23 Most Affordable Cities in Europe to Visit in 2024

by Global Viewpoint
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Europe is jam-packed with incredible places, but several well-known ones like Rome and Paris will add up quickly in terms of expenses. That had me wondering, what are the cheapest cities in Europe that aren’t just cheap to fly to, but also have budget-friendly accommodations and activities?

Over the past seven years, I’ve traveled to 38 countries in Europe. While doing this, I found the most affordable European cities that you ought to check out.

23 Cheapest Cities in Europe You Need to Visit

The medieval gem of Poland’s Krakow, the charming old town of Latvia’s Riga, and the fairytale town of Czech Republic’s Český Krumlov are among the most affordable European cities for traveling and living. The rich history of Albania’s Berat and the coastal towns of Portugal’s Porto are also wallet-friendly gems of Europe.

Ready to feed your wanderlust and discover the cheapest places in Europe? Let’s dive into Europe’s lesser-known hidden gems

CityAccommodations per night*Meal budget per dayTotal estimated daily budget
Kraków, Poland$12-$45$10-$15$32-$45
Riga, Latvia$25-$61$14-$36$39-$97
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic$20-$67$18-$20$38-$87
Berat, Albania$13-$40$10-$26$23-$66
Porto, Portugal$18-$53$17-$25$43-$58
Belgrade, Serbia$12-$29$15-$25$34-$49
Athens, Greece$18-$53$17-$25$43-$58
Budapest, Hungary$14-$48$18-$28$46-$58
Ljubljana, Slovenia$15-$55$16-$25$44-$54
Warsaw, Poland$14-$59$18-$26$42-$61
Sevilla, Spain$23-$73$19-$28$49-$62
Sofia, Bulgaria$17-$49$15-$24$42-$56
Valletta, Malta$30-$92$27-$33$57-$97
Lviv, Ukraine$7-$73$12-$20$35-$80
Bologna, Italy$25-$69$21-$30$53-$64
Bratislava, Slovakia$16-$48$14-$25$39-$52
Dresden, Germany$19-$58$23-$34$51-$67
Split, Croatia$17-$49$18-$28$38-$53
Tallinn, Estonia$20-$51$19-$27$44-$56
Bucharest, Romania$16-$51$18-$24$41-$53
Prague, Czech Republic$18-$58$21-$27$46-$59
Kotor, Montenegro$20-$45$19-$36$39-$81
Plovdiv, Bulgaria$22-$52$21-$38$43-$90

*These figures include prices for hostels, Airbnbs, and 2-star properties on the lower end. If you prefer a 3-star property, the accommodation price will be near the higher price listed.

Cheapest cities in Europe for all types of travelers
This cheapest cities in Europe article covers prices for budget accommodations, meals, and major attractions using Booking.com, Airbnb, and TripAdvisor.

1. Kraków, Poland

The prices for accommodations, meals, and attractions in Kraków are a fraction of what you’d pay in other major European cities. Kraków is also very walkable, so you won’t need to spend any money on public transportation to get around. 

To experience Kraków on a budget, consider staying in one of the city’s affordable hostels or Airbnbs, exploring the Old Town on foot, and enjoying traditional Polish cuisine from local eateries. You’ll find plenty of cheap hostels here, making it one of the cheapest European destinations. 

The Polish currency, the złoty, has a very favorable exchange rate to the US Dollar and Euro. The prices for accommodations, meals, and attractions are a fraction of what you’d pay in other major European cities.

Krakow is one of the cheapest cities in Europe that has eluded the crowds in 2019
The wrath of European tourism seems to have spared Kraków, one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.

It rivals Prague’s medieval charm yet doesn’t draw the same crowds. With its rich culture and vibrant atmosphere, Kraków provides an authentic Polish experience without breaking the bank.

I was pleasantly surprised by the city’s Main Market Square (“Rynek Główny”), the largest medieval square in Europe! Here, horse-drawn carriages glide past colorful buildings and a perfectly imperfect basilica. 

St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow, Poland, one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.
St. Mary’s Basilica is a brick Gothic church built in the 14th century. Its two towers are of different heights, which is very noticeable to anyone standing in front of it.

The city is also home to the Wawel Castle, a 14th-century castle and cathedral built in the Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque styles.

Wawel Castle is one of the largest castles in Europe
Wawel Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the historic center of Kraków, among the cheapest places to travel in Europe.

2. Riga, Latvia

According to the Post Office UK’s city costs barometer, Riga offers an affordable cost of living, with reasonably priced accommodation, inexpensive public transportation, and budget-friendly dining options. 

Living in Riga is incredibly affordable, especially compared to other European capitals. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant costs around $30-$40, and a pint of domestic beer is usually under $3. While I don’t recommend going to a restaurant every day if you’re trying to stay on a budget, it can be fun to plan to eat at a nicer restaurant once.

Be sure to visit the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with charming medieval architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant squares. Take a day trip and visit St. Peter’s Church, a striking Gothic church with a towering spire offering panoramic views of the city.

