The 18 Cheapest European Cities

Updated on: March 15, 2024 by Mick

Europe, with its captivating history, diverse cultures, and scenic landscapes, is a continent that beckons travellers from all corners of the globe. While some European cities are renowned for their luxury and high living costs, there exists a treasure trove of affordable destinations that offer an enriching experience without breaking the bank. In this comprehensive guide, I will explore 18 of the cheapest European cities, providing insights into their affordability, cultural richness, and unique charm.

1. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria, is known as one of the cheapest cities in Europe due to its low cost of living and affordability for tourists. The city offers a wealth of historical and cultural attractions, including ancient churches and museums, at minimal or no cost. Accommodations, dining, and public transportation are significantly cheaper compared to Western European standards, making it an attractive destination for budget-conscious travelers.

Sofia's pricing for essential tourist experiences, like meals in local restaurants and entrance fees for attractions, are lower, which allows visitors to explore the city extensively without spending a lot. Additionally, the city's compact size means that many sites are within walking distance, reducing the need for expensive transport options. This combination of affordable amenities, rich history, and the overall cost-effectiveness of tourism-related expenses contributes to Sofia's reputation as a budget-friendly European city.

  • Local Beer: €1.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €8.00

2. Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest, Romania

Bucharest stands out as one of Europe's most cost-effective cities due to a combination of low living costs, affordable accommodation, and budget-friendly dining options. Its membership in the European Union, without adopting the Euro, further contributes to its status as an economical destination.

The city's unique blend of historical and modern influences, from its architecture to its vibrant cultural scene, offers visitors a rich experience without the high price tag commonly found in more mainstream European capitals. This balance of affordability and cultural richness makes Bucharest an attractive option for travellers seeking value and authenticity.

  • Local Beer: €1.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €8.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Bucharest.

3. Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw, Poland

Warsaw's affordability stems from its balanced economy, offering low living and travel expenses without sacrificing quality. The city combines rich historical sites, vibrant cultural experiences, and modern amenities at costs lower than many Western European capitals.

From budget-friendly dining and accommodation to free public attractions, Warsaw provides a cost-effective yet enriching travel experience. Its efficient public transport system further ensures visitors can explore the city's beauty affordably, making Warsaw a preferred destination for travelers seeking value and diverse experiences in Europe.

  • Local Beer: €2.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Warsaw.

4. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is distinguished by its exceptional affordability due to a combination of factors including low cost of living, economical dining, and accommodation options that are significantly cheaper than in many other European cities. Additionally, many of Budapest's attractions, such as its historic thermal baths and public parks, offer inexpensive or even free admission, further enhancing its appeal to budget-conscious travellers.

The city's extensive public transportation network is both efficient and cost-effective, allowing visitors to explore its rich cultural heritage and vibrant nightlife without overspending. This unique blend of affordability, accessibility, and rich cultural experiences positions Budapest as a top destination for travellers seeking value in Europe.

  • Local Beer: €2.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00

More on Budapest

5. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague shines as a budget-friendly European gem due to its lower living and tourism expenses compared to many Western European cities. It boasts affordable accommodations, dining, and a plethora of activities that won't break the bank. The city is peppered with no-cost or inexpensive historical landmarks and lush parks, complemented by an economical and comprehensive public transit system. This blend of cost efficiency, historical richness, and cultural vibrancy positions Prague as an ideal destination for travellers seeking both value and deep cultural immersion.

  • Local Beer: €1.80
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €8.00

More on Prague

6. Krakow, Poland

Krakow, Poland

Krakow distinguishes itself as an economical European destination through its low living expenses, reasonably priced accommodations, and affordable dining choices. The city is rich in cultural and historical sites that often have minimal or no entry fees, offering substantial value to budget-savvy tourists.

Krakow's effective public transit further reduces costs for visitors, allowing easy exploration of its vibrant heritage and scenic beauty. This blend of cost-effectiveness and cultural wealth positions Krakow as a top pick for travellers seeking an enriching yet economical European experience.

  • Local Beer: €2.20
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €8.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Krakow.

7. Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Riga stands out as an affordable Eastern European city due to its combination of low living costs and economical leisure options. The city offers a rich array of cultural and historical attractions at minimal or no cost, alongside budget-friendly dining and accommodation choices.

Riga's efficient and cost-effective public transportation system further enhances its appeal, making it easy for travellers to explore its architectural marvels and vibrant streets. This blend of low expenses and enriching experiences makes Riga a preferred destination for those seeking value and cultural depth in Eastern Europe.

  • Local Beer: €3.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Riga.

8. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon shines as a beacon of affordability in Western Europe, with its relatively low living costs setting it apart. This picturesque city entices travellers with its cost-effective accommodation options, diverse and economical dining experiences, and an array of cultural attractions that often come with little to no expense.

The city's efficient public transportation network allows for affordable exploration of its historic streets and landmarks. Lisbon's unique charm, combined with its budget-friendly offerings, makes it a top destination for those seeking both value and a rich cultural experience in Western Europe. Hostels in Lisbon are very reasonably priced and are among the best hostels in Europe.

  • Local Beer: €3.20
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00

9. Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade's allure as an economical Eastern European gem stems from its combination of affordable living costs with rich historical and cultural offerings. The city boasts a wealth of reasonably priced accommodations and dining options, enhancing its appeal to budget-conscious explorers.

