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15 Cheapest (Yet Beautiful) Countries to Visit in Europe


I know what you think: Europe is beautiful and I’d love to see it, but I can’t afford it now. It’s true that some European countries like Switzerland, Ireland, or Denmark have developed a reputation for being excessively expensive. But you’d be wrong believing that all of Europe is unkind to the wallet. At the other end of the spectrum, there are quite a few countries that are not only affordable, but also amazingly beautiful. So in this post I’m going to share with you some of my favorite cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

Cheapest countries to visit in Europe

General considerations

You may be wondering why aren’t these hidden gems as celebrated as the more expensive countries in Europe. Well for one thing, many of them lived for decades under the heavy boot of communism.

As the result, their socio-economic development was low, their infrastructure underdeveloped, and their tourism not sufficiently advertised. So not surprisingly, they rarely made the list of the best European itineraries in the past.

Most Affordable Countries to visit in Europe

When planning a visit any of these inexpensive countries in Europe, you can expect to see higher prices in the big cities, especially around the city center or in the touristy areas. But the farther out you go, the more affordable things are.

Another thing to consider is the currency exchange rate (the equivalent of one US dollar in another country). With very few exceptions, the US dollar is stronger that most currencies in Europe, which is a big advantage when you travel to the respective countries.

CHEAPEST COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN NORTHEASTERN EUROPE


ESTONIA

Despite its wild nature and untouched beauty, Estonia is a very accessible country, easy to visit and modernized (there is Internet everywhere!)

The country’s history, rich culture and beautiful architecture was influenced by the the Swedes, Russians, and the Germans, who occupied the country at various times during its history.

Top Places to Visit in Estonia

No matter where you go in Estonia you will find remnants of historic sights, and old traditions and customs. The country has many islands, each with their own unique sights and cultures to share.

Estonia’s most notable city is the is Tallinn, which is also the capital of the country. Tallinn is actually one of the best preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe.

Tallinn, Estonia, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
Old Town Tallinn

The country is also home to many beautiful castles. Narva Castle (also know as Hermann Castle) enjoys a particularly beautiful setting. The castle was built in the 13th century by the Danes as a royal residence for the Danish kings. There are many other castles that you could visit, like Paide, Helme, or Keila Castle.

Narva Castle in Estonia
Narva Castle in Estonia

If you have time, you should also visit some of Estonia’s national parks, like Lahemaa (just an hour’s drive from the capital) or Soomaa National Park – a wetland that formed as a result of glacier melt from thousands of years ago.

How Much Does a Trip to Estonia Cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average hotel price per night: €44
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: €9 – €18
  • Local Transportation per person: €1.50/day
  • Average price for one week per couple: €750


LATVIA

Latvia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets, that somehow managed to slip under the radar of tourism. I absolutely loved this country, and especially its capital city, Riga.

If you are a fan of the Art Nouveau style and design, Riga’s architecture will absolutely amaze you. Despite the devastation suffered during the Second World War, there are still over 750 art nouveau buildings still intact in Riga.

Top Places to Visit in Latvia

After exploring the attractions in the Old Town Riga, you should visit the the vibrant beaches in Jurmala –– a gorgeous seaside resort located just a short 20 minute drive from the capital.

Jurmala seaside resort in Latvia
Jurmala seaside resort

Also, don’t miss Gauja National Park, where you’ll see nature at its best: caves, cliffs and other rock formations that will make spelunkers feel in heaven here.

How Much does a Trip to Latvia Cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-Star Hotel in Riga: €46 € per night
  • Dinner at a Local Restaurant: €9 – €22
  • Local transportation: €3/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: €850


LITHUANIA

The fact that Lithuania doesn’t enjoy more popularity among the European countries can only be explained by the fact that people don’t know much about it. The country has plenty of attractions, but much like its fellow Baltic States Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania has only opened up to international tourism in the last few decades.

Top Places to Visit in Lithuania

Outside Vilnius, the country’s capital, the highlight of Lithuania’s attractions for tourists is most likely the city of Siauliai, with its legendary Hill of Crosses.

The Hill of the Crosses in Siauliai

But if you are a nature lover, you’ll probably appreciate the Lithuania’s stunning coastline more. Especially the ravishingly beautiful sand dunes of Curonian Spit, a true natural wonder!

beautiful landscape in Lithuania, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
Curonian Spit National Park

How much does a trip to Lithuania cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-Star Hotel in Vilnius: €39 – €46 per night
  • Dinner at a Local Restaurant: €10 – €21/person
  • Local transportation: €1.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: €620 ($739) 

CHEAPEST COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE


GREECE

With its turquoise beaches, sunburned ruins and luxury yachts, Greece may seem like one of the most expensive destinations in Europe, but it’s not. Of course, it’s not as cheap as other European countries on this list. But it can be quite affordable if you choose to stay in hostels or budget hotels, eat at small Greek restaurants, and use public ferries between the islands.

