15 Best Cheap European Cities to Visit on a Budget in 2024

Are you searching for cheap European cities for your next city break?

The good news is that not every place on the Old Continent is out of your budget.

In this article, you’ll discover 15 affordable European cities that won’t break your bank. Explore the best and cheapest cities in Europe along with their highlights, free things to do, and tips on when to visit and where to stay.

Ready to discover the cheapest European cities?

Let’s begin!

Short on time? Here are my best resources for traveling in Europe on a budget:

🏨 The Best Accommodations 🏨

🏨 The Best Entry Tickets and Tours 🏨

🚉 The Best Deals on Transportation 🚉

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Tips for Finding the Cheapest Cities in Europe

Cheap European Cities Header
Use the tips in this article to find the best cheap European cities for your next trip

I’ll admit that some European cities are excruciatingly expensive to travel to.

However, even in otherwise expensive European countries, you can get by on a tight budget.

Try to explore as many attractions for free, dine where locals eat, and use public transportation instead of taxis and private transfers.

If you follow my travel tips below, find free things to do, and don’t splurge on unnecessary expenses, you can travel in Europe rather cheaply.

✔️ Tip: Don’t get too hung up on a destination. Instead, find the cheapest flights to anywhere in Europe and travel there. By saving on the plane ticket, you’ll have more money to spend in the city.

The 15 Best Cheap European Cities to Visit on a Budget

Some of the cheapest cities to visit in Europe are unsurprisingly in the most affordable countries to travel to.

However, I bet at least half of the destinations on this list will surprise you. Some of them are located in countries with high cost of living. But if you follow my tips, you can visit them even on a tight budget.

Let’s explore the 15 best cheap European cities.

1. Vienna, Austria: The Architecture Lover’s Paradise

Vienna - Hundertwasser House
Visiting Vienna, Austria on a budget is quite easy

Austria’s capital might seem like a surprise on this list, but read on:

  • Visiting the beautiful churches and cathedrals of Vienna is absolutely free.
  • Admiring the architecture, including the famous Hundertwasser House with its quirky lines, is also free.
  • Walking through Belvedere Gardens is free. If you want to admire the interior of the palace, sit at the castle’s café for a quick break.
  • Visiting the Prater, one of the most famous parks in Europe, is free as well.
  • Austrian food in Vienna is delicious and inexpensive.

And there are many more things to do in Vienna on a budget!

Taking public transportation and visiting the whole city center is as cheap as a cup of coffee. You can spend one day in Vienna or a whole week and fill it with numerous activities and experiences without breaking your travel budget.

Vienna is beautiful all year round but I personally loved the city covered in snow. Sure, it was cold and difficult to walk all day but that gave me a good excuse to sit in one of the countless restaurants or wander the magnificent Vienna museums.

🏨 Zoku Vienna: the best affordable, chic, modern, and centrally located hotel.

📍 Vienna Pass: save on entrances, transportation, and attractions.

2. Berlin, Germany: The Quirkiest European Capital

Berlin - Holocaust Memorial
Berlin, Germany can be very affordable to visit

Germany’s capital is so diverse, that you might wonder if you’re still in the same city after taking the subway and getting off a couple of stops outside the city center.

Even 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the differences between East and West Germany are still noticeable. You can see them in the architecture, in the infrastructure, and even in the people.

Unlike other German cities, Berlin is quite affordable. Unless you go clubbing in one of the fashionable bars, your budget will be fine.

If you don’t mind the wait, the best place to see for cheap is the parliament building, the Reichstag. The tour includes an amazing view of Berlin’s center from the glass dome.

Some of the free and awesome spots to see in Berlin include:

  • The remains of the Berlin Wall
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Brandenburger Tor
  • The Holocaust Memorial

If you’d like to explore the numerous museums on Museum Island, buy a combi ticket. It will give you access to all of them for less than a dinner’s price. Just don’t go crazy and visit more than three museums in a day ;)

✔️ Tip: Check out this complete itinerary with things to do in Berlin in 2 days.

To save on transportation, hop on Bus #100, which stops at Berlin’s main attractions. To satiate your hunger, try the diverse street food scene. And if you don’t mind the communist-era buildings around you, save a few euros by finding accommodation in the East part of Berlin.

