Backpackers are almost always on a shoestring budget but that doesn’t mean cheap places should be all that are on the itinerary and ritzy ones are avoided like the plague. Budgeting is what it’s all about, and that shoestring budget can, in fact, work for you if you pick our your destinations carefully; here are six of the best backpacking destinations in Europe:
• Krakow: this Polish city offers the backpacking traveler what’s best of European architecture, from palaces and castles to cathedrals and town squares. Quality but affordable budget hotels and hostels go hand in hand with inexpensive but typically hearty Polish fare in restaurants and cafes. At around $26.55 a day, Krakow won’t break your wallet even if you stay there for three to five days.
• Bruges: this university town in Belgium has Old World charm seen on the Medieval architecture of the rooftops of inexpensive hostels. Art, chocolates, cobblestone streets, and lace shops are attractions you can enjoy in a single day’s tour. Your $54.67 a day budget couldn’t be better spent than in Bruges.
• Prague: affordable hostels are abundant in the capital of the Czech Republic, albeit there are private rooms available at reasonable price for backpackers who prefer wider beds. Ditch the restaurants with English signage and matching astronomical prices near the clock tower square; get your chlebícky, drinks, and pastries from small shops scattered all over the city. All you need is a $40.21 budget daily to get by in Prague.
• Lisbon: cheaper than both Barcelona and Madrid, historic Lisbon has hostel accommodations at unbelievably low prices, the reason why these don’t leave the roster of the Hostelworld Best Hostels. Built on seven hills, Lisbon is very similar to the San Francisco, California environment, overlooking a port area that contrasts urban chic and rural simplicity from any direction you look. Load up on cheap, thick, creamy seafood soup and other fisherman fare plus one or two bottles of the underrated Portuguese wine. Have $55.33? That’s the cost of a day’s stay in the land of Vasco de Gama, pastéis de nata, and Luis Figo.
• Budapest: student backpackers get discounts from most Budapest hostels, entrance to bigger museums such as the Budapest History Museum and the bunker museum of Hospital on the Rock is cheap, and, unless you order in a hotel or restaurant, local fare such as főzelék (steamed vegetables in thickened roux), lángos (fried dough topped with sour cream, bacon, garlic oil, and grated cheese), and pogácsa (scones filled with butter and cheese) are sold in small shops for a fraction of the prices in bistros. At $33.10 a day, Budapest can be enjoyed tremendously by backpackers.
• Berlin: we kid you not, Berlin remains cheaper than Hamburg or Munich, maybe because one half – which was formerly East Berlin – still has inexpensive rentals in buildings left over from the Soviet era, something which should enable you to have enough funds to get backpacker travel insurance and stop making you wonder why cheap hostels dot Berlin’s streets between pricey clubs and highbrow art galleries. On a budget of $58.40 a day, backpackers can afford backpacker travel insurance with plenty to spare for Spätzle noodles with grated cheese in four varieties, handmade corncakes with pumpkin topping, and the savory trinity of Bratwurst, Currywurst, and Bockwurst.