If you dream of travelling around Europe as a backpacker, welcome! Travelling in Europe is like a rite of passage for young backpackers with a wanderlust.
It's an easy place to start, as it's safe, easy to travel and full of other adventurers. You've come to the right place to discover the 13 cheapest countries in Europe.
Oh, but... there is a but, because all the best things in life come with a small disclaimer: if you're not careful, travelling in Europe will eat up all your money.
What if I told you that you didn't have to break the bank to afford a great European holiday, that you could, in fact, live the adventure of your dreams and not have to watch your budget so much?
Hear, hear, all you desperate broke backpackers: there are plenty of cheap countries in Europe where you can travel for months without going broke.
That is why I have compiled this list of the cheapest European countriesSome of them are even close to Asian prices!
Coincidentally, these are also some of the top countries in Europe. Forget Mykonos and Madrid: Europe's cheapest countries are here to steal your heart.
Europe's cheapest countries - All the adventure, half the money!
What are the cheapest countries to visit in Europe? Read on to find out! Who knew that backpacking in Europe doesn't mean going broke?
Note that I have included a couple of places in the Caucasus, which is a part of Europe in the same way that a tomato is a fruit; scientifically, it is true.
But if you ask someone if this is the case, they will say "ehhh...". They don't know. I don't know. Nobody knows. We just go with it.
Oh, and I didn't include Turkey and Russia because I didn't want to.
Both have parts that do belong to Europe, and they are still great and among the cheapest countries in Europe to travel to.
Average daily cost $30
Drop everything and book a flight to Bulgaria!!! Yes, now!
Where do I start with reasons to visit Bulgaria? Potentially the cheapest country in the EUBulgaria deserves the top spot in this list of the cheapest European countries to travel to.
Where else can you get a huge pork neck steak, a side of vegetables AND a beer for about 6 euros? In Germany you can't.
Bulgaria is decidedly Eastern European, of course. But EU membership is to blame, as it feels much more Western or Central European than its Balkan neighbours.
Its big cities are full of cultural treasures (Plovidv was the European Capital of Culture in 2019), and its small towns, with their imposing mountain backdrops, will enchant you.
Plus, the best things to do in Bulgaria are free!. Bulgaria has a lot of mountains, making it ideal for hikers.
And, best of all, it welcomes wild campers. Keep your cams and pitch a tent for the night, and then climb the highest peak in the Balkans (Masala) at dawn.
Average daily cost $18
Have you heard of Moldova? You probably have, because you're a traveller and travellers are geography geeks.
But do you know anything about her? Hm... that's what I thought.
Well, the backpackers return from their Moldovan escapades with wonderful news: it's cool, it's hip and it's untouched by mainstream tourism. Yes, even backpacker tourism.
Being one of the least visited countries on the old continent has its advantages: Moldova is also one of the coolest low-cost countries in Europe. Moldova flirts with you through its good wine and less-travelled landscapes.
Being in Eastern Europe, you'll find some beautiful Orthodox churches. Plus cave cities, castles and princesses to rescue. One of those things I may have made up, but who knows?
The capital, Chisinau, is a cool, green city. Be sure to also visit ancient Orhei, an important archaeological site.
The more adventurous can also visit the breakaway nation of Transnistria. They have their own flag, currency and a lot of courage, but the rest of the world does not yet recognise them as a sovereign country.
Read on to discover the cheapest countries in Europe to travel to.
3. Ukraine (Not recommended because of war with Russia)
Average daily cost: $25
If you have just finished watching Chernobylyou're probably planning a backpacking trip to Ukraine. Hey, I don't judge. Chernobyl is a great place and definitely Ukraine's number one tourist attraction.
But you should know that the country is MUCH MORE than its past (and present) tragedies.
Everyone who visits the capital, Kiev, seems to be surprised by it. Why isn't it all grey and gloomy? Why is it - I play - Cool?
Kiev's appearance is a mix of brutalist Soviet blocks, colourful old houses and a heavy dose of modern urban life.
Another great city is Lviv, near the Polish border, which was largely spared from the wartime shenanigans and is as beautiful as ever.
