Cheapest European Countries To Visit

Europe is home to a lifetime’s worth of destinations, with museums, cuisines, and attractions to suit everyone’s hobbies and interests. It’s a top backpacking destination for a good reason, but unfortunately, it is often a pricier place to travel. 

Despite this, many affordable European countries are just waiting to be explored. Maybe they have enticing exchange rates, ‘haven’t been discovered yet’, or are a bit more off-the-beaten-path. 

In this guide, we’ve prepared a list of Europe’s cheapest countries to help you plan your next budget-friendly trip to the continent. 


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12 Cheapest Countries in Europe 

1. Bulgaria 

Currency: Bulgarian Lev
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=1.8BGN 1EUR=2BGN

  • Bed in a dorm room: $10-15USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $22-38USD
  • Street food/fast food: $3-6USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $5-8USD
  • Beer: $1-1.20USD
Bulgaria
Etar Gabrovo in Bulgaria looks like something out of a fairytale.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $20-35USD

Bulgaria is often considered the cheapest country in Europe, mainly due to its favorable exchange rate. This is excellent news for backpackers because Bulgaria is an absolute treat! Not only is it said to be the birthplace of yogurt, but its folklore and arts and crafts are some of the most lovingly cultivated on the continent, perfect for culture lovers. 

Outdoors lovers will enjoy Central Balkan National Park, and most of Bulgaria’s many natural destinations are free or very cheap to explore. 

It is generally quite easy to get around via train and bus. Most major cities have trams, and the capital Sofia has a metro. Many travelers only visit Sofia, but you shouldn’t miss Plovdiv’s 200+ archaeological sites or the world-famous Sunny Beach on the Black Sea. 

Tip: While resorts in Bulgaria are cheaper than other European destinations year-round, prices are staggeringly low in the off-season. 

Here are a few hostels we love in Bulgaria:

2. Romania

Currency: Romanian Leu
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=4.5RON 1EUR=4.95RON

  • Bed in a dorm room: $7-15USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $18-30USD
  • Street food/fast food: $1-4USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $4-8USD
  • Beer: $1-1.50USD
Sighisoara Romania
Charming and colorful streets in Sighisoara, Romania, make for the ideal stroll.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $15-30USD

Romania is perhaps best known for being home to Bran Castle (where Dracula allegedly lived) but it is also one of the cheapest destinations in Europe. Even its most touristy locales are reasonably priced. If you head into the Carpathian Mountains or rural Transylvania, you will find even lower prices in breathtaking and budget-friendly cities like Cluj-Napoca, Sighișoara, and Timişoara. 

Bucharest’s Old Town Lipscani district rivals other, more expensive old towns and traditional street food is cheap and plentiful. Indeed, you may even get to take a break from grocery shopping altogether in Romania– traditional eats rival grocery prices, and are hearty and filling. 

Be sure to try sarmale cabbage rolls, polenta dish mamaliga, and cozonac, a dessert-like sweet bread. Romania also has one of the biggest and best transportation systems in Europe, so trains and buses are your best bet to get around.

Here are a few hostels we love in Romania:

3. Montenegro

Currency: Euro
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=0.90EUR

  • Bed in a dorm room: $9-18USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $22-55USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $3-5USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $6-8USD
  • Beer: $2-2.50USD
Bridge in Montenegro
If you like adventuring off the beaten track, Montenegro is a great destination!

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $20-40USD

Long off-the-radar, Montenegro is gorgeous, offering fjords to rival Scandinavia and coastlines to rival the Riviera at a much more reasonable price. 

Similar to Bucharest, Kotor’s Stari Grad (Old Town) offers a similar experience to other, more expensive old towns. However, if you feel like splurging, there are still options to do so, like on the exclusive resort island Sveti Stefan. 

Due to its more mountainous nature, there are fewer train lines in Montenegro than in other places, but there is a robust bus infrastructure that will get you where you need to go. 

Tip: If you are traveling Europe on a budget, stick to local cuisine to avoid tourist prices!

