12 Great Destinations in Europe You Can Afford

U.S. News & World Report

12 Great Destinations in Europe You Can Afford

St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest, Hungary.
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Whether you're searching for a quintessential European experience or simply looking to embrace a new setting, Europe beckons to the worldly traveler. From peddling through Croatia's picturesque countryside to exploring Barcelona's whimsical parks, there are plenty of ways to explore everything this diverse region has to offer. To help point you in the right direction, U.S. News found 12 inspiring spots based on reader votes and expert analysis that will satisfy your wanderlust — and your wallet.
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The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe
The Best Places to Visit in Europe
Waterfront and harbor in Dalmatia, Croatia.
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12. Central Dalmatia

Yes, there are tumbling hills, pebbly beaches and lovely trails, but travelers will also find trendy shops, ancient architecture and flourishing nightlife to enjoy along Croatia's southern coast.
Can't-miss experience: Exploring Diocletian's Palace in Split, a 1,000-year-old castle showcasing Roman architecture at its finest.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Sightseeing many of Central Dalmatia's most enticing spots, including Hvar Town and Diocletian's Palace in Split, won't cost you a thing.
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The Best Things to Do in Central Dalmatia
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe
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Whether you're searching for a quintessential European experience or simply looking to embrace a new setting, Europe beckons to the worldly traveler. From peddling through Croatia's picturesque countryside to exploring Barcelona's whimsical parks, there are plenty of ways to explore everything this diverse region has to offer. To help point you in the right direction, U.S. News found 12 inspiring spots based on reader votes and expert analysis that will satisfy your wanderlust — and your wallet.
Find out more about:
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe
The Best Places to Visit in Europe

12. Central Dalmatia

Yes, there are tumbling hills, pebbly beaches and lovely trails, but travelers will also find trendy shops, ancient architecture and flourishing nightlife to enjoy along Croatia's southern coast.
Can't-miss experience: Exploring Diocletian's Palace in Split, a 1,000-year-old castle showcasing Roman architecture at its finest.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Sightseeing many of Central Dalmatia's most enticing spots, including Hvar Town and Diocletian's Palace in Split, won't cost you a thing.
Find out more about:
The Best Things to Do in Central Dalmatia
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

11. Thessaloniki, Greece

With its iconic ruins and traditional tavernas, Thessaloniki lures throngs of visitors each year. Stroll through Ano Poli's charming neighborhood and you'll snake past storied alleyways, Byzantine churches and historic sites like the 11th-century arches at the Church of Panagia.
Can't-miss experience: Admiring Mount Olympus and 2,000-year-old ruins as you wander through the Acropolis.
Where it's wallet-friendly: With plenty of free attractions (the Acropolis, Ano Poli and the Beaches of Halkidiki, to name a few) and low-cost carriers offering affordable flights to Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki is a budget-friendly alternative to more hard-to-reach Greek isles like Santorini and Corfu
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The Best Things to Do in Thessaloniki
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

10. Valencia, Spain

Valencia's charms are plentiful, from its imaginative museums to its enchanting parks to its enticing Mercado Central. Tucked inside an elaborate art deco building (complete with wrought-iron ceilings), this bustling market offers affordable and freshly prepared paella and tapas and a myriad of colorful stalls filled with fresh produce.
Can't-miss experience: Sampling traditional paella, and taking advantage of the walking and biking trails in Albufera Nature Park.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Plan a trip in winter for fewer crowds and reduced room rates. 
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The Best Things to Do in Valencia
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

9. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beyond Dubrovnik's enticing seaside fortress, there's much to explore from pebbly beaches to religious sites like Dubrovnik Cathedral and the Franciscan Monastery. Soak it all in by meandering through the Old Town, where a wealth of historic sites, scenic alleyways and charming cafes await.
Can't-miss experience: Embarking on your own "Game of Thrones"-inspired tour as you make your way across the medieval city walls and marvel at the landscape that serves as the backdrop for the fictional King's Landing on the hit HBO series.
Where it's wallet-friendly: This Croatian city is perfect for cost-conscious travelers thanks to its budget-friendly hotels in Lapad Bay. Maximize savings by visiting during the shoulder season — September to October — when temperatures and hotel rates dip, and the region's olive harvests begin. 
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The Best Things to Do in Dubrovnik
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8. Berlin

From sprawling green spaces like Viktoriapark in the trendy Kreuzberg neighborhood to bike tours highlighting the city's impressive natural and architectural sites, Germany's modern metropolis offers something for every traveler.
Can't-miss experience: Catching sight of Berlin's fascinating art and architecture at East Side Gallery, where street art is showcased on a sliver of the Berlin Wall.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Berlin offers a convenient and inexpensive subway system. Plus, off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods like Berlin East boast a vibrant nightlife that's more budget-friendly than venues in the west — a major bonus for visiting night owls.
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The Best Things to Do in Berlin
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

