Europe may not be the quintessential budget-friendly continent to visit, with some of the most expensive countries in the world here! However, Europe is home to a whopping 44 countries! Among those, there is no shortage of cheap destinations to visit.
As a rule of thumb, the further you head east in Europe, the more affordable it gets. Countries that are members of the EU or the Schengen Zone also tend to be a bit pricier.
Europe is an incredible continent. There is so much diversity, culture and beautiful scenery to be discovered in the more affordable countries, some of which are off the beaten path.
As inflation starts to bite globally, 2023 could be the year for your to explore some new European countries, without going bankrupt!
In this post, we are sharing 7 of the top cheap countries in Europe to travel to (with loads of notable mentions at the end!). These countries have a low cost of living relative to other more mainstream European countries with affordable food, transportation and accommodation options.
These 7 cheap countries are:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
For each country, we spill some of the best things to do, give you a rough idea of a daily budget and when the best time to go is.
The cheapest country to visit in 2023 is Albania! Albania is an up-and-coming tourist designation in Europe that just keeps getting more popular each year. It was only relatively recently that tourists could start visiting this country, so it is a bit behind in terms of being on the map.
However, Albania is simply gorgeous. It is located in the Balkans in-between Montenegro and Greece and borders Kosovo and North Macedonia. Albania is the epitome of mountains falling into the beautiful Adriatic sea. The clarity of the Adriatic sea and the gorgeous hues of the sunsets give Greece and Italy a run for their money!
What’s more, Albania has stunning mountains and lakes to get your adventure on! There is plenty to see and do, even outside of the summer months.Experience the most breathtaking coastlines, delicious Mediterranean-style cuisine, UNESCO sites and mountains without paying the hefty price tag. Tourists usually spend around half of what they would spend in other EU countries. If you are starving for a European summer getaway and don’t have a big budget, Albania is your best bet.
Its central location in the Balkan region and proximity to Greece makes it an easy place to travel around, to and from as part of a big EU adventure.
Prices in Albania
You can find budget accommodation from as little as £10 for a dorm, with private rooms from around £15, food will cost you as little as £8 per day and local transport is super cheap with some costing less than £1. Car rentals and taxis are also affordable. You can also budget to spend as little as £10 a day on activities and attractions.
Popular things to do in Albania include:
- Explore Tirana
- Discover some of the best beaches in Europe on the Albanian Riviera including Saranada, Vlore, Himara
- Hike in the Albanian Alps (Theth National Park)
- Go kayaking in Koman Lake
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Berat and Butrint
- Explore the Blue Eye spring in the south
Daily budget: £20 - £40 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for the best weather & prices. Albania is however a year-round destination, depending on what you want to do.
2. Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bośnia & Herzegovina comes in next as the second cheapest country to visit in Europe in 2023. This unique country has also only recently been welcoming tourists and so is a less-discovered place! This is why the prices here are still so affordable.
This country only gained independence in 1992 and has a recent history of war. However, it is now a safe and vibrant place to visit. Located in the Balkans and bordering Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, this central Balkan country is a great place to travel around overland on a budget tour of Europe.
Bosnia is a land of hidden gems! And it also has a distinct middle eastern feel, with the old town of Mostar feeling more Arabic than European. It is very refreshing if you’ve seen Old Town after Old Town in other parts of Europe.
Get to this hidden gem while it is still relatively under the radar!
Prices in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Find budget accommodation and dorm rooms from £8 with private rooms from £20. Spend as little as £5 a day on food and get around the country with ease using local transport or taxis for very little money. Admission to historic sites and museums costs from £2-£10 and outdoor adventure activities like guided hikes and rafting is up to £50 (dirt cheap compared to other countries!).
Popular things to do in Bosnia & Herzegovina include:
- Visit the Old Bridge and Old town of Mostar,
- Explore Sarajevo,
- Visit the Srebrenica Memorial Center,
- Explore the Pliva Lakes,
- Visit the Kravice Waterfalls
Daily budget: £20 - £50 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for the best weather & prices. Bosnia & Herzegovina is however a year-round destination, depending on what you want to do.
Coming in at number 3 of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe is yet another Balkan country, Bulgaria. Bulgaria is located further east in Europe, bordering Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia and Turkey! This is an incredible country right in the middle of most of the most affordable spots in Europe.
Bulgaria is off the beaten path and has a unique distinct vibe, with so much to explore in terms of culture, history and scenery. Find beaches on the east Black Sea coast or go hiking or skiing in the mountains in the west.
Bulgaria is also a very safe country to visit with low rates of crime and violence.
Prices in Bulgaria
You can find budget accommodation from £9 per night and private rooms from £18. You can get by spending £7 per day on food and there is very affordable public transport and taxis available. Entry fees for attraction start from £2.50 and guided tours start from just £14.
Popular things to do in Bulgaria include:
- Explore the capital of Sofia
- Go to Burgas on the black sea coast
- Head to Bansko and the Pirin Mountains for skiing in winter & hiking in summer
- Discover the city of Plovdiv
- Visit the Thracian Tombs
Daily budget: £20 - £30 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for the best weather & prices. Bulgaria is however a year-round destination, depending on what you want to do.
Have you ever considered visiting Slovakia? Not many people have! Making this an Eastern European haven for budget travellers who want to explore a country that not many bother to go to.
Slovakia is a landlocked nation bordering Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Austria. All of those countries (except Austria) are very budget friendly as well, making this a great place to explore central Europe on a budget.