Walking tours and visits to local parks and markets are also excellent ways to experience the city without breaking the bank. The Art Nouveau architecture, particularly in the Quiet Center district, is a highlight, and the Latvian National Museum of Art offers a glimpse into the country’s rich artistic heritage.

When visiting Riga on a tight budget:

  • Opt for budget-friendly accommodation in the Old Town.
  • Take advantage of the city’s affordable public transportation.
  • Explore the many free attractions like the Riga Central Market and the Art Nouveau district. 
  • Sample the local cuisine at one of the city’s reasonably priced restaurants.

3. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Český Krumlov’s affordable accommodation and dining options make it a budget-friendly choice for travelers. While many wars had ravaged the surrounding cities, kingdoms, and empires, this town experienced centuries of peace and calm, thus preserving the personality and heritage we see today.

Aerial view of the walled old town.
Aerial view of the walled old town.

It’s just a couple hours south of Prague and looks like it’s been ripped from the pages of a fairytale with its vibrant architecture and well-preserved Old Town. What sets this town apart from others in Central Europe is the sheer number of well-preserved buildings from centuries past.

Beautiful Baroque lining Cesky Krumlov's Old Town.
Beautiful Baroque lining Cesky Krumlov’s Old Town.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Český Krumlov is set on a picturesque river with beautiful Baroque and Renaissance architecture as far as the eye can see. A 13th-century castle towers over the historic center, offering panoramic views all around. You can sit outside at a café or restaurant with views of all the above…for cheap!

To experience the charm of Český Krumlov without overspending:

  • Book a budget hotel or hostel.
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of the fairytale-like Old Town.
  • Enjoy picnics in the city’s parks and gardens. 
  • Go to the Český Krumlov Castle, which offers discounted admission for students and seniors.

The best time for budget travelers to visit Český Krumlov is during the spring (April-May) or fall (September-October) shoulder seasons. Airfares and accommodation rates are typically lower during these periods.

The heart of the old town of this cheapest city in Europe to live.
The heart of the old town of this cheapest city in Europe to live.

 
 
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4. Berat, Albania

Also called “The City of a Thousand Windows,” Berat has low prices for accommodation, food, and local attractions. Restaurants and cafes offer delicious traditional cuisine at very affordable prices. Public transportation within the city and to nearby towns is cheap, with bus fares typically costing $1-$2 per ride.

Berat can be explored on a shoestring budget by staying in one of the city’s affordable guesthouses, sampling the inexpensive local cuisine, and visiting the historic quarters of Mangalem and Gorica on foot.

Visitors to Berat can explore the city’s rich history and cultural attractions without spending a fortune. The Berat Castle, a well-preserved Ottoman fortress, offers stunning views of the city and surrounding landscapes. 

If you like museums, the Iconography Museum, housed in a 13th-century church, features an impressive collection of religious icons and frescoes. The Onufri National Museum showcases remarkable Byzantine-style frescoes and icons for a small entrance fee.

5. Porto, Portugal

Porto is a popular coastal city in Portugal and probably the cheapest Western European country. You could easily get by on $50 a day and still experience it all. 

Porto is often compared to the country’s capital, Lisbon, though it’s less metropolitan and more off the beaten path. It is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and vibrant cities in Europe. 

Porto, Portugal is one of the cheapest cities in Europe. It's definitely one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.
Porto gives visitors a front row seat to the scenic Douro waterfront. It’s definitely one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.

Known for its port wine, Porto is the gateway to the Douro Valley, one of the world’s top wine regions. It also boasts a rich history and sizzling nightlife. Another claim to fame for Porto is the Porto Cathedral, a Romanesque church that broke ground in 1100 AD.

Porto Cathedral and old town
Porto Cathedral in the heart of the old town.

To experience Porto’s charm without breaking the bank:

  • Consider staying in a budget-friendly Airbnb or hostel.
  • Indulge in the city’s famous Port wine at one of the affordable wine cellars.
  • Explore the colorful Ribeira district on foot. 
  • See the stunning views from the Luis I Bridge, which can be enjoyed for free. The riverside promenade is like a postcard row, strewn with colorful houses, shops, and cafés.

Budget travelers should consider visiting Porto during the spring (March-May) or fall (September-November) shoulder seasons. Keep an eye out for discounted airfares from other European cities during these times.

Porto is a cheap city in Europe with so much personality.
Porto is a cheap city in Europe with so much personality.

Read next: Coolest Vacation Rentals in Portugal

6. Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade is a unique and affordable destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re into history, culture, or food, or just want to have a good time, Belgrade has you covered as one of the best cheap destinations in Europe.

The scenery around Belgrade is phenomenal
The scenery around Belgrade is phenomenal

One of the most unique things about Belgrade is its location on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. This provides beautiful waterfront views and a variety of water-based activities, including boat tours and river cruises.

