Top 5 European Destinations, on a budget

Today’s Travel Tip comes from our mate, Jeremy of Budget Travel Adventures who lives in California. He’s the expert on how to make your money go a long way by choosing a vacation wisely. Here he is with the best budget travel destinations in Europe for 2011!

With the economy of many countries still struggling, budget travel is extremely popular among travelers.  While airfares are rising, travel is beginning to rebound.  While many people are choosing to take vacations close to home, others are still looking to visit places like Europe.  The most popular destinations for 2011 still include top places like Paris and Italy.

Budget travel in Europe is one of the most popular topics in travel.  In a recent Budget Travel Magazine issue (March 2011), Europe ranked as the number 1 destination among travelers this year.  Visiting Europe isn’t cheap.  Flights are becoming more expensive, the value of many currencies continues to fall, and hotel prices remain strong for many of the top tourist destinations in Europe. So what are the best budget travel destinations in Europe for 2011?  Many factors affect the total price of a vacation in Europe.  However, here are some great destinations to check out and some ways you can save money.

1. Spain

Barcelona Spain C&C

While the beaches of Italy, Greece, and the south of France are more popular with tourists, Spain has a number of great beaches that are popular but can still save you money.  There are some great beaches in Valencia, Barcelona, and the Costa del Sol region that offer some cheaper flights and some budget options for accommodations.  Other great destinations off the mainland for beachgoers include the island of Mallorca.

Flights within Spain are very cheap as well so you can visit Madrid, Granada, or Seville by plane or train cheaper than you can rent a car.  While the country is popular with tourists, it can be cheaper to fly into Spain than some of these other European destinations.  With some careful research, there are a number of budget hotel options in big cities and small towns throughout the country.

To really save money, visit Spain in September or early October where flights and hotels will be cheaper, beaches and towns will be less crowded, and it won’t be nearly as hot.


2. Portugal

Salema Portugal C&C

Even less crowded and more affordable than Spain’s beaches are the beaches on the coast of Portugal.  There are a number of small towns from Lagos to the edge of Portugal (and the edge of Europe) with abundant sunshine, warm waters, and fewer tourists.  Lagos is one of the biggest seaside towns in Portugal so the further away you get, the more options you have and the further your budget will go.

Like Spain, Portugal has a number of affordable options for traveling within the country.  Both by train and bus, public transportation in Portugal is both safe and budget-friendly.  The capital of Lisbon has been named by some as the “San Francisco of Europe.”  It’s a great city to explore in Europe without the tourists or crowds.  In my experience, Lisbon is also one of the best English speaking cities in all of Europe.


3. Germany

Germany C&C

While Germany is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe every summer, this year it is the host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in various cities throughout the country.  The tournament runs June 26 – July 17 so while a number of tourists from nations all over the world will descend upon the country during that time, it may be a little less crowded after the tournament is over.

The price of flights doesn’t vary that much during or after the World Cup.  However, you may be able to find some good hotel deals after many of the football fans leave.  Whether you are exploring Bavaria, Berlin, or cities and towns in between, late July and August could bring some good deals for travel in Germany.


4. Slovenia

Lake Bled Slovenia C&C

For a country with a population of around 2 million people, it’s not a big tourist destination.  However, it doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see.  Since it is a small country, it’s easy to get around.  Located between Italy and Croatia, it may go unnoticed due to the appeal of the Italian big cities and countryside and the many beaches along Croatia’s coast.  However, Slovenia offers some spectacular caves, a walkable capital city (Ljubljana), and some great mountain retreats located in the Alps.  Italy and Switzerland may be more popular for the Alps but Slovenia has some fantastic views of these mountains as well with numerous summer activities.  For this reason, Lake Bled is a destination that must be visited.

While Slovenia doesn’t have much coastline, it’s close to many of the fabulous beaches in Croatia.  Slovenia has some great budget options since it isn’t as popular.  However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit the big cities in Europe.  From Slovenia’s capital of Ljubljana, it’s about two hours to Venice, Italy.


5. Bosnia and Herzegovina

While it’s not a popular destination for many tourists to Europe, this country offers a number of affordable budget options for travelers.  Located east of Croatia, this country has taken a while to rebuild from the war.  However, visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina allows you to take a look at the different Slavic groups that were the focus of the war while learning a lot about this region of Europe.

Towns like Mostar give you a fabulous look at life in Bosnia while enjoying a less crowded part of Europe.  While some of the history in this area is quite tragic, new life is beginning again in this somewhat undiscovered area of Europe.  With a lot of the country located in the mountains, it offers some fabulous views.  For a look at city life, check out the capital city of Sarajevo.  Once a war torn area, this country slowly has been rebuilding.  However, evidence still remains from the harsh and war-torn history of the south Slavic people in this area of Europe.

While budget travel in Europe isn’t as easy as it was years ago, there are still some hidden gems and great money-saving ways to explore.  From the tip of Europe in Spain and Portugal to the former Yugoslavian countries Slovenia and Bosnia Herzegovina to mainland, popular destinations like Germany, finding great experiences without spending a lot of money is still possible in Europe today.

About this week’s guestwriter
Jeremy C&CJeremy Branham is a budget travel writer who lives in northern California with his wife and two sons.  His blog, Budget Travel Adventures, focuses on budget travel destinations, travel tips, information and tips on family travel, California travel, and the use of travel as a way to make a difference in the world.  Follow him on Twitter and Facebook as well.
All photos are contributed by the Author of this post


  1. Argh! No budget for any vacay at the moment :) But I can at least dream about it :)

  2. So interesting, I never considered Spain a budget destination but I guess it’s all in what you do.

    • Spain can be a budget destination based on where you go. Not everywhere in Spain is expensive. And using trains, buses, and even flights within the country can be really cheap. The biggest expense will be the flight but Spain has GREAT weather in the Fall and is much more affordable then as well.

    • Me neither, but Jeremy really peaked my curiosity saying that with most places, you can always find a bargain. Flying at the right time, choosing the right location even in a busy part of town could mean costs savings. Very eye-opening to me about Spain too;)

  3. Thanks so much for letting me do this Mei! Hopefully people find this helpful and can share their own budget travel tips for Europe!

  4. I really like Jeremy’s destination tips. I’ve definitely added Bosnia and Herzegovina to my list of places to go! Thanks!

  5. Really want to go to Slovenia. Great tips, Jeremy!

  6. My vote’s for Portugal cos I haven’t been there yet!

    (Would heartily recommend Deutschland and Spain too.)

  7. i’m quite sure: i will spend my holidays in Spain! :D thanks for sharing that lovely post :)

  8. This is soo cool !! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much for your photos! Good Design !

  9. I have always heard that Portugal is a great budget destination. I was in Spain once and was headed there, but we changed our plan and went elsewhere.

    Any of the Balkan states would be cool to visit. Croatia is a country that seems interesting as well.

  10. The good thing about Spain is that there are options for all budgets, but in terms of low cost options, southern Spain and Granada in particular are definitely great value for money.

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