These are cities we’ve visited, and places we think deserve a place on everyone’s bucket list in 2024. All of these cities are affordable to travel to and while they aren’t the biggest names in Europe, they are all wonderful places.
Not only are they cheap to travel to, but many of them are locations that have low tourist crowds and are packed with fun and excitement! Be sure to click each button below the city for the full travel guide! Also, the overview is on our YouTube Video.
Drum Roll Please…
First up is Riga, Latvia. Set on the Baltic Sea and known primarily for its architecture, Riga is one of our favorite cities in Europe. When it comes to European city visits, the Baltic gem of Riga often remains a hidden treasure. While some of the best Riga tourist attractions are Gothic churches, medieval buildings, Art Nouveau-decorated streets, wooden houses, and modern masterpieces, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy in this city. If you plan on traveling to the Baltics, do not hesitate to add this wonderful city to your itinerary for an unforgettable stay. Our travel guide will help you explore the best places to visit in Riga and where to go on enticing day trips to other parts of Latvia beyond the city’s borders, including the Hill of 100K crosses across the border in Lithuania.
Brasov is one of Romania’s most visited cities in Transylvania. Its central location makes it easily accessible by train, and because Romania is an idyllic road trip country, it’s a popular stop on many tourist itineraries. Nestled at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is the perfect blend of medieval architecture, eerie history, legends, and culture encompassed in a small-town atmosphere. We feel that Brasov is the jewel in Romania’s crown. And then we learned that it used to be called the “Crown City” in the Middle Ages, which is entirely fitting. We ventured out and about and even visited Dracula’s place, Bran Castle, just a short ride away.
Ljubljana, the enchanting capital of Slovenia, beckons travelers with its captivating blend of old-world European charm and modern enthusiasm. This picturesque city, cradled at the foot of the Julian Alps, boasts cobblestone streets, baroque architecture, and a meandering river adorned with romantic bridges. Ljubljana is rich in cultural treasures, from its well-preserved medieval castle gracing the hilltop to its countless museums, galleries, and historic churches. But a trip to Slovenia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Lake Bled, a short drive away. This iconic alpine lake, with its postcard-perfect island and castle, offers a serene and scenic retreat for nature enthusiasts. Ljubljana and Lake Bled together paint a compelling picture of Slovenia’s unique character, blending urban sophistication and natural beauty into an unforgettable travel experience.
Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, built around seven hills. It is one of the oldest European cities, its first settlement dating back around 8,000 years! Over the centuries, it had been conquered by the Greeks, Romans, Slavs, and the Ottomans. Plovdiv has more Roman ruins than it knows what to do with, which is fascinating to see alongside the vibrant artistic charm. We will forever remember seeing a live performance of Mama Mia in the one of the world’s best-preserved amphitheaters, in Bulgarian, of course! If you’re lucky, you can watch a ballet or a concert while looking at views of the city and the Rhodope mountains along the horizon. It was truly a magical night, and combined with a gourmet dinner in the old town; our visit couldn’t have been better.
Turn, Italy is a city located in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. It boasts grand squares, palaces, and museums, one of which is a renowned Egyptian museum. However, Turin is most celebrated for its culinary contributions, particularly its luscious chocolates combined with Hazelnuts. The city is the birthplace of the decadent Gianduja, a creamy blend of Hazelnuts and chocolate transformed into a delightful praline and what we know as the world-famous Nutella spread. On one day of our visit, we created our very own chocolate tour and ate chocolate all day long, starting with the city’s specialty, Bicerin. It’s a layered drink with thick, rich chocolate, expresso, and whipped cream. Check out our video, where you can see our tour in action!
Valencia has many personalities, and we love them all! Visitors often bypass this lovely town, heading full steam to Barcelona. But those who take the time are rewarded with a striking architectural mixture, centuries-old traditions, and incredible parks, which we utilize daily. We loved the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, a collection of museums. If you’re looking to get a kiss of the sun, there are several beaches nearby where beach life is truly a way of life. And don’t forget the food scene. It is in Valencia that Paella was born. If you are fortunate enough to travel in March, the city comes to life with its vibrant Fallas festival with a huge procession of intricate floats. Stay to the end, when they surprisingly light them all on fire. Vamos!
Split, the second largest city in Croatia, located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, used to be the country’s transportation hub, but today, it is taking the spotlight and making a name for itself as a popular tourist destination. The Diocletian Palace, the city’s main attraction, spreads over more than half of the Old Town of Split. If you want to island hop, Split is perfectly positioned in front of a group of Adriatic islands. You can visit them individually by taking a ferry from Split or hiring a boat. Plitvice Lakes is one of the most visited places in Croatia and is a 2 ½ hour drive. When you throw in the delicious regional cooking, Split is a city that can’t be missed.
Replete with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, breathtaking architecture, and named the spa capital of the world, Budapest is the jewel in the Hungarian crown. Surrounded by rolling hilltops of the Carpathians, impressive bridges, and Margaret Island, make Budapest’s visual identity unmistakable.