Whether you want to try traditional Serbian cuisine or just grab a drink at a local bar, you’ll find plenty of options at budget-friendly prices in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. 

Belgrade is home to a variety of cultural and historical landmarks, such as the Kalemegdan Fortress and St. Sava Temple, both of which offer stunning views of the city.

Explore Belgrade on a budget by staying in one of the city’s affordable hostels, taking advantage of the city’s vibrant and inexpensive nightlife.

The ideal time for budget travelers to visit Belgrade is in the spring (April-May) or the fall (September-October) shoulder seasons. However, the city looks incredible covered in snow during the winter.

Belgrade is especially beautiful during the winter months
Belgrade is especially beautiful during the winter months

7. Athens, Greece

As the capital of ancient and modern Greece, Athens is home to some of the world’s oldest temples, statues, and monuments. It’s one of the cheapest European cities to fly into and visit.

The Parthenon is one of the top sights in Athens, one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
Constructed in 447 BC, the Parthenon has stood the test of time.

Top sights in Athens include the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, and Agora. From the top of Acropolis’ ledge, you can enjoy sweeping vistas of the bustling city below.

The Acropolis of Athens offers sweeping views of the surrounding city
The Acropolis is a great vantage point of Athens’ scenic skyline. You don’t realize how big the city is until you see it from above.

The city is also home to the Panathenaic Stadium, which was the main venue for the Olympic Games held in 1896 and 2004.

The Panathenaic Stadium was the site of two Olympic games. It's definitely among the cheapest places to travel in Europe.
I ran a couple laps around this track, and encourage you to do the same! Athens is definitely among the cheapest capital cities to visit in Europe.

Athens exceeded all my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of things to do here, particularly relating to history and culture. 

In particular, I found TripAdvisor and HostelWorld reviews to be helpful during my stay in Athens, Greece. I stayed in the Plaka neighborhood, which was centrally located and safe. Athens can be done cheaply if you’re willing to choose budget accommodation.

To experience Athens without overspending:

  • Opt for budget-friendly accommodation in the Plaka neighborhood.
  • Visit the city’s ancient landmarks like the Acropolis and the Agora during free admission hours. 
  • Indulge in the local cuisine at one of the city’s affordable tavernas.

8. Budapest, Hungary

Take a budget airline to Budapest, one of Europe’s cheapest and most interesting cities. It’s also one of the most romantic cities on this list. Budapest is gracefully nestled along the Danube River with access to the region’s best thermal baths, a hot attraction since the Roman times.

Budapest is one of the cheapest cities in Europe, and is known for its thermal baths
There’s a good chance you’ve seen the Széchenyi Baths in Budapest on your Instagram feed.

This city is known for having the most delicious cuisine in central and eastern Europe. Goulash (meat and vegetable stew seasoned with paprika) originated here, as did Lángos (fried flat bread) and Halászlé (fisherman’s soup).

If you enjoy Austrian food, you’ll be pleased to know that Hungarian dishes are very similar. Both cuisines were shaped during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you’re a history and architecture lover, you’ll be awe-struck by the Hungarian Parliament Building and Buda Castle. Both iconic buildings are absolutely massive and watch over the scenic waterfront below.

The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most iconic sights in Budapest, which is among the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is one of the most iconic sights in Budapest, which is among the cheapest places to visit in Europe.

Another must-see sight in town is the Halaszbastya (“Fisherman’s Bastion”). From the top, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the Danube and the rest of the city.

Fisherman's Bastion is one of the top sights in Budapest and resembles a castle. It's among the cheapest places to travel in Europe.
Though resembling a castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion was built for decorative purposes.

When it comes to visiting Budapest, the other elephant in the room is the Széchenyi Thermal Bath. It’s the largest medicinal bath in all of Europe, and probably something you frequently see on your social media feed. Other popular baths in town include the Rudas Baths and Gellért Thermal Bath.

Though you’ll pay a little extra to enjoy Budapest’s thermal baths, prices for food and accommodation (across the board) are very reasonable here. This makes Budapest one of the cheapest European cities to fly into and visit. It’s also one of the best places for students to travel in Europe.

9. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Despite being among the most livable European cities, Ljubljana somehow managed to stay under the radar. It’s one of the cheapest European cities and the perfect place for budget travelers. 

Ljubljana has a reputation for being a green and pedestrian-friendly city. The Old Town has been car-free since 2008, and the city hasn’t looked back since. 

Ljubljana is among the cheapest and most underrated cities to visit in Europe
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and one of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe.

In 2016, Ljubljana was deemed the European Commission’s Green Capital of Europe. Since then, the city has received numerous other awards for its sustainable and responsible tourism

The Slovenian capital is home to a potpourri of cultural attractions, including the Ljubljana Castle, Ljubljana Cathedral, and Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) in the Old Town.

Located in one of the cheapest European countries to live, Ljubljana Castle towers over the colorful city below.
Located in one of the cheapest European countries to live, Ljubljana Castle towers over the colorful city below.