Top Places to Visit in Greece

Greece is one of the most romantic destinations in Europe. With thousands of islands throughout the Aegean and Ionian seas, a plethora of ancient ruins, sunny beaches, whitewashed villages, and tasty cuisine, it’s hard to get it wrong no matter where you go in Greece!

Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens

After visiting Athens, which is one of the world’s most fascinating cities, you should go island hopping. There are countless beautiful and exotic islands to visit in Greece, like Santorini, Ios, Patmos, or Mykonos, just to name a few.

buildings on the Santorini Island in Greece
The island of Santorini

How much does a trip to Greece cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average hostel room per night: €12
  • Average 3-star hotel in Athens per night: €38
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: €16 – 24
  • Local transportation: €8/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $€850 ($1015)


TURKEY

Turkey’s fascinating history, engaging culture and delicious food precede its reputation. Above all else, the country’s friendly people and low prices all across the board, make Turkey one of the most desirable and affordable destinations in Europe.

Top Places to Visit in Turkey

When visiting the European portion of Turkey, you absolutely must spend at least 3 days in Istanbul. Be sure to visit the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Chora Church while visiting the city –– and that just to scratches the surface!

Cheapest countries to visit in Europe: Turkey
The Blue Mosque at night

READ NEXT: Where to Eat in Istanbul Without Getting Ripped Off

Turkey has attractions galore, whether you want to explore ruins such as Ephesus, soak in the thermal pools of Pamukkale, or see some of the world’s most surreal panoramas in Cappadocia.

Soaking in the thermal pools of Pamukkale
Soaking in the thermal pools of Pamukkale

How much does a trip to Turkey cost?

  • Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
  • Average 3-Star Hotel in Istanbul: $33 – $46 /night
  • Dinner at a Local Restaurant: $10 – $18/person
  • Local transportation: $0.75 – $1.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $785


ROMANIA

Romania is a country in Eastern Europe that once used to be my home. So I may be a little biased towards it, but I believe there are many reasons to visit Romania. It’s a very welcoming country, easy to visit, with beautiful scenery, old medieval towns, and an amazing cuisine.

The Old Town of Sighisoara in Romania

It is also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Especially if you’re heading to Bucovina to explore its famous painted monasteries and untouched countryside. But even if you choose to visit its most popular destinations, like the castles and fortresses in Transylvania, or the medieval towns of Sibiu, Târgu Mures, or Sighisoara, Romania is still very affordable.

Peles Castles in Romania
Peles Castle in Romania

READ NEXT: 10 Authentic Souvenirs You Should Buy in Romania

Top Places to Visit in Romania

Romania is one of the very few places left in Europe where you can still ride a steam engine locomotive. So one of the places not to miss is the region of Maramures, where you can ride the Mocanita, the last steam forestry train in Europe.

Riding the Mocanita steam engine locomotive.
Riding the Mocanita steam engine locomotive

Another beautiful place to visit in Romania the beautiful Danube Delta, Europe’s largest and best preserved delta.

How much does a trip to Romania cost?

  • Currency: Leu (RON)
  • Average 3-star hotel in Bucharest: $39
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $9 – $14
  • Local transportation per person: $4.30/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $875


BULGARIA

Bulgaria has come a long way since the collapse of communism, but it’s not my favorite country in Europe (although it’s arguably the cheapest to visit!) Sofia, the capital city, is lined with communist multi-story apartment buildings, although a few chic cafés and skinny skyscrapers pop up here and there.

buildings in Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital

But while Sofia may lack in the urban aspects compared with other European cities, finding free high-speed Internet on every street corner, makes cities like Paris and Rome look like little babies!

Top Places to Visit in Bulgaria

There are however a few interesting places to visit in Bulgaria, which will make your trip worthwhile. The country is famous for its long, sandy beaches with glitzy resorts, like the Sunny Beach, or Golden Sands in Varna, where tourists flock every summer.

the Golden Sands resort in Varna
Varna

There are also many traditional fishing villages, and historical sites worth visiting along the Black Sea coast, like the historic town of Nessebar, which dates back to antiquity when it was founded as a Thracian settlement. A stroll on its cobblestone streets will bring you to the remnants of some 40 brick churches, dating back to the 5th century.

Nessebar Old Town
Nessebar Old Town

Another city worth visiting is Plovdiv which was voted one of the European capitals of culture in 2019. Its Old Town offers arguably the best preserved collection of traditional architecture anywhere in southeastern Europe.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
Old Town Plovdiv

How much does a trip to Bulgaria cost?

  • Currency: Lev (BGN).
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Sofia: $31
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $8 – $12
  • Local transportation: $2.40/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $750


MONTENEGRO

Another very affordable country in Southeastern Europe is Montenegro. A remnant of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro emerged as a leisure destination only after gaining its independence, in 2006, and is today the place to go to the Adriatic.

