There’s something for every taste in Turkey, from ancient sites and modern cities to endless turquoise beaches, majestic green mountains, the travertine terraces at Pamukkale, the rock formations of Cappadocia, and one of the best cuisines in the world. Backpackers, culture addicts, luxury travelers, and cruise passengers each find their ideal vacation here.
Turkish people are friendly and welcoming, although, outside the main touristic hotspots such as Istanbul and Antalya, they might not speak much English. Economically, Turkey has not been doing great the past few years, as the national currency – the Lira – depreciated drastically. Nowadays, services are six times cheaper in Turkey when compared to Europe – say if you were to pay $12 for a cab ride in Vienna, the same distance would cost you $1.50 in Istanbul.
As a consequence, one-way public transport tickets go for as little as the equivalent of $0.5 – $1 while a meal at a decent restaurant does not cost more than $6-$12. If you are looking to save some cash, there are amazing street food options like the Bosphorus fish bread (balik ekmek), the world-famous Döner, or the Izmir Kumru sold everywhere for as low as $1-$2. The traditional breakfast of tea and simit will also go for the same price.
Highly sought-after destinations are, like everywhere, more expensive, but Turkey is a safe country to visit off the beaten path and we highly recommend renting a car for this purpose.
One of the cheapest countries to visit is definitely Armenia, a small country of around 3 million residents located in the Caucasus. But the question a lot of tourists ask is: in which continent is Armenia? This question is a difficult one as Armenia is situated bang in the middle of Asia and Europe and it bears the customs and traditions of the two continents at the same time. And geographically, it’s really part of both!
Armenia has so much to offer travelers and is definitely one of the most up-and-coming tourist destinations around the world. The world’s first winery has been traced back to the Areni-1 caves in Vayots Dzor province in the country.
Armenia also claims to be the birthplace of Christianity and it has several historical monasteries dotting its landscape. In addition, the food scene is nothing short of spectacular. The produce the country has to offer is used in its cuisine in a really delicious way and it is even infused in wine. You can have a great meal at a restaurant for around $5.
One of my favorite things about Armenia is its capital city, Yerevan. There are so many sidewalk cafes in Yerevan that will delight coffee lovers and these cafes allow locals and travelers to enjoy the 300+ days of sunshine annually that Armenia receives.
While there are a plethora of things to do in Armenia, you can do almost all of it at a very affordable price. Airbnb apartments are, on average $30/night, and hostels can be as low as $10/night and you can get transport between cities for anything between $2 to $10.
There are two types of destinations. First, there are the amazing, hard-to-reach countries where a holiday costs a fortune and then there are the easily discovered, cheap countries with huge crowds hovering around with selfie sticks. Oh, and there is Georgia. Amazingly beautiful, exotic, diverse, friendly, one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe and relatively undiscovered.
The only thing it lacks is large shopping malls, which is a blessing as it keeps the large tourist groups away – more room left for the individual, intrepid travelers.
Its capital, Tbilisi is full of quirky buildings, sulfur baths, orthodox churches, lively cafes. Only two hours drive to the east brings you to the wine region with rolling hills and unique wine-making traditions. Did you know that the World’s oldest wine was found in 8,000-year-old jars in Georgia? No wonder locals are so proud of their wines.
After exploring the pleasures of the city, head to the countryside, the true gem of Georgia. The four most amazing villages are Mestia, Ushguli, Kazbegi, and Mtskheta.
It is easy to get around in local minivans, marshrutkas. They do not have exact timetables but leave whenever are full. The drivers hit the road in mad speed, so without decades of practice and strong nerves, you should not attempt driving yourself. But in Georgia, you do not really need to rent a car. Public transport is ridiculously cheap or you can join the many 1-4 day tours organized by small local agencies.
Prices: 1-day group tour costs around $20-25, a dinner for two people $8, a couple of hours marshrutka ride $10. On average, a traveler would spend about $20 a day.
