11 Cheapest European Cities for Your Next City Break

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Looking for the cheapest cities in Europe to visit? Europe has an overwhelming number of amazing cities to visit, and If you are travelling to Europe with kids on a budget, you need to know the best and cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Flight prices are now dropping like crazy, so it’s a great time to plan your next European city break.

Here is a complete guide to the most affordable European cities that are true hidden gems, offering rich culture and history, family-friendly activities, beach days and the bonus of not breaking the bank!

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Cheapest Cities to Visit in Europe

#1 Budapest, Hungary

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Estimated Budget: €50-70

Accommodation: Average budget per night €45 | Accommodation price range €35-€65

Meals: €15-25 per day 

Budapest is a family-friendly, exciting and affordable European city and one of the best cities to visit in Europe on a budget. There are numerous parks, stunning architecture, museums, a zoo, caves and the beautiful River Danube as your backdrop. 

The capital of Hungary has a lot to offer. The Gothic architecture of Buda Castle and the Parliament Building are breathtaking (don’t forget to visit the Labyrinth of Caves under Buda Castle). 

The kids will love Budapest Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Hungarian Rail Museum and Centre of Scientific Wonders, as well as taking a boat tour on the River Danube. Budapest is famous for its thermal baths – Széchenyi Baths rates as one of the top bathing venues to visit. 

How to get to Budapest: Budapest is easily accessible by plane, train, coach or even a high-speed ferry from Vienna or Bratislava.

Many low-cost airlines fly direct to Budapest from the UK (Wizz Air, Ryanair, EasyJet, Jet2), making the city one of the cheapest places to go in Europe. Find cheap flights to Bratislava Here >>>

View our guide to visiting Budapest with children here >>>

#2 Krakow, Poland

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Estimated Budget: €40-55

Accommodation: Average budget per night €35 | Accommodation price range €25-€50

Meals: €15-20 per day 

Krakow offers a unique city break in a medieval setting, and as one of the cheapest cities in Europe, it is a true hidden gem. The Old Town (Stare Miasto) is pedestrianised, so easily accessible on foot, or you can enjoy a ride on a horse-drawn carriage or rickshaw to explore this area.

Planty Park surrounds the old town and is a beautiful green area for the kids to enjoy, including many play areas and impressive sculptures.

Make sure you head to the Wawel Hill area near the Old Town to visit the royal castle, Gothic cathedral, art museums and the infamous Dragon’s Den cavern (Smocza Jama) next to the Vistula River. 

How to Get to Krakow: Krakow is one of the cheapest places to travel to in Europe, accessible by air, rail and road. EasyJet and Ryanair from the UK serves John Paul II International Airport. Katowice Airport, Poland is served by more budget airlines but is located 110km northwest of Krakow, so it adds a two-hour transfer time.

Kraków Główny, the city’s main train station, is five minutes from the old town and has direct trains to and from many cities. Get your Cheap Train Tickets Here >>>

View Our Complete Krakow Family City Break Guide Here >>>

#3 Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Estimated Budget: €50-75

Accommodation: Average budget per night €50 | Accommodation price range €36-€75

Meals: €15-20 per day 

Ljubljana (Lub-liana phonetically!) is a charming place and one of the cheapest European cities to visit. This historic city is mostly pedestrianised (so great if you travel to Europe with young children), with bright, colourful buildings and ornate bridges that crisscross the River Ljubljanica.

Overlooking the city is the impressive Ljubljana Castle. Take the funicular up to the castle or the mini train from the Old Town to visit this spectacular landmark.

Tivoli Park has a great playground, and Ljubljana Zoo is near the park, with over 100 species and multiple play areas. The interactive House of Experience Science Centre and City Museum are also great indoor activities for the kids. 

#4 Zagreb, Croatia 

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Estimated Budget: €50-70

Accommodation: Average budget per night €40 | Accommodation price range €35-€50

Meals: €15-25 per day 

The capital of Croatia has a rich history, and whether you visit in summer or winter, there is a lot to see and enjoy. During summer, you can enjoy the many parks and festivals in Zagreb, take the funicular to explore the hilly city and visit Jarun Lake/Park, which has a lovely beach area as well as a neighbouring public pool.