One of the best months to visit Berlin is December. That way, you can enjoy the countless German Christmas markets around the city.

🏨 Habyt – The Waterfront: the cheapest and hippest hotel on the river.

📍 Berlin Welcome Card: save on transportation and entrance fees.

3. Antwerp, Belgium: The Diamond Capital of the World

Cheap European Cities - Antwerp Belgium
Antwerp, the Diamond Capital of the World, is actually quite budget-friendly to visit

Unless you’re buying diamonds, Belgium’s second-largest city is a very affordable destination to put on your European bucket list.

Apart from checking the glimmering stones, in Antwerp, you can indulge yourself in history, architecture, art, and the countless variety of Belgian beers.

The perfect time to visit is during a holiday. Especially spectacular is the New Year’s Eve celebration. The city offers an incredible 20-minute fireworks and music show at the waterfront. The mild climate allows you to stay outside and enjoy it, before continuing to one of the pubs located in the historical buildings of the city center.

Unless you try to drink all the beers on the menu, you won’t go broke.

The reason you should visit Antwerp during a holiday is quite simple. Search for a business hotel and you’ll find out that they offer great rates during off-days, as businesspeople (all those diamond traders) are out of town.

🏨 Hotel Diamonds and Pearls: the best luxury hotel at affordable prices.

📍 Antwerp Highlights Tour: the best way to explore the city.

4. Prague, Czech Republic: Beer, History, and Castles

Prague - View From Vysehrad Fortress
Prague, Czech Republic offers intriguing medieval architecture and delectable beer at affordable prices

Did you know that Czechs are the biggest beer consumers in the world?

And unlike Belgian beer, Czech beer is quite cheap. Plus, it’s super tasty! Especially if you find a pub, offering its own brew, you’ll be in paradise. Assuming you like beer, of course.

Prague’s main historical and architectural attractions are easily walkable or reachable via affordable public transportation. And despite what I just said about beer, exploring Prague with kids is awesome as well.

Don’t miss a walk through the Old Town (Staré Město), walk the stunning bridges over the Vltava River, and get lost between the walls of Pražský hrad (Prague Castle) and Vyšehrad. And when you decide you’ve seen enough attractions and tourists, head to one of the numerous hidden gems of Prague!

Try to avoid the summer months as the heat and humidity coupled with the increased number of tourists might spoil your trip to one of the most affordable European cities.

✔️ Tip: Beware of hustlers, trying to cheat tourists. Don’t fall for increased prices on the check. If the numbers are different from the menu you saw, don’t be afraid to raise your voice and decline to pay the inflated bill!

🏨 Hotel At the Green Grape: the cheapest and coziest hotel in a historic building.

📍 Prague CoolPass: the best way to save time and money on attractions.

5. Sofia, Bulgaria: The Surprising Pearl of the Balkans

National Palace Of Culture Sofia Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria is one of the cheapest European cities to visit

Here’s one of the wildest facts about Sofia:

Bulgaria’s capital was founded over 7,000 years ago.

(I’ll just let that sink in for a moment…)

This is a lot of history! You bet there are a ton of great things to do in Sofia. And most of the main attractions in the city are located in the center within walking distance from each other.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, how about I tell you about Sofia’s diversity?

Different religions, architectural styles, cuisines, and traditions co-exist within a few meters of each other.

On top of that, Bulgarian food is fresh, delicious, and inexpensive. The best part? You don’t have to eat at street stalls to keep your budget safe. Restaurants, even in the city center, offer great deals, especially at lunchtime.

You can visit the vibrant Bulgarian capital all year round. Pick an accommodation close to a subway station to be as flexible as possible and don’t be afraid to venture outside the city limits on day trips from Sofia.

And by the way, if you’re looking for a longer adventure, you’ll be thrilled to know that Bulgaria is on top of virtually every list of the cheapest countries to live in Europe!

🏨 Sofia Balkan Palace: retro chic and luxury at incredible prices.

📍 Sofia Walking and Tasting Tour: explore the city and sample its delicacies.

