Europe is quickly becoming one of the most expensive continents to travel to and I totally get why! It is such a divrese continent with something for everyone, the quality of life is amazing and there’s so much history. A few of these places are a little off the beaten track and can help you save a little money so you can splurge on other countries.
These are my favorite European budget destinations that you need to put on your bucket list for 2020! It’s a mix of capital cities, little towns that are hard to pronounce, easy day trips and beautiful hiking towns!
Cost of food:
5-10 Euro’s for a full meal and lots of affordable veggie and vegan options in grocery stores and restaurants. The Friday market in the summer has lots of vendors from around the city selling their fresh food for amazing prices.
I stayed at the Vila Veselova for 15 euro a night. It’s an average price for the capital city, it’s in a great location, the best staff and met some really great friends!
If you want to spend your night in a renovated prison cell than check out Hostel Celica, their private rooms offer a very unique experience.
Take a day trip to Lake Bohinj from Ljubljana or Lake Bled. The ticket from Lake Bled costs 3 Euro’s and the ride was about 20 mins, it’s a more affordable option than Lake Bled and less busy.
Note: there aren’t many restaurants so either bring food or pick up something from the grocery store in town.
Bled is pricier because it is so touristy but still worth the trip, if you need help planning your trip, check out the guides below!
Related posts: Ultimate Guide to Ljubljana and 48 hours in Bled
Cost of food:
The food is very affordable and delicious! They serve lots of fresh seafood and you can pay less than 10 Euros for most large meals and under 2 Euros for a slice of pizza and pastries. Keep in mind the produce is terrible in the grocery stores so either buy it from the market right outside of old town or you’ll be eating out a lot.
I stayed in Kotor and all the hostels are less than 20$ CAD in the summer months and most are either in the old town or right outside the old town walls.
The PUPA Hostel is a great option, it’s between the bus station and the old town and it was perfect! Not very social but the staff was super helpful, the BEST BEDS EVER, I swear they were memory foam and incredibly clean!
Things to do:
Boat rides around the fjords and to visit Our Lady of the Rocks start at 15 Euros for an hour. A must is hiking up the mountain to reach the fortress. Tip: Start the hike before 8am so you don’t need to pay a small fee at the entrance and it gets very hot in the afternoon. Take short day trips to towns like Perast, Budva and Sveti Stefan. These towns are quick bus rides away, even cheaper than Kotor and equally as beautiful!
Note: if taking public buses they don’t run on an official schedule so ask your accommodation where to get the bus and if they can help you with times.
The capital is often over looked but very quirky and pretty! It doesn’t have those old town vibes but still worth the trip for a day or two and the perfect starting point if you want to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. I have the perfect quick guide to make the most out of your day trip and lots of photo inspiration!
Cost of food:
Between 2-5 Euro’s for fast food and less than 10 Euro’s for a meal in a restaurant. A great spot for breakfast is Milnar, amazing bakery and super cheap!
They run a few food festivals in the summer with great priced food and have lots of fast casual restaurants on the main street with good food!
I spent 2 nights at the Swanky Mint hostel for 12 Euro’s a night. Very nice hostel, super clean, great bar and pool and on the main street. If you are looking for a quieter hostel then I don’t suggest this place.
If you want to visit a couple cheaper islands, check out Brac, Korcula and Kos. Hvar is an amazing island but very pricy, it’s a hot spot for luxury travelers however they do have great priced hostel like The Shaka, one of my favourite hostels!
Croatia might not be considered a budget destination to some but if you visit the lesser known towns than you can find some great deals!
Poland is one of the best budget destinations in Europe!
Cost of food:
An average meal cost is about 5 euro for traditional food at a restaurant and their famous ice cream and donuts can be as little as 1-2$
If you are looking for great vegan food check out Vege Miasto in Warsaw for meals under 10 Euro’s and Farma Burgerownia Roslinna in Krakow’s old town for huge and amazing vegan burgers.
