6 Europe’s Less Expensive Cities

Different people have different goals or bucket lists, but one of the most common things people want to do before they die is see the world; and one of the most common reasons people don’t get around to fulfilling their dream: money. If you realise that your life’s ambition of traveling around the continent is slowly slipping through your fingers, don’t panic. You can still travel on a small budget.

In love with Prague’s winter scenery

To show you how, here are Europe’s least expensive cities. Head to these destinations and you can explore a whole host of different cultures for less than you thought:

#1 Budapest

Budapest at night. Photo credit: Moyan Brenn.

 The Hungarian capital absolutely has to be the cheapest city in Europe. Not only did it rank first in a study by HouseTrip.com, but it was also named most affordable city in the annual Post Office Travel Money survey. At just £117 for two nights’ accommodation, sightseeing, an evening meal for two, drinks and transport it’s definitely budget-friendly.And that’s for an average tourist. If you travel in our “tramp style”, you can easily do it for less than $25 a day.

#2 Prague

Historical Prague

The Czech capital also featured in the Post Office survey, where it was found that meals and drinks were much cheaper than anywhere else in Europe. Prague has long been a budget option for backpackers, but it’s since been overtaken by other Eastern European cities. When visiting Prague 2 years ago, I easily survived for less than $25 a day doing couchsurfing and indulging in traditional Czech trdelnik!

#3 Lisbon

Stunning Lisbon. Photo credit: Ramon Bataller.

 Portugal is a popular holiday destination and you can easily reach the capital of Lisbon for one of the best-value breaks within the Eurozone. Prices have fallen by 15% since last year, so it’s around half the price of stopping in Paris or Amsterdam.

 #4 Madrid

Madrid at night. Photo credit: Luis Feliciano.

Barcelona is perhaps the more popular city of the two, but the Spanish capital is a lot kinder to your wallet. There are lots of cheap hostels and hotel rooms around the city – from as little as €11 a night – while the tapas culture makes dining out much more affordable. Drinks are also cheap if you stick to beer or sangria.

 #5 Edinburgh

Edinburgh in autumn colors. Photo credit: Glyn Ednie.

Although it has been labelled as the most expensive city to stay in the UK, taking a short break in Edinburgh can actually offer tourists great value for money when you consider all the costs. You can enjoy affordable prices on food, drink and entertainment once there – with plenty of free attractions to enjoy. Add in the fact that if you’re from UK you don’t have to worry about currency exchange rates and the allure is only too clear! Consider couchsurfing and nothing can stop you from spending less than $25 a day.

#6 Nice

Stunning view of Nice. Photo credit: Simon.

A trip around Europe wouldn’t be complete without a stay in France. Rather than heading to the pricey capital, go south to the Côte d’Azur to Nice. There is lots to do in the city, but it’s also a good base for exploring Monaco and Cannes.

What city would you pick to visit on the cheap this summer?

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

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  • Another great list and an interesting one two. With your frugal approach to travel this shatters the concept that certain places such as Nice, Madrid and so on are pricey. They can be managed on a low budget as you prove time and time again.

  • An interesting list – although if you head way east to Bulgaria and Romania you will find cheaper places. And Albania I think although I haven’t been there. But for feature cities that everyone wants to go to, this is a great list. It’s good to see that Prague, despite the increase in tourists over the years, hasn’t become ridiculously expensive. Very keen to get to Lisbon one day, good to hear it’s not too costly. And Budapest, great bang for your buck! Great post!

  • I’ve been to five of the six and love them all! Budapest and Lisbon are particular favorites. Not only are they beautiful and fascinating destinations, they aren’t the least bit crowded! After traveling in Asia for two years, that’s a real plus :-)

  • Romania has some very inexpensive and great cities as does Poland. Prague is my fav on the list, though. Unbelievably expensive and wonderful.

  • Edinburgh cheap? Nice? Sounds surprising,…
    When I was in Lisbon 6 years ago it was very expensive – one can easily see that from the metro journey prices.
    Budapest is quite expensive, but substantially cheaper than Vienna or Ljubljana. Hmm… loved it!
    If you want to spend the least possible, then go during the winter. It’ll be very cold, though.

