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15 of The Cheapest Cities In Europe For Backpackers

Wanderlust August 11, 2017 By Vincent

The backpacker index is a way of calculating the cost of certain cities by using certain set aspects and comparing the price across a range of amenities and experiences, for example, hotels, transportation, and attractions but it also incorporates other more flexible costs that include:

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews
  • Two public transportation rides per day
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every has free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.)
  • Three “budget” meals per day
  • Three cheap, local beers (or wine) each day as an “entertainment fund.”

So with that in mind, here are the cheapest cities in Europe.

15. Prague - The Czech Republic

A beautiful city filled with historical buildings that remained untouched by WWII, Prague has a troubled history of Nazi occupation followed by Soviet occupation until 1983 and then 10 years later Czechoslovakia split into two countries. It's this sort of amazing and diverse historical context that lends an awe-inspiring air to the place. With extremely cheap lager and hostels making accommodation relatively frugal as well, Prague is a great place to visit if on a budget.

  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap hostel: Czech Inn – 248/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 372
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 105
  • Attractions: 250
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK1,023 = US$40.15/day

14. Istanbul - Turkey

At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul's history is rather spectacular with it being the base of operations for several empires over the ages whilst also a vital trade route that brought unique and varied cultures from the world over to one place as they all passed through in search of fame, fortune and influence.

Prafatsum/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Turkish lira
  • Best cheap hostel: İstiklal Hostel – 25.25/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 31.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 30.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: TRY118.45 = US$34.43/day

13. Vilnius - Lithuania

Without a cruise port and being quite a way inland, Vilnius attracts far fewer tourists than other big cities nearby which gives it a far more relaxed atmosphere so strolling around the old town or trying to find the Frank Zappa statue will feel a lot less hectic than sightseeing in other countries but, being a Baltic capital, there is still so much to do!

Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Downtown Forest Hostel & Camping – 8.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 13.20
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €32.20 = US$34.26/day

12. Bratislava - Slovakia

So very close to Vienna and Prague and yet so much cheaper, the fact that it has no famous landmarks harms it from a tourist point of view but there is still plenty to see and do but because it is the forgotten city of Europe, so few tourists go there which makes it the perfect getaway for those wanting to avoid the crowds.

RastoS Photographer/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: A Wild Elephant’s Hostel – 8.00/night
  • Transportation: 1.40
  • Meals: 12.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €31.40 = US$33.40/day

11. Riga - Latvia

For a city that is so far North and near the notoriously expensive Nordic-Scandinavian region, Riga is surprisingly cheap. A bit out of the way from other parts of Europe, Riga historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted for its Art Nouveau/Jugendstil architecture and 19th-century wooden architecture.

Grisha Bruev/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Euro
  • Best cheap hostel: Central Hostel Riga – 8.00/night
  • Transportation: 2.30
  • Meals: 12.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 6.00
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €31.30 = US$33.30/day

10. Zagreb - Croatia

The capital of Croatia and nearby to one of the most stunning National Parks in Europe (that's Plitvice National Park, by the way) Zagreb is well worth a stop but most people tend to opt for the beach resorts of Croatia and often miss out on all that Zagreb has to offer.

Dreamer4787/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Croatian Kuna
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Temza – 60.80/night
  • Transportation: 20
  • Meals: 84
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 36
  • Attractions: 30
  • Daily Backpacker Index: HRK230.80 = US$32.69/day

9. Warsaw - Poland

With an old town faithfully rebuilt after the destruction wrought upon it by WWII and stunning new architecture showing the growth of Poland in the era of the European Union Warsaw is a real mixed bag of a place full of life and character and often left off many tourist's lists in favor of Krakow instead.

annazenzina/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap hostel: Chillout Hostel – 38.06/night
  • Transportation: 6.80
  • Meals: 39.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 23.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN131.46 = US$31.45/day

8. Český Krumlov - Czech Republic

Most people head out to Prague when they go to the Czech Republic but this is the second most popular tourist city with far fewer crowds and being a little cheaper. Circled by the gorgeous Serpentine river, it has a breathtaking old town to potter about and some lovely natural sights on the fringes of the city.