On the other hand, Odessa, on the Black Sea, is a lively coastal city with great weather, great parties and great beaches - even the name of the city sounds nice!
Ukraine's ultra-cheap prices are not only a big draw for backpackers. It's also one of the best countries for digital nomads.
Average daily cost $24
What you might think is just a rebellious branch of Serbia turns out to be a delightfully strange, European-minded country with tons of things to explore.
Plus, you can boast that you've added a rare country like Kosovo to your list of countries visited. Not that anyone counts, but still.
Kosovo is probably the cheapest country in Europe, one of the best cheap European countries to visit. A typical bed in a hostel costs about 10 dollars, and a meal in a restaurant about 5 dollars.
And all the delicious, delicious burek you can eat for 1$ each.... mmmmh.
The capital, Pristina, is home to a host of quirky attractions, such as an independence monument that is repainted every year and a library that has been called "the ugliest building in the world".
To the south, historic Prizren serves up history and views on a plate, and there's even hiking!
And no matter what you hear about the reputation of this small country. It is perfectly safe to visit Kosovo.
I would stay away from the northern border areas, because Serbia has not exactly accepted that Kosovo is doing its own thing yet, so the atmosphere there can be strange.
Average daily cost $30
Poland has had its feet firmly planted on the traditional European backpacker trail for years. No wonder. The country is one of Europe's best cheap destinations, easy to travel in, super safe, and very versatile.
They even have a desert! It's tiny, but size doesn't matter, does it?
Here you can easily find some of the best hostels in Europe for 10 $ including breakfast.
Entrance fees to the rides can put you over budget if you're not careful, but at least the beer budget doesn't have to be too high with pints of 2 $.
Most backpackers have an itinerary in Krakow for a weekend of wild partying and sad Holocaust history. They may include a few days in the capital, Warsaw.
Although I like Krakow as much as the next person without resources, you could literally walk around Poland for weeks to see new and strange sights.
Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk are just as beautiful as Kraków, and they need a lot more love.
Then there's the Tatras, the glorious snow-capped mountain range that lies between the border of Poland and Slovakia. Try the local smoked cheese (and get me some too, because it's bloody delicious).
Average daily cost $35
Look, I think we both know that backpacking in Hungary is practically synonymous with backpacking in Budapest.
After all, the capital is the centre of Hungarian life, dazzling and exciting for locals, digital nomads and backpackers alike.
Budapest is worthy of its reputation and more, without a doubt. It is a classic and a must-see on your backpacking trip through Eastern Europe.
Not only because it has ultra-cheap and very tasty food (and beer), but also because its hedonistic parties are famous wherever backpackers spread their gospel.
No, the coolest thing about Budapest is the ruin bars. Basically, they're bars that could have been built by Frankenstein: patched up, grimy, surprising and of certified quality.
On the cultural side, there are architectural gems such as the Parliament building and Fisherman's Bastion. You can also soak away your hangover in the thermal baths.
But I would never encourage you to spend your time in a single dirty old city.
Take a trip to dance at the Sziget Music Festival, one of Europe's largest music festivals; see Europe's largest necropolis in Pécs; take a day trip to the Baroque town of Eger.
7. North Macedonia
Average daily cost $25
It was formerly known as "just Macedonia" before Greece came along and took over the name.
This Balkan country is eagerly waiting to join the European Union AND your heart.
It is located right in the centre of the peninsula, so it is almost offensive not to pass through it on your Balkan adventures.
The capital, Skopje, is known for its crazy number of statues: there are said to be more than 100 in the city centre.
Most are new, built by the government to "boost tourism and national pride". Seeing as we are talking about it here, it seems to have worked.
However, my favourite places in northern Macedonia are the more relaxed and nature-oriented ones.
Lake Ohrid and the surrounding coastal villages are absolutely lovely, and there is also plenty of hiking.
Oh, and North Macedonia is not only one of the cheapest European countries to visit, but also one of the cheapest in the Balkans, and if you know how affordable it is to backpack in the Balkans, that's saying a lot.
Average daily cost $29
Wondering why you should add Bosnia to your backpacking itinerary? Well, first of all, if we weren't already there, we are now about to enter "Bosnia and Herzegovina".cheap as fuck"territory.