In addition to the city’s green and cultural initiatives, Ljubljana is a popular destination for its trendy restaurants and cafés. During the summer months, many of them set up shop right along the Ljubljana River, making for a lively alfresco scene.

I suggest visiting Ljubljana around April to May for spring or September to October for the fall. During these shoulder seasons, you can typically score cheaper flights and lower accommodation rates, letting you stretch your travel budget further.

10. Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, the capital of Poland, is a hidden gem for budget-friendly cities in Europe. This vibrant city is filled with history, culture, and plenty of things to do that won’t break the bank. With affordable accommodation options, inexpensive dining, and reasonably priced attractions, Warsaw is one of the cheapest cities in Europe for travelers.

Other cheap destinations in Europe can't touch Warsaw with its colorful Old Town.
Other cheap destinations in Europe can’t touch Warsaw with its colorful Old Town.

The city has undergone a lot of changes over the years, and this is reflected in the variety of architectural styles that can be found throughout the city. From the stunning medieval castles to the colorful, modern buildings, there is always something new and interesting to discover in Warsaw.

The city is also home to an incredible food scene, with everything from traditional Polish cuisine to international flavors and budget-friendly meals that won’t disappoint.

The spectacular streets of Warsaw
The spectacular streets of Warsaw

If you’re into music and art, you’re in for a treat here. Warsaw has a thriving music and arts scene, with countless clubs, bars, and cultural events to choose from. With affordable drinks and cover charges, you can party the night away without breaking the bank.

I recommend visiting around April to May during spring or September to October during fall for picturesque views.

11. Sevilla, Spain

While Sevilla is generally much cheaper than Barcelona and Madrid, it has the perks of a large city with a rich culture. As one of the biggest cities in Spain, Sevilla is also one of the cheapest European cities to fly into.

Like most of Andalusia, food and drinks here are a fraction of the cost compared to other Spanish cities. However, you will need to venture off the beaten path a bit to find the best spots to enjoy your tapas.

Sevilla, Spain is one of the cheapest and best cities to visit in Europe
Las Setas (“the mushrooms”) is a pedestrian path that dangles above the city.

Consider traveling during the off-season to find cheaper accommodation and flights. These periods offer lower prices on flights and accommodation compared to the peak summer months. Explore the city on foot and take advantage of the free walking tours offered by locals.

Sevilla is home to a treasure trove of historic and cultural landmarks. Protruding from this smorgasbord of culturally significant sights is the Real Alcázar of Sevilla, a royal palace with a mix of Islamic, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.

Sevilla is also cherished for its Plaza de España, one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It was built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929, though it truly makes you feel like you’re back in the Old World.

The Plaza de España is in the heart of Sevilla, one of the cheapest cities in all of Europe
The Plaza de España is the heart and soul of Sevilla.

12. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia is one of the most underrated European destinations right now. It’s slowly making its way onto the “Best of Europe” lists but has still remained under the radar. Take advantage of the city’s affordable public transportation system to get around. Visit the many free attractions and explore the vibrant street markets for local food and souvenirs.

Ancient architecture is on full display around the city, particularly in its houses of worship. Boyana Church is a Bulgarian Orthodox church and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the inside, you’ll find beautiful frescoes dating back to the 1100s. Another cultural gem is the Banya Bashi Mosque, which was built in the mid-1500s under Ottoman rule.

Sofia has an array of unique sights dating back to the turn of the 20th century. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built in the neo-Byzantine style, is clad with a massive gold dome. Though built in that fin de siècle era, it certainly has an ancient eastern European feel to it.

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria
The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral can hold up to 5,000 worshippers.

In addition to its historic sights, Sofia is also a popular destination for its cuisine. The food here is similar to what you’d find in Istanbul and other eastern European destinations. From reasonably priced accommodation to inexpensive dining and entertainment options, Sofia is an attractive destination for travelers on a tight budget.

Sofia is among the cheapest and most interesting cities in Europe
Given its multifaceted heritage, many different architectural styles are at play in Sofia. It’s also one of the cheapest cities in Europe.

13. Valletta, Malta

Valletta provides the opportunity to explore its historic charm and cultural attractions at relatively low prices. Take a walk around the miniature city of Valletta, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The city is entirely encapsulated by walls dating back to the 1500s. 

Although it’s one of Europe’s best cheap holiday destinations, you won’t find many tourists here outside of the peak summer season. The city is only 1 km by 600m, making it tiny compared to other European countries.

In addition to being one of the best hidden vacation spots, Malta is among the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
In addition to being one of the best hidden vacation spots, Malta is among the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

To keep this trip budget-friendly: 

  • Visit during the shoulder season for cheaper flights and accommodations.
  • Walk around the charming streets of Valletta and enjoy the city’s rich history and Baroque architecture. 
  • Take a ferry to the nearby islands for a day trip and experience the beautiful beaches without spending too much.
  • Indulge in the local Maltese cuisine.
  • Take some day trips to surrounding fishing villages and historical sites.
The streets of Valletta show why this is among the cheapest cities in Europe to visit.
The streets of Valletta show why this is among the cheapest cities in Europe to visit.

