5 Best European Countries To Visit If You Are On A Budget

Looking for an affordable European getaway? Europe is often considered to be quite expensive to travel, but with a little thought and planning you will find that there are many affordable destinations across the continent that can make for the perfect budget vacation.

From beaches and mountains to historical places dating back thousands of years, Europe has destinations for all interests and tastes. Unfortunately, many of these places will stretch your budget to the limit. So if you’re looking for the cheapest European countries to visit, you’ll have to think outside the box and seek out lesser-known but no less beautiful places.

Here are 5 of my suggestions for the cheapest countries in Europe – perfect for travelers looking for culture, history and natural beauty, but without costing a small fortune or needing a second mortgage!

Szentendre, Hungary

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1. Hungary

Hungary is one of the most expensive countries in Eastern Europe, but still one of the cheapest in all of Europe. Here you’ll find a rich history but also a cosmopolitan country with a thriving food scene not to be missed.

Hungary’s capital, Budapest, is a delightful combination of two historic cities facing each other across the Danube. Buda has its historic Buda Castle, and the Pest side is flanked by the imposing Parliament Building, bustling streets and numerous other buildings that preserve their centuries-old architectural heritage. The city is home to a long list of free attractions, including walking the Chain Bridge over the Danube and exploring the Castle Hill area.

While some of the attractions in the castle area are not free to visit, they are still very affordable. The neo-Gothic Great Market Hall, Budapest’s oldest market hall, is a great place to look for inexpensive souvenirs and cheap snacks, including lots of traditional Hungarian food – the country’s favorite fast food langos, a type of fried pizza with cheese, tomato sauce or sour cream. GuruWalk offers numerous free walking tours of Budapest so you can discover all of the city’s hidden gems.

Outside of Budapest

Outside of the capital, things are even cheaper. The scenery is enchanting, with even older traditions, not to mention the locals’ passion for wine making and tasting! Visitors to the lakeside resort of Tihany and those heading to the Bükk Mountains for outdoor adventures will find low prices year-round.

Pro tip: In June, the City of Budapest sponsors a “Night of Museums” where you can visit many of the city’s landmarks for free.

Medieval Templar Castle in Tomar

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2. Portugal

An abundance of natural beauty makes Portugal a popular European holiday destination. Unfortunately, most visitors don’t venture far beyond the golden beaches of the Algarve. But if you travel a little deeper and leave the crowds behind, you’ll discover so much more while also filling your vacation budget a lot more.

Top Portuguese cities like Lisbon and Porto are on most travel bucket lists. Budget travelers should add cities like the Algarve and Cascais to the mix. These cities are the perfect place to soak up the sun, and you can spend your days immersing yourself in Portuguese culture and food without breaking the bank. You can find affordable accommodation and good-value food in the many whitewashed villages and towns across Portugal, and cosmopolitan cities like Lisbon, Porto and Funchal can be just as budget-friendly thanks to a wide range of accommodation and dining options.

Portugal’s free attractions

Some of the most interesting destinations in Portugal can be explored for free. These include the ancient city of Evora, which is a World Heritage Site, and the 12th-century Templar Castle and Convent of Christ in the city of Tomar. Look out for free museums like Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon or free walking tours like this one in Faro, Algarve. The Faro district in the south is a popular destination for its golden sandy beaches, cliffs and lighthouses, while visitors can visit the Madeira archipelago with its rugged volcanic trails, beautiful harbor and great diving opportunities. This affordable European destination offers the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation and culture

Pro tip: The biggest expenses of a trip to Portugal are food and accommodation, although visiting outside of the high season (June to August) reduces these costs significantly. Between November and February, prices drop even more, although temperatures are still around 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

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3. Slovenia

Slovenia is a perfect destination for affordable travel and one of the cheapest countries in Europe.


Ljubljana, the capital, is one of the cheapest and most underrated cities in Europe and one of the most overlooked capitals. It’s beautiful and steeped in history, and best of all, the relative lack of tourists means prices for attractions and historical sites are surprisingly low.

