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Most often the excuse that’s getting in the way of your travel bucket list is the price of traveling, and you’re not entirely wrong. However, there’s a whole realm of budget destinations and affordable places to stay in Europe. Europe has, believe it or not, a destination for any budget, so take a look at these top affordable destinations in Europe.
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In comparison to neighboring European cities, flights to Libson are very reasonably priced, and hotel costs won’t break your budget either. You can explore Libson’s top sights, including seeing the beautiful and historic Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower, and St. George’s Castle. The world’s most expensive chapel is located here, as well as a lavish convent that you can tour and a leading modern design and fashion museum. Libson strikes a perfect balance between old and new, as you can see in its outdoor cafes, unique artwork, and salty sailor’s quarters.
Krakow has been rated as one of the most affordable destinations in Europe for several years. During your stay in Krakow, you can learn a bit about Polish culture by visiting the historic buildings and attractions that were survived World War II. Krakow’s Old Town and main square are filled with ancient churches, market traders, and an endless row of restaurants and cafes. You can learn about some of the darkest days of World War II history in Krakow and then lighten up with a visit to the Dunajec Gorge, where you can take a traditional rafting trip through the scenic Pieniny mountain range.
If you’ve always dreamed of the quintessential European backpacking adventure, then Prague is the perfect destination. Travelers will find Prague to be particularly affordable in terms of food, drinks, activities, and lodging. Prague is one of Europe’s best-preserved and historic cities, filled with 14th-century architecture, relics from its Communist period, and some of the most deliciously-brewed beer you can find. You can’t miss the fanciful spires of Tyn Church and Old Town Hall and the enormous Prague Castle, where Czech rules reined for thousands of years. Then step off the beaten path to check out the city’s lively music scene and Art Nouveau exhibits scattered around the city.
The currency exchange rate in Budapest automatically makes the city an affordable destination. Budapest continues to be a great place for backpackers and budget travelers looking to eat, drink, and sightsee without spending a fortune. The city is famous for its thermal spas, and many of these offer discount admission prices on certain days. First-time visitors may want take a walking tour of historic Castle Hill, sail a Danube cruise for beautiful panoramic views, and try out some traditional Hungarian cuisine, paired with some vintage Hungarian wine, at Central Market Hall. There are plenty of upscale boutiques, flea markets, and antique shops to explore along the way.
Constructed in the sixth century to bring drinking water into the city, the Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s most unique attractions. Aya Sofya is an elaborate church-turned-mosque-turned museum, and Topkapi Palace was home to generations of infamous sultans and harems. There are plenty of other museums, mosques, and steamy bathhouses to stop in during your leisurely stroll through the city.
Barcelona is an exciting city and top destination in Europe, offering plenty for visitors to see and do. Most of Barcelona’s hotels are priced on style, so if you’re willing to stay in modest lodgings, you can often find a conveniently-located place to stay. Although food prices can be pricey, you can find delicious cheap lunches in Barcelona that include three courses and a glass of house wine. Foodies will love visiting La Boqueria, Europe’s largest food market. There is no shortage of art and culture in Barcelona, so take your time exploring the elaborate cathedrals, fine art museums, and relaxing parks.
Although Amsterdam may invoke stereotypes of its red-light district and “special” brownies, it’s also one of the most affordable European cities to visit. First time visitors should be sure to walk along the canal, sip coffee in a cozy cafe, browse an antique bookshop, and stop an authentic street market. However, hotels tend to be pricey in Amsterdam and most of the hostels are located in less-safe parts of town. People of the Netherlands love their bicycles, so rent a bike or take public transportation to get around. Few other cities offer this caliber of top-ranking art museums and orchestras while maintaining such a rebellious and modern edginess.
Compared to, say, London or Paris, airline prices to Berlin are almost always more affordable. Berlin has plenty of hostels and cheap hotels to keep accommodations inexpensive. Even five-star hotels are more affordable here than in your average European city. Berlin is rich in history, with landmarks and memorials dedicated to victims of the Third Reich, a Holocaust memorial, a Jewish museum, and architecturally-impressive government buildings. The city’s Museum Island is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to thousands of art and cultural exhibitions. The Berlin Wall Memorial, the Brandenberg Gate, and Charlottenburg Palace are also popular itinerary items with visitors.
If you plan ahead and do some research in advance, Brussels can be an affordable European destination. Skip past the car rental and the row of taxis, because subways, streetcars, and buses go pretty much everywhere you’ll want to go in Brussels. There is a good number of budget hostels and hotels in the center of the city, and one of the most popular tourist attractions is completely free. Spend some time at the Grand Palace, a historic center with ornate architecture, skilled artisans, and stunning flower displays. Duck into the city’s many churches and museums when it rains, and sample local favorites like waffles, mussels, chocolates, and beer.
To avoid paying full price, consider visiting Athens during the fall or spring season for lower prices and moderate crowds. The easiest and most affordable way to get around town is on foot or on the Metro, although taxis are plentiful and reasonably priced. You’ll obviously want to spend time at the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and the National Archaeological Museum is worth a stop as well. Of all the temples in Athens, the temples of Olympian Zeus and Poseidon are the most popular. Pedestrians can enjoy leisurely strolls in car-free zones to explore vibrant street bazaars and sample Greek cuisine with plenty of fish, fresh vegetables, and olives.
Madrid has its fair share of five-star hotels and upscale restaurants, but you can still find plenty to do here on a budget. Backpacker hostels are popular in Madrid, although you’ll likely share your room with a couple of strangers and need to lock your valuables in a locker. Walking is the best way to get around Madrid, and you can see some of Spain’s most impressive architecture, plazas, palaces, and boulevards on foot. Cafe culture is huge in Madrid, so explore the city’s trendy neighborhoods to feel the vibrancy of the locals.