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You may have a preconceived notion that travelling to Europe is incredibly expensive, and while this is true for some places in Europe (I’m looking at you Switzerland!), this is by no means the whole truth! Especially if you already live in Europe or the UK.

There are so many countries in Europe that are dirt cheap, particularly in the East. You can have amazing cultural experiences, see incredible cities and explore the magical nature Europe has to offer, all on a shoestring budget. This can all be done by choosing the right destination or destinations and by following some basic money-saving tips.

Continue reading to learn our top budget-friendly destinations to travel to in 2022 as well as some easy money-saving tips to help you stretch your money further!

1. Portugal

Lisbon is, without a doubt, the best value destination in Western Europe. It is the perfect spot to experience a European Summer. Much of the country is situated on the wild Atlantic coast. This gives Portugal an abundance of summer destinations and activities.

Budget-friendly accommodation is available in abundance in traveller hotspots like Lisbon, Lagos & Porto. You can get decent dorms and private rooms for between 10 and 20 euros. A glass of beer will only set you back 2 euros and most restaurants won’t set you back more than 10-15 euros.

Lisbon is one of the coolest cities in Portugal with beautiful architecture, views, culture, food and is set right on the waterfront. Porto is another beautiful city to visit in summer. It is set on either side of a river, connected by lofty bridges. The Algarve region is where you can experience exquisite coast beaches, caves and beautiful turquoise waters.

Portugal is also rich in culture, tradition, historical architecture and nature. It is also easy to travel around Portugal with budget-friendly buses and trains from every main centre. Reaching Portugal from anywhere in Europe is a breeze with an abundance of flights to Port, Lisbon and the Algarve.

2. Turkey

Turkey is an incredible country, located in both Asia and Europe. It will satisfy your appetite for Middle Eastern vibes and won’t cost the world! The currency in Turkey has been greatly devalued in recent years, meaning you can explore the wonders of this country for less.

Turkey is full of outstanding Mediterranean food, architecture, history and culture. The best place to experience this is in the beautiful capital of Istanbul. There are incredible mosques, markets and shopping to feast your eyes on. Turkey also has stunning natural scenery which sits alongside ancient ruins which go back to the very beginning of human civilization.

Must-visit spots to experience Turkey include the white mineral terraces and ancient Greek ruins of Hierapolis in Pamukkale, hot air ballooning in the desert of Cappadocia, a sailing trip through the Turquoise Coast, paragliding in Oludeniz and so much more!

It is incredibly easy to get around Turkey either by night bus or plane for very little money. You can score really nice accommodation in all the tourist hotspots for less than $20. You can also pick up incredible and unique souvenirs for a few bucks. The food is also very affordable! Most guesthouses and hotels include a beautiful Turkish buffet breakfast in their room rate too! A traditional Turkish bath is a must-do experience when you are visiting Turkey as well.

3. Bulgaria

Bulgaria is known as the place to go skiing in Europe if you aren’t ready to shell out tons of dough in Austria, Switzerland or France! However, there is so much more to this wonderful country that comes at a very reasonable price.

Sofia, the capital, is a beautiful city full of architecture and culture. Hostel beds start at a puny $5 USD per night, with fancy restaurant meals only set you back about $10USD.

Bulgaria is also home to spectacular natural landscapes which are so highly underrated and not often visited by people from the UK, America and other western countries. These include the mountains (all year round), Seven lakes, Sozopol and the Black Sea.

4. Romania

Romania is most well known for being the birthplace of Dracula as well as Vlad the Impaler who is the real-life historical figure who inspired the character. But there is so much more to Romania than Dracula!

The first and most important reason is castles! Romania is home to some of the most astounding castles on the planet.

There are so many castles in Romania that you can visit without blowing your budget on a couple of days in the high-end Loire Valley in France. Castles to visit in Romania include Corvin Castle, Peles Castle and Bran Castle.

If you love Castles but don’t have the budget to visit their Western European counterparts, then put Romania on your bucket list immediately!

Dorms in the capital of Bucharest start as low as $7 USD. Smaller towns and cities might not have hostels but double rooms cost as little as $20 per night (and you have your own room!).

5. Montenegro

Montenegro is a tiny coastal country in the Balkans, wedged between Croatia and Albania. The scenery in Montenegro is world-class and will totally surprise you! There are incredible mountains and lakes and beautiful coastal towns with pristine clear blue oceans that are buzzing with culture.

The most famous spot in Montenegro is the spectacular town of Kotor which is a fully walled waterfront town wedged between towering mountains. But there is more to Montenegro, where you won’t stumble across as many tourists and will be treated to even lower prices.

These include Ulcinj, Sveti Stefan, Budva and the Durmitor National Park.

6. Albania

Albania is another stunning Balkan country that is super affordable and still well off the beaten tourist track. Albania is home to the wonderful capital city of Tirana, the holiday town of Sarande and the Ali Pasha Castle.

The coastline on the Adriatic sea will simply take your breath away! It is the perfect place to visit at the peak of the European summer and is unlike other overpriced and overcrowded European summer hotspots. The beaches in Albania are some of the best in Europe. Himara is a fantastic small seaside town to go to for a summer holiday and explore those beaches.

Plus Albania has incredible mountain ranges to explore and go hiking such as the Accursed Mountains, also known as the Albania Alps.

7. Bosnia & Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina is another Balkan country gracing our list! This small but picturesque country is most famous for the riverside town of Mostar with the famous bridge. It is true this town is simply enchanting and should be on everyone’s bucket list. Think Western Europe, meets Turkey with cobbled streets, middle eastern aesthetics and flowing rivers.