Ireine/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Czech krona
  • Best cheap hostel: Travel Hostel – 247/night
  • Transportation: 48
  • Meals: 288
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 90
  • Attractions: 100
  • Daily Backpacker Index: CZK773 = US$30.34/day

7. Kiev - Ukraine

Conflict with Russia has inflicted a bit of a wound on Ukraine's tourist industry but fighting is well away from the capital which is not really affected at all by it but things remain cheap in order to encourage outsiders to visit the historic city that has started to become a bit of a tech hub for Europe as well.

Serhii Brovko/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Ukraine Hryvnia
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Elements – 191/night
  • Transportation: 8.00
  • Meals: 354.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 180.00
  • Attractions: 15.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: UHR748.00 = US$29.18/day

6.  Sarajevo - Bosnia & Herzegovina

The very name of Sarajevo conjures up tragic and fraught imagery and as such the place struggles to attract tourists. But recent times have been kind to the region and its location in the mountains makes it remote and spectacular whilst the Muslim Old Town is a fascinating juxtaposition to its very modern center.

S-F/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Converted Mark (fixed, so prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Ljubicica – 5.84/night
  • Transportation: 3.60
  • Meals: 9.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 3.75
  • Attractions: 4.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €26.79 = US$28.50/day

5. Budapest - Hungary

Steer clear of the ridiculously touristy spots along the river and Budapest remains outrageously cheap for a major European city. Its historic public baths are a sight to behold and an experience worth diving into (pun intended) whilst the castles and cathedrals all add up to plenty to see and do before a few nights out of cheap drinks and lots of fun.

Yasonya/Shutterstock.com

 

  • Currency: Hungary Forint
  • Best cheap hostel: Treestyle Hostel – 1547/night
  • Transportation: 700
  • Meals: 3120
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 1050
  • Attractions: 1500
  • Daily Backpacker Index: HUF7,917 = US$26.75/day

4. Belgrade - Serbia

Like Sarajevo, Belgrade also struggles to lure tourists in due to its troubles in the 90s hence why it remains very cheap but this shouldn't put people off who are also reluctant to go anywhere with few notable sights but the urban center is buzzing full of activity and a great nightlife is waiting right there to be discovered.

S-F/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Serbian Dinar (prices below are in euros)
  • Best cheap hostel: Downtown Hostel Belgrade – 6.00/night
  • Transportation: 1.50
  • Meals: 9.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 4.50
  • Attractions: 3.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: €24.60 = US$26.17/day

3. Bucharest - Romania

Not Romania's most charming city but its huge parliament building and lovely old town are worth checking out but tourists ay struggle to find too much else to capture their attention. If in the country, though, it is worth a day trip to see where the seat of power is and to wander through the beautiful Heratsu park.

Ioan Panaite/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Romanian leu
  • Best cheap hostel: X Hostel Bucharest = 31.12/night
  • Transportation: 5.00
  • Meals: 45.60
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 15.00
  • Attractions: 12.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: RON108.72 – US$25.70/day

2. Krakow - Poland

The city with the most raves in Poland, Krakow is the place to be for party people and tops Warsaw for cheapness and culture thanks to its many great and cheap hostels, bars, and restaurants and fabulous old town but demand is on the up and so may prices be soon.

Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Polish Zlotych
  • Best cheap hostel: One World Hostel – 34.15/night
  • Transportation: 5.60
  • Meals: 24.00
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 24.00
  • Attractions: 16.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: PLN103.75 = US$24.82/day

1. Sofia - Bulgaria

In a strange quirk of European travel, Sofia is very cheap in almost everything except inbound flights from other major European cities and so, it is a great place to get to if you're in the region. However, it is very welcoming to tourists with a brilliant urban experience and a charming city center to make up for the lack of major attractions.

naskopi/Shutterstock.com
  • Currency: Bulgaria Leva
  • Best cheap hostel: Hostel Mostel – 11.45 (includes breakfast)
  • Transportation: 2.00
  • Meals: 16.80
  • Drinks/Entertainment: 7.50
  • Attractions: 6.00
  • Daily Backpacker Index: BGN43.75 = US$24.04/day
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