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