Luxury backpacking is all about knowing how to get luxury for less and experiencing stylish travel on a backpacking budget. I have rounded up my 13 best budget European cities which are the best at delivering this very thing. Whether you want to slip away for a weekend, or combine as part of a longer trip, these destinations are a great choice for smaller budgets.
As well as finding the cheapest, chicest cities to visit, I’ve also rounded up the best places to stay in each city. Some are truly great finds, which is why I’ve tagged my favourites with♡LB favourite! Enjoy!
13 – Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina
A city on the edge of total ruin back in the 90’s, Sarajevo is one of the most intriguing, exciting places to visit in Europe. Like Berlin, there are visible signs of such recent troubles – with bullet holes scattering its walls. However, what grew from the pieces of its ruin was a beautiful, cosmopolitan and modern city which is more than worthy of a luxury backpacking break.
Where to stay – There are plenty of good quality budget options on the hotel front. However, my pick is the Hotel Michele which is a glorious 4* townhouse/boutique hotel and for just £58 pn for two, it certainly is lux for less!
12 – Sofia, Bulgaria
East meets West in this great little gem of a city. Often overlooked, Sofia is a great location for a luxury backpacking trip. It has a lot of great history and interesting features, yet is modern and fun and offers something for everyone. Add an interesting country to your travel list, and make your next destination Bulgaria.
Where to stay – Like some of my other pics, there is plenty of great budget accommodation in Sofia. I really recommend going with a hostel over a cheap hotel, as you will find you get so much more for your money. Try Art Hostel which is cheap, cheerful, and has some great private rooms for a fraction of the cost of 1 star hotels in the city – in fact a double room for two pn with breakfast costs £37!
11 – Ljubljana, Slovenia
If you are looking for somewhere a little less, bustling, then this is your choice. With no car access to the centre, only pedestrians and cyclists are able to enjoy it’s cafes and bars along the river. It’s museums, bars and clubs are great – so this is a good choice for a well rounded break.
Where to stay – Luxury accommodation isn’t going to be the cheapest from the list, but there are still lots of goodies to be found. I recommend going for a hostel, and the Hostel Vrba has three private doubles, and at £18 for two pn it is a great choice, leaving you with extra cash to spend elsewhere.
10 – Riga, Latvia
This beautiful gothic city is camera and adventure ready. Jam packed with quirky cafes and bars, great restaurants, beautiful buildings, and modern art, it really is a GREAT choice for a budget lux city break.
Where to stay – There is a big difference between the old and new towns in Riga, so be sure to choose where you want to stay before picking an accommodation. Both are good choices, and there are lots of quirky, historical places to choose from in both. Plus, you can walk anywhere in Riga so getting around is simple. My pick is the Ekes Konvents which is a 600 year old medieval beauty not to be missed, from £48pn for two.
9 – Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a fail safe favourite European travel destination. I went there at the ripe old age of 17 for my sister’s hen weekend, and it delivered as both a memorable and beautiful city, and a great place to party. The cobbled streets and beautiful buildings make it a stunning place to go, and that coupled with its winding river and great food and drink scene make it the perfect luxury backpacking destination.
Where to stay – ♡LB favourite! – Stay at Vintage Design Hotel Sax, from £51 pn. The location of this one is just amazing – right below the castle, and the top floor rooms have views over the whole city. Location + view + style = lux!
8 – Krakow, Poland
Mythical, magical Krakow is a top pick for a cheap weekend away in Europe. Steeping in history, and with cheap beer and friendly faces, this city has little that won’t impress. History lovers will devour its churches, museums, and decorative squares. Everyone else will have a jolly good time nonetheless.
Where to stay – Krakow is no secret to European travellers, so make sure you book early. There are plenty of good, cheap hostels, but if you are looking for something a little different choose the beautiful manor house U Pana Cogito which offers airy doubles from £38pn for two.
7 – Berlin, Germany
Berlin is a great choice for luxury backpackers as you really have everything you could ask for in a European city, with history at its core, and a great nightlife scene. It is iconic, beautiful, and yet has a gritty edge and underground club scene which makes it perfect for… just about anyone!
Where to stay – ♡LB favourite! – The Michelberger is a gorgeous, contemporary hangout with rooms from just £58 per night. They also have a great bar and restaurant which offer local and organic produce so you can be fully immersed whilst supporting local businesses!
6 – Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is a truly interesting and unique place. A great place for culture and nightlife, if you are looking for something different and like a party – this is your place. The fact that it gets overlooked by tourists makes it a perfect escape – and a very cost effective destination.
5 – Kiev, Ukraine
One quick google image search of Kiev will show you why you should visit. With beautiful architecture, cathedrals and museums, it is by far one of Europe’s more beautiful cities. A good one for savvy travellers who want to experience something new. If you are looking to venture somewhere a different, which isn’t as well established in tourism as other places in Europe, this is the place.
Where to stay – There are lots of very cheap hostels in Kiev (I’m talking a fiver a night kind of prices) And the mid-range options are extensive too, with doubles around the £40pn mark. My pick would be a studio apartment at the Partner Guest House Baseina apartments where for just £48pn for two, you get the luxury of your own airy, modern apartment.
4 – Bucharest, Romania
A dynamic, fun place to visit, Bucharest is full of great art galleries and museums, quirky cafes, and lush parks to wander through. This is the capital Vlad the Impaler built his residence, today known as the Old Court, more than half a millennium ago, so gothic history lovers will be fascinated.
Where to stay – Enjoy the Romanian experience in the colouful Doors hostel. It is in a quiet residential location, and has a lovely garden to relax in. They have only one private double which works out as £41pn for two, so book in advance unless you don’t mind a dorm room.
3 – Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is a one off kind of place – It has a really laid-back vibe unlike other European cities, and yet is seeping in culture and gothic charm. Take a book or notebook, and while away your day in one of the many cafes on the waterfront – a people watchers dream!
Where to stay – ♡LB favourite! – The Brody House is a former artists’ residence which is now a super stylist 11 room boutique hotel with rooms from £77pn. Think recycled vintage furniture, stripped walls and modern art!
There is also the Lavra Guest house – a 200-year-old former convent and the birthplace of singer Amália Rodrigues. The rooms are stylish, light and airy, with courtyard or ocean views, from £50pn.
2 – Strasbourg, France
A gorgeous city on the border of Germany, the location is great for some awe-inspiring road trips through the Black Forest, so you can accomplish two countries in one weekend! It is in the Alsace region, so local wine is low priced. Wonderfully romantic, with great bars and restaurants, and cobbled streets to wind down, choose Strasbourg over Paris and save yourself some serious money.
Where to stay – ♡LB favourite! – There are some great AirBnB picks for Strasbourg which beat the hotels on budget by a mile. I stayed in a wonderful apartment for £41pn (for a couple, £33pn for 1 person). With gorgeous kitsch interiors, in a great location, and with really lovely owners I am tempted to keep this gem to myself! But as it’s you, I will divulge! Click here for details.
1 – Budapest, Hungary
Great architecture in this beautiful, romantic city makes it a perfect break for those who wish to wander aimlessly and take some stunning snaps. Plus, the 125 thermal springs you can bathe in make it a city break with a difference – you get the spa treatment for a fraction of the cost of luxury spa breaks.
Where to stay – At only £23 pn a double with en-suite (much cheaper for a dorm/shared bathroom), Budapest’s first hostel, the Shantee House is my pick. There are lots of budget options available though, so affordable accommodation is easy.