destination

To reach Berlin, fly into Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), the city’s international airport. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn make it easy to travel around the city cheaply.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Sydney from A World in Reach says, “As a popular destination for backpackers, Berlin is home to countless hostels, many of which have amenities that rival nice hotels. Circus Hostel is one of the best, featuring comfortable dorms and private rooms.”

best affordable cities in Europe for an escape
Prague, Czech Republic (Photo courtesy of Jessica from Uprooted Traveler)

Prague, Czech Republic

The bustling European city of Prague, with 1.3 million residents, offers something for every kind of traveler, with fairytale architecture, fascinating history, and a thriving affordable nightlife scene for holidaymakers—all at an extremely affordable cost. 

One of the best things to do to get oriented in Prague is to explore its Old Town. You can either go on a free walking tour to learn a bit more history about the area or simply stroll around on your own, taking in the views of the candy-colored baroque buildings and gothic churches. 

At night, be sure to carve out some time to enjoy some of the city’s famed nightlife. The Old Town is full of bars and nightclubs with extremely cheap drinks or, if you’re looking to explore a different part of town, the nearby Wenceslao Square is also a popular spot for nightclubs. 

If you’re looking for a more chill activity to experience the city’s drinking culture, consider booking time at a Prague beer spa, where you can soak in a tub, infused with beer ingredients, while having two Czech beer taps within arms’ reach (for the best price, go with some friends and split the cost!). Beer is integral to Czech’s way of life—in fact, on average, they drink more beer than any other country on the planet!

For a complete three day itinerary with lots more cheap restaurant recommendations and attractions, please see Prague: An Epic Three Day Itinerary.

Cheap Food

As for restaurants, there’s quite a few inexpensive eateries around the city making Prague one of the best cities in Europe with a budget friendly food scene. However, you’ll need to venture out of the heart of the Old Town to find them. For example, Bistro Váleček is a cozy little restaurant, serving up delicious handmade dumplings.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

If you’re trying to save on costs, be sure to avoid a summertime trip, when the crowds are high and the prices of accommodations and airfare are even higher. While the Christmas season is lovely in Prague, the late wintertime should also be avoided with cold and dreary weather.

Best Way To Reach Destination

One of the best things about Prague is how easy it is to get to, with its own international airport, Václav Havel Airport Prague, and plenty of cheap flights from RyanAir and other discount airlines around Europe.  It takes about 40 minutes to get from the airport to the heart of the city center via bus.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Jessica from Uprooted Traveler says, “Prague, as a backpacker mecca, has tons of hostels and affordable boutique hotels to stay at. Sophie’s Hostel has everything you could ask for, with modern furnishings, a lively downstairs bar, and affordable pricing.”

best budget-friendly cities in Europe for a holiday
Porto, Portugal (Photo courtesy of Colleen from Then We Walked)

Porto, Portugal

Porto is an ancient, picturesque and vibrant city. It is very walkable, albeit with lots of hills, has a great café scene and is famous for its wine. It’s one of Europe’s most popular destinations with its own style and a distinct village feel and one of the best cities in Europe for wine and port lovers looking for a cheap getaway. 

Over 2 million people live in the Greater Porto region, but its old town is compact with three World Heritage Sites. The Ribeira historic centre and waterfront with narrow medieval streets and colourful buildings; Luiz I Bridge with impressive views of the city and sunsets; and the wine cellars of Porto, are all UNESCO designated.

Porto is the perfect city to just go wandering. Walk through the Ribeira district and cross the Luiz I Bridge, stroll down Rua Miguel Bombarda with its quirky shop and cafes or take a picnic to Jardim do Morro and watch the sunset. Even Mcdonald’s is an architectural gem!

There are some amazing and enormous works of art around the city. Take an inexpensive Street Art walking tour to make sure you see them all.

At night, enjoy a drink, tapas and live music at RUA Tapas and Music bar. You MUST seek out a Fado performance and also stroll through the old town to enjoy some of the city’s excellent buskers.

Porto offers all of this and so much more! AND it’s just a metro ride away from fabulous surfing and miles and miles of sandy coast for those who want to feel the warmth of the sun and sand between your toes!

Cheap Food

Porto is growing in reputation as a inexpensive foodie destination. Seafood is always on the menu but why not try the local Francesinha, a sandwich filled with ham, sausage and steak, topped with melted cheese and a spicy sauce. 

Piri Piri Chicken is another great staple. Pedro dos Frangos has really fabulous Piri Piri and is perfect for budget conscious diners. It’s very popular with locals so call ahead.

Insider Tip: Be aware that olives, bread and cheese on the table aren’t always free so check before you tuck in!  

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The city is fabulous year-round. Spring is popular as the city warms and bursts into colour. 

Summer is peak season, so expect high temperatures, long days, festivals and fiestas. Porto offers a lot of free or low cost summer activities. The best place to discover what’s happening is at the Casa de Musica, Porto Tourism and Welcome Centre.

Autumn is perfect as it is still warm and dry but the summer crowds have left. Winter is wettest but in return you have quieter streets, shorter queues, and great low season rates. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Many low-cost airlines fly into Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. There’s a metro station there, providing a simple and affordable way to arrive into the heart of the city

Inexpensive Accommodation

Colleen from Then We Walked says, “As a stage on the Camino de Santiago , Porto offers plenty of excellent hostels. Central House PortoLost Inn and Being Porto offer private rooms and bunks. All three are excellent and in great locations, but you need to book early to secure a bed as they fill quickly.”

best budget friendly cities in Europe for a vacation
Riga, Latvia (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Riga, Latvia

Riga, the capital of Latvia, a small Baltic country in Eastern Europe, is one of the most unique medieval cities in Europe. In addition to the breathtaking old town which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, cobblestone alleyways in a bustling atmosphere and breathtaking views, Riga is an inexpensive city for a European vacation that offers lots of culture and history, and culinary adventures on a budget.

One must-see is the Riga Central Market, which is the largest food market in Europe. Entrance to the market is completely free – the only costs will be anything you choose to buy. However, you can get a variety of food items pretty cheaply, such as produce, pastries, seafoods, meats, cheeses, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. There are also non-food items, such as homemade candles and jewelry. 

Be sure to visit the Riga Cathedral, the tallest medieval building in the Baltic countries combined. For only a few dollars, you can go inside to admire the tall arches, and climb to the top of the tower for a stunning, panoramic view of the city.

While you’re in the old town, look for the famous Bremen Town Musicians statue. It costs nothing to admire or take photos of this special monument, which was gifted to Riga by Bremen, the town in Germany after which the story is named. 

Riga arguably has the most beautiful Old Town in all the Baltic capital cities, which include Vilnius and Tallinn. If you are looking for a low cost city in Europe with one of the prettiest Old Towns, then Riga is a great option.

