Cheapest Countries to Visit in Europe
Western Europe, some southern European countries and Scandinavia have reputations for being mega expensive. But did you know there are many countries in Europe which are not only super affordable, but also have a lot worth seeing and doing? Only Russia, Belarus and Czechia have evaded me so far in terms of affordable countries visited in the continent. Therefore here’s my list of the five best cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
– Written by Alex Brown from Adventure To every Country
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- Book your Europe train tickets at Omio or Trainline
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- Book your Accommodation in Europe on Agoda or Booking.com
- Book your flights at the cheapest rates on Kiwi.com
- Get an eSIM by Airalo to stay connected and Save on Roaming Fees
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Cheapest Travel Destinations in Europe
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Albania (£17/$21 per day)
The time to visit one of the cheapest countries in Europe – Albania is NOW, because this ultra cheap country won’t remain that way for long if it continues to soar in popularity.
Perhaps the key driver for its rapidly-rising reputation is the Mediterranean beaches that give Spain, Portugal and Greece a run for their money.
Then you can mix things up with a trip to capital Tirana to learn about the history. Albania drew comparisons with North Korea for its isolationist period during which no one could enter or leave the country.
Welcome to Albania
Paranoid communist dictator Enver Hoxha built several thousand defensive bunkers, many of which are still dotted around the country today. In Tirana’s “Bunkart” you can learn more about the history of Albania and what the bunkers were used for. A free walking tour of the city is a great way to learn about the history and the highlights, and is one of the recommended things to do in this Albania travel itinerary. Plus you can get some tips from locals on where to eat and what to see.
You can use this 10 Day Balkans Itinerary, to plan your trip to Albania, and finish off your road trip in Albania (rated as one of the Most Scenic Road Trips in Europe) with a visit to Shkoder near the Montenegro border. The highlight here is Shkoder Castle, with views of Albania’s northern neighbour across the lake.
Moldova (£17/$21 per day)
Moldova is a tiny nation sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. It has an unfair reputation as being “the most boring country in Europe”.
However, “boring” is very subjective. Whilst Moldova has little to offer for beach lovers and cosmopolitan city enthusiasts, there is a lot here for anyone with an interest in history or culture.
Moldova was a former Soviet republic, split into two today. The western half of the country is “Moldovan Moldova”. This part of the country feels more like an extension of Romania than anything else.
The eastern half is Transnistria. It identifies as a separate country and is controlled by a different government. Transnistria is heavily pro-Russian, the language is Russian and they are financed by Russia.
Transnistria is what makes Moldova interesting.
Welcome to Moldova – The Cheapest and most Underrated Travel destination in Europe
It is one of the best-preserved places in the world for Soviet history. It is a time capsule that takes you back to Eastern Europe in the 1980s. Lenin statues and hammers + sickles are everywhere to be seen. The green market gives you a glimpse into the everyday life of people in this sheltered territory, which has barely changed since Soviet times. And statues are dotted around not just of Lenin, but also other Soviet heroes such as Yuri Gagarin and, erm, Harry Potter… yes really.
If you stick to the west side of Moldova and capital Chisinau, you will find many orthodox churches and Soviet war memorials.
Chisinau is fun for a day, but it is a key factor in Moldova being labelled as “boring”. Transnistria is where the real excitement is here.
Visit Bender Castle in the border town of the same name. You only need a couple of hours to see this medieval fortification. It has a museum of medieval torture instruments with a description of what each did, and some good views of the surroundings. Particularly of an impressive gold-capped orthodox church. Alexander Nevsky Church to gives its name.
Then head to Tiraspol, the “capital” for a day or two to see the aforementioned Lenin, Harry Potter and more. You won’t regret it.
North Macedonia (£18/$22 per day)
This wonderful little country to the north of Greece is one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe, and without a doubt, one of the best, that the continent of Europe has to offer. Capital Skopje is perfect for a weekend break.
The stunning mountains surrounding the city are on their own enough of a draw. Then throw in the humble locals, interesting history and lovely food. Suddenly you have a real gem on your hands.
North Macedonia as it is now called (after Greece objected to the name “Macedonia” which also covers a region spanning across both countries) was home to two well known figures. And both are proudly celebrated in the capital.
Who you may ask? It’s none other than Alexander the Great and famous missionary Mother Theresa.
The former has statues all over the city, with locals proud of his achievements which have helped put their country on the map. He was born near Skopje, making him a local hero.
Mother Theresa was born in a house right in the heart of the capital. Her birthplace was destroyed by an earthquake, yet is commemorated by a plaque which remains in its place today.
A fun little quirk of Skopje is the copycat versions of some famous landmarks in Europe.
How can you see the Brandenburg Gate, Arc de Triomphe and iconic red London-style buses within the same hour?
You visit Skopje!
Welcome to Skopje – Capital of North Macedonia
These replicas, the mountainous surroundings, and the historical monuments all add to Skopje’s charm. And we haven’t even started on the food yet.
North Macedonia takes inspiration from Turkish, Greek and Balkan cuisine. Perhaps understandably considering its location, near all three regions.
You can get some super cheap local meals in the streets surrounding the Old Bazaar.
Pljeskavica is a Balkan favourite consisting of pork, lamb and beef mixed together, often served with onions. Ajvar is a popular pepper-based spread you will see often in this region. And Turkish kebabs are among other beloved foods in Skopje, which also happen to be one of the Best Street Food In Europe.
