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10 Awesome Budget Destinations in Europe

Europe is an amazing continent, offering up incredible food, history, culture, and nightlife. But it has a reputation for breaking the bank, forcing budget travelers to head to places like Central America or Southeast Asia instead. 

Fortunately, there are still plenty of destinations in Europe where you can enjoy your time without worrying about your wallet. 

Here are my top 10:

Romania

nomadic matt Europe

Time and time again, I hear people exclaim how much they loved Romania. Backpackers started traveling there when they needed somewhere to go after spending their maximum 90 days in the Schengen Zone. Little did they know that Romania is actually an incredible place.

Hitchhiking and BlaBlaCar make it easy to explore, there are tons of great hikes and lots of historic sites, and everything is cheap. From picturesque cities like Brașov and Sighișoara to modern hubs like Bucharest, there is something for everyone.

And if you’re feeling like playing tourist, be sure to head to Transylvania, where you can explore “Dracula’s Castle” and learn about the area’s connection to vampires. (Sure, it’s super touristy, but it’s also fun!) 

Suggested budget: 25-35 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Romania travel guide!)

Ukraine

After the conflict in Crimea, everyone started to assume that Ukraine was no longer safe to visit.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. Unlike the rest of Europe, Ukraine gives visitors a chance to get down to the rugged basics of traveling.

Few people here speak English, and the country is difficult to get around — making it a great stop for the intrepid traveler!

Moreover, even the capital city Kiev is dirt cheap, offering incredible value to any backpacker looking to get off the beaten trail.

And no trip to Ukraine would be complete without a visit to Chernobyl. Learning about the disaster, speaking to people involved in it, and seeing the area with your own eyes will make this a trip you’ll never forget.

Suggested budget: 30-35 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Ukraine travel guide!)

 

Poland

Poland is growing in popularity, with cities like Warsaw and Kraków becoming common stops on many Eurotrips. But too many travelers just visit those two cities. The country has so much more to offer (just look at the map — it’s huge!). Lublin in the east, Gdańsk in the north, and Poznań and Wrocław in the west are all worthwhile additions to any Polish itinerary. 

And since it is within the Schengen Zone, you don’t need to worry about visas. The cheap beer and alcohol make Poland a great party spot, though there is more to the country than just nightlife. 

Amazing museums, like the Warsaw Uprising Museum and the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, as well as a sobering visit to Auschwitz, make for a historically insightful and eye-opening trip. 

Suggested budget: 25-35 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Poland travel guide!)

Bulgaria

Not only is Bulgaria one of my favorite countries in Europe, it’s one of my favorite countries in the world! I arrived without any expectations and was simply blown away by how beautiful and affordable it is. 

As Bulgaria has been a cultural melting pot over the centuries, you’ll see an interesting mix of influences from both Europe and Turkey all around the country. You’ll also find Roman ruins, incredible beaches, medieval cities, and lots of forests. But best of all, you won’t run into many other travelers outside of Sofia. That will likely start to change as more backpackers flock there, so visit sooner rather than later. 

But as of now, it’s still an undervisited country, and words can’t convey just how much I enjoyed my time there. 

Suggested budget: 30-40 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Bulgaria travel guide!).

Malta

Malta often gets overlooked, simply because it’s not as easily accessible as other European destinations (and many people just forget that it exists!). 

Tucked away between Africa and Europe, Malta boasts an affordable glimpse into how the cultures from these two diverse continents have mingled over the centuries. 

With cheap flights arriving daily (sometimes for under 20 EUR!), you can now add this budget-friendly stop to your next Eurotrip without worrying it will cost you an arm and a leg. 

And since Malta is now in the Schengen Zone (it joined in 2007), you can visit without worrying about any extra visa requirements! 

Suggested budget: 30-50 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Malta travel guide!)

Portugal

I love Portugal. It’s cheap, it’s beautiful, and it’s comparatively warm. It has many miles of rugged coastline, gorgeous beaches, great food, and cheap wine — everything you need for a great trip. 