Croatia has been put under the spotlight recently. Fans of Game of Thrones, shot around Dubrovnik know what I am referring to. And with the increase in Croatia’s popularity, you may wonder if Croatia can still be considered a budget destination. My answer to this question is yes!
Although places such as Split and Hvar are not so cheap at the peak of the high summer season, you can still find good prices if you go in late August and September. Temperatures will still be high, but milder, which I prefer, and you’ll still have plenty to do there.
I would avoid visiting Croatia between October and April: during this fall/winter period, with the lowest temperatures, a visit to Croatia can be a bit melancholic.
If you want to get the most out of your money, I would avoid visiting the most famous cities in Croatia. Explore the Istrian region, starting with the city of Rijeka, going up Opatija, going down to the historic city of Pula, with its Roman Coliseum, and ascending until Pórec. This region inherited the rich history of the Roman Empire as well as its delicious cuisine with many pizzas, local wines, and dishes based on truffles.
Accommodation prices in Croatia can go from $20 to $45 per night depending on the type (hostel, hotel or Airbnb). A meal can range from $6 to $14 if you opt for a very good restaurant in a tourist area. Transportation between cities in the region can be as cheap as $3.50 if you travel by bus. And good coffee costs between $0.60 to $1.70: the cheapest espresso in Europe!
Latvia is a great budget-friendly country to visit. Nestled in amongst the three Baltic states in north-east Europe and filled with a rich culture and plenty of things to see and do.
We visited the capital city of Riga for three days, spending around $48 per person per day on food and doing one or two of the attractions on each. An average evening meal costs approx $13 per person but there are also more budget-friendly options available for those looking to spend less.
Transport costs in Riga are very reasonable with a 24-hour transport ticket which works on trams, buses, and trolleybuses, costing around $5 per person. Alternatively, if able, you can make your way around the city of Riga by foot which can reduce your cost even more. Accommodation can go from $15 for a hostel to $28 a night per person.
What we loved most about Latvia was the fact that it was a melting pot of so many different cultures and that showed in the architecture. There were no two buildings the same, with streets filled with colorful architecture from various design periods and influences including art nouveau and gothic.
If you’re looking for a destination that’s completely unique and offers plenty of experiences whilst still being affordable, we can’t recommend Latvia enough.
If you are already traveling around Europe, consider Lithuania. It’s your gateway to the Baltic region. Getting to Lithuania by bus from other cities is quite cheap, between $12to $50.
In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, you could spend as little as $22 a day. This would include staying at a hostel, buying a few groceries, and even enjoying some local food while you are out and about.
Finding a hostel that includes breakfast is quite easy and that will save you one meal a day. You can find hostels for around $10- $15 a night. Hostels aren’t your thing? Don’t worry, you can find some great little minimalistic hotels for $22- $38 a night.
Food is surprisingly cheap. $6 a day goes a long way at the grocery store. Eating at a restaurant can cost $6- $12 a meal depending on where you decide to eat.
There is so much to discover in Lithuania. Even something as amazing as Trakai Castle won’t break the bank. The train to Trakai from Vilnius costs around $4 and the entrance fee is $8 to the castle.
Lithuania can be really cheap to visit but is a super-rich experience. You won’t regret it.
Poland is a beautiful and diverse country. You can find everything there – beautiful architecture in the cities, lovely nature in the mountains. Poland has 28 mountain ranges and each of them is different! Poland also has spectacular seaside in the north.
And the incredible thing is that Poland is still a paradise for travelers on a budget, especially in comparison to Western Europe.
You can eat out for less than 15 PLN ($4) if you go to a “milk bar” (bar mleczny). Expect to pay between $8-$12 for your main course in a mid-range restaurant. If you want to save on accommodation, a bed in a backpacker hostel can be as cheap as $5. If you look for more comfort, a mid-range room for two should cost approximately $25. Costs of transportation depend on how far you’re going. Generally, the fastest train between cities costs $35. However, if you choose slower trains or book a month in advance you can go the same way for $15.
