Ulcinj, Montenegro
Europe

10 Surprisingly Affordable European Travel Destinations

My European explorations may have only begun a little over a year ago, but as they continued into the winter months and then brought me back for round three this summer, I find myself continually pleasantly surprised by just how affordable European travel destinations can actually be.

As a location independent nomad with no home base (for now, anyway) it’s important for me to save money on my travels wherever possible (read my top money-saving travel tips here).  These affordable destinations allow me to enjoy Europe without breaking the bank; things like accommodation, food, and fun things to do can be found at bargain prices when compared to many of the major cities that draw tourists by the millions–especially if you travel during the off-season or shoulder season.

I still have a large portion of the European continent to explore, but the following cities are some of the cheapest I’ve discovered so far.  If you’re a digital nomad and looking for a way to experience Europe while keeping as much cash in your pocket as possible, or even if you are just looking for a cheap getaway that is still packed with European charm, keep these affordable cities on your radar!Looking for an inexpensive European getaway? Think outside the box and head to one of these affordable destinations!

Athens, Greece

I first visited Athens during its financial crisis last year (remember the debt crisis and potential Grexit?), so naturally prices were a bit deflated at the time.  However, even current prices won’t leave your wallet feeling abused.  The city is well-connected and easily accessible by public transit; buses and the metro both run late into the night.  A meal in a restaurant might cost you 10€, but bakery-style shops sell local foods for a few euros each, and you can even find big 2L jugs of wine for around 3€ if you’re feeling really frugal.

Find a Place to Stay in Athens

Read more: This is MY Athens: Not Your Average Walking TourAthens from the Acropolis

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city and also home to a large student population, which helps keep costs low.  Transport tickets cost 1€ per journey, beer can be found by the half-liter for 3.50€, and a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost as little as 270€ per month!

Find a Place to Stay in Thessaloniki

One of Europe's most surprisingly affordable cities, Thessaloniki, Greece

Ulcinj, Montenegro

Ulcinj, a small town located on the southern coast of Montenegro near the Albanian border, remains inexpensive in part because it is still relatively unknown amongst non-European travelers.  It attracts visitors from neighboring countries like Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, but beyond that, this city is still a relatively undiscovered gem.  There are plenty of free activities to partake in such as visiting the city’s many beaches or wandering the medieval old town center, food is cheap both in the local markets and in restaurants, and the city is small enough to be navigated by foot or by bicycle.

Find a Place to Stay in Ulcinj

One of Europe's most surprisingly affordable cities, Ulcinj, Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor is one of Montenegro’s more famous cities, but it’s still quite affordable when compared to most major European destinations.  The setting on the edge of the Bay of Kotor is idyllic; I would have been happy to sit by the bay each day and simply take in the view!  Hostel beds can cost as little as 6€ per night (or up to 20€ in high season); if you want a private room for 2 people, you can easily find options under 30€ per person, and prices only get lower the further you go from the old town center.

Find a Place to Stay in Kotor

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Belgrade, Serbia

I really can’t praise Belgrade highly enough!  I fell in love with this city hard.  With stunning architecture, wide pedestrian streets, endless river views, and affordable prices, I couldn’t help but wonder why more digital nomads weren’t calling Belgrade home.  You can find a private room on Airbnb for around 20€ or a whole apartment to share for 40€ and up.  I loved buying fresh berries from the same street vendor every day or treating myself to 1€ ice cream to beat the afternoon heat.

Find a Place to Stay in Belgrade

Read more: 5 Things to Know Before Traveling to BelgradeBelgrade, Serbia

Krakow, Poland

Krakow has an energy about it that is absolutely contagious!  Just try to avoid the high season (July and August) if you want the best prices.  Order big plates of pierogi (Polish dumplings) at local restaurants for 5€ and grab a beer to go with for another 2€.  Many major attractions are within walking distance making sightseeing a breeze, and a bus or tram ride will cost you less than 1€.

Find a Place to Stay in Krakow

Summer in Kraków, Poland

Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw was another city that struck me immediately as a place I could see myself living one day.  It has all the makings of a perfect home base; cheap public transit, cool restaurants, bars and cafes, affordable rent (425-550€ per month for a small studio apartment).

