Most of the iconic European destinations like Paris, London, and Barcelona are not the cheapest cities to visit. And some of the most expensive countries in the world are in Northern Europe! While it might be tempting to plan a group trip in these world-famous locales, you can get similar experiences for a fraction of the price at these affordable destinations in Europe.
If you are traveling on a budget, you will want to look at Central or Eastern Europe. The cheapest destinations are usually off the usual tourist trail, but not always. Groups of budget travelers will often find lower prices for accommodations and everyday expenses in countries with a local currency and can take advantage of free attractions too.
This guide covers the most affordable cities and regions in Europe so you can make your money go further. All of them have a rich history and beautiful scenery and are easy to enjoy on a smaller travel budget (*Note: Prices below are quoted in USD).
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Table of Contents
Top Affordable Destinations in Europe for a Group Trip
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, also known as one of the most beautiful places in the world and it happens to be one of the cheapest major cities in Europe. It’s a hotspot for group travelers looking for medieval charm and delicious street food (not to mention the beer!) on an affordable city break.
Explore the city’s beautiful Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and head to Old Town Square. You’ll find rows of picturesque pastel houses and the famous Astronomical clock. It dates back to the 15th century and has 12 medallions which represent the Zodiac symbols.
The 14th-century Charles IV Bridge and the John Lennon Wall are icons of the Czech capital city that you cannot miss. Luckily, you can explore these city center tourist attractions for free!
Join one of the city’s free walking tours (just tip at the end) so your whole group can learn more about Prague’s historical sites and rich culture for less than $10. Climb to the top of Petřín Lookout Tower for the best views for less than $10 per ticket.
Two fantastic attractions to check out in Prague are the majestic Prague Castle (with panoramic views of the city) and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Prague Castle has free admission to its courtyards and Cathedral of St. Vitus and the Golden Lane are also free after 4 pm or 5 pm.
Tickets for Old Jewish Cemetery at the city’s oldest synagogue are around $18, but you can afford the extra cost with savings elsewhere. If that price is still too steep, explore the extended Jewish Quarter for free.
Indulge in chimney cake, known locally as Trdelník, for around $7 or less. A large glass of local Pilsner beer will only set you back around $2-4. Average costs for accommodations are around $68 per person for a higher-end luxury hotel.
2. Porto, Portugal
Most Western European countries (especially those using the Euro currency) are too pricey to be affordable for budget travelers. However, Portugal is the exception with the country’s second city in the north, Porto, being one of the cheapest places to visit in Europe.
Aside from stunning terracotta-colored rooftops, pristine sandy beaches, and blue waters, tourists can go sightseeing at the Porto Cathedral, a fabulous baroque fortress that sits on top of a hill overlooking the city. There are plenty of things to do in Porto for free, and visiting this stunning Romanesque cathedral is one of them!
For anyone looking for more fun outdoors, there’s the Crystal Palace Gardens. It’s one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Take a stroll around the palace and fountains, and enjoy looking at the ducks and beautiful flower gardens. Listen to live music in Fado bars where a glass of cheap port wine can cost as little as $2.
Before you leave, make sure to take photos in front of the Dom Luis Bridge, which has been around since 1886. One of the most popular things to do in Porto is to climb the majestic Arrábida Bridge which costs less than $20 per person.
Accommodation in Porto can cost as little as $70 per night for a short-term rental apartment. Local restaurants offering a Prato do Dia (a ‘dish of the day’ set menu) charge around $12-15 for a two or three-course filling meal. Enjoy unlimited public transportation rides on Porto’s historic trams with a two-day pass, or simply walk everywhere.
3. The Albanian Coast
Looking for affordable destinations in Europe in the countryside? While European cities are generally easier and cheaper to reach, taking a road trip down the Albanian Coast is a fantastic option. Especially if you’re traveling as a group and sharing costs!
Albania is an often overlooked destination in Southeastern Europe and a cheaper alternative to nearby Greece or the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. You can embark on the ultimate coastal drive across the Llogara Pass, a scenic mountain pass overlooking the Albanian coast, also known as the Albanian Riviera. As you drive, enjoy breathtaking views of nearby mountains.
Head to the Llogara National Park, a beautiful mountain range covered in pine trees and unique wildlife such as the European wildcat and even wolves. There are also beautiful beaches where you can stop along the way like Borsh and Gijpe. Tucked away near the village of Dhërmi, you’ll find Drymades, a secluded beach where you can sunbathe for hours without seeing another person.
Among other hidden gems to explore in Albania is the Tagjas Village. It’s on the outskirts of Orikum and the perfect place to wander around. Drive inland to Lake Ohrid, on the border of North Macedonia, if you want to tick another country off your bucket list on the same trip. You can enjoy all of this nature without spending a penny!
Accommodation in this part of Albania costs from $13 per night for a hostel dorm room to $60 for a short-term rental apartment when booked in advance. Good wine at a bar costs less than $3 per glass and expect to pay around $8 for a glass of wine, appetizer, and main course at a mid-priced restaurant.
4. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and a popular destination for budget travelers in Europe. Both sides of the city are split across the Danube River and offer an abundance of 19th-century architecture and unique activities for travelers.
Join a free walking tour to see the incredible St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge, and Fisherman’s Bastion. Just remember to tip your guide around $10-15 at the end of the tour.
You’ll have more money to spend on a relaxing session in one of the city’s nine medicinal baths. Széchenyi and Gellert are the most popular, costing just under $30 for a regular day ticket. Spend a whole morning or afternoon soaking in these gorgeous ornate thermal baths to get your money’s worth. Pack a bathing suit, flip-flops, a bath towel, and a swim cap or the spa will make you buy one!
Head to Central Market or one of Budapest’s flea markets like Fény Utca Market for cheap souvenirs.
Don’t forget to make friends in one of the ruin pubs in Budapest’s Jewish Quarter. These are bars located in formerly abandoned buildings and have a bohemian, kitschy vibe. A glass of domestic beer at one of these bars is around $3.
It’s one of the most affordable places to visit as accommodation in Budapest starts at around $65 per night for a short-term rental apartment. Expect to pay around $10 for a main course at a mid-range restaurant.
5. Tallinn, Estonia
The Baltic countries (named after the Baltic Sea that they border) of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are all affordable destinations in Europe to visit. One of the best is Tallinn, Estonia’s hip capital city.
Head to Raekoja Plats, the main square in Old Town, and take a stroll through the narrow alleyways of Tallinn. Check out the 26 watchtowers that dot the city’s medieval skyline, one of the best-preserved in Europe. Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral for free!
Enjoy the street performers outside of Olde Hansa, a famous eatery where friendly customers get offered a free pint of cinnamon beer. You’ll have to buy something else to get the free beer, of course! Order the Vastlakukkel, a cream-filled pastry, for less than $5.
Tallinn is a party city and there are lots of nightclubs and bars for a cheap night out. A glass of beer will cost around $5.50 and the average meal at a mid-range restaurant is about should cost you $15 more or less. Accommodation in Tallinn starts around $70 for a short-term rental apartment.
6. The Peloponnese, Greece
The Greek Islands are one of the most expensive places to visit during the high season, which is the summer months of June – August in Europe. Not only are these resorts pricey, but they’re also too crowded with tourists. Instead, swap the sunsets of Santorini and the ancient ruins of Athens for the small towns on the Peloponnese peninsula.
Budget travelers can explore Byzantine towns and medieval villages and relax on the beaches. Tour the ancient city of Epidaurus, which is well known for its Ancient Theater dating back to 340 BC, and the Archaeological Site of Mystra. Both of these sites cost less than $15 per ticket.
Visiting the Fortress of Palamidi will also set you back a similar price, or you can spring for the three-day, $23 combined ticket which gives you access to tons more ancient sites.
Some of the best beaches on the Peloponnese peninsula are Simos Beach, Voidokilia Beach, and Kalamata Beach. The latter is where you will find the home of the world-famous olives, which are very cheap to indulge in!
Accommodation on the Peloponnese is around $100 per night for a no-frills villa (you’ll struggle to find hostels in this resort area). Expect to pay around $15 for a traditional Greek main course and $3-5 for a glass of wine.
7. Bansko, Bulgaria
Sunny Beach has attracted budget partiers to Bulgaria for years, but Bansko is fast becoming one of the best, most affordable destinations in Europe. The good news is that it’s perfect for the summer and winter months!
Bansko offers scenic mountains with ski resorts that are ideal for expert and beginner skiers alike. Go mountain biking or rafting on the Kresna Gorge for an unforgettable adventure during the summer. Bulgaria is also loaded with natural springs and lucky for you, there’s one in Banya village, only a few minutes away from Bansko.
When you’re not skiing or biking through the impressive wilderness, take a few moments to walk across the cobblestone streets and head to one of the traditional old pubs in town (a glass of beer only costs around $2.50). Bansko is a small town with lots of cute churches like the Holy Trinity Church that you can pop in for free.
Accommodation in Bankso is super cheap, with $50 on average for a short-term rental apartment. Grab some street food for as little as $6 or a three-course meal with a drink for around $17.
8. Tbilisi, Georgia
Georgia straddles the European and Asian continents and its beautiful capital, Tbilisi, is fast making a name for itself as an exciting, adventurous, and affordable destination to visit. It is surrounded by rolling hillside views with ancient churches and thermal springs conveniently located in the center of the Old Town.
Relax in Rike Park, stroll through the trees, and enjoy the wildlife. Cross the Kura River to explore the more modern side of this city. Remember, it costs nothing to look!
For the best panoramic view in the city, head to Mtatsminda, a theme park on Mtatsminda Mountain. It has a roller coaster and several water slides for a fun afternoon excursion that will only cost you $13 for admission.
Tbilisi is a cheap and underrated European destination. Accommodation starts from $40/night for entire short-term rental apartments! Meals at more upscale restaurants only run to about $15, so imagine how little you’d pay at a budget place. Glasses of beer and wine only run to around $1-3.