Ljubljana also has a reputation for being a green and pedestrian-friendly city – the Old Town with Ljubljana Castle, Ljubljana Cathedral and the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) has been car-free since 2008. In addition to its green and cultural initiatives, the city is a popular destination for inexpensive restaurants and cafes, and in the summer months many have settled along the Ljubljana River, making for a lively outdoor scene.

Most visitors come to Slovenia because of the Adriatic coast. Koper Beach, nearby Mestna Beach, Moon Bay and the famous seaside resort of Portoroz are all very affordable in late spring, when temperatures are already summer-like but tourists have yet to arrive. Away from the coast, Lake Bled is perhaps the country’s most famous tourist destination and one of the most beautiful sights. Other budget destinations include the medieval town of Piran; the fortified village of Štanjel; and Triglav National Park, where you can hike to the top of Triglav.

Winter in Slovenia

Don’t miss Slovenia for a winter trip either. If you are looking for some of the best ski resorts in Europe, the country is worth considering. Beautiful ski resorts like Kranjska Gora offer significantly lower prices than their French and Austrian counterparts, and if you don’t know how to ski yet, you can always sign up for some courses at the local ski school.

Bratislava Castle

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4. Slovakia


Slovakia is one of the cheapest countries in Central Europe and has a lot to offer not only in the big cities like Bratislava but especially in the smaller towns. Tourists will find that their holiday cash gets a lot more here than in many other European destinations. Slovakia is home to numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, castles, monuments and memorials – all free or very cheap to discover.

Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, is the country’s most expensive destination – but even here you can make your trip cheap by taking advantage of the city’s many free offerings. Bratislava is relatively small and can easily be explored on foot, and apart from its many galleries spread throughout the city, Bratislava is also home to plenty of street art and sculpture. Join a Free Original Bratislava Alternative Street Art Tour to experience the city to the fullest.

Outside Bratislava

Outside the city, food and accommodation are even cheaper. Slovakia has amazing scenery with plenty of room to explore, particularly in the High Tatras, the country’s highest mountains and a vast national park with hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails. All national parks in Slovakia are free.

Pro Tip: Bratislava is only an hour’s train ride from Vienna.

Crno Jezero

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Once part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro is a very new country that regained its independence in 2006. This is also a country that many people would not be able to place on a map! Montenegro is an extremely affordable destination, but be prepared to pay a bit more for things like accommodation.

However, Montenegro is only as expensive as you let it be. If you want a budget trip, you could probably explore Montenegro with as little as $20 a day, and if you want to go all out and enjoy a luxury vacation, you can spend $200. However, if you are somewhere in the middle, you will find that too.

Compared to other Mediterranean countries, Montenegro is easy to travel without having to spend a lot of money. Most travelers visit the cities along the coast, such as Budva, Herceg Novi and Kotor, but there are plenty of other places to explore. Ada Bojana, a small island away from the expensive coastal towns, is a prime kite surfing destination and a lovely summer destination with very affordable prices.

outdoor activities

Hike through some of Montenegro’s national parks and experience the hills and mountains of this beautiful country. The deeper you go into Montenegro, the cheaper it gets. Prices cut in half and hospitality doubles as you venture away from the coast – so don’t miss the country’s green heart, where you’ll find rugged mountains, glacial lakes and UNESCO-fortified cities. Crno Jezero, a mountain lake surrounded by deep green-bluish forests, is a stunning destination for hiking and swimming and is completely free to visit.

For cheap eats, stick to the local hearty, meaty fare like burek, a thin puff pastry filled with meat, cheese, spinach or potatoes. This is one of the oldest Balkan dishes, dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Buregdzinica AS in the city of Tivat is known for some of the best bureks in Montenegro.

When traveling in Europe we expect cities like Paris, Berlin and London to not be cheap to visit, but there are a number of relatively budget-friendly countries that you can and should add to your itinerary – just make sure to pick the right ones ! But wherever you decide to go and whatever you do on your holiday in Europe I’m sure you will have great memories of it.

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