14. Lviv, Ukraine

Situated in western Ukraine, Lviv is a gorgeous yet cheap city to visit in Europe. It has the charm of cities like Prague without the crowds that come with them. Unlike the Soviet-looking cities around the country, it offers a unique blend of Central and Eastern European architectural styles.

Lviv is top among the cheapest European cities to visit.

With many hotels and hostels to accommodate visitors, Lviv is a prime Ukrainian city for tourism. The prices are also incredibly cheap, especially when compared to Western and Central Europe.

Lviv is top among the cheapest European cities to visit. Here’s why:

  • Explore the city’s historic center on foot and indulge in the local cuisine at affordable cafes and restaurants. 
  • Visit the many churches and museums offering discounted or free admission.
  • Take in the stunning views of the city center from an old-fashioned tram. Stop in one of the 1,500 cafés sprawled around the city.

With its relaxed old town, fairytale vibe, and unbeatable prices, it’s no wonder Lviv is among the most affordable European cities.

Vibrant architecture in the Old Town of Lviv.
Vibrant architecture in the Old Town of Lviv.

15. Bologna, Italy

It only felt right to include Italy on this list of the cheapest (and best) places in Europe. This country has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than anywhere else in the world (54 in all!).Tucked between Florence and Venice, Bologna is one of Italy’s lesser-known gems that deserves to make the cut.

Bologna is definitely among the cheapest and most fascinating cities in Europe
As the seventh largest city in Italy, Bologna is one of the cheapest major cities in Europe.

Top sights in Bologna include the Piazza Maggiore and Basilica di San Petronio, which date back to the Italian Renaissance era. The medieval center is among the largest and best preserved in all of Europe. It’s sprawling with pastel-colored buildings and life.

Bologna is also home to the Asinelli Tower, the tallest leaning tower in Italy. Not only does it dwarf the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it also tilts more (yikes!).

Bologna has a leaning tower of its own
Can you spot the tilt?

Though having a mild disposition on the surface, Bologna emits a lively music scene. For this reason, UNESCO considers it a Creative City of Music. Today, Bologna’s harmony is on full display at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and Arena del Sole, two historic performing arts theatres.

I’ve learned to travel during the off-season to find better deals on flights and accommodations. I also embrace the local lifestyle by visiting the vibrant food markets and enjoying Bologna’s famous pasta dishes at affordable trattorias. 

Bologna is known for its quaint and quiet passages
Though Bologna is within reach of popular cities like Venice, Rome, and Florence, it sure doesn’t feel that way.

Read next: Top Day Trip Ideas from Bologna

16. Bratislava, Slovakia

Perhaps the hottest and most livable city in central Europe, Bratislava is only an hour by train from Vienna. Yet it’s miraculously managed to evade the crowds so far.

Bratislava is an emerging destination in central Europe that still embodies an authentic, Old World vibe. For now, the prices are very reasonable, making it one of the cheapest cities in Europe.

Bratislava isn’t the biggest or most glamorous city. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for with medieval charm and Gothic grit.

Bratislava is one of the cheapest and most impressive cities in Europe
With only 400,000 people, Bratislava is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities. It’s also among the cheapest cities in Europe.

From the Danube River, you can look up and see different slices of Bratislava’s wide-ranging and tumultuous past. From colorful buildings that appear to have been cut out from the pages of a fairy tale to bleak buildings that remind you of Slovakia’s Communist era, there’s a lot to take in during a visit to Bratislava.

The Old Town is a great place to begin your journey on foot through Slovakia’s capital. Quaint churches, shops, and cafés line its narrow lanes. The main square is surrounded by colorful baroque buildings and alfresco eateries. When you look up, you’ll likely see the Bratislava Castle, perched high above the city.

 Bratislava Castle is perched on a hill overlooking the Old Town and Danube River.
Bratislava Castle stands on a hill overlooking the Old Town and Danube River.

Bratislava is an emerging destination in central Europe that still embodies an authentic, Old World vibe. For now, the prices are very reasonable, making it one of the cheapest cities in Europe.

17. Dresden, Germany

Even during the peak tourist seasons, you’ll find the prices here to be reasonable, making Dresden among the most affordable cities in Europe.

It’s known for its classic architecture, world-class museums and art galleries, and scenic setting along the Elbe River. When you’re standing at the banks of the river, you can spot a striking resemblance between the Augustus Bridge in Dresden and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

Dresden is rich in culture and nature. Art and architecture are on full display amid the myriad baroque buildings and palaces. Zwinger, a palace-turned-museum built in the early 1700s, is among the finest examples of German baroque architecture.

