Eastern European cities are notoriously cheap, and canny stag dos have been making the most of Prague’s cheap beers and spirits for over a decade. However, after years of holding the title of Europe’s worst kept secret for bargainous city breaks, there are a whole host of cities vying for Prague’s top spot. Cities such as Bucharest, Sofia and Riga have burgeoning nightlife scenes, delicious food to try and incredible architecture to wonder at. Here, we round up some of Eastern Europe’s finest bargainous cities.
Latvia’s compact capital, Riga, packs a punch as a weekend break destination. Its turbulent past is revealed throughout the city, where the Central Market houses fresh food in a former zeppelin hangar, and there are museums in the former KGB headquarters. These spots are fascinating to explore, and it is eye opening to witness these historic sites transformed, in some cases, in to such functional commonplace areas.
If the history of Riga doesn’t lure you in, its cheap, cheap beer prices might. French Bar has a youthful, lively atmosphere and offers pints of beer for as little as €2. While Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs has over 20 Latvian beers on tap, all at bargainous prices. Eating out in Riga is equally cheap – the LIDO restaurant chain has a number of cheap eateries across the city, whilst Milda has rave reviews on TripAdvisor and you could snap up dinner for less than £10.
The Post Office named Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital as the cheapest city in Europe in 2015. However, cheap needn’t signal a lack of quality. Vilnius is renowned for its artisan beers which you can easily find for around £1.80 a pint. The Alaus Biblioteka stocks over 350 beers in hip, airy surroundings. This restaurant-cum-pub has been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and you can enjoy your evening meal here for less than £8!
There is plenty to see in Vilnius without spending a penny. It is a city endowed with gorgeous architecture, from the ornate St Casimir Church to the looming castle and the impressive Church of St. Francis and St. Bernard. In 1994, the Old Town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why.
Bucharest is Romania’s capital and it has all the tropes of a capital city; impressive art galleries, museums and a vast parliament building. But unlike many of Western Europe’s capital cities, Bucharest is incredibly cheap. For a cheap dinner al fresco we recommend heading to Caru cu Bere in the centre of the Old Town. This restaurant has a busy outside terrace and serves huge portions of Romanian dishes such as pork knuckle soup and fried carp at affordable prices. Calif in the Old Town is a popular Middle Eastern restaurant and its menu reveals just how cheap Bucharest really is. Here, you can buy a lamb wrap and a lemonade for around £1.88.
Hotels in Bucharest offer cheap accommodation too, with its highest ranked hotels costing little more than £45 a night. This means that you can afford to treat yourself to a night in a fancy hotel without breaking the bank.
The low cost flight carriers easyJet and Ryanair offer cheap flights to Krakow from several major London airports, making it incredibly accessible to Brits. Not only is Krakow easy to get to but it presents a lot of bang for your buck too. Poland’s second largest city boasts the highest density of drinking establishments in a world heritage site, meaning that there are cheap drinks options wherever you turn. Head to Spolem for artisan beers in a communist-era environment replete with DJ booth in a Żuk car, or to Alchemia, one of Krakow’s oldest bars, for a feeling of history with your drink.
Many of Krakow’s museums and galleries offer free admission on certain days of the week so it’s well worth doing your research before you travel. To get you started, the Muzeum Archeologiczne has free entry on Sundays, whilst MOCAK opens its doors to the public free of charge every Tuesday.
Bulgaria is notoriously cheap and Sunny Beach has been drawing in punters looking for a cheap pint for several years now. However, it’s not only this stretch of golden coast that can impress with its prices. The capital, Sofia, offers travellers a pretty cheap deal too. It is a city with a complex past – it was at times home to the Greek, Roman and Ottoman Empires and then the Soviets, and the fascinating architecture here is testament to that. We recommend taking a trip to the Boyana Church on the outskirts of town, or to the National Archaeological Museum, situated in a building which used to be the city’s oldest Ottoman Mosque.
All that sightseeing makes for thirsty work, and Sofia has plenty of options when it comes to food and drink. We recommend checking out Skara Bar for hearty barbecued food alongside tempting glasses of wine for less than £2. For a quick lunch on a budget, Soup Me offers huge steaming bowls of traditional soup at tiny prices.
Budapest, with its lavish thermal baths and imposing architecture, has gained quite the fan base and it’s not hard to see why. However, an influx of foreign visitors does not yet seem to have sent prices soaring. A trip to the ornate yellow clad Széchenyi Thermal Bath is far cheaper than spa prices in the UK (at £13 for a day’s visit with locker), and you’ll be hard pressed to find a dinner out for more than £10 here.
Budapest’s ruin bars are famous for their ramshackle collections of furniture, cheap drinks and raucous atmosphere. Instant, Cafe Bobek and Kuplung all have a reputation for varied crowds, and serious dance moves on show.