Affordable Places to Visit in Europe
It’s no secret, I love Europe. From the West Fjords of Iceland to the Black Sea coast of Romania. There’s a HUGE variety of amazing places to see and quite a range in affordability as well. Sometimes the whole continent gets lumped together as “unaffordable” because some countries and major cities can be pretty expensive if you don’t know some money-saving tricks.
Scandinavia is one of the more expensive parts of Europe to visit, and cities like Paris and London can get pricey, if you’re not careful. However, there are plenty of places on the continent that are perfect if you’re on a budget! Here are three of my favorite affordable places to travel in Europe.
Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
It only takes about five minutes of talking with me to find out this is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole world. I love it so much that I’ve returned twice, for a grand total of about two months, and can’t wait to go back!. It’s one of the smaller capital cities in Europe with about 450,000 residents. Besides the fact that it’s crazy affordable, I absolutely love the pace of life. It’s where I go when I need some perspective and to remember what’s really important. The whole country is incredibly affordable, but the city of Sarajevo is where I’ve spent the most time.
Most of us tend to think of the war-torn 90’s, and the scars are still definitely visible. What was the most striking to me on my first visit was how open and friendly everyone is, even though they have every reason to be cold and wary of outsiders. It’s BY FAR the most hospitable place I’ve ever been! Check out the Destination Sarajevo website to learn more about the city and all the amazing things you can see!
If you’re not convinced yet, I’ll tell you how much you can expect so spend. I went last summer with a friend and we rented a little apartment with a little outdoor picnic area. We spent a whopping $37 a night. That’s total, not per person! It was one of the more expensive options because I wanted the terrace. And damn, let me tell you about the food! Everything is made with super fresh local ingredients, because that’s all that’s available. Čevapi is probably my favorite thing to eat while I’m there and I can’t get enough. It’s little lamb & beef sausages with amazing fresh bread with a pile of raw onions on the side. I like to add a salad, since it tastes like everything just came out of the garden. I can get the whole meal for about $3!
The Breakdown (per person)
- Average Accommodation (per night): $10 – $15 hostel dorm, $25 – $40 apartment
- Average Food Budget (per meal): $2 – $4 street food, $8 – $10 full meal with beer/wine
- Average Daily Cost of Transportation: $0 it’s a totally walkable city! $1.50 for tram
- Daily Cost of Sightseeing: $5 – $10. Many of the sights are simply part of the city
- Additional Expenses: $20 – $30 for taxi to and from the airport
- Budget for 7 Days: $500 on the really high end! I usually spend about $300 for a week alone, and a little less if my husband or a friend joins me.
There is so much to see in Romania, from wondrous nature to cute Transylvanian towns. The Black Sea coast, Danube Delta, Carpathian Mountains, and Transylvania all have jaw-dropping beauty. My husband and I spent two weeks traveling through the country by rental car in 2017, and still had to skip parts because we ran out of time.
The Danube Delta had been on my list since I saw an Instagram series by National Geographic a few years ago, and it didn’t disappoint! It’s the largest reed bed in the world and home to so many different water foul. We took a full day tour that included lunch at a family home and took us all the way to Sulina. I believe the grand total for the two of us was 60 Euro. It was definitely the most expensive activity during our time in Romania.
The Romania Tourism Board’s website lets you see the different regions and all of the awesomeness on offer. You can find homemade wine at road side stands and I believe we paid about $5 for a gallon! Our most expensive room was about $35 for the night, and came with a beautiful balcony and view of the mountains. We stayed mostly in B&B or family run hotels, all of which were clean and comfortable! My favorite meals were filled with smoked meats, potatoes, and good beer. An amazing dinner consisting of soup, entree, beer/wine, and their local plum brandy that left us both so full we needed an evening walk, usually cost about $20! Can’t beat that!
The Breakdown (per day, per person)
- Average Accommodation (per night): $10 – $15 hostel dorm, $15 – $20 hotel, B&B, or private hostel room
- Average Food Budget (per meal): $2 – $4 street food, $7 – $10 full meal with beer/wine
- Average Daily Cost of Transportation: $40 for rental car and gas (it’s the best way to get around Romania!)
- Daily Cost of Sightseeing: $5 – $7 for castles, tours, etc.
- Budget for 7 Days: $400 for a pretty epic road trip!
The only reason this is lower on the list is that it’s a little more expensive than the other two, but still significantly cheaper than other parts of Europe. Personally, of the three listed, Slovenia takes the cake for absolutely breathtaking nature. Lake Bled is what comes to mind for most people, and it’s everything you imagine and more. However, there’s so much more to see in the Julian Alps and the country also has a little strip of coastline on the Adriatic sea! Lubljana is a lovely city, right on the river with a castle on the hill and cafes to sit and watch the world go by. On my six-week solo trip, I had planned to spend just two nights passing through Slovenia on my way to Croatia, but absolutely loved it and stayed for five. It’s high on my list of places to explore more!
The prices are still really reasonable. For dinner, I rarely spent more than 10 Euros and, like Romania, was full to the brim! I was camping most of the time, but looked at a few different accommodations so I could sleep in a real bed for a night. Most of what I found was easily under $50 per night for a private room, and much less for a hostel dorm! You can see what else Slovenia has to offer on their Tourist Board website.
The Breakdown (per day, per person)
- Average Accommodation (per night): $15 hostel dorm, $30 – $50 hotel, B&B, or private hostel room
- Average Food Budget (per meal): $4 – $6 street food, $10 – $15 full meal with beer/wine
- Average Daily Cost of Transportation: $40 for rental car and gas
- Daily Cost of Sightseeing: $10 – $15 if you’re in Bled or Ljubljana. Some of the best parts are the nature, which is free!
- Additional Expenses: $10 for the car pass, if you come from another country. If you want to do outdoor activities like kayaking, plan $15 – $20 for any equipment rental or guides
- Budget for 7 Days: $900 for a road trip and the higher end of everything listed! When I visited, I was camping and spent about $350 for the five days. Because it’s a country that draws more tourists, there are more options making it friendly for most budgets!
Anywhere Can Be Affordable
Truthfully, you can make you budget stretch anywhere you go, if know what to do. These places are amazing because you can have a super vacation – eating out, seeing all the attractions, “splurge” on souvenirs and still spend so much less than you think. I always browse the websites from the Tourism Boards as well. They’ll tell you what’s happening in the area and provide great information for planning your trip!
I hope this gets you dreaming of new places to explore! Flights to these places can be a little more expensive because they’re less popular and touristy, but here are a few ways to help you save on those as well.
Now get out there, the world is waiting for you!