- Prague, Krakow, and Budapest are affordable European destinations with plenty of attractions, cheap accommodation, and vibrant nightlife.
- Valencia, Riga, and Split offer budget-friendly options, including stunning beaches, historical sites, and affordable local cuisine.
- Sofia, Istanbul, Bucharest, and Palermo are also cheap year-round destinations in Europe with a range of attractions, from historic landmarks to vibrant markets.
Vacationing in Europe is expensive, but it doesn’t always have to be. For every costly city, a handful of cheaper alternatives offer equal charm and beauty but at a much more affordable price. Know this: There are plenty of affordable European destinations year-round to enjoy without breaking the bank. But how can one know which spot to choose?
For budget-minded travelers, a little research goes a long way. Factoring costs for flights, accommodation, transportation, popular attractions, local cuisine, and evening drinks must be considered. Choose wisely, and travelers might just get the European vacation of their dreams.
From delicious dinners and amazing architecture to rich histories, beautiful beaches, castles, gardens, and (free!) museums, Europe is the perfect getaway for any price point. Here are the cheapest European destinations that are cheap all year.
Prague, Czech Republic
Charles bridge, Prague, Czechia
Prague’s history includes invasions, floods, fires, and failed overthrows. The storied city has a reputation for survival and perseverance, and a visit to the Czech capital is fascinating. Full of charming churches and narrow streets, famous sites include the Charles Bridge and the hilltop Prague Castle. And the city’s center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Many attractions offer free admission, hotels are much cheaper than neighboring countries, and a vibrant nightlife (including Prague’s renowned beer) offers low prices. And to top it off – airfare is also quite reasonable. A trip to Prague is a great idea for those looking to enjoy travel for cheap.
- Top attractions in Prague: Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, Museum of Senses, and the National Museum.
- Best time to visit Prague: Offering sunny weather and fewer crowds, both spring and fall are wonderful times to visit Prague.
People walking along the streets of Krakow, Poland
Kraków is famous for its interesting past and its Main Square in the Old Town. It’s quite affordable, especially when opting for street food, like the Maczanka sandwich from Andrus Foodtruck or the Zapiekanka from Plac Nowy.
Krakow is easy to explore.
The Old Town takes 20 minutes to experience, but stay longer to really appreciate everything it has to offer. When visiting Krakow, definitely visit two top Polish attractions: the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a cathedral carved out of salt, and the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
- Top attractions in Krakow: Krakow’s Rynek Glowny Central Square, the Stare Misato neighborhood, St. Mary’s Basilica, Wawel Royal Castle, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum
- Best time to visit Krakow: Summer is best for festival-goers and warm-weather lovers. Spring and fall are best for tourists looking to explore Krakow without throngs of tourists.
Budapest parliament in Budapest, Hungary, at sunrise
Budapest dates back to the Old Stone Age, and it’s one of the cheapest places to travel in Europe. It’s split by the Danube River and comprises three main areas – Pest, Buda, and Óbuda. Beautiful Budapest is full of fascinating history and impressive buildings, showcasing everything from Roman, neo-Gothic, Renaissance and Ottoman architecture.
Budapest is also an excellent option for travelers looking for a lively nightlife. Top attractions include Budapest’s famous Buda Castle, thermal baths, Fisherman’s Bastion, Heroes’ Square, free tours of the Parliament, and especially the National Gallery. Prices in Budapest are fair enough that travelers can choose multiple attractions, dine at delicious restaurants, and dance the night away at the many nightclubs.
- Top attractions in Budapest: Buda Castle, Hungarian Parliament Building, Fisherman’s Bastion, Shoes on the Danube Bank, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and Memento Park.
- Best time to visit Budapest: May, June, and early October. Mild weather, inexpensive accommodations, and fewer crowds make these months ideal. September tends to be expensive for hotels as it’s a popular time of year for conventions.
View of Peniscola from the top of Pope Luna’s Castle, Valencia, Spain
While some Spanish cities can be a bit pricey, Valencia offers ample opportunities for cheap activities and attractions. Valencia is known for its Old Town, the Central Market (one of the oldest food market areas in Europe), the City of Arts and Sciences, and the Valencia Cathedral. But it has even more to offer.
The beaches are stunning, local food is affordable, and the art scene is impressive. The city’s best street art is found in El Carmen, the oldest neighborhood in Valencia. Graffiti murals date back to the 1980s, and some have become quite famous, like “The Triumph of Death” and “The Three Graces.”
- Top attractions in Valencia: Oceanogràfic Valencia, City of Arts and Sciences, Catedral de Valencia, Bioparc Valencia, and the Museo de Bellas Artes.
- Best time to visit Valencia: Valencia is warm most of the year, but May and October are when the city really shines.
