Cheapest European countries to visit

Cheapest European countries to visit

Fancy a European getaway, but a little worried about how much it might cost you? You’re in luck! Europe has a whole plethora of incredible destinations that won’t break the bank. Over the past couple of years thanks to remote working, I’ve visited almost all of the countries in Europe, including the vast majority of affordable destinations. Whether you’re an avid traveller, or looking to find adventure on a budget, there’s no time like the present to explore the diverse countries of Europe without spending a fortune. In this article, I’ll share my pick of the cheapest European countries to visit. Consider these for an affordable escape.

Cheapest European countries to visit: Bulgaria

Set in the heart of the Balkans, I fell in love with Bulgaria when I visited last year. As well as being one of the cheapest European countries to visit, it has a rich history, warm people, and beautiful landscapes. I based myself in the capital city of Sofia, and despite being the country’s primary city, it was still incredibly affordable. In fact, I had a lovely two bedroom apartment to myself, and spent most days eating out and enjoying cocktails – all on a tight budget. No matter where you explore in Bulgaria, you’ll find your money goes further. Sample the delicious local cuisine, explore centuries-old ruins, and enjoy budget friendly accommodation.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Bulgaria:

  • Explore the historical sites of Sofia. Take in the iconic landmarks of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (the largest Orthodox temple in the Balkans), the National Palace of Culture, and St. George Rotunda. Most of these sites are free, or have a small entry fee.
  • Try Bulgarian cuisine. I loved Bulgarian food so much, and I can’t recommend Sofia’s free food tour enough. Try banitsa (a rich, cheese-filled pastry), kavarma (slow-cooked stew), and tarator (a cold tzatziki style soup). Food in Bulgaria is extremely affordable, so you can fill your boots.
  • Explore the streets of Plovdiv. Plovdiv has an Old Town that is home to plenty of history and gorgeous architecture. Walk the cobbled streets, and visit the Roman amphitheatre. There are plenty of craft shops and art galleries, with affordable prices.
  • Relax on the Black Sea coast. If you’re visiting in the spring or summer months, the Black Sea is one of the best places to be. Sunbathe along the beaches, swim in the sea, and feast on budget-friendly seafood at local restaurants.
  • Take a dip in the natural hot springs. Bulgaria has plenty of natural hot springs to visit. The Banite and Devin regions are particularly well known for their thermal springs. Unwind and enjoy a relaxing experience for next to nothing.

Cheapest European countries to visit: Poland

Poland truly has something for everyone – whether it’s culture, history, or bustling cities you’re after, Poland has it all. It’s also incredibly affordable. I visited beautiful Gdansk a few years ago – a picturesque seaside town with pastel coloured buildings and cobbled streets. Nearby Sopot is equally as charming, and has a whole host of beach clubs to enjoy. I shared a hotel room with a friend which came in at an astonishing £20 each for a few nights. Transportation and food was also impressively cheap – not to mention the affordable alcohol that attracts hordes of Brits each year. Enjoy hearty Polish cuisine, explore historic buildings, and visit budget-friendly museums in one of the cheapest European countries to visit.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Poland:

  • Explore Krakow’s Old Town. With picturesque streets wherever you turn, you can explore the city’s primary attractions for free. Discover the Market Square, St Mary’s Basilica, and the Cloth Hall. Along the way, you’ll discover beautiful architecture and plenty of street performers.
  • Visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. Although there is a small fee for entry with a guided tour, Auschwitz-Birkenau is a crucial part of history and a powerful experience. Gain insight into the devastating history of World War II and the Holocaust while visiting Poland.
  • Experience the beauty of Warsaw. As well as being a bustling city, there are plenty of affordable things to do in Poland. Walk along the beautiful Vistula River for scenic views, and relax and picnic in Lazienki Park.
  • Visit the local markets. Poland has a plethora of local markets to explore. Head to Krakow’s Hala Targowa, and Hala Mirowska in Warsaw. Soak in the culture, try traditional Polish snacks, and buy cheap fresh produce to enjoy on your travels.
  • Try traditional Polish cuisine. As one of the cheapest European countries to visit, Poland has plenty of affordable eateries. Head to a traditional milk bar for hearty Polish cuisine. Make sure you have local pierogi, bigos (stew), and placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes).

