5 Major Cities in Europe You Can Actually Afford to Visit

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Let's face it: Europe is not exactly a “cheap” part of the world to travel in. Especially when most people dream of visiting cities like London and Paris and Amsterdam and Rome – all great cities, of course, but definitely not easy on the travel budget.

So what if you really want to visit Europe, but can't quite afford the price tag of those famous capital cities?

Well, good news! There are some cities in Europe – some major, capital cities – that are still affordable.

5 affordable cities to visit in Europe

Check out my list of 5 major cities in Europe that are both budget-friendly AND really cool.

(You can, of course, plan affordable trips to just about any city in Europe if you try hard enough, but the cities I've listed here are just inherently more affordable, and have lots of cheap or free things to do!)

1. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest

Hungary's capital is a fantastic city. It actually used to be two separate cities – Buda and Pest – located on two sides of the Danube River. Today, the cities are combined into one, but you can still feel the different vibes depending on which side of the river you find yourself on.

Budapest is known for its architecture and history, along with its wallet-friendly prices. Budapest is one of my favorite cities (period) in Europe, and the fact that it's so affordable is just an added bonus.

Great affordable things to do in Budapest:

  • Visit Castle Hill and Fisherman's Bastion (FREE to just walk around)
  • Walk across the famous Chain Bridge (FREE)
  • Soak at the Szechenyi Baths ($20 for a whole day)
  • Visit some ruin bars (cost will vary)
  • Cruise the Danube at night ($10-$30, often with dinner included)
  • Take a stroll down Andrássy Avenue to Heroes' Square to admire the architecture (FREE)

Read more: 48 Hours in Budapest and 10 Things to Do in Budapest for the History Lover

2. Prague, Czech Republic/Czechia

Prague

Prague – the capital city of the Czech Republic, located on the Vltava River – is often named as one of the prettiest cities in Europe. And the architecture does indeed make it feel very fairytale-like.

But, thankfully, the price to visit Prague has not risen a ton, even though its popularity as a travel destination certainly has. Accommodation will cost you the most here, while things like food, drink, and attractions are, overall, pretty cheap.

Great affordable things to do in Prague:

  • Free walking tour with Sandeman's New Europe ($5-$10 to tip your guide)
  • Explore the grounds of Prague Castle (FREE unless you go inside)
  • Visit the Old Town Square (FREE)
  • Stroll across the Charles Bridge (FREE)
  • Have a beer – it's notoriously cheap in Prague
  • Get a view out over the city from Letna Park (FREE)

Read more: Pretty Prague in Photos

3. Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw

Poland's capital really surprised me when I visited it for the first time. While Krakow often gets all the attention when it comes to tourism in Poland (to be fair, Krakow is also a great, affordable city in Europe), it was Warsaw that won my heart.

I love the mix of traditional architecture in the Old Town and the nearby Soviet apartment blocks. I also love all the history, and the quirky vibe in many parts of the city thanks to its large university-aged population.

Great affordable things to do in Warsaw:

  • Walk around the (new) Old Town (FREE)
  • Learn your Warsaw history at the Warsaw Rising Museum ($6)
  • Take a tour of the Royal Castle ($7.50)
  • Relax in one of Warsaw's many parks (FREE)
  • Visit the Neon Muzeum to see old neon signs from the Soviet days ($4)
  • Wander through the old Jewish Cemetery
  • Eat at a traditional milk bar (cafes known for very affordable meals)

Read more: 7 Reasons Why Warsaw is Awesome

4. Berlin, Germany

Berlin

Berlin, Germany, is another one of my favorite cities in Europe. It's a little bit gritty and a little bit hipster, and yet there's a ridiculous amount of fascinating history to be found, too.

And, even though Germany is on the Euro, Berlin remains an extremely affordable city. Food, public transport, and even accommodation can be found for reasonable prices.

Great things to do:

  • Take an Insider Tour of Berlin – I recommend their Third Reich tour ($21)
  • Go to Museum Island (get a day pass for all 6 museums on the island for $23)
  • Check out the Brandenburg Gate (FREE)
  • See murals painted on an old section of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery (FREE)
  • Go up into the dome of the Reichstag (FREE – you just have to register for a time online)
  • Stroll through or picnic in Tiergarten (FREE)
  • Visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Holocaust museum beneath it (FREE)

Read more: Berlin: Much More Than Its Past

5. Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest

Lastly, don't count out Eastern Europe. Bucharest, the capital of Romania, was designed to be a “Little Paris,” and boasts wide avenues and detailed architecture.

The city is definitely an up-and-comer – its communist ties are still a recent memory and some parts of the city aren't exactly pretty, but Bucharest is very easy on the budget.

Great things to do:

  • Go on a free walking tour ($5-$10 to tip your guide)
  • Stroll through the Cismigiu Gardens (FREE)
  • Tour the Palace of Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world ($20)
  • Chill out at a cafe in the revived Old Town

Read more: A Tale of Two Capitals: Bucharest and Sofia


So WHY are these cities so much more affordable? Well, first of all, many of them are in Central Europe. And many countries in Central Europe have not yet switched over to the Euro, meaning your dollar stretches a lot further here.

