Thinking of jumping on a plane and discovering somewhere new? Traveling is great, but it's even better when it doesn't cost you six months rent. Though you may think otherwise, it is actually possible to satisfy your wanderlust without spending a fortune. The cheapest countries to visit in Europe, for instance, are amazing.
Europe is a great place to travel around, with so much variety of sceneries and culture to discover. The other great thing is that traveling from one place to another typically takes no more than a few hours, as distances are relatively short. On top of that, there are cheap ways to get to Europe and travel around there.
To nobody's surprise, it is usually more expensive to travel to these places during the Summer. But as long as you're smart about when you book and how you travel, you're guaranteed to save a lot of money. And this list of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe will put you off to a great start!
The 5 cheapest countries to visit in Europe
Before we take a look at some of the cheapest European countries to visit, I'll give you a special tip: an amazing way to travel on a budget, not only in Europe but all over the world, is volunteering.
The Worldpackers platform connects travellers to hosts who need help in their NGOs, hostels, eco villages, schools, permaculture projects, hotels, holistic centers, guest houses and much more. In exchange for a few hours of work every week, you'll get free accommodation and some extra perks like free meals, classes and tours.
Besides saving a LOT of money, this type of work exchange allows you do immerse yourself in local culture, make friends, develop new skills and have loads of fun. Check out the opportunities in each of the countries in this list and get ready for the best Eurotrip of your life.
No need to fret, you'll never go hungry in Hungary. It is by far one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
Everything is priced pretty normally, so it's not often you'll be gasping at the cost of a meal, or anything for that matter. Of course, some places are fancier than others but if you're a backpacker, you probably won't even look in that direction.
The food, in general, is pretty cheap. If you're staying in a hostel then you'll probably want to cook there to save yourself some money.
There are supermarkets like Lidl's and Aldi's all across the city, which are very cheap and will sell typical Hungarian food (such as delicious plum dumplings). That way, you can enjoy one of the cheapest countries in Europe on a budget and you don't have to miss out on discovering their wonderful gastronomy.
What to do in Hungary on a budget
Food aside, the events and leisure activities are also well-priced. When I visited, there were free walking tours (which were really fun), Vegan markets with free entry, and lots more going on in the city.
Many of the hostels have partnerships with tourist spots such as the spas, boat parties and pub crawls, so if you're volunteering, you're likely to get a big discount, or even get to go for free!
The thing I love most about Budapest is its homely feel. It's hard to describe, but it didn't take long for me to feel settled in. I highly recommend visiting if you're traveling Europe - you won't regret it.
Be a volunteer in Hungary and save money
Hungary is already a very cheap European destination, but it gets even cheaper - and more fun - if you choose to exchange work for accommodation via Worldpackers. Check out the volunteer positions in Hungary and discover the perfect one for you.
It's no hidden secret that Portugal is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. The great thing is you won't compromise on any fun, at all. There you'll find inviting waters, gorgeous colorful buildings and great food - making it feel like a luxury even if you don't pay much.
The country has three main airports - Algarve, Lisbon and Porto. To narrow them down: Lisbon is the capital and also the bigger, busier city, whilst Porto is a little calmer, but full of university students. Algarve is probably best if you're more drawn towards the warm waters and sandy beaches. All are gorgeous and worth the visit though.
When it comes to food, Portugal knows how to do it right. With lots of fresh seafood and tasty baked goods, you won't be stumped for options.
A typical meal with a drink may cost you around 10 euros, which is a bargain! A must-try is 'pastel de nata' which is a custard tart and a very tasty one indeed.
What to do in Portugal
Luckily activities and transport are also very cheap in Portugal. Keep an eye out for free museums such as the Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon or a free walking tour like the one in Faro, Algarve.
Getting around cities like Lisbon and Porto is easily done by metro, only costing about €1.50 per single trip. You can also have some fun by riding around on a Bird scooter, only costing about €0.15 per minute.
Portugal is often missed out by travelers as they tend to go to the more well-known countries, but it is definitely not one to be put to the side. Go and discover what this wonderful country has to offer!
Travel around Portugal with free accommodation
There are dozens of amazing opportunities to volunteer in exchange of accommodation in Portugal.
Italy isn't all boutique prices and designer dresses. But it is also one of the cheaper countries in Europe, while it keeps its quality super high.
Even in Rome it's possible to travel for cheap. If you think everything is high-end in the country's capital, it's the opposite. In most places, you can get a cappuccino and cornetti (similar to a croissant) for about 3 euros.
When it comes to lunch and dinner, you will pay a little more, but you're bound to get great food. Paninis are very common in Italy and only cost a few euros but taste amazing. Top tip: when ordering one, ask for a panino - it's the singular of 'panini'!
How to travel on a budget in Italy
As for getting around the country, Italy is well-known for its trains. If you book in advance you can pay very little for the tickets, which helps make this one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
One great thing to note about inner-city travel is that usually, you can use a metro ticket as a bus pass and vice versa. Do remember to validate your ticket though, otherwise, that will cost you a lot in fines!
Besides being one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe, Italy is full of little wonders - the richest flavours, vibrant streets and enriching history. You don't need to spend a lot to have a good time and in fact, some of the best places are free.
A lot of the museums cost very little or nothing at all. There are also plenty of amazing churches, where you can go inside, given there's no ceremony, and discover the breathtaking art and serenity.
Italy is a true wonder and the people are so friendly and passionate - if you're thinking of visiting the country, then go for it. You won't be disappointed.