Zwinger is a beautiful palace complex in Dresden, Germany. Dresden is one of the cheapest and most intriguing cities in Europe
Zwinger is a massive palace complex made up of several museums, 700 Old Master paintings, and 20,000 pieces of porcelain.

Another structure in the heart of Dresden that’s equally impressive and sacred is the Frauenkirche.

This Lutheran church has been fully restored to its former glory
This Lutheran church was reduced to rubble during the Second World War. It was miraculously rebuilt to its former glory in 2005.

At the river bank below, you’ll discover some of Dresden’s beautiful gardens, parks, and forests. When you take a steamboat down the river (highly recommended), you can check out Saxon Switzerland, a hilly national park peppered with hundreds of climbing peaks.

Bastei Bridge is a unique rock formation that lies along the Elbe River. It’s accessible via train, bus or boat from Dresden.
Bastei Bridge is a unique rock formation that lies along the Elbe River. It’s accessible via train, bus or boat from Dresden.

Visit Dresden during the shoulder seasons, around March to May or October to November, to score cheaper flights and hotels. However, even during the peak tourist seasons, you’ll find the prices here to be reasonable, which is why Dresden deserves a top spot among the cheapest cities in Europe.

Read next: Top Vacation Homes in Germany

18. Split, Croatia

From reasonably priced accommodation to inexpensive dining options and low-cost attractions, Split offers excellent value for travelers. Split is a beautiful and authentic city straddling Croatia’s Adriatic Sea. It’s often overshadowed by its southern neighbor, Dubrovnik, though it has an incredible personality of its own.

This port city goes back over 1,700 years when the Roman Emperor Diocletian had a palace built there. Since then, Split has assumed the limelight among the least expensive yet culturally richest destinations in the region.

As one of the cheapest cities in Europe, Split should definitely be on your bucket list in 2019.
As one of the cheapest cities in Europe, Split should definitely be on your bucket list in 2020.

Much of the city lies within the former palatial walls. Diocletian’s Palace is a remarkably well-preserved complex filled with life, charm, and more than 200 buildings. The white stone walls give off a feeling of mystique, and make you feel like you’re back in ancient times. Today, there’s no shortage of shops, restaurants, homes, and hotels that are jam-packed inside these walls.

Diocletian's Palace is a stunning sight in the heart of Split, Croatia
Inside Diocletian’s Palace is a lively and spirited scene.

One of the most iconic sights in town is the Saint Domnius Cathedral. Another point of interest you won’t want to miss is the Riva, a waterfront promenade that slightly resembles the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The picturesque adjacent harbor will also make you wonder why Split has eluded the crowds so far.

A culinary walking tour is a great way to experience the city. Split has the oldest fish market in Europe, where you’ll get to taste local delicacies, including Adriatic sting rays, squid, and mussels. 

Split is known for its amazing Adriatic seafood
Split’s seaside setting means you’ll always be eating fresh seafood.

19. Tallinn, Estonia

With low prices and high diversity, Tallinn is considered by many to be the “Silicon Valley of Europe”. It’s also a great place to begin your escapade the world of European budget travel. This is particularly true when you fly here around September to October for the fall season.

Though small in size, this Baltic city is mighty with its rich culture and history. Tallinn was occupied by many foreign powers over the centuries—including the Soviets, Germans, Swedes, and Danes— giving the city the eclectic character you see today.

Tallinn, Estonia is one of the cheapest cities in Europe
Tallinn lures visitors with its Old World charm, secluded streets, and eclectic character. It’s also sought-after for being one of the cheapest cities in Europe.

The walled city of Tallinn is extraordinarily well preserved and vibrant. Many top sights date back to the 13th century, including the Gothic Town Hall, St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Nicholas’ Church, and Toompea Castle. All these marvels roll up to Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tallinn, Estonia is an open-air museum and one of the cheapest cities in Europe
Similar to other medieval cities in Europe, Tallinn is an open-air museum with a special mystique and flair to it.

Whether you plan to stop by briefly on a Baltic cruise or choose to spend more time exploring the nooks and crannies, you’ll find your Euros go a long way in Tallinn.

20. Bucharest, Romania

This is probably the cheapest destination on this list, but it has so much to offer.

For such a big city with over 1.8 million people, it shocks me that Bucharest has lain low for so long. Romania’s capital is often skipped over for Transylvania and other exotic destinations in eastern Europe. However, there’s plenty to do here to justify visiting for a long weekend.

Bucharest is known for its scenic riverside setting and being among the cheapest cities to travel in Europe
The Dâmbovița River flows through the heart of Bucharest, one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.

Bucharest is probably the most modern city on this list, though not in a high-tech kind of way. Many of its streets are lined with communist-era buildings from the late-20th century, painting an austere picture of the city’s not-so-distant past.

The Palatul Parlamentului (“Palace of Parliament”) is the most striking aide-mémoire of this. The building isn’t the prettiest or most opulent, but it certainly is one of the biggest. With 12 floors and 1,100 rooms, it’s the second largest building in the world after the Pentagon.