But don't let money (or lack of it) make the decision for you; let Bosnia convince you with its sheer genius.
Two decades after a war that absolutely tore the country apart, Bosnia is practically sewn back together.
Don't get me wrong, the country's politics are still fucked up: they erected a statue of Bruce Lee when the leaders couldn't agree on a local hero figure that wasn't too divisive.
(One of the reasons why Bosnia is an excellent destination if you are interested in obscure tourist destinations).
Still, the country is now completely safe to travel, as long as you stay on the beaten track. The countryside and unmarked mountains are still littered with landmines.
Sarajevo, the capital, is like a mini-Istanbul but much cooler. Sarajevo is also one of the best cities in Europe to visit, guaranteed.
You can spend all day wandering from tea shop to tea shop eating delicious pastries, or you can take a free walking tour and learn about the country's tragic history.
And don't miss Mostar, a small town with a rich history and beautiful narrow streets.
Pack a picnic on the riverbank and watch the local diving club (and sometimes daredevil tourists) dive off the 20-metre bridge over the river.
It's good to get lost sometimes, but it's also good not to get lost. too much lost. Some people want you to go home in one piece.
There is one travel insurance provider that the Cashless Backpacker relies on for all his wildest shenanigans... World Cup!
9. Belarus (Not recommended to visit during the Russian-Ukrainian war)
Average daily cost $20
In the past, Belarusian tourism has suffered greatly from super-strict visa rules and generally being a dictatorship (who wouldn't want to holiday with an Eastern European dictator?).
But could it still emerge as a dark horse and win the hearts of cash-strapped travellers across Europe? Maybe... At least it has a lot going for it.
Minsk, the capital, is not only the city where Phoebe's boyfriend went to do research about Friends.
It is also an interesting example of Stalinist architecture that contrasts with the busy squares and old churches (Central Square is the largest public square in Europe!).
It has a distinctly European metropolis feel, with a vibrant café culture and decent nightlife.
However, if you are looking for something quieter and more cultural, check out Brest and Nesvizh.
Average daily cost $30
If we are talking about countries with a bad reputation, here we have a good contender for the top spot.
Serbia was at the centre of the Balkan wars in the 1990s, casually committed genocide in Bosnia and refuses to let Kosovo live its best life.
Today, Serbia still likes to rub shoulders with Comrade Russia. Yikes.
Still, backpacking in Serbia is a great adventure and a fun time once you get past all the Putin portraits hanging everywhere.
It's a country better than its reputation, and guess what: super cheap!
The capital, Belgrade, is considered one of Europe's most epic party cities. I've heard wild stories about boat bars and hedonistic revelry in the Belgarde nightlife.
They all seem to be true: Serbia is surprisingly big on raves. There's even a huge dance music festival, the EXIT Festival, which is known throughout Europe.
For mountain lovers, great recommendations on the Tara National Park for grade trekking.
Average daily cost $31
Ah, Albania, the Mediterranean's worst kept secret.
This Mediterranean country, the cheapest, is still often regarded as an "undiscovered gem", despite the fact that it has been on the list of package holidays for sunbathing for years...
However, it is a jewel, and if for you it is still undiscovered, here are some good reasons to go and discover it.
Northern Albania = mountains. Simply stunning, breathtaking and majestic mountains that are part of a Balkan Peaks walk. Shkoder, the nearest town, is a cold town, where nothing much happens, except that it is nice and cold.
Tirana is a bustling, metropolitan city with some epic places for sunset, urban exploration and history for days.
(You can even see old statues of socialist leaders; Albania was so socialist that it rejected international cooperation with Soviet Russia and China as "not socialist enough").
And the coastline is parallel to that of Croatia in terms of sunshine and good weather, except that prices there are about one fifth of those on the Croatian coast.
And since I'm always talking about food (have you noticed?) I have to mention that Albanian food is super cheap. It's also the best place in the Balkans for vegetarian backpackers, with far more options than other Balkan countries.
Oh, and Albanians love tourists. It's some of the best hospitality I've seen in Europe. More than that, I'd say it's a peak of romance; they proposed to me via Google Translate!
