6 destinations to spend summer in Europe without spending a fortune

Summer in Europe is in sight — and so are its long, balmy days and vibrant cultural experiences. But between flights and pricey accommodations, a European adventure can quickly strain your budget. But fear not, because we listed 6 incredible European cities that are very much worth the visit and won’t leave your wallet feeling empty.

1. Bratislava, Slovakia

This charming capital often gets overshadowed by its neighbor, Prague, but Bratislava offers equal historical intrigue at a fraction of the cost.  A delicious three-course meal can be found for around €10, and hostels start at a budget-friendly €10 per night. We recommend staying at Safestay for a comfortable stay and a great atmosphere. 

What to do in Bratislava

Like many European cities, Bratislava’s heart lies in its Old Town, a pedestrian-friendly maze of cobbled streets and colorful baroque buildings. Explore the magnificent St. Michael’s Gate, the city’s oldest surviving structure, or climb the Bratislava Castle for panoramic views and a glimpse into Bratislava’s medieval past. Entrance fees to these attractions are reasonable: €6 for the Gate and €14 for the Castle.

Great food at great prices

Slovak cuisine offers a delicious blend of Central European influences. Indulge in a local favorite made of hearty stews and potato gnocchi known as “bryndzové halusky,” or savor a steaming bowl of “guláš” (goulash) – all for around €10-€15 per person. Local brews are another budget-friendly treat, with a pint of local beer costing around €2-€3.

How to get to Bratislava on a budget:

Budget travelers can reach Bratislava by bus from several European hubs, including Vienna and Prague, and you can book your tickets on Busbud for extra convenience and to avoid getting lost in translation.

Average Costs to Keep in Mind:

Food: Budget €10-€20 per day

Accommodation: Budget €10-€75 per night

Activities: Budget €5-€15 per attraction

How to get to Bratislava:

Vienna to Bratislava: Travel time is approximately 1h with prices starting from US$ 9.

Prague to Bratislava: the trip takes about 2h30 and prices start at US$ 16.

Budapest to Bratislava: travel to the city in about 3h with ticket prices starting from US$ 10. 


2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland’s historic capital is a treasure trove of cultural experiences, from imposing castles like Edinburgh Castle to vibrant pubs with traditional music and a lot of scotch.  While not the cheapest city on this list, Edinburgh remains a good value for the experiences it offers. Also, it boasts a relatively affordable scene — especially when compared to the other UK gem, London. Several bus and train companies operating on Busbud serve Edinburgh, making it a breeze to reach by land.

What to do in Edinburgh:

Edinburgh is a treasure trove of free experiences. Explore the medieval Old Town, a pedestrian paradise with cobbled streets and historic buildings. The Royal Mile, stretching from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, is a must-see. Princes Street Gardens offer a tranquil escape, while climbing Arthur’s Seat rewards you with panoramic city views.  

Edinburgh Castle is one of the city’s main attractions, and ticket prices start at £21. But remember you can admire the castle and walk around the exterior for free. If you’re into museums, many have free admission, including the National Museum of Scotland showcasing Scottish history, archaeology, and natural history.

Drink and dine on a dime:

In Edinburgh, pubs are your haven for hearty and affordable goodness. Grab a classic pint and a plate of piping hot fish and chips for around £15. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something local, you might want to try haggis, a savory pudding of sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs mixed with oatmeal and spices, served with “neeps and tatties” (turnips and potatoes). 

You can also try a steaming bowl of “cullen skink,” a creamy soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions. Both options are delicious and budget-friendly, costing about £10-€15 per person. And for the ultimate budget bite, supermarkets and bakeries offer affordable sandwiches, salads, and snacks, perfect for picnics in the park or exploring the city on the go.

How to get to Edinburgh on a budget:

London to Edinburgh: Train travel takes about 4h and costs $113 on average, while bus travel takes approximately 9 hours with prices starting from £11 (US$ 9).

