One of the most common myths about visiting countries in Europe is that it’s pricey compared to countries in Asia and South America. The fact of the matter is if you go beyond places in Switzerland, France, and Great Britain you’ll get more mileage for your euro.
Europe has 50 countries – countries in the Balkans and Eastern Europe will fit the bill for being the best and most affordable places to visit. I picked seven of the following for 2019:
The war in the 90s may have left scars in the hearts of many, on concrete sidewalks and floors (Sarajevo roses), and pockmarks on buildings, but some things remain the same in Sarajevo – its rich Ottoman and European cultures and history, strong Bosnian coffee, and traditional shops and restaurants.
In Sarajevo, you’ll have a chance to trace the history that shaped the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, walk on narrow centuries-old cobbled streets and also enjoy a drink at trendy bars. You can have it all at a fraction of the cost of visiting western European cities.
One night at Hotel Boutique 36 in Bascarsija, Sarajevo’s old town is $75 for two including breakfast.
Ohrid is a town on Lake Ohrid in southern Macedonia. From picturesque mountain and lake views to narrow cobbled streets, Byzantine churches and Samuil’s fortress on the hill, Ohrid proves to be one of the most beautiful places in the Balkans. Ohrid at one point had over 300 churches and monasteries and was known as Jerusalem of the Balkans.
You can hop on a private boat or join a guided group scenic boat tour and take in the sights of the churches on the hill and lakeside towns. The most famous spot in Ohrid is the 4th-century BC Samuil’s (Samuel) fortress. I suggest climbing up the hill to catch the incredible sunset views of the lake and town from St Jovan at Kaneo Church.
Lake Ohrid and Ohrid town are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The luxurious Hotel Aleksandrija located by the lake is only $57 a night for two including breakfast.
Krakow, the former capital and home to the Polish monarchs is one of the most visited places in Poland. The city is filled with an extraordinary history that spans 1,000 years. Krakow still plays a vital role in the country’s economic and educational sectors. There is so much to see and do in Krakow, from architectural monuments and historic sites to art galleries and charming cafes and restaurants.
Check out the Old Town (Stare Mist), Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny), Cloth Hall ( Sukiennice), St Mary’s Basilica, Wawel (Wawel Castle and Cathedral) and Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter). Most people visit Auschwitz and Wieliczka Salt Mine when visiting Krakow.
A room for two at INX Design Hotel in Old Town is just $80 per night for two people.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, did not make it to the list of must-visit cities in Europe, but that’s about to change. This city of under a million people is friendly and is filled with history, good food and great places to sit down for a cup of coffee and a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. Apart from the dining scene, Sofia boasts of 2,000 years of Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet history. Each of these political influences has left their mark on the architecture, cuisine, and culture of Sofia.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Sofia, I recommend Budapest Hotel. It is only $74 per night for two including breakfast.
Chances are you haven’t heard of Berat. Berat is located 75 miles south of Tirana, Albania. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has over 2,000 years of Albanian history. Its most famous attractions are the white-washed Ottoman houses and Berat castle and fortress on the hill.
It’s one of the most well-preserved Ottoman cities in the Balkans. Berat is affordable and intriguing. Go before it gets too popular and crowded. Hotel Onufri, a 2-minute walk from Osum River is only $28 per night for two including breakfast.
The second largest city in Kosovo, Prizren is located in a valley between Sharr Mountains with Albania on the west and Macedonia on the southeast. Most of the people are of Albanian descent. And there is a small percentage of Bosniaks, Turks, Gypsies, and Serbs.
Prizren is a beautiful and walkable old city in Kosovo offering plenty of things to do and see. It has a mix of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. Check out Sinan Pasha Mosque, Old Stone Bridge, cafes along Bistrica River, restaurants on Shadervan cobbled square and the 11th-century Prizren Fortress on the hill.
You won’t find many tourists in Prizren. And your cash will go a long way in restaurants and cafes. A room for two at Hotel Prizren Centrum is only $57 a night including breakfast.
7. Herceg Novi
Herceg Novi, a coastal town at the entrance of Bay of Kotor in Montenegro should be added to your list of places to visit if you’re visiting Montenegro and Croatia. It’s only a 30-minute drive from Dubrovnik airport. Herceg Novi is cheaper and less crowded compared to cruise ports like Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Kotor (Montenegro).
It’s an ideal place to visit if you like the sea, history, Mediterranean weather, and tasty Mediterranean food. Herceg Novi’s old town – Stari Grad has buildings that date back to the 1400s and fortresses from the 1500s and 1600s.
A night for two people at Palmon Bay Hotel and Spa is $81 including breakfast.