Jet setting off to Europe in the summer is like winning the lottery for any world traveler. (The culture, the landmarks, the pastries!) Unfortunately, if you haven’t actually won the lottery anytime recently, a dream European vacay can cost you more than a pretty penny during peak season.
Thankfully it’s easy enough to do Europe away from the crowds on a budget—even in the summertime—without sacrificing all the Insta-worthy pics (and food) you’re after. You’ve just got to get off the beaten path a bit. If you skip Paris, London, and Rome, and backpack parts of Eastern Europe instead, you’ll have an authentic experience and spend way less money.
Remember, you’ll be navigating trains and planes on your Eastern European adventure, so pack your international carry-on and a small daypack for daily sightseeing.
Now, on to the itinerary!
Scandinavia is a popular scenic summer destination for backpackers and travelers alike, but it’s very pricey. Nearby Estonia is a good alternative for budget travelers. There, you’ll find a fairytale-like setting in the capital city of Tallinn. You can also take day trips for biking, hiking, and swimming under waterfalls in the countryside. Budget travelers can find hotels for $20-$100 a night and enjoy a nice meal for around 15-20 Euros (~$17).
If you crave history and beautiful mountain scenery, you’ll love Sofia. Though relatively unknown, there’s a lot to explore here, including beautiful churches, Ottoman mosques, and Roman ruins dating back 2,000 years. You’ll also find an eclectic mix of international restaurants that are half the price of other cities in Europe, and plenty of options for day or overnight trips to backpack in the mountains or out to a resort on the Black Sea.
Are you dreaming about spending your summer on the Mediterranean? If you’re on a budget, forget about going to Greece. Instead, consider backpacking in Albania, which is much less known to tourists and it’s a real steal in terms of what you get for the price. Here, you’ll find beautiful beaches to explore, like those in scenic Dhërmi, where beachfront Airbnbs go for $50-$80 a night and a seaside hamburger and beer on the will only set you back $5.
If your goal is to go to Italy and spend your summer in the vineyards drinking wine, you might want to consider Moldova as a budget-friendly alternative. The tiny but beautiful country has a thriving vineyard scene and is 11th in Europe for the most wine produced per year. Base yourself in the capital city of Chisinau and you’ll be able to take day trips out to the vines for tastings and tours. At night, you’ll find plenty of good wine to sample near your hotel, too, and a nice meal for around $1.
Travel in Eastern Europe is generally considered safe, but petty theft can be common. Pack smart for your European trip , and if you keep your funds secure in a money belt when you head out you’ll be good to go on crowded trains and when sightseeing in tourist areas.
Tarmac International Carry On
Wayfinder Backpack 20L
Silk Undercover Money Belt
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
5 European Vacations for the Crowd-Phobic
Budget Friendly Travel In the Baltics
5 Budget-Friendly Destinations to Visit in 2106482