Traveling in Europe has become outrageously expensive. You can spend the same amount for five days in Italy as you can for a month in Montengro.
As a budget traveler, there are three ways to find cheap countries. Choose to travel East, hit up those countries that seem to be struggling a bit financially, and stay out of popular touristy areas.
For less than $50 a day, here are ten inexpensive European countries to get the biggest bang for your buck this year.
If castles are your jam, then Albania just might be your place. Albania boasts of nearly 150 castles and fortresses. This little mountainous country is picturesque and Lake of Ohrid is one of the oldest continuously existing lakes in the world. For as little as $25 a day you can enjoy some medieval eye candy. If you are feeling flush, book a 3-star hotel for roughly $36 a night. A word of caution, getting around Albania can be a challenge so do your homework.
(Fun fact: Did you know Mother Teresa was Albanian? She was born in Skopje.)
Explore some of the exotic beaches on the Black Sea Coast during the summer. Or if you prefer to ski, hit the slopes in Bulgaria next winter. Bulgaria is a poor country and the average salary is under $500. Getting around is cheap, a monthly tramway pass is around $10. Six dollars will get you a bed at a hostel, whereas a hotel room is about $15. You won’t have a problem finding a great meal for under ten bucks. Bulgaria is rich with history, folklore, and legends. The capital, Sofia, is considered a “poor man’s Prague.”
(Fun fact: People nod their heads when they say “no.”)
Czechia (or the Czech Republic) is one of the cheapest countries to visit in all of Europe. Make sure to check out the 9th-century, medieval old town, Prague Castle and the statue-lined Charles Bridge Prague. Lately, Prague has become a popular party destination for British guys. Hostel beds go for as little as $10 a night and handcrafted beers for less than two dollars. Sounds like a recipe for an epic stag party to me! Outside of Prague, Czechia is packed with pretty picture-perfect towns. The little town of Český Krumlov, in the South Bohemia region, is vibrant with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, many of which house gallery’s, shops and eateries.
(Fun Fact: Czechs love mushrooms! They are also crazy about mushroom hunting.)
More than 4.6 million people visit the country’s gorgeous capital city, Tallinn. It is a popular cruise stop. A bed and a hearty traditional meal in Tallinn will cost you under $25. Beyond Tallinn, 20% of the country’s land mass is covered with bogs, including the mysterious Viru Bog. If you are interested in an incredible bog tour, reach out to Romet.
(Fun Fact: Estonia is home to about 200 wild wolves.)
Kosovo has an identity crisis. The smallest country in the Balkans, Kosovo is only recognized as a country by half of the world. There is some debate if it is a part of Serbia. This tender little jewel is a step back in time. Most tourists stop in that capital, Pristina, where a hostel bed is under $15 a night. Dinner can easily be had for under $10. The Mirusha Waterfalls shouldn’t be missed. The Mirusha river has created 13 lakes with waterfalls between them.
(Fun Fact: 90% of the population is Albanian.)
I have a soft spot for Riga, Latvia. My family has some roots here. It’s inexpensive and beautiful. Latvia is traveler friendly and easy to get around. In the winter it transforms into a magical winter wonderland with all things Christmas. Of course, there is more to Latvia than Riga. The summer is a great time to visit Gauja National Park with over 500 historical and cultural monuments; you’ll find everything from hillforts and stone castles to churches and windmills, as well as other several other archeological and art monuments. You can spend the night at a hostel for under $10 and find a meal for the same price.
(Fun Fact: Summer Solstice is the biggest celebration of the year.)
Located in the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is made up of three islands – Malta, Comino, and Gozo. As one of the smallest countries in the world, you can drive around Malta in a day. Malta is bursting at the seams as home to nearly a half a million people. Valletta, it’s tiny capital is a fusion of the past and modern culture. For under $50 a day you can find a decent bed and a couple of good meals. The weather is glorious nearly all year around so it won’t matter when you go!
(Fun Fact: Calypso Cave is said to be the cave that Homer wrote about in the legendary book The Odyssey.)
Montenegro is the pocket-sized country on the Balkan Penisula. Mountains jut up out of the Adriatic Sea giving away to dreamy landscapes. If you haven’t checked out the breathtaking Durmitor National Park, put it on your bucket list. The Montenegrin seaside, Sveti Stefan, is one of the most picturesque towns perched on a tiny connected island. Are you a serious cat lover? Then Kotor should be on your bucketlist. Hundreds of homeless cats have been adopted by the city and greet tourists and residents alike. For $7 a night you can grab a bed and a meal at a hostel. You can also enjoy a beer for under $2. If a hostel isn’t your speed, you can find a nice hotel for $40/50 a night.
(Fun Fact: Montenegro got its name, “black mountain” from the dark, mountain forests that cover the country).
North of Greece, Macedonia is one of the most affordable countries in Europe! The stunning Mavrovo National Park is a great destination all year round – whether you like to ski in the winter or swim in the summer. Check out Ohrid’s Old Town or the more modern town of Skopje. Prices for a hostel bed in Skopje, start at $6 a night with private rooms going starting at $15. A hearty meal at a local restaurant will cost about the same price as your fancy venti drink at Starbucks.
(Fun Fact: North Macedonia was the first country in the world to have full access to wireless broadband!)
Poland is rich in culture and history. Explore Gdańsk, Kraków, Wrocław, Warsaw or Poznań. The Tatra Mountains and Lake Morskie Oro are beautiful places to camp. However, in most cities you can find a hostel bed and a meal for under $15, giving you plenty of dosh to fill up on pierogi. Don’t leave Poland without seeing the Skull Chapel in Kłodzko County or the crooked forest of Nowe Czarnowo.
(Fun Fact: Nobel Prize winner, Marie (Sklodowska) Curie was Polish, not French, so was writer Joseph Conrad.)
Romania has castles galore- Bran Castle, Corvin Castle, and Peles Castle just to name a few. If you are crazy about castles, Romania gives Albania a run for its money. The Transylvanian region has been a popular subject of folklore and tall tales. If architecture is your thing, Romania has more to offer than castles. Explore the incredible architectural diversity in Bucharest. The Palace of Parliament is breathtaking. You’ll have no trouble laying your head down in a double room at a budget hotel for under $25. Hostels run about $10 for a bed. A traditional meal in a non-tourist restaurant will cost you about the same.
(Fun Fact: Bucharest is also known as “Little Paris.”)
What are your favorite countries to budget travel? Let us know in the comments below.