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The Most Affordable European Capital Cities—Ranked
Bus and train booking site Wanderu ranked all European capitals from cheapest to most expensive. Here’s where you can get the most bang for your buck.
According to a study conducted by Wanderu, Macedonia is home to the cheapest capital in all of Europe. Skopje is historic at its core, featuring Ottoman- and Byzantine-era sights. Tourists will enjoy the many museums, shops in the old Turkish bazaar, and the quaint cafés.
The capital and the largest city of Kosovo, Pristina isn’t known as an overwhelming tourist destination. Instead, it offers visitors the chance to unravel the city by simply getting to know its people. The café culture is strong, the history and art are free, and the main pedestrian street—Bulevardi Nënë Tereza—is always full of people walking it up and down.
Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, is situated in the scarce Montenegrin lowlands between the Dinaric Alps and Lake Scutari. Despite having undergone five name changes, having been owned by everyone from the Romans to the Turks to the Austro-Hungarians, and twice having been wiped off the map entirely, the city offers plenty of parks, a vibrant café culture, and excellent galleries.
Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, is full of Soviet-era architecture. Republic Square is the place to be, offering music, water fountains, and colonnaded government buildings. The city is both old and new, and the juxtaposition is alluring. You will find old-fashioned tea houses next to chic European-style wine bars, and hipster fashion alongside babushka garb.
Despite dating back to 1420, the majority of Chișinău is built in Soviet-style from the 1950s onward as a result of a tragic earthquake that struck in 1940. Today, people enjoy the city’s diagonally opposed parks, Parcul Catedralei and Ștefan cel Mare Central Park, along with the many museums, restaurants, and cafés.
Known for its colourful Ottoman-, Fascist- and Soviet-era architecture, the capital of Albania is a small, pleasant city. The cultural, entertainment, and political center of the country, there are a handful of museums, monuments, historic buildings and parks to enjoy. The housing units painted in bold, rainbow colours are particularly interesting.
The capital of Belarus is a modern city featuring many museums, theatres, and various cultural attractions among monumental Stalinist architecture. Much of the action resides on Praspiekt Niezaliežnasci (Independence Avenue), featuring fashionable cafés, eclectic restaurants, and crowded nightclubs.
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The capital of the Balkan nation of Bulgaria, Sofia is situated below the Vitosha mountain. It features more than 2,000 years of history from Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Soviet occupation. Done exploring the modern, youthful city’s manicured parks, restaurants, bars and galleries? The ski slopes and hiking trails on the mountain offer outdoor allure.
The capital of the southeast European country of Serbia, Belgrade is an up-and-coming city that offers Old World culture alongside modern nightlife. Situated where the Sava river meets the Danube, Belgrade offers a gritty experience. Large coffee houses, down and dirty dive bars, and historic buildings flank the lively pedestrian boulevard of Knez Mihailova.
Located in Southern Romania, the country’s capital offers a lively historic area called the Lipscani district, where nightlife thrives, and a tiny Eastern Orthodox Stavropoleos Church and 15th-century Curtea Veche palace entice. Bucharest’s most iconic landmark is the massive, communist-era Palatul Parlamentului government building, which has 1,100 rooms.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
This capital city on the Miljacka river, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps, is rich in museums commemorating local history. It offers an ethnically diverse culture with incredibly friendly people. Be sure not to miss a visit to the Bijambare caves, set in thick forests and amid lakes to the north of the city.
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Formerly known as Angora, this Turkish capital city features architecture that reflects its varied history. There are remains from the Roman era including a bath, the Column of Julian, and the Temple of Augustus and Rome. Byzantine remnants include the citadel and a cemetery. The Alâeddin Mosque and its one minaret resides near the walled citadel and dates back to the Seljuq era. There are also plenty of Ottoman buildings. You’ll find many interesting museums and sites to visit in Ankara, as well as a skiing centre nearby. Nightlife is also excellent.
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There is much to enjoy about this capital city set along the Danube River by the borders of Austria and Hungary. Here you’ll find a pedestrian-only, 18th-century Old Town flanked by energetic bars and cafés. Meanwhile, the vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains provide an enjoyable landscape to explore.
Distinguished by its 18th- and 19th-century Austro-Hungarian architecture, Zagreb has many nooks and crannies to uncover. Upper Town is situated at its centre, featuring a colorfully tiled roof atop the 13th-century St. Mark’s Church. Here, you’ll also find the Gothic, twin-spired Zagreb Cathedral. A tourist-friendly spot to visit is Tkalčićeva Street, lined with outdoor cafés.
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The largest city on the island of Cyprus, Nicosia is located near the centre of the Mesaoria plain, on the banks of the River Pedieos. It’s the last capital in the world to still be divided militarily, and a demilitarized buffer zone cuts through the city’s centre. While not known for its tourism, there is certainly no shortage of friendly cafés and museums in the busy Old Town.
As the capital of Poland, Warsaw’s architecture is a reflection of its bumpy history. There are Gothic churches, neoclassical palaces, Soviet-era blocks, and modern skyscrapers. Tourists and locals alike relish in the high energy of the city’s Old Town, especially Market Square, which features pastel buildings and open-air cafés.
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This cool, compact capital boasts the largest medieval Old Town in central and eastern Europe. It’s a maze of cobblestone streets, lush parks, bustling squares, and trendy bars, cafés, and restaurants. History buffs will love the charming neoclassical and baroque churches.
Andorra La Vella, Andorra
Located in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, the capital city of Andorra is known for such pleasures as its duty-free Meritxell Avenue, with shops galore. The Church of Sant Esteve, which dates from the 12th century, has baroque altarpieces, while La Margineda Bridge dates from medieval times and is still in pristine condition.
The capital of the country of Georgia, Tbilisi has a diverse architecture featuring Eastern Orthodox churches, intricate art nouveau buildings, and Soviet Modernist structures. The complicated city has long been known as riotous and anarchic, but much has changed. Picturesque architecture, a lively art and cultural scene, and inviting cafés and restaurants have brought new life after the Rose Revolution of 2003 ousted the post-Soviet Shevardnadze government.
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San Marino, San Marino
To say San Marino, the capital of the world’s fifth smallest country, is unique would be an understatement. The city, part of the small, independent country surrounded by Italian territory, sits atop rugged Mount Titano, which is known for its medieval old town and cobblestone streets. A path links three tours on the mountain’s eastern ridge as part of the city’s ancient defensive system.
Next, read on for 11 cheaper alternatives to Europe’s most expensive cities.