The city straddles the Danube River, which divides it into two parts – Buda and Pest. Buda is settled on the upper hills, and Pest spreads out on a flat plain on the opposite bank. They feel like separate cities even today, offering a depth of history and discovery for travelers to dive into. Whichever side of the city you are on, it is filled with lookout points, must-try Hungarian dishes, and lots of places to make memories. Be sure to stop by the Szechenyi Baths for a bucket list experience.
We recommend leaving any expectations for this post-conflict destination behind because, like us, you will be surprised by the marvelous city of Belgrade, Serbia. Making your way through the city will be equally thrilling and exhausting. Every corner packs centuries of history and culture shaped by migration, conquest, and war. Belgrade is an audacious city determined to present itself in a different light, and it certainly did for our visit. If you desire castles and history, it is here. If you delight in food and nightlife, you’ll find it. Wherever you go, you are sure to be surprised, just as we were being interviewed for a TV show about Serbian travel.
Krakow, Poland, is an enchanting European gem that beckons travelers. Steeped in over a thousand years of history, this city boasts a beautifully preserved medieval Old Town where cobblestone streets wind past stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Beyond its historical allure, Krakow offers a thriving arts and music scene with countless museums and galleries to explore. Krakow’s welcoming atmosphere and delicious Polish cuisine featuring hardy pierogi and flavorful kielbasa make it a culinary delight.
Nearby, the somber, yet essential Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum serves as a poignant reminder of the atrocities of the past and the struggle of the Jewish people endured during World War II. Never Forget is the motto to remember, and we never will.
Berat, Albania, is called the city of a thousand windows. Located in central Albania and split into two by the Osumi River. Berat is known for the Ottoman houses that cover both sides of the valley and gawk at each other across the river. One of the two most impressive UNESCO World Heritage sites is in Berat, the other in Kjirokaster, making the two must-see destinations in Albania for history and culture lovers. From this city, you also visit the Albanian Riviera, referred to by locals as ‘the Albanian Seychelles.’ You can visit Tirana, the capital city, explore castles, waterfalls, and canyons. With medieval architecture, historical museums, and family-run wineries, there are plenty of reasons to add Berat to your European itinerary. Oh, and did we say this city gets the hospitality award?
Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, is an alluring destination that invites travelers to explore. Its enchanting blend of natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality make it a wonderful place to visit. It has stunning landscapes and rugged mountains. It offers a diverse range of outdoor adventures, from hiking the Samara Gorge to basking in the sun along the shores of Elafonissi or Balos beaches. The island is also steeped in history with ancient Minoan ruins, including the palace of Knossos. Visit the Venetian town of Chania to get a glimpse into its diverse past. Its vibrant culture is celebrated through its cuisine, and Ntounias Tavern does this better than anyone else on the island. It’s our favorite dining experience in the world.
Lisbon is a modern capital with a charming historic heart, drenched in vivid colors and a bohemian atmosphere. Whether you are on a city break or a tour of Portugal, a keen culture connoisseur, a history lover, or a foodie, Lisbon is the perfect destination for every occasion. If we told every remarkable thing about Lisbon, it would be a conversation that would never end. Check out our post below, and we will tell you our favorite things to do in Lisbon. They will make you fall in love with it just like we did.
Bratislava is one of the lesser-known destinations in Europe. It rarely makes the itinerary of travelers who have recently visited its popular neighbors Prague, Budapest, and Vienna. Having also just visited those destinations, we didn’t expect much but were so pleasantly surprised. Bratislava is so beautiful! And because it is not a major tourist destination yet, you can intimately experience places like the historic Old Town and its cats-cradle of cobbled streets, which are usually packed with crowds in cities like Prague. Bratislava is usually visited on just a day trip from Vienna since the cities are only an hour apart. We strongly recommend slowing down and spending a few days in Bratislava. We think it would be even better going on a road trip to other parts of Slovakia.
Montenegro, meaning black mountain, is a country rich in nature. For its small size, it packs a lot of lush forests, lakes, and mountain ranges. The unique city of Kotor is no exception. Situated in the Bay of Kotor, decorated with coastal cliffs and Venetian architecture, Kotor is a gorgeous sight. The city is a mixture of Dubrovnik’s medieval feel and the natural beauty of a Norwegian fjord amidst mountain ranges. Your eye and camera lens will be delighted with the many shades of blue, emerald-green, terracotta, and affectionate street cats that will photobomb your frame. Hike the fortress behind the Old Town and be sure to rent a boat or take an excursion to the blue cave. It is a fantastic experience swimming in such a marvelous place.
We hope you enjoyed this list of affordable European cities. 2024 will be a great year for each of them. If you’ve discovered others, please leave them in the comments. These are places we cannot wait to return to these and discover more in the future!
We hope you enjoyed this list of affordable European cities. We think 2024 will be a great year for each of them. If you’ve discovered others, please leave them in the comments. We cannot wait to return to these and discover more in the future!