With the advent of the Internet and technology in general, we’ve witnessed a rapid emergence of companies and services claiming to offer the best deals for travellers, including the cheapest accommodation and lowest plane ticket prices. Suffice it to say that they enabled a whole new branch of budget tourism, that allows people to go where they always wanted to go, but couldn’t afford it. Suddenly, backpack travelling, shoestring budgets and multiple yearly travels became reality, bringing in incredible numbers of tourists to all corners of the world.
What was unimaginable just a couple of years ago is now the way of life that we couldn’t do without. The new problem that emerges is – how to pick the right destination for you now that the options have multiplied. Have you dreamt about going to the farthest corner of Asia or discovering some exotic islands? How about Europe? Most people think that Europe is this overly expensive place because it has been a major tourist destination for years – and they aren’t completely wrong. But that doesn’t mean there are no options for people looking to have a good time with far less money than some others.
More specifically, how can one enjoy and even have some fun in Western Europe without going overboard with spending? Well, that depends on knowing where you’re going, which is the most important part. This is where we come in. Hopefully, after going through our list of cheaper European getaways, you’ll know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Make sure that you’ve packed everything that you need to have a good time because there are a lot of good things to see in Europe.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or are just getting started, Europe has some awesome travel destinations for just about anyone. If you want a great experience and don’t want to break the bank then definitely consider these top 10 cities in Western Europe for budget-minded travellers. We’re certain that you won’t be disappointed and that everyone will find at least one place, one city on this list that they would like to cross from their bucket list.
Cheapest places to travel in Western Europe
Porto is not only the home of delicious port wine (a sweeter very delicious type of wine), but it doesn’t break the bank either! The city is situated right near the coast with a big river running alongside the city. One side of the river is filled with shops, cobblestone streets, churches, and really the heart of the city complete with a big market. As you walk down towards the river along the steep banks you will see small old ships that are used to transport the grapes and wine picked upstream to the other side of the river – the home of countless world-class wineries. Visiting these wineries is a must because it’s not only fun and affordable, but you get to taste some great port wine as well.
Otherwise, using public transportation and walking around the city is awesome. You can even walk to the ocean beaches – the big beaches didn’t seem all that nice as there are some industrial buildings in plain sight. I’m sure if you explore a bit more or ask a local you can find out where the nice beaches are. When walking around be ready to get a decent work out though as the city is quite hilly! Using modern public transportation is painless and cheap.
Staying in Porto is reasonably affordable too. Dorm beds can be 15 to 20 Euros per night. If you want something cooler, unique, and probably cheaper try checking out Airbnb for much better deals. It’s definitely worth the visit if you’re on a strict budget. Despite that, you’ll have a wonderful time with such a fine assortment of wines to taste and streets to wander.
Dorm beds are 20 Euros or more in this city, but you can find great deals on Airbnb for a whole small apartment or a spare room in a local’s house. In Alicante Whole (small) apartments can be rented for a total of $20 per night, which is perfectly aligned with the average price of bedding in other European cities with cheap hostels.
Couchsurfing.org, of course, is another great way to save – staying on a local’s couch or spare bedroom can be a great experience and valuable insight into local culture. It’s also a great way to meet the people and create valuable connections for the rest of your life because let’s face it, Alicante is worth several visits, not just one. Staying at someone’s house also means being able to visit more during your stay, since, in most cases at least, you have a willing and knowledgeable guide that will show you the best that their town has to offer.
Tapas can be a cheap way to eat in Spain while still enjoying every bit of the city’s nightlife.
Basilica of Santa María is a must during your stay here. Make sure that you check out the defence towers of the Huerta de Alicante, which protected this beautiful city from the pirate menace. The list goes on and on, with so many castles, fortresses and cathedrals to see that it’s mindboggling. All that, and on a very tight budget! Isn’t that the best way to see the world?
Not technically in Western Europe but it did win the EU’s Culture Capital status in 2012. Besides, it’s just barely east of the border (merely 40 miles from Graz, Austria) so we thought we could bend the rules a little.
Another reason to include Maribor is to highlight how many cities and towns along the Adriatic coast (think Croatia & Montenegro) are stunningly beautiful, relatively safe and fun places to visit without spending the big bucks like you would have to in Southern France or Italy. Maribor is half way from all the major destinations along the coastline, so if you ever decide to move on to someplace else, you’ll be able to get a cheap ticket here and head on out.