6. Bratislava, Slovakia: Candy-Colored Buildings and Mighty Rivers

Bratislava - Candy Coloured Buildings
Bratislava, Slovakia attracts not only with its cheap prices but also with its gorgeous candy-colored buildings

If you visit Slovakia’s capital, the first thing you’ll notice is the resemblance in the architecture with its neighbors’ capitals. You can see similar styles in nearby Vienna and Budapest.

However, what makes Bratislava’s city center a unique and stunning place to roam is the cheerful colors of the buildings. You’ll feel like walking around a candy shop. The gentle pink, blue, and green paint of the façades makes for great décor while sipping your coffee or indulging a smoothie.

Don’t miss to climb to Bratislavský hrad (Bratislava Castle) for a spectacular view over the city. Afterwards, stroll along the Danube River. If weather permits, relax at one of the beach bars.

In the evening, have a cocktail in one of the rooftop bars or enjoy a performance in the National Theatre. Alternatively, have a beer (or several) from every respectful pub’s own brewery.

Most of Bratislava’s attractions are an easy walk away from each other. If you prefer to explore the countryside, hop on a bus for the price of a beer and visit the astonishing Devín Castle.

You might want to avoid the hottest months of the year for your visit to one of the cheapest European cities. Other than that, Bratislava can be enjoyed all year round.

🏨 APLEND CITY Hotel Perugia: fabulous chic in the heart of the Old Town.

📍 Bratislava Card: free public transport, museums, and walking tours.

7. Istanbul, Turkey: The Incredible City on Two Continents

Cheap European Cities - Istanbul Turkey
Istanbul, Turkey is one of the most unique cheap European cities to visit

Istanbul is a city full of superlatives.

The largest Turkish city is the only one in the world located on two continents. It has been the capital of three empires: Byzantine, Roman, and Ottoman. And no, it hasn’t been Turkey’s capital for a century – Ankara is, since 1923.

You can spend weeks exploring the huge megapolis and still only see a fraction of its beauty. Thankfully, this will not break your travel budget. Even if you’re staying in the heart of the Old Town, hotels and meals are very affordable.

Get lost in the alleys of Kapalı Çarşı (the Grand Bazar). If you decide to go on a shopping spree, don’t forget to haggle. It’s a part of the culture and the vendors will respect you if you do it properly. Never pay more than 60% of the initially asked price.

After this adventure, visit the countless seafood restaurants on the Bosphorus. Then, continue exploring the old European part of the city.

Some of the main attractions of Istanbul, like the impressive Blue Mosque, are free to visit. Others, such as the grandiose palaces, have a small entrance fee.

You can get around the city by either walking, using the extensive public transportation network, or booking a guided tour.

Avoid visiting Istanbul in the summer. The temperatures in Turkey are best for exploring and beach hopping in spring and autumn. In winter, you can still roam the streets of Istanbul and stay outside the whole day. However, prepare for rain and strong winds.

✔️ Tip: Istanbul is also quite fun to explore with children. Check out this awesome itinerary for three days in Istanbul with kids.

🏨 Baymari Suites Design Florya: the most elegant and affordable boutique hotel.

📍 Istanbul Welcome Card: free museums, transportation, cruises, and tours.

8. Baku, Azerbaijan: The Astonishing City of the Future

Baku - Heydar Aliyev Centre
Baku, Azerbaijan is not only one of the best cheap European cities, but also very futuristic

It might come as a surprise to you but the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan is actually a European country. The capital Baku is situated at the border between Europe and Asia on the Caspian Seashore.

The gas-rich country has entered the 21st century with a modern capital, which resembles Dubai with its speed of development. Futuristic skyscrapers and Formula 1 tracks co-exist with old city walls and ancient fire-worshipping temples.

Among the coolest things to do in Baku is a visit to one of the most mind-bending buildings in the world, Heydar Aliyev Center.

After you’ve been mesmerized by the incredible architecture, stroll between the stalls of the Green Market. I bet you, you’ll be the only foreigner. This means that vendors will invite you to try their goods and even take photos with you.