Construction of the “People’s House” began in the 1980s as a way to showcase the communist leader’s power and might at the time
Construction of the “People’s House” began in the 1980s, as a way to showcase the communist leader’s power and might at the time. It wasn’t completed until 1997.

Other popular sights in town are the Romanian Athenaeum, Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, and King Michael I Park. Bucharest is a great launchpad for exploring the other cultural and natural gems strewn around the country. It’s an interesting city that can easily be explored on a budget.

21. Prague, Czech Republic

Given how cheap and fun of a city Prague is, it’s considered one of the best places for students to travel in Europe. While it might not be the dirt cheap city it once was, but it still offers a great bang for your koruna.

As the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague is a bustling and culturally rich city in the heart of central Europe. It’s been influenced by many powerful empires, including Austria-Hungary, Bohemia, and the Holy Roman Empire, which have all left their mark on this remarkably well-preserved city.

Prague’s Old Town Square is the top attraction in town. It's steeped in over 1,000 years of history and one of the cheapest cities in Europe
Prague’s Old Town Square is the top attraction in town. It’s steeped in over 1,000 years of history.

Prague is most recognized by its Old Town Square, the historic center of the city. This area is jam-packed with baroque buildings, colorful churches, and the world’s oldest Astronomical Clock (built in 1402).

The Prague Astronomical Clock is the oldest still in use today
The Prague Astronomical Clock is the world’s oldest astronomical clock still operating.

A stone’s throw away is the Charles Bridge, a 14th-century Gothic stone bridge that connects the Old Town with the Lesser Town. The Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known to be the largest “coherent castle complex” in the world. 

The Prague Castle majestically watches over the Charles Bridge and Vltava River below.
The Prague Castle majestically watches over the Charles Bridge and Vltava River below. Prague is one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe.

22. Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor, a coastal town in Montenegro, is a budget-friendly destination that offers a unique blend of historical charm and natural beauty.

Local restaurants and cafes offer delicious Montenegrin cuisine at affordable prices. Many of the city’s top attractions, such as the Kotor Fortress, are either free or charge minimal entrance fees. This makes local sightseeing accessible to every kind of traveler. 

Nature lovers can also enjoy hiking trails in the surrounding mountains or visit the nearby Lovcen National Park for a moderate fee.

Outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, and exploring nearby beaches are free or low-cost. Walking the city walls, which offer stunning views of the Bay of Kotor, is a must-do activity for a small entrance fee of around $4. These provide cost-conscious travelers with plenty of opportunities to enjoy Kotor’s natural beauty.

To keep it budget-friendly:

  • Exploring the markets for local and cost-saving meals. 
  • Try to stay outside of the historical center during peak seasons of July to August for cheaper accommodations.
  • Be familiar with the public transport schedule so you can take advantage of cheaper rides around the city.

23. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities in Europe, is a budget-friendly destination in Bulgaria. The city offers a vibrant cultural scene with plenty of free or low-cost activities. Public transportation in Plovdiv is inexpensive, and the city’s compact size makes it easy to explore on foot, reducing the need for costly transportation options.

Even if you stay here for only three days, you’ll get to do a lot of things for free, especially if you like walking around city centers. Aside from cheap food options, you can save on costs by enjoying free activities and seeing local sights.

Many of Plovdiv’s top attractions, such as the Roman Theater and the Nebet Tepe archaeological site, are either free or charge minimal entrance fees, making sightseeing accessible.

Local markets and street food vendors offer delicious and affordable dining options, with meals costing as little as $3-$6. The Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum, housed in a beautiful Renaissance building, offers a glimpse into the region’s history and culture for a small entrance fee of around $2.

My #1 Tip for Traveling Europe on the Cheap

Looking for cheap places to visit in Europe? For the past three years, I’ve used Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to find unbeatable flight deals. This FREE email service is super easy to use.

All you have to do is enter your home airport and where you want to go, and they’ll send you mistake fares and other amazing deals. In 2022 alone, I saved thousands of dollars thanks to their email alerts – including most recently, a $237 roundtrip fare from Boston to Norway. On average, I save about $300 roundtrip on selected flight routes. So, trust me when I say that Scott’s is the way to go!

In addition to the free version, Scotts’s Cheap Flights also offers a premium membership. If you’re a frequent traveler like me, it’s definitely worth the upgrade for $49 per year. I recommend trying the free trial and if you find it valuable (like I do), be sure to use my discount code JON20 to save 20%!

What’s the cheapest place to live in Europe? The answer will surprise you!

