15 Cheapest European Countries to Visit in Summer

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Europe, with its rich tapestry of culture, history, and natural beauty, has always been a top destination for travelers worldwide.

Yet, the perception often is that a European vacation can be heavy on the pocket, especially during the summer months.

However, with careful planning and insights from seasoned travelers, Europe can be surprisingly affordable without compromising on the experience.

In this meticulously curated guide, we delve deep into the heart of Europe to bring you the most cost-effective yet enchanting destinations to visit in the summer.

Each location has been chosen based on its unique blend of cultural richness, historical significance, and natural allure, ensuring that you get the most value for your money.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple on a romantic getaway, or a family on a summer break, this guide is your ticket to a memorable European adventure that won’t break the bank.

Table of contents:

Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

a person parasailing on the water
Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Sunny Beach, located on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, is a popular and budget-friendly destination for travelers seeking a European beach holiday. Its affordability combined with a wide range of activities makes it a top choice for people looking to enjoy their summer vacation without breaking the bank.

The resort town is well-known for its gorgeous summer weather and golden sandy beaches stretching for miles. Water sports enthusiasts can partake in various activities, such as jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides, while travel insurance typically covers these activities in this affordable location.

Food lovers will appreciate the cheap and delicious local cuisine available at numerous restaurants and street vendors. Popular dishes to try include banitsa (a cheese-filled pastry), kavarma (slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew), and shopska salad (a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and Bulgarian cheese). Enjoying these local delicacies adds to the cultural experience while keeping daily expenses low.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Family Hotel Sinia Iglika (Primrose)!

Crete, Greece

rattan armchairs outside blue doors
Chania, Greece

Crete, the largest island in Greece, is well-known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and rich history. This stunning destination offers an array of affordable activities that make it an enticing choice for travelers seeking a budget-friendly European summer vacation.

While in Crete, consider visiting the iconic Minoan palace of Knossos, an important archaeological site representing a significant part of ancient Greece. Nature lovers will appreciate exploring the captivating Samaria Gorge, where outdoor enthusiasts can embark on an exciting trek through impressive landscapes. The island’s picturesque coastal towns, such as Chania and Rethymno, also provide visitors with the opportunity to glimpse beautiful architecture and historical sites at little to no cost.

One of the advantages of visiting Crete is the opportunity to indulge in affordable local cuisine. Delicious and budget-friendly food options include traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and dakos. For a sweet treat, try the mouthwatering loukoumades, a popular Greek dessert. You can enjoy a satisfying meal in Crete without breaking the bank by opting to dine at family-run tavernas or street food stalls.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Palazzo di Pietro!

Gdansk, Poland

a building with a clock on the side of it next to a body of water
Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk is a gem for budget travelers looking to explore Europe during the summer months. The enchanting city offers a wide range of affordable activities, cheap local food, and budget-friendly accommodations for visitors.

One of the significant features of Gdansk is the history that it holds, including being Ground Zero for World War Two. Visitors can stroll through the reconstructed city, marveling at the beautiful architecture and learning about the rich past at various museums and historical sites. Additionally, tourists can roam the Dlugi Targ, also known as the Long Market, which is both an attractive and inexpensive way to experience the heart of the city.

While in Gdansk, travelers should sample the local cuisine, as Poland is known for offering delicious dishes at affordable prices. Some must-try foods include pierogi (Polish dumplings), placki ziemniaczane (potato pancakes), and żurek (sour rye soup). The city is dotted with local eateries and street vendors, ensuring that delicious and budget-friendly meals are always within reach.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Puro Gdańsk Stare Miasto!

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Algarve, Portugal

people on beach during daytime
Algarve, Portugal

The Algarve region in southern Portugal is a popular destination for travelers seeking affordable summer vacations. With its stunning coastlines, rich culture, and friendly atmosphere, visitors can enjoy a memorable holiday without breaking the bank.

There are plenty of affordable activities to choose from in the Algarve, such as exploring the natural beauty of the Ria Formosa Natural Park or taking a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters at Praia Dona Ana. Additionally, the region’s many charming villages, including Lagos and Tavira, offer a genuine taste of Portuguese life that won’t cost much more than the price of a coffee.

