5 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.

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

Budapest

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 along with its wallet-friendly prices.

Great affordable things to do:

  • Visit Castle Hill and Fisherman's Bastion (FREE to just walk around)
  • Walk across the famous Chain Bridge (FREE)
  • Soak at the Szechenyi Baths ($15-$20 for a whole day; less if you go in the afternoon on a weekday)
  • Visit some ruin bars (cost will vary)
  • Cruise the Danube at night ($20-$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

Prague

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. The architecture makes 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 things to do:

  • 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

Warsaw

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), Warsaw 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 things to do:

  • Walk around the (new) Old Town (FREE)
  • Learn your Warsaw history at the Warsaw Uprising Museum ($4)
  • Take a tour of the Royal Castle ($7)
  • Relax in one of Warsaw's many parks (FREE)
  • Visit the Neon Muzeum to see old neon signs from the Soviet days ($3)
  • Wander through the old Jewish Cemetery ($2.50)

Read more: 7 Reasons Why Warsaw is Awesome

Berlin

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 ($15)
  • Go Museum Island (get a day pass for all 5 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

Bucharest

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 with Guided Bucharest ($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 ($7-$16, depending on whether you buy a photo pass or not)
  • 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, Sofia, Sarajevo, Riga, Bratislava, and Tallinn. All will offer you a lot more for your money!

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 Cities in Europe You Can Actually Afford to Visit

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  1. Loved this series of articles, what an excellent idea, to highlight the great (and cheaper) cities of Europe. Will definitely share this information with my friends and relatives.

    It’s such a cool list! I was also sorry you didn’t mention Ljubljana, my home town, but you explained that decision in another comment. I already visited Budapest and Berlin, been to Prague on a passing, but Bucharest and Warsaw are a complete mystery and now I have this urge to see them! It is so romantic to explore places you have no expections of.

      I do definitely still love Ljubljana, though! 🙂 You should check out Warsaw for sure – I loved that city so much more than I expected to!

    I really fancy Bucharest but am having little joy with flights at the moment. As for the others I love Berlin and Prague but the latter seems positively expensive these days. The first time I visited in 1991 (ouch am I really that old?!) lager was 15p a pint. Oh the hangovers!

      Haha oh man, that sounds dangerous! Prague definitely HAS gotten more expensive (and more popular) in recent years, but it’s still a lot more affordable than many other cities in Europe!

    You should go to Riga, Latvia! It is about 5 dollars to go to the top of the Saint Peters church there, a beautiful sight! And I have stayed at quite a few nice hostels for 10-15 dollars a night!:)

      Yes, I’ve heard great things about Riga – definitely on my list!

    Recently visited 2 of them…Prague and Warsaw….did almost all of them you have mentioned! such great memories…Hopefully can visit Budapest and Bucharest soon…

    Cheers,
    Che

    I haven’t been to Bucharest or Warsaw, but I love the other three cities that I have been to. For cheapness, I would give Prague the edge of those three simply because beer is so affordable there – and it’s home of the original (and best) pilsner in the world!

      I you love Berlin, you’d probably like Warsaw, too! At least, I thought they both had a similar vibe. You’re right about super cheap beer in Prague, though! (It’s also very cheap in Romania!)

    We were in Prague last year and were surprised by how much prices had gone up since our last visit. But we just returned from Budapest and were surprised at how cheap it was! Wow! On your Budapest list, we recommend the Central Market – you can eat like a king for pennies.

      Yeah, prices in Prague have certainly gone up now that so many people are visiting. But it’s still very affordable compared to, say, London or Rome! And great tip on the market in Budapest!

    Thank you for your suggestions, Amanda! It’s almost silly that I live in Europe and have seen so little of it, apart from my home country Portugal and a few others.

    Perhaps you could also make a list of European cities to visit based on the price/quality ratio of eats next, suggesting some tasty affordable options for each one. Nowadays I find tasting each place’s local delicacies at restaurants the locals go to as important as visiting the “mandatory” attractions tour guides tout around, if not more so 😀

      Hey Rodrigo! That’s definitely a great idea for a post, but I’m afraid I’m not really enough of a foodie to do a list like that justice!

    I have not been to all of these, but I would definitely agree with Budapest. We had a wonderful time there and it wasn’t too expensive. I would add Lisbon, Portugal to your list though. It has so many free things to do and seem cheap public transportation, and cheap eats. I love it there.
    I hope someday to make it to the other destinations on your list. They all seem amazing!

      I haven’t been to Lisbon yet, but it’s definitely on my list! I’ve heard great things.

    I always get excited when I see Warsaw in any kind of list 🙂 and I think it fits perfectly here 🙂 and the best things about doing Warsaw on budget is that there are days when some museums are free, like we went to the Royal Castle!

    I’ve been thinking about Bucharest more and more lately and I think I might finally go there next year, it sounds and looks like my kind of place 🙂

      Yes, many of these cities have free museum days, which is always awesome. Though, in Warsaw’s case, the entry fees are already so cheap!

      I think you would really like Bucharest, Kami. I agree that it sounds like your kind of city!

    Really good tips Amanda!
    I’ve visited every city but Warsaw and your what-to-do recommendations are really good. Also I’m happy someone is including nBerlin as an affordable city to visit. Germany captail is indeed an affordable city.
    Good post! Thanks!

      I decided to stick to capitals for this post – and Berlin is definitely affordable as far as European capitals go!

    We’ve been to all of these cities, and have found most of this info to be true, except Berlin maybe 😛 From our experience, if you’re into living like a local you better be ready to give up a little extra pocket change.
    But Prague is definitely wallet friendly! We lived there for two years and spent less than half of what we spent living in California.
    And Warsaw is awesome too. While you’re in the area, Bratislava is a cool idea for a one-day trip. Also cheap and great for hikes are the Tatra mountains, on either Slovak or Polish side.

      Berlin is definitely more expensive than Prague, but it’s still quite affordable by European standards! I would love to live there for a while.

    Brilliant post Amanda! I’m lucky enough to have lived in Prague for two years and I live in Berlin right now too! I’m enormously happy here LOL! Budapest is gorgeous and even though I go to Poland quite a lot, I’m yet to get to Warsaw or visit Romania. That’ll change really soon. Nice one!

      Definitely make it to Warsaw at some point! Especially if you love Berlin, I think you’ll like Warsaw, too!

        I absolutely do. I would also like to say (if it’s alright), that as a West European capital city, Berlin is the cheapest city there is out there, and in comparison to Prague, I’d say that Berlin is cheaper!
        I lived in Prague for two years (which is in Eastern Europe) and yes, if you live in the city then Prague is cheaper, but if you’re a tourist, Prague is much more expensive as they still have the double price phenmomenum. If you speak Czech or are on the outskirts, then you’d get the 50p beers. Consider the fact that in the very famous (Michael Jackson anyone!) 5-star Adlon Hotel on Brandenburger Tor, a small beer cost only €6.00. On the Old Town Square (Staromestke), that same beer is a sneaky €9.00 because you’re facing the clock!
        I love Prague but you always have to double check that they don’t add “extras.”

    Oh, totally agree for Prague and Budapest. I need to get to the other 3 places to experience this for myself. 🙂

      Yes, you definitely do! I found Berlin and Warsaw to have a similar vibe – which is perhaps why I loved them both so much!

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