The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

Top Places to Visit in Montenegro

Montenegro is in my opinion the most scenic country in the Balkans, packed with irresistible medieval towns, rugged mountains and dramatic coastlines. The country’s most notable town is undoubtedly Kotor, famous for its beautiful landmarks, nostalgic atmosphere and breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor. But there are many other small towns and villages worth visiting along the coast of Montenegro. Like Sveti Stefan, Budva and Perast, just to name a few.

Visiting Budva in Montenegro
Visiting Budva

But the Adriatic coast is not the only spectacular place in Montenegro. Just a little more inland, on the border with Bosnia, lies the jaw-dropping Tara River Canyon, an ideal place for white-water rafting or kayaking in summer.

Water rafting in the Tara River Canyon
White-water rafting on the Tara River

How much does it cost to visit Montenegro?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Old Town Kotor: $39
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $10 – $14
  • Local transportation: $10-$15/day (between towns)
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $958

CHEAPEST COUNTRIES TO VIST IN CENTRAL EUROPE


HUNGARY

Hungary is a small country in Central Europe, mostly known for its charming capital ––Budapest–– but also for its mouth-watering food, fancy Hungarian wines and friendly people. The country is filled with a lot of unspoiled natural beauty, which remains quite often undiscovered.

Budapest in winter

Top Places to Visit in Hungary

Like everybody else who heads to Hungary, you’ll want to spend at least a few days in Budapest, exploring its beautiful Old Town attractions, fantastic restaurants, and amazing cultural venues. Chances are you’ll never want to leave Budapest, once you discover its charm and friendly atmosphere. From rooftop bars and decadent baths, to jam-packed discos and quirky pubs, Budapest has an abundance of attractions to lure you in and keep you busy.

Budapest, Hungary - one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe
Fishermen’s Bastion in Budapest

Budapest is beautiful even in winter, so if you want to save even more money you should visit Hungary during the shoulder season, which is actually the best time to travel to Europe.

READ NEXT: Budapest Travel Tips and Information First Time Visitors

But make sure you don’t leave Hungary before you visit some its unspoiled countryside. Or at least take a few short day trips around Budapest to see Eger, Szentendre, and Lake Balaton.

Visiting Hungary, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
Visiting Szentendre

How much does a trip to Hungary cost?

  • Currency: Forint (HUF)
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Budapest: $44
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $18 – $21
  • Local transportation: $5.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $958


CZECH REPUBLIC

Another inexpensive and underrated destination in Central Europe is the Czech Republic. This small country is like fairytale: dotted with castles, medieval towns, beautiful mountains, ancient ruins, and world-class wineries. 

When you speak about the Czech Republic, most people automatically think of Prague, which is definitely a gem, but it’s also the most expensive city in the country. Overall however, the Czech Republic is considered one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

Czech Republic, one of the cheapest countries in Europe
Prague Old Town

Top Places to Visit in the Czech Republic

If you are visiting Czechia, go beyond Prague and you’ll discover to some of the most beautiful and interesting destinations you’ll ever experience! Head to the South Bohemian Region to experience the medieval town of Český Krumlov, visit the Bone Church in Kutná Hora, and definitely stop in Pilsen, the birthplace of the famous Pilsner beer.

statue in Pilsen, Czech Republic
Pilsen

How much does a trip to the Czech Republic cost?

  • Currency: Czech Koruna (CZK)
  • Average 3-Star Hotel in Prague: $58 per night
  • Dinner at a Local Restaurant: $7 to $15 per person
  • Local transportation in Prague: $5/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: Kč27,234 ($1,140)


POLAND

Poland is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, rich in culture, with extraordinary historic sites and scenic landscapes. The country has a large collection of very well preserved medieval cities, like Krakow, Poznanan, Wroclaw and Gdansk, each of which are worth visiting.

Old Town Krakow in Poland
Old Town Krakow

Top places to visit in Poland

One important landmark not to miss is in Poland the Tatra National Park, located in south-central part of the country. The park is breathtakingly beautiful, with numerous rock formations, over 650 caves and several alpine lakes and waterfalls.

View of mountain peaks in Tatra Mountains in Poland
Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea), the largest lake in the Tatra Mountains

Also worth visiting is the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a sad reminder of the atrocities of WWII, and Wieliczka Salt Mine, a huge labyrinth of salt that contains salt sculptures created by miners.

How much does a trip to Poland cost?

  • Currency: Zloty (PLN)
  • Average 3-star hotel in Warsaw: $53
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $11 – $16
  • Local transportation: $4.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $936


CROATIA

Croatia is lovely! The food is great, the weather is good and the scenery is even better. The prices are very reasonably also, especially if you don’t travel there in summer. Croatia is definitely more expensive than some of the other countries on this list, however, it won’t burn a hole in your pocket if you find some ways to cut costs.