Slovakia is full of hidden gems that not many have discovered yet. It is full of stunning scenery, history and culture. It is known for its mountainous landscapes, medieval castles and architecture with a colourful history. Slovakia is a member of NATO so rest assured you will be safe here, but it is advised you stay away from the Ukrainian border at the time being.
Prices in Slovakia
You can find budget accommodation and dorm rooms from £13 and private rooms from £22. You can get by spending £12 a day on food and public transport is cheap with a ride costing £1 or so. Taxis are affordable as well. Entry fees to tourist attractions start from £2 and guided tours cost £45 and up.
Popular things to do in Slovakia:
- Visit Bratislava
- Explore the High Tatras Mountain Range
- Go to the Slovak Paradise National Park
- Discover the Orava Castle
- Visit the Demänovská Cave
- Indulge in their cuisine of hearty dishes like potato dumplings and sauerkraut soup
Daily budget: £25 - £50 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for mild weather & prices. Winter is a good time to visit if you want to do mountain sports in the High Tatras mountains.
Hungary is another central European gem that you should add to your budget backpacker itinerary for Europe. Hungary is right in the thick of it and borders a staggering number of countries including popular budget destinations such as Slovakia, Romania, Serbia and Croatia.
Hungary is an incredible place to visit to soak up all of the history and culture on offer. Plus there is delicious food and a thriving thermal pool culture in Budapest.
Top that all off with one of the biggest and best festivals in the world in August each year called Sziget (Billie Eilish & David Guetta are headlining in 2023!) and a buzzing nightlife and restaurant scene, you’ve got an all-round excellent destination to visit in Europe throughout the year.
Prices in Hungary
Find budget accommodation from £18 and get by spending as little as £8 a day on food. There is excellent and affordable public transport in Budapest with taxis being affordable as well. There are also affordable bus companies to take you around the country. Expect to pay between £5-20 for attractions and tours (don’t forget to take advantage of free walking tours!).
Popular things to do in Hungary include:
- Eating all of the Hungarian delights such as goulash and langos,
- The central market hall in Budapest
- Buda Castle
- Walking tours in Budapest to explore the architecture & learn the history, the Danube River and bathing in the thermal baths of Szechenyi or Gellert.
- Climbing up on the green bridge in Budapest to watch the sunset
Daily budget: £30 - £50 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: Spring & autumn (April - May & September - October) for the mildest weather
Montenegro is starting to become one of the most popular countries in the Balkans, thanks to Kotor’s proximity to the ultra-famous town of Dubrovnik in Croatia.
However, Montenegro is worth visiting in its own right not just as a quick day trip from Croatia. The scenery is absolutely stunning! Picture pristine lakes, tranquil bays, towering green mountains scattered with ancient city walls and beautiful beaches with that sparkling Adriatic sea. Montenegro has so much to offer and it won’t cost the world!
Kotor is still affordable (and 100% worth visiting) but if you venture further afield you will find hidden gems that not many tourists visit which means better prices and a more authentic experience.
This is another great place to travel overland to other affordable Balkan countries such as Albania, Bosnia and Serbia.
Prices in Montenegro
Find budget accommodation from £13 and get by £10 a day for food. Budget to spend around £5 a day on transport and £8 on activities and attractions.
Popular things to do in Montenegro:
- Visit the historic town of Kotor & the surrounding bay
- Go to the beach in Budvar & Ulcenj
- Explore Lovcen & Durmitor National Parks
- Visit the fishing village of Sveti Stefan
Daily budget: £25 - £45 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for the best weather & prices. Montenegro is however a year-round destination, depending on what you want to do.
Coming in at number 6 for the cheapest places to visit in Europe in 2023 is our beloved Portugal! Portugal is without a doubt the most affordable country to visit in Western Europe and is in very close proximity to the UK, Spain and France. If you’re doing a classic European tour in the more pricey places, don’t forget to stop off in Portugal to give your wallet a rest.
Not only is Portugal affordable it is also a remarkable country to visit. The towns and cities are brimming with stunning architecture and vibrant culture. The food and party scene is popping, the weather is incredible most of the year and there are seriously gorgeous beaches down the coast. Plus there are some very special islands called the Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic sea that are part of Portugal and are quickly booming tourism hot spots.
Prices in Portugal
Budget accommodation starts from £13 per night and goes up to £35. Food and drinks don’t cost much, you can get by spending £10 a day and transportation starts from £1. Portugal has great public transport in the towns and cities and a train and bus network connecting the country and also connecting to Spain. Taxis are also cheap! Attractions cost anywhere from £4-£12 and upward of £20 for guided tours.
Popular things to do in Portugal include:
- Visit the Azores Islands & Madeira
- Explore the cities of Lisbon & Porto
- Hike the Rota Vicentina trail
- Find the best beaches in the Algarve
- Indulge in the delicious food
- Discover the castles in Sintra
- Surf the biggest waves in the world on the Atlantic coast
Daily budget: £30 - £60 per day on a backpacker budget
Best time to visit: June to August are the hottest months with the best weather but are the busiest & most expensive. It is a great destination in the shoulder season from April - May and September - October for the best weather & prices. Portugal is however a year-round destination, depending on what you want to do.
Other affordable countries in Europe that get notable mentions:
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
The Schengen Zone
Planning a big Euro trip that is longer than 90 days? Get familiar with the Schengen Zone visa rules and get to know which countries in Europe don't belong to it (Albania, Bosnia and Bulgaria are the 3 countries on this list outside of the Schengen zone as of March 2023), so you don't end up with a border control disaster.