Spend your evenings strolling the Dənizkənarı Milli Park which stretches along the Caspian Sea coast for miles. Then, enjoy a traditional dinner in one of the restaurants serving scrumptious Azeri dishes.

Taxis and buses are affordable so you’ll have the opportunity to visit spots further away from the city center. You can even venture outside the city limits on a cheap day trip. For example, the mud volcanoes, rock paintings of Gobustan, and the Atashgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple make for wonderful day trips from Baku.

The summer in Baku can bring excruciating heat. The City of Winds, as the Azeri capital is also known, is – you’ve guessed it – windy all year round. It rarely rains, so even in winter, you can enjoy walking around Old Town all day long.

🏨 The Merchant Baku: affordable luxury stay in a historic setting.

📍 Tour of Historic and Modern Baku: learn the secrets of the Azari capital.

9. Paphos, Cyprus: Pristine Beaches and Abundant Ancient Ruins

Paphos Archaeological Site
Paphos, Cyprus enchants with its pristine beaches, ancient ruins, and affordable prices

How do millennial old well-preserved archaeological sites next to pristine Cyprus beaches and rugged coastline sound to you?

You can find all that plus a plethora of excellent restaurants and cheap accommodation options in the lovely city of Paphos, Cyprus. Add to that a vibrant street art scene, a cozy old town, and friendly locals, and you’ve found a true European gem.

The divided island republic also boasts picturesque little villages, spectacular churches and monasteries, and even snow in the high mountains. The roads are in excellent condition, making Paphos a great base for countless road trips. Alternatively, the Mediterranean Sea invites sailing adventures all year round.

If you decide to travel to this cheap European city, try to avoid the summer months. Not only are the temperatures extremely high but also prices rise proportionally to the number of tourists. You can go swimming in all months of the year except in December and January.

🏨 Seashell Apartments: gorgeous cheap apartments near the beach.

📍 Cyprus Highlights Boat Cruise: save on the best boat tour by booking in advance.

10. Milan, Italy: Fashion, (Street) Art, and Countless Churches

Cheap European Cities - Milan
Milan, Italy offers both ultra-luxurious and budget-friendly experiences

Tourists traveling in Europe often overlook the second-largest Italian city, Milan. Many consider the industrial megapolis to be ugly. I’ll have to strongly disagree with that notion.

The countless churches, the narrow lanes, the lush parks, and the magnificent museums make Milan a great tourist destination.

The best part?

You can do a plethora of things around the city without ever spending a dime.

Here’s an extensive list of the best free things to do in Milan. On top of that, public transportation and food are very affordable. You can also do a bunch of day trips from Milan for a few bucks.

As with most of the cheap European cities, try to visit this overlooked Italian gem outside the summer holidays. Even in the winter months, you can roam Milan’s streets all day long.

🏨 21 House of Stories Città Studi: hip hotel at affordable prices with chill vibes.

📍 Milan City Card: get free entrances, transport, and discounts.

11. Budapest, Hungary: Thermal Baths, Stunning Architecture, and Ruin Bars

Panorama of Budapest Hungary
Viewing the breathtaking panorama of Budapest won’t cost you a dime

Hungary’s capital offers fantastic attractions and tasty treats at affordable prices.

One of the highlights of Budapest is its impressive architecture. Walk around the magnificent Parliament Building, stroll the Chain Bridge, and climb to Buda Castle. Admire the fantastic views over the mighty Danube River and explore underground caves. Budapest is the only city with a network of caves beneath its streets.

Another unique experience in Budapest is visiting its thermal baths. Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Gellért Thermal Bath are the most famous ones.

Budapest’s nightlife also offers a unique experience. The famous ruin bars are a must-visit. They occupy old, abandoned buildings and are known for their quirky decor and lively atmosphere.

For an afternoon in nature, visit Margaret Island, situated in the middle of the Danube River. It offers a tranquil escape from the city bustle.

When it comes to dining, Budapest offers plenty of affordable options. Indulge in delicious snacks at local markets or grab a lángos from the street vendors. The deep-fried flatbread comes with different toppings and won’t break the bank. This makes Budapest one of the cheapest European cities to visit on a budget.

🏨 Hotel Oktogon Haggenmacher: elegant hotel with a wellness center at reasonable rates.

