For its third annual European Backpacker index, budget travel site Price of Travel ranked a raft of cities across Europe according to cost. Taking into account the price of one night’s stay in a hostel, two public transportation rides, one paid attraction, three budget meals and three local beers, the backpacker index then assigns a per day budget for each city. The surprise? With much of Europe in a recession, travelling to the famously pricey continent actually got cheaper, with seven of the 10 least expensive cities in 2013 totalling less than 23 euros per day, compared with only two of the 10 cheapest cities ranking that low in 2011. So for those interested in a taste of Europe, now is the time to go. (Sean Gallup/Getty)
Topping the list is Bucharest, with a “Daily Backpacker Index”, or cost per day of 78.57 Romanian leu. Nicknamed “Little Paris”, Romania’s capital city isn’t as well-publicised as some of its European brethren, so tourists will have to work to find gems like its Grand Parliament Building or Village Museum, which displays peasant homes and churches representing Romania’s rural architecture. The Romanian Athenaeum, a concert hall at the heart of the city (pictured), has been called Bucharest’s most beautiful building and is an excellent example of Baroque and Ionic architecture.
Budget breakdown – Funky Chicken Hostel, 15.47 leu/night; transportation: 4 leu; meals: 39.60 leu; beers: 7.50 leu; attractions: 12 leu. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty)
With a cost of 36.40 Bulgarian leva per day and a beautiful city centre that was established in the 5th Century BC by a Celtic tribe, Sofia is one of Europe’s oldest cities, rich in both ancient ruins and scenic beauty. Stop by the National Historical Museum, which gives a comprehensive overview of Bulgaria’s 7,000 years of history, and the Alexander Nevski Church (pictured), which was built as memorial to the 200,000 Russian soldiers who died in the Russian-Turkish Liberation War of 1877.
Budget breakdown – Hostel Mostel 13.70 leva/night; transportation: 2 leva; meals: 13.20 leva; beers: 4.50 leva; attractions: 3 leva. (Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty)
Like Prague and Budapest, Krakow is bound to get more expensive as it becomes more widely known. The city rings in at a low 77.20 Polish zlotych per day and plays host to a bevy of beautiful attractions, including a charming old city centre, the striking Wawel Royal Castle and the sprawling 10-acre Main Market Square (pictured).
Budget breakdown – Benedict Hostel: 20 zlotych/night; transportation: 5.60 zlotych; meals: 21.60 zlotych; beers: 18 zlotych; attractions: 12 zlotych. (Michael Regan/Getty)
4.Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Due to a name that conjures images of a war-torn past, Sarajevo has been struggling to attract tourists, keeping its prices at a low 19.56 euros per day. Once they arrive however, tourists will be surprised by the city’s gorgeous mountain location, its cosmopolitan city centre and its welcoming Muslim Old Town (pictured). Sarajevo is famous for its religious diversity, with Muslims, Jews and Christians – both Orthodox and Catholic – coexisting for centuries, earning it the nickname the “Jerusalem of Europe”.
Budget breakdown – Tower Hostel: 5.56 euros/night; transportation: 1.80 euros; meals: 7.20 euros; beers: 3 euros; attractions: 2 euros. (Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty)
An out-of-the-way location keeps costs in Kiev down to 209.68 Ukraine hryvnia per day. Travellers who make it off the backpacking trail however, will be rewarded with a culturally rich city brimming with museums, theatres, ancient ruins, religious sites and relics of a rich history. Stop by the multi-domed, green-and-white Byzantine Saint Sophia Cathedral (pictured), which was designed to rival Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. The Museum of the Great Patriotic War displays memorials and armament from the German-Soviet War of 1941 to 1945.
Budget breakdown – Magic Bus Hostel: 63.68 hryvnia/night; transportation: 4 hryvnia; meals: 90 hryvnia; beers: 42 hryvnia; attractions: 10 hryvnia. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty)
With a Daily Backpacker Index of 14.60 Latvian lats, Latvia’s capital city, located on the Baltic Sea, is a surprise find that houses a bevy of bars and restaurants as well as an old city centre easily explored on foot or via a modern bus and tram network. Its beautiful Art Nouveau centre, marked by the Eiffel Tower-like Riga Radio and TV Tower, won it a Unesco World Heritage Site designation in 1997. Other attractions include the Latvian National Opera and the Musee Art Nouveau.
Budget breakdown – Central Hostel: 3.70 lats/night; transportation: 1 lat; meals: 4.80 lats; beers: 3.60 lats; attractions: 1 lats. (Douglas Pearson/Getty)
Perched alongside the Danube, Serbia’s capital city has struggled to attract tourists over the years. But among the city’s gems are its lively nightlife, its diverse and storied architecture – from Byzantine to Ottoman to Neoclassic to Romantic and Art Nouveau – and of course, it’s appealing price at 20.97 euros per day. Stop by the Belgrade Fortress, which was built as defensive structure in 2nd Century; the Cathedral of Saint Sava (pictured), one of the Balkans’ largest Orthodox places of worship; and the Nikola Tesla Museum, which holds innumerable plans and drawings from the life of Serbian inventor, engineer, physicist and telephony expert Nikoka Tesla.
Budget breakdown – Avnoy Hostel: 5.29 euros/night; transportation: 1.28 euros; meals: 7.20 euros; beers: 3 euros; attractions: 2 euros. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty)
A favourite among budget travellers and savvy backpackers, Hungary’s capital city is home to a bevy of attractions, from its famous castles and cathedrals – including St Stephen’s Basilica with its soaring 90m dome – to its soothing thermal spas and baths – including the 16th-century Turkish Rudas Spa or the open-air pool at the Gellert bath (pictured) – to the grand relics of its rich history. For example, the Aquincum Museum displays architectural remains from the ancient city of Aquincum. It all rings in at a budget-friendly 6,930 Hungary forint per day.
Budget breakdown – Rastel Hostel: 1,890 forint/night; transportation: 640 forint; meals: 2,640 forint; beers: 960 forint; attractions: 1,000 forint. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty)
Often overshadowed by its neighbour Krakow, Poland’s largest city provides a fascinating glimpse into post-Soviet life. Visitors will enjoy the monumental Palace of Culture and Science, the beautiful Royal Castle (pictured), and the gothic charm of the Old Town, reconstructed after being destroyed by German troops during WWII. It is all accessible by a vast network of public transport, including bus, metro and trams, which helps keep costs at 110.20 Polish zlotych per day.
Budget breakdown – Chillout Hostel: 35 zlotych/night; transportation: 5.60 zlotych; meals: 32.40 zlotych; beers: 21 zlotych; attractions: 15 zlotych. (Bartlomiej Zborowski/AFP/Getty)
Most travellers overlook Zagreb for Croatia’s more popular beach resort towns. But Croatia’s capital city is a dynamic destination of its own, with Eastern European charm and Western European modernity. And at 222 Croatian kuna per day, tourists to Zagreb can easily enjoy its ancient cathedrals, open-air markets, 19th-century palaces and medieval architecture. Standout attractions include the Cathedral of the Assumption of Saint Mary (pictured), a Gothic cathedral whose famous twin spires were continuously rebuilt after invasions and natural disasters, and the Muzej Mimara, an art museum notable for its 19th-century edifice, with works from the likes of Renoir, Degas, Delacroix and Rubens.
Budget breakdown – Ravnice Youth Hostel: 60 kuna/night; transportation: 24 kuna; meals: 78 kuna; beers: 30 kuna; attractions: 30 kuna. (OGphoto/Getty)