Here are a few hostels we love in Montenegro:

4. Moldova

Currency: Moldovan Leu
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=18.3MDL 1EUR= 20.1MDL

  • Bed in a dorm room: $8-18USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $28-43USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $3-7USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $8-15USD
  • Beer: $0.50-1USD
Moldova
The Metropolitan Cathedral in Chisinau, Moldova – just wait until you see how beautiful it is inside!

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $15-40USD

Moldova may not be particularly on your radar as a travel destination – but its blossoming tourism industry is increasingly putting it on the map, especially as an affordable European destination. 

Its wine country alone is worth visiting, boasting some of the world’s most extensive cellars and distinctive red wines from the Nistreana region. The country is connected mainly by bus, though some trains do exist. 

While its capital Chișinău is distinctively Soviet-looking, it has a beautiful lake and several museums to check out. It is important to note that petty crime like pickpocketing is quite common in Moldova’s larger cities, but this shouldn’t deter you from visiting if you take appropriate precautions.

Here are a few hostels we love in Moldova:

Travel Tip! Don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the places you plan to visit. Our visa guide to Europe will provide a good starting point for your research. And if you need a Schengen visa, be sure to check out the top Non-Schengen countries for resetting your 90-day limit!

5. Ukraine

Currency: Ukrainian Hryvnia
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=29.5UAH 1EUR=32.4UAH

  • Bed in a dorm room: $7-12USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $12-30USD
  • Street food/fast food: $2-6USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $8-18USD
  • Beer: $0.30-0.80USD
Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, Ukraine
The capital of Ukraine, Kyiv is famous for its architecture.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $15-40USD

Ukraine is said to be where you can get the cheapest beer in Europe, and its budget-friendliness is not just limited to alcohol! The food you’ll come across while out and about is filling and delicious and will cost the same as a snack elsewhere, mainly if you stick to local treats like varenyky dumplings. 

Lviv and Odesa are famous worldwide for ballet and opera if you’re seeking a dose of fine arts, and its capital Kyiv has beautiful architecture and museums. Famed nuclear site Chernobyl is open for visits with an official guide and costs less in the winter season (though you may get quite cold!)   

Here are a few hostels we love in Ukraine:

6. Portugal

Currency: Euro
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=0.9EUR

  • Bed in a dorm room: $6-38USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $42-80USD
  • Street food/fast food: $5-7USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $8-12USD
  • Beer: $1.50-2USD
Portuguese Egg Tart
The pasteis de nata is a Portuguese egg tart. It is the perfect cheap snack for backpackers!

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $20-80USD

Many backpackers often associate shoestring European travel with Eastern Europe. While this is true, don’t count out Western and Southern Europe! 

Portugal, in particular, is doable on a tight budget, especially the capital city Lisbon. While lodging prices do creep upwards, food is very inexpensive, and its iconic yellow streetcars are a quaint (and cheap!) way to travel. 

Its prominent tourist destinations like São Jorge Castle, Belem Tower, and Jerónimos Monastery are also inexpensive. Outside of Lisbon, many of the Faro region and the Algarve attractions are outdoors – such as hiking, swimming, and scuba diving – and many of them are free. 

And, of course, you can never go wrong with a fresh pasteis de nata for a snack while you’re on the go! 

Check out this post for more of our favorite traditional European foods. 

Here are a few hostels we love in Portugal:

7. Croatia

Currency: Croatian Kuna
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=6.9HRK 1EUR=7.5HRK

  • Bed in a dorm room: $12-30USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $36-60USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $5-8USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $14-20USD
  • Beer: $2-3USD
Croatia
Vrbnik is an ancient stone town in Krk that
is separated from the mainland of Croatia.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $30-60USD

Croatia is one of those original backpacker dream destinations, long a favorite for deal-seekers and shoestring travelers. Regrettably, the popularity of Game of Thrones led to a considerable uptick in tourists to tiny Dubrovnik, and prices increased across the country accordingly. 

However, Croatia is still an eminently affordable place to visit. If you want to explore the Adriatic Sea area but aren’t a huge Thrones fan, consider Split instead. Since it’s a bit bigger, the prices are more reasonable, and there are fewer tourists. 

Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and the nearby Medvednica area are also well worth visiting, though outdoors fans absolutely can’t miss the interlinking waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes. 

Buses are widespread and easy to take throughout the country, but car rental is also common on Croatia’s great highways.

Here are a few hostels we love in Croatia:

8. Poland

Currency: Poland Złoty
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=4.2PLN 1EUR=4.6PLN

  • Bed in a dorm room: $7-12USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $25-60USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $2-5USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $5-15USD
  • Beer: $1-1.50USD
Poland
Polish is a complicated language but if you only learn one word, let it be Pierogi. Thank us later!

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $15-60USD

Poland’s wide variety of attractions, favorable conversion rate, and cheap food and lodging options make it a fantastic destination. Travel is accessible by bus or train, and there are loads of cities to consider. 

Warsaw often has the reputation of being ‘ugly’ which is so unfair! Yes, it suffered a lot of damage in World War II (and was almost entirely rebuilt), but it has incredible museums, parks, and cuisine. 

Kraków’s medieval architecture is much more popular with tourists, but it is more expensive. Consider Wroclaw, Gdansk, and Gdynia, former German cities with beautiful architecture for less-touristy, still-gorgeous cities. And of course, no trip to Poland is complete without several rounds of pierogi, which are usually handmade and very cheap.   

Here are a few hostels we love in Poland:

9. Hungary

Currency: Hungarian Forint
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=338HUF 1EUR=371HUF

  • Bed in a dorm room: $9-18USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $22-32USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $1.50-5USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $8-15USD
  • Beer: $1-2USD
Budapest, Hungary
Party the night away and recover at the famous thermal baths in Budapest.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $20-60USD

Hungary is much more than just Budapest, but truth be told, Budapest truly has it all: all the trappings of a beautiful, cosmopolitan center at an almost-unbelievably low price point. 

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for swoon-worthy architecture, fantastic museums, scenic river views, cheap eats, world-class thermal baths, and more. 

A network of trams makes getting around a piece of cake, and traditional Hungarian cuisine is super inexpensive. 

Tip: While influencers infinitely hype Szechenyi thermal bath, it’s very pricey. Consider bypassing the tourists (and the tourist prices) at Gellert or Lukacs. Gellert is gorgeous, and Lukacs offers a true ‘locals’ only’ experience. 

Prices drop even further outside Budapest, and you’ll get a fantastic bang for your buck at the resort towns along Lake Balaton, wine region Eger, or lovely Szentendre. Remember that prices in Budapest sometimes increase up to five-fold during the Sziget music festival each summer, so plan accordingly!

Here are a few hostels we love in Hungary:

10. Slovenia

Currency: Euro
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=0.9EUR 

  • Bed in a dorm room: $12-20USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $57-80USD
  • Street food/fast food: $6-8USD  
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $8-12USD
  • Beer: $2-2.50USD
Lake bled, Slovenia from above
Lake Bled offers picture-perfect scenery.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $30-80USD

Slovenia’s proximity to some of Europe’s most expensive destinations may lead you to believe that it’s more expensive than it is, so you’re in for a treat! Capital Ljubljana and nearby Lake Bled are definitely bucket list-worthy. Venetian-inspired Piran and its other coastal cities on the Adriatic make Slovenia a fantastic destination for sunbathers and beachgoers. 

Fun fact! All of Slovenia’s beaches are public and free! 

Slovenia’s national rail offers regional and international connections, and buses are always a good option. Note that lodging is quite a bit cheaper in the off-season. 

Here are a few hostels we love in Slovenia:

11. Slovakia

Currency: Euro
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=0.9EUR

  • Bed in a dorm room: $8-17USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $28-70USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $6-10USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $12-17USD
  • Beer: $2-3USD
A Guide to Bratislava, Slovakia
You might not be able to stay in Bratislava’s castle but you can visit!

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $30-70USD

Did you know that Slovakia has the most castles per capita in Europe? Architecture fans will find visiting castles more affordable here than in other European countries overall, and there are many options to choose from.

