Western Europe is one of the most expensive parts of the world, but there are always some exceptions. If you want to visit this part of Europe and you happen to be low on cash, there are still options for you. Here are ten affordable cities you can visit in Western Europe.
Seven different countries are represented on this list, so it is certainly possible to travel around Europe without paying a fortune. Portugal and Spain are some obvious places to start, but Germany can be surprisingly affordable as well. Continue reading to see all ten destinations!
Overall, Portugal is the cheapest country in Western Europe. Any destination in Portugal could be mentioned, but we have decided to go with Porto, the main city in the northern region of the country. Lisbon’s prices have seen some increases over the years, mainly due to waves of expats settling there and driving rent prices up. However, Porto remains affordable – so if you want to save some money while visiting Europe, it could be your primary destination.
Hotel prices in Porto are reasonable, even the hotels in the city centre. Eating out is very cheap. You can get great meals in Porto for €10-20 in many restaurants. Of course, there is an upscale scene in Porto as well, mainly in the districts of Boavista, Foz and the upper eastern sections of the Ribeira. But it is certainly possible to go there cheaply.
If you decide to stay in Porto for a week or longer, you can take advantage of the cheap transportation and do some excursions to nearby cities. A train ticket to Vigo in Spain is about €12, and a ticket to either Aveiro, Braga or Guimarães (historic cities in Northern Portugal) will set you back just €5!
Spain is the second-most affordable country in Western Europe. Of the main cities in Spain, Valencia is the cheapest.
Despite somewhat low prices, this city is absolutely awesome. Valencia is located by the Mediterranean coast, a few hundred kilometers south of Barcelona, and it has comfortable weather for the majority of the year. There are many old attractions in Valencia, plus a great nightlife and awesome seafood restaurants.
Hostels in Valencia are insanely cheap. Hotels are reasonably priced, and there are plenty of holiday apartments in the central areas as well. You get the best of everything when you visit Valencia, so we highly recommend it!
Another affordable city in Spain is Seville. Located in the southern region of Andalusia, it can be very hot in the summer – but for the rest of the year, temperatures will be decent. And so will the prices: Hotels and holiday apartments are rarely that expensive, and there is a great selection since Seville has a nice infrastructure for tourism.
Eating in Seville is cheap as well – even cheaper than in Valencia – and going out drinking won’t empty your bank account either. You have to pay to see the attractions around the city, but there are usually discounts for students, seniors and families.
Germany often ranks as one of the countries with the highest standard of living, but the country isn’t actually that expensive. It is cheaper to visit Germany than it is to visit its northern, western and southern neighbors.
Bremen is the most affordable city to visit in Northern Germany. Traditionally, Bremen has been a working-class city, but nowadays it has its fair share of cultural attractions – which includes many museums and galleries. The old city centre, particularly the market square, is very pretty and you will find plenty of nice hotels around this area. The City Hall of Bremen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Situated only 125 kilometers away from Hamburg, a day trip to Germany’s second-largest city is also an option. Furthermore, Bremen allows easy access to the Ruhr region, Cologne, Frankfurt and Amsterdam as well. The location couldn’t be any better if you want to explore northwestern Europe!
Eastern Germany is generally cheaper than western Germany. One of the main cities in the eastern half of the country is Dresden – a city well known for its long history.
A trip to Dresden does not have to be expensive at all. It is possible to find decent hotels for less than €50 per night. And even though Dresden is cheap, it still remains hugely popular with over 4 million stays per year. Tourists love this city. It used to be the residence of Saxon kings, and it has some beautiful attractions such as the Frauenkirche and the Semperoper. Most parts of the city had to be rebuilt after the raids of WW2. Nowadays, Dresden is also one of Germany’s main technology hubs.
You can combine a trip to Dresden with visits to Berlin and Leipzig – two other German cities in the vicinity that aren’t overly expensive. Berlin is much cheaper than other European capitals (think Paris, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen) and it almost received its own listing in this article.
