Sure, France, Italy, Germany, Norway and Switzerland are what most people think of when it comes to a “proper” European vacation. But these countries are swarming with tourists (some with way more money than you), which means often astronomical rates.
Instead, why not go off the beaten track a bit and visit a lesser-seen country, like Poland, Portugal, Bulgaria or the Balkans? These countries also have established tourism economies, but they’re much less crowded than the more tourist-infested areas to the west and north.
Each one of these countries has its own long-established history, culture, regional gastronomic delicacies and natural wonders to savor as well, so you won’t be missing out — your photos will just be less full of other people.
In terms of cities, a handful of European metropolises are among the cheapest places in the world to visit. Consider Sofia, Bulgaria (pictured here), where you’ll spend an average of just $94.69 per day, or Kyiv, Ukraine, which will typically set you back about $103.79 per day. (As a point of comparison, it’ll cost you $277.36 to visit Paris, $284.83 to hit up Barcelona and $386.78 to explore Amsterdam per day. That’s a huge difference!)