13 Budget European Vacations for Avoiding the Crowds



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Under the Radar

Finding a vacation destination that's both budget friendly and not overrun by crowds is no small feat, particularly at a time when overtourism is becoming increasingly problematic for some of the world's most iconic destinations. With these two challenges in mind, we asked travel industry experts to identify locations in Europe where it's still possible to have a budget friendly getaway and escape the crowds. Read on for their top recommendations. (Looking for really cheap places to go? Check out these 22 Travel Destinations You Can Visit on $20 a Day.)

Tbilisi at sunset, Georgia country

Republic of Georgia

With its many historic sites and diverse landscape featuring everything from snow-capped mountains to the Black Sea coast, Georgia offers something for everyone, says Michael Rozenblit, co-founder of the travel site The World Was Here First. "Tourist numbers have been increasing over the last few years, particularly in major cities like Batumi and Tbilisi, however, relative to other European countries, crowds are minimal," says Rozenblit, noting that the country remains under the radar in part because it's served by only a handful of airlines and there's been very little marketing of the destination to Western countries. Top sights in Georgia include Narikala Fortress in Tbilisi, which offers panoramic views of the city; Davit Gareja Cliff Monastery, constructed in the 6th century; and Sameba Cathedral, one of the world's largest Eastern Orthodox churches. Accommodation prices in Georgia start around $20 per night for a guest house or about $30 to $40 for a mid-range hotel, Rozenblit says.



One of the most understated tourist destinations in Europe, Bulgaria has been part of the European Union since 2007, says Lora Georgieva of ProExpo Services, a business-to-business travel agency. "It's slowly becoming a popular tourist destination," says Georgieva, who recommends visiting Varna, along the Black Sea coast. A cosmopolitan maritime capital, Varna is filled with restaurants and bars, and attracts Europeans who are in search of a cheap vacation and memorable local food. "The city is also known for Roman thermae baths, which were constructed in late second century A.D.," Georgieva said. As for where to stay, check out Modus Hotel, a boutique, modern property where rates start at less than $60 per night, Georgieva suggests.

Kotor, Montenegro


For a Mediterranean vacation on a budget, consider Montenegro, suggests Molly Fergus, vice president and general manager of TripSavvy. "The Adriatic country offers sparkling blue waters, dramatic coastlines, and preserved medieval villages — all at a bargain price compared to more famous Mediterranean hotspots like Croatia or France," Fergus said. "This young country won't stay a secret for long, though. Brand new luxury hotels are cropping up along the coast. Get there before everyone else ... figures it out." Don't miss Kotor, a medieval town filled with museums, churches, and squares that demand you linger and spend some time sipping a drink at a café. Hotels in the charming and picturesque Kotor Old Town neighborhood can be found for less than $40 per night.

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Another destination that remains largely under the radar, Albania is among the top recommendations from Di Minardi, travel blogger and creator of the site Slight North. In particular, Minardi recommends Theth, a cozy and charming mountain town nestled at the feet of Albania's Accursed Mountains. "For hikers, trekkers, and adventure lovers, a weekend here is a great budget-friendly and uncrowded alternative to more popular destinations like the Swiss Alps or the Dolomites in Italy," Minardi said. "There are no restaurants or bars in Theth, so meals are home-grown and home-cooked by the families running guest houses." Days are spent hiking to mountain peaks and exploring waterfalls, and nights are spent with a good book under the stars. "When my husband and I visited Theth, we spent only $260 on transport, food, drinks, and activities for a three-night stay," Minardi said.



Lithuania is a beautiful yet overlooked destination that has still not made it to the top of any must-see lists, says travel blogger Becca Siegel of Halfhalftravel. In particular Siegel recommends spending time in Vilnius, where the old town area is filled with pastel-colored buildings. "Walking around in the early morning will get you a relaxed feeling as shops open up and as you have the streets to yourself," Siegel said. "What a break from over-touristed places like Prague and Barcelona." Siegel also recommends visiting the town of Trakai, where there's a mystical island with a rose-colored brick castle located on Lake Galve. This popular day trip is about 45 minutes outside Vilnius. While in Vilnius, Siegel and her boyfriend found a private room in a hostel that was listed on Airbnb for just $30 per night.


Telc, Czech Republic

A small, fairytale-like town in the southern Czech Republic, Telc is surrounded by ponds, fields, and forests. It is Matej Houlska's top pick for a budget friendly, yet uncrowded European option. The travel blogger and creator of Czech the World says Telc is an ideal destination for those who want to escape the rat race and enjoy the countryside. "Telc's main square is one of the most romantic places in the Czech Republic," says Houlska. "Imagine colorful historic houses with high gables and arcades built in a Renaissance and Baroque style." The town of Telc is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its pretty and well-preserved historic squares. There are plenty of affordable accommodations here including the four-star Hotel Telc, where rooms start at $64 per night.

