From cobbled Old Towns to majestic mountain ranges, stunning coastlines to bustling cities – Europe
showcases some of the most incredible scenery in the world. It is also home to 44 countries, each boasting a unique concoction of culture, food, landscapes and people.
If you’re travelling on a budget
however, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. Thanks to this guide, we’ve covered the cheapest countries in Europe where you’ll find the most enriching experiences on a shoestring budget
Whether you’re a sun worshipper craving the coast, a foodie fan
travelling through your taste buds or an adrenaline junkie after adventure, Europe boasts something for everyone.
Before you grab your passport, however there are a few points to consider when travelling through Europe on a budget:
Although it depends on your budget, as a general guide the cheapest countries in Europe are in the East. In Western Europe you’ll find countries such as France, Ireland, Switzerland and the UK which are not nearly as affordable. Europe’s Nordic countries include Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden are considered some of the most expensive countries in the world.
Although the cheapest countries in Europe mean accommodation, travel, food, and activities are more affordable, it shouldn’t mean you skip the countries not on this list. At Workaway we have hosts all over Europe, so why not volunteer in the more expensive countries when your budget needs a boost?
By interlacing volunteering with hostels, camping or housesitting you’ll find it easy to save money while travelling
to keep the adventure going.
For those that dream of visiting Nordic countries like Finland, Iceland or Denmark but cannot afford it? Enter The Baltics. From the architecture to the weather, the saunas to skiing there are many similarities between the Baltics and Scandinavia but one big difference – cost!
Nestled between Scandinavia and Russia you’ll find the three small Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Alongside common features and a similar history the Baltics are one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe.
Despite Estonia’s historic old town of Tallinn being a world UNESCO site, it is officially one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world, making it a dream destination for digital nomads
. Many people don’t realise, the territory of Estonia consists of the mainland as well as two larger islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, alongside over 2,200 other islands. This means you are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding Workaway hosts in Estonia
Ancient castles? Check. Dense Forests? Check. Expansive beaches? Check. Latvia really does offer something for everyone! It is not only safe but affordable and one of the cheapest countries in Europe.
It is particularly popular with nature lovers, as it’s one of Europe’s greenest destinations with about 45% of the country covered in forest. It is also referred to as the "Land of Blue Lakes" thanks to its 12,000 plus rivers and 3,000 small lakes!
This means hosts in Latvia
are generally farming-focused, with opportunities on eco-farms, in permaculture and with animals. As one of the cheapest countries in Europe, it is also one of the best destinations to give off-grid living a chance
As the biggest Baltic state, Lithuania is a vibrant and affordable budget destination. The country’s capital, Vilnius is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is popular with students on a budget after nightfall due to its wild party scene.
Similar to Latvia it is a country rich in nature, with around one-third of Latvia covered in lush forest and over 6000 lakes ready for you to explore! Don’t forget to try Saltibarsciai
– a colourful cold beet soup and the country’s national dish.
Volunteer Opportunities in The Baltics
If you’re a language teacher
, the Baltics will welcome you with open arms. There are many Workaway opportunities teaching English and even home tutoring with local families.
Farming is also a massive industry with new technologies and sustainable practices creating demand for volunteers to offer their expertise. The Baltics also offer amazing Workaway experiences for eco-warriors who are passionate about sustainability
and want to make the world a better place.
Budget Hostel: $8 dorm bed
Local beer: $4
Budget Restaurant: $8 for local meal for one
If you seek pristine beaches, delicious food and epic mountains, then Albania is the country for you. Not only is it one of the cheapest countries in Europe, it is considered one of the sunniest too making it ideal for those who love to explore the great outdoors while topping up their tan.
Beach lovers should head to the Albanian Riviera. Consisting of roughly 150km of mostly unspoilt beaches, this area will take your breath away without taking your budget! If sunbathing on a beach is not your thing, head for the hills. The Albanian Alps (also known as the Accursed Mountains) in the far North, are equally breathtaking and rich with hiking trails, waterfalls and springs.
As Albania shares its borders with Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, it’s well connected, making it cheap to travel to and onwards from, especially via bus or train. As a tip, it is also legal to wild camp anywhere in Albania which makes your accommodation practically free if you are travelling in a campervan or with a tent!
If you’re not a fan of camping, staying with a host in Albania
can do wonders for your budget! There are volunteer opportunities to suit all styles, with the country offering the perfect mix of city life and scenery. Whether you’d prefer to head for the countryside and volunteer in the sunshine outdoors, or get out your paintbrush at one of the funky hostels in Tirana.