Cheap Food

For lunch or dinner, look for the traditional Latvian LIDO chain. LIDO makes home-cooked, fresh Latvian dishes for affordable prices. The LIDO Alus sēta is just a 3-minute walk from the Old Town.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time of year to visit Riga is spring or summer, when the weather is warmest without being unbearably hot. It can be quite chilly in the fall and winter.

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can get to Riga by taking a 20-minute taxi ride into town from the Riga International Airport. You can also take a bus which takes 35 minutes.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Kristin from Tiny Footsteps Travel says, “One of the nicest affordable places to stay in Riga is the Tree House Hostel. Featuring private double rooms and family rooms in addition to dorm rooms, the Tree House Hostel is only steps away from the Old Town.”

best cities in Europe to visit for a low cost trip
Palermo, Sicily (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Palermo, Italy (Sicily)

If you’re looking for a cheap European city to visit with amazing food, an incredible night life, beautiful beaches and extraordinary historical sites, then consider heading to Palermo, Italy.

This vibrant city with a population of 850,000 is the Sicilian capital and home to beautiful churches, lively markets, and a fascinating and diverse history. Palermo is not only a wonderful option for a budget-friendly European city break, it’s also a great place to start a road trip around Sicily.

One of the best free activities the city has to offer is a day at the beach. Mondello Beach is Palermo’s sandy escape. Easily accessible from the city center via public transit, the beach has a small section that doesn’t require a fee to enter. 

If culture and history are more your interest, visit the city’s many churches. Three must-see churches – Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, the Church of San Cataldo, and Chiesa di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria – are found concentrated in Piazza Bellini. These churches exemplify the many cultural influences that have passed through Palermo, from the Moors and Normans to the Byzantines and Italians.

If you are planning on visiting Sicily in the fall and would like a fantastic itinerary filled with reasonably priced restaurant and activity recommendations for all over Sicily, please see Best Itinerary and Road Trip In Sicily In Fall.

Cheap Food

Another must-visit sight in Palermo, and also a great place to grab an inexpensive meal, is the Mercato del Capo. This bustling food market sells everything from fish and shellfish to fresh produce, meat, cheese, and bread. There are also vendors serving hot foods made to order, such as sauteed octopus, arancini (fried rice balls), and a local specialty: spleen sandwiches.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Summers in Palermo are hot and dry, reaching well into the high 80s (F) and beyond.

Winters in Palermo are mild (highs in the mid-50s F), making this a year-round destination to visit. Winter crowds are fewer, and an off-season trip could save you some money on accommodation. Winter is the rainy season, although it only rains about 8 days per month.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The best way to get to Palermo is by flying into the Palermo airport. Many budget airlines operate direct flights to Palermo from other major European cities. From the airport, you can take an hour-long bus ride to the city center.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Tamar from World by Weekend says, “For budget-friendly accommodation in Palermo, book your stay at A Casa di Amici. This centrally located hostel is within walking distance of Palermo’s main sights, including Quattro Canti and its numerous restaurants and bars.”

best cheap cities to visit in Europe for medieval old towns
Ljubljana, Slovenia (Photo courtesy of Melissa from Parenthood and Passports)

Lljubjana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, the charming capital city of Slovenia, is one of the most affordable cities in Europe for a vacation or holiday and the perfect destination for those looking for a pretty medieval Old Town to explore. 

The city’s small size and walkability make it easy to explore on a budget, and there are plenty of free attractions and inexpensive things to do in Ljubljana to keep you entertained.

Join a free walking tour through Old Town, discover the city’s beautiful bridges like Triple Bridge and Cobbler’s Bridge, roam through the picturesque Tivoli Park, or explore the quirky Metelkova Art Center, where every inch of wall space is covered in graffiti art.   

For fantastic sunset views, grab a picnic and a bottle of wine and go to Ljubljana Castle. Perched on top of a hill on the outskirts of the Old Town, you can explore many parts of this beautiful medieval castle for free and then, settle in for a spectacular sunset over Ljubljana.

For those looking for an inexpensive day trip from Ljubljana, please see Postojna Cave and Lake Bled: An Epic One Day Road Trip.

Cheap Food

For a cheap meal, head to Central Market in the heart of the city, where you can grab lunch from one of several inexpensive food trucks, or buy fresh fruit from one of the local farmers selling their produce and goods. 

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

While summer is the most popular time to visit Slovenia, you’ll find lodging is less expensive in the off-season. Weather is still pleasant in Ljubljana in spring or fall.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Plan to fly into Jože Pučnik Airport, which offers direct flights from about 20 airports across Europe and the Middle East. The airport is about 30 minutes outside the city, and you can take a bus to the city. The airport buses depart every hour between 5am and 8pm and cost only a few dollars per person.   

You can also get to Ljubljana by train. The train station is about a 15 minute walk from the Old Town.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Melissa from Parenthood and Passports says, “In the center of the city, Hotel Emonec is a great, affordable hotel. But if you are on a tight budget, Hostel Tresor is a less expensive alternative.”

best low price European city with beaches
Split, Croatia (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Split, Croatia

Split, home to 265,000 individuals, is located in the southern portion of Croatia. It is not only the second-largest city in Croatia, but is also home to the world UNESCO site, the Palace of Diocletian. It sits at the shores of the beautiful turquoise-colored Adriatic Sea and offers numerous beaches made of sand and pebbles. It is one of the best cities in Europe for an inexpensive beach holiday.

Spend a day sunbathing and enjoying the sea at one of the many beaches. Beach Trstenik and Znjan Beach are free to visit and less busy with tourists than other beaches in Split. Stop by one of the many local grocery markets for snacks while on your way to the beach to save on restaurant meals.

After dinner, explore the Riva Harbor, lined with palm trees and views of the sea. The Harbor comes alive at night. Grab a gelato from one of the numerous vendors and walk the Harbor while watching street performers, or shopping for souvenirs. Alternatively, grab a seat on one of the many benches and enjoy the breeze while people-watching.

Alternatively, wander through Diocletian’s Palace, a former Roman palace that now forms about half of old town Split. You can explore the palace for free or sign up for inexpensive walking tours. The palace now consists of cafes, shops, and bars. 

Located just over an hour from Split is Krka National Park which offers beautiful cascading waterfalls to explore (Skradinski is the largest and most impressive). You can reach it by car, public transportation on FlixBus, or through an organized tour. Entry fees depend on month and activities but overall, is an inexpensive and spectacular way to spend the day.

Cheap Food

With so many options for food, including walk-up counters where you can grab a slice of pizza or sandwich and inexpensive sit-down restaurants, you can spend as little or as much as you want on dinner.

Just an 8-minute walk from the harbor is Bakra, a pizza and steak restaurant. Not only is the food at Bakra delicious, but the staff is incredible. Make sure to ask about their dessert of the day.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Naturally, with so many beaches, Split is typically a summer destination for those looking to enjoy the sun and the Adriatic Sea. However, if you wish to avoid the crowds, you should not go in the summer. In particular, avoid early July when the city hosts “Ultra Europe”, an EDM/ house/ techno music festival.