If you decide to take a winter city break, don’t miss the Christmas market in Zagreb as rated one of the best in Europe. Museum Mimara is an excellent venue for travelling with older children, with some fantastic art to admire.

How to Get there: Ryanair offer direct flights from the UK to Zagreb Airport at great prices and then you can take a train or shuttle bus to the city centre in about 30 minutes.

Zagreb has international bus services from Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. There are also train services enabling cheap European day trips too. Get your Cheap Train Tickets Here >>>

View Our Complete Zagreb with Kids City Break Guide Here >>>

#5 Bologna, Italy 

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Estimated Budget: €60-80

Accommodation: Average budget per night €60 | Accommodation price range €45-€70

Meals: €21-30 per day 

Cheap cities in Europe don’t come much better than Bologna. The capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy has a stunning medieval centre, Renaissance-inspired architecture. It is relatively quiet in terms of tourists compared to Rome or Venice.

Piazza Maggiore is a must-see in Bologna, including the adjoining Basilica di San Petronio Roman ruins, and you can enjoy some fabulous Italian food at one of the many cafes or restaurants. Dating back to the 12th century, the Asinell towers dominate the landscape of Bologna and even lean to one side! You can climb these to admire the view over the city.

How to Get there: The best way to travel to Bologna from the UK is via air, and this takes approximately three hours (RyanAir offer a direct flight at a budget cost). The distance from Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport to the city centre is 10 Km, and you can travel by taxi, shuttle or public bus and arrive within 20 to 30 minutes.

#6 Girona, Spain

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Estimated Budget: €60-80

Accommodation: Average budget per night €55 | Accommodation price range €40-€70

Meals: €25-30 per day 

Beautiful Girona is located in the Catalonia region of Spain is one of the cheapest cities in Spain. There are many immaculate beaches and hidden coves to visit on the Costa Brava, where you can take boat trips, participate in water sports or enjoy the beach.

Girona’s medieval old town and city walls are stunning, take a walk by the Onyar River and see the Eiffel Bridge. Parc De La Devesa (the largest park in Catalonia) is a great picnic spot with open play areas and weekly street markets.

Barcelona is only 35 minutes via direct train so you can also visit this amazing city on a day trip if you wish.

How to Get there: Flying into Girona from the UK takes only two hours, and both Jet2 and Ryanair offer direct flights at a budget price. You could also fly into Barcelona Prat airport, and you have the option of booking with Ryanair, Vueling, EasyJet and BA at rock bottom prices (avoid peak seasons and/or book well in advance). From the airport, take the train to Barcelona Sants station, and a direct train to Girona takes about 30 minutes.

#7 Sofia, Bulgaria

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Estimated Budget: €40-50

Accommodation: Average budget per night €30 | Accommodation price range €25-€40

Meals: €15-20

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and one of the most affordable cities in Europe to visit. Explore the cobbled streets and Roman ruins in the historic city centre, and you will find many ornate churches and parks as you wander.

Borisova Gradina is Sofia’s oldest and largest park, with lots of space for the kids to run around, a vast playground and a lake. Admire the majestic St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Changing of the Guard at the Presidency Building, visit Muzeiko Science Centre, and Vitosha Boulevard is fabulous for shopping and a café visit.

How to Get there: Sofia is one of the cheapest cities to fly to in Europe, with Ryanair, Wizz Air and EasyJet all offering direct flights from the UK at excellent prices. Find cheap flights Here >>>

The easiest way to travel to the city centre is via taxi as it’s very cheap, direct and hassle-free for the family. You could also take the metro from Terminal 2 or a shuttle bus to the city centre.

View Our Complete Sofia Family City Break Guide Here >>>

#8 Athens, Greece

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Estimated Budget: €45-55

Accommodation: Average budget per night €30 | Accommodation price range €25-€45

Meals: €20-25 per day 

Athens is one of Europe’s most affordable destinations and one of the best cities to visit in Europe, full of history, culture and pretty much a living, breathing museum. The capital city of Greece is one of the world’s oldest cities and home to many ancient monuments and works of art.

Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Parthenon located on the Acropolis of Athens (an ancient citadel with fabulous views over the city and several other ancient buildings). The Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first Olympic Games in 1896, and it was truly spectacular. The kids can run around the track, stand on the podium and visit the museum.

How to Get there: Athens International Airport is located about 30 Km east of central Athens, with Ryanair and Wizz Air offering direct flights at budget prices. Find cheap flights Here >>>

The most convenient way to get to the city centre is via metro, or you can take the 24/7 express bus (X95) that runs every 15/20 minutes depending on the time of day. 

You May Also Like: Landmarks in Modern and Ancient Greece

#9 Dresden, Germany

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Estimated Budget: €70-80

Accommodation: Average budget per night €60 | Accommodation price range €50-€70

Meals: €20-25 per day 

Germany doesn’t usually top the list in terms of being one of the cheapest cities to travel to in Europe. Still, Dresden offers a lot in being both an inexpensive destination in Europe. The capital of the state of Saxony is located on the banks of the River Elbe and has a rich cultural and artistic history, fabulous forests and green spaces, as well as out-of-this-world Christmas markets.

Zwinger Palace has beautiful Baroque architecture, gardens, fountains and many museums. Dresden Zoo offers a lovely day out with the kids, as does a boat tour on the River Elbe, where you can admire the breathtaking Bastei Bridge.  

How to Get there: Dresden is accessible by air, bus, train or car. The airport is a 20-minute train ride from the city and offers one of Germany’s cheapest airport shuttles services.

You can also take the train if you are travelling in Germany or the Czech Republic, with Berlin only two hours away and Prague just one and a half hours away. Get your Cheap Train Tickets Here >>>

#10 Valletta, Malta 

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Estimated Budget: €80-95

Accommodation: Average budget per night €60 | Accommodation price range €55-€70

Meals: €25-35 per day 

Valletta is not only one of the smallest European cities. It is also one of the cheapest cities in Europe to visit. The quaint capital of Malta is located on the Valletta peninsula, where you can enjoy family days on the beach or explore museums, artwork and ancient buildings dating back to the 1500s.

Upper Barrakka Gardens are beautiful, spacious and overlook the Grand Harbour. The Valletta Waterfront is an excellent pedestrianised area with lots of amazing seafood, street artists and free entertainment to keep the kids amused. The kids will love seeing the cannons fired at specific times (usually midday).

How to Get there: Valletta doesn’t have its own airport so take an EasyJet or Ryanair flight to Luqa Malta International Airport (MLA), then from there you can hire a car or take a taxi to the city centre which takes only 15 minutes. Find cheap flights Here >>>

You can take the X4 bus from the airport, which is much cheaper but will take a little longer than a taxi ride. 

View More Things to do in Malta Here >>>

#11 Bucharest, Romania

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Estimated Budget: €30-40

Accommodation: Average budget per night €25 | Accommodation price range €20-€35

Meals: €10-18 per day 

Bucharest is probably one of the cheapest capital cities in Europe and is massively underrated. Located on the banks of the Dâmbovița River, the city blends modern architecture with the medieval historical centre and beautiful parks. Bucharest is one of the most beautiful cities in Romania to visit.

Palatial Parlamentului (Palace of Parliament) is an extraordinary building (the world’s second-largest building!) that can’t be missed.

Herăstrau Park is an oasis in the city centre, including a huge boating lake, playgrounds, tennis courts, open spaces and great restaurants.

Other highlights include the Dimitrie Gusti National Village open-air museum, Stavropoleos Monastery and Piata Unirii, where you can catch the fantastic fountain, music and lights show in the evenings. 

How to Get there: The best way to get to one of the cheapest travel destinations in Europe is to take a flight to Bucharest Henri Coanda International airport via Ryanair or Wizz Air. Find cheap flights Here >>>

The city centre is approximately 20 minutes away, and you can take the Express line 780 bus from the airport, which is only €0.85 one way! Truly one of the cheapest European vacations!

You May Also Like: Guide to visiting Bucharest with kids

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Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.

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