Europe is all-around an unmissable travel destination. With varied cultures, languages, climates, and histories jam-packed into an easily traversable continent, it’s bound to attract even seasoned travelers.
But Europe can also be quite pricey – if you’re simply following the tourist trail. So, if you want to have the European adventure of a lifetime without breaking the bank, you have to think outside the box and take the road less traveled.
However, looking for budget-friendly places to visit in Europe is far from boring. You won’t be missing out: many of the Old Continent’s most beautiful, unique, and photo-ready places are also the cheapest.
Here are seven dreamiest, budget-friendly European destinations to inspire your nomadic soul.
1. Algarve, Portugal
If you’re looking for idyllic golden beaches, endless summer sun, and a chill bohemian atmosphere, you’ll do well on the Algarve coast of Portugal.
Despite being a popular tourist destination, this region is one of the most accessible Western Europe regions for an oceanfront getaway.
In Algarve, you’ll find fresh marine cuisine and authentic Portuguese seafood in little mom-and-pop restaurants among Moorish architecture. It’s also a great spot for nature lovers, with untouched coves and island beaches.
Of course, you’ll have to make the right choices. Instead of a resort, opt for an Airbnb or a more affordable bed-and-breakfast away from the major towns. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you’ll even find spots to free camp and enjoy the vast Atlantic night sky.
2. The High Tatras, Slovakia
For hikers, outdoors enthusiasts, and avid explorers, the High Tatras mountain range is heaven on Earth. With forests, waterfalls, alpine meadows, mountain trails, and pristine lakes, the natural environment of this region is a well-kept secret.
While most tourism, concentrates on the Polish side of the mountains, choosing a Slovak village (like Ždiar) as a base will save you money and give you a more tranquil experience.
3. Vilnius, Lithuania
A must-see historic town in the Baltic region, Vilnius is less touristy than other cities in the area. But don’t be fooled— it’s no less beautiful.
How to keep your Vilnius stay fun and affordable? Take tip-based walking tours to explore the city. Visit one of the many cheap or free attractions such as the Insta-ready Gates of Dawn and the picturesque Free Republic of Užupis, or take a train trip to the quaint castle of Trakai.
To get the best out of your budget, visit Vilnius during the low season: October through April. Alternatively, stay longer to lower daily costs— having Lithuanian dual citizenship will allow you to remain as long as you like.
4. The island of Malta
Sixteenth-century architecture, rich history, incredible weather, and picture-perfect green countryside- what’s not to like about Malta?
The highest cost of a Malta vacation is getting there. And keeping an eye on budget airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair, you can find deals to travel to this sunny island for as little as 20 Euros.
Malta’s prices are fairly inexpensive: hostels from 10 Euro and cheap, good Mediterranean street food for less than a Euro. To minimize costs, avoid the summer months, purchase a MaltaPass (a card that allows you to visit museums and other attractions for free), and walk or bike instead of driving.
5. Budapest, Hungary
One of the cheapest capitals of the Old Continent, Budapest has everything to offer for an affordable price— especially if you visit in the spring or fall.
Not only does Budapest boast very affordable hostels, but it also has an active couchsurfing community: you stay with a local and exchange cultural experiences like typical Hungarian food.
This capital offers heaps of free activities such as hiking the panoramic Gellért Hill, visiting street markets, and admiring public libraries in historic buildings. You can also see Roman ruins and monumental tombs, lounge in the city’s many gardens, and walk the trails in the Buda Hills nearby.
6. Naxos Island, Greece
Impressive turquoise waves, a quaint old town, and a laid-back vibe: Lefkada offers that quintessential Greek island experience. And the best part— it’s much more budget-friendly than most other islands.
To keep your budget down and your adventurous spirit up, get a spot on a campsite, embrace local produce and street food, and get your hiking shoes on to traverse the beautiful Naxos backcountry.
7. Siracusa, Italy
Away from the more touristy Sicilian North, southeastern Siracusa is a history buff’s dream. But not only is it full of archaeological wonders from the Greek and Roman past but it’s also set against the background of the astonishingly blue Ionian Sea. Visit Siracusa if you fancy a taste of that easy-going Italian spirit and amazing food for very little money.
What do you think of these budget-friendly places to visit in Europe? If you get off the beaten path and embrace the possibilities of adventure, you might just have the trip of a lifetime!