17 Destinations in Europe That Are Cheap and Fun to Visit in The Summer

Danny Newman

Calella de Palafrugell, Spain

From Rome’s mighty Colosseum to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Europe is home to some of the world’s most iconic tourist attractions. The only downside to visiting them? It isn’t cheap. These places are so popular that everything from accommodation to tours can be prohibitively expensive.

Thankfully, many other parts of Europe offer similar experiences without the price tag. Whether you go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains instead of the Alps or visit the Albanian Riviera instead of the French one, you can enjoy spectacular activities and save thousands of dollars in the process.

Looking for a cheap and cheerful summer escape? Here are 17 European destinations that could be perfect. 

1. Portugal

Sintra Portugal
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How does 300 days of sunshine sound? Or hundreds of miles of spectacular coastline? What about historic cities with ruins dating to ancient Roman times? Or delicious food you can wash down with famous fortified wine?

Portugal has all this and much more. Better yet, your travel dollars stretch surprisingly far here. Europe’s westernmost country gets more popular every year, but exploring it remains affordable.

2. Poland

Krakow
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Poland is an oft-overlooked European country that should be far higher up everyone’s bucket list. It’s historic and diverse, with an outstanding coastline to the north, mountains in the south, and historic towns scattered throughout.

Polish cities, including the capital, Warsaw, heave with life and atmosphere. The nightlife is also second to none, and the food scene is world-renowned. 

3. Malta

Valleta harbour Malta.‎
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Malta is a jewel in the Mediterranean’s crown. A tiny, sun-kissed archipelago located just south of Sicily, it has a long, turbulent, and fascinating history that’s left an indelible mark on its three beautiful islands.

When you’re not swimming in clear turquoise waters or visiting colorful fishing villages, you’re exploring fortified cities with giant stone walls and cobbled streets worn smooth by the footfall of knights.

4. Hungary

Budapest, Hungary
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Hungary is a landlocked country in central Europe best known for its capital, Budapest. This historic city delights visitors with fantastic architecture (especially the Fisherman’s Bastion and the iconic neo-Gothic Parliament building on the riverfront), the mighty Danube River that runs through it, thermal baths, and so much more.

Beyond Budapest, you can go wine tasting, hike through outstanding national parks, and explore fortified cities (like Eger) once conquered by the Ottoman Empire.

5. Romania

Cluj-Napoca, Romania
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Romania is full of surprises. For example, you might have heard of Transylvania – the beautiful region notorious for its connection to Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. But did you know you can ski there in winter? Or see wild brown bears? Or that there are medieval towns with cobbled streets and turreted castles?

Throw in other Romanian delights, like bustling historic cities and delicious traditional food, and you have everything you need for an epic – and affordable – adventure.

6. Albania

Ksamil, Albania
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When most people hear about a Balkan country with ancient cities, epic castles, pristine coastlines, and magical mountainous landscapes, they assume you’re talking about Croatia. Yet Albania ticks these very same boxes – and you can explore it for a fraction of the price.

Albania is one of Europe’s cheapest destinations and best-kept secrets. While it isn’t as developed as its Balkan neighbors, there’s no doubting the country’s incredible history and natural beauty.

7. Turkey

Cappadocia, Turkey.
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Turkey is a huge country with a history almost as jaw-dropping as its landscapes. The list of memorable things to do there seems endless. Highlights include:

  • Touring ancient Ephesus,
  • Watching hot air balloons rise into hazy skies above Cappadocia,
  • Trekking in rugged mountain ranges,
  • Soaking in natural hot pools,
  • Exploring bustling cities like Ankara and Istanbul, and 
  • Swimming in Mediterranean seas.

Combine these attractions with the country’s sublime food and affordable prices, and Turkey is hard to beat.

8. Spain

Barcelona, Spain
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Spain caters to everyone’s tastes. Want to feel golden sand between your toes and swim in warm aquamarine seas? Head to the Majorca. Want to relax in laidback hilltop villages surrounded by olive groves? Venture south to Andalucia.

Then there are places like Seville and Barcelona, where you can wander age-old streets and witness endless architectural wonders. Ultimately, Spain has a bit of everything – and it supplements it with budget-friendly prices and gorgeous weather. 

9. Montenegro

Perast, Montenegro
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Montenegro is jaw-dropping. Home to beguiling medieval villages, brilliant beaches, national parks where wolves and bears reside, rugged mountain ranges, and glacial lakes, it’s just magical. If you visit Montenegro for a budget-friendly Balkans trip, don’t miss Kotor Old Town, the epic Njegos Mausoleum, the Ostrog Monastery, or the stunning stone town of Perast.