Lodging is cheaper here than in truly western European cities. It’s also an excellent experience to have if you’ve never stayed in a place like that before.
There are many great sights to be seen in Maribor that it’s very difficult to decide. If you don’t know where to start, look for Franciscan Church – this impressive reddish structure will surely catch your eye quickly. Judgement Tower is also an interesting sight, it’s not as nearly as tall as you would expect it to be and obviously a combination of different styles that were added over the years by local masons. Slovenia has many places like this, these undiscovered pearls that are as equally precious as the ones in more prominent tourist destinations such as Paris. Come and see for yourself!
Seville is a transportation hub for Southern Spain which makes getting in/out easy and cheap. Ryanair uses Seville’s San Pablo airport as a hub for the airline, which means great connections to the rest of Europe. A high-speed rail also reliably connects Seville with Madrid (tickets are a bit pricey, however).
Don’t miss the chance to see a local Flamenco performance while in Seville – something that’s native to the area. Food and public transit are generally cheap in Spain when compared to Northern Europe
Seville is not really a cheap place to call home, but for a traveller on a budget just looking to spend a couple of days there, it’s perfect. You’ll be able to get a drink for a mere 0.66 euros – that’s half a litre of beer. A bottle of good wine costs about 5 euros, which is a decent price considering the quality of Spanish wines – they’re very sweet and delicious.
You will also be able to go out and entertain yourself at many pubs, clubs and restaurants. Dinner is not going to be cheaper than 20 euros (with two people in mind), ranging up to 40 euros for fancier version if you ever get tired of saving all that money. However, if you don’t mind doing a bit of cooking on your own, it’s much cheaper to get all the groceries yourself than going out in Seville. Overall, for such an amazing city with countless sights to see and experiences to be had, Seville sure is a great place to visit on a string budget.
According to Numbeo.com, Patras has the lowest rent prices of any destination in Western Europe. (That puts rent prices on par with places such as the Dominican Republic and Jordan.)
While Airbnb hasn’t really caught on much yet in Greece, and there aren’t many budget hostels in town, if you’re considering staying a while see if you can arrange a short-term rental in the city. Some things in Greece you may find expensive, but considering the savings, you’ll have with the cheap rent, and this is still a very affordable place for an extended holiday. It all depends on the time of the year that you visit Greece at. You would be mistaken to think that Greece is nice only during the high season. Patras, like many other places in this beautiful country, is real heaven regardless of when you’re arriving. There’s food to taste, drinks to have and remains of an ancient culture to explore. However, the same goes for any destination really. If you want it cheap, a good pointer is the time of the year when you plan on travelling. Just waiting for a single month after the high season, or arriving a month early can save you more money than you could’ve imagined.
Patras is a very beautiful place to visit, and for mere peanuts – that’s a bit of an over-exaggeration, but you get the idea. Hellada awaits traveller, it’s time to get packing and enjoy gorgeous days under Greek sun. Oh, and try their local brews – they’re very cheap and not weak at all.
First things first, you probably know never to take a taxi from the airport. The same goes for Lille in France, which might be slightly more expensive than other cities on this list. A bus ticket to the centre will cost you about 9 euros, and you can do anything you like from there. Walk around the lovely streets of Lille, have a glass of wine for 6 euros or maybe find a cosy restaurant to grab a bite. Your options are wide open, it’s a gorgeous city that everyone wants to visit, just be careful about your budget. Depending on where you are, beers can get ugly expensive, so if you don’t feel like paying for more than 5 euros, you should probably be picky about where you sit down. Spending a night in a hostel will require a budget of about 20-25 euros, so again, it’s better than Paris for example but more expensive than cities like Porto or Valletta.
Looking for places to visit? Make sure to stop by Jardin Botanique Nicolas Boulay and Jardin Botanique de la Faculté de Pharmacie, botanical gardens and arboretums that you will never forget. Moreover, Lille cathedral, or Basilique-cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille, is a breathtaking Roman Catholic church that you would be amis if you didn’t stop by and take a photo or two. It’s quite typical of a French town really, having so many amazing sights and places to visit, but it’s quite impossible to do so during just one stay.
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough money to visit the spectacular Venice. Bruges is a large city in Belgium that is relatively cheap to visit in comparison to some other neighbouring tourist destinations. It’s also quite commonly referred to as the Venice of the North because of all the canals that carve their way through the city. Bedding is quite what you would expect from a Western European city, with some of the cheapest hostels charging about 20 euros for a night. Besides paying a bit heftier price for a bed, everything else is quite cheap. For less than 30 euros a day, you’ll be able to eat, drink and drive around the city, visiting attractions and landmarks for as long as you like.
