3 of the Best European Cities to Visit On a Budget

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It’s no secret that the Euro is an insanely strong currency. Because of that, things that are already quite expensive are even more expensive if you are coming from outside of Europe. If done properly though, you can still visit some beautiful European cities while still maintaining a relatively low-budget. Just because these places are a little more on the inexpensive side does not mean that they aren’t as equally amazing as some of the pricier destinations. Whenever I lived in Europe I was on a students budget, so even though Paris or Santorini seemed great I just couldn’t afford it. Below I’ve written a guide to the most inexpensive destinations for every kind of traveler. 

For the Beach Lover

Zadar

For the beach lover’s and waterbugs I would highly recommend going to Croatia. Depending on where your base is you can get there by bus/car/train/plane pretty easily and inexpensively. I drove there because it was ridiculously cheap, but I know buses there are also quite inexpensive. If you are flying, I would recommend flying into Zagreb, the capital, and then going by bus or car from there. Croatia is a little country tucked away on the Adriatic Sea nestled on the Dalmatian coast. This country has mountains and cities, but nothing beats their beaches. All along the country are coastal towns such as Zadar, Split, and in the bottom Dubrovnik. I was only in Croatia for a weekend so I had to stay up north in the essence of time, however I found it to still be extremely breathtaking. Zadar has tons of little islands dotting around it that are all accessible by ferry or private boat tours.

Prices

So things in Croatia stay relatively inexpensive, $1 USD is typically equal to about 6.50 Kunas (Croatian money.) You can eat at a relatively nice place and get drinks, appetizers, and a main course for around $15. Most attractions cost $3-$5 and since Zadar is so small you don’t really have to take taxis or public transit besides ferries which usually cost $10 roundtrip. Airbnb’s can be found for anywhere between $15-$170 per night for a whole apartment. When I went ours was $20/night for a whole apartment and was extremely nice and close to everything.

What to Do

Zadar has so so many things to do, and most of them are free or next to nothing to visit. Everything on this list is free except for things I’ve put a * beside.

  • Sea Organ
  • St. Donatus’ Church *($4)
  • Roman Forum
  • Look at the city walls
  • St. Mary’s church ($3)
  • St. Anastasia’s Cathedral ($4 + great view of Zadar)
  • Greeting to the Sun
  • Take a ferry to Ugljan Island and check out the beaches ($15 roundtrip)
  • Take a bus 2.5 hours to Plitvice National Park I have a guide for it here, it is around $26 round trip but definitely worth it

For the History Buff

Prague

For history lovers, Prague is the perfect destination. It’s over 600 years old and is basically like a medieval/gothic themed city. The buildings’ all give off this ‘spooky vampire’ vibe which makes it even more enticing and mysterious. At the same time it’s very royal looking and definitely has some princess feelings to it.

What to Do

When I stayed I opted for staying in a hostel because 1) it’s cheaper and 2) you get to meet travelers from all over. I stayed in Hostel Santini, which exceeded my expectations with its price, friendliness, and accommodating characteristics. One of the most interesting parts of Prague is the Jewish Quarter. What makes it so interesting is that unlike other Jewish Quarters across Europe, it is rumored Pragues’ wasn’t destroyed in WW2 because Hitler wanted to turn it into a ‘Museum for Extinct People.’ Prague also has multiple castles, and gorgeous cathedrals that offer beautiful city views. Find the guide for it here. My favorites were the castle and the John Lennon Wall!

Prices

In the Czech Republic, much like other places on this list, the dollar and euro are both very strong. The currency used in Czech is the crown, and $1 USD is equal to about 22.50 crowns. If you are eating in the main tourist part of the city you will be spending tourist prices, however if you venture just a bit out of that area you can find such delicious and inexpensive meals. Enjoy walking through the city or using the tram, I preferred walking when possible though so you can take it all in.

For the Hipster

Budapest

For the free spirited hipster, Budapest is the place for you. I am a little biased because I lived here for 4 months, but Budapest is honestly my favorite European city. Budapest has a really cool art + music scene going on and it really shows in their restaurants/bars/clubs/street atmosphere. One of my favorite things about Budapest is ruin pubs. Ruin pubs are bars or clubs that were once the sight of bombings (mostly from WW2.) These ruins were turned into clubs and bars, but the ruin sights were unchanged. This is really cool because it means most of these places have open roofs and a lot of the wreckage incorporated into their theme. One of my favorites is Simple Kert because of it’s unique atmosphere.

What to Do

Budapest is rich in history and culture. Food is a big part of their culture so one of the best things to do is eat. Exploring the Great Market Hall will give you a taste of Hungarian food, and lifestyle. Another thing I loved about Budapest is the architecture. Everything in the city is so finely detailed and you can tell people really worked hard to create the things they did. Some really fun things to o are: explore the Jewish Quarter, take a water taxi down the Danube, check out Parliament, and walk the Buda castle grounds. I really enjoy the Fisherman’s Bastion, and Gellert Hill. If you come in the winter Budapest has lovely Christmas Markets that have beautiful handcrafted crafts and fresh food.

Prices

You honestly can’t beat prices in Budapest. Beautiful and centrally located Airbnb’s start around $20. Food is so so inexpensive, you can find whole pizzas for $3 and alcohol is often cheaper than water. Nearly every attraction is free, or less than $10, and public transit cost less than $0.50 a ride. It’s really a budget travelers dream come true.

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