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TRAVEL is a magazine by and for a community of people severely bitten by the travel bug. A place where travel and adventure fanatics can either come read other travelers' experiences, find inspiration for future trips or simply share their own interesting personal accounts.

Five of the Most Budget-Friendly Destinations in Europe

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash — by Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash
Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash — by Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

We’ve all been there, sitting at our desks at work, envisioning what it would be like to just pack our bags and embark on a trip to Europe. La dolce vita in Rome, la vie boheme in Paris, or el baile with life in Spain….Ah Europe, with its sprawling landscapes, bustling plazas, sidewalk cafes, high culture and incredible cuisines – honestly, who can resist?

Of course, it’s not a matter of who and who can’t resist, it’s a matter of how many organs you can sell to fund your trip. And while I might be joking (am I..?), the European jaunt does not care about your serious case of incurable wanderlust. It will end up taking a huge bite out of your bank account, and it doesn’t hold back.

So what can you do to experience that irresistible mix of culture, history, gastronomic experiences, languages, landscapes and diversity? What can you do to spend a few weeks getting lost in exotic palaces, basking under the sun with a glass of wine, and visiting romantic cities without going broke?

While European trips are quite expensive (and also quite enviable!), you can trim your budget significantly and still have an incredible experience. Instead of visiting notoriously expensive cities like London and Rome and sacrificing the quality of your trip, you can visit so many places with very little money and still have a mind-blowing experience filled with style, elegance, fun and good food!

So no matter how wobbly your finances are, keep your travel dreams strong and choose affordable destinations to go to in Europe! While the word “cheap” and “Europe” don’t usually work together quite well, the countries in this list are known for their perfect balance of affordability and fun fun fun!

Budapest

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https://pixabay.com/en/budapest-hungary-danube-2173057/ — by https://pixabay.com/en/budapest-hungary-danube-2173057/

Budapest, the Paris of the East and the Pearl of Danube is simply a paradise for all travelers and explorers out there. The ultimate majesty of the city is too much to handle as you walk amidst art Noveau splendors that line the flowing rivers, visiting grand palaces, reveling in the lavishness of opera houses, or gawking at architectural wonders.

Looking at Budapest the first time you’d think that city is one of the most expensive in Europe, but luckily for you, Budapest has been called one of the most affordable places to visit over and over again. The city is packed with one attraction next to the other, the streets themselves are a sight to behold!

You’ll be exploring winding sunlit cobbled streets, reveling in the café culture by gorgeous sidewalk cafes, pampering yourself in one of its many sumptuous steam baths, and experiencing the gorgeous boulevards. The mixture of art nouveau, baroque, and neoclassical buildings gives the city an unparalleled allure.

It’s not even all about the “majesty” of the city, much of Budapest’s secret gems are hidden in shadowy courtyards and back alleys, and there is an abundance of history to be seen and beheld.

Mixing the East and the West, Budapest is also surprisingly easy to navigate; you can explore the leafy hills and hot springs of Buda or go to Pest with its Jewish quarter and drinking scene. There’s no way Budapest will break your bank!

Istanbul

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The wailing call to prayer echoing the streets, the avalanche of chatter from vendors in bazaars, the smell of Turkish coffee, the explosion of colors, the intertwining of different languages, the sight of a belly dancer moving her hips to the beat of thumping drums, and the clinking of mint tea cups – Istanbul is a sensory overload of oriental delights.

With a rich and complicated heritage, Istanbul has found a way to turn its turbulent history into opulent attractions, currently boasting the riches of Byzantine emperors, Ottoman sultans, and marauding Crusaders.

It’s a city that straddles two continents at the same time – with one foot in Asia, and the other in Europe. Where else can a European metropolis be adorned with gorgeous Islamic architecture?

Explore the whirling minarets, the beguiling bazaars, the wonderfully chaotic atmosphere. Walk through its bustling streets, visit historical sites and museums, and take cruise trips along its rivers with gorgeous backdrops of juxtaposing architectural styles.

