A European getaway is on nearly everyone’s bucket list, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s budget is equipped to handle the expense. Flights alone can be cost-prohibitive. Truth be told, most round-trip flights to Europe from the U.S. start at $1,000 and only go up from there.
Of course, sales on fares to Europe come and go. If you’re ready to book at the right time, you can save big via sales featured on websites like Secret Flying and The Flight Deal. With a little planning, you can also plan a European vacation using airline miles, which typically lets you fly “free” after you pay airline taxes and fees.
9 Amazing European Cities You Can Actually Afford to Visit
Fortunately, you can save even more by planning your European trip wisely – as in, choosing destinations that offer a lot of bang for your buck. If you’re planning a Europe trip and don’t want to spend a lot, check out these affordable cities:
#1: Prague, Czech Republic
As the capital of the Czech Republic, Prague offers many big city amenities and enough colorful nightlife to satisfy even the world’s biggest partiers. The city is known for its old town square, its baroque buildings, and its many gothic churches, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Because Prague is such an affordable city to visit, you can live like a king without spending much at all.
In Prague, you can stay in a fancy four-star hotel for as little as $85 per night. A budget-minded dinner can cost as little as $10 with beer, and a 24-hour metro pass is less than $5.
You can save even more in Prague (and avoid the crowds) by traveling off-peak (October through May) and choosing a three-star hotel or lower.
#2: Rome, Italy
Rome is bursting with attractions, from its famous Colosseum to the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and its many piazzas and markets. Fortunately, you can see a lot of Rome’s landmarks from a distance for free, paying only for entrance and guided tours.
The best part about Rome is just how affordable it can be if you’re creative. Instead of sitting down for an expensive meal in one of the city’s piazzas, pick up a slice of pizza for $2-$3. Beer is normally a few euros or American dollars at most. Better yet, three-star hotels in the city center start at around $100 per night.
#3: Dublin, Ireland
Dublin is a walkable city with plenty of free stuff to see and do. Explore beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or check out Trinity College and the Book of Kells. St. Stephen’s Green offers plenty of park space within city limits, and you can stop by the world-famous Guinness Brewery for an affordable meal and a day of frugal fun.
Three-star hotels start at around $125 per night in the city center, but you can save even more by traveling off-peak or staying further from the main attractions. Either way, plan on forking over around $15 for a sit-down dinner and $3-$5 for a pint, which is obligatory on this trip.
#4: Athens, Greece
Athens, Greece is a treasure trove of wonders for history-lovers, but it’s also an affordable city to visit. The cost of entrance to the city’s famous acropolis is only around 20 euros and is good for a week, but it includes entrance to other sites including the ancient agora, theatre of Dionysos, Roman agora, Tower of the Winds, and Temple of Olympian Zeus.
Island-hopping is also an easy feat from the Athens port, as is a day trip to other Greek sites including Olympia and Mycenae. Best of all, you can book a three-star hotel with breakfast in the city center for as little as $80 per night. Meals are also fairly reasonable, with a sit-down dinner with drinks usually costing $40 or less for two.
#5: Porto, Portugal
Porto, Portugal is a coastal city known for its port wine production, stacked city rooftops, and colorful architecture. Fortunately, it’s also a place where you can vacation on the cheap – at least for now.
Four-star hotels near the water in Porto start at around $100 per night, while an inexpensive restaurant meal usually runs $6-$9. Sit down for a three-course meal for two for around $40, and pick up a bottle of water for about $1. The remarkable views of Portugal’s stunning coastline are absolutely free.
#6: Seville, Spain
Seville may not be as popular as Madrid or Barcelona, but this Spanish city is much more of a bargain. Currently, you can book a four-star hotel near the city center of Seville for as little as $130, although you can save more if you travel off-peak or stay off the beaten path.
Enjoying the city’s famous architecture is free, as is checking out its many historic buildings and relaxing in its plazas. Plan to spend $10 - $20 for an excellent sit-down meal with a glass of wine, or a lot less for tapas or street food.
#7: Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s tragic history makes it a popular spot for tourists from around the globe. Interested travelers can check out the Berlin Wall, of course, along with other landmarks like the Checkpoint Charlie Museum – a tribute to the East-West Berlin crossing point.
You can book a three-star hotel in downtown Berlin for as little as $80, and you can save even more if you travel October through May. Food in Berlin is also quite reasonable, with an average sit-down meal costing between $8 and $20.
#8: Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is easy to navigate and even easier to afford. Three-star hotels in the city center start at around $50, leaving plenty of money for fun and sightseeing.
No trip to Budapest would be complete without a visit to Castle Hill, a historic region with cobblestone streets and a medieval feel. The Hungarian National Gallery holds hundreds of famous pieces of art, and for an entrance price of around $3.75. Budapest’s thermal baths are a sight to behold as well, and cost just $20 for the day.
#9: Krakow, Poland
Rounding out our list of affordable European cities to visit this year is Krakow, Poland. Known for its markets, churches, and historic old town, Krakow is the type of place where you’ll want to wander. Cheap museums to visit include Lost Souls Alley, the Polish Aviation Museum, a stained glass museum, and the Galicia Jewish Museum.
Krakow hotels are beyond affordable, with a night’s stay at a three-star hotel starting at around $65. Food is also surprisingly cheap, with a budget lunch starting at $3 and a traditional dinner costing just $5 or a little over. You can pick up a pint of beer for around $3, or order a cocktail for around $5. No matter what you decide, fun is always going to be frugal in Krakow.
The Bottom Line
If you thought a European getaway was out of reach, surely this list shows your dream trip might be more affordable than you think. Just like any other type of travel, a trip to Europe may be as affordable – or as expensive – as you make it.
If you can’t afford to spend too much but want to see the world, the best thing you can do is start planning and saving as early as you can.