9 of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe
Brianna Mills, 05.04.18
Alternative Destinations: 10 min read
Europe is a treasure trove of wonderful places. What's more, with low-cost carriers such as the cheap and cheerful EasyJet and Wizz Air flying people about the continent, it's now pretty cheap to get around. Using PayPal and PayPal Credit to pay for flights while you travel around also helps as it allows you to track your travel funds and make sure you are still keeping your travel experiences within budget. The thing is, when you get to where you want to go, the price of having a good time can be steep. Hotels, eating out, sight-seeing and getting around can rack up a hefty bill if you’re not careful. In fact, on the Telegraph’s list of the world's top 20 most expensive countries, 11 of them are in Europe!
It wouldn't be fair to tarnish the whole continent with that brush, however. There are still many cheap and cheerful places to visit in Europe with a lot to offer. Here's a few of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe and a rough price guide to help you weigh up the costs of visiting.
Travel to Europe cheap
Ukraine: the cheap way to pretend you're a high-roller
Cheap for... Beer, Fanta, Wining & Dining, Transportation, Accommodation, The Opera, International Flights
Kyiv has always had a reputation for being a cheap capital city compared to the rest of Europe and for good reason. Even compared to its Eastern European neighbours, you'll see your travel money go a lot further here. In fact, it's listed as the Telegraph's 6th cheapest country in the world. Kyiv itself is a beautiful city, but, for me, Lviv has more charm. It's a really interesting place to while away an afternoon, with quirky tourist attractions such as a masonic restaurant, as well as wonderful markets and an aromatic coffee roastery. Plus, due to cheap connecting intercontinental flights from Ukraine International Airlines, it also makes a wonderful alternative stopover destination and is one of the cheapest European cities to fly into!
Lviv old town, Ukraine. Photo credit: Brianna Mills
Currency: Ukrainian Hryvnia
Accommodation: You can get 5 star accommodation in the capital for just over $100, hostels for $5-8
Transportation: A top-class sleeper compartment train ticket to take you on the 10 hour journey between Kyiv and Lviv can cost around $8
Meals: A three course meal for 2 People at a mid-range restaurant is on average $15.23
Drink: The cheapest beer of my life was an accidental purchase of a 2L bottle in a bar in Uzhhorod for $1
Entertainment: The most expensive Opera tickets at the famous Odessa opera hall will set you back $11
Getting there by air: LOT Polish Airlines, Windrose Airlines and Georgian Airways are all alternatives to flying with Ukraine International Airlines
Bulgaria: the cheap all-rounder
Cheap for... Wine, Nuts, Trains, Tourist Attractions, Night Life, Festivals
Sofia remains a good bargain among European capitals, and the rest of Bulgaria offers something for everyone. From the party strips of Varna to quaint historical towns like Veliko Tarnovo and the black sea beach resorts of Burgas, you're bound to find somewhere you like. Although accommodation prices are on the rise, it's still one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
Rila Monastry, Bulgaria
Currency: Bulgarian Lev
Accommodation: A mid-range hotel on average should cost $40, a private double in a cheap hotel around $15
Transportation: Inner-city trains $3: The longest regular route is the $25 Sofia/Varna round trip in 2nd class
Meals: Street food $0-2, restaurant mains $2-6
Drinks: $3 for a good bottle of wine in a supermarket, $1 for a coffee, less than $1 for a fizzy drink
Attractions: most museums/attractions will set you back around $1.50
Getting there by air: So many low-cost airlines fly into Sofia, from FlyDubai to Transavia
Slovakia: the cheap way to enjoy mountain views
The picturesque Tatra mountains in winter, Slovakia
Cheap for... Beer, Trains, Skiing, Hiking, Bicycle Hire, Supermarkets
Despite only being a day's cycle distance from the capital of Austria, Vienna, Bratislava is not nearly as popular as its neighbouring capital city. A lack of famous attractions doesn't help, though the pleasant and historic town center is worth a day meandering round. However it is worth a detour from Bratislava to the nearby Tatras, the highest part of the Carpathian mountain range. The dramatic scenery entices skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. With this cheap European destination, you get all the benefits of the Austrian mountains without the extortionate cost.
Accommodation: Mountain hut hire in the Tatras costs around $6-10, camping for two people around $12. A 4-star hotel in the capital might be $70 for a double room
Transportation: Inner-city trains are cheap, and public transport around towns costs lest than $1 per ticket
Meals: A meal at an inexpensive restaurant should cost about $6
Drinks/Entertainment: Rent bikes and cycle to Vienna for $12 a day or just sip beer for $1.50 a pint
Attractions: One-day ski pass: $17-36 Getting there by air: Ryanair and Pobeda are two low cost carriers that fly here
Poland: The cheap way to have a great night out
The colourful streets of Poland at night. Photo credit: Caio
Cheap for... Night Life, Accommodation, Attractions, International Flights
Poland is hardly newsworthy as a cheap destination to visit in Europe. Many Europeans already take to the country for their budget weekend breaks. But why is it so popular? One reason is the nightlife. There's a fact circulating the internet that Krakow has the most pubs per square kilometre in the world. Whether that's true or not I can't say, but there's definitely some truth behind the rumour. The city is literally built upon medieval city bars.
Currency: Polish złoty
Accommodation: $35 for a room in a mid-range hotel, $60 for the best place in town
Transportation: As cheap as $8 for a long distance/international train or bus
Meals: If you eat and drink at nice places all day, prepare to spend around $24
Drinks: $2 for great pint of beer, slightly more for a coffee
Attractions: Tourist spots range from $0- $6
Getting there by air: As we've said, there are many low-cost carriers servicing the cheapest countries to visit in Europe and Poland is no exception.