Speaking off places to see, it’s probably best to just walk down the streets and experience the lovely Bruges that way, allowing you to have more budget for local restaurants and souvenir shops. That way, you’ll get to enjoy the narrow passages, marvel at old, brick buildings while you’re walking towards your destination. Visit Groeningemuseum and see renaissance and baroque paintings, or head towards Saint Salvator’s Cathedral. See the venerated relics at the Basilica of the Holy Blood. If you’re looking to appease your sweet tooth, there are so many chocolate shops that it’s impossible to resist their call. Sit by the canal in the evening and listen to the sound of it and the city. You’ll be more than pleased with how little money you’ve spent for so much fun.
Rocky beaches and cheap prices serve the city of Nice with thousands of visitors each year. As a matter of fact, it’s so cheap compared to the rest of France that swaths of tourists that come during the summer often cause the prices to increase slightly. Gorgeous, sapphire-like Cote de Azure is free to enjoy, making it a mandatory visit for any traveller on an unforgiving budget. It’s also quite easy to reach other points of interest in the area such as Monaco for a very small fee in the form of a train ticket.
While spending 18, 19 euros for a night isn’t as cheap as you might have hoped Nice to be, it’s still much better than more frequently visited destinations. You could easily get away with spending a cent more than 50 euros per day, most of which went on bedding and meals. However, if you walk around the beautiful city and look for more easily accessible (free) ways to have fun and spend your time. For 5 euros, you’ll be able to afford a daily pass to drive around in a bus, visiting different locations such as Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice, an amazing white and gold structure built in Neo-Gothic style. It would be great if you found yourself near this church before the sunset so that you could see how truly spectacular this building is. Place Masséna is the main square, and quite a pleasant sight to see. It’s also free to enjoy, so make sure you drop by for an hour or two.
South of the Italian mainland, you’ll find a picturesque island of Sicily and its capital Palermo. It’s rustic and old, with more than a few decrepit buildings. But it feels oh so very enchanting, and people are friendly and welcoming. Much like the rest of Italy, wine is considered to be a delicacy and you’ll be sorely mistaken if you don’t try some of the local vintages. For only 2-3 euros per glass, you’ll able to savour the true spirit of Sicily. If you’re looking for bedding, Airbnb.com has a huge selection of local homes, even some that are located in the very heart of town. They’re naturally very expensive, but you could find some that cost from 20-30 euros a night. Hostels even go as low as 15 euros a night, which a much better deal than most other places in mainland Europe. A slice of pizza costs about 2 euros on average, so don’t worry about going hungry in this lovely place. Pasta is a bit more pricey depending on the restaurant, but it shouldn’t hit your budget for more than 8 euros for a meal.
Walk down the colourful streets of Palermo, see as many palaces and museums as possible, especially Palazzo Natoli, Palazzo Abatellis and the Regional Archeological Museum Antonio Salinas. The Teatro Massimo is the third largest opera house in Europe, and although it might be a bit too much for your budget, it’s still a wonderful place that you should at least visit once.
Going further south from Sicily will bring you to a relatively undiscovered paradise called Malta, and its capital city Valletta. As in Palermo, you’ll be able to find bedding for as little as 15 euros a night in one of their hostels. The capital itself is in its entirety a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you might be better of exploring the surrounding areas as well. Food and drinks are much cheaper in any other destination on this list, so you’ll be able to make most out of your visit on a shoelace budget. Drinks are about 2 euros and most meals are just slightly more expensive than that. Attractions will usually cost anywhere from 5 to 8 euros depending on what you’d like to look at or listen to, so make sure that you plan according to your bankroll available.
If you’re interested in what you’re getting into, Valletta has palaces and bastions that are constructed in a baroque design, they’re really amazing sights to behold. Having a cup of coffee will cost you less than 2 euros, about 1.30 to be more precise, and beer is not even a whole single euro beyond that. If you happen upon this lovely city in January, you’ll also be able to take part in Valletta International Baroque Festival and listen to some fine jazz. To sum things up, Valletta has a fairly low day-to-day cost and it’s more on par with some Southeast Asia countries in terms of prices than other European tourist destinations.