Since the majority of us only get a couple of weeks per year away from the daily grind, we want to get the most out of our time off by stretching our hard earned dollars as far as they’ll go. There’s a big world out there and we want to see it, but we can only go as far as our bank account will allow.
Europe has long been a popular travel destination for Americans desiring a complete change of atmosphere. It’s a conglomerate of fifty-one separate countries, each one with their own unique customs, habits, food, and lifestyles. But it doesn’t always come cheap, especially if you only focus on the big capital cities.
If staying in London, Rome, or Paris is too much of a financial squeeze but your sense of adventure is still begging for a European vacation, where can you go? Where can you get the most bang for your buck and still have a memorable time without skimping on accommodations or trying to live on one meal a day? Fear not. Maybe the following information will help you out.
Here is a list of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. You can do this!
The Czech Republic’s capital city of Prague has become somewhat of a trendy location for expatriates and vacationers, yet as of now, the increase of visitors has had little impact on the cost of living. But, you better go now before it does.
The country’s long history of battles, invasions, overthrows, fires, floods, and devastation of untold proportions, only goes to show the resiliency of this fairy tale land of enchantment. The countryside is sprinkled with historic castles and Prague could not be any more picturesque with its narrow cobblestone streets, statues lining its bridges, tall ornate steepled churches, and the overall feeling of stepping through a fascinating time warp. But with modern amenities.
Though the Czech Republic is coming into its own as a travel hot-spot, it’s still possible to visit the country at a fraction of the cost of most European nations. Spring and Fall see the best rates on hotels with the exception of the dead of Winter when the country is very, very, cold.
Many vacations flock to Spain not realizing they could bask in all of what Spain has to offer by visiting Portugal, its often ignored neighbor. And they could save a ton of loot by doing so.
Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal with a population of roughly 553,000 as compared to Madrid’s 3.3-million, but this in no way diminishes the cities ability to offer the finest of food, wine, and entertainment of all sorts, for far less money.
To save a bundle try out Porto, Portugal. It’s full of vineyards and after sampling the best wine in Portugal you can worship the sun gods on a gorgeous white sand beach.
Who wouldn’t enjoy a week or so taking in ancient ruins and dining on souvlaki and mousaka? Greece’s economic struggles, while not so good for them, have made the country a much more affordable place to visit.
The islands, especially the two most popular, Santorini and Corfu, receive lots and lots of annual visitors so prices can still be a bit high, but still a bit cheaper than other places in Europe.
The absolute best way to save money is by bypassing them and staying in Athens. Athens has it all. Great food and nightlife, museums, a world-famous open-air flea market, food to die for, and of course, the Acropolis. Nearby Glyfada is where you can get your beach fix, and if you’re adventurous, take a drive through Greece’s amazing countryside for an awe-inspiring trip you’ll never forget.
It’s already been stated that Portugal is less expensive than Spain, but as with most rules, there’s an exception. While Madrid might be a budget-buster for some travelers, Valencia is much kinder and gentler to the pocketbook and is no less, and perhaps better, than Spain’s crowded capital city.
The fact that Valencia sits smack dab on the Mediterranean Sea certainly does not damage its appeal. With 779,000 inhabitants, it’s still a major city with every feature and amenity offered in Madrid, yet Valencia remains rated as one of the less expensive places in Europe to visit.
Valencia has a quirky modern attitude which is demonstrated by their numerous annual festivals. They celebrate everything. From solemn processionals during Holy Week to the zany La Tomatina, where participants hurl 150 tons of ripe tomatoes at each other, Valencia loves its parades and festivities.
Budapest has become one of the hottest cities in Europe for expats from around the world. They’ve discovered what many travelers have yet to. It’s one of the coolest cities on the planet with its quaint diners and pubs and a far below the average cost of living. In fact, the entire country of Hungary from Budapest to its small ancient villages happily greet any and all visitors with an unbridled hospitality, and the further in the country one goes, the cheaper things get.
Just as with the Czech Republic, the secret is starting to get out. For now, a stay in Budapest or traveling freely through the beautiful Hungarian countryside won’t require a second mortgage or the sale of anyone’s first born child. Hungary is an amazing experience and one to not be missed.
Belgium is home to 11-million people and is the headquarters of the EU, located in Brussels. The Belgium countryside is a picturesque blend of country farms, quaint villages, flat green plains and wooded hillsides. It is peaceful and serene.
Belgium’s major cities, which consist of Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Liege, and Ostend, are modern, alive, and almost always exceed every travelers wish list. From a breakfast of Belgian waffles to a dinner influenced by blends of Dutch, German, and other persuasions, expect a massive weight gain when visiting. Of course, everything, including breakfast, is usually washed down with beer.
Belgium is still one of the more inexpensive countries in Europe with reasonably priced accommodations and a lower cost for meals and entertainment. Belgians like to enjoy themselves so there is never a shortage of entertainment. Brussels is the least expensive of all of Belgium’s major cities.
Surprisingly, as popular of a destination as Italy is, it continues to rank as one of the more economical European countries to visit. While Rome can still get a little pricey depending upon a persons ‘must haves’, it’s still not as bad as many major European cities. With a little research and a little lessening of requirements, Rome can be more affordable.
The best thing to do is bypass Rome and head straight to the countryside to somewhere like Florence. The landscape will be 100x more beautiful, the food will be fresh and well-prepared, the wine will the same as in Rome, the residents will be friendlier, they’ll still be plenty to see and do, and the prices will be far less. Tip: Book a room on the outskirts of town for a more authentic experience and to save even more cash.
Germany has it all. From plains, mountains, hot springs, major cities, and more, where a person goes is a matter of personal taste. Like anywhere, of course, a visit to the countryside is less expensive than staying in a city.
It may surprise some to know, even in a city of 3.6-million like Berlin, there are lots of low-cost options in terms of accommodations and dining choices. Beer is almost free with meals so, if you’re going there to drink suds, you’ll get more than your money’s worth.
Germany is so diverse, renting a vehicle and seeing as much of the country as a person can is a guaranteed excellent time. And it won’t set you back nearly as much as you may think.
Nobody should pass Europe by just because they think they can’t afford it. Careful planning and a little research could put the vacation of their dreams closer at hand than they ever imagined.