Since the country is on the far side of Spain, it doesn’t get nearly as many visitors as the rest of Western Europe (even in the summer)To top it all off, you’ve got the Azores just a stone’s throw away, offering up a chance to really get off the beaten path in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

And for something completely different, there is the Camino Português, a centuries-old hiking trail that stretches from Lisbon (one of my favorite cities in Europe) all the way to the coast of Galicia, in northwestern Spain. 

No matter what brings you to Portugal, you’ll notice quickly that there just seems to be an infectious vibrancy that adds to the country’s charm. Everyone is happy and friendly, and the weather is always amazing. It’s hard not to enjoy a visit — especially if you’re saving money! 

Suggested budget: 35-45 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Portugal travel guide!)

Hungary

If you’re looking for a great nightlife, head to Hungary.The wildly popular “ruin bars” of Budapest, one of the best places to spend a (relatively cheap) night out in Europe, are located the remnants of warehouses and other buildings that were destroyed during World War II, and evolved from what was an underground party scene. The parties go all night and the drinks are cheap, making it a great spot for the budget partygoer. 

Be sure to check out Szimpla Kert and Fogasház, two of my favorites. If partying isn’t your scene, there are plenty of other great things to see and do in Budapest, such as the visiting the Cave Church, touring the Terror Háza, seeing the Shoes on the Danube, and hiking up to the Citadella.

Suggested budget: 25-35 EUR per day.

 

(For more information, check out my Hungary travel guide!)

Spain

If you’re looking to slow down and relax, you’ve come to the right place. This is the land of the siesta and late-night meals that last hours, and home to the storied Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail and the massive tomato fight, La Tomatina. 

No matter your interest — history, food, nightlife, beaches — Spain will be able to keep you entertained. All you need to do is be able to relax and embrace the slow rhythm of Spanish culture. Barcelona and Madrid offer amazing food and nightlife, though if you’re a budget traveler looking for the next party, you’ll want to head to Ibiza. 

In the south, you’ll find historic cities like Seville and Grenada, where you’ll be treated to an interesting cultural mix of Spanish, Moorish, and Roman history and architecture. 

Suggested budget: 40-60 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my Spain travel guide!)

Greece

Greece is one of Europe’s popular summer getaways. Its famous islands attract history buffs, partygoers, and laid-back travelers from all across the continent. While the popular islands of Mykonos and Ios are definitely worth a visit, avoid the crowds and head to some of the nearby islands for a less touristy experience. Better yet, explore the mainland.

Outside of Athens you’ll encounter far fewer tourists and have a much more unique experience. Sparta, for example, has tons of history but sees a fraction of tourists compared to the busy capital.Breaking away from the well-worn tourist trail is worth the effort in Greece!

Suggested budget: 40-60 EUR per day.


(For more information, check out my Greece travel guide!)

Croatia

Croatia has grown in popularity in recent years (in part due to Game of Thrones filming there), so prices are slowly creeping up. While it may not boast the amazing budget deals that it used to, it’s still a super affordable locale.

The Dalmatian coast is insanely gorgeous, making it great for road-trippers, sailors, partiers, and beach bums alike. Krka and Plitvice are two great parks for nature lovers, while Dubrovnik offers up a more traditional experience (and plenty of Game of Thrones photo ops!).

To beat the ever-growing crowds (and avoid the more expensive summer), try visiting during the shoulder season, when the weather will still be great.

Suggested budget: 25-45 EUR per day.

(For more information, check out my post on the Dalmatian Coast!)

Each of these budget destinations offers incredible value. While they may be located on a continent that can sometimes be hard to afford, they present travelers with a chance to explore new locales without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for food, history, nature, or nightlife, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re planning on backpacking Europe anytime soon, be sure to spend your time in some of these affordable countries. Your wallet will thank you!

Matt Kepnes

Matt Kepnes

This is a guest post from Matt Kepnes, the man behind Nomadic Matt and best selling author of "How to Travel the World on $50 a Day".

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