14 Affordable European Countries for Budget Travelers to Explore

Steve Cummings


Budget travel in Europe is possible and can be richly rewarding. Without straining your wallet, it offers a deeper understanding of the continent's diverse cultures, landscapes, and histories. The key to exploring Europe affordably lies in choosing destinations that combine low living costs with abundant attractions, prioritizing experiences over luxury, and knowing a few tricks to stretch your euros further. Let's have a look at 14 affordable European countries for budget travelers! 

1. Romania

Brasov, Romania
credit: depositphotos

Romania is a hidden gem for budget travelers, especially for those who love nature and the countryside. Hiking in the Carpathian mountains or exploring charming towns like Brasov, with its iconic Bran Castle, can be surprisingly affordable. While train travel in Romania is budget-friendly, it's a bit slow, and the trains are not the newest, but they're safe and part of the adventure. Bucharest's historical sites, like the 15th-century Old Town and the Romanian Arch of Triumph, are mostly free or cost very little to visit. And when it comes to food, Romania is a paradise for budget eaters. 

Dining out won't break the bank, and the local cuisine is delicious and filling—think sarmale, cozonac, and mamaliga. It's an authentic experience without the hefty price tag, making Romania a fantastic choice for those on a tight budget.

2. Albania

Ksamil, Albania
Credit: Depositphotos

Albania is a dream for travelers looking for history, incredible natural landscapes, and budget-friendly adventures. From the stunning Albanian Riviera with its crystal-clear Mediterranean waters to the towering Accursed Mountains perfect for hiking, there's something for every kind of explorer. Don't miss the picturesque towns of Gjirokastër and Berat, where Ottoman influences weave through the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Staying in Tirana is affordable, with hostel beds for around $8 and meals for just $5. 

For those looking to stretch their dollars further, skipping the peak summer season can save even more. Early summer or the start of fall are ideal times to enjoy Albania's outdoors without the crowds or the high costs, making it a top pick for budget travelers.

3. Montenegro

Sveti Stefan Island, Budva, Montegro
Credit: bloodua/Depositphotos

Montenegro stands out as a budget-friendly gem in the Mediterranean, offering much more than its beautiful coastline cities like Budva and Kotor. Venture inland, and you'll discover the real magic with its national parks and stunning mountain landscapes, perfect for those craving the tranquility of fresh mountain air. As part of the Balkans, which are among the cheapest regions in Europe, Montenegro can be an even more economical adventure when you explore it as part of a group trip, like Contiki's Best of Balkans. This way, you can experience the beauty and diversity of the area.

4. Slovenia

things to do in Slovenia
credit: depositphotos

Nestled among European giants, Slovenia is a Balkan jewel offering affordability and stunning landscapes. Despite its size, it boasts a picturesque Adriatic coastline with public beaches like Koper and Portoroz, allowing for budget-friendly seaside escapes even during peak seasons. Accommodations are reasonably priced, with costs dropping in late spring when the weather is warm but the tourist crowds are thin.

Dining out is also easy on the wallet, with meals averaging around $10. Slovenia's must-visit spots include the serene Lake Bled, historic Piran, and the captivating fortified village of Štanjel. For adventurers, the country's pride is the Triglav National Park and the Soča Trail, offering epic hikes and mesmerizing views, perfect for nature enthusiasts.

5. Ireland

Castleknock, Dublin / Ireland - October 2020 : Aerial view of Luttrellstown Castle Resort, luxurious 5-star hotel and wedding venue in 15th-century castle offered for hire
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Ireland stands out as one of the most affordable European destinations to fly into. Thanks to numerous direct and connecting flights into Dublin, it particularly appeals to those in Boston and New York. Beyond its practicality, Ireland captivates with its stunning landscapes and vibrant cities. In Dublin, travelers can immerse themselves in the city's rich history and culture before exploring other charming locations such as Galway, Cork, and Killarney. This blend of accessibility and breathtaking beauty makes Ireland a must-visit for budget-conscious travelers seeking the quintessential European experience.

6. Portugal

Credit: Depositphotos

Portugal is a paradise for those who love the outdoors, offering many of its best experiences for free amidst nature, sun, and scenic beauty. The Faro District beckons with its stunning beaches and lighthouses, while Madeira offers dramatic volcanic landscapes and excellent scuba diving opportunities.

While food and accommodations are the main expenses, visiting outside the busy June to August period can significantly cut costs, with the cooler but pleasant November to February season offering the best bargains. Free attractions like the ancient town of Evora and the historic Templar Castle in Tomar only require the cost of transportation, making Portugal an ideal destination.

7. Hungary

Budapest, Hungary
Credit: Depositphotos

Traveling to Hungary and only seeing Budapest is like going to a gourmet buffet and only trying the bread! Just a short drive from the capital, you'll find Lake Balaton, a summer paradise for locals and tourists craving beach vibes. Hungary isn't just about urban charm; it's a haven for spa enthusiasts too, with famous thermal baths and hot springs at places like Lake Hévíz and Sárvár. For the adventurers, the Danube Bend offers breathtaking hikes with views and waterfalls. Hungary is super affordable! You can enjoy a hearty meal for as little as $7 and find a cozy place to stay or travel without emptying your wallet. It's a treasure trove of experiences that won't break the bank.

8. Slovakia

Credit: Depositphotos

Slovakia, nestled in the heart of Central Europe, is a playground for the budget-conscious and adventurous. The High Tatra Mountains are a magnet for those looking to hike or ski in breathtaking landscapes without breaking the bank. For urban explorers, Bratislava is a must-visit, offering a perfect blend of cultural experiences, historic sights, and affordable living. Accommodation and dining are surprisingly economical, making it easy to soak in the local ambiance without stressing over expenses. Whether scaling mountain peaks or wandering cobblestone streets, Slovakia offers a wealth of affordable attractions for every type of traveler.