Find a Place to Stay in Warsaw

Warsaw, Poland

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a city I envision myself going back to over and over and over again.  It has so much to do and see, not to mention an ever-growing international reputation as a great base for digital nomads!  The summer music festival season can drive prices through the roof, so just be sure to secure your accommodation well in advance if you plan to visit between June-September.

Find a Place to Stay in Budapest

Budapest, Hungary

Berlin, Germany

I’ve long heard the rumors that Berlin is perfect for digital nomads, and now I have definitive proof!  I was very pleased to find meals for less than 3€, beers for 2€, and accommodation (in the summer, at the LAST minute) for 30€ (although monthly rent for a small studio apartment can cost as little as 550€).  I got to know the city by joining a free walking tour, and I can’t wait to go back one day to explore the city’s co-working scene.

Find a Place to Stay in Berlin

Berlin, Germany, one of Europe's most surprisingly affordable travel destinations

Fuerteventura, Spain

Getting to the Canary Islands might be the most expensive thing about them; once you’re there, however, prices are so low, you’ll want to stay forever!  And Fuerteventura, the second largest of the Canary Islands after Tenerife, is made for adventure lovers–snorkeling, surfing, kite surfing, and riding dune buggies through the desert are all readily available!

Find a Place to Stay in Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura, Spain, a surprisingly affordable European travel destination!

 What are the most affordable European travel destinations you’ve been to?  I’m always looking for more to discover!

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24 Comments

  • Reply Stacey July 30, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Likely similar to Montenagro we found Albania to be very affordable and equally awesome to visit. Some of the hotel prices were in the $30-40 range for very adequate rooms and for a splurge some were only up to $65 and they included breakfast! There were lots of free sites to see, and even those with admission fees were very reasonable. I really can’t say enough good about Albania, we just loved our trip there so much and I hope many more people get to experience its natural beauty, culture, and history.

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2016 at 6:34 am

      I know lots of people who loved Albania, too! I didn’t get a chance to spend much time there, but the southern coast looks absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing, Stacey!

  • Reply Rachel July 30, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Ah this is perfect Leah, thanks! I’m currently in Spain and after so many months in South America and SEA, I’m having huge sticker shock over the cost of a single dorm bed here (like seriously, WTF). I have got to get the hell out of here (and into Eastern Europe) in about a month, and I’m thinking Montenegro, Bulgaria, or Serbia. Hadn’t heard of Ulcinj until you mentioned it but man, I just looked and they have fancy airbnbs for super cheap!
    Rachel recently posted…24 Lessons Learned in Southeast AsiaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2016 at 6:39 am

      You should come visit me in Fuerteventura!! I’m here all month 🙂 But yeah, I can imagine Europe being shocking after all that time in SEA and South America! I just got a bottle of Spanish wine for €1.37 though so there are definitely bargains to be had in Spain! Also, you will just LOVE Ulcinj. I can’t recommend it enough. Total hidden gem!

  • Reply Monica July 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Great picks! I always wanted to visit Athens, but I’ve heard the Acropolis is super crowded in the summer — maybe the off-season is better. As for Berlin, you’ve got to get back! It really is the perfect place for co-working and living cheap, but it seems like prices are on the rise and we’ll be up there with the other expensive European capitals within 10 years or so.
    Monica recently posted…Why you’ll say ‘No’ to living abroadMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2016 at 6:44 am

      I visited Greece in shoulder season (early May) and Athens didn’t seem too crowded at all, so if you can go at that time I recommend it! Will definitely head back to Berlin when I can, maybe even later this year! I loved it!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Where to Stay in Tulum on Any BudgetMy Profile

  • Reply Katie July 31, 2016 at 5:12 am

    So happy (and kind of relieved!) to see Berlin on this list! I’m going to Europe for the first time ever this October, and Germany’s one of my for-sure stops. I’ve heard such good things about this city’s vibe — can’t wait to check it out for myself 🙂
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    • Reply Leah Davis July 31, 2016 at 6:46 am

      Berlin DOES have a great vibe, I am looking forward to going back for more sometime soon. Just book your accommodation way ahead of time! I could have paid a lot less if I’d planned better 😉
      Leah Davis recently posted…The Sweetest Guide to TulumMy Profile

  • Reply Eva Casey July 31, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Awesome list! I am heading to Europe again in less than a week, so I will keep these places in mind! I definitely want to go to Poland, after reading your posts about Warsaw and Krakow they seem like places I’ll enjoy!
    Eva Casey recently posted…How To Fly From New York to London For Only $5.60My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis August 1, 2016 at 1:53 am

      Definitely head to Poland! I can’t wait for your European adventures!

