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The 7 cheapest European cities to visit in 2023

Traveling on the cheap can be as easy as picking the right destination. Check out our list of budget-friendly hidden gems for your next getaway.

8 min read

If COVID-19 has disrupted your fall travel plans, don’t worry. It’s time to start planning your 2023 European vacation instead. And we’ll let you in on a secret—once you’ve read this article, your next trip is guaranteed to be even better. Why? Because it’ll be incredibly cheap. Here are 7 of the cheapest European cities to visit in 2022.

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Sibiu, Romania

With an idyllic countryside surrounding a city dotted with Baroque squares and gorgeous winding streets, Sibiu is one of Romania’s most beautiful places to visit. Plus, it’s also a budget-friendly place to travel. An average full lunch menu costs around €9 per person and the average hotel room for two costs just €50. To get around, consider renting a bike. At just €15 per day, you can cycle around the city or go and explore some of the stunning Transylvianian countryside that encloses the city! 

Budget-friendly activities in Sibiu

  • Take a trip to the Astra Museum, the largest open-air museum in Europe. A single ticket costs €5, or just €1.50 if you’re a student.
  • Climb up the Turnul Sfatului (The Tower of the Council) to get a bird's-eye-view of the city for only €0.50!
  • Wander around the Big Square (Piata Mare) which includes several UNESCO-certified monuments and plenty of well-rated restaurants and bars.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Founded in 700 BC, Sofia is a city steeped in history and bustling with stunning architecture. Despite being the capital of Bulgaria, it’s still a remarkably budget-friendly city to visit. Groceries tend to be much cheaper than in the rest of Europe, and the general cost of living is 41% cheaper than in Berlin. A meal at a good restaurant will cost you around €15 and you can find 3-star hotels for €30 a night—making Sofia a total bargain for a visit! 

Budget-friendly activities in Sofia

  • Go on a free food tour by tour company Balkan Bites. Lasting 2.5 hours, you can enjoy a range of free delicacies while walking around some of Sofia’s most interesting restaurants (a donation at the end of the tour is encouraged!).
  • Visit some of Sofia’s major tourist attractions, many of which are free. This includes the Archaeological Complex Serdika, the Vasil Levski Monument, and The Largo.
  • Take a guided tour of the striking Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which costs €4.40 for a regular ticket or €2.20 for students. 

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Kotor, Montenegro

Technically a town and not a city, Kotor is famed for its medieval UNESCO-certified Old Town and stunning bay. You can savor its delicious seafood delicacies with a mid-range, 3-course meal only costing around €25. Surrounded by walls, cars are forbidden within the town itself, so the best way to get around is to walk. However, as Kotor is situated directly on the Bay of Kotor, you might want to rent a stand-up paddleboard (around €30 for 24hrs) instead! Accommodation is also very reasonable. For €20 a night, you can book a private room in a hostel or you can find some stunning apartments on Airbnb for €50 a night. 

Budget-friendly activities in Kotor

  • Explore Stari Grad, Kotor’s walled Old Town, including a trip to Piazza of the Arms, the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, and the Church of St. Nicholas.
  • Climb the 1355 steps from the Old Town to Saint John’s Fortress where you can get some of the best views of the Bay. Between 8am and 8pm there’s an €8 charge to go on this walk though—so get up early and start your ascent before 7am to avoid the fee!
  • Peruse the Kotor market and pick up a wide range of cheap, delicious locally grown produce.

Santa Cruz, La Palma, Spain

Famed for its stunning laurel forests, volcanic landscapes, and favorable climate, the majestic island of La Palma has a lot to offer as a cheap European vacation destination. Though not as popular as Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, or Fuerteventura, La Palma is a hikers paradise—and budget-friendly too! Santa Cruz is La Palma’s second-largest city located to the east of the island and the perfect base from which to explore the local hiking trails. With charming Airbnbs coming in at around €50 euro a night, 3-star hotels costing around €40 a night, and hostels averaging around €10 a night, accommodation is also very reasonable.

Budget-friendly (and mostly free!) activities in Santa Cruz

  • Go on a 10 km round hike through Barranco de Madera and a 6 km round hike in Pico de la Nieve that start at, or close to, Santa Cruz. Or, take a 14 km circular hike around the city itself.
  • Discover the Playa de Nogales, a striking beach that is composed of black, volcanic sand and surrounded by dramatic cliff walls.
  • Walk around Santa Cruz and marvel at the iconic wooden balconies, stroll down the Calle O'Daly high-street, and, if you can, book a table (there are only three available!) at Restaurante Enriclai, which is adored by both locals and tourists alike.