Cheapest European countries to visit: Romania

I visited Romania last year and was – perhaps naively – surprised by the sheer scale and beauty of the country. It has a range of landscapes, from the fairytale castles of Transylvania to the dramatic Carpathian Mountains. I based myself in the capital city of Bucharest for a week in a very affordable apartment, and used it as a base to explore. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Bucharest from the time I spent there, it offers a vibrant urban experience at an affordable price. I really can’t recommend the Transylvania region enough – visit the incredible Peleș Castle, and take in the landscapes from the charming town of Brașov. When visiting one of the cheapest European countries to visit, you’ll be pleased at how affordable accommodation, food, and attractions are in Romania.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Romania:

  • Explore the city of Bucharest. Wander through the historic streets of Bucharest and admire its incredible architecture, street art, and cafes. The nightlife really pops off in the Lipscani area of the city, and you’ll be impressed with the prices.
  • Go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains. Romania’s Carpathian Mountains boast stunning landscapes, fresh air, and the chance to connect with nature. You can take one of several hiking trails that are perfect for enjoying the great outdoors without spending money.
  • Visit some castles. Romania’s best known castles is the legendary Bran Castle, thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For a small entry fee you can explore this iconic landmark. My favourite, however, was nearby Peleș Castle for its impressive interiors and beautiful surroundings.
  • Relax in the Mud Vulcanoes. Although perhaps not what you may be expecting to see in Romania, if you head to Buzau, you’ll discover the Mud Volcanoes. A natural phenomenon that you can explore for free, you’ll find lunar-like landscapes and bubbling mud.
  • Sample Romanian cuisine. Romania boasts some delicious food, and I loved trying lots of different dishes at affordable prices. I recommend giving mămăligă (polenta), sarmale (cabbage rolls), and mici (grilled sausages) a go – I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Cheapest European countries to visit: North Macedonia

I headed to North Macedonia just before summer and couldn’t believe quite how underrated is. The warmest, friendliest locals, beautiful landscapes, and incredibly affordable prices make it a great place to visit. I started by staying in the capital city of Skopje, adventuring to the countryside and nearby Matka Canyon, before heading to the beautiful lakeside town of Ohrid. All the accommodation I stayed in was super reasonably priced – the boutique hotel I stayed in in Ohrid was also some of the cheapest yet loveliest accommodation I’ve stayed in for a while. Make sure you spend enough time in North Macedonia – there’s so much to see and do, and it’s definitely one of the cheapest European countries to visit so it’ll be easy on your wallet.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in North Macedonia:

  • Exploring the Old Bazaar in Skopje. Here in the capital city, you can wander the narrow streets, admire Ottoman architecture, and buy souvenirs for next to nothing. There are plenty of cafes where you can grab a beer and a bite to eat too.
  • Float down Matka Canyon. Not far from Skopje, you can escape into nature at Matka Canyon. Here, you can enjoy hiking trails, or hop on a boat for a scenic ride across the lake to visit Vrelo Cave, one of the world’s deepest caves. Don’t forget to take some cash for the boat.
  • Visit Ohrid. Ohrid is a stunning lakeside town with tons of heritage. We stayed here for a few days and loved it. Super affordable, there are plenty of lovely bars and restaurants. I recommend taking a boat trip with Beeracuda Cruises – enjoy a chartered tour while enjoying a few drinks!
  • Try the local cuisine. Food is incredibly affordable in North Macedonia, so it’s perfect for trying some new things. Some standout dishes for me included tavče gravče (roasted beans with spices), ajvar (a roasted red pepper dip), and sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat).
  • Explore Bitola. Bitola is a charming city famous for its architecture. Wander around the Clock Tower and Consuls’ Street. Strolling around the city and its historical landmarks is a fun, budget-friendly activity.