From the Hagia Sophia, to the Topkapi Palace, from Greek ruins to Ottoman cities – Istanbul is dripping with history! The myriad of personalities in the city juxtapose so effortlessly – with a Byzantine church right next to an Islamic bazaar, skyscrapers next to mosques and shopping malls next to ruins!

The city is quite affordable, with hundreds of affordable food options and cheap attractions! So pack your bags and travel to this oriental paradise.

Athens

Photo by Puk Patrick on Unsplash — by Dalya ElMaghraby
Photo by Puk Patrick on Unsplash — by Dalya ElMaghraby

Nothing has ever blown my mind as much as Athens did. Oh yes….Let me just walk through that bustling market Socrates used to lecture in…Totally okay, I am not freaking out…Ah, I am in the same place Plato used to hang out? Haha, yes. I am cool.

Plot twist, I was not cool. I could barely keep it together. Athens is dripping in history, and every single step you take through the city unveils historical monuments, every alley hides a story, and every plaza is drenching with stories.

The cradle of Western Civilization is home to some of the most important attractions in the world – whether we’re talking historical, cultural or architectural attractions. You’ll simply be spoiled for choice as you explore the city of Gods. From the thousand year old Acropolis, to the temple of Zeus, from incredible views atop mountains to cultural museums – Athens has it all.

You can spend your entire trip getting cultured (and mind-blown like I was. I am still not over this, okay?), or you can revel in its lively nightlife, take day trips to the gorgeous islands of Mykonos and Santorini (although not the most affordable), or enjoy the Greek food.

Prague

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https://pixabay.com/en/architecture-bridge-1845560/ — by https://pixabay.com/en/architecture-bridge-1845560/

Prague is the definition of stepping (or falling, completely against your will) into a fairytale world. The city emanates such an over-the-top romance, unparalleled medieval charm and it’s extremely affordable.

I still don’t understand how a city that has been overthrown with invasions, fires and floods can look so majestically graceful. I go out one night and look like I’ve gone to war for the next two months at least. It baffles me really.

The city of a hundred spires is a perfect destination with Romanesque, gothic, renaissance, baroque, rococo and art nouveau architecture all perched together in one place. It’s the perfect city for exploring wanderers who like to get lost in cities (I’d say that would be me, but really, last time I tried to follow the “explorer” in me I ended up sleeping under a tree in Valencia in the rain. Never again, hipster explorer).

The magnificent skyline of Prague is dominated by storied churches, dozens of spires, hilltop castles and medieval edifices. The flagstone courtyards, the narrow streets, the musical traditions and the immaculately preserved monuments all add to the charming allure of Prague.

And the best thing of all? (No, not the beer. Although, it does have the best beer in Europe hands down). It is one of the most affordable cities in all of Europe that you’re guaranteed to have an incredible experience at!

Lisbon

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Lisbon is, simply put, intoxicating. The city seduces you with its allure, slowly drawing you into its nostalgic, laid-back charm. Perched atop seven hills, Lisbon is gloriously eclectic.

The city enjoys over 3000 hours of sunshine, making it the ultimate all-year round destination and one of the most affordable! Beautiful Art Noveau buildings and splendid castles accentuate cobblestone streets and lemon-yellow exteriors. No matter the type of traveler you are, Lisbon will cater to your needs.

Do you want to spend your days eating delicious seafood and drinking wine? Check. Want to indulge in hundreds of water activities? Check. Want to get mind-blown at incredible palaces and little cities on top of hills with fairy-tale edifices? Also check.

Ride a little tram up the hills of Lisbon and explore the diverse history Lisbon had that is reflected through its monuments. You’ll find glimpses of Arab architecture, Moorish influences, and Spanish monuments, all blended together.

The vibrant nightlife, the remnants of exploratory voyages around the world, and the intoxicating joie de vivre is unmatched!

Honestly, this list can go on forever. Your trip to Europe does not have to just include London, Paris, Rome and Madrid – there are literally hundreds of cities that are begging to be explored that will offer you incredible experiences! Don’t think that just because you have to hold back from splurging that you can’t travel or have as much fun!