If you’re more of an outdoors person, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Slovakia’s national parks are free. Indeed, Slovakia boasts some of the gorgeous parks on the continent, with year-round activities from exhilarating skiing and snowshoeing in the winter to breathtaking hiking in other seasons. 

The High Tatras are a charming (and famous) destination. EU students up to 26 years old can ride all Slovakian trains for free, and there is a comprehensive and interconnected rail and bus system. 

Here are a few hostels we love in Slovakia:

12. Italy

Currency: Euro
Exchange rate: Approx. 1USD=0.9EUR

  • Bed in a dorm room: $16-30USD
  • A hotel room in a major city: $50-100USD 
  • Street food/fast food: $5-8USD
  • Meal and drink in a budget restaurant: $12-15USD
  • Beer: $1-1.50USD
Italy
Last but not least, the Instagramable backdrop that is Italy.

Recommended backpacker daily budget: $30-100USD

It may surprise you to see Italy on this list of the cheapest European countries, but it absolutely can be done on a budget. While you’re likely to spend more on lodging here, food is relatively inexpensive. The big tip here is to avoid sitting down at restaurants. 

The authentic Italian way to drink morning cappuccinos is sul banco (standing up at the bar), and grabbing a slice of pizza or a sandwich to-go to eat in a piazza is the best way to avoid the coperta, a ‘sitting fee’ at restaurants. 

Like many other places, Italy gets much more expensive in the peak summer season. Since temperatures climb accordingly, an off-season visit is always a good idea.

There are so many famous sights to see in terms of attractions! The Colosseum in Rome, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, the Doge’s Palace in Venice… it never ends! Indeed, all Italy’s attractions are worth visiting, but entrance fees don’t come cheap. 

Consider making a list and prioritizing what you want to see the most rather than overshooting your budget and squeezing everything in. Many museums have free days (often on Sundays), so book those in advance.

Italy has a fantastic train system that connects the whole country, and its larger cities usually have metros. If you have the time to spare, the slower regional trains are often a third of the price of the high-speed trains – a great way to save money and a chance to see the beautiful Italian countryside pass you by from the window. 

Here are a few hostels we love in Italy:


Europe On A Budget FAQ

What is the cheapest country in Europe? 

Bulgaria.

What are the most expensive countries in Europe? 

The Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) and Switzerland are very pricey. Food, lodging, and activities will cost much more here, and currency conversions are less favorable. If you have your heart set on visiting, consider the off-season. 

Where is the cheapest country in Europe to fly to from the US? 

This depends mainly on where you’re flying from. Major hubs include London, Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Milan. 

Should I haggle in Europe? 

Haggling isn’t as common in Europe as in other countries but is relatively common at open-air or street markets. 

What is tipping etiquette for Europe? 

Tipping is not usually mandatory in Europe, but it’s nice to leave a 5-10% tip if you’re pleased with the service. Some restaurants may include a service charge or gratuity, so check your receipt. 

How much money do I need to travel Europe? 

This depends on your travel style. Bare-bones budget travel can still be quite cheap, and there is a lot of room for upgrading here or there if you’d like to splurge on lodgings and cuisine. 

There are so many destinations in Europe to consider, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. While Europe’s reputation for being expensive can be true, this is not the case everywhere. 

Our biggest tip is to be savvy about geographic decisions. There are loads of affordable European countries that are worth a visit. You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck, and you’re unlikely to be shoulder-to-shoulder with other tourists all day – it’s a win-win! 


Still not satiated your wanderlust? Check out our other guides:

Have you visited somewhere in Europe that you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!

Tegan and Alex bio pic
Tegan George & Alex McKenzie
Why Not Walk | See More Articles
Tegan and Alex are travel, hiking, and biking enthusiasts currently based in Amsterdam. There is nothing they love more than exploring new places by walking, and they have visited over 35 countries together since they met in 2015. Their love for “walking the world” led them to found Why Not Walk, a travel guides site. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest to start planning your next adventure.
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