Average daily cost $20
Okay, okay, I promise this is the last one. squeeeaaak but seriously, backpacking in Georgia is MY FAVOURITE.
It's hard not to fall in love when the country you're courting ticks all the boxes: great food, even better wine, incredible mountains, friendly people and pleasant cityscapes.
In Tbilisi, you can gorge yourself on the local dumplings called khinkali and bathe your hangover in the underground hot springs.
If there is one word to describe this city, it is "great". In Batumi, by the Black Sea, sink your toes into the black, volcanic sand and party.
People say there's something fishy in the air here, and maybe it's the chacha source (free-flowing vodka every night!) but I have never had as much fun as in Batumi.
You could spend WEEKS exploring the country's many mountain trails and gorges: Georgia has some of the best hiking in the Caucasus.
This whole trip could be stressful if you didn't know that it's dirt cheap.
With just a few dollars, you can go to the other side of the country. Hostel beds aren't much more expensive either, at about $10 a night.
And, yes, some say Georgia is not technically a part of Europe, but haters hate haters. Don't let geography stop you from having a good time.
Average daily cost $20
Armenia is another of those rare countries that straddle the border between Europe and Asia. We Europeans like to be friendly and welcoming, so for the sake of this list, we'll say that Armenia is definitely one of ours.
The capital, Yerevan, is a popular weekend trip from Tbilisi, Georgia, but it's almost criminal to leave it at that and call it backpacker Armenia.
Without a doubt, Yerevan is great: brimming with art and statues of all shapes and forms in the streets, and one of my favourite places to watch the sun set over the city.
What do you think of the other parts of Armenia?
Well, you have the Dilijan National Park, nicknamed the "Switzerland of Armenia" because that's where you go hiking. Further down south, you'll find small, quiet towns hugged by vineyards, one of the most famous of which is Areni.
Areni is also the site of some of the region's most important historical finds.
However, what makes backpacking in Armenia such an inexpensive experience, is the prices.
You can get a room in a hostel for $5, a glass of wine for $2 and a train ticket for a whopping $1.
Bonus: Cheap pockets on ultra-expensive itineraries
Most of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe are in Eastern Europe.
Income disparities, unbalanced economies and all that noise. That means that if you go backpacking in other parts of Europe, none of them may be in your way.
There are many cheap places to stay in Europe, but backpacking in Western Europe can be very expensive.
If your wallet needs a break, here are a few areas that are cheaper than their neighbouring countries.
(They have not been included in this list of cheap European countries because they are still moderately expensive).
- Western Europe: Portugal and Spain, especially Andalusia
- Northern Europe: Estonia and Lithuania
- The Mediterranean: Croatia, Montenegro and Greece
However, the rest of Europe isn't exactly out of reach either, even if your wallet is more full of dust than dollars... Learn how to travel around Europe on the cheap - it's more than possible!
Cheap and amazing - just the way we like it
So there you have it: The Broke Backpacker's guide to the cheapest countries in Europe for holidays for vagabonds and travellers with more sense than money.
Just like they teach you in the backpacker academy of life.
Honestly, I have travelled in most of these countries myself and I can tell you that they are AMAZING.
I often encounter a lot of prejudice from my friends about travelling to Eastern Europe - isn't it dirty, isn't it completely underdeveloped? My God, isn't it dangerous?
Let's go. The film Hostel How long do we have to go on repairing Eastern Europe's reputation?
Choosing any of these countries for your next backpacking destination because you want to save money is reason enough.
But consider this too: heavy and filling food, the best uncrowded mountains for hiking in Europe, a slice of history and a unique culture that Western European countries have never experienced.
Unusual discoveries, epic parties, beautiful people - mythical creatures perhaps?
It's also more FUN. Yes, it's true: many of these countries on the list are more underdeveloped than France, the UK or Iceland. That usually means better adventures.
When I hitchhiked through Croatia and a whole wheel came off the van in the middle of the road, the driver stopped, shrugged and said: "Welcome to Eastern Europe".
Little money means bigger adventures. So where do you go first?
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!