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A Balkan country located next to Croatia, travel blogger Kevin Mercier says Bosnia has all the charm of its famous neighbor but has the added advantage of not being overrun by crowds. "If you love the outdoors, you're in for a treat in Bosnia," Mercier said. "There are plenty of waterfalls where you'll be mostly alone, and you can even swim here. Best of all, entrance to these waterfalls is usually free, though some have an entrance fee of just $1 to $3 for the entire day." Rafting lovers might want to try a full-day rafting tour on the Tara River, which can be less than $50. Hotels in the center of Mostar, one of the most beautiful cities in Bosnia, can be found for under $30 per night.

Ramon Portelli/istockphoto


A southern European island country, Malta is just beginning to make it onto the radar of globetrotters, says says Sahar Aman, editor and travel expert for TourRadar. "Malta is starting to become a trendy destination for budget-conscious travelers thanks to the country's recent economic development and increased flight offerings," Aman said. "It's also gaining in popularity due to its warmer climate and beautiful architecture." As for what to see in Malta, don't miss the 220-meter high Dingli Cliffs, an area on Malta's west coast that offers spectacular views of the horizon. And don't miss taking a ferry to the nearby island of Gozo and exploring Mgarr, a harbor community where you can dine on fresh fish. Malta is also a destination Game of Thrones fans might enjoy. Accommodations in Valletta, the tiny capital of Malta, can be found for under $50 per night.


Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia's capital Belgrade is one of Europe's up and comers, a place known for its coffee houses, historic buildings, and its ancient fortress. The destination is travel blogger Roger Timbrook's top choice for an uncrowded, budget-friendly getaway. The creator of ExpertWorldTravel suggests visiting the ancient Belgrade fortress, which includes a citadel that was built in 279 B.C. You'll also want to spend some time in the adjacent Kalemegdan Park, which provides scenic views of the city. The Church of St. Sava, an astonishing Orthodox church adorned with gold, is another top sight. There are many budget hostels in Belgrade including Hostel Fair and Square where prices start under $20 per night.



Transylvania is a Romanian destination waiting to be discovered, says Corina Onet, of the site Chef's Pencil. "Unless you're visiting during a national holiday, all of the top tourist destinations here are relatively crowd-free," says Onet, who lives in the country. The destination is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, continues Onet, as there's an abundance of hiking trails lined by amazing scenery. Some of the top options include the Apuseni Mountains, as well as the Retezat and Fagaras mountains. "Retezat mountains are very rocky, while Fagaras boasts the two tallest peaks in Romania with beautiful flora," Onet said. And don't miss visiting Sibiu, one of the several fortified cities in Transylvania that was built by Saxons in the 12th century. A four-star hotel in Transylvania will set you back about $100, while a three-star room is in the $70 to $80 range, Onet says.

Mir Castle, Misnk
Aleh Varanishcha/istockphoto


About three years ago, Belarus relaxed its visa requirements and as a result, it has become much easier to visit this hidden cultural gem in the heart of Europe, says Aman, of TourRadar. Some of the top attractions include exploring the country's capital of Minsk and its Soviet history, as well as visiting Nesvizh Castle and spending time traveling through Belarus' rolling countryside and untouched rural villages, Aman says. Visitors shouldn't miss the grandeur of Mir Castle, a UNESCO listed site that dates back to the 16th century. Highly rated hotels in Minsk can be found for less than $50 per night.

Related: 18 Countries Where It's Easy to Get a Last-Minute Visa

Lake Bled


The experts at TourRadar recommend Slovenia as an underrated destination for nature lovers, a place where visitors will find a stunning mountain landscape and scenic outdoor activities. "Slovenia gets overlooked being located near more popular outdoorsy places like Croatia and the Swiss Alps, but it has just as much beauty as those areas, and it's often a cheaper destination to visit," Aman said. Attractions to put on your itinerary here include visiting the picturesque Lake Bled, one of the world's hidden gems where you'll find a church on an islet and a medieval castle perched on a rocky cliff. Another highlight in Slovenia is tasting local wine and food in the Karst region. Hotels in the Lake Bled region can be found for $50 to $100 per night.


Cagliari, Italy

One more option to consider when searching for your next budget-friendly yet uncrowded vacation is Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia's southern coast. "For a perfect combination of Italian villages and pristine beaches, skip Sardinia's famed Costa Smeralda and instead check out Cagliari," says Fergus of TripSavvy. While in Cagliari, spend time exploring Roman ruins, tasting wine in the hillsides, or feasting on malloreddus alla campidanese, a Sardinian specialty of saffron-tinged pasta with tomatoes and sausage, Fergus says. Well-rated hotels in Cagliari can be found starting at less than $70 per night.