Instead, visit Split in September or October when the Adriatic Sea is still warm enough for swimming, but most tourists have left the city. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can reach Split by air by bus, car, or ferry from other Croatian cities. Promet Split is the local public bus transportation system, and Uber is available.

best reasonably priced cities in Europe with culture
Istanbul, Turkey (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, home to over fifteen million people. It is a cultural and economic hub that straddles both Europe and Asia with the Bosphorus Strait dividing the city and the two continents. Istanbul is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, delicious food, and bustling markets. It is one of the best cheap cities in Europe to visit for culture for an exciting holiday.

One of the most popular things to do in Istanbul is to get lost in the alleyways of the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, dating back to the 15th century. It spans over 60 streets and alleys, with over 4,000 shops selling jewelry, textiles, ceramics, spices, and carpets. This is a free activity until you start purchasing souvenirs!

Another free thing to do in Istanbul is to visit the Hagia Sofia. It is the country’s most popular attraction. It was originally built as a Christian cathedral in the 6th century but is now a mosque. It is absolutely stunning, featuring intricate mosaics and a massive central dome. It is considered one of the greatest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. It is closed to visitors during prayer times so make sure that you check the opening times before heading over.

Cheap Food

There are hundreds and hundreds of places to eat in Istanbul that will be easy on your budget. Overall, it is an inexpensive city to dine in. Wherever you find yourself, try “Lamacun” (kind of like a Turkish pizza) and of course, Turkish coffee with locum (Turkish delight)!

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Istanbul is a true four season city with beautiful hot summers and cold winters. If you are visiting Istanbul in December, you are going to want to make sure you have packed for winter!

If you are coming in the summer, choose loose-fitting conservative clothing that cover your shoulders and go below your knees. Flowy dresses for women are fine, but leave the short shorts for the beach cities in Turkey.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Istanbul airport is very easy to get to from hundreds of destinations, but getting into the city from the airport is a bit of a pain. There is no direct public transportation. It is much easier to grab a taxi or Uber to get into the city quickly.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Lindsay from Step Into Jordan says, “Istanbul has hundreds of places to stay at very inexpensive rates. Four-star hotels are under $100 and you do not find that in too many cities around the world.

If you want to be in the thick of the tourist area and close to the Hagia Sofia and Grand Bazaar, stay in the Sultanahmet District. You can walk to the trolly easily, as well as the restaurants and tourist attractions nearby.”

best low-price European cities with roman ruins
Plovdiv, Bulgaria (Photo courtesy of Lara from The Best Travel Gifts)

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

If you’re looking for a city that is an affordable European getaway, Plovdiv has to be on your list! This hidden Bulgarian gem is located in the south of the country and boasts a population of 350,000. It’s the cultural capital of Bulgaria, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world!

With all these amazing facts about Plovdiv, one could almost forget that it also offers a gorgeous old town to be explored.

Start by strolling through the Kapana area. Kapana (literally translated into “The Trap”) is the hipster area of the city and is great for discovering cool street art, cute cafes, urban bars, and affordable yet amazing restaurants.

Plovdiv Old Town, on the other hand, is filled with picturesque, car-free, cobblestoned streets, traditional houses, Roman ruins, and cute boutique shops with Bulgarian souvenirs to take home.

Of course, you shouldn’t miss the Roman Ancient theatre. Even if you don’t want to pay for entrance, it’s a must to peek from the top and sneak a picture. And if you visit Plovdiv during the summer, check out the event schedule for a cool concert or performance in the theatre.

If you’re looking for some beautiful views, watch the sunset from one of the six hills surrounding the city (Plovdiv is actually known as the city of seven hills, though one of those hills magically disappeared over the years). It’s the perfect way to end a day of sightseeing.

Cheap Food

Check out one of the many restaurants in Kapana or Rahat Tepe for inexpensive local food in the Old Town. The portion sizes are very generous, so you may want to consider splitting some dishes with friends.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Plovdiv is great to visit year-round. For the least amount of precipitation, sunny weather, and cool events in the ancient amphitheater, June until September are the best months to visit. But be aware that in July and August, temperatures can reach 90 F. The city also gets very busy with tourists.

However, Plovdiv still remains somewhat of an undiscovered destination, which is part of the reason why it is so cheap to visit!

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Plovdiv is easy enough. There’s an international airport in the city, but it doesn’t have too many international connecting flights. Therefore, the cheapest way to get to Plovdiv is to fly into Sofia Airport and take a 2-hour bus or train from there.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Lara from The Best Travel Gifts says, “When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of hotels and hostels in Plovdiv. For a unique experience, go for accommodation that’s housed in one of the authentic Bulgarian buildings in Plovdiv Old Town, such as Hostel Old Plovdiv (besides the beautiful aesthetics, it’s also one of the best hostels in the area).”

best low priced European city with great night life and free museums
London, England (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

London, England

London is one of the most famous cities in the world, a huge urban center with three international airports and a population of over 8 million people. The capital of the United Kingdom and home to its financial centre, many believe London is one of the most expensive cities to visit. While that can be true on the surface, if you know where to look, it can be one of the cheapest capital cities to visit in Europe.

For a start, London has countless free museums, enough to fill several weeks of sightseeing, and with a huge range of subject matters including art, history, science and the natural world. Where else could you admire the works of Monet and Van Gogh in the National Gallery, then follow that with a trip to see ancient Egyptian mummies and Greek statues in the British Museum, entirely for free?

In addition, London has a huge amount of parks which cover a surprisingly large area. They are beautiful places to spend time. You can wander under the trees, boat on a lake or join in with park sports and activities.

Speakers Corner at Hyde Park on a Sunday will provide hours of free political entertainment.

Take an Uber boat down the Thames for a cheap version of a city cruise – the views are incredible, especially at night when the city is lit up.

History is all around you in London with monuments across the city. Watch the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace and visit the Horseguards resplendent in their red and gold uniforms guarding the military barracks, both completely free.

Many churches are like small museums with all sorts of fascinating objects on display, and these are also free to visit.

If you do your research before you go, you will find that London can be fantastic value for money.

Cheap Food

Eating out can be more costly than other places in the United Kingdom, even in places such as the amazing Borough Market, but with a bit of research you can find some really cheap and delicious food.

Try Pizza Union which has various locations across the capital and where you can get a full sized pizza for a few dollars and dessert for much less.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Visit in spring and autumn to get the most out of the city. You can walk everywhere and enjoy outdoor activities without the overwhelming amount of fellow travellers who fill the streets in the peak of the summer months.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting around London is also easy for a good price. Avoid taxis and take a tube, bus, train or better yet, just walk – the most economical! London is a very walkable city and there is always something of interest to see en route.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Sarah from Slow Travel says, “Standard hotels can be expensive, but there are plenty of cheap pubs and hostels on offer where you can stay for under $25 a night.