On the subject of the Old Bazaar, this is also a fun place to visit. An Ottoman-inspired market with a lot of gold trinkets for sale. Today the bazaar has a strong Albanian influence with many coming over from North Macedonia’s western neighbour to work.
Skopje is a fantastic city, possibly one of the best in Europe. And certainly one of the most underrated.
Hungary (£19/$24 per day)
One of the most popular European city break destinations, which also happens to be one of the best destinations for Solo Travellers in Europe, is Budapest, the capital of Hungary.
There are many reasons why, but unlike Paris, London or Rome it’s super cheap!
Budapest is popular for its architecture. There are plenty of stunning gothic-style buildings alongside the River Danube which are great to admire. The Hungarian Parliament in particular draws a lot of attention. Based on the British Houses of Parliament, it is Budapest’s number one tourist attraction. And it’s not hard to see why.
Elsewhere Budapest is loved by many for its thermal springs. Only Iceland and New Zealand have more than Hungary. The Hungarian capital has 9 medicinal baths with a total of 123 hot springs reaching temperatures of up to 35 degrees Celsius. Absolutely perfect in the winter!
This is not all that Budapest is popular for however.
Welcome to Budapest – Capital of Hungary | One of the Cheapest Travel Destinations in Europe
The ruin bars are another major attraction of Budapest. Ruin bars were run-down abandoned buildings which had a little furniture added without any real redevelopment. Then they became hipster bars with a large cult following, often hosting live music events.
And then there’s the food. Hungarian goulash is so loved in this particular part of Central Europe, that they even put the country’s name before it. And if you’re into desserts, be sure to try the wonderful spiral-shaped chimney cakes which you can see being made everywhere from markets to metro stations across the capital. This tasty pastry is made of a sweet yeast dough, and can often come in various flavours with cinnamon amongst the most popular. All of these delicacies along with Langos, are not only some of the Best Street Food in Europe, but are the best things to eat when you get HUNGRY in HUNGARY.
Finally, as with almost any Central/Eastern European city (outside of Ukraine of course), Budapest is incredibly safe. You can walk around alone at any time of day and not have to fear for your safety.
Budapest is certainly worth checking out, and this Budapest City Guide, is perfect for first time visitors, planning their trip to Hungary.
Bulgaria (£20/$25 per day)
Finishing off this list of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe is a country that has risen to prominence in recent years due to its affordable Sunny Beach resort on the Black Sea. Sunny Beach being a much cheaper alternative to notorious party hotspots such as Ibiza or Magaluf.
That country is Bulgaria, which not only is one of the most affordable countries in Europe, but is also one of the Cheapest Travel Destinations in the World. Bulgaria can be easily visited from Romania, as both the countries share borders, and a trip to Bulgaria, compliments this Romania Travel Itinerary perfectly.
But there’s more to Bulgaria than beaches and beers. If that’s what you’re looking for, then great. You can visit in the summer and get your party fix.
However if you fancy a little more culture, then you are better off looking inland.
Let’s start with the capital Sofia.
Welcome to Bulgaria – One of the Most affordable countries in Europe
Perhaps the best place to visit in Sofia is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This sprawling structure can house up to 10,000 people at any one time, and is one of the most impressive religious buildings in Eastern Europe.
Sofia also has some Roman ruins which have been partially uncovered, having previously been buried under the city in most cases, for well over 1,000 years.
Roman ruins are not unique to Sofia. And the capital is certainly not the highlight of Bulgaria.
That title falls to Plovdiv, a city accessible via Soviet-style train journeys that take 3-hours heading south.
Plovdiv also has its fair share of uncovered Roman ruins for visitors to enjoy. But other than that, Plovdiv is much more scenic than Sofia.
Let’s start with the ruins however.
One of the highlights is the stadium of Philippopolis, a former sports arena which has been partially excavated for passers-by to witness from above. Philippopolis is the name the Romans gave to Plovdiv, named after Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It turns out Skopje’s favourite hero is also popular across the eastern border.
And aside from the stadium, many other remnants remain under the city. This makes it fascinating for history lovers.
Head to the old town and you will see several impressive large houses in a variety of bright and beautiful colours. The houses were built as a competition between the rich to see who could own the nicest house. And they still exist for visitors to explore today. Many of the houses have since been repurposed with some becoming museums you can explore.
They’re certainly a highlight which makes Plovdiv a major hit.
Elsewhere in Bulgaria’s second city, you have the famous Kapana district best known for its colourful art displays. Although you won’t go hungry here either with a wide range of restaurants.
If you only have time to visit one place in Bulgaria, make it Plovdiv rather than Sofia.
This concludes this list of cheap European destinations to consider visiting on your Trip to Europe. If this article was written based on price alone, then Kosovo would have knocked Bulgaria out of the top five. However Kosovo is lacking in terms of attractions despite the warm people and ultra cheap food.
And other destinations miss out because they cost just a little more, although they are absolutely worth visiting. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one such example, with the wonderful Baltics being others. For those unfamiliar with the Baltics, this is the collective term for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. All fantastic countries in their own right and all very doable on a low budget. If you want to know more about travelling in the Baltics, then this 10 Day Balkan Itinerary will turn out to be very helpful.
Hopefully this provides some inspiration for your next trip to Europe. Good luck, and safe travels!
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