Traveling through Europe has the ability to be expensive, depending on where you go. But there are many dope destinations (particularly throughout Eastern Europe) that are excellent for budget travelers. Most of them are great walking cities with inexpensive but delicious food, and where beer is cheaper than water (!?!?!?!) Some of these destinations, I've actually saved money than if I were to stay at home (read more about that here). And how many people can say they've visited Lithuania?
I'm backing it up to the days of Myspace as I bring you my Top 8 mos' dope European destinations for budget travelers.
1.) Bucharest, Romania
Romania is a hidden gem of Eastern Europe. Bucharest itself boasts interesting architecture from the communist era, as well as art nouveau (I had to look up how to spell that), and classic styles. The food and accommodation are cheap, and Bucharest is located close enough so that you can take inexpensive day trips to visit different castles such as Dracula's castle, and smaller towns (Brasov is stunning) and gypsy villages around the country (big shout out to Travel Maker for an excellent tour).
2.) Krakow, Poland
Krakow's rich history speaks for itself, and is one of the most up and coming spots for budget travelers to visit. The old town boasts ancient churches and soaring clock towers, Schindler's factory, the former Jewish quarter, and old ghettos left from World War II, while the university area is constantly buzzing with young students. Just a few dollars can get you accommodation, great local foods (not so great if you're a vegetarian!), and plenty of vodka for an excellent night out.
3.) Budapest, Hungary
Budapest remains one of my favorite European destinations, for its vibing atmosphere, delicious food, excellent nightlife, and cheap buys. Accommodation was the most expensive part of my Budapest trip, mostly because we switched hostels after the first night (my only negative experience with a hostel yet!) Otherwise, the food is cheap and delicious (try the goulash) and so are the beers. Be sure to check out the ruin bars if ya feel like feelin' yaself. (Recommendation: Mandala Hostel is where we sought refuge after our horrible hostel experience. One of the best hostels I've stayed in to date!)
4.) Riga, Latvia
The lovely land of my ancestors, colorful buildings, and a classic old town - Riga is an underrated destination for tourists, and was almost completely deserted when I visited (to be fair, I was there in November). Be prepared to fork out a whopping 2 EUR for a beer, and an average of 6.50 EUR for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. Transportation is cheap too, although the old town and centre is largely a walking area, with little need for public transport.
5.) Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava is a fun and vibrant city, with a lot of young people and a rich history. A lot of the architecture is left over from communist times (right across from St. Elizabeth's Church above is an abandoned communist hospital), making it an interesting city to explore. $20 a night for a hostel may seem a little steep, but the price of food and beer makes up for it. A plate of Haluski, a traditional Slovak goat cheese plate, should only set you back a few bucks.
6.) Kaunas, Lithuania
Kaunas is a quiet city with lots to see and do. There are only three hostels in the city (highly recommendMonk's Bunk which is the cheapest of the three), although two are technically hotels. If you're situated right on the main road, you're easily walkable from the Old Town and across the river, so you don't need to spend money on public transportation. Meals are cheap too, depending on where you go. I recommend walking a few minutes away from the Old Town where you can find authentic meals that aren't too expensive.
7.) Istanbul, Turkey
My proudest moment in travel history was finding a glitch in a Swedish travel website and snaggin' a round trip ticket from Chicago to Istanbul for just over $200. But it wasn't just my flight that was cheap. The city of Istanbul itself is very cheap. The average cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is just 15 TL, the equivalent to about $5! There's also lots to explore on foot, such as the spice market and the area of Eminonou. The mosques are also free to visit, although ladies, it's recommended you bring a scarf to cover your head!
8.) Prague, Czech Republic
Praha, Praha. $5 meals and freshly baked cinnamon bread with chocolate (trdelnik, just kill me now!!!). Also largely a walking city, there are lots of free touristy things to see and do like the classicly cliche John Lennon Wall (pictured above), the Charles bridge, the Old Town, and giant crawling baby statues (they are a real thing). If you do use public transportation, be sure to buy a train ticket, as you may get stopped by a ticket officer, or even worse, someone trying to scam you! Accommodation is also cheap, with some hostels from $5 a night. (Recommendation: Check out the Prague Pub Crawl for a late night out with cheap drinks, and a free t-shirt!)