  • Reply Carina August 1, 2016 at 4:44 am

    Andalusia (e.g. Malaga) is pretty cheap as well. Especially food ( I ate way too much, because it was so cheap but so delicious) and great to go out at night.
    Hugs from Germany,
    Carina

    • Reply Leah Davis August 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thanks for the tip Carina! I haven’t yet been to that part of Europe but I am dying to get there! Especially NOW that I know the food is so amazing 🙂

  • Reply Erica August 1, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Great list! I’m planning a big Poland trip for 2017 and I’ve been SO surprised how affordable accommodation seems to be. I’m also really curious about Serbia, and I’ll definitely take your advice on Belgrade 🙂

    If I had to add a #11, it would probably be Vilnius, Lithuania. It’s such a beautiful and lively city, tragically underrated and food/transport/hotels are some of the cheapest I’ve seen in the euro zone.
    Erica recently posted…Wild Puffins On Handa IslandMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis August 3, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Oooh I’m so intrigued! I’ve never heard of Vilnius. That is a part of Europe that has eluded me so far, but knowing that it’s so affordable is definitely a major draw! Thanks for sharing, Erica!
      Leah Davis recently posted…Month in Review: July 2016My Profile

  • Reply Danny August 2, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I’m glad to see that you were also pleasantly surprised by Warsaw. I expected it to be cheap, but not that beautiful, too!

    • Reply Leah Davis August 3, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Oh my goodness yes! Warsaw was SO beautiful! And considering what that city has been through, it was all the more impressive to me 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…Month in Review: July 2016My Profile

  • Reply Bella WW August 3, 2016 at 9:10 am

    This is a very helpful list for me because I’m planning a European road trip very soon! 😀 So, thanks Leah!
    Bella WW recently posted…19 things to do in Virginia BeachMy Profile

  • Reply Leandra August 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I grew up near Bratislava, Slovakia, and in my [quite biased] opinion, it’s a gem! But seriously. It’s a lovely, walkable city with plenty of restaurants down in old wine cellars, a beautiful national theater (where you can see ballets and operas for SO much cheaper than here in the U.S.), and dozens of pizzerias featuring wood-fired thin crust yumminess. Maybe it took a little while for parts of the area to climb out of it’s Communist-era vibes, but it is a wonderful city. The Old Town (Stare Mesto) is small enough to tackle in a day or two. Prices are better than surrounding cities (Prague, Budapest, Vienna), since it isn’t touted often as a tourist destination.

    • Reply Leah Davis August 8, 2016 at 5:40 am

      Oh my goodness, this sounds MAGICAL! It pains me to think of how much of Europe I STILL have to discover! Bratislava sounds like it’s right up my alley, thanks so much for the tip, it’s now firmly on my list!

  • Reply Amy (Two Drifters) August 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    What a wonderful list!! This is a perfect post, as we’ll be spending several months at the end of the year in Eastern Europe. So far, Romania & Budapest have been on the radar, but seems the options are endless! Was there any place you stayed for a significant amount of time? We will probably move slowly and do a short-term rental somewhere.
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    • Reply Leah Davis August 13, 2016 at 8:07 am

      Hey Amy! It’s so true, there are so many great options in Eastern Europe. I stayed for a few weeks in Ulcinj, because it was just so laid-back and there were so many great beaches I just kept going back to over and over again. I was told there are very affordable rentals there too, so it might just be the perfect place! 🙂
      Leah Davis recently posted…The Digital Nomad’s Packing List: Tech & Accessories I Can’t Travel WithoutMy Profile

  • Reply Courteney September 18, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    I studied abroad in Thessaloniki and it’s safe to say I feel in love with the city and the Greek culture. It is SO SO cheap, and there is a bakery around every corner. I loved that you included it on this list. Great post! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis September 19, 2016 at 11:50 am

      That must have been a wonderful experience! I can definitely see it being a great place to live for awhile. 🙂

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