If you are visiting during school holidays, then try staying in a university room. They have central locations and some great facilities for a fraction of the normal cost. Bankside House, owned by the London School of Economics, is right behind the Tate Modern and is amazing value for money.”

For an inexpensive hotel option in an amazing location that also offers complimentary wine, beer, cheese, crackers, and dessert every day for happy hour, check out Z Hotel At Gloucester Place. For a more comprehensive review of the hotel, please see London Attractions With Teens: Scavenger Hunt Anyone?

If you are looking for a helpful guide to help you plan your trip, save money, and guide you through the London public transportation system, please take a look at 50 Best Travel Tips To London For First Time Visitors To London.

best low cost cities in Europe for a nature escape
Appenzell, Switzerland (Photo courtesy of Sharvari from Sightseeing Shar)

Appenzell, Switzerland

Appenzell is a hidden gem located in the northeast of Switzerland and features beautiful landscapes, including rolling hills and Alpine lakes. It is a small and idyllic town (not a city!) with a population of approximately 5,700. Switzerland is generally known to be one of the most expensive countries in Europe. However, Appenzell is one of the most cost-effective places to visit in Europe for hiking and one that sneaks onto this list of best cheap European cities to visit for a vacation!

The Appenzell tourism department provides visitors who stay three or more nights in Appenzell with the Appenzeller Holiday Card. This card features numerous perks, such as free transportation to and from and the airport, free transportation around Appenzell, free access to cable cars, free entry into Appenzell’s museums, free hiking boot rentals, and much more! 

The top activity in this region is hiking. Two of the best hikes in Appenzell include the Aescher Hike and the Seealpsee Hike. The Aescher Hike starts from Ebenalp Cable Car, which is free to ride with the Holiday card. From there, visitors hike to the Aescher restaurant, passing through a cave and a small church. This breathtaking restaurant is carved right into the cliffside and is absolutely stunning.

The Seealpsee Hike, on the other hand, starts from Wasserauen Station and is a tough one-hour uphill climb. However, the reward is worth it as hikers come face to face with one of the most beautiful Alpine lakes in Switzerland. From there, guests can enjoy food at the restaurant, swim in the lake, or take a rowboat out to the middle!

For visitors wanting to explore the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps on a budget, Appenzell is the best option!

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Summer is the best time to visit Appenzell because the warm weather makes it perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming in Seealpsee. Temperatures reach an average of 62°F daily, with July being the hottest month, reaching an average of 69°F. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

The easiest way to reach Appenzell is to fly to Zurich Airport and take the train to St. Gallen. The Appenzell Tourism department will arrange the transportation, so visitors simply need to follow the instructions on their train tickets and ensure they are on the correct platform. The train rides take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. 

Inexpensive Accommodation

Sharvari from Sightseeing Shar says, “Appenzell has only few places to stay since it is so small. However, Alte Metzg Boutique and Hostel is one of the area’s most affordable and well-maintained accommodations. The hostel features a well-equipped kitchen, a terrace, and very friendly staff. The kitchen also comes in handy when trying to save on food costs!

best economical European city for a beach escape
Sarande, Albania (Photo courtesy of Mal from Raw Mal Roams)

Sarande, Albania

Nestled in a tranquil bay surrounded by rolling hills in the southern part of Albania is Sarande, a small city that is a fantastic holiday destination. Here you can relax on pristine beaches, gorge on fresh seafood and enjoy the outdoors all at an affordable price. It is one of the best low cost European cities for a beach getaway.

Sarande is also an excellent base for exploring other nearby places, such as the UNESCO historical site of Butrint and the stone town of Gjirokaster.

One of the best and free things to do in Sarande, apart from enjoying its beautiful beaches, is visiting Lekuresi Castle. The castle is perched on a hill and gives spectacular views over the entire Sarande Bay. The hike from the city centre takes around 45 minutes, and the best time to enjoy the view is at sunset.

Sarande has also an excellent bus connection with Ksamil and the ancient city of Butrint, which is one of the most important historical monuments in Albania and a must-visit during your stay.

Another excellent day trip from Sarande is the Greek island of Corfu, situated only a 30-minute ferry ride. There are multiple ferries that go to Corfu daily.

Cheap Food

If you enjoy fresh seafood, you must dine at least once at Taverna Fish Filipi. This restaurant has a fantastic seafood menu, including Sarande’s most famous dish – sauteed mussels – and has the cheapest prices in the whole town.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Sarande is any time between May and October. Sarande is known for having 300 days of sunshine per year, so you can definitely expect perfect sunny weather.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The nearest international airport in Albania is in Tirana. You can pick up the bus and reach Sarande in 5 hours. You can also fly to Corfu and take a 30 minute ferry to Sarande.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Mal from Raw Mal Roams says, “Stay at Star Hotel Sarande, which offers double and triple rooms with breakfast included in the room rate.”

Best European cities for a moderately priced getaway
Valencia, Spain (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Valencia, Spain

Valencia is a beautiful historical city and the third-largest in Spain. It is surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea and has a mild climate, which makes it an attractive destination year round.

If you’re wondering what to do in Valencia on a budget, you’ll be happy to know that it is one of the best reasonably priced European cities for a beach escape offering beautiful beaches and many cheap activities.

One such activity is visiting the renowned City of Arts and Sciences, a futuristic complex by Santiago Calatrava and one of the most Instagrammable places in Valencia, with several large buildings reflected into blue pools of water.

The City of Arts and Sciences is situated at one end of the Turia Gardens, one of the largest public parks in Spain. These gardens are a fantastic place for a picnic or stroll, and they have bike lanes throughout.

If you’d like to spend some time on the beach, Playa de la Malvarrosa is a beautiful sandy beach with a gentle slope, perfect for families.

Cheap Food

For cheap food, head to Mercado Central, the largest covered market in Europe. Here, you can taste a myriad of fresh and local produce, from fruits and vegetables to cheese, olives and pastries.

The El Carmen neighborhood is another great area to explore for inexpensive local cuisine. The area is dotted with cafés and restaurants serving up traditional local dishes, such as paella, tapas, and seafood.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Valencia is during the spring or fall, when the weather is mild and there are fewer tourists. During the summer months, the city can get crowded, and temperatures can soar to the low 90s°F.

Another great time to visit is during the famous Las Fallas festival, which takes place in March. This festival is a celebration of fire, music, and fireworks and offers a unique experience that you should try not to miss.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Valencia is easily accessible through the Valencia Manises Airport, which serves both domestic and international flights. To get into the city, you can take the metro or bus from the airport, which takes around 20-30 minutes.

