Are you backpacking Europe this summer? There’s far more to see than any one person can manage. The travel experts at want to share some of our picks for best budget destinations in Europe. You should also have a look at our Europe Summer Flights page for tips and help with the best dates to fly.

Our list has something for every kind of traveler. We include medieval architecture, world-class museums, historic city centers, delicious cuisine and vast and varied drinking cultures. There’s also the Budapest Ruin Bar scene and the clubs of the Greek Isles. Here are a few low-cost destinations to put on your must-see list so you don’t break the bank!

1. The Greek Isles

Backpacking Europe: 10 of the Best Destinations to Visit on a Budget

Greece was made for summer fun. There’s beaches galore, cheap food and the parties never stop on the islands. How many islands? Oh, there’s hundreds, in fact. Santorini, Paros, Ios, Mykonos and so many more. There are beaches to lounge on if that’s all you choose to do, or there are hikes and walks and countless tiny towns to explore. Beyond that, check out verdant farmland and wineries. We dare you not to fall in love with Greece.

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2. Cornwall, England

If you’ve taken a hop across the pond, we know you’re visiting overpriced, congested, yet can’t-miss London. But true Anglophiles should consider venturing outside London to Cornwall, which is arguably more authentic, and definitely much less expensive. Romantic types looking for rolling hills, green valleys and quaint towns will not want to miss this hamlet just a few hours outside London by train. Embrace your inner Jane Austen and take a side trip to Cornwall.

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3. Romania

Backpacking Europe: 10 of the Best Destinations to Visit on a Budget

Romania is stunning, blessedly cheap on accommodations and food, and nowhere near as congested as you’ll find in most other destinations in the summer. You can see the whole country by train for a song. Highlights might include: the medieval Saxon town of Sighisoara, Bran Castle, the wooden churches of Maramures, and the painted churches of Northern Moldavia. While ethnic Romanians make up the large majority of the population, there’s also a number of Roma communities (one known as gypsies), with a fascinating history and culture all their own.

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4. Budapest, Hungary

During its Communist years, Budapest wasn’t on any Westerner’s must-visit list. But these days, it gives some of the most popular capital cities a run for the money. No one should go to Budapest in the summer and not visit the so-called “Ruin Pubs” or (in local parlance), “Kerts” that spring up in abandoned courtyards and buildings all summer long. Try Szimplakert or Holdudvar. You won’t regret it. In the morning, work off the hangover with a visit to Szechenyi Baths. Then check out one of the concerts happening all summer long.

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5. Krakow, Poland

Krakow does not disappoint. It has everything you want from backpacking Europe without the hefty price tag. Culture in spades, a quaint and spectacular historic city center with one of the largest town squares in the world, an impressive medieval castle (Wawel), delicious traditional dining, and a colorful and storied history. Krakow is also just an hour away from Auschwitz, the infamous World War II concentration camp, so it’s a must-visit day trip to gain some perspective and pay respects to those who lost their lives there.

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6. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Once you’ve tired of the crowds in Prague, venture out to Cesky Krumlov, about two hours from Prague by bus. Once there, dine on some authentic Czech food, stay at a medieval hospoda (guest house), and get out into the Czech countryside. There’s a number of outdoor adventure outfits running bike tours and you’ll be glad you got some much needed downtime (and cheap Czech beer) before you’re on your way.

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7. Riga, Latvia

Backpacking Europe: 10 of the Best Destinations to Visit on a Budget

Don’t scratch your head at this one. Many a reluctant traveler has been coaxed to Riga over the years and once there had a hard time prying himself or herself away. Why? Riga is cheap as can be, with a bumping nightlife to rival any of the top party spots on the continent sans the expensive drink prices. Plus, Riga is charming, the people are warm and the vibe is laid back. Did we mention it’s dirt cheap?

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8. Istanbul

What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Constantinople? You’ve got the European side of Istanbul and the Asian side of Istanbul to tempt visitors backpacking Europe. It’s a city of contrasts and mystery. In recent years, Istanbul had ceased to be the bargain it once way, but the political climate now has made Turkey once again a bargain hunter’s dream. Open air markets, stunning architecture/Mosques, delectable and exotic dining are all on offer.

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9. Naples, Italy

Backpacking Europe: 10 of the Best Destinations to Visit on a Budget

Anyone on a tour of Europe doesn’t skip Rome or Venice. We understand. Truly we do. But how about the fantastic value of southern Italy, specifically Naples? The ruins of Pomepii are nearby and the historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, this being Italy, the food is simply stupendous, and there’s no shortage of picturesque windy streets to get lost within. We love Naples for its off-the-beaten-path vibe.

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10. Madrid, Spain

Madrid might be an obvious pick for backpacking Europe, but it rates a mention because it’s a decent bargain. Tapas culture makes dining a relatively inexpensive endeavor no matter what time of day, and stiff competition insures value in even the traditional hotel/private room category. For a big city, Madrid has a fine balance of must-see sights (the Plaza Mayor, the Puerta de Alcalá, the Museo del Prado) and low-key adventures (strolling in the plethora of city parks, throwing back some beers on streets like Cava Baja and Cava Alta, tuck into the world-famous churros at San Ginés).

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We also offer a way for you to book flights now, and pay later, if your shoestring budget is holding you back. Make sure you also visit our Best Time to Buy Flights page, for your specific routes and itineraries.

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  2. When talking about Poland you can’t skip Warsaw! I don’t know how about the natives, but for travelers the prices are really amazing in Poland, that’s true. But Warsaw is much better than Krakow mostly because of richer night life. Oscar, maybe we’ve met in New Orleans because I’m the regular customer too:) And I’m little worried that my opinion about Poland may not be so objective because of New Orleans club. When I think Poland I see their incredible dancers, delicious food and the interiors from the classy movies!

  3. One of my favorite destinations that is inexpensive is definitely Warsaw. It is one of my favorite European cities, so modern and charming. And, as I always go there with my friends, I love how many great clubs there are! One my favorite ones (not only in Poland!) is called New Orleans. I have never been to another night club that would be so nice and exclusive. And I have never seen such gorgeous dancers!

  4. I am interested in going to Ramstein Germany to the Air force base about late August. How do I get there from Detroit Mi.

    • Hi there, I think the nearest options to get you to Ramstein are either Frankfurt or Strasbourg in France. Strasbourg is a bit closer to the base, but Frankfurt is probably going to be a bit more affordable. When you have your dates firmed up, let us know and we can do an apples to apples comparison for you. Don’t wait too long though – it’s about time to by your ticket!

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