Manchester to Edinburgh: The train journey takes about 3 hours with fares starting from £24 (US$ 28). The bus trip takes about 7h with prices starting at £6 (US$ 8). 

Glasgow to Edinburgh: This train trip takes just 1h15, with prices starting from a mere £12 (US$ 16). The bus trip takes about 1h20 and ticket prices start at £5 (US$ 4).


3. Prague, Czech Republic

The City of a Hundred Spires never disappoints with its captivating architecture, rich history, and vibrant atmosphere. 

What to Do in Prague:

Prague is a city that can be explored for free or at a minimal cost.  Lesser Town, a quaint neighborhood below Prague Castle, is a labyrinth of narrow streets and colorful buildings, perfect for wandering. Old Town Square, the bustling central square featuring the Prague Astronomical Clock, is a must-see. Petrin Hill Park offers a peaceful escape with stunning city views, accessible by funicular for a small fee. 

Many museums, like the National Gallery showcasing Czech art from the medieval period to the present day, have free admission on certain days. Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle complex in the world, is a major attraction with ticket prices starting at Kč 450 (around US$20). However, you can admire the castle and its gardens for free.

Best foods to savor on a budget:

Prague is a paradise for budget-minded foodies.  Trdelník, a sweet pastry dough wrapped around a spit and grilled, is a popular street food, costing around Kč 50 (US$2).  Hearty and affordable meals can be found at traditional Czech pubs.  Try “guláš” (goulash), a rich stew of beef, vegetables, and spices, typically served with bread dumplings or potato pancakes, for around Kč 200-300 (US$9-13).  Another local favorite is “svíčková na smetaně”, beef sirloin in cream sauce, also priced around Kč 150-200 (US$7-9).

How to get to Prague on a budget:

Busbud makes reaching Prague simple and affordable. Search for buses and trains serving Prague on their user-friendly platform. Here are some popular routes:

Berlin to Prague: Travel time is approximately 4h30 hours with prices starting from Kč 450 (US$18).

Vienna to Prague: The journey takes about 4 hours with fares starting from Kč 250 (US$10).

Munich to Prague: This trip takes just 4h30, with prices starting from a mere Kč 430 (US$17).


4. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany’s dynamic capital, breathes a unique blend of history, art, and cutting-edge hipster culture. From the remnants of the Berlin Wall to thriving street art scenes and world-class museums, Berlin offers an unforgettable experience. Compared to other major Western European cities, Berlin remains relatively affordable. Several bus and train companies operating on Busbud serve Berlin, making it easy to reach by land.

What to do in Berlin:

Berlin is a city where you can explore history on a budget. Walk along the remnants of the Berlin Wall, a powerful symbol of the city’s past. Explore the Brandenburg Gate, a majestic monument marking the former division of East and West Berlin. For a dose of art, delve into the vibrant street art scene in districts like Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, or visit museums like the East Side Gallery showcasing Cold War murals on the Berlin Wall remains (tickets cost only €5). 

Many museums, like the Pergamonmuseum with its impressive collection of ancient artifacts, have free admission on the first Sunday of every month. But if you’re being picky and need to choose just one museum to see, the Jewish Museum is your best bet. The core exhibition is always free, while the temporary exhibitions cost €10.

Foodie Delights on a Budget:

The city is a haven for budget travelers with its abundance of currywurst stands offering a full meal for under €5. You can also explore the city’s diverse ethnic neighborhoods, like Prenzlauer Berg for Vietnamese cuisine or Kreuzberg for Turkish delights also usually priced at about €5. Head to a cozy “Kneipe” (pub) for a local beer and a hearty plate of sausages and sauerkraut for around €10-€15.

Prague to Berlin: bus tickets start at US$ 18 and the trip takes about 4h.

Amsterdam to Berlin: bus tickets are priced from US$ 26 and the trip takes around 8h.


5. Naples, Italy

Craving a taste of Italy without the hefty price tag? Then Naples is a great option. This is a vibrant city where history, culture, and fiery passion collide. Naples is known for its incredible value, especially when compared to tourist hotspots like Venice or Florence. You can easily get there by bus or train from many Italian cities, with all routes available on Busbud. 