When it comes to cheap local food, Algarve has no shortage of delicious options. Visitors should try classic Portuguese dishes such as “Pasteis de Nata,” a famous custard tart, or “Frango Piri-Piri,” a spicy grilled chicken dish. Local markets are an excellent place to find fresh ingredients for a picnic, like olives, cheese, and wine, all of which are budget-friendly and part of the region’s culinary heritage.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Hotel Califórnia Urban Beach – Adults only!

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

people walking on street during daytime
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo, the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. For budget travelers, this underrated gem provides an affordable summer destination in Europe while still delivering a rich experience.

When it comes to affordable activities, visitors can explore the city’s historical sites, such as the Latin Bridge, Vijećnica, and the Tunnel of Hope. Many of these sites are either free or require a small entrance fee. Nature lovers can also enjoy the city’s surroundings by taking a stroll along the Miljacka River or hiking on Mount Trebević, which provides stunning panoramic views of Sarajevo.

Tantalize your taste buds with cheap local food by trying traditional Bosnian dishes like čevapi, a grilled minced meat dish, served with somun, a type of flatbread. Another local favorite is burek, a savory pastry filled with meat, cheese, or spinach. These dishes can be found in local bakeries and restaurants, offering a delicious and budget-friendly option.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Courtyard by Marriott Sarajevo!

Paphos, Cyprus

aerial view of green and brown mountains beside blue sea during daytime
Paphos, Cyprus

Located on the southwestern coast of Cyprus, Paphos is ranked as the seventh cheapest holiday destination in Europe according to a British survey. The city offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and affordable experiences. Whether you are traveling on a budget or seeking an unforgettable yet reasonably-priced getaway, Paphos has something for everyone.

Paphos is home to several historical sites, many of which can be explored at little or no cost. One of the must-visit attractions is Kato Paphos Archaeological Park, housing well-preserved ancient ruins and stunning mosaics. Nature lovers can hike the Avakas Gorge, a majestic limestone canyon offering picturesque views and a serene atmosphere. Other budget-friendly activities include strolling the quaint harbor or taking a dip in the crystal clear waters of the nearby beaches.

Cypriot cuisine is a delicious blend of Greek and Middle Eastern influences. Be sure to try the famous Paphos meze, a variety of small dishes featuring local ingredients like halloumi cheese, olives, and seafood. Affordable yet tasty local dishes can be found at traditional tavernas and small eateries situated throughout Paphos. Enjoy a mouthwatering “souvlaki” – grilled meat skewers accompanied by fresh salad and pita bread or a “sheftalia,” a typical Cypriot sausage.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Annabelle!

Ljubljana, Slovenia

green trees beside river under blue sky during daytime
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a hidden gem in the heart of Europe. Known for its picturesque old town, the Ljubljanica River, and the iconic Dragon Bridge, this city is a blend of rich history and modern charm. Its compact size makes it easy to explore on foot, allowing visitors to soak in its architectural beauty and vibrant atmosphere.

Ljubljana offers a plethora of affordable activities for visitors. One can leisurely stroll along the Ljubljanica River, taking in the serene ambiance and picturesque views. Tivoli Park, the city’s largest green space, is perfect for those seeking a tranquil escape amidst nature. For those interested in history and panoramic city views, a climb up to the Ljubljana Castle is a must. Additionally, the Central Market is a bustling hub where visitors can discover local crafts and delicacies.

When it comes to savoring Ljubljana’s culinary delights, there are a few dishes that stand out. “Kranjska klobasa” is a traditional Slovenian sausage that is both flavorful and hearty. “Štruklji” is a delectable rolled dough dish that comes in various fillings, both sweet and savory. And for those with a sweet tooth, “Potica”, a nut-filled sweet roll, is a treat not to be missed.

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Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Guesthouse Mesec Zaplana!

Valletta, Malta

concrete street under blue sky during daytime
Valletta, Malta

Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a testament to the island’s rich history. With its stunning Baroque architecture, ancient fortifications, and breathtaking sea views, Valletta is a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy.