      • Since that comment I’ve been there & back.
        Guess what: it was awfully more expensive than I had anticipated.
        Well, I went a bit too deep for too long and transportation in the metropolitan area of Lisbon is quite costly.

  • Great list! There’s lots of cities i love in Eastern Europe! They’re cheap and I have just as much, or even more fun than in lots of other more expensive cities in W. Europe. Doing another mini E. Europe trip next month to Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro…so excited! :D

    LOVE Budapest and Prague! Bratislava is also great! I didn’t know Lisbon is so affordable…Portugal is still on my Europe bucket list!

  • Based on my experience Nic can be cheap in off-season e.g early May or late September. A hotel room costs around 60 eu for two, but if you travel with company, you can rent a flat, and it would cost around 15-20 eu per person a day if you stay for at least 4-5 days. Don’t forget to bargain :)

    Hitting on Spain this summer and spending 5 days in Madrid. Oh, and you can find nice deals in Malaga. We’re renting a room in a shared flat in the city center for just 90 eu per person for 6 nights ;)

  • I haven’t seen much of Europe, and Rome is certainly not the cheapest place in Europe, but I found food and drink there to be particularly good value (especially when you consider the quality of much of the food)

  • would not of thought Edinburgh was so cheap. I certainly found Poland to be pretty cheap and most places around Eastern Europe

  • As I haven’t been to Budapest and Nice yet, I would choose Budapest but I’d live to spend some more time in Prague, Lisbon and Madrid. Those are definitely cities I could imagine living for a while. And before heading to Ecuador in the end of August I will have a short stopover in Madrid to wander a bit around and have some tapas :)

  • Thanks for the great tips Agness, this might come in quite handy for my upcoming Europe trip. While I loved Budapest and would definitely visit again, I will also keep Nice in mind when visiting France. Hopefully you are right and it will not be too expensive there. After all my time in Asia, I am quite concerned about the prices in Europe… :/

    • I’ve already been to France and let me tell you it was pretty affordable. At that time I was travelling with Cez so we shared the expenses. Not too bad.

  • Prague is such a great city! And pretty affordable. I actually found Europe to be not that terribly expensive (except Switzerland – sheesh that country is outrageous!). Nowhere near as cheap as SE Asia (sigh), but still not as bad as I was expecting. I was surprised to see Nice and Madrid on your list, good to know for my next Europe trip!

  • Perfect! 2 of these (Nice and Madrid) were already on my radar for my Euro trip later this year. And now I’ve gotta look into Lisbon and see if I can make it fit because I’d love to go there. I just didn’t realize that it was considered of the cheaper European cities. Thanks for the info!

  • There are definitely some cheaper places to visit in Europe. I was absolutely blown away by Prague for its beauty and charm and shocked at how cheap it was. We were having a decent sized delicious meal and a beer each every night for less $15 for two people.

  • I’d definitely add Warsaw to that list! And these days visiting Kiev and Lviv seem to be a bargain (before the revolution they were still dirt cheap but now it’s even more affordable!)

  • Great suggestions and lots that I have still to visit! I can recommend Vigo in the north of Spain as a less expensive city with tapas for on offer for very little. My hometown, Glasgow can also be less expensive if you choose your places wisely – certainly cheaper than Edinburgh.

  • Wow, some of these were very shocking (but pleasantly so!) I would love to do Budapest and Lisbon…I’ve been enjoying a lot of wine from near Lisbon lately, which is much more affordable than Spanish wine, but similar tastes because of proximity!

  • Hi Agness, great list of places to visit, each for their own unique reasons. It’s been a while, about 10 years actually but I’ve been to 5 of the 6 places on your list and loved them all. The only one I Haven’t been to is Lisbon, and Portugal is definitely on our list for this nomadic adventure. Including Edinburgh in this list is a risk, it was expensive when I was there in 2000, but the Aussie dollar back them was terrible. Our strong dollar means we’d certainly get better value for money now. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Chris. Thanks for sharing. I am going to Lisbon next month. I’ll be visiting Fatima as well so I hope it’s cheap and beautiful!

  • I’m surprised at Edinburgh and Nice being on this list! But it just goes to show that any place can be a “budget destination” if you know where to go for affordable eats and entertainment. Out of this list, I’ll be in Budapest and Prague this summer, so I’ll really be looking forward to giving my wallet a break. :)

    • Actually you are right. Any place can be an affordable travel destination if you know where to look for a cheap accommodation and restaurants.