10. Bulgaria

Ruse, Bulgaria - 07.26.2019. Old historical house in the city of Ruse in Bulgaria, on a sunny summer day
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Bulgaria is a Balkan nation on the Black Sea, located just north of Greece and Turkey. It’s been influenced by a kaleidoscope of cultures, with Greek, Slavic, Persian, and Ottoman heritage on display across the country.

Highlights include the Rhodope Mountains, the Black Sea coast, the 10th-century Rila Monastery, and the Seven Rila Lakes. Don’t miss Bulgaria’s bustling capital, Sofia, either. With impressive landmarks, architecture, food, and nightlife, you might not want to leave.

11. Latvia

Riga, Latvia
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Latvia is another country that’s likely to surprise you. The historic center of its lively capital, Riga, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a whopping 300 miles of glorious coastline, where pine forests provide a striking backdrop to white sand beaches. And you’ll find wilderness areas brimming with distinctive attractions, such as the Great Kemeri Bog.

Combine those perks with friendly locals, flavorful food, and affordable prices, and Latvia doesn’t disappoint.

12. Croatia

Hvar
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With medieval cities made famous in Game of Thrones, picture-perfect beaches, and spectacular national parks, Croatia has a golden allure that draws crowds from around the world.

Whether you’re exploring the cobbled streets and city walls of Dubrovnik or swimming in crystal-clear water off the Dalmatian coast, this enchanting country doesn’t disappoint. It’s more expensive than its Balkan neighbors but remains an affordable destination compared to other places in Western Europe. 

13. Lithuania

Vilnius, Lithuania
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Located just south of Latvia in northeast Europe is another country where historic cities, castles, and coastal beauty await. Lithuania rarely gets the appreciation it deserves, which is one reason it’s still so cheap to explore.

Highlights include the Curonian Spit (a 61-mile-long sand spit that separates the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon), the UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, and the incredible Trakai Island Castle.

14. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo
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The Balkan region is renowned for its medieval cities, mountainous landscapes, and otherworldly natural beauty – and Bosnia and Herzegovina is no exception.

Although many people still associate it with its war-torn history, it has turned itself into one of Southeast Europe’s most beautiful (and underrated) destinations. From Sarajevo’s charm to the wonders of Neretva Canyon and the watermills of Jajce, Bosnia and Herzegovina is a sublime country that exceeds all expectations.

15. Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia
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This transcontinental country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia offers a smorgasbord of attractions that entertain and amaze. Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi, is a medieval marvel with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings overlooked by the monumental Narikala fortress. Elsewhere, you’ll find incredible mountain ranges and unbelievable cultural sites, like the Vardzia cave monastery.

While Georgia is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, for now, it remains an underappreciated destination that doesn’t break the bank.

16. Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic
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Imagine sitting at a bar on a medieval street, swigging a locally brewed beer that cost the equivalent of $1.80. Looking around, you see centuries old Gothic buildings with pointed spires and ornate facades. A few streets over, the magnificent Vltava River flows under a series of striking arched bridges.

Sound good? Check out the Czech Republic. Its capital, Prague, offers all the above and plenty more. Venture beyond the city for castles galore, mountains to hike in and ski down, famous wine regions, and famous spa towns.

17. Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia
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Slovenia is a tiny country nestled on Italy’s northeastern border. With Austria to the north and Croatia to the south, you can probably guess how beautiful its landscapes are! Expect mountains, gorges, lakes, and even a short stretch of coastline located on the Gulf of Trieste, called the Slovene Riviera.

Then there’s Lake Bled. With its medieval church and clifftop castle, it might be Europe’s most picturesque place. Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, isn’t bad either. In terms of charm, architecture, and attractions, its atmospheric old town rivals what you find in cities like Rome and Paris.

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Cefalù, Italy
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Many great and beautiful Italian coastal towns and small towns inland attract millions of tourists each year. However, if you want to avoid crowds and have more space to get the most out of your trip to the country, you will be interested in the best small towns in Italy.

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Europe is a continent of alluring wonders; it's hard to believe it wasn't a product of intelligent design. For tourists planning to visit, the plethora of beautiful European countries can overwhelm them, and the abundance of culture, history, and jaw-dropping landscape can seem too much for even the most experienced of explorers.

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