Krakow, Poland

With even the most luxurious restaurants charging only €15 a meal and high-end bars charging €4.50 a cocktail, it’s easy to get a taste for luxury while spending relatively little in Krakow. A listed UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to over 100 festivals a year, this thriving Polish city is truly one of Europe’s cheapest and most exciting places to travel. 

If you’re traveling as a pair, you can grab a five-star hotel room for as little as €45 a night per person, or a three-star room for €25 per person. Alternatively, for the same €25 price tag, you can book a great, centrally-located apartment on Airbnb. 

Budget-friendly activities in Krakow

  • Rent a bike for the day for €10 and take a scenic ride from the Old Town to the Tyniec Abbey. Grab some €3 pierogi (Polish dumplings) from a street vendor en route!
  • Explore Kazimierz, the Old Jewish Quarter. If you’re visiting on a Saturday, be sure to check out the Plac Nowy market where local artisans come to sell their wares.
  • Many museums offer free admission once a week. The MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art is free on Tuesdays as is the Rynek Underground Museum (apart from on the first Tuesday of the month), and Schindler’s Factory is free on Mondays.

Istanbul, Turkey

An exhilarating city that straddles both Europe and Asia via the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and a fantastic place to travel on a budget. For as little as €20 a night you can stay in a charming city-center apartment on Airbnb, or for just €18 per night per person, you can find a room in a 3-star hotel. 

Just like Krakow, luxury is more affordable in Istanbul. A three-course meal in a good restaurant will set you back around €9, while street food delicacies such as simit, a Turkish bagel, or pide, Turkish flatbread, will cost between €0.15–€0.50, respectively. Public transport is also cheap. A one-way ticket on a bus, tram, funicular, or ferry costs €0.50 with an extra €0.20 added to your fare if you are hopping between two different vehicles.

Budget-friendly activities in Istanbul

  • Take a free walking tour to get your bearings and discover the rich cultural history of the city (donation encouraged!).
  • Stroll through the picturesque gardens of Gulhane Park.
  • Be awed by the vibrant wares on offer in the Grand Bazaar—one of the oldest covered markets in the world!

Porto, Portugal

The second-largest city in Portugal, Porto is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the cheapest places to travel in western Europe. With a stay in a city-center apartment costing around €50, you can find hostel rooms for as little as €9 a night. Food-wise, a 3-course meal in an upscale restaurant will cost you around €35 and a fair 2-course meal with wine in a ‘tasca’ (a no-frills restaurant) will cost between €12–€18.

One of the best things you can invest in to make your trip to Porto even cheaper is a Porto Card. Ranging from €13 to €33 depending on if you want to use it from one to four days, this card grants you free, unlimited access to all public transport, 20–50% off many tourist attractions, and free access to:

  • The Casa Do Infante museum
  • The Guerra Junqueiro museum
  • The Marta Ortigão Sampaio museum
  • The Romântico museum
  • The Do Papel-Moeda museum
  • The Port Wine Museum

Budget-friendly activities in Porto

  • Enjoy a free organ concert in the magnificent Igreja dos Clérigos every day at midday.
  • Take a 10-minute bus ride to Praia da Luz and spend the day sunning yourself on the beach.
  • Enjoy the city’s breathtaking heritage buildings, many of which are covered with colorful tiles known locally as ‘azulejos.’

How to make your vacation even cheaper with N26

It’s much easier to relax on vacation when you’re not worried about money. A fully digital bank, N26 gives you control over your financial health so you can start reaching your savings goals and making smarter decisions with your money. Here’s how banking with N26 makes budgeting for your next trip so much simpler:

  • With N26 Spaces, set up multiple sub-accounts that sit right alongside your main account. Assign each one a name and a savings goal. For example, “A weekend in Krakow,” €500.
  • With N26 Rules, you can set up automated payments that move a fixed amount of money into your vacation fund each month without you having to lift a finger.
  • With N26 Statistics, you can keep track of your spending to make sure you stay on budget both before you leave, and during your vacation.

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Want to enjoy even more travel benefits? As an N26 You or N26 Metal customer, enjoy extensive travel insurance covering flight delays, luggage loss, cancellations due to COVID-19, and much more. Plus, get free ATM withdrawals within the eurozone, medical travel insurance, mobility insurance, and more. Take two minutes out of your day to choose the plan that’s right for you.

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