Romania: castles, countryside and capitals on the cheap
Bran Castle, or Dracula's Castle, Romania. Photo credit: Brianna Mills
Cheap for... Camping, Accommodation, Exploring, Outdoor Activities Cheese, Wine, Sight-seeing
Although Bulgaria gets the prize for the cheapest all-rounder European country, in many respects Romania is a close second. Thanks to diverse geography, Romania is increasingly popular as a budget destination in Europe for multi-activity holidays. The Transylvanian Alps are one of several mountain ranges and only a short train journey away from the Capital city of Bucharest. This is a stunning area for outdoor activities, not to mention the picturesque villages and castles that litter the landscape making you feel like you belong in a fairytale. And, to top it off, it just about makes the top 20 of the world's most affordable countries.
Currency: Romanian leu
Accomodation: You can get a hostel bed for less than $5, or a 3-star room for less than $70 Transportation: Roughly $8 for a long distance train or bus
Meals: $5 will get you a decent meal, $21 a feast fit for an A-lister
Attractions: Bran ('Dracula') Castle, the number 1 tourist spot is an unusually high $10 per person but there are many free things to do, including an excellent free walking tour of Bucharest
Getting there by air: Blue Air is Romania's wonderful low-cost carrier
Macedonia: the cheaper alternative to the Italian lakes
Cheap for... Lake Lounging, Wining & Dining, Ajvar, Seafood, Accommodation
An impressive no. 12 on the world's cheapest countries list, Macedonia is a lesser-known European destination. Its capital city, Skopje has a puzzling clash of new and old, but the real highlight of the country is the delightful Lake Ohrid. Check it out, in all its beauty:
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. Photo credit: uprouted.co.uk
With delicious fish restaurants, cheap private rooms to rent and lots of really lovely glamping spots, the area is one of the cheapest countries in Europe for a holiday. And perfect for travellers young and old on a budget, wanting to kick back and relax. Now that Wizz Air offer direct seasonal flights from the UK to Ohrid it's even easier to enjoy this corner of the world, but the drive through endless forrest from Skopje is also spectacularly sinuous.
Currency: Macedonian Denar
Accomodation: During peak season, rooms are rarely over $30 and usually this price includes breakfast - rates plummet at other times of year
Transportation: A bus from Skopje to Ohrid = $10, from Skopje to Pristina = $6
Meals: A three course meal for 2 at a nice restaurant may cost $17
Drinks: Beers are between $1.50 -2 per bottle, wine $10 / bottle or $2 / glass, spirits about $3 / ounce and cocktails about $5
Attractions: Entrance fees can vary between $0-5 per person
Bonus cheap European destination: Kosovo
Cheap for... Getting a taste of European coffee culture
Just a few hours from the Macedonian capital Skopje, the country of Kosovo continues to be a political geographer's worst nightmare. Be prepared for crazy levels of European coffee culture, a wide, open capital city and a LOT of tributes to the ex-US President, Bill Clinton.
Latvia: The cheaper alternative for a romantic getaway
Riga Skyline, Latvia. Photo credit: Vivid Cafe
Cheap for... Feeling like you're in Paris without paying for the privilage, Night Life, Accommodation
The biggest metropolis in the Baltics, Riga has character and cool to rival the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. It's got awesome architecture, inspiring history, buzzing nightlife and quaint countryside all for rock-bottom prices, making it a sound choice if you're planning a tour of the cheapest countries in Europe.
Accomodation: It's not the cheapest country on the list for acommodation. A decent hostel may be closer to $15, a mid-range hotel $70
Transportation: A public bus, trolley, or tram ride is $1-3
Meals: You can get a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner for $15 per person
Drinks/Entertainment: A beer may be about $2.50
Attractions: Riga's Mueseum of Natual History and going up the St Peters Church Tower Elevator are $4-5 each
Getting there by air: airBaltic are stationed here, and Norwegian Air shuttle for trips further afield, amongst others
Georgia: the cheap way to food heaven
Tibilisi, Georgia. Photo credit: Brianna Mills
Cheap for... Hiking, Wining & Dining, Snacks, Mountain Views, City Breaks
OK, so it's not technically one of the cheapest European countries to visit as it isn't a European country. But it does compete in the Eurovision song contest and when you walk around the streets of the capital city, Tbilisi, along rows of EU flags and distinctly European cobbled streets and architecture, you'll see why it's a 'grey area'. Great food, fantastically generous people and superb scenery make Georgia a budget destination well worth considering for your next trip. Not to mention it's just under Ukraine on the Telegraph's cheapest countries in the world list at no. 7!
Currency: Georgian Lari
Accommodation: For $40 you could find a very nice hotel to stay in
Transportation: For a 5 hour train from the black sea beach town of Batumi to Tibilisi will cost around $10
Meals: A price of the famous Georgian street food dish, Khachapuri, will cost around $0.50
Drinks/Entertainment: A delicious bottle of homemade wine at a wine bar might set you back at mere $3 - $5, a bottle of water roughly $0.20
Attractions: There's plenty to do in the countryside for free
Getting there by air: Pegasus Airlines and Georgian Airways are just a few of the country's regular low-cost carrier options. You can often find unbelievably cheap flights to the Georgian city of Kutasi with Wizz Air.
Travelling to Europe from the USA?
Take a look to see which countries are in the Schengen area and whether you'll need a visa to visit them.
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Top Travel Money Tip
Using PayPal or PayPal Credit to pay for your flights when you're on the go also helps for packing light (no need to carry plastic cards!). Also using the PayPal app helps keep track of the funds going in and out of your bank account.