9. Bucharest, Romania
Not only is Bucharest one of the most affordable destinations in Europe, but it’s one of the cheapest European capitals. One of its many nicknames is ‘Little Paris’ due to the French architectural influence of some of the city’s historic buildings (Bucharest’s Arcul de Triumf, for example), but that’s where the comparisons end. Bucharest is its own, unique city with lots of Neoclassical and communist-era architecture as well as tons of cheap and free things to do.
Join a free walking tour (tips of around $10 are expected at the end) to learn more about the communist-era Palace of the Parliament building, Revolution Square, and Unirii Square. Stroll through Bucharest’s many beautiful parks including Cismigiu Gardens, Titan Park, and Tineretului Park.
Although many of Romania’s medieval castles are located further north in the Transylvania region, Bucharest has beautiful theaters. For less than $10 per ticket, you can catch a show at The Romanian Athenaeum or the National Opera House.
The National Village Museum is usually every visitor’s favorite tourist attraction in Bucharest. It’s an open-air museum with over 300 traditional Romanian buildings in the picturesque setting of Herastrau Park. These buildings span different eras throughout Romanian history and include churches and mills as well as houses. With adult tickets only costing $7, the museum is extremely good value. While it’s ideal for groups, it’s one of the best things to do in Bucharest with kids too.
Accommodation in Bucharest is around $40 for a short-term rental apartment. Expect to pay around $20 for a three-course meal, but domestic beers are as cheap as $2-3. Local cuisine in Romania consists of hearty stews and soups with lots of potatoes, so you won’t go hungry!
10. Krakow, Poland
Poland is one of the cheapest countries in Central Europe, along with any of the big cities in Poland (Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw). It offers groups a fun and cheap long weekend break. None offer more bang for your buck than Krakow, with some of the continent’s best attractions available at an affordable price.
Walking the ‘Royal Road’ is probably the best part of visiting Krakow, on a budget or otherwise. It’s a part of the city that stretches from the Old Town to Wawel Castle with many other beautiful buildings en route. Strolling through Kazimierz, the former Jewish ghetto, and seeing all the beautiful murals is the best way to spend a free afternoon in Krakow.
St. Mary’s Basilica is the most recognizable building in Krakow’s skyline. While this two-spired church in Krakow’s main square doesn’t offer free admission, $4 per ticket is pretty darn close. Schindler’s Factory Museum is also a fascinating place to visit in Krakow with tickets starting at $2.50. Guided tours cost more and book in advance as it’s a popular spot!
Krakow Day Trips
No visit to Krakow is complete without a day trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Wieliczka Salt Mine. The concentration and extermination camp acts as a memorial for over one million Jews who lost their lives there and is a poignant place to visit.
The Wieliczka is a labyrinth of fun, underground tunnels in a former salt mine just outside of the city. Guided tours of both with an English-speaking guide and transport are available for as little as $50 per person.
Accommodation in Krakow is around $65 per night for a short-term rental apartment. Eat cheap, delicious food at ‘milk bars’ in Krakow for as little as $10 per meal. These local restaurants are a throwback to the communist era, so they’re historic too!
11. Split, Croatia
Since joining the Euro currency in 2023, Croatia isn’t as cheap as it used to be but it’s still an affordable destination. One of the best places to visit in Croatia is Split, particularly for people who love both history and water. It’s located on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visiting Diocletian’s Palace is a must-do in Split. It, along with the Old Town, are both a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They also have free admission! Without the extra cost, you can afford to spend a little bit more on Split’s other top sites. Check out the Meštrovic Gallery which has a $12.50 entrance fee, or $5.50 for a more eclectic museum like Froggyland. Yes, it displays over 500 taxidermied frogs!
Taking a day trip from Split to Plitvice Lakes, one of the most beautiful places in Croatia, might be cheaper than you think too. For a five-hour round-trip group tour plus entrance, you only have to pay $75 per person. It’s one of Croatia’s best national parks and is home to the country’s highest waterfall. You’ll have the best time and every dollar will be worth it.
Local food in Croatia consists of light fare similar to Italian food such as seafood, risotto, prosciutto, and locally-produced wine. Standard two-course meals will cost around $20-30, and a glass of wine in a mid-range restaurant is roughly $6. Accommodation in Split is approximately $80 for a more luxury hotel room.
Enjoy These Affordable Destinations in Europe For Less
Although some of the more popular European destinations like the Greek Islands or Italy are beautiful places with iconic historic sites, they’re not the most affordable destinations in Europe. Even if you take advantage of cheap flights, your tight budget won’t stretch very far once you arrive.
Hopefully, this list has given you plenty of inspiration for cheap places you can travel to in Europe that have natural beauty and interesting history, just like the hot spots. You can stroll along cobblestone streets and gaze up at beautiful architecture, hike to waterfalls, and swim off the coastline without breaking the bank. Doing lots of fun things as a group + not hurting your wallet = win-win!