  • We are in Madrid right now! From the list there are still some places we haven’t seen though like Lisbon and Prague (for Dale only, I was there years ago), it’s good to know they are affordable cities, it makes easier for us to choose where to go ;)

  • Great list! Just a few things to add: Lisbon is actually way cheaper than Paris — an espresso for example costs roughly around 2.50 € in Paris, in Lisbon the average espresso price is 50 cents.
    In my experience, the cheapest city with Euro currency is Ljubljana, and — as some of the fellow commenters said already — Romania has to be the cheapest country in Europe in general. Over all, you could say that Western Europe is rather pricey (except Portugal), but there are still some great ways to save money there. If you want to travel on the cheap though, Eastern Europe might be the better choice.

    • Hey Julika! Long time no see! Thank you for sharing. I am moving back to Europe next month and I can’t wait to explore France once again, Spain and Portugal for the first time!!

    • Prague’s the cheapest one, so don’t worry about your budget !! :D You will be absolutely fine :)

  • Well I am a lucky girl to have been to all of these places, and I can say I loved each and every one of them! Great list… definitely a list for every traveller!

  • Just the list I needed to come across! I was having a chat with a friend from home about possibly doing a cheap trip to Europe at the end of the year and this has given me some great ideas!

  • Been to 4/6 (Budapest is my favorite!!! May be biased by my Hungarian family), currently living in one (Madrid!) Can definitely say that Madrid is a cheap place all around – both to live and travel – the alcohol is unbelievably cheap for Western Europe and the restaurants won’t break your bank either.. Then again having only live in NYC before my viewpoint of what is ‘cheap’ is a little skewed…

    I’d also add (as a few other people have pointed out) Kraków and Warsaw – surprised you didn’t represent your native country! But I absolutely love Poland for so many reasons, the prices being just one of these =)

    Good to hear that Edinburgh is cheap, I’m heading there in August, although I’m going for the festival and I can tell already just looking up hostels that they definitely raise prices in August. Great list!!

  • Lovely places to go in Europe. I am thinking of going to Edinburgh this year. The weathers lovely at this time of the year. At this moment in time, the weathers pretty nice. Thanks for showing cool places and mentioning about its expensiveness.

  • Hmm Very Nice ! This post is such a nice post about Expensive Cities of Europe! I never been in Europe but I hear more Europe’s cities. This is amazing & great list of Europe’s cities.Well my favorite one is “Budapest”

  • I agree totally with all mentioned here in this blog. I recently went to Europe to Study and I was so surprised, all things come in my budget. Thank you for making this publicly available. :)

  • Happy to say I’ve been to 4 out of these! I was really surprised by Lisbon and Edingburg, I’ll definitely up them on my list since I always assumed they were expensive, yay! :)

    • Great to hear that Lucia. I have not been to Lisbon yet, but I’m going there next month. Fingers crossed it’s gonna be cheap!

  • Wow, I’m super surprised Edinburgh made the list!! I found it heaps expensive when I went there a few years ago for a weekend away with my mum. I loved Prague, that’s a great one for the list :)

  • I agree with Prague and Madrid, they are very budget-friendly! Sofia and Bulgaria more generally is even cheaper, you can have a really nice time for next to nothing!

  • Nice list with some surprising inclusions. I would recommend Krakow – fantastic! My wife and I were there one year ago and also Prague same trip and we found food, accommodations, basically everything cheaper in Poland. Also I have to say we found the Polish cuisine much tastier! But Prague is a beautiful city, easy to get around and lots of affordable things to do.

    • Thank you Greg for stopping buy. As for Prague, it’s one of the most beautiful and affordable cities in Europe!

  • My God! I needed this! I will soon be travelling to Madrid and Lisbon and am happy to know that they are among Europe’s cheapest cities. However, I found Edinburgh a bit expensive…maybe i did not do the necessary research. But otherwise very appropriate list…wish to visit all those places someday. Thanks 4 compiling it.

    • I’ll be in Lisbon in exactly 3 weeks so I can’t wait to share some of my budget travel tips with you!

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