With numerous attractions that are either free or low-cost, plus an effective public transport network, Belgrade offers an exceptional value proposition for travellers wanting to immerse in its vibrant life without straining their finances. This blend of affordability and cultural depth positions Belgrade as a prime choice for economical yet enriching travel experiences in Eastern Europe.

  • Local Beer: €1.60
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Belgrade.

10. Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava distinguishes itself as a budget-friendly destination in Central Europe due to its lower cost of living compared to neighbouring capitals. The city offers a variety of affordable accommodation options, diverse culinary experiences that won't break the bank, and a plethora of cultural and historical sites with free or low entrance fees.

Its compact size and efficient public transport system further enhance its appeal, making it possible to explore its charming streets and attractions economically. This mix of affordability, accessibility, and rich cultural offerings makes Bratislava an attractive option for travelers seeking value in the heart of Europe.

  • Local Beer: €1.60
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Bratislava.

11. Athens, Greece

Athens, Greece

Athens is recognized as a budget-friendly Mediterranean destination due to its combination of affordable living costs, diverse accommodation options, and reasonably priced dining experiences. The city is rich in free or low-cost historical and cultural sites, enhancing its appeal to value-seeking travelers.

Athens' efficient public transport system and walkable city center make exploring its ancient wonders and vibrant neighborhoods both easy and economical. This blend of cost efficiency, accessibility, and cultural wealth makes Athens an attractive option for those looking to experience the Mediterranean's charm without overspending.

  • Local Beer: €3.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Athens.

12. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia's charming capital, stands out for its affordability within Eastern Europe, thanks to its lower cost of living and an array of budget-friendly accommodations and eateries.

The city's efficient public transportation makes exploring its rich cultural scene and historical sites both easy and economical. Ljubljana's commitment to sustainability also offers numerous free outdoor attractions and green spaces, adding value for visitors seeking a blend of urban and natural experiences without the high costs typically associated with European capitals.

  • Local Beer: €2.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Ljubljana.

13. Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki distinguishes itself as one of Europe's most budget-friendly cities, attributed to its reasonable living costs, array of affordable accommodations, and plentiful dining options that cater to all budgets. This vibrant city offers a wealth of cultural and historical experiences at minimal expense, including many free attractions.

Its excellent public transportation system facilitates affordable exploration of its diverse neighbourhoods and scenic waterfront, making it an appealing destination for travellers looking to experience the rich heritage and lively atmosphere of Europe without the steep price tag commonly found in larger capitals.

  • Local Beer: €3.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00

14. Valletta, Malta

Valletta, Malta

Valletta, the capital of Malta, distinguishes itself as one of Europe's more affordable cities due to its relatively low cost of living compared to other European capitals. This city offers a variety of budget-friendly accommodation options, along with reasonably priced dining experiences that cater to a range of tastes.

Valletta's rich history and culture can be explored through its numerous free or low-cost museums, historical sites, and public events. Moreover, the city's compact size and efficient public transportation system make it easy to navigate without incurring high costs, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in its charm and beauty affordably.

  • Local Beer: €3.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €10.00

15. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn emerges as a budget-friendly gem in Europe, thanks to its combination of affordable living costs and a wealth of free or low-cost cultural and historical attractions. This picturesque city offers economical accommodation and dining options, alongside a user-friendly public transportation system.

Tallinn's compact size enables visitors to explore much of the city on foot, further saving on costs. Tallinn's blend of medieval charm, modern amenities, and cost-effectiveness makes it an attractive destination for travelers seeking a rich European experience without the hefty price tag.

  • Local Beer: €3.50
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €12.00

16. Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Porto stands out in Western Europe for its affordability, offering lower living costs without compromising on cultural richness. This picturesque city is known for its cost-effective accommodation, diverse and reasonably priced culinary scene, and numerous attractions that are either free or low-priced.

This combination of economical living and rich experiences makes Porto a favored destination for those seeking value in the culturally diverse landscape of Western Europe.

  • Local Beer: €4.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €12.00

17. Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Seville, nestled in Spain's Andalusia region, is celebrated for its affordability amidst the rich tapestry of Spanish culture and history. This vibrant city offers a plethora of cost-effective accommodation and dining options that cater to a wide range of budgets. The abundance of free or inexpensive cultural attractions, including historic sites, public parks, and lively local festivals, adds to its appeal.

Seville's good public transportation system further enhances its status as an economically accessible destination, making it a favored choice for travelers seeking the quintessential Spanish experience without the hefty price tag often found in larger cities.

  • Local Beer: €4.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €12.00
Check out our complete guide to the Best Hostels in Seville.

18. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, with its rich history and cultural diversity, stands out as one of the most affordable cities in Eastern Europe. Its cost of living is significantly lower than in many other European cities, offering budget-friendly accommodation, dining, and entertainment options.

The city’s abundant historical sites, many of which can be explored for free or at a minimal cost, along with inexpensive public transportation, make Sarajevo an attractive destination for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in cultural experiences without overspending.

  • Local Beer: €4.00
  • A dorm bed in a hostel: From €12.00

Final Thoughts on the Cheapest European Cities

In conclusion, Europe is a continent that caters to all types of travellers, including those on a tight budget. The 18 cheapest European cities mentioned above provide a rich cultural experience and allow visitors to explore Europe without putting a major dent in their bank account. From historic landmarks to vibrant local scenes, these hidden gems offer a unique perspective on the continent, proving that a memorable European adventure doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag.

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