📍 Budapest Card: public transport, top attractions, and tours.

12. Lisbon, Portugal: Charming Streets, Fado Music, and Coastal Views

Panorama from Sao Jorge Castle Lisbon
Lisbon is one of the best cheap European cities to visit on a budget

One of the highlights of Lisbon is its charming streets lined with tiled buildings and cobblestone pavements. Walking through neighborhoods like Alfama and Bairro Alto, you’ll encounter quaint cafes, boutique shops, and vibrant street art.

The coastal views in Lisbon are simply stunning. Whether you’re admiring the cityscape from one of its many viewpoints or taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, you’ll be treated to fantastic vistas of the Tagus River meeting the Atlantic Ocean. My favorite panorama is from São Jorge Castle! Take the historic tram to get there as the hill is impossibly steep.

An important part of Lisbon’s cultural heritage is the Fado music. This melancholic genre can be experienced in intimate venues called “fado houses”. Listening to Fado while sipping on a glass of Porto wine is a must-do experience in Lisbon.

Don’t miss to visit historic landmarks like the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery as well. They showcase Portugal’s rich maritime history.

And for a taste of authentic Portuguese cuisine, head to the local markets or tascas (taverns). There, you can sample delicacies like bacalhau (salted cod) and pastéis de nata (custard tarts) at the cheapest prices possible.

🏨 LR Guest House: chic hotel with trendy design and inexpensive rates.

📍 Lisbon Card: get free entrances, transport, and discounts.

13. Santiago de Compostela, Spain: The Historic Pilgrimage Destination

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the end of all Camino routes

Santiago de Compostela in Spain is famous for pilgrimages and its old charm. The Cathedral in its Old Town is the end of all Camino de Santiago routes.

In Santiago, you’ll meet pilgrims from all over the world, sharing stories and making friends. But visiting the Spanish city is not all about religion. Santiago is a vibrant cultural hub that offers traditional Galician music and dance performances alongside contemporary art exhibitions.

To save money, try eating at local spots away from tourists. You can find tasty Galician dishes at reasonable prices.

When walking the Camino, look for albergues, the cheap hostels for pilgrims. Staying there will help you save money and connect with fellow travelers. You can also order pilgrim meals or cook together with your new friends at your accommodation.

🏨 Hotel Entrecercas: centrally-located, cozy hotel with cheap prices and rustic decor.

📍 Santiago de Compostela tour: explore the Cathedral, the museum, and the Old Town.

14. Plovdiv, Bulgaria: The Oldest Constantly Inhabited European Settlement

Ancient Theater Plovdiv Bulgaria
The ancient Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria is worth exploring

One of the most surprising facts about Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, is that it’s home to Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement, with over 8,000 years of history. Plovdiv is also one of the cheapest European cities to visit, despite its rich history and cultural significance.

Although most travelers only visit on a day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv, I encourage you to spend at least a night in the gorgeous city to fully enjoy its vibrant culture and rich history.

The ancient Roman Theater, one of the best-preserved in the world, is a testament to the city’s heritage. Plovdiv’s Old Town, a living museum, features cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved Bulgarian National Revival houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. You can explore its peculiar museums, art galleries, and Roman ruins on foot.

Plovdiv offers cool experiences apart from its historical sites, too.

It’s situated in a major wine-producing region, so don’t miss trying the local wines. The city boasts Europe’s longest pedestrian street, bustling with activity and lined with shops and cafes. Check out Kapana, Bulgaria’s first creative district. The lively neighborhood is filled with art galleries, shops, and cafes.

🏨 Gallery 37: luxury hotel with cheap rates and posh designs.

📍 Plovdiv Private Tour: learn all you need to know about Plovdiv on this affordable tour.

15. Valencia, Spain: Mediterranean Charm and Delicious Cuisine

City of Arts and Sciences Valencia
The modern architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is mind-boggling

Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, boasts Mediterranean charm and an abundance of delicious cuisine. Still, it’s one of the cheapest European cities and more budget-friendly than Madrid or Barcelona.