For those on a budget, Valletta offers numerous affordable activities. Wander through the narrow streets, explore the historic St. John’s Co-Cathedral, or simply relax at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which offers panoramic views of the Grand Harbour. The city’s compact size makes it perfect for walking tours, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in its cultural and historical landmarks.

Maltese cuisine is a delightful fusion of Mediterranean flavors. While in Valletta, indulge in local dishes like “Pastizzi” (savory pastries filled with ricotta or peas) and “Hobz biz-Zejt” (Maltese bread with tomato paste, olives, and capers). These treats are not only delicious but also easy on the pocket.

And there is more to Malta than just its capital city. You can easily spend a week in Malta without running out of things to see and do.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: All Nations Holiday Home

Gran Canaria, Spain

white ice on blue sea under blue sky during daytime
Maspalomas Dunes, Spain

Gran Canaria, part of Spain’s Canary Islands, is a sun-soaked paradise known for its diverse landscapes, ranging from golden sandy beaches to lush forests and dramatic mountain ranges. Its capital, Las Palmas, boasts a rich history and vibrant culture, making it a must-visit for travelers.

For those on a tight budget, Gran Canaria offers a myriad of affordable activities. You can bask in the sun at the famous Maspalomas Dunes, explore the charming streets of Las Palmas, or hike through the scenic trails of Tamadaba Natural Park. The island’s diverse environment ensures there’s something for every type of traveler.

When it comes to food, Gran Canaria offers a delightful array of local dishes that won’t break the bank. Dive into a plate of “Papas Arrugadas” (wrinkled potatoes) served with “Mojo” sauce, or savor the flavors of “Gofio”, a traditional Canarian flour used in various dishes.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Grupotel Jardin del Sol

Puglia, Italy

brown rock formation on blue sea during daytime
Puglia, Italy

Puglia, located in the heel of Italy’s boot, is a hidden gem that boasts a rich history, stunning coastline, and picturesque countryside. Known for its iconic trulli (cone-shaped stone houses) in Alberobello, ancient olive groves, and the Baroque architecture of Lecce, Puglia offers a unique blend of culture and natural beauty.

For budget travelers, Puglia provides a plethora of affordable activities. Wander through the historic streets of Ostuni, the “White City,” or explore the enchanting Castellana Caves. The region’s pristine beaches, such as those in Polignano a Mare, are perfect for a relaxing day by the sea without spending a fortune.

When it comes to local cuisine, Puglia doesn’t disappoint. Dive into a plate of “Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa” (ear-shaped pasta with turnip greens) or savor the flavors of “Friselle,” a twice-baked bread topped with tomatoes and olive oil.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Hotel 33 Baroni

Budva, Montenegro

brown concrete building near body of water during daytime
Budva, Montenegro

Budva, Montenegro, is a captivating coastal town that’s renowned for its medieval walls, sandy beaches, and vibrant nightlife. The Old Town, with its narrow streets and squares, is adorned with historic churches and Venetian-style buildings, making it a picturesque spot for history enthusiasts.

For those traveling on a budget, Budva offers a range of affordable activities. Stroll along Mogren Beach, explore the Budva Citadel, or simply soak in the sun at Slovenska Beach. The town’s rich history is evident in its well-preserved monuments and museums, which are often free or have a minimal entrance fee.

When it comes to local delicacies, Budva has a lot to offer. Dive into traditional Montenegrin dishes like “čevapi” (grilled minced meat) or “burek” (a savory pastry filled with cheese, meat, or spinach). Seafood, given its coastal location, is a must-try, especially the fresh fish and mussels.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: MaXhit Apartments

Brasov, Romania

aerial photography of white and brown concrete building during daytime
Brasov, Romania

Brasov, Romania, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, is a gem of Transylvania. Known for its medieval ambiance, Brasov boasts the iconic Black Church, the Council Square, and the historic Brasov Fortress. The city’s rich history is evident in its well-preserved architecture and ancient walls that once protected the region.

For budget travelers, Brasov offers a plethora of affordable activities. Wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, hike up to the Brasov sign for a panoramic view, or visit the nearby Bran Castle, famously associated with the Dracula legend. The city’s natural surroundings also provide ample opportunities for hiking and nature walks.

