Travel SOS: Which are the most affordable European cities?

Jenny fancies herself a seasoned traveller and is always looking for a bargain holiday, which is why she’s never been to Europe, because she believes it’s too expensive. But Europe is on her bucket list, so she’s asked Leon where the most affordable European cities are, so she can tick it off.

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Q. Jenny
I’ve travelled throughout Asia and I’ve also done a fair portion of the United States when our dollar was strong. I love a budget holiday, but I’ve never been to Europe, because everyone says it’s too expensive. I really want to tick Europe off my list soon, so can you tell me which cities are the cheapest?

A. Getting to Europe can be expensive, but there are quite a few cities that are affordable once you’re on the ground.

First, you need to find a cheap flight to Europe. Skyscanner is a great resource, so too is Webjet, which are currently offering return flights to Paris from $925.

There’s no getting around the fact that Paris and London are pricey. But if you can save money on visiting other European cities, you really should include the Big Smoke and City of Lights in your itinerary – even if only for a few days in each city.

As far as European cities that offer great value for money, here are a few suggestions.

Krakow, Poland
Known for its architecture and fascinating history, Krakow is also an affordable destination. And, you’ll get to see amazing galleries and museums, medieval castles and Renaissance palaces. The historic central district is also conveniently walkable and the former Jewish quarter, Kazimierz, is now one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the country.

krakow

Porto, Portugal
This 2000-year-old city boasts beautiful beaches, UNESCO landmarks and fabulous seafood. And you can check out most attractions—including São Francisco Church, Porto Cathedral and Palácio de Bolsa—for a small fee. Bonus: Public museums offer free admission on Sundays.

porto

Budapest, Hungary
The City of Baths is host to 118 thermal springs and day passes to these spas will set you back about $20. Budapest is a fairy-tale city, with jaw-dropping architecture and a romantic ambience that’s easy to fall in love with, especially considering the convenience and affordability of this European gem.

budapest

Tallinn, Estonia
No one really knows about Tallinn which means it’s not charging tourist price tags. Here you’ll find great food and drink, as well as impressive medieval buildings, cultural highlights and the pedestrian-friendly core, Old Town. Explore the city’s surrounds on a rented bike. Check out the super cheap stores and make sure you try the traditional rum-based liqueur.

taalinn

Zagreb, Croatia
Croatia comes up high on many a YourLifeChoices member’s wishlist. It’s capital, Zagreb, is a cultural hotspot and boasts more museums per capita than any other city in the world – many of which offer free admission. Rent a bike and ride around the town and surrounds, taking in the local flavour of Zagreb’s cosy café and arts scene, all for small change.

zagreb

Berlin, Germany
Edgy, arty and super stylish, Berlin is one of the most open-minded places in Europe, and the city offers something for every traveller. Check out the iconic attractions, such as the Berlin Wall and Grunewald Forest, but also take time to soak up the nightlife and cool liberal scene.

berlin

Prague, Czech Republic
Another fairy-tale city featuring fantastic castles, Gothic cathedrals and ornate bridges – not to mention villages that look as if they’ve come right off the pages of a Little Golden Book – Prague is one of those unassuming cities travellers often claim as a highlight after they’ve visited.

Try the local pastries, hearty dumplings and Czech beer to fill you up for little more than chump change. And if you rug up, winter is the perfect time to visit. There are fewer tourists but way more festivals and celebrations.

Brussels, Belgium
Accessible by train, a quick day trip from London or Paris, and rooms for less than $90 a night, Brussels is one of the most affordable (and beautiful) European cities you can visit. The Grand Palace is simply astonishing, and you can eat well on a budget. Everywhere you look you’ll see chocolateries, and the city is also famous for its street food, fries, waffles and beer.

brussels

Kiev, Ukraine
Kiev may be one of the most misunderstood cities in Europe, but really, it’s a safe place where you can stay in luxury hotels, eat like royalty and be treated to exciting markets, scenic streetscapes and charming architecture for next to nothing. Try to find the hidden cocktail dens and hit the laneways for a more ‘local’ vibe.

kiev

Travelling to Europe on a budget doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the little luxuries. These cities offer high-end experiences for low prices, and the money you save means you can spend a bit of time exploring some of the pricier cities, like London and Paris.

Do you know of any affordable European destinations? Why not share your tips with our members?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?
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