Volunteer and get to stay in Italy for free
You can be a Worldpackers volunteer and live in a 1000-year-old Tuscan Castle for a while by trading your skills for accommodation in this amazing place! You can help them in their kitchen, farm or garden, and spend up to three months there.
Good things come in small packages, and that is certainly true when it comes to Slovenia, one of Europe's hidden gems. A tiny country, but well worth a visit. Imagine mountainous views, petite buildings, and beautiful waters. Sounds inviting, doesn't it? There you'll find all this and much more.
Most of the amazing places to visit in Slovenia are free because that's what nature intended. Of course, you can go to the likes of museums and go on day excursions, but Slovenia's natural beauty is not one to miss.
Go hiking in Slovenia
If you're a keen hiker then you won't be disappointed by what the country has to offer. One of the best places to go hiking is on the Soča Trail, a 25-kilometer trail with breathtaking views of the Soča river - and all for free!
If that sounds too easy for you and you want more of a challenge, then why not try the Julian Alps which is 300km long, but just as gorgeous?
There are plenty more hikes and trails for all levels. But lastly, I'll introduce you to the Walk of Peace, which is a heritage site reminder of the First World War - a stunning trail, and a touching tale of history.
Eat well and cheap in Slovenia
Food in Slovenia tends to be pretty cheap too. If you're sticking to a tighter budget, street food and cafes are your best bet. The smaller, local places tend to be cheaper and they always taste the best because the food is made with love and care.
A great idea would be to pack lunches and take them on hikes and walks. That way you get to not only save money, but also have the best views whilst eating your meals.
Having access to a kitchen is another great way to save money in Slovenia. That's usually the case when you go volunteering.
Give this hostel your fresh point of view and get to know this year's European Green Capital - Ljubljana. Or click here to see all the volunteer positions available in Slovenia, one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
If you're a lover of old towns and cobbled stones then Bulgaria is certainly a must for you! It is one of the oldest states on the European continent and is full of history and natural beauty.
With its gorgeous mountains, stunning beaches and cities full of art and culture, you're guaranteed to have a good time in Bulgaria.
Visit cheap tourist attractions in Bulgaria
Take a free walking tour in Sofia, the country's capital, and hear all about the country's history. Or if walking isn't your thing, then how about a freebike tour?
If you're a foodie then you won't want to miss out on the free food tour - walking through the streets of Sofia and trying all the wonderful cuisine they have to offer.
Museums and tourist attractions are also free on certain days, so it may be a good idea to plan your days so you can enjoy them without paying.
And after a day on your feet, it might be a nice idea to relax at the beach. The best part is all the beaches in Bulgaria are completely free and open at all times.
Another fantastic thing about the country is that wild camping is legal, meaning you can step away from traditional travel and explore the wilderness for a bit!
A great idea would be to volunteerfor a while first, and then try some camping to get to know more parts of Bulgaria. As long as it's not private property or inappropriate for camping, you're welcome to pitch a tent!
Take a look at all the volunteering positions in Bulgaria. Here's one of my favourites: help with an eco-sustainable projectand learn about natural building, geodesic domes, permaculture gardening, rustic house renovation, composting toilets, sun showers, summer kitchens, natural swimming pools, etc.
Tips to travel around Europe on a budget
Overall, Europe is relatively cheap when it comes to travelling. Of course cities like Paris, Berlin and London hike up the prices but a lot of countries and smaller towns are relatively budget-friendly. Just make sure to choose the right destinations! Even if you want to find a cheap place in Europe to live, it's possible.
A great way to get around Europe and reduce some costs is by interrailing. You will find interrailing sites, which can seem like a better option, but they'll often con you into paying a higher price for a bit of convenience. You can always book trains one by one as you go along and that can work out cheaper.
Avoiding peak travel times is a great way to reduce the costs while traveling, so as much as you may want that Summer trip, Spring or Fall may be a better time to go. Avoiding the high tourism season means you won't be bombarded by so many people either.
If you're deciding to take flights, be sure to keep an eye out for deals, search on the incognito tab to stop prices rising and try to book on weekdays, as they're usually cheaper.
Depending on the destination, you should also consider travelling by bus. Low cost companies like Mega Bus or Flix Bus will get you places for super low prices. It may take a bit longer to get somewhere, but it will save you a lot.
Even if you're trying to save, don't forget to get an international travel insurance. You can get a 10% discount on Pax Assistance by clicking here! If you are a Worldpackers verified member with one of the Pack plans, we are giving a 20% discount on Pax.
This is valid for all nationalities, except for United States and Canadian citizens. If you are a US or Canadian citizen, we recommend World Nomads.
Wherever you decide to go and whatever you get up to, there's no doubt that you'll create lasting memories. Volunteering and cheap travel are some of the best ways to make friends, have a lot of fun and experience a full immersion in local culture. There's really nothing like it.
Did you like our list of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe? Let me know in the comments where you're going first!
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Hey I’m Lauren! I’m from a small town in sunny (I wish) Scotland and took on my first solo travelling trip after graduating in 2019 My experience was way better than I could’ve imagined – meeting wonderful people, seeing amazing things, great experiences and even teaching weekly yoga! I couldn’t have done all this without Worldpackers, I’m so grateful I came across the website. I think everyone should get to experience travelling at some point in their lives – wherever and whatever it may be! My advice if you’re thinking about it is – don’t think too much! Just do, you won’t regret it.