Many of these cities aren't top tourist attractions yet, either (well, except Prague; tourists have definitely discovered Prague), meaning prices for food and accommodation haven't started soaring since visitors are sharing the space with locals.

Add to this plenty of low-cost airlines in Europe that service all of these cities, and you have the trifecta for affordability.

Want a few MORE ideas for affordable capitals in Europe? You can also check out: Lisbon, Portugal; Sofia, Bulgaria; Riga, Latvia; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Ljubljana, Slovenia. All will offer you a lot more for your money!

READ NEXT: 12 European Capitals You Need to Visit


Which affordable city in Europe is YOUR favorite?

5 affordable cities in Europe

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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67 Comments on “5 Major Cities in Europe You Can Actually Afford to Visit

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  1. Hi Amanda. I think I have Bucharest envy now 🙂 And Berlin is definitely on my wish list! I was in Budapest a few weeks ago and agree it’s a great value city. I found free walking tours there too – http://www..triptobudapest.hu. I did their Communism tour and it was fab (more about it on my website if you want to take a look, along with a breakdown of costs in Budapest, forint by forint. Happy travels everyone.

      Free walking tours are the best!

    It may not be terribly affordable, but the Amalfi Coast is my absolute favorite. I’ve only visited Italy, so I have a limited number of places to choose from. I’d love to get to Prague!

      The Amalfi Coast is so beautiful! But definitely not the most cost-effective… haha.

    This is a nice list! Prague is one of my dream European destinations. Now its time for me to locate the embassy here in the Philippines

      Prague is definitely worth visiting (though it’s not my favorite on this list!).

    I suppose I shouldn’t add Oslo to the list, eh… no, thought not 😉
    I would add Vilnius, though. Lovely city, and very inexpensive

      Haha, I’m pretty sure Oslo would go on the opposite of this list! I’ve heard good things about Vilnius, though. 🙂

    Budapest is indeed amazing! For our group travel tour, we stayed at the Hotel Gellert, steps away from the Liberty Bridge. The famous baths are free if you’re staying there.

    Bucharest is another city I hope to visit.

      Nice that you get entry to the baths at that hotel! That’s definitely a nice perk.

    Budapest and Prague are two of my favorite cities! I actually just got home from Prague and was pleasantly surprised by how little money I spent – the food and beer are very affordable! I haven’t traveled to the other three cities yet, but hope to soon!

      Yes, I felt the same way about Prague! Everything was super affordable. I stayed in a hostel a bit outside of the city center, and it was the cheapest hostel I stayed in in Europe!

    Yes, excellent choices! I’ve been to all of these but Bucharest. Berlin has definitely become more expensive in the past five years, but it definitely still affordable for the capital city of one of Europe’s richest countries.

      Compared to like, London and Paris, Berlin is still soooo much more affordable!

    Awesome tips! Prague and Budapest are HIGH on my must visit list for the next year, can’t wait. I loved visiting Berlin, it was one of the coolest and most interesting cities I have ever visited. So much history and culture.

      I fell immediately in love with Berlin – I would love to spend more time there someday! Prague and Budapest are definitely musts, too!

    These are such good tips! Poland is so affordable and picturesque, definitely one of the most cost-efficient destinations in Europe.

      Thanks! And yes, Poland is amazing – I’m so surprised more people don’t travel there!

    Prague is one of the cities that I want to visit in Europe. I would appreciate if you suggest a few cheap accommodation options in Prague.

      I stayed at a hostel a bit outside of downtown – PLUS Prague. It was really nice, and there was a tram nearby to take you into the heart of the city!

    Totally agree with a lot of these – I’m a Londoner who’s half Czech so I see the difference in price between London and Prague. I went to Berlin for the first time earlier this year and was shocked how such a major city was so affordable! I went up the Reichstag at sunset and it was beautiful (couldn’t believe that was free to do!).

      Yes, I have NO clue how Berlin remains so affordable! But I’m so glad that it does, because it’s such a cool city!

    I have this theory that there is no place on Earth that doesn’t deserve to be seen, all nooks and corners can turn out to hide some precious gems – Central and Eastern Europe are the best proof of that. Not to mention that you can almost always find cheap accommodation and transportation, apart from the low cost of living 🙂 They make great destinations for short city breaks, but they can also be turned into a longer trip, over the span of a couple of weeks.

      I totally agree, Cata! Central and Eastern Europe are amazing – beautiful and with friendly people, but soooo much more affordable than other parts of the continent!

    Love the picks and suggestions, but because I am from Slovenia, I would recommend our capital Ljubljana as well 🙂 Ljubljana is a beautiful city, not to mention also the costs of living is lower than Berlin 😉

      Hey Nina! I LOVE Ljubljana – and all of Slovenia! But, from a traveler’s standpoint, I found these 5 cities to be a bit cheaper!

    Such great cities as well! Though I certainly preferred Cluj over Bucharest! Berlin is one of my favs!

      LOVE Berlin so much! I was just focusing on capitals here, which is why I went with Bucharest. But yeah, so many great cities in Romania! Most people have no clue…

    Great post!! I was planning on heading over to a few of these cities in Europe next year, so these tips will definitely come in handy! 🙂 x

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