Things to do:
Explore Warsaw’s old town, Lazienki park, neon museum (entrance is 2.5 euro’s) and the royal castle is free on Sundays. In Krakow wander around the old town, check out the Jewish quarter, explore the Wawel castle grounds and see the inside for a fee, browse around the Cloth Hall and also the pinball museum is a fun thing to do on a rainy day and costs $13 CAD.
Hostels are as little as $5-8 per night in the winter and $12-15 in the summer in all the cities except for Warsaw! The capital city is a little more expensive in terms of hostels but the one that I stayed at called Dream Hostel was well worth the price! Very social, super clean, comfy beds and right across from old town.
Not many people have heard of this quaint little town in Poland, it is located in the Tatras mountains bordering Slovakia! If you want an authentic experience of Poland than you need to visit here, it’s only a 3 hour bus ride from Krakow. They have amazing hiking and one of the most popular hikes is to beautiful Morskie Oko! and the center of town has lots of Polish restaurants and vendors selling very affordable food!
There are a few hostels and hotels, mine was decent, I met some cool people but the security was terrible and not the cleanest so I don’t recommend staying at Target Hostel. They have a bunch of affordable guesthouses to choose from and that would be my choice when I decide to go back.
This town is so beautiful and has the best hiking, check out my 5 other favourite towns that you have to see for yourself in Europe!
I visited the capital of Latvia, Riga and there is a noticeable price difference compared to Tallinn. Probably half the price of it’s neighbour and totally worth a visit! It has a beautiful old town with art nouveau architecture everywhere.
Cost of food:
You’ll find many options in old town and beyond for under 5 Euro for a cheap eat and less than 10 Euro at a restaurant for a full meal. If you are looking for authentic and traditional Latvian food definitely visit Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs for delicious food and it is set in a cavern.
Where to stay:
I stayed right in the center of town at the Tree House hostel, while it was a great price I wouldn’t recommend it since it’s in the main square and super loud at night with a strip club across the street and the building itself looks so dingy but the rooms are super cute! I paid about 10 euro per night and it offered breakfast, that is a typical price for the hostel there.
Things to do:
Explore the old town, visit the art nouveau buildings around the city, the national library, esplanade park, and for the best view of the city go to St. Peters church and the cost is 9 Euro, go see the Three Brothers buildings, they are the oldest houses in Riga and the house of blackheads is a beautiful building.
Vilnius is the cheapest capital city in the Baltics and my least favorite by far. Other people at my hostel felt differently but I just found there wasn’t much to do and the old town wasn’t as exciting as Riga and Tallinn. Most people visit this city to experience the autonomous district and to take a day trip to Trakai castle which is 30 mins from the city.
Cost of food:
Most meals are under 5 Euro and coffee shops and bakeries are very cheap. Lots of cool coffee shops to check out in the alternative district, a great place to get some work done. They have lots of fresh produce and cheap eats at Hales Trugus market
Not a lot of great hostel options and I wouldn’t recommend 25 hours hostel, very poor security and no staff to check you in, you’re basically on your own for the duration of your stay. A majority of hostels are around 10-15 Euro’s a night.
Probably what most people thought of when I said budget destination! This city is full of cheap eats, great priced attractions and very affordable accommodations from everyone.
Cost of food:
Many dishes are under 5 Euro, lots of traditional restaurants and cheap kebab shops. One of my favourite cheap eats is hummus bar and for out of this world shakes visit Mr. Funk!
I stayed at the Adagio Hostel 2.0 Basilica and it was a great price but the bathrooms were gross and flooding and no atmosphere to meet people how ever it was a great location, we had a balcony over looking St. Stephens cathedral. There are a lot of party hostels so definitely read the reviews before you book anything.
If you are visiting this year and needs some ideas on what to do, check out my ultimate guide to Budapest.
There are so many budget destinations in Europe, whether it’s a capital city or a small town. While Europe can be expensive, if you know where to look and not only visit western Europe you can find some amazing deals!
Margarida Vasconcelos says
Beautiful pictures. What do you use to edit your pictures? Thank you.