Public transportation in Valencia is also cheap and reliable, with an extensive network of buses and metro lines.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Laura from Valencia Revealed says, “For accommodation, there are plenty of low-cost options as well. A popular choice is Hotel Venecia right in the city centre.”

best European beach city to visit for budget travelers
Funchal, Portugal (Madeira) (Photo courtesy of Kirithikaa from Rooki Explorers)

Funchal, Portugal (Madeira)

Funchal is the capital of Madeira, an autonomous region located on the Atlantic Ocean, closer to Morocco on the African coast than to mainland Portugal. It offers a beautiful setting on the coast with the harbor on one side and steep hills surrounding it. It is the sixth largest city in Portugal and the biggest on the island.

If you are a budget traveler looking for a beautiful city in Europe with fantastic outdoor adventures, then this city would be a superb choice.

The old town of Funchal is filled with quaint cobblestone streets, including Rua da Santa Maria, which displays beautiful doors on houses and shops. Go on a walking tour, or explore on your own.

Funchal has an excellent waterfront area in which to relax, enjoy the views, and swim in the waters. If you are lucky, you might even spot dolphins from the shore in summer. However, you could also take a whale and dolphin watching tour and get a little closer to these beautiful creatures.

If you love to go on hikes, there are lots of trail heads near Funchal that you can do on your own or join a guided hiking tour.

Cheap Food

The old town of Funchal is filled with bustling restaurants, cafes, and bars, so you will never run out of food options. Most of the places are inexpensive and the food is excellent. Mad Cuba and A Tendinha are a couple places where you can enjoy some great food at a reasonable price.

Do not miss out on trying a Poncha, a traditional inexpensive alcoholic beverage from Madeira. You can purchase them from the supermarket, but make sure you try one from a Poncha bar for the best ones.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Funchal is in spring and fall when the temperature is pleasant and warm, and you can comfortably explore the sub-tropical island.

Summer is peak season, it is filled with tourists, and the stays are a little more expensive. Rain is always possible in Madeira, so pack a light rain jacket.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Funchal has an international airport located just 20 minutes from the center. You can fly from many European cities and the airport is well connected by public transport. Another popular way to visit Funchal is by cruise ship.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Kirithikaa from Rooki Explorers says, “Staying near Funchal’s old town means you can easily explore the island by public transport. The stays are pretty cheap when booked early. Santa Maria Hostel is located in the Rua da Santa Maria and a lively budget friendly place to stay.”

best inexpensive holiday in a city in Europe
Athens, Greece (Photo courtesy of Christen from Travel Wander Grow)

Athens, Greece

Athens is the capital city of Greece and one of the oldest cities in the world. It is located in the central part of Greece and is surrounded by hills. With a population of over 3 million people and a sprawling large city, it is known as an affordable city to visit in Europe for its history, culture and delicious food.

There are lots of inexpensive activities to do while in Athens. Visit the Acropolis, one of the most famous landmarks in Greece. The ancient citadel houses historic buildings, including the Parthenon. It is perched on top of a hill and offers stunning views of the city. Tickets are half price in low season.

You should also visit Anafiotika. This “island town” located in the middle of the city near the Acropolis feels like one of the Greek Islands. It is the perfect place to escape if you are looking to relax. In addition, it is completely free to visit. 

Tour the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, the largest archaeological museum in Greece and one of the most important in the world. It houses artifacts, sculptures, pottery, and jewelry from Greece’s ancient and more recent past.

Cheap Food

The food in Athens is incredible, and there is no shortage of good cheap restaurants where you can grab a delicious bite to eat. For an authentic and delicious Greek meal, visit Kostas in the Monastiraki neighborhood.

This small, family-owned restaurant serves mouth-watering gyros, a traditional Greek dish consisting of grilled meat and vegetables served in a pita bread. It is only a few dollars, and the food is prepared fresh and made to order.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Unlike the Greek Islands, Athens is open for tourism all year long. The best time to visit Athens is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. Also, in late fall and early spring, ticket prices are generally cheaper. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Athens International Airport is the main airport in Greece. It is located about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the city center. It will only take you 40 minutes by metro to reach the center from the airport.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Christen from Travel Wander Grow says, “For a comfortable and affordable stay in Athens, consider the Athens Way Hotel located in the heart of the city. It offers a rooftop bar with stunning views of the Acropolis and easy access to public transportation.”

best European city for an inexpensive holiday escape for foodies
Naples, Italy (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Naples, Italy

Naples is an often overlooked Italian destination, perhaps best known as the birthplace of pizza and the city nearest Pompeii. The city is lively and energetic, with streets made up of buildings where old and new structures seem to effortless weave together. Approximately 3 million people call Naples home, making it the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.

Naples is one of the best inexpensive cities in Europe to visit for foodies. Naples is known for its pizza, which is fabulous, but also its pastries like the crunchy sfogliatelle that come stuffed with sweetened ricotta.

People in Naples take their coffee seriously, so you’ll want to try a cappuccino at an espresso bar. The shots of espresso are hand-pulled by experienced baristas from manual machines with long levers instead of buttons. At the busier spots you may need to catch the barista’s attention to be able to put in your order. 

Having a cappuccino in Naples is a cultural experience and an affordable activity, as coffee is rarely more than a couple of dollars.

Naples has a few catacombs, including San Gaudioso. Here, you’ll be led by a knowledgeable guide through a crypt with a history that dates back to the Greco-Roman times. The most special part of the catacomb is arguably the detailed frescos that incorporated skulls and bones, painted by Giovanni Balducci. 

Cheap Food

For pizza, head to Staritas, Sorbillos, or Pizzeria da Michele where you can find world famous Margherita pizzas for a few dollars.

For coffee and pastries head to Caffe Gambrinus, but be sure to stand at Caffe Gambrinus or take away and find a cozy spot outside, as there’s an extra charge to have your coffee in the sitting room in the back of the cafe.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Naples is during the shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October. The summertime in Naples is hot and crowded, so traveling during the shoulder season will help to ensure you have milder temperatures while exploring the city.

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can easily reach Naples by train or plane, as there are major stops in this large city. If you fly into Naples, you will need to catch a taxi or a bus, as the airport is not particularly close to the central areas. When possible, you’ll want to take the train, walk, or take a taxi to get around the city.  

Inexpensive Accommodation

Amber from Amber Everywhere says, “Choose a hotel that is in a central area, preferably Centro Storico or Vomero. These areas are among the safest in Naples, but they’re also convenient for exploring the city. If you’re choosing an accommodation, the Santa Chiara Boutique Hotel is in a great location and has air conditioning.”

best cities in Europe for cheap holiday
Brasov, Romania (Photo courtesy of Ingrid from Ingrid Zen Moments)

Brasov, Romania

Brasov is a city located in the heart of Romania, surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Romania, known for its stunning mountain scenery and many cultural attractions. It is also one of the cheapest European cities to visit, especially for those who love to hike.

The city has been inhabited since Roman times – once a German settlement – and is now filled with beautiful architecture, including several churches and fortresses dating back to medieval times.

You can spend your time hiking in the Carpathian mountains, admiring the scenery and wildlife. You have a high chance of encountering brown bears or deer.