Freiburg im Breisgau is not a famous city by any means. It has about 230,000 inhabitants and it is located in the southwestern corner of Germany.
So why should you visit Freiburg?
Simply because it is one of the most affordable cities in Germany, while also being one of the cities with the highest standard of living! Freiburg is located near the mountains and the Black Forest. The region is known for its wine, and culturally Freiburg has some attractions as well. It has an old university dating back to the Renaissance, so there are many young people around. Lastly, Freiburg is Germany’s warmest city – so the weather is actually quite pleasant.
It is the perfect base in Western Europe for two reasons:
- Accommodation in Freiburg is affordable
- The French and Swiss borders are both just a few kilometers away, allowing for interesting day trips
You won’t find too many international tourists going to Freiburg, so it can be considered a hidden gem as well as one of the most affordable destinations in Western Europe!
Visiting the United Kingdom can be difficult if you are on a budget. London is extremely expensive, and other touristic places such as Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Brighton will also set you back some serious cash.
But there are some cities on the south coast that are extremely pleasant while also being slightly more affordable than the main tourist destinations in England.
One of those would be Southampton. An interesting city when it comes to culture – especially with regards to the music scene. Southampton also offers better weather than most places in England.
Some good alternatives would be Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Plymouth, all located within the vicinity of So’ton and all worth visiting for a few days if you ever get the chance.
An affordable destination in Scandinavia? You probably didn’t expect that. But nevertheless, Gothenburg made the list!
It is the cheapest of all the major cities in Scandinavia. Visiting Gothenburg is cheaper than visiting the capital Stockholm. If we look outside of Sweden, Gothenburg is significantly more affordable than the main cities of Denmark and Norway.
But you don’t miss out on any fun: Gothenburg is a decently sized city with plenty of opportunities for shopping, eating and drinking. Plus a lot of attractions. There are many cool museums in Gothenburg, and the city has some pleasant public parks.
If you want to visit other affordable parts of Scandinavia, you can take the southbound train to Halmstad or Malmö. You can also take the ferry to Frederikshavn, a town in Northern Denmark where prices are lower than in other Danish regions.
While Northern Italy can be a bit expensive, Southern Italy is much more affordable. Naples would be the best example. This historic city is much cheaper to visit than Milan and Rome, and it still allows you to experience fascinating tourist attractions, wonderful food, and enjoyable weather.
Naples’ architecture is something everybody should see. Attractions such as the San Carlo Theatre, the San Gennaro Catacombs, and the Castel Nuovo are world-class. Then you have the legendary Vesuv volcano nearby – it has played a huge role in the history of the city. Football fans will enjoy a trip to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, the home ground of top club SSC Napoli.
Staying at a hotel in central Naples is generally not too expensive. There are high-end options, but there are also many cheap places. A trip to Naples makes sense for every type of traveler!
Marseille has the lowest cost of living among the major French cities. With a nice location on the Mediterranean Sea, it absolutely makes sense to visit Marseille.
If you use Marseille as your main base, you can take day trips to Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Genoa, Lyon, Montpellier and Barcelona. These destinations would otherwise be expensive, but if you are using Marseille as your base, and if you go back and forth the same day, you won’t have to pay for accommodation in those cities, so the costs aren’t high at all. Marseille has such a great location on the French Mediterranean coast, so if you book a holiday apartment there, you can take countless day trips and see the entire region.
You can also just stay in the city itself and enjoy all the attractions. Marseille is one of Europe’s oldest cities, founded by the Ancient Greeks. The Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica is a major attraction, and Marseille has some of the best museums in Europe. The port is a beautiful sight as well.
Crime can be a concern in Marseille. But with common sense, everything should be fine. It is rare that tourists experience anything bad since crime usually happens among small local gangs. If you stay at a hotel in the main tourist area, you will be able to enjoy one of France’s most fascinating cities – often at a very reasonable price!