The 5 Cheapest Cities in Europe to Visit in 2024
The 5 Cheapest Cities in Europe to Visit in 2024

When money’s tight, something’s got to give. But for many of us, travel has become a necessity in our ever more stressful lives. As a result, careful planning is needed so that we can still afford to take a trip without busting the budget. The biggest single saving we can make is by switching up our destination and in Europe that means heading east. So if you’re dreaming of a transatlantic vacation, why not consider ditching Zurich, London, and Paris in favor of these cities where your dollar will stretch further?

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Aerial of Roman Amphitheater and surrounding city of Plovdiv.
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Europeans often overlook Bulgaria’s cities in their hurry to get to its beaches or ski resorts. Plovdiv was built on seven hills and people have lived here for more than 8,000 years, including the Romans, who left their mark at the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis. Built to seat a 6,000 crowd, it now hosts opera and concerts throughout the warmer months, though you can tour it for less than $3. Discover more of the city on a free walking tour with the 365 Association, who will take you to see the colorful Bulgarian National Revival architecture for which the city is renowned. You’ll also want to explore the Kapana neighborhood; its trendy cafés, restaurants, and craft beer breweries are as good but far cheaper than those of Western Europe. If you’re OK with a shared bathroom, a private room in a city center hostel can be had for as little as $25, though you won’t have to shell out much more for an ensuite hotel room.

Riga, Latvia

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The Baltic region of Europe is full of history and impressive architecture. Riga, Latvia, is no exception, but with a price tag that's much more reasonable than other stops. Riga is home to a mix of Gothic spires and Art Nouveau buildings nestled among artistic restaurants and vibrant nightlife spots — none of which will break the bank. The city offers amazing prices on lodging and you can get a meal out for under $10. The heart of historic Riga is Old Town. There you can climb to the top of St. Peters Church and get a bird's-eye view of the skyline, which shows why historic Riga has been classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While you are there, check out the Central Market for some smoked fish and fresh vegetables. The hangers that house the market today used to be home to zeppelins during WWI.

Skopje, North Macedonia

Bridge with decorative lamp posts and statues leading towards building.
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The Balkans region welcomes budget-conscious travelers with open arms and Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, is no exception. Hotel rooms come cheap – you can stay the night in a centrally-located four-star property for less than $40. Eating out is similarly affordable, and you can dine in style for around $10 per head. Skopje is an underrated gem, packed with Ottoman- and Byzantine-era sights. Čaršija, the city’s delightful old town, is home to a slew of teahouses, mosques and handicrafts sellers. The 5th-century Tvrdina Kale Fortress overlooks the town and its presence felt everywhere. UNESCO-listed Ohrid is a long but straightforward day trip which would only set you back about $30 by public bus. After you’ve wandered through the town’s cobblestone streets to admire its medieval architecture, switch your focus onto the lake, one of Europe’s deepest. Take a relaxing boat trip or for something a little more strenuous, hike uphill for the best views.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Town along river.
Credit: Cristi Popescu/ Shutterstock

Bosnia and Herzegovina is another low-cost destination that has plenty that appeals to frugal tourists. The jewel in its crown is Mostar, where you'll find the famous Stari Most which dates from the 15th century, constructed when the city was part of the Ottoman Empire. This historic bridge spans the River Neretva and was bombed during the war in the 1990s. Today, it has been painstakingly rebuilt and restored to its former glory; the old bridge area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting the bridge and the surrounding old town is free. Nevertheless, you’ll want to pay the small entrance fee to climb the steep steps of the Koski-Mehmed Pasha Mosque minaret for the views across Mostar and the surrounding area. No doubt you’ll also want to hang around for a while, and with rooms in a basic pension starting from as little as $25 a night, you can afford to make it a longer stay.

Timișoara, Romania

Aerial of Union Square in Timisoara, Romania.
Credit: Seba Tataru/ Shutterstock

Our last pick for travelers keen to get as much bang for their buck as possible is the delightful city of Timișoara in western Romania. Your money goes a long way, not least where accommodation is concerned – a basic apartment will set you back just $25 a night. Food’s also cheap. A meal out in one of the city’s cozy inns should set you back in the region of $20 per person. Timișoara was, for a time, part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and a visit here is one way of channeling a central European vibe without the high price tag. In fact, the city’s nickname is Little Vienna, which gives a clue to what you might expect if you come here. Just like the Austrian capital, Timișoara’s big on cultural attractions; it was a European Capital of Culture in 2023. You can expect plenty of museums, as well as an abundance of art galleries, concerts and theater performances. Myriad squares, parks and gardens are ideal for a stroll or a picnic in summer – and they won’t cost you a dime.

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