To sum up, Poland is a great destination for all travelers. It’s diversified and it can fit in your budget much more than other countries in Western Europe.
Portugal is much more than a holiday country, it’s also one of the most budget-friendly countries in Europe. It’s such a cheap country then no matter what diet you are on, you will find plenty of meal diversification for $170 month or less! So even as a backpacker, you can expect to explore and eat well, with plenty on offer.
Once you are in Portugal you can choose from different options: you not only have the best surf beaches but you can also find plenty of mountains to hike, eco-villages to visit and nature to explore.
There are many other reasons to explore this country, rich in tradition and culture. Beautiful historic old towns, museums, and natural fountains are everywhere. Scuba-diving or airplane jumping are some of the most popular experiences for adventure lovers, but if you fancy something less risky, then a magnificent pirate ship trip to natural coast caves is a lovely experience.
Airbnb apartments can vary from around $20 to $80 depending on the area and season. You can get a glass of fresh orange juice for $2.80, $0.80 for a coffee or full meal for as little as $6-$8. If you plan to move around in public transportation, you can expect to pay as little as $3.50 a day in bigger cities or around $35 for a 2-way bus ticket from the capital to the south.
Romania is a European destination that often gets overlooked, yet it’s budget-friendly and offers such a wide variety of things to do and see, that you have to add it to your bucket list.
You can enjoy its urban side by visiting cities like Bucharest or experience its traditional side by exploring regions like Transylvania (which is home to the most charming villages). With 14 national parks perfect for scenic drives and outdoor activities, Romania is also an amazing destination for nature lovers. It amazes me how such an underrated gem can be such a diverse and interesting place to visit.
To understand the cost of traveling in Romania, it’s important to know that the local currency is Lei (or RON) and that 1 RON is worth about $0.23. You’ll pay about $12 for a 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant and $1-$2 for coffee.
As for transportation and hotels, a one-way bus ticket should cost about $0.50, a taxi will charge $0.50 per km, and you can find accommodations for literally every budget.
Serbia is an excellent budget destination. Traveling on $50 you can get a lot of bang for your buck. If you’re traveling solo, you can generally get a dorm bunk or a private room, food, and activities in for this budget. If you’re traveling with a friend and you can split an Airbnb apartment or a private hotel room, your money will stretch even further.
While planning your Belgrade activities, note that you can get a taxi to most places in the city for less than $4, most museums cost $5 or less to visit (and many have free days), and so many of the best things to do in Belgrade are free.
Buses around the country are economical, so you can get out to Novi Sad, Novi Pazar, and Nis without breaking the bank.
The only thing that’s really more expensive in Serbia compared to other European countries is renting cars, so use public transportation if you’re looking to keep things on a strict budget.
You can eat street food, groceries, and baked goods from Serbian pekaras for less than $10 a day, or you can splurge and enjoy some of the nicer mid-level restaurants for closer to $20.
When I moved to Spain, it was definitely a breath of fresh air to find out how cheap it was! I was only living on 1,000 euros a month, and that was PLENTY for everyday life and a lot of traveling. Groceries were only about $22 a week. Because I was under 26, I qualified for Madrid’s public transportation deal of 10 euros a month for unlimited travel (which really cut down on my living costs). And thanks to a really great deal I stumbled upon, I found myself housing for $280 a month that was just a metro trip away!
Thanks to how economical Spain is, I really got to enjoy the country for what it is. Especially Madrid, where I was living, is such a popular place to visit, I got to meet so many different kinds of people and have so many different experiences. Honestly, whatever you like to do when you travel, you can find it here: history, culture, languages (and not just Spanish), and even just the bar crowd.
You can make Spain whatever you want it to be, and you can do it on the cheap. Remember, authentic tapas are only a couple of euros each ($2.50), and they’re meant to be split between a group of people!