Budget Hostel: Hostel: $10-20 per night or a standard hotel: $20-40 per night
Local beer: $1.50
Budget Restaurant: Meal at a restaurant (3 courses for two people) $30
While Game of Thrones fans may flock to Croatia, budget savvy travellers should head for its more affordable neighbour, Montenegro. Home to a stunning coast along the Adriatic sea, captivating cities and beautiful national parks, Montenegro is one of the cheapest countries in Europe but also one of the smallest with a population of only 630,000.
Despite the country’s idyllic scenery, awesome hiking trails and affordability, it’s a somewhat underrated destination. Many tourists day trip to Montenegro from the neighbouring countries of Albania, Croatia and Bosnia. However, to truly appreciate this small but mighty country, it’s best to allow as much time as possible.
The coastal town of Kotor often steals the limelight thanks to the old town which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is over 2000 years old! However, destinations such as Budvar, Perast and Ulcinj are also worthwhile
For a little luxury on a backpacker’s budget the beautiful islet of Sveti Stefan is also worth visiting. Although it is renowned for its 5 star resort, it’s open to guests as well as residents. Just make sure to visit the south side where prices start at around €15 euros for two chairs and an umbrella on the beach, instead of the North where prices start at €80!
Nearly a third of our hosts in Montenegro
offer paid volunteer opportunities. This means, the host is happy to offer a stipend alongside bed and board. The paid volunteer positions are generally focused on tourism for example glamping sites, hostels or bed and breakfasts. This is ideal for those trying to save money while travelling as well as gain work experience which can help you towards your dream job
Budget Hostel: $15-$20 per night for a dorm room
Local beer: $1.30
Budget Restaurant: 3 course meal for 2 people at a budget restaurant approx. $30
Although Greece is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, it’s also one of the most touristy thanks to its white-washed villages, picturesque beaches and laid back vibes. However, it is possible to avoid the crowds and head off the beaten track, especially if you visit during the shoulder season either side of Summer in May or September/October.
Although mainland Greece is considered affordable to most, the best way to enjoy the Greek way of life is island hopping. While the islands of Santorini and Mykonos are not so budget friendly there are great alternatives to those who crave island adventure without the price tag. These include:
Crete – Famed for its olives, historical sites, wine and beautiful beaches it is the largest Greek island
Serifos – Ideal for those who want to head off the beaten track, its famed for its crowd free beaches, peaceful atmosphere and the untamed natural landscape
Agistri - Only 1 hour ferry ride from Athens. Skala is the main port, packed with traditional tavernas and bars. It is a popular destination for outdoor sport fans as hiking, cycling, sailing, kayaking and horse riding are all popular on the island.
– Known as “mama mia island
” thanks to the famous film. Also famed for unspoilt beaches, monasteries and hiking trails.
Kythnos – Home to over 70 beaches as well as the Natural Hot Springs of Loutra
Even though you’re travelling cheap, you won’t go hungry in Greece! With local delicacies including gyros, souvlaki and kebabs costing just 4-6 euros you can expect delicious, fulfilling food at a fraction of the cost.
We are proud to offer hundreds of volunteer opportunities in Greece
that means you can travel longer, slower and more authentically. With such diverse opportunities from animal sanctuaries to yoga retreats, olive farms to schools it is a haven for those who want to volunteer for free
Budget Hostel: $15 - $20 per night for a dorm
Local beer: $2-$4
Budget Restaurant: Main dish in a restaurant is around $8 but local street food eg. gyros or souvlaki is usually cheaper around $3
Nicknamed the heart shaped land due to the country’s shape, you’ll find it easy to fall in love with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bordered by Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia, not only will you find Bosnia and Herzegovina one of the cheapest countries in Europe, but you’ll find plenty of overland options to continue your European adventures.
The country has a complicated history, and only gained its independence in 1992. This means it's still somewhat underrated as a tourist destination, making it easy to escape the crowds and travel like a local.
Sarajevo (the capital) and Mostar are both spectacular cities worth visiting, however Bosnia is a dream for those who love getting outdoors, especially if you like hiking or rafting. Head to River Una in Una National Park or the Neretva river for the most beautiful rafting routes you’ve ever seen. It’s also possible to go rafting in the Tara canyon at the border with Montenegro.
If you prefer to stick to dry land, head to one of the country’s 3 national parks - Una National Park, Kozara National Park and Sutjeska National Park. Not only do they offer stunning hiking trails, but the National parks are also home to wolves and bears!