Additional Ways to Save On European Travels

In addition to choosing the cheapest cities in Europe to visit, there are many other effective ways to save money on your trip. I’ve written an article that delves into these strategies further, although here are a few helpful pointers:

  • Learn how to discover the best flight deals: As mentioned above, I highly recommend using Going’s free email service to save big on airfare. Sites like Skyscanner give you the option to filter on the cheapest flights anywhere in the world. Sharing my travel hacks for flying (tips to save time, money + hassle, and the cheapest places to fly into Europe.
  • Save big on the baggage fees: Whenever possible, leave the suitcase at home and instead bring a carry-on bag. Packing like a minimalist is the best way to save cash!
  • Take advantage of promo codes: If you haven’t used Airbnb before, use my code and get up to $55 off your first booking. You can also use my Booking.com code to earn a $25 cash reward.
  • Book in advance: Try booking a few months ahead and be flexible with your travel dates. With this, consider traveling during the off-season for lower prices.
  • Stay in hostels or budget accommodations: You don’t need to stay in luxury hotels to have a good time (in fact, I recommend against this, especially for budget-travel!).
  • Eat like a local and avoid tourist hotspots: There’s amazing and cheap food all around these cities, so don’t go to the first place listed on Yelp. Instead, ask locals where they like to eat.
  • Use public transportation instead of taxis: Taxis and Ubers will add up quickly.
  • Take advantage of free walking tours and activities: This is one of the best ways to experience the city you’re in!
Cheap places to go in Europe are found all around the continent
Cheap places to go in Europe are found all around the continent

Frequently Asked Questions About Europe’s Cheapest Cities

Which City Is the Cheapest in Europe?

Kraków, Poland is the cheapest city in Europe both to visit and to live in. Boasting an unbeatable combination of fascinating history, delicious cuisine, and budget-friendly prices, Kraków is a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking an exciting and affordable European experience. 

From exploring the medieval Old Town to indulging in mouth-watering Polish delicacies, Kraków offers endless opportunities to discover and enjoy without breaking the bank.

Which Country in Europe Is the Cheapest to Visit?

For those seeking an affordable major tourist destination, Poland is often cited as one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit. With stunning landscapes and affordable accommodations, Poland provides travelers with a budget-friendly opportunity to explore a captivating European country.

What Are Affordable European Cities That Are Also Fun and Unique?

Some affordable cities in Europe that are also fun and unique include Belgrade, Serbia; Krakow, Poland; and Lisbon, Portugal. Belgrade is known for its vibrant nightlife and affordable lodging. Krakow is home to a beautiful old town and a thriving cultural scene, whereas Lisbon is famous for its colorful streets, delicious food, and lively music.

Lisbon is a particularly budget-friendly place to visit in Europe
Lisbon is a particularly budget-friendly place to visit in Europe

What Makes a City One of the Cheapest in Europe?

There are a few factors that can contribute to a city being one of the cheapest in Europe, especially concerning the cost of living, which consists of rent, food, and transportation. Another factor is the exchange rate between the local currency and the Euro, which can make some cities more affordable for tourists.

Which Country in Europe Has the Lowest Cost of Living?

Portugal has been ranked as one of the cheapest places to live in Europe thanks to its affordable cost of living and deliciously cheap food and drink. From strolling through Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods to lounging on the pristine beaches of the Algarve, Portugal offers endless opportunities to discover and explore without breaking the bank.

Can You Recommend Affordable Cities in Europe for a Weekend Trip?

Some cheap European cities perfect for a weekend trip include Prague, Czech Republic; Budapest, Hungary; and Riga, Latvia. These cities are budget-friendly and can easily be explored in a few days.

Prague is my favorite European city of all time
Prague is my favorite European city of all time

Where Is the Cheapest City Break in Europe?

Cities such as Bucharest, Romania; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Krakow, Poland, have been ranked among the cheapest destinations for a city break in Europe. These cities offer a unique blend of culture, history, and affordability, making them ideal for budget-conscious travelers.

Are There Cheap European Cities for Solo Travelers?

Cheap European cities great for solo travelers include Ljubljana, Slovenia; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Sofia, Bulgaria. These cities are all relatively small and easy to navigate, and they have a welcoming atmosphere that makes it easy for solo travelers to meet new people and feel safe.

Bratislava is a great place for solo travel
Bratislava is a great place for solo travel

Final Thoughts on the Cheapest (And Best) Cities in Europe

By exploring the most affordable cities in Europe, you can stretch your funds further and indulge in more activities and places. Embracing these budget-friendly destinations opens up a world of opportunity in a picturesque city.

I hope you enjoyed reading through this list of Europe’s cheapest cities! Hopefully, your bucket list grew a little longer and gave you some inspiration for your next European adventure. I’ll be updating this article periodically as I discover more of Europe’s hidden gems

Happy Travels! – Jon


Disclosure: *As an Amazon Associate and CJ Affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases from the affiliate links in this article.


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2 comments

Fareed May 24, 2019 - 09:13

Awesome article and information! I always wanted to check out Budapest and Prague! I passed through Bologna during my time in Italy, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

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Global Viewpoint May 24, 2019 - 09:15

Glad you enjoyed reading it! I’m happy to hear this article sparked your interest to visit those two cities. Happy Travels!

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