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10 Best Budget-Friendly Summer Destinations in Europe

A summer holiday in Europe can get expensive, but if you pick the right cities, you can avoid the wallet-busting prices and snag some seriously excellent deals. These cities offer an alluring combination of rich culture, natural landscapes, and fascinating history without the hefty price tag. From the charming atmosphere of Prague to the wine-loving city of Porto, here are the top budget-friendly destinations to visit in Europe this summer.

Porto, Portugal Cais da Ribeira
Credit: Cais da Ribeira by Frédérique Voisin-Demery

Porto, Portugal

One of the most budget-friendly destinations in Western Europe, Porto is the heart of Northern Portugal. This UNESCO World Heritage city boasts ornate cathedrals, quaint courtyard squares, and beautiful riverside restaurants that are perfect for people-watching while you sip wine from the Douro Valley. You can spend your time indulging in local delicacies, wandering through quiet parks, or visiting one of the excellent art museums. A hotspot for wine lovers, you can’t leave the city without sampling sweet, tasty port wine.

Prague, Czech Republic Prague, Czech Republic
Credit: Prague, Czech Republic by © Scanrail | Dreamstime.com

Prague, Czech Republic

While the secret is out about Prague, and its prices have been steadily increasing, it still offers great value for those looking for a European summer adventure. There’s a lot to see and do here, where you can sample the world’s best beer in traditional beer halls and microbreweries before exploring the city’s fairytale streets to discover historic landmarks and ornate Gothic and Baroque architecture. Walk across Charles Bridge and admire Prague Castle before climbing to Petrin Hill to soak up stunning panoramic views of the city.

Budapest, Hungary Széchenyi Thermal Baths
Credit: Széchenyi Thermal Baths by Marc Ryckaert via Wikimedia Commons

Budapest, Hungary

A beautiful city that straddles the Danube, Budapest is one of the most enchanting capitals in Europe. Known for its thermal baths and buzzing nightlife scene, Budapest offers a range of captivating attractions for history enthusiasts and culture vultures alike. Head to Széchenyi Baths for a relaxing soak, visit the “ruin bars” of District VII or take a scenic riverside cruise. Spend your time admiring Turkish and Roman architecture and visiting restaurants serving traditional cuisines and slow-cooked meats.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Credit: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina by © Louis Henault | Dreamstime.com

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

While Sarajevo’s scars from the past are still evident, the city is now full of life with its Ottoman-era bazaar and quaint cafes serving Bosnian coffee. Sarajevo sits in a picturesque valley where its Old Town will lure you in with its cobbled streets, cute shops selling trinket souvenirs and shisha hotspots. Take a walking tour to learn about the city’s history and notable events that shaped it into what it is today, cross the famous Latin Bridge and climb through the man-made underground Tunnel of Hope.

Tallinn, Estonia Tallinn, Estonia
Credit: Tallinn, Estonia by © Scanrail | Dreamstime.com

Tallinn, Estonia

Famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture, Tallinn is a small city with loads of charm that is a perfect summertime retreat. Explore Tallinn’s Old Town to admire its historic buildings, then sit down at a local restaurant serving up hearty traditional cuisine. Take a break in the leafy Kadriorg Park, join a guided tour of the city’s bastion passages or visit the Kohtuotsa viewing platform for panoramic vistas. If nature is more your thing, go on a road trip to discover Estonia’s pristine wilderness, beautiful coastline and forested national parks.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Saint Jovan Kaneo Church on Lake Ohrid
Credit: Saint Jovan Kaneo Church on Lake Ohrid by bigstock.com

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

The jewel of Macedonia, Lake Ohrid, boasts picturesque sloping streets that offer views of the dazzling lake. Walk around the city center to stumble upon frescoed medieval churches, ancient Roman amphitheaters, and fortresses. Outdoor adventurers are spoiled for choice in Lake Ohrid, as you can swim, dive or sail the waters by boat or admire sunset views from affordable hotels throughout the city. If you’re up for an adventure, head to nearby Galičica National Park for waterside camping.

Kotor, Montenegro Kotor, Montenegro
Credit: Kotor, Montenegro by © Sorin Colac | Dreamstime.com

Kotor, Montenegro

Head to the fortified city of Kotor in Montenegro for an off-the-beaten-track adventure. Located on the Adriatic coast in a picturesque fjord-like bay, the walled town features dramatic peaks. Spend your time exploring the small Old Town, getting lost in its labyrinth of streets and people-watching in summertime cafes that overflow into the city’s squares. The best view in town is found at the top of the St. John Fortress, which can be reached after a 1,350-step hike.

Gdansk, Poland Old Town and Motlawa, Gdansk, Poland
Credit: Old Town and Motlawa, Gdansk, Poland by © Olgacov | Dreamstime.com

Gdansk, Poland

The northern Polish city of Gdansk is a great summer retreat for those on a budget, as its colorful landscapes, merchant houses and coastal charm is hard to resist. Located in the Baltic Riviera, you can visit historic cathedrals, medieval ports and chic cafes. Admire the reconstructed buildings on Royal Way, visit lovely cafes on Mariacka Street, or time your visit for the annual Shakespeare Festival. If you’re looking to soak up the sunshine, visit nearby Sopot with its golden sand beach, picturesque pier and lively party scene.

Albanian Coast Ionian Coast of Albania
Credit: Ionian Coast of Albania by Albanian Coast © Ollirg | Dreamstime.com

Albanian Coast

If you’re looking for a summertime escape with Mediterranean sun and sand that won’t break the bank, take a look at the coast of Albania. Its sun-drenched beaches are untouched by modern developments and hoards of tourists, where you can find budget-friendly prices as you admire the southern Ionian coast and its beautiful azure seas and golden sands. You’ll be captivated by its rugged coastline and traditional villages that are nestled in beautiful bays, where you can enjoy traditional outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants.

Zagreb, Croatia Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Credit: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia by K.C. Dermody

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb is the lively capital of Croatia, where you’ll find cobbled streets and old architecture that will appeal to budget-conscious travelers. It boasts more museums per capita than any other city in the world, including the iconic Museum of Broken Relationships. Explore its picturesque squares, pick up souvenirs in bustling shopping areas or take a day trip to nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park to marvel at its collection of emerald green lakes and waterfalls on its rugged hiking trails.

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