With summer in full flow, you’re probably panicking without having budgeted for that long-delayed Euro getaway this summer. But don’t sweat it — we’re here to share eight under-the-radar and amazingly affordable European cities you can visit at the last minute without exhausting your piggy bank.
From thermal springs and Turkish baths to Gothic and Baroque architecture, Budapest is an enchanting city that’s also a cost-effective getaway. As one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, you can take in a party cruise on the Danube, visit the trendy pubs in the historic Jewish quarter, and stock up on traditional gifts and wines at Central Market Hall without fearing the financial pinch.
Macedonia has only recently started shining as a hidden European gem, so it’s the perfect time to cash in on this low profile. Walk along Skopje’s Stone Bridge, which links the modern side of the city to the old Ottoman quarter. Check out Skopje Central Square, the 6th century Kale Fortress, and the Mother Teresa Memorial House. A short 17 km drive outside town is also the beautiful Canyon Matka, a pristine lake surrounded by a steep gorge.
Prague, Czech Republic
Often on lists as one of Europe’s most value-for-money cities, the “City of a 100 Spires” brings out the romantic in everyone. You’ll love its bustling Old Town Square and majestic Gothic churches. Throw in amazing nightlife, great eating options, rich history and architecture, and friendly locals, and you’ve got a great little vacay that’s got your name written all over it.
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Perched by the beautiful Danube river, Slovakia’s capital city is surrounded by the vineyard-filled Little Carpathian Mountains, while its cobblestone Old Town is full of great restaurants, cafes, and pubs that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. Must-see sites include Bratislava Castle and the Blue Church (Church of St Elisabeth).
Poland’s second-largest city exudes a medieval charm that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. You can people-watch in Main Square, check out views of Wawel Castle, and marvel at the iconic St. Mary’s Basilica. Dig into the city’s protein-heavy street food, where there’s no shortage of sausages, chops, and stews to put a big, satisfied smile on your face.
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While Dubrovnik gets all the tourist attention, there’s no denying that Split is a cheaper, less crowded alternative on the Dalmatian Coast. The city boasts the picture-perfect Riva waterfront that’s perfect for sitting back and watching the world go by. Don’t miss the Roman-era Diocletian’s Palace, the 13th-century Cathedral of St. Domnius, and the imposing statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin.
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One of the greenest cities in Europe, Ljubljana is another great option if you’re looking for a city where the food and drink is cheap. Cycle through the expansive Tivoli Park, stop by at a cafe on the Ljubljana River. Get your dose of art and history at many of its highly rated museums. Dig into some Štruklji (steamed dough with cheese and fruit fillings) or Kranjska klobasa (local pork sausage).
The famous East-meets-West city brings together the Byzantine and Ottoman influences in a harmonious clash, which includes many other cultures as well. Take in the iconic Hagia Sofia and 17th-century Blue Mosque. You can stretch those dollars by downing all the raki (the local booze) you want and feasting on delicious dilli kaşarlı tost (the Istanbul take on a grilled cheese).
Got any other ideas for the cheapest cities in Europe to visit? Tell us in the comments.