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When it comes to local cuisine, Brasov doesn’t disappoint. Dive into traditional Romanian dishes such as “mămăligă” (cornmeal porridge), “sarmale” (cabbage rolls), and “mămăliguță cu brânză și smântână” (polenta with cheese and sour cream).

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: La Maisonnette

Bratislava, Slovakia

narrow pathway near houses
Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a charming city nestled on the banks of the Danube River. Known for its medieval Old Town, Bratislava boasts a rich history, with landmarks such as the Bratislava Castle and St. Martin’s Cathedral standing as testaments to its past. The city’s compact size makes it perfect for leisurely strolls, allowing visitors to soak in its architectural beauty and vibrant atmosphere.

For those on a budget, Bratislava offers a plethora of affordable activities. Explore the historic Old Town, visit the iconic Bratislava Castle for panoramic views, or take a leisurely walk along the Danube promenade. The city also hosts various cultural events and festivals during the summer, many of which are free or reasonably priced.

When it comes to local cuisine, Bratislava doesn’t disappoint. Dive into traditional Slovak dishes such as “bryndzové halušky” (potato dumplings with sheep cheese) or “kapustnica” (sour cabbage soup). For a sweet treat, try “trdelník”, a delicious pastry often found in street stalls.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Villa Bea.

Brno, Czech Republic

white dome building
Brno, Czech Republic

Brno, the second-largest city in the Czech Republic, is a hidden gem in the heart of Europe. Known for its modernist architecture, rich history, and vibrant cultural scene, Brno offers a unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary flair.

For those on a budget, Brno has plenty to offer. Wander through the picturesque streets of the old town, explore the iconic Špilberk Castle, or visit the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul for breathtaking views of the city. The city’s numerous parks and gardens provide a peaceful escape from the urban hustle.

When it comes to food, Brno doesn’t disappoint. Dive into the local cuisine by trying traditional dishes like “svíčková na smetaně” (marinated beef with a creamy sauce) or “bramboráky” (potato pancakes). Pair your meal with a glass of Moravian wine or a pint of Czech beer for the complete experience.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Grandhotel Brno.

Riga, Latvia

bridge over water during daytime
Riga, Latvia

Riga, the capital of Latvia, is a vibrant city known for its rich history, stunning Art Nouveau architecture, and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. With its cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and a plethora of museums, Riga offers a delightful blend of the old and the new.

For budget travelers, Riga offers a range of affordable activities. You can explore the city’s historic Old Town, visit the Riga Central Market, or take a leisurely stroll along the Daugava River. The city’s parks, like the beautiful Bastejkalna Park, are perfect for relaxation without costing a dime.

When it comes to food, Riga doesn’t disappoint. Dive into local delicacies such as “rupjmaize” (dark rye bread), “sklandrausis” (a sweet pie made of rye dough), and “pīrāgi” (bacon and onion stuffed pastries). These traditional foods are not only delicious but also easy on the pocket.

Check out the prices and availability of this affordable accommodation: Tallink Hotel Riga

Travel tips and tricks:

  • Save big on flights with Skyscanner.com – This incredible tool lets you find the most affordable airfare to your dream destination. You’ll love their “Whole Month” feature, which displays the best prices for the entire month. If you’re flexible with travel dates, this is a game-changer for scoring the cheapest tickets.
  • Stay in the heart of the action – I always find the perfect accommodation on Booking.com. Their map view lets me filter hotels by my budget and select ones that are right in the center of it all. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this easy way to book your ideal stay!
  • Go beyond the resort – I’m all about making the most of my trips, and GetYourGuide.com has been a lifesaver for booking unforgettable tours and day trips. It’s the most hassle-free way to dive into the local culture and explore the hidden gems in every new place.
  • Hit the road with DiscoverCars.com – There’s no better way to explore your destination than by car! Renting a vehicle has never been easier, and with their competitive prices, you’ll have the freedom to create your own adventures.

I highly recommend trying these tools for yourself – not only will you save money, but you’ll also create memories that last a lifetime. Happy travels!

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