If you’re planning your next European vacation and are hoping to find some budget-friendly destinations, it may surprise you to learn that even some larger, well-known cities can be easy on the wallet. You can score even better deals if you miss the main rush of European summer travelers in July and August. Here’s a look at a few European cities that are surprisingly affordable to visit.
The Baltic states are seeing more visitors recently, which means prices are also starting to rise some. Latvia and Estonia are garnering the majority of the spotlight, which means countries like Lithuania are still ripe for scoring deals.
Head to the country’s capital, Vilnius, where you can wander around the city, take in free attractions and fill up on delicious Lithuanian food. Vilnius is also renowned for its craft beer scene, which, despite recent legislative changes, is still going strong. You’ll find a number of micro and macro brewers and bottle shops where you can find beers not available outside of the country, and they cost much less than you’d expect to pay in other European cities.
If you want to experience some of the best food in Italy but don’t want to risk dining in tourist traps, head straight to Bologna. With European budget airlines offering regular flights into this city, you can experience Italy for a fraction of the cost of Rome or Florence.
Given that Bologna is a popular university town, you can find budget-friendly eats all over and still walk to a number of the city’s noted attractions and historical sites. Bologna is famous for its porticos, or covered walkways, making the city very walkable and comfortable even in the blistering summer heat.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the most visited cities in Europe, but it may surprise you to learn that it’s also still one of the most affordable. While that is changing some as the city’s popularity grows, you can still find a number of deals and enjoy a European holiday for less, especially when you go in the off-season. Visit the many free attractions and purchase a Prague City Pass to save some money on the more expensive ones.
While some of the cheapest vacations can be had in Eastern Europe, you can find destinations in the western part of the continent that are surprisingly affordable too. One of these is Lisbon, where you can wander the city for days looking at the architecture and soaking in the city’s rich history. Alcohol is reasonably priced, you can find cheap eats all over the markets and even five-star hotels are far more reasonable than the ones in other major European cities.
Especially if you visit outside of the summer rush in July and August, you can score some nice deals on flights to and lodging in Athens. Nicer hotels can be had for less than $100 a night.
There are a number of city pass options available, some of which include food discounts and multiple days of public transportation (including airport transfer) and admission to notable sites like the Acropolis. Eating in Athens can be affordable and healthy, with Greek salads running four or five euros or kebabs and gyros for around the same or less.
With budget flights under $150 between Bucharest and other European cities, it’s no wonder that Romania is becoming a more popular destination for travelers. Because Bucharest still maintains a low cost of living — ranked as the ninth cheapest major city in the world and the cheapest in Europe last year — food, alcohol and attractions cost significantly less here when compared with other parts of Europe.