Other free activities include exploring Brasov’s historic old town, learning about its history and admiring the many colorful buildings with unique architecture.

Alternatively, take a cable car ride up Mount Tampa for breathtaking views of the surrounding area. 

Cheap Food

As far as food is concerned, Transylvania is known for some of the best food in Romania, and Brasov has plenty of inexpensive restaurants from which to choose. Sergiana Restaurant in Council’s Square is one of the best places to try, and don’t leave without eating a traditional goulash soup.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

If you want to enjoy the best season, but skip the crowds, you should definitely visit during fall with September and October as two of the best months. The weather is not too cold, and the fall foliage makes the city look even more romantic.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Brasov is easy and fast from Bucharest, the country’s capital. Land at Otopeni International Airport, and hop on the train. It will get you to Brasov in less than 2 hours.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Ingrid from Ingrid Zen Moments says, “Staying in the old town is mandatory if you want to really experience the city to its fullest. Book one of the many affordable apartments in buildings hundreds of years old.

Alternatively, Schuster Boarding House is a great option with a unique interior design, comfortable rooms, and a perfect location only 5 minutes away from the city’s main square.

best European cities for an inexpensive beach vacation
Corfu Town, Greece (Photo courtesy of Jo from World Wild Schooling)

Corfu Town, Greece

Corfu Town, located on the island of Corfu, is a beautiful and charming city with a population of approximately 27,000 people. It is situated on the Ionian Sea and is known for its beautiful architecture with pastel-colored houses and Venetian fortresses. It is one of the best budget-friendly cities for beaches in Europe for a holiday getaway.

Some of the best things to do in Corfu are free or or nearly free. For example, you can take a stroll around the Old Town and admire the colorful architecture from the Venetian period.

You can also visit the Old Fortress for a small fee, which offers stunning panoramic views of the town and the sea. 

One of the most photographed landmarks in Greece is Pontikonisi, a tiny islet next to the Monastery of Panagia Vlachernon in Corfu. You can either admire the view from Kanoni, the viewpoint with a cafe next to it or pay a small fee to take a boat to Pontikonisi and spend a couple of hours at the peaceful cafe there.

Additionally, you can spend an afternoon at the beautiful beaches, such as Palaiokastritsa and Glyfada, which are just a short bus ride away. Most beaches in Corfu are organized, but there is always a part of the beach that is free and without rented sun beds.

Overall, Corfu Town is a hidden gem in Europe that offers plenty of affordable activities, delicious food, and stunning scenery. It is a perfect city destination for those who want to experience the beauty of Greece without breaking the bank.

Cheap Food

Food in Corfu is not only delicious but also low-priced. There are many local tavernas and markets where you can try traditional Greek dishes, such as moussaka, tzatziki, and feta cheese.

One of the best and cheapest options is to grab a souvlaki from a street vendor. Souvlaki is a popular Greek fast food that consists of meat (usually pork or chicken) grilled on a skewer and served with pita bread, onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Corfu is during late spring or early fall when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller, or in the summer, if you are looking for a beach vacation.

However, avoid the week before and after Dekapentaygousto (which means the 15th of August in Greek), as it’s a major holiday in Greece and Corfu is crowded and expensive during that period.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The easiest way to get to Corfu Town is by flying into the Ioannis Kapodistrias International Airport. You can take a taxi, bus, or shuttle to the city center but buses are the most affordable option. The ride takes approximately 15-20 minutes.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Jo from World Wild Schooling says, “The Europe Hotel, located near the New Venetian Fortress in Corfu Town offers comfortable rooms at an affordable price and is just a short walk away from the main attractions.

If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, Local Hostel & Suites in Corfu Town offers cheap dormitory rooms and a friendly atmosphere.

best capital cities in Europe for an affordable getaway
Vienna, Austria (Photo courtesy of Sabrina from Shades Of Summer)

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is the beautiful capital city of Austria and is an amazing destination in Europe for budget travelers. With almost two million inhabitants, the inner city consists mainly of Baroque-style buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. 

In comparison to other European cities, Vienna is quite inexpensive. There are many fancy and chic places for sure – but there are also lots of moderately priced options. 

Vienna’s museums are a fun thing to experience if you are on a budget. The entrance fees are not too steep and they offer many discounts and promotions. Visit famous places such as the Hofburg with the Sisi Museum or the Imperial Museum at the Schönbrunn Palace. 

Schönbrunn Palace itself is a fantastic place to see. Everyone can enter the gardens free of charge. From there, you have an amazing view of the city and the palace. Hike up to the Gloriette for an even better view. 

Another fun spot to visit on a budget is the Vienna Prater. It is a large park with old-time amusement park rides. The Ferris wheel in particular attracts many visitors each year. 

Cheap Food

Foodies will love a stop at the Naschmarkt. The Naschmarkt is a huge market with 16th-century origins and over 100 food stalls offering a variety of inexpensive street food. 

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Vienna is in spring or fall. Winter is the peak season in Vienna, and many people come there for the Christmas markets, so it is also the most expensive season. Summer is equally crowded with school holidays, so make sure to avoid it. 

The weather in both spring and fall is super comfortable with a few rainy days.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Vienna has one main airport, the Vienna International Airport. You can take the train directly to the city center. Make sure to go with the OEBB trains, they are cheaper than the CAT trains. 

Inexpensive Accommodation

Sabrina from Shades Of Summer says, “For cheap accommodation, I recommend staying outside the Inner City. The JUFA Hotel is a great place for budget travelers.”

best cities in Europe for ancient ruins for a budget friendly trip
Varna, Bulgaria (Photo courtesy of V Kay from Travel Addicated Unicorn)

Varna, Bulgaria

Varna is a city located on the northeastern coast of Bulgaria, on the Black Sea. It is the third-largest city in Bulgaria and is known for its beautiful beaches, rich history, and cultural landmarks. The population of Varna is approximately 335,177. It is one of the best cities in Europe to explore roman ruins and lounge on beaches for an inexpensive getaway.

One of the main things to do in Varna is to explore the Sea Garden. It is a large park located along the coast and a popular spot for walking, jogging, cycling, or just relaxing. The park is home to several fountains, monuments, and landmarks. It’s free to enter the Sea Garden, and it’s a great place to spend a few hours exploring.

Another thing you must do in Varna is to enjoy the beach and the warm waters of the Black Sea.

The Old Town of Varna is a historic district that features narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and traditional Bulgarian architecture. You can wander around the Old Town for free and take in the sights and sounds of this charming area.

Visit the Roman Baths which are one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Varna, and they’re free to enter. The baths date back to the 2nd century AD and feature well-preserved mosaics, as well as a small museum with artifacts from the site.

Cheap Food

A great restaurant to try is the Happy Bar & Grill. There are a few locations in Varna but the most convenient one is at the entrance to the Old Town. They offer traditional Bulgarian cuisine. Try the famous Shopshka Salad and the Kebapche (grilled minced meat with spices in an elongated shape).