The city’s historic center is filled with architectural gems like the stunning Valencia Cathedral and the iconic Silk Exchange, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Barrio del Carmen and admire the colorful facades of the buildings.

Valencia is also renowned for its modern architecture. The futuristic City of Arts and Sciences complex is a cultural and entertainment hub. Check out its mind-boggling structures which house museums, an opera house, and an aquarium.

The Spanish city offers a ton of free activities to put on your itinerary as well. Next to wandering the streets, you can also visit museums and galleries without paying for a ticket or stroll the alleys of the fantastic Túria Park.

No trip to Valencia is complete without savoring its delicious cuisine. The city is the birthplace of paella, the most famous Spanish dish. The rice extravaganza is cooked with saffron, veggies, and meat.

Valencia is also known for its horchata, a refreshing drink made from tiger nuts, and its succulent oranges. Head to the Central Market to sample some of the best treats the city has to offer at the best affordable prices.

🏨 BONNIES Suites & Spa Valencia: chic apartments with spa facilities and cheap prices.

📍 Valencia Tourist Card: get free entrances, transport, and discounts.

Now You Know the 15 Best Cheap European Cities to Visit

Now You Know the Best Things to Do in Sofia Bulgaria
Which of these cheap European cities surprised you the most?

There you have it – the 15 best cheap European cities for your next trip to the Old Continent.

Do your research and you’ll be surprised how much money you can save with a little digging. The best cheap European cities offer a ton of free things to do, affordable accommodation, cheap public transport, and delectable inexpensive local food.

Going further East, you’ll find more cheap European cities. It will be more challenging, but more affordable as well.

Finding free options will stretch your dollar. Taking public transportation would be an experience of its own and will save you a lot.

Now, it’s your turn:

Which of these amazing cheap European cities are you visiting next?

Share in the comments below!


  1. I live in another part of the world, and I just found out that you don’t need a visa to go to most European cities, that’s great! I also love that you can share this because when you have a vague or limited budget it helps you a lot to see other people’s travel experiences!

    1. Hey Allisson,

      Europe is not as expensive as people tend to think. Of course, if you live at the other end of the world, your plane ticket will be your biggest expense. Otherwise, you can visit a lot of places even on a limited budget.

      May I ask where you’re from? I might have some extra tips for you :)


      1. Allisson Nadler says:

        I’m from USA, California. OF COURSE, I would be very happy if you would share some advice with me! … I agree with you because flights to Europe from Los Angeles are expensive. do you know a season in which Can I travel much cheaper to Europe?


        1. Hey Allisson,

          I’ve published a post about finding cheap flights to anywhere in the world on this blog. You might want to have a look at it: https://ntripping.com/find-cheap-flights/

          In your situation, I would start by searching the Wikipedia page for your nearest airport. Specifically, the section with Airlines and Destinations. This will give you a list of flights from, in your case, LAX.

          Select the destinations which interest you the most. Then, head over to Google Flights and search for some rough dates and some of the destinations. Play with the tool, specifically the Price Graph, Date Grid, and Nearby Airports options.

          After you’ve found a route and dates, which interest you, select the Track Prices switch. Google will notify you of any price changes. Observe how the airfare changes and the moment you see a price, which fits your budget, go buy that ticket! It’s usually best to purchase directly via the airline’s website but there are exceptions.

          Alternatively, you can subscribe for a tool like Scott’s Cheap Flights and receive deals to your inbox. The process they use is similar to the above but they do it for you.

          Last but not least, I find that two months before a flight is the best time to book. Again, there are exceptions but if you know your exact dates, start tracking the prices as soon as possible.

          Hope that helps! Happy travels :)


  2. This is a great list! Would love to visit Baku one day. I went to Berlin a while ago and I loved it so much. I didn’t find it expensive either. Thanks for the post

    1. Glad you liked it, Ioana!

      For me, it’s not really the destination that’s “expensive”. It’s how people decide to spend their time in a place which adds up to their travel expenses. I can go clubbing in Berlin and spend a fortune; visit every museum and spend a tonne of euros; or I can simply walk the streets and enjoy the atmosphere of the city for absolutely no money!

      Hope you visit Baku soon, it is a great travel destination!


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