7. Crete, Greece

Crete is known for its impressive archeological sites but that's not all this Greek isle has going for it. Beachcombers can stretch out beneath swaying palms at Vai Beach, while adventurers get their hearts racing at Samaria Gorge in Chania. Meanwhile, history enthusiasts can catch a glimpse into Crete's past at the Palace of Knossos or the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Can't-miss experience: Brushing up on Minoan art history at the Heraklion Archeological Museum, which boasts 3,000-year-old artifacts most art connoisseurs only see in their history books.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Exploring Crete's sandy beaches, palm-laden forests and craggy mountains is free of charge. Plus, enjoying meals at authentic tavernas is a cheap (and delicious) way to eat affordably.
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The Best Things to Do in Crete
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6. Kraków, Poland

Kraków's rolling hills, stately spires and scenic hilltop castle make it an appealing choice for travelers in search of a fairytale-like setting. Aside from the impressive Wawel Cathedral and medieval market square, Kraków boasts many more historic districts and verdant parks worth exploring on foot. Plus, Kraków's contemporary charms, including trendy galleries and vibrant cafes, appeal to a wide range of travelers.
Can't-miss experience: Meandering through Planty Park, and its well-manicured gardens lining the city's Old Walls, serves as a relaxing escape.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Compared to other European cities across the continent, Kraków is exceedingly budget-friendly, with two of its must-see sites, Rynek Glówny and Auschwitz, available to travelers free of charge.
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The Best Things to Do in Kraków
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

5. Barcelona

Magnificent museums, bustling markets and iconic churches and cathedrals are just a few highlights of this cosmopolitan city. You'll certainly want to tour Gaudí's inspiring sites, including Parc Güell and La Sagrada Familia, but you should also make time for Barri Gòtic and the impressive Montjuïc Castle.
Can't-miss experience: Browsing the colorful stalls and sampling freshly squeezed juice at the Boqueria Market, just off of Las Ramblas.
Where it's wallet-friendly: This vibrant Spanish city is chock-full of free attractions, from Parc Güell to La Seu, plus many of its dining and hotel options are more cost-effective than other European hot spots.
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The Best Things to Do in Barcelona
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

4. Istanbul

Inspiring architecture, flourishing markets and opulent palaces await visitors in this bustling city. Perusing bazaar stalls is a must here but you can't skip touring historical attractions around the Sultanahmet area like the Blue Mosque and the nearby Hagia Sophia
Can't-miss experience: Soaking in a traditional Turkish hamam (bath) or, if you're yearning for more activity, haggling at the Grand Bazaar for a souvenir.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Many of Istanbul's top cultural sights (including Taksim Square and the Blue Mosque) won't cost you a penny. Plus, traditional mezes (tapas-style plates) are popular, inexpensive and served at a variety of meyhanes (traditional dining establishments in Turkey).
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The Best Things to Do in Istanbul
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

3. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon's seven hills, cool cafes and elaborate Manueline architecture entice those looking for a blend of Old World charm and modern conveniences. Popular pastimes include savoring pastéis de nata (cinnamon and custard tarts) at a coffee shop and traversing Alfama's winding streets in search of iconic sites like St. George's Castle and the Sé Cathedral.
Can't-miss experience: Strolling along Lisbon's wide boulevards, weaving by pastel-hued homes and azulejos (ornate ceramic tiles) that embellish fountains and churches.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Many of Lisbon's remarkable sites, including its museums, are free to tour on the first Sunday of each month. Save even more by picking up a Lisboa Card, which offers reduced fare on public transportation.
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The Best Things to Do in Lisbon
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

2. Budapest, Hungary

During a trip to Hungary's capital, you can catch a glimpse of Budapest's medieval past at the Royal Palace on Castle Hill, dip into a relaxing thermal bath and soak in world-class art at the Hungarian National Gallery. Need we say more?
Can't-miss experience: Venturing to the Széchenyi thermal baths is a requisite, not only to soothe sore muscles in natural thermal springs but also to admire its striking neo-Baroque architecture.
Where it's wallet-friendly: Budapest brims with free cultural and historic attractions, from Heroes' Square to Castle Hill. Plus, you'll find inexpensive, easy-to-navigate public transit and affordable hotels here.
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The Best Things to Do in Budapest
The Best Affordable Destinations in Europe

1. Prague

Sure, Prague is enchanting and historic, but there are vibrant museums and cultural events worth exploring once you've marveled at must-sees like the Astronomical Clock and Prague Castle. Carve out some time for a leisurely stroll through Old Town to gaze at its Gothic spires and neo-Baroque buildings.
Can't-miss experience: Savoring a pint at one of the city's lively pubs and cafes surrounding Old Town. T-Anker and U Parlamentu are top haunts among locales.
Where it's wallet-friendly: A city for budget-minded travelers, the Czech capital boasts affordable and inspiring cultural gems like the whimsical Dancing House and St. Vitus Cathedral, which charge no admission fees. Best of all, hotel stays and meals cost less than in other European destinations.
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The Best Things to Do in Prague
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