10 Awesome And Cheap European Cities To Visit Now
You are searching for cheap European cities for your next city break, am I right?
However, you’ve heard that travelling to Europe is expensive…
Let me tell you the truth: not every place in Europe is out of your budget.
This list shows you ten affordable and awesome European cities, which won’t break your bank.
You’ll find some of the highlights, cheap and free things to do, money-saving tips, as well as advice on when to visit and where to stay.
So, without further ado, here are 10 amazing and cheap European cities that you should visit right now.
1. Vienna, Austria: The Architecture Lover’s Paradise
Austria’s capital might seem a surprise to be on this list, but read on:
- Visiting the beautiful churches and cathedrals of the city is absolutely free.
- Admiring the architecture, including the famous Hundertwasser Houses with their quirky lines, is also free.
- Walking through Belvedere Gardens is If you want to admire the interior as well, just 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.
Taking public transportation and visiting the whole city centre, if you get tired of walking, is as cheap as a cup of coffee. Moreover, 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.
You can find accommodation in the city centre for as low as 20 €. I’ve even stayed in Hotel de France, a 5* hotel, for a very reasonable price! Of course, it all depends on your travel dates. (Check prices and availability at Hotels.com or Booking.com. )
2. Berlin, Germany: The Quirkiest European Capital
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 centre.
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 Bundestag. The tour includes an amazing view of Berlin’s centre from the glass dome.
Some of the free and awesome spots to see in Berlin are:
- 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. Of course, don’t go crazy and visit more than three museums in a day ;)
To save on transportation, hop on Bus #100, which stops at Berlin’s main attractions. And if you don’t mind the communist-era buildings around you, find an accommodation in the East part of Berlin to save a few euros.
I recommend the non-pretentious A&O Hotel, which also serves an excellent breakfast, included in the price. It is located a short bus drive away from the main attractions. The ride will give you a further inside look into the lives of Berliners. (Check prices and availability at Booking.com.)
One of the best times to visit Berlin is early December. That way, you can enjoy the countless Christmas markets around the city.
3. Antwerp, Belgium: The Diamonds Capital Of The World
Unless you’re buying diamonds, Belgium’s second-largest city is a quite affordable destination to put on your European bucket list.
Apart from checking the glimmering stones, you can indulge yourself into 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 firework display 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 centre.
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. (Check prices and availability at Hotels.com or Booking.com. )
4. Prague, Czech Republic: Fantastic Beer, Intriguing History, And Mediaeval Castles
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 comfortable and affordable public transportation.
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 and Vyšehrad.
The only problem are the 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.
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.
5. Sofia, Bulgaria: The Surprising Pearl Of The Balkans
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!
And most of the main attractions are located in the city centre within walkable distance from each other.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, how about Sofia’s diversity:
Different religions, architectural styles, cuisines, and traditions co-exist within a few metres of each other.
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 centre, offer great deals, especially at lunchtime.
Just beware that prices have increased greatly since Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. They are still quite affordable but don’t postpone your trip to Sofia for too long!
You can visit the vibrant Bulgarian capital all year round. Pick an accommodation close to a subway station to be as flexible as possible but don’t be afraid to venture outside the city limits on a day trip or two from Sofia.
6. Bratislava, Slovakia: Gorgeous Candy-coloured Buildings At The Banks Of The Danube
If you visit Slovakia’s capital, the first thing you’ll notice is the resemblance in the architecture with its neighbours’ capitals. You can see similar styles in nearby Vienna and Budapest.
However, what makes Bratislava’s city centre a unique and stunning place to roam are the cheerful colours of the buildings. You’ll feel like walking around a candy shop. The gentle pink, blue, and green paint of the façades make 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) of 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.
The hotel prices are not as cheap as I had hoped. If you can’t find suitable accommodation elsewhere, check out the rentals at AirBnB. That’s what we did and don’t regret having a whole apartment to ourselves! If you’re not registered (or want to make a new profile), you can use this link – you’ll get approximately 36€ off your first booking and I’ll get another 20€ in travel credit, too.
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.
7. Istanbul, Turkey: The Incredible City On Two Continents
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 almost a century (tip: 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.
From there, you can 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 is part of the culture and the vendors will respect you if you do it properly.
To haggle like a real pro, only do it on items you’re genuinely interested in buying. Ask the vendor for a price. Even if it sounds good to you, be sure that it’s at least double the real cost. Offer to pay about 40% of what the seller has asked, then start the real negotiation.
Go slightly up while he or she goes down with the asked payment. Meet somewhere in the middle and pay for your desired product. Not only will you have a great souvenir but also an awesome travel story to tell your friends.
After this adventure, visit the countless seafood restaurants on the Bosphorus. Then, continue exploring the old European part of the city.
You can either walk (almost) everywhere, make use of the extensive public transportation network, or book a guided tour.
Some of the main attractions of Istanbul, like the impressive Blue Mosque, are free to visit. Other, such as the grandiose palaces, have a small entrance fee.
Tip: save time and hassle by booking your visits in advance from Get Your Guide.
Avoid visiting Istanbul in summer. The temperatures in Turkey are best for exploring and even 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.
8. Baku, Azerbaijan: The Astonishing City Of The Future
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 21th 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.
Visit one of the most futuristic and unbelievable buildings in the world, Heydar Aliyev Center. Then stroll between the stalls of the Green Market where bets are, you’ll be the only foreigner. This means that vendors will invite you to try their goods and take photos with you.
Spend your evenings walking the 4-km-long Dənizkənarı Milli Park stretching along the Caspian Sea coast. 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 centre. You can even venture outside the city limits on a cheap day trip. For example, the mud volcanoes, rock paintings of Gobustan, or the Atashgah Zoroastrian Fire Temple make for wonderful day trips.
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 rounds. It rarely rains, so even in winter, you can enjoy walking around Old Town’s alleys all day long.
9. Paphos, Cyprus: Pristine Beaches And Abundant Ancient Ruins
How do millennial old well-preserved archaeological sites next to pristine 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, cosy 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, 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 for 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. Except in December and January, you can go swimming in all other months of the year.
10. Milan, Italy: Fashion, (Street) Art, And Countless Churches
Tourists travelling in Europe often overlook the second-largest Italian city.
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.
As with most of the cheap European cities, try to visit this Italian overlooked gem outside the summer holidays. Even in the winter months, you can roam Milan’s streets all day long.
There You Have It: Ten Cheap European Cities For Your Next City Break
You know now what places to put on your European bucket list. Do your research and you’ll be surprised how much money you can save by being smart with your choices.
Going further East will be challenging, but more affordable. Finding free options will stretch your dollar. Taking public transportation would be an experience of its own and will save you a lot.
Which of the amazing, cheap European cities are you visiting next?