But there is more to Bosnia than Mostar! The capital city of Sarajevo is well worth a visit plus it is full of scenic national parks, waterfalls and rugged mountain ranges which may be a surprise to you!

Places to visit in Bosnia & Herzegovina include Pilva Waterfall, Kravice Waterfall, Sutjeska National Park, Blagaj and Buna Springs. There is also interesting history in Bosnia to learn about which includes the war that only happened just under 30 years ago.

Neum is a small coastal town in Bosnia that is also worth a visit! And yes you read that right, Bosnia has 12 miles of its own coastline, it isn’t completely landlocked.

8. Kosovo

Kosovo is another incredible budget country in the Balkans to visit. Interestingly Kosovo is only recognised as a country in its own right in half of the world.

Kosovo is the smallest country in the Balkans and is landlocked between Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. Kosovo is like an untouched haven in Europe that has been completely unspoiled by mass tourism and overpopulation.

Some of the top places to visit in Kosovo include Pristina (the capital), Peja, Prizren as well as the Mirusha Waterfalls and Rugova Mountains.

A dorm bed in Pristina costs around €10 per night, and a typical meal at a local restaurant is less than €5.

It is pretty clear that the Balkans come highly recommended in this post. They are affordable and simply stunning! It is so easy to do a Balkan trip and visit all of these countries at once. It is easy to fly or bus across borders. Even hiring a private taxi to get around is affordable.

The Balkan countries listed in this post haven’t been frequented by too many backpackers and travellers until relatively recently. This means you might struggle to find places with other tourists and good hostels to stay in.

But Airbnb is an amazing option to book affordable and really nice accommodation. It also gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself with the locals, talk to them and learn from them! They will be so stoked to see you visiting their town, especially if they are only used to seeing holidaymakers from their own country!

9. Malta

Malta is a tiny island country located in the Mediterranean sea, near Sicily. You can drive from one side to the other in just a few hours!Malta is made up of three islands, the main island of Malta, Comino and Gozo which are each simply beautiful!

The southern Mediterranean climate means that the temperature is pretty warm all year round and is scorching in summer, making this a great place to visit all year (maybe avoid peak summer!).

There are plenty of affordable Airbnbs and hostels in the stunning seaside capital of Valletta which can be easily used as a base to explore the entire island. Flights are cheap from the UK and eating out is also affordable which means you can have enough of a budget to hire a car and explore with ease.

Some of the best places to visit in Malta include the Blue Grotto, St Peter’s Pool, The Blue Lagoon, Dingli Cliffs, Mdina, Popeye Village, Marsaxlokk and much more.

Malta offers a great mix of medieval history and stunning coastline and beaches. Plus they have an interesting mix of cultural influences which include Italian, Arabic and even British!

10. Poland

Poland is another top budget-friendly place in Europe to visit in 2022. Poland is a unique country with a deep and sorted history that is fascinating to learn about, explore and witness while you are there.

This would be a fascinating place to visit in the depths of winter or for Christmas. Our recommended places to visit are Krakow, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Warsaw and Poznań.

While Poland has a fascinating history, monuments and museums to visit in the cities there is also nature to be explored. This includes the Tantra mountains and Lake Morskie.A hostel in Krakow starts at $5 USD and food and drinks are incredibly (even dangerously) cheap.

Other notable mentions:

  • Czech Republic
  • Serbia
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Macedonia
  • Greece & Italy in the off or shoulder season
  • Hungary

European Money Saving Hacks

When travelling in Europe there are a huge number of countries right at your fingertips! It is incredibly easy and cheap to travel around Europe, whether you are flying, training or busing.

The easiest way to save money in Europe is by opting to visit a budget-friendly destination, like the ones listed above. But there are a few other things you can do to make the most of your money!

Stay in a Hostel or self-contained apartment

Staying in a hostel is clearly going to be the most budget-friendly option!

Even private rooms in hostels are a better price than staying in a hotel and come with all the other benefits of staying in a hostel.

Hostels have a great vibe and make it easy to meet others, they put on tours and events for their guests, normally have a shared kitchen and usually include breakfast.

Some hostels are much better than others, so do some research by reading reviews on websites such as Hostel world and before deciding on where to stay.

If hostels just aren’t your thing, apartments are another great budget-friendly option. The amount of money you can save by having access to your own kitchen is astounding 

Bring your own water bottle

Save money by bringing your own water bottle to fill up at your accommodation and throughout the day (& save a bunch of plastic!)

Many countries in Europe have clean tap water and fountains throughout the city for when you are out exploring! Water Bottles can also save you paying exorbitant prices for water at the airport.

Get an online bank card

Online banks such as Monzo, Revolut and Wise, offer an affordable way to exchange and withdraw money from multiple currencies. They each have fantastic and easy to use apps where you can upload and transfer money.

Their fees are low and offer free ATM withdrawals plus many more features!

Opt for local made alcoholic drinks

Going out for drinks is one of the best things to do in Europe, but it can eat away at your budget!

Counter this by always opting for locally produced beer, wine and spirits. It will be so much cheaper and will give you a better taste of local culture as well!

Take advantage of free attractions

There are plenty of free attractions to visit throughout Europe such as walking tours, landmarks, parks, national parks, cathedrals and some museums and art galleries (hello London!).

You can also go and ‘see’ a famous place without getting a ticket to go inside. It might require a bit of research and planning but it will be well worth the effort.

Other money-saving tips

  • Be flexible with your travel times & days
  • Eat where the locals eat
  • Only take carry on luggage
  • Avoid overly touristic attractions & their surrounding shops
  • Split costs with friends or new travellers you meet on the way
  • Stay with friends or family
  • Use public transport
  • Travel outside of peak season