Thank you Margarida! I use Lightroom on my laptop to edit for a yearly fee but you can get the Lightroom app on your phone for free!
I want to go to all these!!! Your pictures are great, and thanks for the specific hostel recommendations (and non-recommendations!).
Yess all of these places are so special! Happy to help and it’s always good to know where not to stay ahaha
Slovakia and Slovenia have been on my radar for my next trip to Europe. Thanks for sharing, I am totally inspired to visit them now! Both countries are seriously beautiful and it looks like there’s so much to see, while also being budget friendly. Amazing.
Slovenia is one of my fave places, so beautiful, great prices and not as touristy as Italy and Croatia! Hope you get a chance to visit Erin!
Kirstie Will Travel says
I haven’t visited any of these destinations yet so I have some great inspiration for 2020 now! Eastern Europe is such a great part of the world.
Hope you can plan a trip to visit this year, eastern Europe is such a gem!
Ah what an epic list! I’ve only been to Budapest of these, and to be honest some of them are places that I haven’t even thought about visiting before. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Sarah, so glad you found it helpful! So many of these aren’t touristy yet and worth the visit!!
Love posts with budgets in mind! I’ve actually been to most of these but haven’t made it to Poland yet although I can’t wait for the day that happens. I’ve never heard of Zakopane so definitely adding it to the list now!
so glad you found it helpful Alex! Poland is such a beautiful country and Zakopane is not known by many but perfect if you love small towns and hiking, it’s beautiful!
I’ve traveled extensively in Europe and the only place on your list I’ve visited is Budapest! What amazing recommendations, I hope I can get to a few of them in 2020!
Thank you Kate, I appreciate it!! So many gems in Europe, I feel like the list is never ending ahah. Hope you get a chance to visit a few in 2020!
So many great places! Ljubljana, Slovenia looks beautiful and the vegetarian/vegan options would be great! I will have to add many of these to my bucket list
Yes definitely take a trip to Slovenia, one of my fave places in Europe! Compared to Croatia and Montenegro they had sooo many options in restaurants and grocery stores for vegetarian and vegan options, I was craving a salad so bad after the balkans! ahaha
You have some fantastic European destinations on this list! I’ve been to almost all of them and I agree, they are definitely great budget destinations. Riga is on my list for my next trip to Europe as I haven’t been yet and it sounds like such a cute city. It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy Vilnius very much, I’m very curious about the cheap eats there though because I was shocked on my last visit to Vilnius how expensive food was in the old town.
Yes so many great ones to explore! Riga is sooo adorable and I found the food super cheap in Vilnius’ the old town compared to the other 2 baltic countries.
I’ve never been to any of those countries yet and I would absolute LOVE to visit them all *w* I’ve heard Slovenia and Croatia are becoming quite expensive now tho so not sure what to think about it ^^
So many amazing places to explore in Europe! Slovenia is definitely getting more expensive especially in the summer months but you can definitely do it on a budget. For Croatia I would recommend the smaller islands and the Istria region for budget friendlier options. Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar are definitely much more expensive!
Ljubljana, Vilnius, and Riga have been on my list for a while now. I am so anxious to go. I LOVE Budapest and I definitely agree it is a must-visit.
Budapest is an amazing city! Ljubljana is probably one of my favourite cities and Slovenia as a whole is just incredible, definitely a must visit! Thank you Francesca!
Europe is one of my dream destinations! I will really go and visit this soon! The Morskie Oko catches my attention, the lake and the mountain looks beautiful <3
Ohh yes morskie oko is amazing! I have a guide to visiting as well Loise!
They all look amazing. I was just in Riga in December and it’s definitely my new favourite city. I wish I’d has time to go to Vilnius too. And Poland is very high on my list of next European destinations
Riga is such a cool city, I preferred it way more than Vilnius. In my opinion you didn’t miss much by not visiting!
Yasmin Ali says
Great guide! I love all these places. Your photography style is actually so phenomenal!
so happy you like my photos Yasmin, thanks so much!!