What to do in Naples:

Naples offers a wealth of free or affordable experiences. Museums like the National Archaeological Museum housing artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum, cost about €22, but have free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that buried Pompeii, has tours with tickets starting at €23 (US$25). But if that’s too much you can always admire the volcano from various viewpoints for free.

You can also explore the historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, teeming with Baroque churches, ancient piazzas, and atmospheric alleyways. Climb the Castel Nuovo, a medieval castle with stunning views of the city and the bay. Wander through the vibrant chaos of the Spaccanapoli, where street vendors hawk everything from fresh produce to religious icons. 

Budget food delights in Naples:

“Eating” is also part of the list of things to do in Naples — that’s a fact. You’ll find no shortage of local goodies to try while in the city. The city os logically a paradise for pizza lovers, with its iconic Neapolitan pizza, known for its thin crust and fresh ingredients, costing around €5-€8. 

You can also sample street food like “cuoppo,” a fried cone filled with fresh seafood and fried potatoes (the italian fish and chips) for around €4-€5. Frittatina di pasta is another must try – a classic street food made from leftover pasta fried with bechamel sauce or parmesan cheese, usually sold for €2 or €3. A good dessert option is fiocchi di neve, a traditional pastry with a “snowy” ricotta filling and topped with powdered sugar that costs about €1.50.

How to get to Naples

Busbud makes reaching Naples simple and affordable. Search for buses and trains serving Naples on their user-friendly platform. Here are some popular routes:

Rome to Naples: Train travel time is about 1h14 with prices starting from US$ 14. Buses take 2h30, but cost less, starting at US$ 3.

Florence to Naples: The train trip takes about 3h, and fares start at US$ 43. The bus trip lasts about 6h, costing as little as US$4.


6. Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal’s enchanting capital offers a captivating blend of history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking scenery. And compared to other Western European capitals, Lisbon remains relatively affordable, making it a budget-friendly travel destination.  

What to do in Lisbon:

Lisbon offers a treasure trove of free or budget-friendly experiences. Explore the Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, a labyrinth of narrow streets, medieval churches, and hidden squares. Take some time to ride the iconic yellow Tram 28, a funicular tram that winds its way through the city’s hilly streets, for a unique perspective (€3). 

Another budget option is to relax in the tranquil Jardim da Estrela, a beautiful park with manicured gardens and a lake.  São Jorge Castle, a historic fortress offering panoramic city views, has ticket prices starting at €15, though it’s sure possible to admire the castle’s exterior and surrounding gardens for free. You should definitely find time to visit Torre de Belem (€6), even if you decide to just contemplate it from the outside. 

Budget food options in Lisbon:

Lisbon is a haven for seafood lovers. Sample fresh grilled sardines, a local delicacy, at a waterfront restaurant for around €10-€15 per plate. When in the city, you must also try Pastéis de Nata, Lisbon’s iconic custard tarts, at a pastelaria (pastry shop) for around €1-€2 each. Portugal is also a paradise for wine aficionados, and it’s easy to find excellent bottles for affordable prices.

How to get to Lisbon

Madrid to Lisbon: Travel time by bus is approximately 6 hours with prices starting from US$ 11.

Seville to Lisbon: The journey by bus takes about 6 hours with fares starting from US$ 17.

Porto to Lisbon: This bus trip takes around 3 hours, with prices starting from a mere US$ 6.


Start planning your next trip

For an extra layer of affordability and a social atmosphere, consider staying at Safestay hostels when available in these cities. Safestay offers clean, comfortable beds in a sociable environment, perfect for budget-conscious travelers.

So ditch the expensive airfare and explore Europe’s hidden gems by bus or train while hostel hopping around the continent! That is for sure the true backpacker way to travel, and the best way to see the most iconic cities in Europe for a fraction of the price. Get ready for an unforgettable European adventure without breaking the bank!

Book your tickets today!