Cheapest European countries to visit: Moldova

Moldova is often thought to be one of the cheapest European countries to visit. Generally speaking, accommodation, food, and transport is all very affordable. While Chișinău offers good value for travellers, more rural areas of Moldova are even cheaper. One of my favourite things about Moldova is its passion for wine. Wine production is huge there, and you can find plenty of great quality wine at super affordable prices. What’s not to love? Other attractions including monasteries and museums all have modest prices too. Moldova is cheap to get around via public transport, and the food is delicious while reasonable. I recommend opting for local restaurants and street food stalls for tasty, authentic food for next to nothing.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Moldova:

  • Explore Chișinău. Moldova’s capital city of Chișinău has plenty of budget-friendly attractions including Stephen the Great Central Park, the National Museum of History of Moldova (which has a small entrance fee), and the open-air markets.
  • Go wine tasting. Moldova’s wine is excellent, and the country is well known for its wine production. I highly recommend visiting a bunch of wineries to enjoy cheap wine tasting tours. Two of the best are Cricova and Mileștii Mici.
  • Check out the district of Transnistria. Although not officially recognised as an independent country, Transnistria is an interesting place to explore. It has a unique Soviet atmosphere and is generally really budget-friendly.
  • Stroll through Orheiul Vechi. Orheiul Vechi is a historical and archaeological complex, featuring ancient cave monasteries and offers scenic views of the countryside. It’s a great place for hiking and exploring, and there’s no entrance fee.
  • Sample the local food. Moldovan cuisine is delicious and easy on the wallet! I recommend visiting local markets and stalls to try traditional dishes. Some of the best include mămăligă (cornmeal porridge), placinte (pastries), and sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls)

Cheapest European countries to visit: Serbia

I visited Serbia earlier this year and absolutely fell in love with it. The capital, Belgrade, is a wonderful city full of interesting history and culture. You can spend plenty of time just wandering around, exploring the architecture. There are even remaining bomb ruins from the NATO 1999 attacks, which you can casually walk beneath. Serbia is surprisingly affordable. We ate in Michelin rated restaurants for less than the price of a Nando’s, and drinks are cheap too. We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb that was super cheap, but I’d go back again and again. It’s a picturesque city for exploring with murals on every corner, and there’s a real emphasis on coffee culture. If you are looking for nightlife in Belgrade, the city will truly deliver. There’s lots going on each night in this vibrant, affordable city.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Serbia:

  • Get to know Belgrade. The capital of Serbia is vibrant, with a colourful history. Explore Stari Grad (Old Town), and hike up to Kalemegdan Fortress for beautiful views over the Sava and Danube rivers. Wandering around is free – and even a coffee to keep you going is cheap.
  • Visit the museums. Serbia has plenty of interesting museums and galleries, many of which are free or a small fee. A few of the most popular include the Nikola Tesla Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Yugoslav History.
  • Get close to nature. Serbia boasts stunning natural landscapes, perfect for exploring on a budget. Go hiking in Tara National Park, swim in pristine rivers, or relax by one of the many lakes, like Ada Ciganlija near Belgrade.
  • Try the local food and wine. The food I had in Belgrade was exquisite, and very reasonably priced. Try traditional Balkan dishes like ćevapi, sarma, and burek. Serbia has fast growing wine scene too – many wineries offer wine tastes for free. Try regions like Župa and Vojvodina if you love wine.
  • Explore Novi Sad. Nestled on the banks of the Danube, Novi Sad is another great Serbian city to visit. You can get affordable train tickets to Novi Sad from Belgrade. Wander around the Petrovaradin Fortress, head to the parks, and soak up the laidback atmosphere.

Cheapest European countries to visit: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina is without a doubt one of the cheapest European countries to visit. Offering great value, it’s also one of the most scenic spots I’ve visited in Europe. I visited Mostar after a trip to nearby Croatia last year, and loved my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Accommodation is cheap as chips, even in popular tourist spots like Sarajevo and Mostar. I remember eating incredibly cheaply in Mostar, and the food was incredible! Traditional dishes like cevapi and burek are really easy on the wallet. Getting around the country is pretty inexpensive, and entry to attractions is usually either free or a modest fee. Exploring the beautiful great outdoors – be it hiking in the mountains or swimming in rivers – is of course free, too.