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Varna is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the sea is warm enough for swimming.

Best Way To Reach Destination

The easiest way to get to Varna is to fly from Sofia (the capital of Bulgaria) which takes about 50 mins. There are not many direct international flights to Varna, except from a few cities like London, Frankfurt, Vienna, and Istanbul. Buses and trains also run daily from Sofia and other major cities and are quite affordable but more time-consuming.

The Varna International Airport (VAR) is located about 8 km (5 miles) west of the city center. The easiest way to get to your accommodations is by taking a taxi from the airport. There is public transit available in Varna, however, it is just as easy to walk around as most of the attractions are close to each other.

Inexpensive Accommodation

V Kay from Travel Addicated Unicorn says, “For a more casual stay, check out Reverence Boutique Hotel which is close to the Old Town, 15 mins walk to the Roman Baths, and 20 mins to the Sea Garden and the beach.

best cities in Europe for scenic views for a low cost city break
Lisbon, Portugal (Photo courtesy of Kate from Kate Roams The World)

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, located in Western Portugal, is a vibrant city filled with charming tiled alleyways, street art, and plenty of character. It is a great European capital city for night life and to visit while on a budget since some of the best things to do are free or inexpensive. 

The city is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus, making it a fantastic place to enjoy waterfront views. It is Portugal’s capital and largest city with a population of about 500,000.

Be prepared for some steep streets and stairs as it is a very hilly city but with incredible views as rewards. Climb to the top of the city’s various scenic viewpoints, or Miradouros. Two of the best are Miradouro Portos do Sol and Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, among a few others, all free to enjoy. 

Take a free walking tour (although you should tip your guide) of the city to learn of its history and visit the historic Castle of Sao Jorge which only costs a few dollars to enter.

Explore the city’s center of Praca do Comercio to see street performers and appreciate the city’s architecture.

Walk around the Alfama district for its delightful cobblestone streets and the Bairro Alto for great nightlife with reasonably priced bars.

Stroll down the Calçada da Glória, a legal street art gallery free to roam at your leisure, or hop on an infamous yellow tramcar for just a few dollars for a one way or 24 hr ticket. 

Fado, a type of Portuguese music, is one of the top things to see in Lisbon but can get expensive. However, Tasca de Chico is one of the best places to see Fado on a budget.

Cheap Food

Eat at A Provincia or A Valenciana for inexpensive Portuguese dishes or grab a pizza from Lupita and walk a few blocks to watch the sunset on the water. Don’t forget to pick up a Pasteis de Nata, the tasty Portuguese custard tart, sold for just a few euros.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

For the best weather, less crowds, and less expensive lodging prices visit Lisbon March to May or September to October. 

Best Way To Reach Destination

Lisbon city centre is approximately 4 miles from Lisbon airport and you can get there cheaply either by metro or bus.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Kate from Kate Roams The World says, “Lisbon like many other European cities has lots of hostels from which choose for the budget traveler. The Rossi Hostel is highly rated, centrally located, and includes breakfast.

For those that want a more private experience, check out the Hotel Ibis Lisboa Saldanha or the Patria Hotel both feature renovated rooms at a good price and are located close to public transportation.”

best European cities with old towns for a reasonably priced holiday
Gdansk, Poland (Photo courtesy of Bronwyn from Bronwyn Townsend)

Gdansk, Poland

Perched on the Baltic Coast in the north of Poland is Gdansk, the country’s sixth largest city. With a population of 470,000, it has a long seafaring history. It sits at the mouth of the Motlawa River which connects the city to Warsaw. 

Poland is increasingly a sought-after destination for budget-conscious travellers. Further, Gdansk is an ideal city break as its one of the best inexpensive European cities. With a burgeoning food scene, an especially beautiful Old Town, and connections with destinations throughout Europe, it is growing in popularity.

Gdansk’s proximity to the coast makes it a summer hot spot for Polish holiday-makers, but a year-round destination for travellers from abroad. Part of the tri-city area, it shares its summer popularity with the nearby city of Gydnia and the resort town Sopot, which are revered for their beaches and pier.

To make the most of your time in Gdansk, spend your time in the historic centre of the city. Adorned by colourful narrow buildings and cobblestone streets, the charm of Polish Old Town’s is well-represented. Sightseeing is easily done for free here. Ensure you walk along the river to see the antique crane which was once used to load cargo ships.

For a spectacular view over the city, climb to the top of St Mary’s church. Entry is a few dollars, making it an inexpensive way to see the city from a new angle.

Gdansk was where World War II began when Germany bombed the city on September 1, 1939. Known as Danzig in German, the city was all but completely destroyed. You can’t miss a visit to the Museum of the Second World War which is an interactive exhibition focusing on Gdansk and the war. For a few dollars, it is an exceptionally well-presented museum.

Cheap Food

You must try pierogi, a local boiled dumpling that Poland is well-known for. The best place to try these is at Pierogarnia Mandu Centrum where you can watch them being made in the window. Choose from vegetarian, meat, or sweet fillings for an inexpensive meal.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Gdansk is easy to reach, with a 20-minute train connection from the airport to the city centre which is just 13 miles away. Gdansk is primarily serviced by low-cost airlines from other European destinations.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Bronwyn from Bronwyn Townsend says, “For affordable comfort, book a stay at Forrest Apartments & Hostel which is located in the city centre, giving you access to all the best sights and dining options the city has to offer.”

best capital cities in Europe with a foodie scene for a low priced mid week break
Madrid, Spain (Photo courtesy of Florian Wehde from Unsplash)

Madrid, Spain

Madrid, the capital city of Spain, is situated in the centre of the country and is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture. Madrid is known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine. It is one of the best capital cities in Europe that offers an affordable city break.

Visitors should visit the El Rastro flea market, which takes place every Sunday morning in the La Latina neighbourhood. The market has a unique vibe and offers various goods, including antiques, clothing, and souvenirs. It is free to visit, offers excellent deals and lots of delicious street food.

Another free activity is to stroll through the Retiro Park, a huge green oasis in the heart of the city. The park is a popular spot for locals and tourists, and it is home to many interesting landmarks, such as the Crystal Palace and the Retiro Pond. For something different, rent a paddleboat for a few dollars and enjoy some leisure time with pretty views from the lake.

For a fun four day itinerary in Madrid, please see Madrid: A Four Day Itinerary Celebrating Food And Culture.

Cheap Food

The city is filled with inexpensive bars and restaurants, each with its unique ambience and offerings. Visitors can try traditional Spanish dishes such as patatas bravas, croquetas, and tortillas while enjoying a drink or two.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Madrid is best visited in the summer season when the weather is warm and sunny. During this time, visitors can enjoy various free festivals and events, including the San Isidro Festival in May, which celebrates the patron saint of Madrid. The festival features music, dancing, and traditional food and drinks.

