Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia, Turkey.
There’s something for every taste in Turkey, from ancient sites and modern cities to endless turquoise beaches, majestic green mountains, the travertine terraces at Pamukkale, the rock formations of Cappadocia, and one of the best cuisines in the world. Backpackers, culture addicts, luxury travelers, and cruise passengers each find their ideal vacation here.
Turkish people are friendly and welcoming, although, outside the main touristic hotspots such as Istanbul and Antalya, they might not speak much English. Economically, Turkey has not been doing great the past few years, as the national currency – the Lira – depreciated drastically. Nowadays, services are six times cheaper in Turkey when compared to Europe – say if you were to pay $12 for a cab ride in Vienna, the same distance would cost you $1.50 in Istanbul.
As a consequence, one-way public transport tickets go for as little as the equivalent of $0.5 – $1 while a meal at a decent restaurant does not cost more than $6-$12. If you are looking to save some cash, there are amazing street food options like the Bosphorus fish bread (balik ekmek), the world-famous Döner, or the Izmir Kumru sold everywhere for as low as $1-$2. The traditional breakfast of tea and simit will also go for the same price.
Highly sought-after destinations are, like everywhere, more expensive, but Turkey is a safe country to visit off the beaten path and we highly recommend renting a car for this purpose.
DAILY BUDGET: $25-$35 per person
Tatev monastery, Armenia
One of the cheapest countries to visit is definitely Armenia, a small country of around 3 million residents located in the Caucasus. But the question a lot of tourists ask is: in which continent is Armenia? This question is a difficult one as Armenia is situated bang in the middle of Asia and Europe and it bears the customs and traditions of the two continents at the same time. And geographically, it’s really part of both!
Armenia has so much to offer travelers and is definitely one of the most up-and-coming tourist destinations around the world. The world’s first winery has been traced back to the Areni-1 caves in Vayots Dzor province in the country.
Armenia also claims to be the birthplace of Christianity and it has several historical monasteries dotting its landscape. In addition, the food scene is nothing short of spectacular. The produce the country has to offer is used in its cuisine in a really delicious way and it is even infused in wine. You can have a great meal at a restaurant for around $5.
One of my favorite things about Armenia is its capital city, Yerevan. There are so many sidewalk cafes in Yerevan that will delight coffee lovers and these cafes allow locals and travelers to enjoy the 300+ days of sunshine annually that Armenia receives.
While there are a plethora of things to do in Armenia, you can do almost all of it at a very affordable price. Airbnb apartments are, on average $30/night, and hostels can be as low as $10/night and you can get transport between cities for anything between $2 to $10.
DAILY BUDGET: $20-$30 per person
Incredible mountains, Georgia
There are two types of destinations. First, there are the amazing, hard-to-reach countries where a holiday costs a fortune and then there are the easily discovered, cheap countries with huge crowds hovering around with selfie sticks. Oh, and there is Georgia. Amazingly beautiful, exotic, diverse, friendly, one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe and relatively undiscovered.
The only thing it lacks is large shopping malls, which is a blessing as it keeps the large tourist groups away – more room left for the individual, intrepid travelers.
Its capital, Tbilisi is full of quirky buildings, sulfur baths, orthodox churches, lively cafes. Only two hours drive to the east brings you to the wine region with rolling hills and unique wine-making traditions. Did you know that the World’s oldest wine was found in 8,000-year-old jars in Georgia? No wonder locals are so proud of their wines.
After exploring the pleasures of the city, head to the countryside, the true gem of Georgia. The four most amazing villages are Mestia, Ushguli, Kazbegi, and Mtskheta.
It is easy to get around in local minivans, marshrutkas. They do not have exact timetables but leave whenever are full. The drivers hit the road in mad speed, so without decades of practice and strong nerves, you should not attempt driving yourself. But in Georgia, you do not really need to rent a car. Public transport is ridiculously cheap or you can join the many 1-4 day tours organized by small local agencies.
Prices: 1-day group tour costs around $20-25, a dinner for two people $8, a couple of hours marshrutka ride $10. On average, a traveler would spend about $20 a day.
DAILY BUDGET: $20-$30 per person
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Croatia has been put under the spotlight recently. Fans of Game of Thrones, shot around Dubrovnik know what I am referring to. And with the increase in Croatia’s popularity, you may wonder if Croatia can still be considered a budget destination. My answer to this question is yes!
Although places such as Split and Hvar are not so cheap at the peak of the high summer season, you can still find good prices if you go in late August and September. Temperatures will still be high, but milder, which I prefer, and you’ll still have plenty to do there.
I would avoid visiting Croatia between October and April: during this fall/winter period, with the lowest temperatures, a visit to Croatia can be a bit melancholic.
If you want to get the most out of your money, I would avoid visiting the most famous cities in Croatia. Explore the Istrian region, starting with the city of Rijeka, going up Opatija, going down to the historic city of Pula, with its Roman Coliseum, and ascending until Pórec. This region inherited the rich history of the Roman Empire as well as its delicious cuisine with many pizzas, local wines, and dishes based on truffles.
Accommodation prices in Croatia can go from $20 to $45 per night depending on the type (hostel, hotel or Airbnb). A meal can range from $6 to $14 if you opt for a very good restaurant in a tourist area. Transportation between cities in the region can be as cheap as $3.50 if you travel by bus. And good coffee costs between $0.60 to $1.70: the cheapest espresso in Europe!
DAILY BUDGET: $40-$50 per person.
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