Some of my favourite budget-friendly activities in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • Explore the Old Towns. Walk through the charming old towns of the cities of Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja Luka, each with its own characteristics. Free to explore, you can enjoy picturesque streets, historic buildings, and vibrant street life.
  • Visit Kravice waterfalls. Not far from Mostar, I loved visiting these falls. It’s cheap entry, and when visiting on a hot day, it offers the most refreshing dip. You can also take a rowing boat ride across to get a better view of the falls.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine. Bosnian food is absolutely delicious. You also get extremely generous portions for next to nothing, making it a very budget friendly destination. Try local dishes like cevapi, burek, and pita from local bakeries. Bosnian coffee is really tasty too.
  • Explore the Great Outdoors. Bosnia and Herzegovina isn’t shy when it comes to stunning natural landscapes. Affordable activities include hiking in the mountains – try the Dinaric Alps – or exploring national parks, like Una National Park. Most trails are free to access.
  • Visit the bazaars. In each town or city you visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you’ll likely find local markets or bazaars to explore. They’re great for soaking up the vibrant atmosphere, and shopping for cheap souvenirs, produce, and crafts.

Cheapest countries in Europe: FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the cheapest countries in Europe:

Which is the cheapest country to visit in europe?

From my experience, North Macedonia is probably the cheapest country to visit in Europe. It’s incredibly affordable, and all the accommodation I booked was very reasonable. Getting around is very cheap too, from cross-country coaches to taxis. Food and drink is very affordable too – we enjoyed multiple meals in nice restaurants without breaking the bank. With so much gorgeous scenery, you can explore the country without spending too much, and most of the attractions are affordable too. Try free walking tours in Skopje, Bitola, and Ohrid -all you’ll need to do is tip.

Which European countries have the cheapest cost of living?

I’ve done quite a bit of research into this, with dreams of one day living in Europe for a better quality of life. Consensus has it that Portugal and Croatia top the list. Both have a relaxed lifestyle, beautiful beaches, and are desirable places to live. Here are some generic costs of groceries and living in both country’s capital cities, Lisbon and Zagreb:

Cost (Euros)LisbonZagreb
Meal in an inexpensive restaurant€12€9.96
Cost of bread (500g)€1.35€1.11
Milk (1 litre)€0.90€1.17
Basic monthly utility bill€128.34€201.87
Rent (1 bedroom outside of the city)€780.50€439.44

What is the cheapest English speaking country in Europe?

This is a great question, especially now that it seems so many Europeans speak English so well. Yet. in fact, Montenegro is well known for being one of the cheapest places to live in Europe with a higher percentage of English-speakers than elsewhere in Europe. I absolutely loved Montenegro when I visited last year – it’s beautiful, and certainly somewhere I could live! Budva and Kotor are two of the best Montenegrin cities to live in, and there’s a very affordable cost of living. It’s a safe country too, and there are hot, dry summers from June to August.

What is the cheapest city in Europe to visit?

The capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, is often considered to be the cheapest city in Europe to visit. Having stayed there for a week last year, I couldn’t agree more. The average cost of a one-bedroom Airbnb is just £46 per night, and the average price of a pint is £1.37. It’s also incredibly beautiful, with impressive domed churches on every corner, and grand galleries. The people are super friendly, and it’s incredibly cheap. I dined out for all my meals while staying there, and found it super affordable. You can also head to Bulgaria’s ski slopes or the coastline if you prefer.

Travelling to Europe certainly doesn’t need to be expensive, and hopefully you now have inspiration for the cheapest European countries to visit. Each country is unique and you can often visit multiple countries in Europe in one go, making it a great affordable way to see lots of places in one trip. So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure through some of Europe’s most affordable places.

That’s my guide to the cheapest European countries to visit! Are there any other destinations you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

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  1. Wow looks like Eastern Europe has to be a clear winner for most affordable countries overall in Europe. I thought Portugal was fairly reasonable, but that was a few years ago now. You’ve given lots of ideas of what to see and do and they all sound fantastic!

    1. Hi Linda – thanks for reading! You’re right, Portugal is very affordable for Europe! It’s beautiful too, isn’t it? For me, the Eastern European countries were way, way cheaper. I hope you get to explore for yourself 🙂

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