Best Value Holiday Destinations in Europe

5 Places With Both Old World Splendor and Old World Prices

The endlessly alluring, diverse continent of Europe is packed with superb holiday destinations. However, highly priced accommodation, food, and attractions can make a vacation in Europe prohibitively expensive. By opting for Europe’s best value holiday destinations, you can enjoy your vacation to the full without leaving your bank account empty.

Belgrade, Serbia

Knez Mihailova street, Belgrade by Pudelek
Knez Mihailova street, Belgrade by: Pudelek (CC)

In recent years, the lively capital of Serbia has become a favorite among young backpackers, Danube-river cruisers, and those looking for a budget weekend getaway. Its eclectic center offers up a seemingly unlimited panoply of inexpensive cafes, restaurants, and clubs, while many of its attractions remain free of charge. Enjoy a zero-cost stroll down Knez Mihailova, the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, before reaching the jewel in Belgrade’s crown, Kalemegdan Park. Overlooking the city’s two rivers, the popular park is set on the remains of an ancient fortress and a number of Ottoman features (not to mention a few Roman ruins) still stand today. The large park is home to a number of free attractions; highlights include the mosaic-covered Saint Petka’s Chapel and Ruzica Church, featuring a chandelier made of ammunition.

Berlin, Germany

Cafe Cinema by Vicente Villamón (CC)
Cafe Cinema by: Vicente Villamón (CC)

As one of Western Europe’s cheapest and most most-visited destinations, Berlin‘s appeal is no secret. However, despite its immense popularity, prices in Berlin remain low. Its plethora of attractions are reasonably priced, and eating and drinking out is considerably cheaper than in comparable capitals. The Berlin Pass is a good deal if you want to squeeze a lot into your stay. The card, priced at 99 euros for three days, grants access to 60 of the city’s top attractions–including Checkpoint Charlie Museum, Berliner Dom, and Pergamon Museum–along with a number of tours and free transportation. Alternatively, take things easy and simply soak up the urban artistic vibe: Berlin’s low living costs have attracted creative types from all over the world, many of whom have left their colorful mark on the metropolis.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia by Nigel's Europe & beyond (CC)
Ljubljana, Slovenia by: Nigel’s Europe & beyond (CC)

Compact, cheap, and incredibly charming, Slovenia’s capital city provides a perfect taste of Europe for travelers on a budget. A stroll through Ljubljana reveals much about Slovenia’s patchwork history, with both Germanic- and Mediterranean-influenced architecture lining the streets of its car-free center. But the history doesn’t stop there: Roman ruins, a 15th-century castle, and the cobblestoned Old Town make up just a few of the city’s absorbing attractions, all of which can be accessed free of charge. Gourmands take note: Slovenian wine is a little-known and delicious secret, available for just a couple of euros on the terraces of most riverside cafes. In this pint-sized nation, day trips to picturesque Bled and Piran are no problem.

Porto, Portugal

O Porto by Rititaneves (CC)
O Porto by: Rititaneves (CC)

Portugal’s second city receives far fewer visitors than Lisbon and the Algarve, but offers just as many delights. Once an uninspiring industrial port, Porto has since been the subject of an intensive regeneration project. Nevertheless, food, drink, and accommodation prices remain surprisingly low for this side of the continent. After enjoying a traditional custard tart for breakfast, take advantage of a number of gratis attractions, including World Heritage Site Ribeira Square, a 12th-century cathedral, and Lello and Irmao bookshop–widely considered the most beautiful bookstore in the world. Of course, no trip to Porto would be complete without sampling a delicious bit of its namesake fortified wine. Tours and tastings of port are very reasonable, and a number are held in historical cellars.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Old Tbilisi & Narikala Fortress by Levan Gokadze (CC)
Old Tbilisi & Narikala Fortress by: Levan Gokadze (CC)

Though a quarter of a century has passed since the Iron Curtain was lifted, the Republic of Georgia remains relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists. Tbilisi, the Caucasus nation’s bustling capital, has plenty of interesting cultural experiences to offer at wallet-friendly prices. The remains of the city’s fortress, Dry Bridge Market, and charming Old Town are just some of its cost-free attractions. Part of Georgia’s Soviet legacy is an efficient subway system, allowing locals and tourists to get across the city at a very low cost. Food and drink is as cheap as it is tasty, and it’s possible to fill up on Georgian specialties for just a few dollars. Students should bring their university cards with them to take advantage of the discounted entry offered by most of Tbilisi’s museums and galleries.

Bargain Breaks

Although Europe encompasses some of the most expensive cities in the world, it also plays host to several remarkably cheap ones. By planning a trip to one of Europe’s best value holiday destinations, you can experience the continent’s rich history, culture, and cuisine on a budget, so there’s money left over for even more travels.