9. Estonia

St. Olaf Baptist Church and Tallinn City Wall in the morning, Tallinn, Estonia
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Estonia offers a budget-friendly alternative to the breathtaking yet pricey Scandinavian countries. Estonia is nestled below Finland and shares the stunning natural beauty typical of Europe's north, featuring diverse landscapes and over 1500 Baltic Sea islands. The country presents a fascinating mix of Nordic and Baltic cultures, creating a unique vibe.

While the capital, Tallinn, may lean towards the pricier side, exploring areas beyond the city center reveals plenty of affordable gems. This way, Estonia provides an experience reminiscent of traveling through Scandinavia without the hefty price tag, making it an ideal destination for those seeking the northern European charm on a budget.

10. Czech Republic 

Prague, Czech Republic
Credit: Depositphotos

The Czech Republic, with its jewel Prague, stands out as an affordable European destination beloved by many. The perfect blend of stunning weather and inexpensive drinks makes summer in Prague delightful, while winter transforms the city into a picturesque fairytale landscape. Venturing beyond Prague to cities like Brno, Český Krumlov, and Ostrava allows travelers to get even more value for their money, where the cost of living drops slightly further.

An interesting highlight is that beer is famously cheaper than water, adding to the appeal for those looking to enjoy the local culture without splurging. This combination of beauty, affordability, and unique charm makes the Czech Republic a fantastic option for budget-conscious travelers.

11. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Credit: Depositphotos

Bosnia and Herzegovina, affectionately known as the “Heart-Shaped Land,” is a Balkan treasure with the capital, Sarajevo, celebrated as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans” for its rich tapestry of cultural and religious diversity. This country is a mosaic of medieval charm, lush landscapes, and the rugged Dinaric Alps. You're stepping into a living history book by strolling through Sarajevo's old quarter, Baščaršija, or visiting the historic Gazi Husrev-bey Mosque.

And let's not forget, it's incredibly budget-friendly—imagine snagging a comfy hotel room for $20 and savoring delicious meals for $5 to $10. Whether you're into rafting on the Neretva River or skiing in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina offers year-round adventures without a price hike.

 12. Cyprus

Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus
Credit: Depositphotos

Cyprus is a Mediterranean haven for budget-conscious sun-seekers. With its renowned cuisine and stunning coastlines, it offers an idyllic setting without the hefty price tag. The country's size makes it possible to explore the entire island, which is rich with archaeological sites that whisper stories of ancient times. Even in the capital city of Nicosia, expenses remain on the lower end, allowing you to indulge in local delights and cultural experiences affordably. Cyprus presents a perfect mix of historical exploration and beach relaxation, making it an excellent choice for travelers looking to enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle.

13. Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Credit: Depositphotos

Bulgaria is one of Europe's most budget-friendly destinations, offering a wealth of beauty and attractions without the hefty cost. The capital, Sofia, dazzles visitors with its stunning sights, most of which are surprisingly affordable. Across major cities like Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, and Plovdiv, travelers can join free walking tours—just tip your guide!

A visit wouldn't be complete without sampling delicious Bulgarian pastries such as banica and krenvirshi. For those wanting to explore Bulgaria and other European highlights, options like Contiki's Ultimate European trip offer a comprehensive way to experience the continent's diverse cultures and landscapes.

14. Italy

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Italy may surprise you as a budget-friendly option in Western Europe. Instead of trying to see everything from Milan to Pompeii, focusing on one region can keep costs down, especially since long-distance travel is the main expense. Opt for local trains and buses that are much cheaper than high-speed trains to stretch your euros further.

Many top attractions in cities like Rome offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month, and landmarks like the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain are always free. Traveling outside the summer season and choosing standing-only cafes can also help save money, making Italy an affordable yet unforgettable destination.

Visiting Budget Friendly European Countries

Sorrento, Italy
Credit: Depositphotos

Traveling doesn't always need to be expensive, and if you can visit some outstanding destinations on a low budget, then what's more amazing than that? Choose any of these and enjoy your low-budget trip! 

20 of the Most Beautiful Cities in The World

Things to do in Hallstatt
Credit: Depositphotos

The world is full of beautiful cities that poets write about, influencers take pictures of, and people write about. It is amazing how these cities have stood the test of time and amazed us with their beauty as we travel to see them. Here is our list of the 20 most beautiful cities in the world.

20 of the Most Beautiful Cities in The World

Don’t Break the Bank: Check out These 19 Cheapest Countries to Fly into Europe!

credit: depositphotos

As summer is coming, plans need to be made about where to travel next. Europe is a great destination to embark on an incredible journey by seeing many famous spots, eating fantastic food, and enjoying a coffee at a local shop. However, choosing the cheapest flying destination can take time and effort. After going through google flights, Skyscanner, Hopper, and many other search engines, a list of the cheapest countries to fly into Europe has been curated to help you make your next vacation decision. 

Don’t Break the Bank: Check out These 19 Cheapest Countries to Fly into Europe!

1 thought on “14 Affordable European Countries for Budget Travelers to Explore”

  1. Mahalo for the free information on affordable Europe. I went to Italy (northern art cities) first and loved it. The following year I went to southern Italy to visit Pompeii, Naples, and Sicily — and loved that. Of course it helps to be retired, but I found Italy affordable as it came out of the COVID pandemic in 2021-22. I am glad you encourage people to go to Italy since you can get a big bang out of your tourist buck! I only spoke English, but could almost always find someone to translate for me when needed.


Leave a Comment