Visiting the town of Split, in Croatia
Split, Croatia

Top Places to Visit in Croatia

There are countless beautiful places to visit in Croatia. The best way to visit the country is to rent a car and take a road trip. You can explore the Dalmatian Coast, visit Plitvice Lakes, and stop in all the important cities along the coast, like Dubrovnik, Split, Pula, Zadar and Trogir.

How much does a trip to Croatia cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-star hotel: $45 –$60
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $15-$20
  • Transportation between cities: $10 – $15 per journey
  • Car rental: $25 – $30 per day
  • Average price for a week vacation for a couple: $1,100 (€921)


SLOVENIA

This beautiful country located on the sunny side of the Alps is a remarkable and inexpensive place to travel in Europe. From dramatic gorges, stunning river valleys and hidden waterfalls, to remote villages, attracting towns and grandiose castle, Slovenia falls short on nothing!

Kozjak Waterfalls in Kobarid, Slovenia
Kozjak Waterfalls in Kobarid, Slovenia

Top Places to Visit in Slovenia

The list of its scenic places to visit in Slovenia is quite long. You should start with its colorful capital –Ljubljana– which is one of the best European cities to visit in December. Then take a day trip to Lake Bled, just an hour away from the city.

View of Old Town Ljubljana
View of Old Town Ljubljana

Also worth visiting are the towns of Maribor where you can see the oldest vine in the world (more than 450 years) and Postojna, known for spectacular caves which have ceilings nearly 50 meters (150 feet) high. 

How much does a trip to Slovenia cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Ljubljana:  $38-$40/night
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $19 – $23 
  • Local transportation (bus, train or car): $16/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $930

CHEAPEST COUNTRIES TO VISIT IN WESTERN EUROPE


PORTUGAL

Portugal is a stunningly beautiful country that often gets missed due to its more luxurious (and expensive) neighboring countries like France, or Italy. Lately however, Portugal started getting a lot of public attention, as a fun and energetic destination. And that’s also because Portugal is one of the very few Western European countries that you can still visit on a budget.

Lisbon, Portugal images, one of the most inexpensive countries in Europe
Lisbon

Top Places to Visit in Portugal

From sunny weather, historic cities, breath-taking beaches, good food, and dramatic landscapes, Portugal has it all! The most popular city that most tourists visit is Lisbon, Portugal picture-perfect capital.

Only a short train ride from Lisbon, you should visit Sintra, a beautiful historic town filled with pastel-colored villas and palaces set in a forested terrain. Also, don’t miss the medieval city of Portos with its 14th century walls, narrow winding streets, colorful picturesque houses.

castle in Sintra, Portugal
Sintra, Portugal

While in Portugal, you should visit the golden beaches of Algarve, which are country’s main tourist magnet, and also the rest of the coast, which is dotted with secluded coves.

How much does a trip to Portugal cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Lisbon:  $66/night
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $18 – $28 
  • Local transportation in the country (bus, train or car): $17.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $1,350 (€1,128)


SPAIN

One of the Western European options list you’ll want to consider Spain, although it won’t be as cheap as other countries in Europe, like the Balkans, or the Baltics. While popular cities like Barcelona and Madrid aren’t exactly cheap, there are many other affordable spots throughout the country. Like Toledo, Valencia, or Seville, which is home to one of the most stunning cathedrals in the world.

View of Toledo from the lookout point across the river
View of Toledo from the lookout point across the river

TIP: The best places to stay when visiting Spain are the Paradores, a chain of very affordable hotels located in historic buildings such as fortresses, monasteries, or castles. 

Top Places to Visit in Spain

In addition to the beautiful cities named above, one of the must-see places in Spain is the southernmost part of Costa Brava, in the region of Catalonia. This beautiful region with rocky coves, serene beaches, and tranquil villages, like Tossa de Mar, deserves a top spot on any Europe bucket list

Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava
Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava

How much does a trip to Spain cost?

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Average 3-star hotel room in Lisbon:  $78/night
  • Dinner at a local restaurant: $18 – $26 
  • Local transportation in the city: $2.50/day
  • Average price for a one week vacation per couple: $1,350 (€1,128)

A Final Word

One thing to be keep in mind when looking at this list, is that the popularity of these beautiful countries is raising fast. After the collapse of Communism in Europe, their tourist industry started developing fast and they began catching up with their neighboring competitors.

Many of these once underestimated destinations are no longer as underpriced as they used to be 10-15 years ago. So in a near future, you’ll be seeing higher prices almost everywhere in Europe. My advice would be to include these beautiful destinations in your travel plans while they are still the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.

HEADED TO EUROPE? DON’T MISS THESE TIPS: How to Visit Europe Like a Pro

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