Riga’s Old Town in Latvia
Riga, Latvia, is another cheap European destination. With many budget-friendly attractions, like Riga Castle, the Freedom Monument, and St. Peter’s Church, local cuisine is also served at affordable prices. The free self-guided Art Nouveau tour is not to be missed.
Showcasing early 20th-century architecture and some of Europe’s most impressive buildings, the walking tour combines unique sights with stories. Riga is home to the world’s highest concentration of Art Nouveau structures.
- Top attractions in Riga: The Old City, House Of The Black Heads, Central Market, Town Hall Square, and the KGB Building.
- Best time to visit Riga: Summer. Peak season brings hot weather and good deals.
Street in Split Old Town, Croatia
Nestled on the Adriatic Sea in Central Croatia, Split is known for its historic Old Town and pristine beaches. Spending the day on the sand, splashing in the surf, or wandering the cobblestone streets doesn’t cost a penny. Top attractions include Diocletian Palace, a medieval fortress, a forest park, art galleries, museums, and plenty of fresh seafood and local wine.
There is so much to do and see in Split, Croatia. And a visit to this gorgeous seaside town doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
- Top attractions in Split: Old Town, Palazzo di Diocleziano, Marjan Park, Cathedral of Saint Domnius, and Diocletian’s Palace.
- Best time to visit Split: Spring and fall are cheaper than summer and still offer warm Mediterranean weather.
Aerial view of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia and other buildings, Bulgaria
Possibly the cheapest place to buy food and drinks in Europe, a trip to Sofia is ideal for penny pinchers. Accommodations are affordable. There are plenty of cheap boutique hotels, hostels, and even 5-star stays can be found for under $200 per night. History buffs will love the Sofia History Museum, Boyana Church and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
Culture lovers will appreciate the National Gallery for Foreign Art and the Bulgarian National Theatre. There’s also plenty of green space and a very vibrant nightlife.
- Top attractions in Sofia: Vitosha Boulevard, St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Saint Nikolas Russian Church, and Boyana Church.
- Best time to visit Sofia: Fall is best for great prices and pleasant weather.
Hagia Sophia in the evening sun rays, Istanbul, Turkey
The exchange rate for Western travelers visiting Istanbul keeps this enchanting city affordable. With plenty of free attractions, Istanbul is truly ideal for those on a budget. One main attraction, the iconic Sultanahmet Square, is set in the center of the historic Old Town. And entry is free to many important religious landmarks, like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Süleymaniye Mosque. To really see Istanbul’s colorful atmosphere, take a stroll through the Grand Bazaar.
When travelers get hungry in Istanbul, there are plenty of affordable options. Street food, like kebabs, is cheap and delicious. To top it off, hotels and transportation around the city are inexpensive. Istanbul has it all — food, culture, and sightseeing.
- Top attractions in Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Suleymaniye Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque.
- Best time to visit Istanbul: Winter is the cheapest time to visit Istanbul but for tourists looking to avoid the chill, consider spring and fall. Like many European countries, summer is the most expensive time to travel.
Buildings in Bucharest, Romania
In the early 1900s, Bucharest was nicknamed “Little Paris.” The largest city in Romania, Bucharest is known for its Belle Époque buildings and wide, tree-lined streets. But this gorgeous city is also an affordable European destination for budget-friendly travelers. In fact, it’s one of the continent’s best cheap cities to visit. And it’s been one of Europe’s cheapest capital cities for decades.
A stroll through Old Town is free, entertaining, and mesmerizing. Balance along the cobblestone streets to witness famous landmarks such as the People’s Palace and the Stavropoleos Church. Art lovers will appreciate the many museums, such as the National Museum of Art and the Museum of Romanian Peasants.
- Top attractions in Bucharest: Stavropoleos Monastery, Herăstrau Park, Palace of Parliament, and Muzeul Naţional al Satului “Dimitrie Gusti.”
- Best time to visit Bucharest: Peak season is June and July. For budget-friendly travelers who don’t mind the cold weather, travel to Bucharest in January.
People enjoying the beaches of Cefalù in Palermo, Sicily
The capital of Sicily is perfect for budget-friendly vacations. One of the largest cities in the Mediterranean, the scenery is stunning, and the city’s history is fascinating — it’s one of the most conquered locations in the world.
From affordable outdoor activities, like spending the day at the beach, to hiking or strolling along the town’s cobblestone streets, there are tons to see and do in this small city. Spending a day browsing the central Ballarò Street market and the Vucciria market are more fun, cheap options!
- Top attractions in Palermo: Beautiful beaches, Cattedrale di Palermo, Norman Palace, Teatro Massimo, and Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio.
- Best time to visit Palermo: Summers in Palermo are beautiful but expensive. The cheapest month to visit is March.