Best Way To Reach Destination

You can fly directly into the international airport in Madrid. Visitors can take the metro, a cheap and convenient way to get around the city.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Victoria from Guide Your Travel says, “When it comes to accommodation, visitors can find great deals by searching on for an apartment within the city centre. This is a great way to experience the local culture and have easy access to all the city offers.”

best cities in Europe with nightlife for a cheap vacation
Vilnius, Lithuania (Photo courtesy of Helen from Helen On Her Holidays)

Vilnius, Lithuania

Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and the country’s largest city, with just under 600,000 residents. It’s a great city to visit on a budget as it’s very walkable (so your transport costs will be low), accommodation and food are very affordable and there are lots of free or cheap things to do.

The top things to do in Vilnius are all either free or very inexpensive. Strolling through the lovely old town to Cathedral Square is absolutely free, as is visiting the quirky area of Užupis.

Užupis declared itself to be an independent republic in 1997, with its own tongue-in-cheek constitution. If you visit on April 1 (April Fool’s Day) you can even get your passport stamped.

Gediminas Tower is an unmissable landmark in Vilnius, and while climbing to the top isn’t free, it is fairly inexpensive. You can also pick up a combination ticket that includes the Vilnius “Historical Triangle” (the New Arsenal, the Old Arsenal and Gediminas Castle Tower) for a good deal.

Cheap Food

While there are top restaurants in Vilnius, you can eat well for just a few dollars. Traditional Lithuanian food is filling and goes well with beer – you can try both at Šnekutis, a pub near the City Hall. Don’t miss the zeppelins (potato dumplings) and garlicy fried breadsticks.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Since Lithuania is one of the Baltic countries, it gets very cold here in winter, with regular snow and ice, making it very festive at Christmas!

Late spring into summer is the most pleasant time to visit Vilnius. The pastel-coloured buildings look gorgeous and the skies over the city are often filled with hot air balloons.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Vilnius has its own international airport and is served by budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizz Air. There’s a daily train from Warsaw, and a new rail link is planned between Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Helen from Helen On Her Holidays says, “Because Vilnius is such good value, you might find you can afford a better hotel than in other more expensive cities. The Artagonist Art Hotel is a 4 star hotel on the prettiest street in the old town, with individually decorated rooms starting at a very low rate.”

best European cities with sunsets for budget travelers
Florence, Italy (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Florence, Italy

Florence is a small city full of history and art. Its population is around 382,000, and the city covers an area of approximately 102 square kilometers. It is one of the best moderately priced cities in Europe for those who love art, culture and walking.

The historic center is beautiful, and walking around and getting lost in the cobblestone streets is the best free thing to do while in Florence.

You can also walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo, take in the spectacular view the view and watch the sunset for free.

For flower and plant enthusiasts, the Boboli Gardens are an inexpensive option and a lovely way to spend an afternoon. These gardens are located behind the Pitti Palace and are one of Florence’s largest and most famous parks. They feature beautiful sculptures, fountains, and scenic paths that wind through lush vegetation. 

If you want to take a cooking class in Florence, choose one for lunch or dinner. There are affordable classes on Airbnb Experiences where you can learn to make tagliatelle and lasagna and also have a fantastic meal at the end.

You can also skip the cooking class and just start eating. Take a food tour in the middle of the afternoon, try at least 10 Italian foods, and be full enough to last the day.

Cheap Food

When hunger hits, visit the Mercato Centrale, an indoor market, where you can sample Italian food and experience the local culture. You can make your own mini food tour and try lots of local specialties, such as lampredotto (a tripe sandwich) and bowls of fresh pasta for only a few dollars each.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

The best time to visit Florence is during the spring and fall shoulder seasons when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner.

The fall is a great time to enjoy the local food and wine festivals, such as the Festa del Vino in September and the Fiera di San Luca in October.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Florence Airport, or Peretola Airport (FLR), is just outside the city center and an easy transfer. For cheaper flights, check out flights to Bologna, a 30-minute train ride away.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Bernadette from Live Relaxed Life says, “There are many hostels in the city center for budget travelers. If you stay outside the city center, affordable options, like the Villa La Stella, offer rooms for solo travelers.

Campers can also find sites for very reasonable prices, but these would be in the suburbs or further out from the city.”

best capital cities to visit for walking for low cost holiday
Edinburgh, Scotland (Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Edinburgh, Scotland

The United Kingdom may not have the reputation of being a cheap destination but it’s certainly possible to explore many of its cities on a budget. Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland is such an example. This picturesque student city offers plenty of things to do without breaking the bank. It is one of the best cities in Europe to visit for a budget friendly vacation.

To begin with, Edinburgh is very compact which means that you can walk to and from different locations, saving money on transfers.

In terms of activities, you shouldn’t miss walking the famous streets of Edinburgh and the Old Town. Pass from the colourful Victoria Street and walk around Grassmarket square overlooking the castle – it has a market on Saturdays.

The cobble-stoned Royal Mile spanning from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, the current residence of the British monarch in Scotland, is a must route to follow with many historical sights, such as St. Giles Cathedral.

One great thing about the UK is the free entry to many museums and galleries, and Edinburgh is no exception. Visit the National Museum of Scotland which houses exhibits with historical, cultural and scientific relevance to Scotland. The National Galleries of Scotland are also great places to visit with different branches for classical art, portraits and modern pieces.

For the best views of the city head to Calton Hill on the eastern edge of Princess Street or climb the 823 feet (251 meters) Arthur’s Seat, the highest peak in Edinburgh.

Cheap Food

You will find the cheapest food in the local markets around the city and near the university, where places cater to budget-cautious students.

Best Time To Go Or Avoid

Come dressed for windy cool days during your time in Edinburgh in any season. Visiting during the summer means warmer weather, but at the same time, there are more crowds and accommodation prices are usually higher.

Best Way To Reach Destination

Getting to Edinburgh is not difficult as it has an International airport with flights to many destinations.

From within Great Britain, the best way to reach the city is by train with frequent train connections to other big cities such as Glasgow (about 1 hour away) and London (about 4.5 hours away). However, unless you book in advance, train tickets can be quite expensive, so the cheapest way to get to Edinburgh (albeit not the quickest) is by bus.

Inexpensive Accommodation

Elina from Empnefsys & Travel says, “If you want to stay in a cheap place in the centre of Edinburgh your best bet is at a hostel. Check out the Castle Rock and the Kick Ass Grassmarket hostels. If you don’t mind staying a bit further out, then you have more affordable options at your disposal.”

Last Word

If you have your heart set on taking a holiday in a European city, but you have a tight budget, rest assured you have lots of of places that you can go. There are many cities in Europe that offer amazing art, culture, medieval old towns, beautiful beaches, exciting night life, and a fantastic food scene for an incredible low cost getaway in Europe.

the authorNicole
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