Explore some of Europe’s cheaper tourist cities

Ask anyone about their travel bucket list and doubtless one famous European city will be on the ‘to-do’ side.

London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Venice would all be popular choices if money was no object, but what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far?

What are some of Europe’s cheapest cities and why should you visit them?

Budapest, Hungary

Not sure why Budapest is cheap, it’s so beautiful it should be more popular.

While many European cities seem to pride themselves on their eye-watering prices – Zurich, we’re looking at you – Budapest seems to go the other way.

Buy a Budapest City Pass for cheap public transport and entry into some of the city’s biggest tourist attractions.

Why visit: The chance to eat Hungarian goulash in Hungary, the Szechenyi Baths, loads of festivals, many of them involving alcohol, and so many beautiful buildings you may get beautiful building fatigue.

Porto, Portugal

Lisbon is Portugal’s most famous city but you shouldn’t discount Porto.

Look it’s not great to point this out, but Portugal is struggling a bit with its economy and, as a result, many tourist hotspots are exceptionally reasonably priced.

This coastal city is at the nexus of just about everything we love about a European holiday, beaches, food and drink, sophisticated architecture and beautiful countryside.

Why visit: It’s how port got its name. History everywhere you turn. You may gain five kilos from the food and drink, everything is walkable.

Seville, Spain

While we are down on the Iberian Peninsula, let’s check into Spain.

Once again a ‘second’ city may be worth a look if your budget is on the lean side.

It’s in the south of Spain, so expect warm and sunny weather.

Loads of monuments, museums and palaces offer cheap or free entry on Mondays, so soak up all the culture and spend your money on food and wine instead. It might take a little time online, but many other cultural attractions also have free or discount days as well.

The architectural and culinary mix is a little more varied in Seville due to the Moorish influence and it has its own dialect that even other Spaniards find hard to understand.

Why visit: Warm, it claims to have the largest historic centre in Europe – who measures these things? – loads of bars, loads of markets, they love sweet pastries, flamenco and bullfights, although we are a bit iffy about that one.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Never heard of it? Don’t be ashamed, you are not alone, which is a pity. If it helps, it was the seat of the Wenceslaus family for a while, as in Good King Wenceslaus.

It’s a bit of a trend that the further you travel east in Europe, the cheaper it gets and Cesky Krumlov is no exception.

It’s tiny, only about 12,000 residents, but packs a punch as a tourist centre.

It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its impeccably preserved Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture.

Why visit: You can do it on a day trip from other cities, they are Czech, so they love beer, if you have had too much history there is loads of cool river rafting, and it has a budget accommodation place called Hostel Postel.  

Istanbul, Türkiye

We are absolutely not entering into the debate if Türkiye (formerly Turkey) is in Asia or Europe, because if Asia wins, we miss out on this fabulous city for the purposes of this story.

We cannot pin down a quick guide about what to do in this amazing city because there is so much to see and enjoy, not the least because of that issue of its existence at the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

You are welcome to visit the mosques outside prayer times and many of the museums have free days.

The street food is incredibly cheap and there are plenty of tucked away bars and restaurants.

To get started, treat yourself to an Istanbul Tourist Pass that covers 85 attractions and has a five-star rating from more than 500 reviews.

Why visit: the Grand Bazaar, a Turkish bath in Türkiye, Turkish tea and coffee, that a warm inner glow about putting money back into a country damaged by earthquakes.

What’s your favourite European city? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.

Also read: Six mistakes to avoid when you travel solo.

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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