If you are looking for a budget friendly way to refuel after your outdoor adventures, you need to try Bosanski Lonac their national dish. It is a stew that consists of chunky pieces of meat and vegetables that are covered with water and slowly simmered for around four hours in a big pot. Named after the clay pot it was traditionally made in, the best place to find the “Bosnian pot” is a type of canteen style restaurant called “aščinca.” These places often have no menu but are packed with locals and are super cheap for those travelling Europe on a budget.
If you are passionate about the planet and would like to become a better traveller, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a wealth of projects that need your eco-warrior ways
. From permaculture to NGO’s
there are many ways for you to make a difference during your European travels.
Whether you crave tranquillity surrounded by nature, a fun farm stay or delve behind the scenes of hostel life, our hosts in Bosnia and Herzegovina
offer something for everyone!
Budget Hostel: $10 - $15 per night
Local beer: $2
Budget Restaurant: Approx $20-$25 for a 3 course meal for two people
As Slovenia is smack bang in the centre of Europe, it has many overland travel opportunities and is also affordable to travel to. Although there is a small area located along the Adriatic Sea, it is mainly landlocked and borders Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy.
Many people consider Slovenia the less-popular little sister of Italy, as it offers the same charm, picturesque scenery and incredible food but without the crowds and tourist prices!
Lake Bled, a short bus ride from the capital of Ljubljana often steals the limelight thanks to the fairytale castle that towers proudly on an island in the lake. It is possible to swim, paddle board or hire a row boat on the lake with the castle offering enchanting views all year round. Be warned however, with fairytale castles come villainous prices for food. It’s cheap to travel to Lake Bled and free to walk around the lake, but dining out nearby is considered expensive.
With more than 10,000 kilometers of marked trails, Slovenia is also a favoured destination with hikers. From adrenaline inducing peaks to family friendly waterfalls, there are hikes to suit all abilities. After all that hiking you may also be relieved to hear Slovenia even has a small (yet thriving!) wine region, with local wine costing just $2-$4 a glass.
The fact it is one of the cheapest countries in Europe entices many people to Slovenia, however the local people will be the reason you stay! The locals are that friendly, they even joke they’re so nice that their longest war only lasted 10 days
– which is true!
With over 100 hosts in Slovenia
there are so many ways you can make a difference in this stunning corner of the globe. There are many families who are hoping for help with English, as well as farming opportunities and even paid opportunities in hostels. Who knows, you may even learn how to make traditional Slovenian minestrone soup
with your host!
Budget Hostel: $15-$20 for a dorm bed
Local beer: $2-$3
Budget Restaurant: Börek or burek is a pastry snack filled with meat or cheese and is around $2-$3. Three course meal for 2 people in a budget restaurant around $35.
You may be surprised to see Portugal among one of the cheapest countries in Europe. While it is one of the most expensive on this list, it is still an affordable country especially if you head away from the touristy spots such as Porto, Lisbon and The Algarve (although if you like to party on a budget – head to Lagos.) Instead, for more budget friendly destinations in Portugal head for Alcobaça, Castelo Branco, Santarém, and Viseu.
If you’re after the luxurious lifestyle on a backpacking budget head for the Azores Islands. They are considered the Hawaii of Europe as they are a group of nine volcanic islands located around 850 miles west of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic. This precious region is renowned for their unique culture, world-class whale watching and delicious food.
Instead of island hopping the Azores, another epic way to enjoy Portugal on a budget is in a campervan. It will be even more affordable if you find a travel buddy
to split fuel costs and van hire with. Don’t miss the scenic road 222 which stretches around 230km along the Douro River from Régua to Pinhão as it was voted as one of the best drives in the world!
As the Atlantic boasts some of the biggest waves in Europe, Portugal is a Mecca for surfers. This means it is an epic destination for those who want to volunteer with surf camps, surf schools and SUP lessons. Hosts in Portugal
also offer Workaway experiences in renovation, animal sanctuaries, art projects and organic farms. We even have Workaway hosts in Azores
for those who want to indulge in paradise without the price tag.
Budget Hostel: Hostel $15-$20 (cities such as Lisbon or Porto more expensive)
Local beer: $2
Budget Restaurant: 3 course meal for 2 people $40
While we watch our bucket lists grow and our bank accounts dwindle, it can be easy to feel discouraged from the dream of travelling the world. With Workaway, clever planning and a few budget tips we hope to make travel accessible for all backgrounds and budgets. Although we’ve only covered 9 of the cheapest countries in Europe, we hope this list has inspired you to venture off the beaten track and to start planning your next trip
– let us know where you’re headed first!